Collection: A Word of Appreciation for the Short Fanfiction

The trouble started in an innocuous manner, with Ford suddenly interrupting an important debate on the exact length of the barmaid’s legs with queries as to why it was called a “stag” night.

“Is it because the bride and her gang hunt you down tomorrow and tear your living flesh from your bones in Dionysiac ecstasy?” Ford asked happily.

“Er,” the groom said, clearly thinking of his blushing bride who, while it was generally agreed was a lovely girl, was not exactly possessed of the sort of physique that allows one to chase deer across mountainsides.

For anyone who has ever read the increasingly inaccurately named trilogy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it should come as no surprise that its fandom is just as, if not more, insane. And these fanfictions do their inspirer proud will all manner of madness.

Where else could we get those free morsels of a feast we thought had ended eight years ago? Short fanfictions are a fresh whiff of magic, a reminder of fish, flying, polo, and references that make no sense to anyone who hasn’t read the series. They add, but just into canon, with little to no tweaking of established events, pleasing both the Watsonians and Doylists, those who take canon as it is and those who take it as an art to be expanded upon. It is not the first time the community has suffered a withdrawal like this. Seventeen years elapsed between the fifth and sixth books. In that regard, the sixth book could be considered a resurrection of the poor creature that made the feast. Which would make the fanfiction a sort of storified zombie? Ah, well. Fear not, it carries no dangerous epidemics, and is only as contagious as laughter usually is.

Oddly enough, when I construct these bizarre death-related metaphors, I’m not far from the truth; the last book was published eight years after the death of its author, taken from us by what some would call high treason of the Corporal Form, blessed be its arteries, but what most would call a heart attack. Because of this, the series had to be completed by another writer. So I’d say the fandom is continuing the tradition quite faithfully, in the way that all fandoms must and do quite happily. Memorializing, repeating, and continuing is our purpose.

Being fanfiction, there is a small amount of shipping, localized to the first fanfiction I’ve recommended. Being short, there is room for few themes, and angst does not happen to particularly be one of them. Being Hitchhiker’s Guide, these fanfictions are as bizarrely fluffy as a freshly washed dog, even though you’re sure its fur wasn’t that long before you took it to the groomers… can they extend fur there? They all happen to involve drinking… which is in line with canon, also, where a night undrunken is a night spent and a night drunken is a night unspent, most likely because you can’t really remember how you spent it.

But what of that poor creature, eaten so ravenously so many times? We certainly couldn’t put anything through that hiatus without its consent. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whole tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here it is.

Fluff: +++++

Angst: ++

Smut: ++

Overall Rating: +++++

Better Than Tea by afrai: http://thewritegirls.populli.net/afrai/tea.html

The Running of the Deer by Daegaer: http://archiveofourown.org/works/408721

Childhood Dreams by Daegaer: http://archiveofourown.org/works/67354

I don’t have much more to say about this collection, only that these are my favorites of the many hundreds I have read in my tenure, remarkably well-written, the kind that leave you laughing over bricks late in the night. We all need this kind of humor in our lives. I wish I had an internal narration like this.

The Heart of Gold cruised through the infinite stretches of space exactly like an enormous, dazzlingly beautiful, ridiculously improbable starship cruising through the infinite stretches of space. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has a better grasp of the Galaxy’s latest technological innovations than the famously bewildered brainless snail of Erqfuaad that the reason for this remarkable resemblance was because the Heart of Gold was, in fact, an enormous, dazzlingly beautiful, ridiculously improbable starship cruising through the infinite stretches of space.

It would make that lowly, leery, oddly loud thing called life much more exciting.

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Farm Song

farm-song

Awww, go on then! That isn‘t going to work on me!”

“And why not?” the Professor asked as he stood and hung an umbrella casually over one arm.

“Because you are, me! Or was me. Or I was you.”

“An excellent point. In which case you understand the dilemma.” The Professor took out a handsome fob watch and looked at it before popping up the umbrella. “It’s beginning to rain, dear boy. You’re running out of time.”

“Then I’d better walk slower.”

When you travel in time, weird things happen. You see all kinds of physically impossible things, create all kinds of paradoxes, and meet all kinds of people you never would’ve interacted with had you experienced time in the linear, boring way.

Sometimes, you meet yourself.

