And Some Really Cool New Stuff!
This site has seen a lot of newcomers in the last few weeks. Many seem to be viewers who just found Chuck through NetFlix. Maybe a few just had their interest reignited. Whatever your story, I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce a few new readers to fan fiction based on our favorite show.
And for all you old timers out there, we’ve got a few new stories as well. So after the jump, its time for another fan fiction discussion.
For any Chuck fan who really wants to see new content featuring your favorite characters the options are pretty limited. Canon is set at 91 episodes for now. Once you’ve seen them all, and maybe tracked down the finale extended cut, and watched a few deleted scenes, interviews and featurettes you’ve pretty much exhausted the “official” material. The only way to get more is to go unofficial.
Fortunately the Chuck community is blessed with a talented and enthusiastic group of fan fiction writers. But it sure is hard to know where to start reading! I have set up some utilities here to try and help. I rely almost entirely on the Chuck page at fanfiction.net, you can always find that link under the “Fan Fiction” header on the right side of this page. The only down side to this is there are over 3300 entries at that site. I also have a link to my own favorites under that same header. I also have a lot of favorites, 268 at last count. I hope some of you will find that a useful starting point. If you’ve read much of my commentary at this site you have some idea what my taste is. Fan Fiction can appeal to a broad variety of tastes, but if you like Chuck you’re bound to find a few stories there that will appeal to you.
A few things to watch for with any story you read, a sort of vetting process; first is just read the short synopsis, see if it interests you. Then you might want to check the rating; if the story is violent or raunchy it should be made clear. Once you’ve read a few stories you’ll get to know some writers you like. If you have any concerns, check the reviews! Posted reviews can give away plot points. They are usually written more to provide feedback to the author than they are for other readers, but they are a resource. The synopsis will also show word count in the bottom data line; just a guideline if you aren’t used to looking at word counts, I usually figure I can read 12K+ words an hour. I really don’t know if that makes me faster or slower than most of you, but that’s my baseline for allotting time to read. Lastly check and see if the story is tagged as complete (This is the very last piece of information in the summary). Sometimes its a lot of fun to read along with the writer as they go, and many of us eagerly await updates of favorite stories. But be warned, many stories are never finished. If its last update is listed as more than a couple months ago the prospects of it being finished aren’t good! For a start in the world of fan fiction I would strongly suggest a finished work.
There are a few terms unique to fan fiction. The first is AU, this means Alternate Universe, and just means the story is set in a completely different world than the TV show. So we may get an old west Chuck, or a Chuck who’s in the Navy, or a story that’s patterned more after a completely different TV show but uses the characters from Chuck. You will occasionally see a story described as AU from a certain point. That’s just saying you can assume everything happened like the show until Marlin or Colonel or some other point. In a sense, any work of fan fiction becomes AU the moment it starts because it is no longer bound by canon. If you see the term AU there will usually be an explanation as to what you need to know right in the synopsis. Another term is OC for Original Character. Many stories include an OC or two. If they’re important they will usually be mentioned in the synopsis. One-Shot is another term you’ll often see; that just means its a single chapter short-story. I’ve seen a lot of One-Shots I wish were turned into longer stories; but the author is warning you up front this is all there is.
Get To the Point Already…
So now I’ve wasted enough of your time! What I really wanted to do here today was recommend some great stories to get started with. I’ll break this into a few categories that will hopefully excite everyone still reading (!). The first couple seasons of Chuck were characterized by asset/handler rules, a cover relationship, and an information only model of the Intersect. Many writers were inspired to tinker with the story at this point. One early example is “Sarah vs Green Bay” by Moe32. This was written before we knew anything about Sarah’s background in canon. So the writer goes directions very different from the show. But its a fun ride, and one of my very favorite endings among the early stories. An early one-shot is “Sarah vs the Second First Date” by Course Jester. Something’s been bugging Chuck, and Sarah sets out find what it is. This is a fun look at late S1/early S2 sorts of concerns. “Chuck vs The Campaign” by ersk4 is a good example of an early fluff piece. There is little real drama to be found. This is pure fun, as Sarah sets out to prove to Chuck that she can be the “normal” girl he claims to want. The story is all light hearted and fun, with a few significant guest appearances. My last “early” recommendation is in two parts; “Chuck vs a Normal Life” and “Chuck versus the Decision” by timewalker05. The two parts are quite different, but just a terrific story over all, and a good example of where another fan thought the story could go way back in early 2009 (mid-S2).
