Its always exciting to me when I see enough new stories at fanfiction.net to justify a new fan fiction post. Traffic and updates are slowing down, as I think we could all expect, but there’s still some great stuff to read. After the jump, we’ll see what we can find to talk about this time.
I’d like to start this post with just a couple comments on what it means for me to recommend or “favorite” a story. I imagine those who read here regularly won’t be too surprised by anything I say. So I’ll start with the obvious, I’m not a writer, editor or literature expert! I do have a college degree, and generally did well in English and writing classes, even if it did come less easily to me than history or math. In terms of fan fiction I am aware of many failings in grammar, spelling and style; but unless those shortcomings are really serious they don’t normally rule out a story with a fun premise (although such failings don’t do a writer any favors either!). What really makes a difference to me is a sense of fun.
That idea of fun is what drew me to Chuck in the first place. It’s about adventure, an ordinary sort of guy I can really relate to getting involved in epic and amazing things; its about being a hero and doing the right thing even its hard or dangerous, a quirky and amusing world, and a good sense of humor through anything. As I got more familiar with the setting, and when I first came to fan fiction, those things had become more specific centering on a collection of personalities I could love and admire; especially Chuck and Sarah. Fan fiction I enjoy is almost always about those two characters first and foremost. Maybe not exclusively, I know I’ve favorited a few things that focus on other characters; but Chuck and Sarah are the primary draw. Its even more specific than that. I find myself getting quickly bored with many stories that spend too much time on just one of those characters without the other. Prequel stories aren’t really favorites of mine either, for that same reason. I don’t want to make too big a thing of that (because there are exceptions), but Chuck and Sarah doing things together is the main hook of most Chuck stories to me. I know a few well written, and generally well regarded stories have failed to make my list because I found the separations too long or too frequent.
It is also important to me that both characters are heroes. I’m really not interested in extremely dark stories, or emphasis on a sordid past, or hopeless no win situations. I like overcoming the odds, doing what’s right because its right, and warm affection and friendship between the characters. Not to say an argument or disagreement isn’t fun on occasion, but it shouldn’t dominate or define the story. I guess a related issue is I’m not so into grim or dreary stories. Some level of challenge and danger is needed, but I tire of non-stop peril, or challenges that seem to go from bad to worse for an extended period. I like the happy respite and chance to look at what is worth fighting for. I really like themes of friendship, family, love overcomes all. The sappy stuff guys aren’t supposed to publicly admit to.
I’ve come to enjoy the complete Alternate Universe story a lot. I think that’s partly because my love for the characters exceeds my love for anything specific to the setting. The depiction of those characters as recognizable to the show is one of the biggest things in me enjoying a story. They don’t have to be painstakingly recreated from the show, no need to justify every behavior with footnotes or anything. It can even be fun if traits are emphasized differently than canon; but I do need to be able to recognize the characters I love.
And of course I’m a happy ending sort of guy. That doesn’t always have to mean married with 2.5 kids. Specific to Chuck, it can vary a lot based on the time frame of the story. Something set in Season One can more easily be a friendship sort of story, and even Season Two may count as a happy ending with only a single obstacle overcome (especially a one-shot). But by the end of S2 I admit I start getting more demanding and specific. By then I think every story is a Charah story. Or its not for me. And that’s fine too! But really, not for me… (seriously, the story may be about other characters entirely, that sometimes works too. But Chuck and Sarah can only mean Charah). I know, I’m kind of a jerk that way.
I went over some of that just to remind readers what they can count on if I recommend the story. I know my taste isn’t for everyone. But I know a number of you like pretty similar things, and I want you all to know what it means if I recommend it.
I do encourage readers to recommend other stories too! I’ve actually found a lot of excellent new stories through readers and writers who have peddled their wares on this site. “Family Matters” by Lucky47 always stands out as something I skipped over based on the brief description; but recommendations by other readers here led to me reading it, and discovering a new favorite. Or more recently “Chuck Versus the Lost Years” by Angus MacNab was one I didn’t like the first chapter and gave up on, until the writer made a good case for his work here, and other readers added their testimonials. I now consider it one of my very favorites and an outstanding post-series story.
