Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Diving for Lost Canon!

Diver Alias: The Saucy Aussie (AKA DameNellie)

Mission: Find a good canon story with
rich characterizations

The Pearl: Snapshots by Starshinedown

Summary: If it is in facing life's big moments that we discover what we are made of, then it is the small, subtle moments of our lives that build the foundations of who we are to become. An Esme story in four parts. Pre-Twilight, in canon. Twilight - Rated: M - English - Drama - Chapters: 4 - Words: 6,060 - Reviews: 21 - Updated: 2-11-09 - Published: 1-28-09 - Esme - Complete

Why I Read This: My friend scoffed at me when I told her I was doing a canon fic dive. You see, I haven't read all the books so she thinks I'm unqualified. She constantly asks me why I'm so into canon fics when I have little interest in finishing the series. Well, of course there are a few reasons I haven't finished the books, but what draws me to canon fics is that they're so often character studies. The plot has already been mapped out for us by Stephenie Meyer, so all that is left to do in canon fics is explore different characters' reactions to these fixed events through different points of view, or to write missing moments which give depth the characters we know and love. I'm inherently interested in people - their idiosyncracies, their perspectives, their motivations. So my favourite kinds of stories are those with well developed, interesting characters. I guess it's this potential for character exploration that draws me to canon fics.

One such story is Snapshots by Starshinedown. This fic is a character study of Esme told in four parts. It explores a little of her life before she was changed and shows how she came to term with her losses, her love for Carlisle and the new family they built together. Esme is such an underappreciated character and is terribly underwritten in the books. Her history is both interesting and tragic, yet her character is too often written as the bland, one-dimensional mother. In Snapshots, Starshinedown gives Esme a personality that stays true to her canon traits. Esme's tendency towards nurturing and mothering is explained through small glimpses into her past, as well as scenes with Edward, Carlisle and Rosalie that give so much more depth to these relationships than we ever get in the book. I've always found Esme's role as 'mother' in the Cullen family a little weird, considering that she's physically not much older than the others. However, Starshinedown does a great job of explaining the nurturing role she has taken on in the family. The fourth and final chapter, in particular, is a beautiful scene between Esme and Rosalie where Rose is still struggling with coming to terms with her vampire life and Esme is able to offer her comfort, support and the perspective of her own experiences.

This is really one of the best Esmes I've read. The way she deals with her abuse in her human life is tragic in its realism and its effects on her echo into her vampire life. The author explores how the ghost of her human husband haunts Esme when she begins her relationship with Carlisle. Being such a short story, events are never told in great detail but the small moments the author shows us reveal so much about Esme's personality and her determination to live a life of love and happiness after the tragedy of her human life. I came away from this story with a completely new respect for Esme. I think an author has really achieved something if they can make the reader understand and empathise with a character. Starshinedown has certainly achieved this in Snapshots.

I was only supposed to recommend one story for this dive, but I couldn't resist mentioning Trances and Beginnings by flute-genevive. It, too, focuses on Esme. It's a short one-shot exploring Esme's observation of Edward's struggles with love before, during and after he and Bella get together. We get such an unique insight into Edward's character through Esme's eyes. It's so interesting how she exlpores Edward's lonliness and isolation and how he considers himself unworthy of love even as he yearns for it.

She bases the one-shot around the poem Portrait of a Lady by T.S. Eliot. For some reason, the author never names the poem, although she quotes it several times. However, I think it's really worth reading the poem before you read this one shot as it'll put the quotes in context. I found this one-shot beautiful in its brevity and the way she weaves the poem into the story is so lovely and unique.

Diver Alias: The Irish Instigator (aka Ruby_Wednesday)

Mission: Find a the Alice we fell in love with in the books

The Pearl: Symbiosis by Sobriquett.

Summary: Symbiosis, a relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement, whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other. Canon, platonic ExA; 28 vignettes set over 60 years. Normally updated daily. Twilight - Rated: T - English - Friendship/Family - Chapters: 6 - Words: 5,170 - Reviews: 52 - Updated: 3-10-10 - Published: 2-1-10 - Edward & Alice

Why I Read This: In this fandom good canon fics are hard to come by, and even the ones that are out there fly under the radar. So diving for canon stories was something of a challenge but ultimately very rewarding. After scrolling through over one hundred pages on ff.net and looking in countless communities, I eventually found one story that not only met the criteria but is a fresh and original look at one of my favourite relationships in the series.

In the series, the relationship between Alice and Edward is extremely interesting but also has so much unfulfilled potential. We get the impression that their gifts make them kindred spirits and that Edward has perhaps a closer friendship with her than any of the other Cullens. Some of my favourite little moments in the books hint at this – from Alice stealing his bedroom to the chess game that’s mentioned in Eclipse and in Midnight Sun, when they play Heart and Soul on the piano. But fanon has somehow morphed Alice into a cock-blocking, meddlesome, serial giver of make-overs (Was there ever an incident in the series where she interfered like this? I thought that role was exclusively Edward’s). This fic does not commit any of the character assassinations we have become accustomed to. Rather, it captures the spirit of friendship that Stephenie Meyer probably aspired to show until she got distracted by silk cocktail dresses.

