Fanfiction Selection

The last month (or two, or three) has been somewhat frenetic for me, and I haven’t really had the energy or focus to read full books. However, I couldn’t not be reading something, and what I’ve been reading is fanfiction. I’ve introduced the genre before, so I thought I’d take a moment to recommend a few more short fanfics.

 

Friends Across Borders
by MueraRashaye

To understand these stories, you need to be familiar with Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar universe.

Summary: Two long-time enemy nations can’t become meaningful allies overnight. Stories from the lives of a border-guard Herald and Sunpriest, from their first meeting to the end, and insights into just how Karse and Valdemar were able to turn around their relationship so fast.

Warning: This is a series rather than a single story. The first three stories are complete, but the forth one is still a work in progress. Each of the first three stories can absolutely stand on their own, though, so if you won’t want to take a chance on a half-completed story, it’s okay to just not start the fourth story until it’s been completed.

Why I like it:  This takes a part of my childhood and makes it a tad bit more realistic, but without ever tarnishing the joy of the original. The main characters are both a delight and their mutual bewilderment regarding their developing friendship is a joy to behold. Also, one sign of a good series, in my opinion, is that the individual stories can stand on their own. So you don’t have to commit to reading the whole series to enjoy just the first story: Enemy, It’s Cold Outside.

 

Monster
by Laura JV (jacquez)

To understand this story, you need to be familiar with the character of Methos from Highlander and Sesame Street in general.

Summary: “Someone new moved in, Chris, next door to Gordon! Come meet him with Elmo.”

Why I like it: This is super short but it’s sort of like a John Donne poem in its own way. Without ever directly saying anything, it plays with the different meanings of the word “monster.” And, let me reiterate: it’s a Highlander/Sesame Street crossover. 😀

 

The Whole Truth (So Help Me God)
by Metisket

To understand this, you should be at least passingly familiar with the new Teen Wolf tv show. Although, actually, I read and enjoyed it without ever watching the show, just knowing the basic premise.

Summary: And this is a Stiles character study, so there you go. It’s multiple POV and set around “Night School.” Mostly because it will never stop being hilarious to me that Stiles punched Jackson viciously in the face and the only person who was remotely surprised was Allison. XD WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A CHILD, STILES?

Why I like it: First, I have to admit that I don’t watch Teen Wolf, I just really like the fandom. Fan authors can, and often are, much better than, say, MTV script writers. My pleasure in this fandom comes, in large part, from how the character of Stiles is treated, and this is just a concentrated look at how hilariously fascinating Stiles is and why the other characters wince when they have to deal with him. I wouldn’t necessarily want to be around him, but I sure like reading about him. It just makes me laugh.

 

A Perpendicular Expression
by leupagus

To understand what’s going on here, you should know the tv show Person of Interest.

Summary: Pissing Finch off never actually ends well; usually it ends like this, with John scaring the shit out of her at two in the morning.

Why I like it: There’s a certain joy in reading about super-competent people who just fail at being reasonable human beings. And Joss Carter is hilarious as she has to put up with them and explain basic social behaviors like not stalking your friends.

 

Kissable Fanatic, Unhinged Minim Artists
by Basingstoke

This fic is set in the X-Men universe, although the X-Men characters appear only briefly. If you are aware at all of the character Toad, in Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants, you know enough to read this.

Summary (provided by thefourthvine): Best FF featuring a powerful anti-drug message; namely that if we spend all our time stoned we might fail to notice critical things in our environment, like that one of our friends is actually green.

Warning: This is not family-friendly or work safe, i.e. any sort of filter at all should filter out this story. There’s drugs, profanity, and graphic homosexual sex.

