This will be fleshed out later. In the meantime, have some basic preferences.
I Don't Like:
- Sickly-sweet, coy, cutesy romantic stuff (anything in the "tee-hee-hee, is he looking at me?" category is definitely out)
- Extensive use of epithets, or epithets that don't match the character POV (no one should think of his or her long-time lover as "the green-eyed man," for example): these will throw me right out of a story
- Characters acting out of character, especially if the purpose is to force them into a relationship (doubly bad if that relationship is romantic or sexual)
- By-the-numbers, every-action-described sex. Note that actual sex is fine (I love me some sexy stories) — just don't like it when the descriptions turn into a set of exact stage directions.
- Mpreg, rape, forced sex (including sex pollen and fuck-or-die), hatesex. Dubcon is OK, especially the sort when the reluctant partner really wants the other person but is just not quite feeling ready yet or doesn't think se wants it in this particular way but gets off on it anyway.
- Humiliation or betrayal (without a damn good plot reason) of a character by a friend or lover
- Strong characterization (including character-appropriate dialog: no earthy, uneducated characters using $50 words)
- Positive emotional payoffs that are well-earned
- Passions that are strong without being mushy/fluffy
- Moments of realization — satori
- Friendships - although I am a romantic person, not every relationship must be romantic (I do like the trope of friends becoming lovers, however)
- Wry and even dark humor in the course of a more serious story
- And I like any of the following "cool bits":
- senses of smell and touch and memories attached to them
- being cozy indoors when it's rainy or snowing
- warm and oversized bathrobes/dressing gowns or sweaters/jerseys
- old-fashioned sections of town with narrow streets and alleyways and odd shops
- water running over pebbles or stones
- brushing long hair or riffling fingers through short hair
- drops of water clinging to hair and/or skin
- food descriptions: "food porn"
- romantic partners who are both competent
- an autumn leaf or item of clothing as the only bit of color in a bleak landscape
- the sound of a song or tune (whistling definitely counts) that means something to the character hearing it
- places where arts or martial arts are studied or where master crafters or artists are at work
I'm quite content with both straight and gay relationships. I do tend to ship the canon relationships, unless it's a character who has had no clear relationships shown in the story. I'm not comfortable with sexual relationships shown in children under the age of, say, 14 or so, and even then it's better in context (teens with other teens or in a societal setting where girls expect to marry by 16-18 anyway).
This Year's Works and Characters
Craft Sequence - Max Gladstone
I put down "any character": that would be Caleb Altemoc, Catherine "Cat" Elle, Elayne Kevarian, Izza (Craft Sequence), Kai Pohala, The King in Red, Mina (Craft Sequence), Temoc Almotil, Teo Batan, or Tara Abernathy.
I want to hear about relationships: good ones. Love (familial OR erotic), friendship, mentor-mentee, patron-client. Tell me a story about people *together* in Gladstone's awesome world. Caleb's family is dysfunctional, but so was my own. Do Caleb and Mina ever reach some sort of peace? I love Temoc's weird drive-by parenting: when did that start? What happened first? Teo is awesome: give me some of her history with Caleb. Future events with Tara and Elayne as her mentor. More about Izza or Cat, or Kai and the friend she couldn't quite save.
Imperial Radch Series - Ann Leckie
I put down "any character": that would be Basnaaid Elming (why can't anyone seem to remember her family name?), Ekalu, Medic (Imperial Radch), Naskaaia Eskur, Sphene, Sword of Atagaris, Zeiat, Anaander Mianaai, Athoek Station, Awn Elming, Daos Ceit, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen | Breq, Kalr Five, Kalr Twelve, Mercy of Kalr, Seivarden Vendaai, Skaaiat Awer, Tisarwat.
This was mainly because there were so many of them that I liked. I will admit to being less than pleased with the Lord of the Radch, though.
My most favorite things would be: AIs filled with love! Tell me about Breq and Mercy of Kalr, or Athoek Station and her people. Or tell me about Breq, dreaming of Lt. Awn … "and then the memory of the dream" (link to YouTube and a song by Carly Simon). Or instead, tell me about Seivarden and Ekalu: what happens next? Has Seivarden really learned anything? Or tell me about Tisarwat: who was she, and does she remember that person?
(Also: See this excellent essay, written as a comment on the File 770 site. It says a lot of what I feel about this series.)
Thursday's Children - Rumer Godden
I put down "any character": that would be Charles Ingram, Doone Penny, Ruth Sherrin, and/or Crystal Penny.
I have the most fellow-feeling with Ruth in this: her breakdown when she learned she had a leading part is so much something I would do (at a slightly younger age, I punted my Bat Mitzvah for much the same reason). Doone is also someone with whom I can sympathize, although he is amazingly out of it sometimes! Charles is a good kid, and I bet he will grow to be an awesome man. But my surprise here was Crystal. She is so much the sort of girl that as a child I would love to hate, and yet ... Godden's skill is such that I can feel for Crystal. Her mother did such a number on her, and even when Crystal realizes it, she can't pull herself out of the pattern.
Future fic, please, and give me human interactions as part of it. Crystal and Ruth will never really be friends - but do they work together again? How about Ruth and Doone? Does Doone see Charles again? What happens (including romance ... I am a die-hard slash fan; and this would have such complications if Charles actually ends up in the military)? Or any plausible futures involving at least two of them.
Alliance-Union - C. J. Cherryh
I put down Meg Kady, Signy Mallory, Bet Yeager, and/or Allison Reilly.
CJC's universe is so wide that we never get to see any of these wonderful characters interact. So give me that interaction. The time lines don't have to be exact!
Think of a scenario with two or more of them together. No tragic endings, please, but these are not comfortable people. Being forced to work together ... could have surprisingly impressive results!
I love Meg's calm snarky badassery, Signy's strength and her decision to support the Alliance, Bet's gradual admission of love and friendship into her very tough life, and Allison's self-analysis and willingness to learn.
Chronicles of the Kencyrath - P. C. Hodgell
I wanted Rue (Chronicles of the Kencyrath), Shade (Nightshade) (Chronicles of the Kencyrath), Marcarn (Chronicles of the Kencyrath), and/or Brier Iron-Thorn
The Highborn-Kendar relationship fascinates me. I'd love to see some sort of exploration of it through the eyes of one or more of the Kendar characters. Optional appearances by Jame, Tori, and/or Kindrie are appreciated but not necessary. I also have a sneaking fondness for Bane in his current form.
I love Rue's pluck and optimistic toughness, Shade's gradual warming to the notion that not all Highborn are like those of her house (and her longing for and bond with her actual Lourdan), Marcarn's ability to look past abuse and tragedy and remain kind and even cheerful, and Brier's tangled past and steadfastness despite it. (Yes, I have had a story about Brier before: I can't get enough of her, though.)