Fanfiction: The Untamed/GoDC edition

I have now read a lot of fanfic for The Untamed / Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. I figured it was time to make some recommendations here for some of the best of them. It was extremely hard to weed it down to just four, and I had to struggle to try to keep them solidly distinct from one another (there tends to be a lot of overlap in fanfic) and generally happy (canon gives a lot of opportunity for angst). And not too explicitly graphic, although I compromised that one a bit.

So here are my four recommended fanfics, in order chronologically through events and also in order of humor, from heart-wrenching to hilarious:

   DURING CANON, there’s always going to be a certain amount of angst:

Devoutly to Be Wished
by yunitsa
word count: 3,032

Summary: Five (and half) times Wei Wuxian fantasies about Lan Wangji, and one time he doesn’t have to.

Why I recommend it: I was going to keep this list of recommendations strictly non-graphic and then I realized that I had to include this one because it’s a gorgeous and heart-breaking look at the main character and his desire for his beloved as he grows and changes.

   IN THE MISSING YEARS, there’s a surprisingly less angst:

Scapegoat
by astrobandit
word count: 1,325

Summary: four ridiculous things the Yiling Patriarch was blamed for, and one ridiculous thing that was positively his fault.

Why I recommend it: The canonical storyline switches between the past and the present with a good decade in between the end of the past and the beginning of the present, and in that time Lan WangJi appears to have decided that he has no more fucks to give and it is glorious. This story is a few very short vignettes that show just how done with everyone’s idiocy he is. Glorious!

   IMMEDIATELY POST-CANON, specifically to the TV show

The Absolutely True Story of the Yiling Patriarch: A Manifesto in Many Parts
by aubreyli
word count: 19,692

Summary: In which the junior disciples (namely, Lan Jingyi, Ouyang Zizhen, and a reluctant Lan Sizhui) turn to RPF in an attempt to rehabilitate Wei Wuxian’s reputation so that he and Hanguang-jun can get together and get married and live happily ever after. It’s… surprisingly effective.

Why I recommend it: This is both beautiful and hilarious and does an amazing job of capturing that dichotomy that’s also present in the original story of balancing humor and drama.

   FURTHER POST-CANON, our main couple are an established couple and dealing with other things:

A Civil Combpaign, and it’s companion, Besieged
by Ariaste
word count: 31,015

Summary: “And,” said one of the pompous ministers, “there’s the matter of a marriage to consider as well!”
Jin Ling, who at the beginning of that sentence had expected to slam into the very last wall of his patience and lose his temper entirely, paused. “A what?”
Thing was… it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Why I recommend it: This is side-splittingly funny. I had to struggle through some second-hand embarrassment but it’s worth it because this is the most awkward courtship attempt ever between two of the younger generation with our main couple established and looking on. And Wei Wuxian’s perspective on it all is an utter delight. Also, in some ways, this version of Wei Wuxian reminds me of Eugenidies from The Thief.

 

Fanfiction: Star Wars edition

It has been a while since I’ve posted, mostly because I’ve either been reading books already recommended on this site (wow, was Bone Gap awesome!) or mainlining a whole bunch of fanfiction. Thus, it’s time for another fanfiction post, this time all in the Star Wars fandom.

One of the things I really enjoy about fanfiction is that there are a lot of common plot ideas that different authors will try their hand at writing. So you wind up with these sets of stories that are variations on a theme.

One recent theme that came out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is to look at how Finn’s escape from the First Order effected those Stormtroopers left behind. These are all amazing and in many ways deal with variations on stories themselves, since the Stormtroopers hear about Finn through rumor and word-of-mouth.

Cautionary tale by Aviss:
summary:
After the Starkiller, Finn becomes a cautionary tale among the troopers.
This doesn’t always work in the First Order’s favour.

Tomorrow (there’ll be more of us) by dimircharmer:
summary:
“FN-2187 was real, right?” She sounds very young again. “Please tell me he was real.”
“I’m real,” said Finn, who was on his first patrol since his back healed. “And my name’s Finn now.”
Her eyes widened. “You have a name?
*
Or: The resistance is starting to get stormtrooper defectors. Finn helps them out.

