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[personal profile] ricardienne
Dear Yuletider,

Thank you so much for writing for me! I'm requesting a mix of tiny-to-non-existent to fairly-established small fandoms, and I will love anything you write for any of them.

Here's a long list of some general things that I really like, any of which will make me squee if it shows up, but none of which is required, naturally:
•Loyalty, whether it underlies friendship, romance, family affection, the bond between student and teacher, the duty of a inferior toward a superior, or really, anything else. I love stories about characters who are devoted to each-other in non-romantic ways (or in a variety of ways in addition to romantically), especially when those genuine loyalty/devotion/obligation feelings involve people with unequal amounts of power or/and status whom social hierarchies dictate *ought to* display obligation/obedience/loyalty to each other whether they feel it or not.
•Small-scale plots that primarily affect individuals and their lives rather than plots with universe- or even country-altering implications.
•World-building about culture and references by characters to in-universe music, literature, poetry, popular history and legend, theology, pop-culture, religious festivals and rituals, differences between cultural practices etc.
•also food, decorative arts, and clothing!
•linguistic games and code-switching, puns, allusions to other works of literature, whether in-universe or extra-universe.
•unreliable narrators and sympathetic characters who misread and misinterpret what’s going on or who believe things that aren’t true,
•Characters having to make difficult decisions about whether to do what is right or what is expedient/conducive to survival, having to compromise their principles, and finding ways to live with the consequences.
•hard looks at colonialism, imperialism, militarism, feudalism, or any other -ism.
•But also..the universe not being grimdark even if it is kind of grimdark.
•class conflict
•but also upper-class dinner parties and banter.
•court politics, social maneuvering, and political machinations
•Friendships and mentoring relationships between women.
•canonical shame cultures taken seriously. Also canonical guilt-cultures. Basically: characters who actually believe in and have their worldviews shaped by the canonical, societal-normal ethics and moral frameworks they live in.

I tend to prefer gen stories, but I don’t object to stories centered around a 'ship (of any configuration), whether “canon” or not. I don't care for PWP or smut/erotica, but on-screen sex is fine-- especially if complicated feelings, power dynamics, and social expectations are involved. Basically, I prefer gen, but if shipfic is your style, I’m not going to be fussed.

General DNWS: No graphic descriptions of body horror or gore or extreme violence; no on-screen non-con or torture. (Reference to all of these are fine, but I'd really prefer that they not be at the center of the story, even off-screen; background is fine). No nuclear war, genocide, apocalyptic destruction, or death on a massive scale.

I do realize that a number of these things (almost all of them) are background canon for one or more of the works I’ve requested, so I can’t say “please don’t under any circumstances include any of them at all.” Everything I’ve requested has a canonical dark side where coercion, dubiously-free consent, and abuse of power in various ways are things that happen, not to mention things blowing up, torture, genocide, imperialism, summary euthanasia and execution, worker exploitation, slavery, and lots of other awful things. If dark is where the spirit leads you, I don’t mind, and it certainly doesn't have to be kittens and light even in a non-dark fic. But I want to read about how people live (including with themselves), not so much how horribly they can die or be hurt.

I don’t mind unhappy endings, but I do like satisfying ones. That said, please no main-character death beyond what's in canon.

Okay, onto the specifics! I'm requesting 4 fandoms this year:

1. Shira Calpurnia Series - Matthew Farrer
Characters:
Shira Calpurnia Lucina

This is my long-shot request, and also my secret-shame idfic request. What I enjoy about this series is its over-the-top taking-seriously of the “everyday” minutia of an absurdly dystopian crudely-drawn superstitious feudal-theocratic violent repressive mess of a dark-ages Byzantine space empire. And I <3 Calpurnia for being simultaneously so awesome qua badass sci-fi protagonist and qua individual in her society: her exemplary faith and reverence for the Imperial cult and its daily rituals; her uncompromising dedication to the violent justice that she enforces; her contempt for anyone who falters or fails -- including herself; her insistence on proper respect for the Adeptus hierarchies that she considers valid combined with disgust at any other systems of social distinction; the fact that she is completely unswerving and probably incapable of conceiving subversion; the fact that sexism plays little to no role in her world (or at least, one can read the novels this way, and I choose to do so.). In most narratives, she would either be the villain or have to realize how rotten and terrible the system is that she supports, but due to the peculiar conditions of Warhammer tie-in fiction she gets to be the hero and her worldview is upheld in pretty much every particular! As I said, oh hello unrepentantly-awful evil-space-empire, my id would like to meet you. (I should note that my knowledge of the Warhammer 40k universe comes exclusively from a couple of the novel series, from reading [this series of novel reviews (see here for their excellent take on Shira Calpurnia] and occasional forays into the wiki. I’m far from an expert!]

Basically, I want more about Calpurnia.