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Dress Rehearsal Rag

dress-rehearsal-rag

The Conquerors began to punish the whole planet for their actions, destroying the eastern swamps and laying waste to the breeding grounds. The boy and girl, now a man and a woman, could no longer stand to see their world destroyed and they came forward, offering their lives to spare their home. Cra does not cry when they execute the man, but he does weep a little when the Storyteller sings the woman’s mourning song. He’s not the only one, and more eyes are wet than dry when the last notes fade.

Just as they are about to execute the woman, the Gods rouse themselves from their cesspit and let loose the Endless Croak. The Conquerors were laid low and they bled out as the sound echoed through the universe, punishing them for their wickedness. Cra looks up at the statues of the Conquerors and their strange ‘hair’ and ‘horns’, and he tries to imagine how they must have bled, every colour of the rainbow pouring from their veins. The story ends with the woman taking the body of the man and seizing hold of a Conquerors ship, sailing away into the darkness of space to search for a way to retrieve him from death. Everyone applauds, including an excited Cra, his grief over the woman’s song quickly forgotten.

On the way home, sitting on his father’s shoulders, Cra makes up his mind, “One day, I’ll travel to another world.”

“You’ll never go anywhere. All the ships are long dead, and no one knows how to fix them,” Cra’s father says. Later, when Cra is a man, he will reflect on these words and conclude that this was the first sign that his father was an awful one, “Dream about something real.”

Some authors consider themselves unlucky enough to have one fandom. Imagine their dread if they knew it was possible to have several fandoms for one work.

To my knowledge, Homestuck is unique in that, due to its 55 or so primary and secondary characters, it has several niche fandoms, the largest of which is for the first Intermission. The Intermission appears in the webcomic with a sudden change in color scheme, a modified drawing style, a completely new cast of characters, and seemingly no connection to the story preceding it. A couple hundred pages later, it ends as suddenly and without explanation as it began. It is only much later in the storyline that the reader is provided with a reason for this madness. But even when the Intermission was finally linked to the main canon, it was too late: with its completely different aesthetics and style, and by being so separate for so long, it had essentially become its own miniature canon and gained its own miniature fandom. Today, Intermission fanfictions are frequently listed under both the Homestuck fandom and the Intermission-fandom. Both in canon and in the niche fandom, the characters in the Intermission rarely interact with the other characters in Homestuck, and when they do, it is with the same excitement as crossovers. Such is the gap between the Intermission and the rest of Homestuck that the characters in the Intermission are more frequently written alongside characters in an entirely different story than alongside their Homestuck counterparts – but we’ll get to that with a later fanfiction.

This particular Homestuck/Intermission fanfiction covers a character that gets approximately 260 words in the over-a-million-word webcomic, 3 or 4 scenes, is dead before the Intermission begins, and dies a couple more times during it. Such is the way Homestuck goes.

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Folie a Deux

folie-a-deux

“Why? I’m better now.”

“I know,” she says easily. “But I think we need to figure out why you picked Dean. What is it about him that makes you want to be him?”

He starts cracking his knuckles. He’s waiting for the day she tells him not to do it, that it’s bad for his joints, but she never says anything.

“I don’t think I’m him anymore. I know who I am. I’m me. I’m Jensen.”

“And I’m glad for it. But it’s important that you understand why you latched on to him. If we can take it apart and uncover it all, you won’t need him anymore. Remember what I said about therapy at the start?”

He shifts in his seat. “Yeah.” She had said it was like a rain barrel, and while things looked clean on the surface there was always sludge and grime that you had to stir up, clean out, and then you’d really have clean water instead of just the illusion of clean water.

“So, tell me. Tell me about Dean Winchester.”

By some laws of fandom, and in some cases, incest is inevitable.

A certain TV show premiered in September of 2005 with two main characters. For three years, these two brothers were the only constant characters. The writers made a paltry effort with attractive females that existed for half an episode and were immediately killed off, but it was clear from the beginning that the only relationship the brothers would forever keep was the one between themselves. And so, the fandom followed the path that the writers had unknowingly created: the brothers’ relationship was meant to be, and in more than a brotherly sense. The writers were shocked. The readers of this blog post, perhaps, are also shocked.