Why I like it: I fought with myself over including this particular story because so far all my recommendations have been intended for a general audience (which is not necessarily common in fandom) and this one is absolutely not. This is, in fact, the first story I’ve recommended that includes a serious warning. (It’s standard policy with fanfiction to include warnings, a policy that is immensely helpful for maintaining some sanity when wandering dark corners of the internet.) However, this story is just too good to not recommend. Basingstoke takes Toad, a character that is treated as a barely 2-dimensional character in the comics, and makes him fully human (as it were). This story makes him real and that is one of the things I really love about fanfiction: that it will take minor characters the original author threw in to take up space and develop those characters into the main characters of their own lives. This story is just really, really good with that.

New Development in Publishing

I just finished Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments, which Kinsey has already reviewed, so I’m just adding on that I LOVED it, and everyone should go read that, too (right after Good Omens). It was seriously one of those books where I was disappointed that it actually ended because I would have been happy to keep reading it for months.

Anyway, this is not a post about Attachments, much as I loved it. In order to get some more Rainbow Rowell after finishing the book, I immediately went on twitter and followed her, and she is currently talking about a very interesting new event in the literary world: Amazon is buying the rights to tv shows in order to try to monetize the corresponding fanfic.

It is all very new and embryonic, so no one is quite sure how it is going to work, but just that it is certainly going to change things up and it will be quite interesting to see how. Rowell and her followers bring up some very interesting points about what it means to monetize a previously free art form and to normalize a fringe culture (particularly a female-dominated creative outlet into a male-dominated media field).

Rebecca has previously given a basic overview into the world of fanfic here, and wants to think over this new development before commenting (she concurs with Rowell’s tweet, that she has many thoughts but few opinions yet on this news).

Discussing it with Rebecca, though, it occurred to me that this isn’t quite as much a sudden new development as it is being reported. Rowell brings up that every author after Stan Lee that used the character Spiderman was in essence writing fan fiction. Sherlock Holmes works continue to be published long after Conan Doyle’s death. Publishing houses have already started searching out popular fanfic authors for original works, and have even published fanfic pieces, just with changed names. So we keep moving forward at a fairly steady pace, I guess?

—Anna

Comic Book Glut

RurouniKenshinRurouni Kenshin: Restoration
By Nobuhiro Watsuki
2013

This was one of the free comic books that I picked up at Free Comic Book Day. It is a teaser for an AU (alternate universe) version of Rurouni Kenshin by the original author. It was fun, but mostly I enjoyed it because it reminded me how much I love this series. The actual teaser itself wasn’t all that great. It reintroduced the characters and held their first meeting at an arranged illegal fighting/gambling event, which just seemed like a bit of over-the-top, idiotic, self-indulgence.

While the reboot wasn’t so great, I definitely recommend the whole original series of Rurouni Kenshin, following Himura Kenshin, an amazing swordsman who, after a bloody past during the civil war, made an oath to never kill again but still manages to find and be found by a whole lot of trouble. The anime series based on the manga is also really good, and the recent live-action movie was excellent! (The animated movies, branded “Samurai X”, however, should be avoided.)

Anyway, seeing more of these characters written and drawn by the original author made me bounce around grinning with excitement. But the actual thing wasn’t all that good. It was a it of self-indulgent fluff, and while there’s nothing wrong with self-indulgent fluff, if you actually want to read a good AU take on this series, fandom (in the person of Vathara) has provided several better options, including the urban fantasy Blades of Blood and it’s sequel Witchy Woman, the Star Wars-crossover Shadows in Starlight, or the historical fantasy Gargoyles-crossover All I Need is a Miracle (which is a direct response to the awfulness of the animated movies).

So this series is awesome, and I highly recommend it, but this particular comic book is not the best example of it.

 

HawkeyeHawkeye: My Life as a Weapon
By Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Javier Pulido
2013

I’ve never really followed any of the Hawkeye comic books, but I enjoyed The Avengers movie a lot and the characters cameo in the Thor movie made me grin. So a new stand-alone comic book about Hawkeye at my library caught my eye. It was a whole lot of fun.

It’s a look at what Hawkeye, aka Clint Barton, is doing when he’s not out being a superhero Avenger… which is mostly getting into other types of trouble and going out being a secret agent for SHIELD. But it also involves hanging out with his neighbors at a rooftop barbeque/potluck.