The Story of Finn by LullabyKnell
summary:
The story they hear is that of FN-2187.
He’s a defector – a traitor to the First Order. He’s not the first, nor will he be the last, and the First Order expects to retrieve him and end him quickly.
But that’s not what happens.
The only thing Stormtroopers own are stories.

have you heard by peradi
summary:
“I heard FN-2187 was a Stormtrooper.”
Finn Sparks a revolution

 

Explorations of how Stormtroopers react to the events of the movie is both awesome and very closely tied to canon. There’s no reason to believe that those stories couldn’t happen. And I really want have you heard to be the plot for the next movie because it is just that perfect.

In contrast, sometimes the themes that gain multiple writers trying it out are a lot more random: such as the idea that maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi could travel back in time and ensure the tragic events of the past-now-future don’t happen. It’s such a wonderful idea that really speaks to the foundation of fanfiction: let us fix this thing so the world is a better place.

Negotiator by Esama
summary: Obi-Wan dies, wakes up and decides to live a whole different life

Waking Dream by flamethrower
summary: A simple injury during what should have been a routine mission brings shocking changes to the lives of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and may alter the future of the Jedi Order.
note: this is awesome, but also nearly 50K words long and the first in a series that runs 550K words long. Still worth reading!

this is unexpected by marbleglove
summary: a self-indulgent response to the many, wonderful time-travel Star Wars stories that send a more experienced and more knowledgeable Obi-Wan Kenobi back in time to change the many tragedies to come
note: this is quite short (little more than 1K words) and more playful than plot-ful.

As much as I love the variations on a theme that sometimes happen (and I really, really do love them!), I am also incredibly impressed with the authors who find a perspective or concept I haven’t seen before. Thus I am incredibly impressed with Fialleril who wrote a series of gorgeous short fic delving into the slave culture of Tatooine, into which Anakin was born and near which Luke was raised.

The Tatooine Cycle by Fialleril

Chosen: When Shmi Skywalker was thirty seven years old, she went out into the desert.
Seductio: He learns that he must be free of attachment.
Patriarchy: Fathers always desire the destruction of their children
Children of the Desert: They were the children of the desert, born for squalor and mystery
Amakurra: Tatooine wasn’t home for her in the way it was for Luke. But for Leia, who would never go home again, Tatooine – at least, this part of Tatooine – was strangely comforting.

Carry On

My past entries here have made it clear that I am a Rainbow Rowell person. Eleanor and Park is one of my favorite books ever, and I loved Attachments and Landline. Plus, Rainbow is adorable both on Twitter and in person. (I am not a stalker, I promise.) But I was nervous when she announced that her latest release would be a sort of spin off of Fangirl. Rebecca reviewed Fangirl here on the blog, and while I think I liked that book more than she did I agreed that the pacing was a little odd. And I was pretty indifferent to a major plot point of that book–the Harry Potter-esque book series that the main character wrote epic, popular fanfiction about. Fangirl didn’t actually contain any of this fictional story, but you heard a lot about it over the course of the book. While I liked Fangirl‘s treatment of fanfiction, I wasn’t particularly interested in the wizard-y story itself–it didn’t seem worth my time to think about these characters that felt extra, extra, fictional (books within books!). So when I heard that Carry On would be an entire book those Harry Potter-like wizards fighting evil at a magical boarding school, I was not excited. But then Nicole Cliffe at The Toast (Best Website Ever) started raving about it, and The Toast published a lovely interview with Rowell. And I always knew I was going to read it, so I bought it to take on vacation. And hear me now: it was so good and I was so wrong.

