Compiled by the Espresso Addict

Espresso Recommendations

Innovative and stylish fanfiction, showcasing the very best across multiple sf, fantasy & literature fandoms. Good writing in all its forms can be found here, including gen, het, slash, OCs, AUs, crossovers, future fics, humour & pastiche

Contents: 1007 recs in 235 fandoms; 65 links

Latest update

Arthurian legends

Wynter wakeneth by goosecathedral

"'I can't think what you mean, madam,' he reproved. 'Am I not still abed, naked as a worm in my shirt?' / 'My lord's pages keep worms in their shirts,' she mused, 'slowworms and grass-worms, and call them poison nadders to frighten serving-maids. A knight of your'’ she paused, 'standing should keep about him a mighty serpent.'" A clever AU of 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', masquerading as PWP. Beautifully written, richly detailed, and with a lovely energy to it

[Added 02/01/2019; Romance/Erotica; 6000-20,000; Arthurian legends; Adult]

Bones

Seeley Booth's Bones by Dira Sudis

'The phalanges are arranged in gentle curves, like a hand in a comfortable state of rest, like a casual wave hello or goodbye. She lowers her own smaller hand over them, not quite touching.' An unusual character study that succeeds, somehow, in sidestepping creepy and heading instead for bittersweet. (Beware the character death implied in the title)

[Added 03/01/2019; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Bones]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

A Girl Made From Sky by Doyle

'She wasn't a person, then; the idea of her flickered and flared at the edges, and she sat quietly on a cloud as the monk made paper dolls. He had a pair of very shiny scissors, and he would snip the girls (for they were almost all girl-dolls) right from the sky and whisper secret words to them that gave them life.' It's hard to write key-Dawn, and Doyle does a good job of capturing the particular brand of Buffyverse weirdness in this dreamlike snippet (Sandman crossover)

[Added 13/12/2018; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Crossover]

Eagle of the Ninth

Fastened Down by Sineala

'His fate and that damned Aquila's were as weights on the opposite ends of a scale. And now, as Aquila's fortunes rose, his own were sinking. Aquila must have done something to him. There could be no other explanation.' A delicious little humorous take on post-canon Placidus. Sineala really knows her history

[Added 15/01/2019; Humour; 1000-2500; Rosemary Sutcliff – Eagle of the Ninth]

Like a Lioness by Tanaqui

'"A Red Crest?" Shula snorted. "We should knife him and throw him on the dung-heap for the dogs!" / Murna had been about to kneel again, but she swung her head up, sudden fury surging within her. "Has he not claimed the guest-right?" True, the man was more outside than in, but he had crossed the threshold.' The herstory of Murna & Guern. A brilliant example of canonically plausible minor character building, which, in the words of the recipient, is 'practically Jane Austen in Roman Britain'. Simply adorable!

[Added 14/01/2019; Romance/Erotica; 2500-6000; Rosemary Sutcliff – Eagle of the Ninth]

To Suffer Brave Things by Carmarthen

'Placidus knew he was handsome, and he had the connections and wealth to do much for a man who pleased him. ... And no one had ever been any less than pleased with him, he was sure of it, except perhaps Claudia, and that was only because she was a chaste woman who did not feel such desires.' A meaty novelette, mixing book & film canon, that tells of how Placidus grows up. Book-Placidus seems to exist to be Marcus's opposite, and I love stories like this that develop a more-balanced picture. I suspect his portrayal here could be classified on the autism spectrum, and his fumblings towards a meaningful relationship with his wife feel raw & authentic. There's bags of fascinating historical details to enjoy along the way, too [archive locked]

[Added 15/01/2019; Romance/Erotica; 6000-20,000; Rosemary Sutcliff – Eagle of the Ninth; Adult]

Mansfield Park

The Dancing Monkeys by Ione

'William's brows lifted, reminding Crawford that, despite his younger age, Lieutenant Price had seen far more of the world, and a rougher world, than had Henry Crawford. "He's old in sin. Old in sin." Then William said diffidently, "I don't quite understand what happened—that is, I am conscious of how much I owe you, sir, for your—yes, I can see you do not want to be reminded, but hang it all, what I'm trying to say is, if you wish, I can take you by one ten times better, and for half the cost."' By the magic of plot devicium, Henry winds up aboard the Laconia for his sins. Observing that 'Henry had always matched his tone to his company', Ione makes this unlikely crossover work beautifully, and the novelette is packed with delicious historical details as well as cameos from both sources. And the penultimate line really packs a punch

