Livia, Manifest Destiny (aka the JLA Serial)
A dazzling graphic novel distilled into text, this story has something for everyone: secret, frustrated love, angst, loyalty, sacrifice, humor, romance, hot mind-control sex, and vivid realizations of the Justice League. Not to mention a wonderfully imaginative importation of Brainiac into the SV canon. Futurefic that actually feels like Smallville fic. Huzzah! [Edit: I've been requested to note that the story hasn't been betaed yet, though it is complete.]
Special bonus rec from the same author: Just Pie.
Hookerfic that's actually sorta plausible? You bet! And it's hilarious, featuring Clark Kent, college student by day, accidental pimp daddy by night.
Slodwick, "Clark Kent and Lex Luthor...I like the sound of that" (photomanip)
Simple, yet sexy, darkly-sophisticated, and glamorous wallpaper. What's most technically impressive about it is that the source pics aren't actually in character, but somehow Slodwick manages to sell them not as the actors, but as Clark and Lex in some mad-bad-and-dangerous-to-know future.
Bexless, Super Bullet Sneeze
Yes, I have a weakness for wee!Pete and !Clark friendship stories. This one is charming, making the boys believable five-year-olds, adorable and ridiculous, without toppling over into the twee.
Jenn, In the Absence
To be honest, I was not planning to like any Lex/Lucas story--the facile incest story is one of the plagues of SV fandom, and bores me to tears. But though I think Lex would have put up a little more resistance than he did, Jenn just manages to bring it off here. Probably most importantly, she keeps firm control of the tone, making what happens understandable without casting a romantic haze overthe act, keeping Lucas's point of view most creepy without veering off into the tedious Grand Guignol theatrics that mark most bad Luthorcest stories.
TaraLJC, Chemistry (photomanip)
A technically-accomplished (except that the female model's arms are too damn skinny), smoothly sexy Chlex manip. I like the mood of urban sophistication; it nicely captures what the two of them could and should have in common.
Livia, Many Waters
Disclamer: This is another Livia story where I contributed a bit of the plot, so you can take this rec with a grain of salt if you like. All the painful implications of the Kents' choice not to tell Lex about Desiree's powers in one little story. An uncomfortably vivid sense-story that fills in nicely one of the many gaps of this season's Lex characterization.
This little vignette has some lovely grace notes and hits three of my weak points: Martha POV, Lex-with-cancer, and...compassion. Perhaps because of the story's small scale, its intellectual superstructure is more effective, less labored and intrusive, than I find it to be in many of her other stories.
Lionel finds a new way to connect with Lex, and in an only slightly sick and wrong way. Ingrid writes a believable, insightful Lionel, and this story in particular draws on her gift for the perfectly revelatory detail. It's also a tasty dish of Lex-angst, the food everyone loves.
Basingstoke, Psyche's Candle
Lex slowly, slowly returns to the human race after the events of "Vortex," with some intentional and unintentional help from the Kents. Post-eps are hard to do--they're exciting in the moment but tend to date fast--but I think this gentle tale will last. This story is different from much of Bas's work, less humor and gimmickry, more understated insight. I enjoy the humor and gimmickry, but I appreciate this more self-effacing style, too.
Clark and Lex: an ordinary day, but a special one. Short, polished, elegant, with lovely creepy echoes. I love stories where the disturbing material isn't explicit, nor even carefully kept right off-screen where you can see it if you turn your head, but simply the bone-chilling ghost of context.
A Chlark True Love memorial rec. *sniffle* Yes, they could've been the most fun couple ever, discovering sex with joyous snarkiness. Much like Basingstoke's previously-recced "Smallville Boys," "Crimson" captures this dynamic well.
Ingrid, Seeing Clearly
A much more thoughtful look at the likely aftermath of Lionel's injuries than the show has given us so far. Like her other story on the topic, Raze Out Troubles Written, this has a plausible, empathetic look at both Lex and Lionel full of telling details; unlike "Raze Out," it doesn't have the unfortunate honking great fanfic cliche to mar the ending.