Honestly, Rowell herself seems to have worked a magic trick here. Carry On is clearly inspired by Harry Potter and uses Harry Potter as scaffolding in some ways, yet has an entirely different feeling. Despite the presence of magic, it’s a bit less of a fairy tale and is grittier and funnier–it definitely has a more modern feeling that I would have predicted, based on the descriptions in Fangirl. The book is clearly meant to the culmination of a long series of adventures (as if it were the seventh Harry Potter) and it refers to all sorts of past events, but I was never lost or confused by what was happening. The writing made it feel like you were jumping right into conversation with beloved characters. Rowell also introduces some new, clever ways of dealing with magic. For example, in her world spells are not made-up Latin-y words, but are cliches or nursery rhymes or lyrics–words whose power comes from people using and knowing them. Like, there’s a scene where a u can’t touch this spell doesn’t work on a dragon because the dragon doesn’t know the song. And Carry On does something that I don’t think Harry Potter even quite manged–it tells a really charming, compelling love story, which is really the heart of the book.

As I said, I read this on vacation and I almost wish I hadn’t because once I started all I wanted to do was keeping reading. On multiple occasions I chose to read this rather than pay attention to what was around me, even though what was around me was France. (I liked the book so much, I actually feel okay about this.) This would be the perfect book for a long plane flight or rainy weekend, when you just want to immerse yourself in a new world and ignore everything around you.

Also, I want to note that you don’t have to have read Fangirl to follow Carry On. This book is completely free standing and independent of Fangirl and (I think) is much better. Although I like Fangirl more now, knowing that it eventually led us to this.


Kinsey’s Three Word Review:
Suspenseful, magical romance

You might also like: I’m going to assume that everyone has read Harry Potter and that you’ve all been listening to me and reading Rainbow Rowell’s other books. With that in mind, I’m going to recommend John Green and David Levithan’s YA writing. They both have more famous books, but their collaboration on Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one of my favorites and has a similar feeling to this. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is another solid recommendation featuring a clever magic world, although it’s a bit darker.

For a quick laugh: 3 Fanfiction plus 1 Nonfiction

It’s been a while since anyone’s posted, so I’m going to recommend four short stories that are crazy good for a laugh. Two of them are so short that they don’t even have titles, but still, go read them!

LINK for FIC
by kyraneko

Fandom: crossover between State Farm Insurance Commercials and All State Insurance Commercials

Original Inspiration for Fic: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” we chant, and another agent appears in the pentagram. He screams. The Dark Lord feasts tonight.

LINK for FIC
by paginationline

Fandom: Marvel’s Avengers comic books

Original Inspiration for Fic: “Clint.”
“I know—“
“You have the army after you and no health and you’re falling out of a crashing plane.”
“I know, Nat—“
“It’s a bass fishing simulator, Clint.”
“I know! It just—it just happens!”

LINK for FIC: Your Highnessness
By shadydave

Fandom: crossover between Guardians of the Galaxy and Jupiter Ascending

Summary: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far a—
Yeah, I know that’s not when it happened, but that’s how you start this kind of—
I don’t know, do I look like George Lucas?
No, he made the movie. No, it doesn’t have Kevin Bacon. Not everything has Kevin Bacon!
Of course it’s still good!
Fine, you dicks. If you think you know better than one of the greatest stories of the human race:
A short time ago, in this galaxy…

LINK for FIC: So I used to be a martial artist
By textuallyaroused

Fandom: nonfiction, autobiographical

Example paragraph: Now, Sensei Diven was not a stupid man and he hated high-ranking kids that showed a bad attitude. This kid had a bad attitude. So he must have seen the evil gleam in my eye from a mile away and decided it was time for a little improvisation.

Fanfiction: the Winter Soldier edition

On my last fanfic post, it was pointed out that the characterization of Bucky Barnes in one story felt a bit off. One of the great things about fanfic, though, is that there are a gazillion different takes on any given character. On AO3, at the time of writing this, there are 9323 fics that have Bucky Barnes as a character.

Since I’ve gone a bit crazy recently with how many of these I’ve read, I figured I would share with a selection of stories covering a range of different Bucky-recovering-from-Winter-Soldier characterizations.*

All of the following stories are fanfic based on Captain America: Winter Soldier.

 

Bucky Characterization: Fragile

[untitled Bucky-on-a-bus fic]
by WinterSoldierFell

Summary (aka the first line of the story): It’s hot on the bus, and Bucky’s trying hard to keep away from the people next to him.

Why I like it: The story is a reminder that along with all the other evil things that were done to him, his surgery and prosthetic were also done without consent. And yet, this story is hopeful. Bucky is still very much lost but there’s hope that even if he doesn’t manage to discover himself, he will be able to create something new.