[Added 16/01/2019; Drama; 6000-20,000; Jane Austen – Mansfield Park; Crossover]

Narnian Chronicles

And Bide the Danger by MiraMira

'"She buys other things. A carving of a stag. A knife. Couple of pieces of furniture. A busted green ring that looked like something out of Zonko's, 'cept I couldn't figure out what kind of metal it was. After the price she paid for that last one, I'd keep an eye out for rubies from Mars if she asked.' A future for Susan as a dark witch in the Potterverse. The best kind of crossover, that elucidates both sources, with an ambiguous Aslan & double heart-wrencher of an ending

[Added 23/12/2018; Drama; 6000-20,000; Narnian Chronicles; Crossover]

The foreigner by nasimwrites

'There is hardly any protocol here, and what little there is, is absolutely unintelligible, as it varies upon the number of limbs and amount of fur on each member of its population and the particular whims of its much-too-young rulers, which leaves experienced Tarkaans like Belazir in the most uncomfortable position of walking into Cair Paravel with as much diplomatic ceremony as a common stable-boy.' A thoughtful conversation piece presenting an outsider's perspective on the events of The Horse and his Boy. Nasimwrites gives us a strong characterisation of Peter, that most difficult of Pevensies to capture, as well as clever foreshadowing of future events

[Added 23/12/2018; Drama; 2500-6000; Narnian Chronicles]

Further Down And Deeper In by amyfortuna

'Yes, they leave a mark. I'm sorry it hurts. The pain will pass soon. You cannot go to the end of anything without being changed in some way, and this is a small price to pay for the beauties you will see.' Tourist guide to Bism which fleshes out how the realm might actually work, with a wonderfully creepy narrator and a bonus sneak crossover that I won't spoil

[Added 23/12/2018; Drama; 1000-2500; Narnian Chronicles]

A High and Lonely Destiny by Elizabeth Culmer

'This is the story Jadis learned when she was three years old, told by an under-nurse with salt-pale skin and a missing left thumb, as she braided Jadis's hair into a crown: / "Long and long ago, in another world, the god El grew bored and lonely. So he made Lilith from salt and sun and Adam from earth and shadow..."' Elizabeth deftly entwines multiple tales within a tale with a suitably nasty history for Jadis. Beautifully written & inventive

[Added 11/12/2018; Character Piece; 2500-6000; Narnian Chronicles]

North and South by Flourish

'For Archenland and Narnia [Anvard] was a great fortress, with enough cottages clustering around the curtain wall that it might almost be called a town; but it did not support a community of poets, or musicians, or painters, or sculptors, because in the North nearly every artisan is actually a very ordinary sort of person who pursues their art in their free time. This means that more people get to enjoy Culture, but the overall quality of the Culture produced might seem cut-rate to a Tarkheena.' Flourish does a good job of balancing Lewis's vision with a more-neutral view of Calormen (& f/f relationships) in this possible future for Aravis. I particularly enjoyed the delicate ending

[Added 23/12/2018; Romance/Erotica; 2500-6000; Narnian Chronicles]

Stick In the Mud by Transposable Element

'"The Tree is down," she said. / Even Mudbank wasn't prepared for that. For the first time, Pikebeak saw what a Wiggle looked like when his normally glum expression turned to shock and horror.' The beginning of the long winter from the unique perspective of the Marsh-wiggles, with interesting worldbuilding and a suitably understated humour. If, like me, you're a fan of this most underficced of Narnian races, TE has written a few other stories, including Catch, a charming tale of Puddleglum's courtship

[Added 11/12/2018; Drama; 2500-6000; Narnian Chronicles]

Stillwater Feast by Edonohana

'"We were all preparing for the Stillwater Feast when that naughty child slipped away," said the Sea King. "We hold it every year in a place where there are no currents, and all the world is still and quiet. You would honor us with your presence."' An all-too-brief vignette that feels just like an episode from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, with fascinating tidbits on underwater cuisine & some great Lewis asides

[Added 23/12/2018; Drama; 1000-2500; Narnian Chronicles]

those who keep silence by templemarker

'It had taken several days before their confused minds began to remember Mother and Father at all, having lived so long without parents that it was more of a shock to recall them than having forgotten.' A moving & psychologically plausible portrait of grief -- and recovery -- that differentiates between Susan & Lucy without demonising either