Anna pointed out that the stories in this collection are all a bit grim, which I was going to argue with, except, okay, yes, they are a bit grim. But it left me happy. I liked it. Even though it does kind of imply that one of the main requirements of being a superhero is the ability to take a beating.

 

the-book-of-five-rings-a-graphic-novelThe Book of Five Rings
By Miyamoto Musashi, Sean Michael Wilson, Chie Kutsuwada, and William Scott Wilson
2012

I picked this book up because I have struggled to read The Book of Five Rings for a while now. It was highly recommended by a seventh-don black belt that I was training with. And yet, I found it super uninteresting and unhelpful. In some ways it read (to me) like The Art of War, except without the value. The graphic novel version makes up for some of that lack by being really well illustrated. And from everything I’ve read, Musashi himself was a fascinating character and I wouldn’t mind reading more about him, despite not caring for his writing.

Anyway, I actually highly recommend the graphic novel as a precursor to the plain unabridged text of The Book of Five Rings. It will give you a taste of the text while making subject more accessible. It’s readable in about an hour. Then, if you find the graphic novel appealing, maybe you should try reading the original text in its entirety.

Although, really, I mostly recommend Sun Tzu’s The Art of War instead.

 

Elektra_Lives_Again_00-1book_coverElektra Lives Again
By Frank Miller
2002

I read a couple of Daredevil series before and really enjoyed them (Frank Miller’s Daredevil: The Man Without Fear is excellent, as is David Mack’s Daredevil: Vision Quest although it largely focuses on a different character), but over all the quality of Daredevil comics varies wildly, so I also read a couple of Daredevil series before that I didn’t enjoy at all. Elektra is Daredevil (aka Matt Murdock)’s tragic girlfriend, a zombie-ninja-assassin who has her own spin-off series, but I had never read any of her comics that were any good at all… until now. This collection really brought her to life (haha!) as a character, despite her being a zombie ninja assassin. I liked the writing and the illustrations and just the whole feel for it. Well done.

Plus, there are two more Elektra graphic novels by Frank Miller for me to look forward to.

Fanfiction

productimage-picture-discover-fanfiction-today-9528Fanfiction

I have not been reading just Ayn Rand this whole time. That would have driven me completely crazy. I’ve also been reading a fair amount of fanfiction as some light-hearted, palate cleansers. I won’t be reviewing a lot of fanfiction on this site, but I do feel like I should introduce it as a genre, at least.

Fanfiction is a term that describes when fans of a particular story line decide to expand upon that story line by creating their own additions. While the practice has been going on for as long as anyone has been telling stories, the term “fanfiction” is more recent, first gaining wide usage by fans of the original StarTrek series. Now, there is fanfiction for pretty much any book, movie, tv-show, or other type of media that you can think of.

The genre lives in a bit of a legal gray zone since, if the original source is recent enough to be under copyright, then such stories and pieces of artwork are potentially infringing on that copyright. However, fanfiction is generally not produced for commercial gain, reading it comes with the expectation of prior consumption of the original source, and no case of fanfiction has ever been judged in a U.S. court. Published authors vary between actively promoting fanfiction based on their works and actively discouraging it.

As a genre like any other, it also ranges wildly in quality, from extremely shoddy works to amazingly spectacular masterpieces. The amateur nature of the genre allows writers to push at boundaries and experiment with ideas and characters in a way that publishing houses discourage. The online community is well aware of the way they are pushing boundaries, and compensates for it by generally beginning any story with a summary and a series of warnings. These warnings will let you know what source materials (AKA “canon”) you are expected to already know, what characters the author will be using, what romantic relationships will be included, what levels of violence and or sexual content will be included, and any events that readers might have problems with. Fanfiction writers write for fun and readers are expected to approach it for fun, too: use the warnings to read what you expect to enjoy and avoid what you expect to dislike.