 

Bucky Characterization: Cold-blooded

Stone Cold
By Sassaphrass

Summary: There had maybe always been a part of Bucky Barnes, that was a stone cold killer… the history books may have forgotten that, but Steve hasn’t.

Why I like it: A lot of Bucky-recovering-from-being-the-Winter-Soldier stories stress the differences between Bucky and the Winter Soldier, reassuring everyone that Bucky was in no way responsible for his actions as a brainwashed assassin. Fair enough. This fic, though, focuses on the way Bucky and the Winter Solider are the same. This is also a character study of Steve Rogers as much as it is of Bucky Barnes.

 

Bucky Characterization: Long-suffering

Too Late to Apologize
By Verity

Summary: Bucky goes to the big Trader Joe’s in Union Square for toilet paper and peanut butter cups. When he gets out, his minder is across the street, conspicuously reading a newspaper in the middle of the sidewalk. Bucky has to squint to make out the headline, which is CAPTAIN AMERICA ARRESTED IN ZUCCOTTI PARK. “Oh, come on,” he mutters beneath his breath.

Why I like it: The whole super hero business takes a back-seat in this story, to just the tasks of regular life. Bucky is still piecing together his life but he’s always going to be there for Steve. (And Steve is still going to get himself in trouble standing up to bullies.)

 

Bucky Characterization: Determined

Soft Spot for the Hell Raisin’ Boy
By ifeelbetter

Summary: The Winter Soldier takes an interest in Sam Wilson. Bucky Barnes wants to tell him how to be Steve Rogers’s best friend.

Why I like it: This is kind of ludicrous but I like it, because while Steve Rogers is desperately trying to find Bucky Barnes, Bucky thinks Sam Wilson will make a better best friend to Steve than he will. Sam is clearly a saint to put up with this.

 

Bucky Characterization: Laid-back

Four times an Avenger met Bucky and didn’t know who he was, and one time they were all introduced
By Odsbodkins

Summary: What it says on the tin. In which Tony is kidnapped, Clint is a fangirl, Bruce sees echoes of the past and Thor is Thor.

Why I like it: All of these people have had seriously messed up lives and for any of them to be functioning at all, they have to have learned to just roll with it. Here is a Winter Solider/ Bucky who basically fits right in with the rest of the Avengers.

 

Bucky Characterization: Robot

Clint Barton’s Home for Wayward Mind Wiped Assassins
By roguewrld

Summary: “Where ever you were, whatever you did and whoever you did it for, it’s over. You need to pretend to be a person now, okay?”

Additional comment: This is the Clint Barton from the recent Hawkeye comic books. You don’t actually need to have read them to enjoy this, but it does add depth to the story if you have.

Why I like it: This is almost more of a Clint Barton character study than a Bucky Barnes ones, and yet, I do think it does a wonderful job of showing Barnes’ recovery from being a brainwashed assassin to being a human being who gets to make choices and have friends.

 

Bucky Characterization: Feral cat

That Kind of Day
By Neery

Summary: Carolyn Brown’s having one of those days. Her truck’s been stolen, she’s about to lose her job, and now a crazy Hydra assassin has broken into her apartment to ambush Captain America.

Why I like it: First of all, it’s an outsider perspective which is always hilarious because regular people have a very different take on the craziness that is superheroes. Second, the Bucky in this is like a really dangerous feral cat. He wants to come in, but he’s not quite sure how to.

 

And finally some complete crack,** just in case you didn’t think any of the previous characterizations were too ridiculous:

Bucky Characterization: Domesticated maybe? Flirtatious definitely

I once started out to walk around the world but ended up in Brooklyn
By suzukiblu

Summary: Captain America is not in New York, so the Winter Soldier is.

Additional comment: The other main character in this is Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies. I’m not sure how comprehensible this fic would be if you don’t know Darcy Lewis or Jane Foster.

Why I like this: A story doesn’t have to have good characterizations in order to be a whole lot of fun. This story is absolutely ridiculous but still makes me grin.