In the future, Clark and Lex just can't stop jabbing at each other. The concept is familiar, but Spike transforms it with viscerality: skin scraped raw, thudding into bruises.
FutureLex and Chloe play a game. I particularly like the sharp, insightful Chloe descriptions from Lex's POV. The plot has a certain inevitable rightness to it. The prose during the sex gets a wee bit flowery and Harlequiny, but you'll live.
This is a deliciously silly and sexy bit of summertime fanart. Maybe not Livia's most technically accomplished piece ever, but that's just because she sets such a high standard. Love it, love it.
Spike, Apres le Deluge
Spike says this is a PCR, and didn't really post it widely. I don't think so--there's a ritual going on here, a cleansing, a change. A note-perfect view of Lex post-"Tempest."
Livia, New Leaf
Happy future-fic, huzzah! What makes this one stand out for me is that the reconciliation is not casually achieved (this recent spate of stories where an application of Clark's Magic Penis makes Lex suddenly reconsider a life of bloody crime, or Lex's Wonder-Working Mouth dissolves forty years of bitterness, is just so thoughtless). The story is short, but it carries all the history it needs.
Besides which, it's funny and sweet and I hope Lex gets a second chance like this one.
I am a well-established sucker for young-Lex stories, especially ones that explore the Luthor family dynamics. Especially ones in which Lionel is not rendered as a two-dimensional monster. Only three dimensions here. Short, sharp, and exceptionally painful.
This story is the quintessential Pete, the Pete they seem to be fumbling towards on the show but never have enough time to get to. It also has weird, yet cute, wee Clark, which I confess is a weakness of mine. Excellent summer reading.
Pearl-o, The Next in Line
One thing that's worried me a bit about the SV fandom is that we haven't seemed to be growing many brand new writers of merit. I've been wondering for a while if Pearl-o might not prove to be an exception, watching her improve, waiting for her breakout work. Well, this may not quite be a breakout work, but it's thoughtful, subtle, and honest. These days, I'm very glad to see a flawed Clark who is not a psycho bitch. And, yes, Chloe deserves better.
Basingstoke, Smallville Boys
A trifle? Yes, in the sweet-tart and tasty sense. Chlark is the flavor of the moment, people! Get with the program!
I admit it, I like my PWPs not just hot, but also funny, and this one is absurdly hilarious as well as being wicked stirring.
Jayne Leitch, Die Hand Die Verletzt
I haven't yet processed the massive flow of stories that was the X-Titles challenge, but this one caught my eye. It's a little piece, nothing earth-shattering, but there's something about future-Lex's petulance and frustration that just really rang true to me.
I should put a disclaimer here, because I consulted on the plot for this one. Nonetheless, the part I like best is the part I had nothing whatever to do with, the sex scene. It's easily the most psychologically interesting SV sex scene written in the past couple months. It's also not merely a rare happy futurefic, but a rare non-apocalyptic futurefic--instead, it's just a tale of Clark learning to come to an accommodation with Superman--which is a pleasant change, to say the least.
Te, Past Grief
Some of the plotting in this story really frustrates me--it depends heavily on a stupid and incautious Lionel. However, that consideration aside, ohhhhh, it hurts so good. I don't know why this should be so after all this time, but Te can still surprise me with how intelligent her stories are (as well as evocative and affecting). This satisfied my need for sad SV fic for weeks.
I'm thrilled to actually get a chance to be a dissenting voice in favor of a story. I'm constantly wondering about how SV's future Lex is going to conceptualize Clark and Superman; this gives one satisfying answer.
Rach L., Mezzanine
This one's a little less polished than many others on this page, but it's an all-too-plausible imagining of what might cause the enmity between Clark and Lex, and the Chloe/Clark is very sweet.