As you may imagine, I like Crossfire a lot, don’t care for Legacy because it’s not about Calpurnia much at all, and appreciate what the third novel does, even though it makes me sad that with it the author has pretty well closed off the possibility of further novels about Calpurnia. So I’d prefer fic set either pre-canon or after the first novel but ignoring the existence of the second two.

Some possible prompts:
•Calpurnia’s childhood/young adulthood: what was the moment when she realized her calling to be in the Adeptus Arbites? Young!Calpurnia as a sort of straight-arrow Warhammer 40k Nancy Drew who ends up playing a critical role in a local Arbites investigation?

•Post-Crossfire casefic: some further episode from the further adventures of Calpurnia fighting subversion of the Emperor’s law on Hydraphur. Maybe working alongside Aurean Romille or one of the other Sisters Celestian? Or acting as a judge in a case involving less elite and/or more sympathetic (to our eyes, not necessarily to Calpurnia’s) people?

•Does Calpurnia ever have that conversation about duty with Lady Keta? How does it go? AKA: Calpurnia comes to some sort of an understanding with Hydraphur high society-- or rather, they come to some sort of an understanding with her. (I would love it if Lady Keta was fleshed out as a character: what does she get up to/care about when she isn’t partying?)


2. Imperial Radch - Ann Leckie
Characters:
Skaaiat Awer, Daos Ceit

Oh, were we talking about quasi-Roman totalitarian space empires? Because this is my favorite quasi-Roman totalitarian space empire. (To put all of my cards on the table here, I spend a lot of time nattering on tumblr about this fandom, especially with respect to the Radch being space!Rome). I like their trashy entertainments and their obsession with good dishes. Their casual imperialism and their horrifying multi-bodied AI spaceships and their coherent (although quite unpleasant) ethical system, and the way the books treat people like people who are misguided and self-deceiving and who try hard not to look at the dark undergirding of their world. To quote from my last year’s letter:

I will love anything that deals with the people and AIs of this glorious unjust mess of a space-roman empire, especially if it deals with imperialism and colonialism, unequal power dynamics and hierarchies, or/and the lies people and AIs tell themselves to justify not looking to closely at the cost of their "civilization."

I like the Republic of Two Systems and the folks on Mercy of Kalr just fine! But this year I especially want fic about the people still in the Radch. Skaaiat, that ironical aristocrat who knows that self-reflexive awareness of the injustices that make your privileged life possible doesn't actually constitute meaningful action against those injustices, yet remains more or less satisfied with being self-reflexively aware-- until, maybe, she realized that she could do -- had to do -- something more? And Daos Ceit, the child who went to be a temple attendant because she loved the Lieutenant, even the morning after the Lord of the Radch showed that she didn't care at all for the lives of the citizens of Ors… and who has now leapfrogged from a "barely civilized" provincial backwater to a high position in the junior bureaucracy in a center of power -- where she has friends, colleagues, and a very influential noble patron, but has never forgotten what the ruler of civilization whom she serves did. These two characters are shouldering huge amounts of compromise and dissonance and I love it and want to know more. So some possible prompts:

•Skaaiat Awer & Daos Ceit backstory: how did Skaaiat end up governing in Ors? How did she come to sponsor Daos Ceit? What made her decide to move from the military to civilian tracks? Would love something about Skaaiat and her soldiers trying (and perhaps never succeeding, in spite of their good intentions) to do right by and earn the trust of the citizens in the Lower City.

•More specifically: Daos Ceit’s life could have come out of an Entertainment: worthy young provincial lifted to unimagined heights of benefit as her good nature and just, proper behavior, through the patronage of a daughter of old, impossible noble house. But things aren’t ever that simple, are they? I would be happy with the cheesy, sappy Radchaai!Entertainment version if pastiche/parody is your thing, _but also_ would love something post-colonial and difficult that highlighted the cracks and gaps.

•Skaaiat has to try to make Omaugh Station like her again, now that she’s been revealed as an associate and perhaps even friend of civis-non-grata Breq Mianaai. And now that she’s realized that AIs do in fact have opinions and feelings and preferences. (I’d also enjoy this prompt with Daos Ceit swapped out for Skaaiat -- or -- even better -- the two of them working together to make friends with Station again.)

•On a completely different note, because I didn't request these characters, if you aren't inspired by Skaaiat and/or Daos, and do like the idea of history!fic, I would love to read about Naskaaia and Anaander: did they plan to conquer the universe together and then fall out? Did they divide (heh) over philosophical differences when Anaander started to clone herself? Or was it earlier, over the very idea of Radchaai expansion? (I would love fic that included world-building details about culture, society, poetry, and space fleet of the ‘archaic’ Radch.)