[Added 11/12/2018; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Narnian Chronicles]

Triptych by redsnake05

'She struggled against the sweet red loam, pulling a heavy dark stone from her chest as she coalesced from the earth of her shaping.' A strange, powerful story of Jadis, Lilith & Aslan that reads like a cross between Narnia and the Old Testament, and raises fascinating questions about free will vs the bonds of love

[Added 11/12/2018; Drama; 2500-6000; Narnian Chronicles]

Outcast

Liminality by Jay Tryfanstone

'Inland, the fringed reeds hanging over the drainage ditches and the stubborn, salt-stiff grasses of the sea wall could have been the painted, sepia foliage of a dining room frieze. Even the tide was slow and sullen, unbreaking, as if some great beast rose through the sea towards the shore.' A shuddery little story for Samhain. The author's usual tight grasp on Sutcliff's descriptive prose brings the autumnal landscape to life

[Added 14/01/2019; Drama; 1000-2500; Rosemary Sutcliff – Outcast]

A Straight Road by Isis

'...he imagined the road as being all of the world, and the stones laid for its bed all the peoples of the world, and the road that was to be, that would carry travelers from one place to another, something to connect them all.' A thoroughly appropriate character study of Justinius the engineer, cleverly structured around a Roman road (complete with diagram!). Thoughtful & moving

[Added 14/01/2019; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Rosemary Sutcliff – Outcast]

Pride & Prejudice

The Part of Her Hair by scioscribe

'"It is an unbearable temptation for you, this shaping of conversation into a series of aphorisms." / "It is true, sir, that the prudence necessary to resist scarcely runs in my family, and it is fortunate for us, else my sisters and I would not have been, had you not indulged."' A more mature, but still recognisable Mary embarks on her first romance. It's interesting to view the rest of the extended family through her eyes, with Mr Bennet & Lydia shining particularly brightly. I also enjoyed the way that each of Mary's sisters helps in her own way

[Added 13/12/2018; Romance/Erotica; 6000-20,000; Jane Austen – Pride & Prejudice]

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Exeunt by BonesOfBirdWings

'"Everyone will be born, everyone has died," Rosencrantz murmurs to himself. There's something... something he's forgotten. / There must have been a moment – / "I think it's the other way around," Guildenstern says, at the same time Rosencrantz blurts out, "Let's not go."' Dark meditation on the nature of fiction, the role of the audience and the inevitability of fate

[Added 12/01/2019; Drama; 1000-2500; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead]

Sense & Sensibility

So Highly Do I Value and Esteem Him by abluestocking

'"He does not tire me," Elinor said, quietly. She was afraid it might rain; Willoughby and Marianne, who had met in a rainstorm, were inclined to think the rain romantic, and would run laughing for the house, but she thought of the dresses that would need drying, and prayed the rain would not come today.' Beautifully characterised & suitably restrained Elinor/Brandon AU, with a solid pastiche style. The pairing is one of the few contra-canonical ones in Austen to make sense to me, and this piece is my favourite example. (It's sufficiently restrained, I think, to be enjoyable even if this pairing is not quite to your taste)

[Added 16/01/2019; Romance/Erotica; 2500-6000; Jane Austen – Sense & Sensibility]

Songs

Nothing borne by HotUtilitarian

'Their mutual favourite, though, was a salver with a cashew tree modelled in silver sprouting from the middle of it, by all accounts a very fine piece of work. ... Mrs Harris claimed it was wrought upon the occasion of the marriage of Mariana Victoria to Prince José of Portugal, and God knows, that might even have been the truth.' This clever ghost story, based on the nursery rhyme, 'I had a little nut tree', is made by the strong, if wince-inducingly misogynistic, narrative voice

[Added 13/01/2019; Romance/Erotica; 2500-6000; Songs]

Spirited Away

White Wedding by canis_m

'He would give his own scales to her, not the ones shed and fallen to the riverbed like old leaves, but bright ones prised fresh from his belly, his throat, his bared neck.' Lushly written, with an alien Haku as fascinating & dangerous as a river, this ambiguous AU balances on the knife-edge between horror & romance

[Added 03/01/2019; Romance/Erotica; 1000-2500; Spirited Away]

