First up: Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979). I recommend...
"The Poet's Son" by malinaldarose (gen; PG; 8,929 words)
In the episode "The Man With Nine Lives," Boomer knows a good deal more about Borrellian Nomen than the others do. This story takes that observation and winds time back before the Annihilation of the Colonies, before canon, all the way to Boomer, Starbuck and Apollo's Academy days.
The organizing trope is that of a survival test as graduation examination for final qualification as a Viper pilot in the Colonial forces. But Boomer's trial is unexpectedly interrupted by the accidental intrusion of an outsider, a civilian... a Noman.
And then more Nomen, on a blood hunt for the first.
Sharing desperate circumstances with a person from a very different culture, Boomer learns not only about the Nomen, but about himself. What makes a successful Viper pilot may or may not be what makes a good human being. And Boomer is a good human being, by any culture's standards.
This well-plotted story has its own beginning, middle and end, yet plugs seamlesly into canon. Its Boomer is well-drawn and wholly in-character, with tempting details about his family and his choices. The bits for Apollo and Starbuck, while small, feel balanced and aligned.
I've re-read "The Poet's Son" several times since it appeared in an OldSchoolFic ficathon. I should note — potential conflict of interest! — that it was written for my prompt in that game. :-)
"The Way of Cain" by james (gen; PG; 1,893 words)
This story has Cain and young Sheba's voices precisely right. I hear them echo between my imagination and my ears; I see Cain's blithe, jaunty winks and grins and the angles at which he inclines his head and raises his eyebrows.
Set during Sheba's early adolescence, while Cain is on furlough, this story requires Cain to reprimand his daughter's fighting at school, when really he'd rather applaud it (as long as she's winning). This dichotomy is perceptively true to canon's Cain, who will certainly not lie, as such, but who finds leaving key things unsaid no bother to his conscience or stain on his honor (so unlike Adama or Apollo). This eager willingness to compartmentalize will return in canon, when Sheba's hero-worship trust of her father finally bumps up against his human limitations.
Lightly, this story pokes at the pathetic 1970s-80s sexism of the show (and therefore of the Colonies) by making the ostensible subject of the schoolyard brawl the question of whether a woman may be a Warrior. By the time Sheba joins the regular cast, there are other women Viper pilots on the Galactica, but only as an outcome of a dire shortage of pilots that forced the admission of shuttle pilots to fighter cockpits. Sheba is the only woman we meet who was a Viper pilot before the exigencies of the Annihilation of the Colonies.
Canon Sheba had long irritated me, I must admit. This story revolutionized my perception of Sheba. I'd never before found her so accessible and sympathetic; this story opened my eyes to her, and her relationship with her father.
"Things Hoped For" by chellefic (gen; G; 1,182 words)
A party in a gentle lull between struggles nevertheless has obligations for Adama, to show himself publicly full of hope, faith and determination, for the sake of those who look to him. This quiet story finds Commander Adama reminiscing bittersweetly in his own thoughts. Moving through the party, he misses Ila, his wife who died in the sneak attack on Caprica; he sees distant reflections of himself and Ila in Starbuck and Cassiopeia, and the story carefully positions hints of challenges in Adama and Ila's marriage, angled off observations of the younger people's opportunities for growth.
The party features dancing. When the music rolls back to the cadences of times past, Cassiopeia thoughtfully asks Adama to dance steps with her that no one else remembers. They are an elegant convergence.
This small story is pithy and rich. It's full of longing, resignation, and responsibility. Yet it's not without giving Adama a little recharge of the hope and faith that he needs as much as everyone else.
Got any favorite BSG78 recommendations for me? :-)
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