But in retrospect, from a cultural studies professor’s viewpoint, there is nothing to be shocked about. With a little understanding of a fandom‘s collective mind, one can see a pattern in the way thousand of ships are created. So I present my hypothesis on the operation of relationships within Internet societies:

By the Attention Shipping Hypothesis, there exists a character, no-screen-time < interaction(character) < already-canonically-shipped, such that interaction(character) is compatible with interaction(other character). Since interaction(character) = personality type A and interaction(character) = personality type B, and personality type A is compatible with personality type B, character and other character will be written in close context.

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Unforgiven

unforgiven

She’d managed to develop this particular charm shortly after she’d married Justinian. Originally, she’d used it to encourage his sympathy for disadvantaged and abused women: he knew most of her past, though she’d managed to hide the more sordid details, and out of respect for her he’d thrown more of his weight behind laws to protect her sisters, literal and metaphorical. She’d had to help him along a few times, but she would be damned before she let another man take advantage of her again, and thrice-damned before she let it happen to her daughter.

This, however, would be the first time she’d used it in this powerful a form.

“I am Empress,” she whispered to herself. “I command.”

Imperio.

Harry Potter is a Within-World story.

As with doctor visits, half-dry paintings, and well-loved jeans, this has benefits and drawbacks in equal measures.

This is a story that takes advantage of an existing, complex world to bypass much story-establishing work. The author can rely on existing cultures and understandings, which help the reader comprehend the tale’s events, and their place relative to nonfictional locations and times.

This is a story that cannot reach beyond the limits of overarching history. No matter what happens within the fantasy narrative, from a larger standpoint, the events of history must pass in basically the same way they always have. If the author extends the story past the past, they risk extending the tale’s plausibility beyond their reader’s willingness to follow.

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Carrefour

Carrefour

Spanish moss hangs from terraces and latticework in long, delicate fingers, curling thickly in the oppressive and close heat of summer along the southern coast. The cobblestoned streets never go quiet, no matter what hour the night has advanced to, human feet and horses’ hooves and the creaking wheels of the carriages they pull a constant stippling of noise underneath the shouts and revels, the ululating chants from the darkest corners of the Quarter, the shouts of boatmen, pulling in to dock. It is a humid, lazy, beautiful melody the city sings under a fat strawberry moon, and if there are devils in the dark then they at least know how to sing too.

It’s almost enchanting enough – and that is the word, because there are enough mesmers and snake-charmers here to make a man forget his own name – to allow him to overlook the writhing depravity running through the corridors and alleys that connect street to street and street to sky.

Almost.

New Orleans is the kind of place that can never be described.

There exists a certain air – heavy with spices, fish, and voices, sharp and soft – that is never found elsewhere, never captured perfectly in words. But as I said recently to a friend: is it not the purpose of art to capture that which cannot be caught? Art is the pursuit of perfection, at least, and there is no beaten path to the best of us. We like to think that prose cannot be poetry. That there exists some equator between straightforward sentences and the twisting, unbound fragments of thought.

New Orleans is the kind of place where no such lines exist.

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Confined Sessions

Confined Sessions

If Romeo chose silence, his friend had other things in mind, however. Mercutio’s pointed smirk and the torchlight flickering in his light eyes revealed his interest, even before he spoke up in a lilting tone. “Sweet Tybalt stirs at last, released from Hypnos’ chains! Will you alone join us in our imprisonment, or come also Lyssa and her sisters to visit? Either way, we will surely have a merry dance tonight!”

At that, Romeo felt forced to break his silence. “No, Mercutio. No more of this.”

“He speaks! He breathes! Enmity awakens the tongue, where friendship fails! Grudge –”

“Mercutio, please!”

“– thy name is Montague.”

Rule 34 of the Internet states that if it exists, there is porn of it. This means that there is fan work, lewd though it may be, of everything. And if there is fan work, there is fanfiction. So, a variation of rule 34 also exists, at least in my own mind: if it exists, there is fanfiction of it. Now that I’ve covered many of the most mainstream of Internet fandoms, I thought it was time to recommend something a little less common.