The genre as a whole is a living demonstration of the multi-worlds theory: anything that could potentially happen in any universe or with any character, can be written and read with fanfiction. I love it.

Rather than just find fanfiction at random, your best bet is to follow recommendations and browse friends’ bookmark lists. The two biggest online fanfiction compendiums are Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own, both of which include reviewing and bookmarking functions.

Here are some good introductory fanfiction stories (ie, fun, short, not too different from their original source material, and no necessary warnings):

Flying Monkeys
by Thimblerig
It can be read on Archive of Our Own.
To understand what’s going on in this story, you should have watched the Marvel movie The Avengers.

The summary is:
The inevitable, horrifying debrief.
“Is this some kind of hobby for you? Planning our imminent destruction?”

The reason I like it is:
First, it’s hilarious. Second, it creates a series of scenes for after the events of the movie, about Clint Barton being debriefed from his time as a mind controlled slave of Loki. The author uses a rich universe and makes it just that much richer by showing some details that just couldn’t have fit into the movie.

Prediction, Protection
By Icarus_chained
It can be read on Archive of Our Own.
To understand what’s going on in this story, you should have watched both the current TV show Person of Interest and the 1990s TV show The Pretender.

The summary is:
Harold was a failed Pretender experiment. Years later, Jarod tracks him down. What follows is a somewhat tense negotiation.

The reason I like it is:
This story uses some background from The Pretender to explain a mystery in Person of Interest. This story makes a connection between these two unrelated universes and asks what if they are the same universe.

Food for Thought
By Ruth Stewart
This can be read on Fanfiction.net (as plain text) or on Livejournal.com (as an entire fake livejournal account, completely with many illustrations.)
To understand what’s going on in this story, you should have read C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series.

The summary is:
A modern teenage girl goes into the Wardrobe, meets Aslan, and learns an important lesson that does not include falling in love with a King.

The reason I like it is:
This is an outsider’s perspective on Susan Pevensie’s life. Susan has died and her grandson and great-granddaughter have come to sort through her belongings. This story is written as a series of blog posts by her great granddaughter, learning about Susan’s life from the records she left behind. This author does an amazing job of researching and then showing recent British history.

Day One
By Zee Viate
This can be read on Fanfiction.net.
To understand this story, you should have watched the TV show NCIS.

The summary is:
The night DiNozzo and Gibbs first met.

The reason I like it:
I stopped watching NCIS around season 7, because the characters were going in directions that I didn’t care for, but this is a look back at young Tony DiNozzo and Gibbs before he knew him, and it reminded me why I loved this show so much for so long.

Followers of the Carpenter
By PaBurke
This can be read on Fanfiction.net.
To understand this story, you should have read book eight of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and watched the TV show Criminal Minds.

The summary is:
A serial killer moved to Chicago and followed his normal MO, but this time, he bit off more than he could chew.

The reason I like it:
There’s something wonderful about an outsider’s perspective on some of the characters and events of urban fantasy novels.

Five Scenes Over a Goban
By Opalish
This can be read on Fanfiction.net.
To understand this story, you should have read the manga or watched the anime Hikaru no Go.

The summary is:
Ichikawa laughs until she chokes, and Akira suddenly understands why Shindo spends so much of his time yelling at people to stop hitting him already.

The reason I like it is:
I just love these little looks at how these characters view and interact with each other. This is a peak at everything that made me love these characters in the first place. There isn’t any plot arc, but just some fun character studies.

Evening Encounter
By Maeniel
This can be read on Fanfiction.net.
To understand this story, you should have read the manga or watched the anime Rurouni Kenshin.

The summary is:
Okita’s heading home at the end of the war and encounters a certain redhead. What do they say to each other?

The reason I like it:
In the series, we don’t get much of a look at this time period in Kenshin’s life, but it’s a major turning point for him, and seeing him in this time really shows off his thoughts. Plus, it also develops Okita, who is given very little attention at all in the series, and creates a connection between the fictional series and the real history of the time period.