Of course I still might not get excited over a story one of you loves (or writes!). Sorry. Really I am. But please never be threatened by it if my taste and yours aren’t the same. I would like if this site, and these posts could be a good reference place for many fan fiction readers. Even if your referral fails me, it may be a wonderful thing to someone else. And Chuck fans communicating and in community together is sort of what this site is all about. I do ask, if you recommend something that could be considered “R” rated that you include some sort of content warning. I know fanfiction.net includes a rating system, but I really don’t want to hear of readers jumping straight to something graphically violent or sexual from this site without any warning. (And we do reserve the right to delete anything really explicit).
Okay, so a lot of text and no new stories yet. In the last few months there still has been some good new stuff being posted. I’ll start with “Chuck Versus the Steampunk Chronicles” by (no surprise) Steampunk.Chuckster. This is a very well written story. With regards to the lengthy exposition I gave above, I would say this starts with a lot of back story; and it takes quite a while before Sarah is even introduced. When she is introduced, she is a pretty icy and scary character. And this kept it off my favorites list for many chapters. But it really is colorful and fun. And like canon, Chuck seems to melt Sarah pretty quickly. Should be a lot of fun to see how this plays out! It is currently incomplete and could be read in several hours. I don’t know how long it might go. It would currently be rated PG-13 for violence and language.
A more recently started story is “Chuck vs The Biggest Loser” by ThereisAnother. This starts with one little twist from canon, during Chuck’s down and out period after Stanford he ballooned up to over 400 pounds! So Sarah’s initial cover will be trainer instead of girlfriend. Apparently this version of Casey has some personal experience with morbid obesity, which also makes him a more sympathetic character at the start. Very interesting, and reasonable I think, variation on the show’s start. So far this story is a lot of fun. The writer has said the story is already complete in outline form, and he’s been updating regularly, twice a week. Expect 25 chapters when done. So maybe 6-8 hours of total reading? It would be rated PG so far; but as Chuck gets more capable of getting into trouble that may change (!).
The final multi-chapter recommendation I have this time is “The Detective and the Tech Guy” by thecharleses (better known as Steampunk.Chuckster and dettiot). I admit I was confused by this one at first. The writers describe the Thin Man movies as their inspiration, which I leapt to conclude meant it was set in the 1930s or 40s. I was very confused by the first chapter! It’s modern. The inspiration seems to be more one of mood, with friendly, flirty banter. As we would expect from these two writers, it is well written and fun. With a nice upbeat sort of mood. Its been updating regularly with short chapters. I’m not sure how long it will run, but could currently be read in about an hour. So far it has nothing offensive.
My last recommendation will be a one-shot. “The Bartowskis Versus the Suburbs” by Steampunk.Chuckster (gee, notice someone has been a busy writer recently!) is set a year or so post-series. Chuck and Sarah are settling into normal. But the main drive of the story is playing with the role reversal that was always at the core of Chuck. Well played for laughs. Fun story that can be read in 20 minutes. It would be rated “R” for some happily marital reasons.
Some other excellent works continue. Anthropocene’s excellent hypothetical Season Six continues with “Chuck Versus Route 66“. Maybe too slowly, but it does continue…
Quistie64’s outstanding “Chuck vs the Sound of Music II” is nearing its end. Words just aren’t enough. This has been a completely satisfying ride. Let’s hope Quistie has some more ideas for this AU. I’m not ready to say goodbye.
And Marc Vun Kannon recently started his alt-S4 with “nine2five Snake in the Grass” which should be a good time. I linked his author page in addition to the story because he writes shorter individual stories that tie into a bigger whole.
Fan Fiction is slowing down, just like activity has at this blog. That’s not surprising so long after our show has ended. Keep in mind when you read anything at ff.net that those writers are getting less feedback than ever. So don’t forget to post a review on any story you enjoy. The writers will appreciate it. And keeping those writers happy is how we all get more Chuck stories!