A dedicated fanfic reader such as I will notice a distinct lack of fan work about a lot of content, especially content created before the rise of the Internet. This doesn’t exactly mean that no fan work exists for those pieces, only that those fandoms had a lesser community and a lesser outlet for their interests. So fan works of obscure Russian films are probably circulating in file cabinets somewhere in the world. A work’s age and its fanworks have a sort of relationship that appears as a graph involving a negative exponent, wherein the x-axis is age, and the y-axis the number of fanfictions. The older the work, the less likely even a devoted fan is to find fanfic of it. But then there are those odd few, those pieces that seem to ignore the passage of time, the way we still listen to Mozart today, the way literary clubs still gather to discuss Pride and Prejudice, the way legions of fans continue to swarm around Star Wars and Star Trek and all manner of works that, if forgetfulness was free, should have been long gone, resigned to the past, confined in the graves of their creators. So why are they still around? Why are there fan works of them on the Internet?

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Collection: Consensus on Bro Strider

This feels like writing an obituary.

I must confess, that Homestuck is my favorite canon. I discovered it as most do; crawling through the depths of the Internet, stumbling upon technicolor children, candy corn horns and fractured houses, curious. Too curious for our own good, really. Homestuck doesn’t advertise itself. It’s an invasive work, traveling on the lips and keyboards of Internet natives, a transcendent singularity. It has always been something odd, something special.

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Change is Hard (and Harder, so much Harder)

Change is Hard

“Listen you dumb punk and listen well. You gonna join my team or not? And think long and hard before you answer because despite your attempts to push me away I don’t trust your jerk ass to keep yourself alive long enough for us to get through this war and get the effects of this serum reversed. So suit up or shut up. C’mon,” and her tone turned a bit playful at this, a bit like the Stevie you once knew. “Don’t you wanna follow Captain America into battle? See what adventures we could have?”

You look down at your beer for a long time. Contemplate the foam head, the sweat on the glass. Think. “Nah,” you finally say, but you’ve got a small smile on your face. Maybe this will work. Maybe you can make it work. “But that little gal in Brooklyn too stupid to know when to quit?”

You look up at her, unable to help the adoration from coloring your eyes. “Guess I’d follow her anywhere.”

An Alternate Universe (AU) is defined in my Glossary as a story that takes only the bare essentials of the story, and exists almost entirely independent of canon. AUs draw off of characters and their perceived personalities, but place them in a new setting separate from canon. This is often done for shipping purposes. Settings range from historical to modern day  to space to bands to high schools to coffee shops to abstract ideas. The structure of an AU is odd in that it expects that a character will still act the same way as always, despite them having lived under entirely different circumstances. Nevertheless, an AU can provide a valuable insight into a character, by suggesting alternate ways in which a character could develop in the same fashion, or by presenting a new twist on the character, brought about by a setting that could never have been achieved in canon.

Well, that’s all nice and good, you say, but how about an example of a valuable insight? Your point is a bit lacking when I have no story to connect it with. Fear not, wait not, search for another fanfiction not, dear reader, for I have an example.

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The Devil’s Work

The Devil's Work

As he waited he looked out the window, which offered a decent view of much of the city. Good old New York, New York. The City that Never Sleeps, that was his kind of town all right. Well, he’d be doing some sleeping tonight. But he’d be up bright and early to get to work on making his own particular mark** on the city. Early to bed and early to rise, helps a demon dream up more wiles and lies, and all.

He began mentally planning how he’d spend his day. He’d hung around London too long; he’d forgotten how energizing it was to have a whole new city to work with—all the poor, unsuspecting people who had never even heard of Anthony J. Crowley. He smiled, his too-sharp teeth glinting in the light streaming in from streets outside. It was high time he introduced himself to the Big Apple.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a humorous take on the apocalypse. It comes complete with angels, demons, knights of the apocalypse, and Queen’s Greatest Hits. It was published 26 years and 1 day ago. Despite the gap between its creation and the creation of the Internet, its fanfiction base flourishes, with new stories about our protagonists added each day. The book continues to draw in readers of all ages, with its clever references, witty banter, and innovative takes on an ancient idea. The Devil’s Work is very loyal to the canon; it even comes with footnotes. This fanfiction actually plays off of a line from the book:

And then, of course, it had seemed even natural that they should, as it were, hold the fort for one another whenever common sense dictated. Both were of angel stock, after all. If one was going to Hull for a quick temptation, it made sense to nip across the city and carry out a standard brief moment of divine ecstasy. It’d get done anyway, and being sensible about it gave everyone more free time and cut down on expenses.

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