ST: Deep Space 9

The Botantist by thinlizzy2

'She meticulously fluffs leaves and takes soil samples, remembering all the while an offhand comment that her husband had made as they were packing up to leave Deep Space Nine. / "I swear Keiko, you spend more time and energy on those plants than most people do on their families."' A subtle, slow-building character study that takes an unusual notion of Keiko and makes it bear fruit

[Added 10/12/2018; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Star Trek: Deep Space 9]

Nerys and the Emissary by Beatrice Otter

'"Thank you for trusting me," Sisko said, with what she suspected was irony. / Nerys snorted. "I don't trust you. I trust the Kai." Who, apparently, trusted this smooth-nosed foreigner.' A thoughtful deconstruction of the colonialist underpinnings of the DS9 pilot, together with a welcome reminder of Kira's character early in the series

[Added 10/12/2018; Character Piece; 2500-6000; Star Trek: Deep Space 9]

ST: Next Generation

Laid Bare by sixbeforelunch

'A Vulcan patient with an emotional disorder was always a challenge. The problem, aside from the risk that their condition would be exacerbated by shame, was that all of the first line treatments for mood disorders--cognitive behavioral therapies, awareness and mindfulness, biofeedback-guided meditation--were things that Vulcans practiced from childhood.' A novella-length medical casefic that feels just like a lost Deanna-centric episode. As ever, Sixbeforelunch's Vulcan worldbuilding is fascinating, and her OCs soon come to feel like previously unencountered crew members. The ensemble cast delineates Deanna's relationships with most of the crew but there's a particular joy to seeing her work with Beverley, a relationship ignored by most fanfiction

[Added 10/12/2018; Drama; 20,000-50,000; Star Trek: The Next Generation]

ST: TOS/AOS

Wherein Gaila is molting by kayliemalinza

'Starfleet gave assurances years ago that Medbay can accommodate an Orion's physiological needs, but their idea of a burial bed is a hard-edged box filled with silica beads and powdered nutrients. It is nothing like the petite sleeping gardens of the Orion embassy on Earth, and even those were a poverty compared to the luxurious loam of her homefield.' A clever, lushly written take on the idea that Gaila is a plant, which never ceases to surprise. One of the few stories I've read in any fandom to capture a truly alien point of view. Superb!

[Added 10/12/2018; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Star Trek: TOS/AOS]

Sword at Sunset

Hunting the Boar by Makioka

'She can tell them stories that will make their blood sing, will make their heads pound with the longing to be doing the deeds that she speaks of; then she can cool the fires with a song of the harvest, and the land each man calls his own.' Lovely rich writing in these tales of Artos and of Gault & Levin, but it's the gem of an OC narrator that really makes this piece for me

[Added 15/01/2019; Drama; 2500-6000; Rosemary Sutcliff – Sword at Sunset]

Vorkosigan series

One Thing by Sineala

'His honor was at stake. He was Marcus Voraquila, and if he did not watch this everyone would know that he hadn't, and they would never, never stop.' This is the kind of story that makes fandom such a joy: not only is Sineala responding to Philomytha's powerful Vorkosigan's Day, but it's also a fusion with Eagle of the Ninth, casting Marcus as the son of Aral's political officer. I think the piece would stand with the narrator as an OC, but it gains extra resonances from the parallels between Rome & Barrayar. And, on its own terms, it's perfectly characterised & profoundly moving

[Added 15/01/2019; Drama; 2500-6000; LM Bujold – Vorkosigan series; Crossover]

Warrior Scarlet

But One Wolf Slaying by Tanaqui

'But he had always been unhandy with such things: treading in Midir's shadow; or interrupting his mother as she spoke the necessary charms over the salves she was mixing, so that she must begin again; or spilling the mead from the guest-cup set at the empty place at the Samhain feast as he reached for his own food.' A canonically plausible portrait of Vortrix, stifling under the weight of expectations heaped upon him, and his long friendship with Drem. The end is very moving. I also enjoyed her Kindling, Blai's perspective on the novel

[Added 14/01/2019; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Rosemary Sutcliff – Warrior Scarlet]

Witch's Brat

The Pottery Lamp by Jay Tryfanstone

'Lovel had the image of it as clear as the painting in a book, all miniature jewel-bright leaves and flowers, as he dug and hoed and forked over the heavy clods.' A quietly beautiful short in a medieval-setting Sutcliff that one doesn't in the least need to have encountered to enjoy. Simply lovely!

[Added 14/01/2019; Drama; 2500-6000; Rosemary Sutcliff – Witch's Brat]