3. Alpennia -- Heather Rose Jones
Characters:
Barbara

The Alpennia series -- lesbian Regency-fantasy Ruritania-Romance about nerdy antiquarian magic-researchers-- is pretty much a congeries of all of my favorite tropes that aren’t evil space empires with Roman elements. So tiny little details I would love to see explored more include: the society and politics of a central-European principality in the early 19th century; medieval magic and ritual and philology; exploration of Alpennia's French-inflected upper-class heading up against the Germanic peasant lower classes. But really, I want more about Barbara, who combines two of my absolute favorite character tropes: when she’s first introduced, she’s the absolutely loyal sworn liegeperson, devoteod in spite of the fact that she didn't have a choice in her service AND then on the other hand, she is the proud and honorable and just slightly standoffish nobleperson, protective of her dignity (and the dignity of those she loves) and absolutely commmitted to fulfilling the obligations that her rank imposes. I adore Margarit as well, and I love them together, so I have absolutely no objection to shippy fic, but I really want the focus to be on Barbara. So I would love fic about, e.g., any of the following:

•More missing scenes from Daughter of Mystery: what are the small things that make Barbara realize that her feelings for Margarit are more than just doing her duty? I’m not so much interested in introspective angst along the lines of ‘alas but this can never be for she is an heiress and I am but her armin’. I’d rather see something positive: what are the small moments where Barbara can act on her affection _within_ the confines of her duties and the social roles that she and Margarit have to maintain? Show me Barbara being fiercely loyal to Margarit, in ways that surprise even her and which Margarit may not quite (yet) fully understand.

•Barbara dealing with the change in her status: how does she unlearn habits of deference and assert her status in Alpennian society? What happens when she and Margarit encounter people who knew her only as a near-invisible (although controversially scandalous) armin? We see a little bit of the strain that Barbara’s change and the resulting political turmoil put on her and Margarit’s relationship in terms of what they can/must express in public, but I would love to see how that plays out in private: what happens when the hierarchical relationship that they’ve negotiated around suddenly gets reversed?

•Pre-canon about Barbara in her early days as the Count’s armin as a young woman in a position usually filled by men. Would love a story about a moment where she learns to assert herself as a bodyguard and a duellist, even to countermand the Count, on the authority that being an armin gives her. Or something set during the Count’s tenure as a diplomat outside of Alpennia: how does being exposed to the wider world of politics and society, albeit watching from the sidelines, affect the loyalty she’s been raised to feel for her protector?

4. Queen’s Thief Series - Megan Whalen Turner
Characters:
Lady Heiro, Attolia

Here’s what I like about the Attolia books (a non-exhaustive list): the vaguely late antique/Byzantine mediterranean setting. The thematization of loyalty and trust in incredibly difficult circumstances for trust to exist. The court politics and ceremony of Attolia - I love that the monarchs (even Eddis and even Eugenides) don’t show their likability or relatibility by completely ignoring ceremony or dismissing the forms of respect that they are owed or the social restrictions on their positions (well to some extent anyway), even as they know it’s all a little bit silly. The little references to literature and culture. My favorite book of the series is King of Attolia. I love everything about it from the intense emotional swings that the characters are put through to the details of the palace architecture. I would love to read fic set in the Attolian court, especially about its women. Attolia herself does not particularly appear to concern herself with supporting other women, but does the model that the queen sets change anything about the way that other women of the court see themselves and their potential for autonomy? I’m requesting Lady Heiro, because I think she’s awesome, but I wouldn’t mind Attolia as her terrifying self in a secondary or even co-starring role.

Some prompts:
•"Heiro's a little young to engage in political murder, don't you think?" OR IS SHE? Let's have a scheming!Heiro who isn't just supporting the King out of idealism or altruism or patriotism… (although any or all of those don't have to be incompatible with her other goals, I suppose). What's Heiro's long game, the one that her façade of bookish naiveté and pretty earrings conceals? How does she achieve it? This could go into dark!fic where Heiro is (e.g.) an agent of the Mede, or light-hearted rom-com where Heiro carefully makes herself indispensable to the King and Queen so that they have no choice but to reward her with an estate where she and her dear friend Lady Eunice can live comfortably together in defiance of their families, or anything in between.

•In the aftermath of Sejanus’ fall, Lady Heiro’s father and the Baron Erondites hatch another desperate plot against the Queen. When Heiro realizes, she has to decide once and for all whether she will be the dutiful daughter or throw her lot in with the Queen against her own family-- it’s choice that would be a lot easier to make if her sister weren’t involved as well…

•As a reward (?) for helping the King, Heiro is appointed to the Queen's attendants. Being the youngest, the lowest-ranked, and the newest member of the queen’s retinue would be hard enough, but of course the whole court assumes she’s the king’s mistress, too, while her father expects her to be a mole for his schemes. How does Heiro prove herself to the queen’s exacting standards, win the respect of the other attendants, evade her father’s attempts to threaten and control her, and continue to help the king foil nefarious plots and avoid dancing with boring people?

•I would love it if the Attolian/"classical" (whatever that means) plays or/and poetry that Heiro is supposed to spend her time reading figured somehow in the story. Only if that's the kind of thing you like doing, though!
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