 

* It was really hard to narrow this down. I kept on wanting to recommend ALL THE STORIES!!!

** In fanfic circles, “crack” describes the really ludicrous stories that no one is even going to pretend is likely or makes-sense, but it still a whole lot of fun. I’m not sure where it came from, but I’ve also run across the phrase “[the author] smoked crack so you don’t have to” in reference to some stories.

More fanfiction!

So I recently discovered that Naomi Novik (author of the Temeraire series) presented to congress about the importance of the fair use exemption, to foster creativity. Go her!

Since I was at work when I discovered this, I read the written testimony rather than watched the video, and narrowly avoided bouncing around like a crazy woman.

Anyway… it made me want to post another set of fanfic recommendations.

After my last fanfic post of massively-long stories, I’m back to recommending some short fun fics:

 

Infinite Use
by Elizabeth Hoot

Fandom: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Summary: I’ve always wondered what exactly went on when Lady Catherine told Darcy about her meeting with Elizabeth. There are a lot of versions of that scene, but none hit quite right. Mostly, they took a serious approach to a scene I’d always imagined as absolutely hysterical. So, with no further ado…

Why I like it: It cracks me up. Just, she really highlights the ludicrous nature of the situation. In a romance with all the serious emotional development and fraught revelations of Pride & Prejudice, this story looks at one of the off-screen scenes and shows just how hilarious it must have been. Hee.

 

Beautiful Ideas
by metisket

Fandom: BBC’s Sherlock.

Summary: Mike knew what would happen if he introduced John Watson to Sherlock Holmes. He knew exactly what would happen, and he did it anyway.

Why I like it: First, because it’s wonderful. More specifically, though, it takes a minor character who essentially fulfills a plot point and then never appears again and makes him a full character. That is always a wonderful thing. Even more wonderful, though, is the character, who is shown to be wickedly funny and well aware of what he’s doing.

 

Because Superman Is Not Evil
by Brown Betty

Fandom: Superman with a bit of Batman

No summary, but the first line is: Clark spent, perhaps, seventeen minutes when he was fourteen thinking super hearing was a cool power.

Why I like it: For those of us who are not big Superman fans, one of the primary reasons is that Superman comes across as just too perfect and good and serious in his virtue and it just not particularly sympathetic. This take on Superman, though, makes me grin. He’s still a good and virtuous person, but he’s still a person. And possibly he has his own issues with his reputation for virtue.

 

A Good Fight
by togina

Fandom: Marvel movies/comic books. Mostly Captain America and Avengers.

Summary: “You remember that pub in London?” Steve went on, and Tony thought that someone should have made a note in the SSR records on Captain America. Something like, ‘Subject is a brawler. Do not, under any circumstances, take him to a bar unless you’re carrying brass knuckles and possibly an RPG.’

Why I like it: This highlights a side of Captain America that is often ignored. He tends to be shown as straight-laced and obedient to authority, with a side order of naive farmboy thrown in, even though his actual backstory has him growing up poor but scrappy, in very urban Brooklyn, during the Great Depression and Prohibition. His first military action (to save Bucky) was completely rogue action on his part. He was (and is) scrappy as anything. Sure, he has a strong moral compass, but that just meant he got into more fights than he might otherwise. This is a celebration of the good guy, Steve Rogers, who also just likes to brawl sometimes.

Warning: It’s a sad state of affairs that I need to warn about a homosexual relationship, but such it is. While there’s nothing too graphic in this story, Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are most definitely in a relationship. (In addition, while being gay was illegal at the time of their youth, it wasn’t exactly uncommon, and they actually grew up in pretty much the center of gay Brooklyn. I would say it’s extremely unlikely that wasn’t intentional by the original creators.)

Long Fanfictions

In preparation for writing my review of Rainbow Rowell’s most recent book, Fangirl (expect the review soon), I decided it was time to recommend a few more fanfiction stories. What makes this selection stand out from my prior recommendations is that, in honor of Rowell’s main character’s fanfiction epic, all of these are recommendations are really incredibly long.

