I know, I know; you’re all looking at this title and thinking “geez, is there anything else Dave is ever going to write about?” Well, no. Okay, sort of kidding; we’ll see.
I’ve had an account over at fanfiction.net for some time now; even though I don’t intend to actually write anything, it allows me to make credited reviews and correspond with the writers. Well one of the perks with the account is it gives me a home page where I can list favorite stories and writers. So I’ve been working for about two months now on re-reading much of the Chuck ff catalogue and compiling a list of my favorites. For those who are interested I’ve added a link to my new favorites list over to the right under the Fan Fiction header.
Sadly, it is just a list and allows for no review comments. I’ve done quite a bit of that here, and will continue to comment on favorites; but the list is a pretty simple list only including Title, Author, and a brief summary provided by the author. Obviously, I enjoyed every story on my favorites list. But that doesn’t mean I think they’re all equal quality. Some are nearly on a professional level (“What Fates Impose” and “Chuck and Sarah vs. Themselves” come to mind) while many others are clearly the work of enthusiastic amateurs who managed to have a great idea or two and spun a fun tale. So while I can’t claim “Dave’s favorites” are all masterpieces, I will say I had a good time with every one of them. Some are played mainly for laughs, some are adventure, many are romances; the summary should always be a good clue of what you’re getting into. I would also add the list not nearly complete; two months work and I’m not half-way through my re-read. So if a favorite of yours is missing it truly means nothing. I may have simply not got to it yet, I may have missed it entirely (I hate when that happens, but on this “re-read” I have encountered a few stories I had never noticed before), or may have left it off because I didn’t like the story you loved (hey, it happens!). As I’ve said before, I don’t really do negative reviews, but the total catalogue is huge so my silence proves nothing. In my previous post on this subject (“Good Fan Fiction”) I discussed what I cared about and looked for in a story, so I will try not to repeat too much of that in this post.
I was recently exchanging e-mails with a new writer at fanfiction.net who was working on an intriguing if somewhat dark story (“Chuck vs. The Pond” by Tynianrex, more below). On his second or third reply to me he mentioned he’d never been involved with fan fiction before one of my articles on the subject, and it was my fault for getting him hooked. That is exciting. I didn’t even recognize his name, perhaps he comments here under another name, or perhaps he’s a lurker; but either way it is exciting to see that someone is influenced by my ramblings. So I thought it might be fun this time to highlight a couple of fun, short pieces that would be a good introduction for those who’ve not taken the plunge yet (um, I’m pretty sure established fans of fan fiction will enjoy some of these too!).
First up is “Chuck vs. Treason” by Altonish. In some ways this is a very typical one-shot. It simply picks up at the end of 2.20 (First Kill) and tells its own story of where things could have gone from there. The story is well written and fun, but goes in a direction the show never could have. If you like this one, many of the longer selections on my favorites list branch off the show in a similar way and develop their own “might have beens.”
Second is a completely different sort of work called “The Angels” by Timewalker05. This is told from the perspective a mysterious guardian character watching over Chuck. This is radically non-canon. It is interesting, well written, and all a set up for a very funny punch line in the end.
Third one-shot I’ll mention is one I brought up in a comment here a couple days ago, its “How Sarah Bartowski was Banned from the Fun Center” by MySoapBox. While this was written mid-S2, it explores some ideas we’ve been discussing lately. Namely, Sarah trying to fit into a normal life. The piece is short, sweet and very funny.
You will see several other one-shots on my list. I’ve mentioned here before my preference for longer, more developed stories. But one-shots are a great place to start, they require little time investment, provide a brief Chuck fix, and are often good for a laugh or a thought about possibilities. Again, everything on my list I did enjoy (duh!) so you know that means it won’t be too dark and the good guys will be portrayed in a (mostly) positive light.
Usually on these posts I focus more on the longer fics, so of course I need to mention a few of those too. I don’t think any of these are repeats; but as I’ve said before, there is truly a staggering amount of material out there, and I spend most of my time at a single fan site! (currently over 2100 titles come up under fanfiction.net/tv/chuck).
The first longer work I’ll mention today is “Chuck vs the Good, Normal and Wonderful Life” by ersk4. This starts like a complete AU (Alternate Universe) as we meet a happily married Chuck and Sarah Bartowski, who have a 3 year-old daughter. Chuck works at Fulcrumatic for his unpleasant boss, Jill Roberts. Sarah is a full-time housewife. Believe it or not, the story gets less AU from there. Did I just give too much away? Check it out, its a fun story and an easy read. It takes about three hours to read and would be rated PG-13 for some mild violence and a non-graphic description of a married couple doing what married couples do (and no I don’t mean fighting).
Next longer work I’ll suggest is the very different “Morgan vs. The Truth” by atlee. Yes, Morgan is the main character. The writer does a credible job of telling the story from the perspective of an attention span challenged, but utterly loyal best friend. The initial set-up on this piece seems crushingly sad, as Morgan sets out to investigate Chuck’s death. Now you all know me, I would never be happy if things end that sad; and I wouldn’t recommend a story that stays so sad, so be patient. It will be a lot of fun. The ending is maybe still a little sad, but Morgan feels much better about what he learns. This is a fairly short work that can be read in less than 2 hours and would be rated PG for action violence.
The final story I’ll recommend this time is “Chuck vs The Pond” by Tynianrex. This is a work in progress, which always incurs a certain risk in reading. It may take ugly turns I wouldn’t endorse or recommend, or it may never be finished. But I really like what I’ve read so far. It starts almost frighteningly dark; Chuck is living the scene from the end of 3.19, only we realize none of it is real. He is living in a dream world in a semi-coma, while imprisoned in a government research facility. General Beckman and her twisted cronies have kept Chuck sedated and happy with a fantasy world program (very Matrix-like) featuring a dream handler Sarah Walker all the while harvesting his flashes for intel. This is sort of a bunker scenario from hell. But the situation isn’t hopeless. Bryce is wracked with guilt over having sent the Intersect to his former best friend and is working with Orion to arrange a break out. And of course when he needs more muscle for his plan he turns to his retired/burned-out former partner Sarah Walker. This story easily could have been very dark, but it has taken a very fun turn as realities collide. Chuck is greatly relieved to be rescued from this strange facility by his always faithful and heroic girlfriend; Sarah is a bit confused by the stranger who knows her. After exchanging messages with the writer I believe the fun part of this story is what really interests him, and I really look forward to where the story goes from here. He is only four chapters in now and this could be read in 30 minutes. I would so far rate it PG-13 for some disturbing imagery associated with the coma and “medical” facility.
I think I’ll call it quits on this topic for now. I expect to do another post over the Christmas break, possibly featuring Christmas themed stories. As always, please post your comments below. I love hearing from others who enjoy fan fiction and look forward to exchanging thoughts and opinions on the topic.