The premise is simple – each chapter illustrates a scene between this pair, and that in turn shows us readers the depth and complexity of their friendship. The chapters are short but fit so much into a few hundred words that you get a crystal clear picture of who the characters are and what they are doing. The chapters posted so far are all pre-Twilight and we readers can feel like we’re in on a joke, because we know what’s coming for Edward even if they don’t yet. Every scene is completely plausible, fits in with the information we already know and more importantly expands on it. It covers everything from Alice’s past to the realities of high school life for a vampire in a way so believable and so true to character that I was completely blown away. The writing is clear, concise and hits the mark every time. This story is a real treat and worth the short time it will take to read. At the time of posting, it is incomplete and I’m so excited to see the rest as it heads into the book timeframe.

I waded through more strange fics than I care to remember including a Bella that orgasms two hundred times a day, Jasper mating with an eleven year old, and Bella the pirate ‘caption’ for this fic dive. All of that was worth it to find this gem. At just over fifty reviews for six chapters, it is woefully under-acknowledged so please share some love for this fab author. Symbiosis is one of those stories I would like everyone to read. Please indulge me. You won’t regret it

Diver Alias: A Stranger in A Strange Land, Aye? (aka EchoesofTwilight)

Mission: Find the best telling of the Cullen family tree

The Pearl: In My Power by Emilie Fauve

Summary: Carlisle's chronicle of how each member in his family came to join him in immortality. True to character and canon. Pre-Twilight; rated for medical situations and mature themes. 2009 Eddie Award Nominee! Twilight - Rated: M - English - Drama/Angst - Chapters: 21 - Words: 136,689 - Reviews: 365 - Updated: 1-28-10 - Published: 12-23-08 - Carlisle & Edward - Complete

Why I Read This: As soon as I saw the options for the new round of ficdives, I knew which one would have me signing up and eagerly trolling through all of the lesser-known fics I could find, looking for something great. Anyone in this fandom who knows me is aware that I am a canon h00r of epic proportions, though the term "canon" means different things to different people - and even different things to me sometimes. This time, however, I wasn't just looking for something with the usual pairings, or a new plot twist laid over the foundations given to us by the saga (my own preferred niche in which to write), but rather something truly canon, in that it could be a seamless addition to the original story.

There's a lot out there, and pretty typically for me I chose not to narrow my search to something "easy" - such as a missing moment from between books or chapters or an alternate POV - but instead a subject not covered quite as often: the formation of the Cullen clan. Decision made, I relentlessly plugged keywords into site searches until I found exactly what I wanted.

In My Power, by Emilie Fauve, is a strictly in-canon imagining of how the family came together, from the perspective of the one person who was there to see all of it: Carlisle. I have read many examples of Carlisle's "voice" since joining the fandom - I even write one - and in my opinion, this is one of the best I've found. His legendary compassion shines through every chapter as we are taken on a journey with him, but what really impresses me about this fic are the myriad other emotions the author conveys at the same time.

Given that we know how the story of the Cullens ends, with a happily ever after for them all, it might be tempting for anyone aiming to write the beginning of their tale to keep that spirit. To make it easy. I can't tell you how refreshing it is that the author resisted the urge. Carlisle's torment over whether to change Edward is palpable, and the difficulties they both face in adjusting to their new lives - Edward to vampirism, Carlisle to having a companion - are covered with incredible realism. So, too, is Esme's addition to the family. Edward's jealousy is understandable and completely believable, while Carlisle's resistance to falling in love after so many solitary years adds both unexpected depth to this story and a very interesting mirror to Edward's reluctance regarding Bella at the start of Twilight.

However, with every word she spoke, it felt as though I was, again, drawing closer to that something. It was more than a feeling or emotion—more akin to some kind of marked awareness. I was fearful every time I felt it begin to fester, afraid that it might be some twisted part of my suppressed, evil nature. There would be moments when Esme would suddenly look at me, longing clearly evident in her gaze. As I found myself mesmerized by her poignant expression, I would begin to recognize that unidentified something—but as soon as recollection would begin to dawn, it would be as if I had hit a wall, every answer tightly locked away and out of reach, forcing me to look away in frustration.

It makes sense to me that the coming together of such a diverse group, in an environment so fraught with emotion, wouldn't be a smooth, obstacle-free ride. The story covers each of the vampires created by Carlisle (ending with a really fabulous depiction of Emmett) and we get to see their integration into the family in a way that isn't glossed over or viewed through rose-colored glasses, but that still conveys the familial bond we know and love. Rosalie's part of the story is particularly harrowing at times, with no detail spared, but care has obviously been taken by the author to treat the subject with respect and accuracy.

I've probably made it clear by now that I loved this. Remarkably few "off notes" threw the flow of the story, and seeing the way in which each member strove to come to terms with themselves and the family unit only enhances the way we know they ended up. Though the end may leave you aching to read of Alice and Jasper's arrival, as I was, it still feels like a complete story, and I understand why the author chose to end it where she did. Happily, however, there is a two-shot on her profile of exactly what I want to see, and it's definitely going to be the very next thing I read.

In My Power has been nominated for an Eddie, but the review count is still tragically low. Go read, and leave some love.


  1. DameNellie! I'm thrilled you liked Snapshots enough to recommend it! Thank you so much for the warm fuzzies.

    Esme really is under appreciated, and so often given short shrift in fan fiction (and in the books). It's lovely to be pointed out as the author of a story that fleshes her out a bit.

    Thank you!


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