Previously I’ve recommended short fics, because they’re intended to lure unwary readers into fandom or maybe point out a hidden jewel to someone already in fandom. The longer stories tend to be well known to those already in fandom and be a bit daunting for those outside of it.

The following stories range from 109K to 757K long. To give you some context for those numbers: A harlequin romance (one of those romance books often sold at the check-out line of grocery stores and titles things like The Billionaire’s Baby or The Tycoon’s Virgin Mistress or some such) is generally 10K words. Anyone who has completed the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel in the month of November, has written 50K words.

The following recommendations are a demonstration of not just the skill that some fanfiction writers have in weaving together words and worlds and characters, but also the dedication they have in continuing a story line that has gotten immensely rich and complex, and keeping at it until they can bring the story to its intended conclusion.

These stories have required a serious commitment by some fan to write. They take a reasonably serious commitment from some fan to read, too. But they’re worth it!

So, from shortest to longest:

Into the Rose Garden
by Dryad13
Fandom: Labrynth
109,232 words long
first chapter posted: June 10, 2004
last chapter posted: January 8, 2006

Summary: Sarah has good grades, a circle of friends, and a cute boyfriend. Life’s great…right? So why does she have the strange feeling that something’s missing? Fairy tales show that magic will make you or break you. Which category does she belong in?

Why I like this: This is a gorgeous story that does an incredible amount of world building regarding both magic and society, to how the Underground works and where exactly Jareth’s place is, in it and the consequences to Sarah for having defeated him.

 

The Least of All Possible Mistakes
by rageprufrock
Fandom: BBC’s Sherlock
118,096 words long
first chapter posted: January 31, 2012
last chapter posted: February 20, 2013

Summary: If ever a people deserved tasering, it’s Holmeses.

Why I like this: Lestrade doesn’t get much attention in the Sherlock Holmes stories and it’s a shame given how awesome she (the author decided to make Lestrade a female for this story) is. She’s not brilliant, but she is smart and, more to the point, she’s also practical and pragmatic and with enough self-confidence to know when to ask for help and when to call that help out for being an ass. And she is not at all the sort to put up with kidnappings by the mysterious older brother of her consultant (see the summary.) 😀

 

Divided We Stand
by KouriArashi
Fandom: MTV’s Teen Wolf
156,742 words long
first chapter posted: July 10, 2013
last chapter posted: October 4, 2013

Summary: Derek is being pressured by his family to pick a mate, and somehow stumbles into a choice that they didn’t expect and aren’t sure they approve of….

Why I like this: This uses a fairly common trope of fanfiction, but one that I enjoy immensely, and says what if this secret society is actually common knowledge? They’ve been around forever and all sorts of their cultural oddities have just been incorporated into society at large. In this case, everyone knows werewolves exist. And then we get to an immensely fun and satisfying romp of a story in which there is romantic drama and mysterious conspiracies and an eventual happy ending. It’s pretty much a perfect comfort story.

 

Pet Project
by Caeria
Fandom: Harry Potter
338,788 words long
first chapter posted: March 3, 2005
last chapter posted: June 9, 2013

Summary: Hermione overhears something she shouldn’t concerning Professor Snape and decides that maybe the House-elves aren’t the only ones in need of protection.

Why I like it: This is a brilliant story focused on Hermione Granger as she matures enough to realize that teachers are people, too, and starts to notice some of the complexities and tricks of the adults around her, with a focus on Severus Snape in particular, and his role as a double agent. As she begins to delve into the mystery of Severus Snape, she and the author really delve into the magic and magical culture of the Harry Potter world. (Plus, I am completely in love with the house elves of this story, even though I never much cared for that plot line in the original books. “Ears are flapping!”)

 

Embers
by Vathara
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
757,222 words long
first chapter posted: September 24, 2009
last chapter posted: January 18, 2014

Summary: Dragon’s fire is not so easily extinguished; when Zuko rediscovers a lost firebending technique, shifting flames can shift the world…

Why I like this: So many feelings! This is an amazing story delving into Zuko’s character as an exiled prince and abused child and doing amazing world building while also delving into the causes and repercussions of genocides and world wars and cultural clashes and children loaded with responsibilities and adults loaded with secrets.