We’re now well over a month since the end of the series, and I’d have to say a few things have been pleasant surprises. The continuing traffic and discussions at this site being a big one, we’ve only just recently dropped below a thousand hits a day. It seems a lot of folks don’t want to go cold turkey with Chuck! But the biggest happy surprise to me is that the fan fiction community seems to be alive and well. Certainly not at all time high levels, but more active than we’d seen during the last season or so at least! So after the jump, I’ll look at a few recent or on going stories.
First thing I would have to say, maybe a bit of a confession, but I think I’m slowing down in my reading enough that I honestly can’t keep up with everything new going on. I’ve become quite choosy, especially about the large number of post-series stories coming out. I think, for myself, I just can’t stomach much angst or will they/won’t they for our favorite spies in the aftermath of the finale; so most stories that have Sarah going back on missions or moving out for any reason I won’t even touch. Now surprisingly that doesn’t leave me with any shortage of things to read. Not only have many writers chosen to have some fun with Sarah’s recuperation but we’ve seen a significant number of completely new AUs coming out now too.
I still find myself enjoying stories with a significant amount of what I always saw as legitimate angst from the time frame of the first two or three seasons. Clearly a huge part of the initial appeal of the Chuck universe was all the difficulties Chuck found himself faced with in his new life. Everything from the life and death stuff that he was completely unequipped to deal with, to lying and deception becoming a regular part of his life (and knowing when lying was a good idea and when it wasn’t!), to the obvious biggie of figuring out what he and Sarah could have together. But it seems to me a huge issue in any Chuck story is how these various challenges are dealt with. A lot of my favorite fan fiction addresses what I always saw as the biggest malfunction in the canon story, that being the wt/wt carried out for 12 episodes too long. Unfortunately, the open ended nature of the Chuck finale seems to have given many fan fiction writers license to re-open the wt/wt can of worms, and that has easily been my least favorite element of this recent spurt of activity.
But the good news is, there is also more really good stories coming out right now. So as always, I’ll offer up some of my favorites here. And we’ll see if maybe some of you can talk me into reading some of the stories I’ve skipped…
The first story I’ll recommend starts very dark but gets fun quickly. It’s “Unexpected Attachments” by retropanda37. The story is set mid-S2, and starts when a government asset and his wife are murdered while in a safe house. Sarah discovers the couple’s three year old son, Danny, in hiding where he witnessed the crime. The main story follows what happens when the child immediately bonds with Agent Walker, but won’t speak. Obviously this is way outside of her comfort zone or expertise. Chuck offers his help, but this is so far a very Sarah-centric story. My guess would be this will be a different avenue for Chuck and Sarah getting over the wt/wt phase of their relationship (and the writer did categorize it as a drama/romance!); IF it runs long enough. Which leads directly to my biggest complaint, so far this is updating very slowly. I’ve put off mentioning it here before because of that fact. But with two chapters up fairly recently I’m hoping that the writer has her enthusiasm back. Perhaps if other readers offer her encouraging reviews it will help move things along! It really is a lot of fun so far and I would love to see it continue to a good ending. It could currently be read in about an hour (but I don’t know how long it will eventually go) and would be rated PG-13, almost entirely because of the pretty upsetting nature of the first chapter.
My next recommendation is the latest installment of the “That Which is Greater” stories by Frea O’Scanlin. This is “New Year’s Eve“. Like most stories in this series it has some impossibly cute moments with Violet Bartowski. But the main focus here is a bit more dramatic than many of the other stories in this setting have been; and I think this one could be called pivotal. It parallels some of “Chuck vs The Nemisis” (episode 1.10), mainly in that Bryce makes his return and upends the early status quo for team Bartowski. This version of Chuck carries more responsibility (and a little more anger!) than what we got in canon; so some of the Chuck/Bryce confrontations are a little more explosive. But I would also add there are some nice developments towards the end that fill some holes of what has happened between previous installments “The Christmas Story” and “The Happiest Place on Earth“. As you may have guessed, familiarity with this setting would be very helpful in enjoying this story! It would take about 90 minutes to read and be rated PG-13 for some language.
I really can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this next story yet; but “Chuck and Sarah vs the Recruits” is the last in NinjaVanish’s epic S3 rewrite. This story starts with Chuck and Sarah heading off to Washington to start their new “less dangerous” jobs and covers as analysts and trainers after the “deaths” of Agents Walker and Carmichael. Got it? Those familiar with NinjaVanish’s style will not be disappointed by his usual blend of humor and high action. This has so far been updating pretty regularly, and would currently take about two or three hours to read. Like most of this writer’s work, it would be rated R for graphic violence and an enthusiastic married couple.
I’m going to recommend something very different for a one-shot this time; its “Beckett vs the Linchpin” by a regular visitor here MyNameIsJeffNImLost. If the title didn’t clue you in, this is a crossover with Castle. The time frame would be during the recent two-part S4 episode of Castle (Linchpin) and post series for Chuck. It is technically the third of an ongoing series of crossovers Jeff has been writing, but I don’t believe familiarity with the others is really needed except to say that Castle and Beckett have previously met teamB. It starts with Beckett deciding she needs an inside source after she and Castle have been cut off by the Agent-in-charge of the case they’ve been working. Of course that means Chuck and Sarah, unfortunately Sarah really doesn’t remember ever meeting Beckett before… Jeff has really found a way to have fun with the post-finale situation. This Sarah has regained most important memories, and knows she loves her husband, but is a little confused by details. The real joy in reading this story is that Beckett spends most of it as an outsider watching teamB’s eccentric dynamics and “non-standard” working practices. This is good for many big laughs. Even better, Jeff has suggested he is working on a new Chuck series to be set post-finale featuring this sort of partly/mostly recovered version of Sarah. So perhaps this is a preview of things to come?! I know I’m excited. Beckett vs the Linchpin could be read about 20 minutes and would be rated PG for language and innuendo.
There’s been a lot of stories updating since I discussed this last. Significantly “The Good Samaritan” by Aerox and “Return of the Ninja Librarian” by Quistie64 have both been completed. There have also been big updates for “Chuck vs Life, Love, & Lies” by Uplink2; “A Common Spy Problem” by Kate McK; “Chuck vs Family Matters” by Lucky47; and I could really keep going for quite a while…
I do have to mention one particularly interesting project. Billatwork has started re-writes of a couple of his early works. Currently “Chuck vs Therapy ReMastered” has a single chapter up, and apparently “Fake Relationship” will get the same treatment next. Many here may remember these stories, both have long been on my favorites list. These are early stories of Bill’s from when creative writing was a new hobby for him. Both feature a simple yet appealing central premise that is resolved in a fast paced story. But both are also obviously simple in ways that are less appealing too; so it will be very interesting to me to see how they read as Bill tries to fill in plot holes and generally bring these stories to a higher standard. I really liked the work he did on the first chapter of “Therapy” so we’re off to a good start!
It would seem, I could keep busy for quite some time with new fan fiction. So while I can’t promise anything, I do expect I’ll do another of these pieces at some point!