Drag stories rarely work for me. They usually seem written more to hit the kink than to illuminate character, and since it's not a kink of mine, I tend to find them rather dull. However, this story at least puts the trope to some use, to examine issues of identity. Also, this particular incarnation of drag-Lex is just more plausible to me than many others: I could actually picture this Lex in these clothes. The inclusion of Bruce Wayne probably wasn't strictly necessary, but at least fits the theme. Aside from this, it's a nice, heart-tugging story of the death of Lex's mother.
This one is a PWP with too much sex. Yes, yes, I know. However, I really think it did its job as erotica in the first half, and the second was gilding the lily. Still, the first half was fantastically amusing and hot Mrs. Robinson action for our Clark, so I can't object too much.
No real problems with this one--just a touching and quietly sexy post-ep for "Hug" in which Lex copes with the damage he did Clark under Rickman's control and Clark wonders what else may come.
Basingstoke, At the Fifteenth Annual Evil Mastermind Convention
I'm not a huge fan of crossovers in general, especially in slash. They tend to come across as authorial wankfests rather than plausible. However, this one goes for hilarity rather than just heat and works beautifully. For some reason, organized, self-conscious evil always cracks me up.
The Spike, The Butterfly Effect
It's just not right that the Spike should've written my favorite stories in not one, but two, fandoms, but there it is. If "Prognosis" was an exploration of the more intimate repercussions of "Hourglass," "Butterfly Effect" is her riff on the epic nature of the end of the episode. A simple, chilling premise explodes into a tale both terrifying and moving. Spike somehow manages to convey an overload of imagery without going over-the-top and provides excellent characterization of all involved, including Jonathan and Martha--rare accomplishments, both. I damn near cried.
Basingstoke, Snow Day
Snow falls in Smallville, the boys horse around, and Clark finally spills the beans. Again, a sweet story, but believable and natural. There's a real sense of beauty and wonder in this story that makes it my pick for this year's Christmas story.
Meredith Lynne, The Road Home
The conflict in this one is resolved just a little too easily for my taste, and though there is a plot (thank you, Merry), it sort of...sputters. Still, this story is studded with charming bits--mutant cows, Clark's Oreo crunching, and bare feet--and Clark here is believably adolescent, possessing that strange mixture of innocence and assurance they seem to be going for on the show but which is hard to recreate in the fic.
Te, See This
Incest fic, strange and terrible. I'm not entirely persuaded of the characterizations, but as a baroque riff on the characters, the least likely possibility brought to grim and riveting life, it works. I wish I could write darkfic the way Te does--with total conviction and honesty and the absolute minimum of posing. This is really the only Lionel/Lex fic the fandom needs; too bad it won't be the only one it gets.
Excellent use of a voyeurism scenario to bring out truths about both the couple observed and the observer himself. Another vote in the "Lionel loves his son" category, and a convincing one. Oddly sweet, in a weird sort of way and despite the foreboding at the end.
I forgot to include this one first time through. Subtle, disquieting, terribly sad.
The Spike, Prognosis
I hate the Spike for seeing the same thing I did in "Hourglass," but I can forgive her, since she turned out this short, absolutely vicious piece. I can already tell that this fandom is going to be overrun by the most tedious, unimaginative Lex-angst, but this is anything but. "Not so much a story as a scream," say the notes, and that's about right.
Lex plays tempter and finds what he expects to find, but still gets it wrong. What makes this one stand out is the subtle conflict between Clark's and Lex's expectations of life and romance and the way it drives them apart.
Well...see above. This one is a nicely blasphemous drabble in which every word counts, with Lex's thoughts full of ominous promise.
Ah, the beginning of a series. When the show is an infinite swirl of possibilities, no years of canon and established characterization and backstory to narrow the options. I usually find this phase dull, because it's the bending of canon to the writer's will that's the most interesting part of slash to me. However, sometimes the stories are just too sizzling to ignore, and this series, though touching practically none of my own hot buttons, is rendering me (and half the slash world, judging from the blogs) nonverbal. Cool, Machiavellian Lex getting drawn in by the sweet charms of naive but strong farmboy Clark...okay, it does sound like bad porn when you put it like that, but who cares?