Season Three brought a huge explosion in Chuck fan fiction. So many writers were motivated to tinker with or improve upon a big upheaval in the direction of the show. I recently spent several months going over Season Three “Alternatives” so I’ll only mention a couple here. “Chuck vs the Fight” by KateMcK goes back to several S3 episodes and imagines a small twist to each one that could have led to very different results. Some of these are tons of fun and could have led to whole AUs all their own. The other I’ll mention is a longer treatment of an AU version of S3 called “Chuck vs the Rogue Spy” by Crumby. If you think Sarah seems an unlikely candidate to go rogue, Chuck would agree. And he’ll do anything to prove she’s innocent.
Another major category of stories is post-series. Of course the way our show ended only serves to generate speculation. There are some really terrific choices here. Starting with Thinkling’s “Sarah vs Finding Herself” and Angus MacNab’s “Chuck Versus the Lost Years“. Both are excellent stories that pick up right at the end. But wait, there’s more… “The Long Road Home” by BillandBrick; “Chuck and Sarah vs Their Next Adventure” by MyNameIsJeffNImLost; “Sarah and Chuck’s PANTS” by newbie93 are all examples of well done epilogue stories. Anthropocene has even started a whole hypothetical Season Six, which is very well done.
And I haven’t even started on complete AUs. I think, since the end of the show, this has gradually become the most common sort of story. Let me quickly mention a few of the very best. “Chuck vs The Frontier” by NinjaVanish is an old west/Victorian sci-fi sort of tale. NinjaVanish is best known for his explosive and exciting action sequences, and this is great example of that. “Walker’s Eleven” by Moonlight Pilot (AKA Frea O’Scanlin) is the story of career con woman Sarah Walker trying to pull one last con and get out of the business. But when she is double crossed by her team, she has put together a new team with a lovable nerd she recently met, and his unlikely assortment of friends and family. Another different take is “Permutations” by Uplink2. This has Chuck as a late night DJ, and Sarah as an interested listener. A fun story with a number of show characters making different sorts of appearances.
The single longest epic is a two part (actually more than that with a few one-shot add ons) masterpiece by Quistie64. The first is “Chuck vs the Sound of Music” This is a mash up of Chuck and the Rogers and Hammerstein classic The Sound of Music. What is a mash up? Well start with our much loved Chuck characters, and a spy themed story; then add seven children and some seriously twisted song re-writes. It may sound bizarre, but the result is brilliant. And the story continues in “Chuck vs the Sound of Music II“, the much longer sequel. There is less singing than the first part; but we gain a family themed spy adventure that spans Europe and is alternately funny, sweet and exciting. Do yourself a favor and read this.
And you know I’ve only scratched the surface. There is so much good out there. And the 268 on my list are just my favorites. There are many well written tales that weren’t to my taste for some reason or another. You all know I’m fussy. I’m sure any of you could build your own favorites list that’s either slightly, or very different from mine.
Finally, Something New!
There are still new stories in Chuck fan fiction. So let me start with a new work by ref51907 called “Chuck: The Sarah Walker Chronicles“. This goes back to the very beginning of the series, is mostly canon, and looks at Sarah’s thoughts and responses to different events in each episode. The writer intends to treat the whole series. I hope he makes it! I know from our re-watch posts this is a massive undertaking. I also may have to sit out a few chapters when we get to Season Three! But this has been such a thoughtful and well conceived project so far, very enjoyable. It is only four chapters in and could be read in about an hour. It seems to be rated about a PG-13 to me.
Prolific writer CostasTT is back with another adventure. “Chuck vs the Masquerade” has Chuck hired by the CIA to impersonate Hans Lichtenstein, who he apparently resembles. He has been assigned Sarah Walker as his protector, and has his old college buddies Bryce Larkin and Jill Roberts as support. Costas’ stories are always entertaining adventures with minimal angst. It could currently be read in a couple hours, but it still feels early in the story to me. I’m guessing this could go quite long (that’s good!).
My next few fan fiction posts will focus on Season Five Alternative stories, and then maybe a big one looking at post series themes. As always, now is the time to discuss any other favorite stories you might have. And to honor this theme of “Getting Started”, I’d love to here from those who are just getting started on fan fiction reading.