Fanfiction recommendations

For the first time in a very long while, I’ve gotten ahead of the curve on writing a post for every movie that I watch. This gives me extra time to write about other miscellaneous stuff. So I thought this would be a good time to make a list of some of the fanfiction I’ve been reading and enjoyed. As always, the list is sorted in no particular order. It’s a long list because I’ve been reading a lot of the stuff over the past two years or so.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (Ongoing)

I’ve posted about this before here and it’s still ongoing. The plan is apparently to finish it this year. I still enjoy a great deal but it’s now much darker and serious than when it started. Oddly enough, it’s also gotten so caught up in its plot that it’s much less of an author tract than it was originally intended to be.

Black Cloaks, Red Clouds (Ongoing)

Naruto may have ended last year but its many, many fanfiction works still go on. This one is a completely alternative take on the material, starting with the premise that Orochimaru killed the Third Hokage, takes control of Konoha and adopts Naruto as his son and pet monster. Under this new order, all of the Kages are tyrants while the Akatsuki seem to be rebels working to overthrow them.

It starts with Tenten as its protagonist but shifts focus eventually to her students, entirely new characters for this fanfiction. The wonder is that the writing is good enough that I actually care about these new characters. Battle scenes are descriptive, exciting and intelligently written and there is tension dripping everywhere. I can’t understand why this one isn’t more popular than it is, probably because it diverts so wildly from the canon.

Inviolate (Complete)

This one is a DC universe story with Lex Luthor as the protagonist. It’s basically a heel-face-turn in which Luthor realizes his mind has been manipulated for his entire life and wants some payback, ending up saving the world and the universe along the way.

I always love stories with supergeniuses as protagonists and Lex Luthor is one of the original archetypes. Bonus points for plenty of battles in which the powerless Luthor uses his intelligence (and technology) to beat down progressively more powerful opponents, including both heroes and villains. The story starts small but eventually grows to universe-spanning scale.

The North Remembers (Complete)

Getting tired of waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish A Song of Ice and Fire? How about giving this massive 600,000 word attempt by a superfan to finish it for him a whirl? It takes place after A Dance with Dragons and yes it does complete the story and as far as I can tell, deals with all of the loose ends. All of them.

Despite an obvious attempt to consciously ape Martin’s writing style, the prose here isn’t quite up to the standards of the original and you do get the feeling that it’s rushing to wrap everything up. But it’s plainly written by someone who knows what he (or she) is doing and has incredible knowledge of the series as a whole (including the very obscure prophecies). I think it is a very reasonable attempt to guess at what Martin is going for and definitely gives a good sense of closure.

The Two Year Emperor (1st Book Complete)

Not sure if this actually counts as fanfiction since it uses wholly original characters and an original world. Basically, a man from the real world is magically transported to a fantasy empire to serve as their leader while they are facing the greatest threat to their existence. Fortunately the world seems to run according to Dungeons & Dragons rules and this man just happens be an expert in D&D rules lawyering.

Obviously it helps a lot if you actually are familiar with D&D rules and can laugh at its absurdities. Ever wanted to use holy water in artillery shells to deal with massed armies of undead? Check. Wondered about ways to mass-generate XP using summoned monsters? Check. Wanted to know if enough rules lawyering can allow you to kill a god? This story has you covered. My only complaint is that the main story has already ended and I’m not terribly impressed so far with the new story about a new Death finding her way.

A Chance Encounter (Ongoing)

This is the part where I have to sheepishly admit that I actually kind of like Frozen. For the record I liked the first How to Train Your Dragon too, but thought the second one was crap. This is the only fic on this list which is primarily about romance and the pairing is predictably enough Elsa and Hiccup.

 This turns out to be a common pairing in the fanfiction world. I have no idea what the usual standard of quality for these fics are, but I like this one for its solid prose and characterization, entertaining fight scenes and well-handled romantic tension. But yes, it does try too hard to create conflict between Elsa and Hiccup.

Harry Potter and the Natural 20 (Ongoing)

Then we wrap back to Harry Potter, or rather a cross between that and Dungeons & Dragons. In this fic, a teenaged D&D mage get transported to the HP universe and promptly enrolls in Hogwarts because why the hell not. You get the usual HP cast of course but I really like this one for its original characters, including Milo the D&D mage, the muggle policewoman who discovers the existence of wizarding Britain as well ascended extra Hannah Abbot.

As with The Two Year Emperor, a lot of the fun here lies in understanding D&D rules and how its magic interacts with the magic of the Potterverse. It also helps that this fic is laugh-out-loud funny while actually being rather emotionally affecting at times. I never get tired of Milo casting Everard’s Black Tentacles at Deatheaters.

Time Braid (Complete)

One of the most common takes in fanfiction is to do a time loop story of the original events. And it also extremely common to do a time loop story set in the Naruto universe around the Chunin exams, due to the immense popularity of one specific fic which I don’t actually like very much. To me, Time Braid is this premise done right and pursued to its logical end.

Purists may be upset that this fic introduces a completely different overarching story behind everything but I think it’s no worse than the absurdly superpowered stuff than the canon version eventually ended up with. I especially enjoyed Sakura Haruno being the point of view character. The main characters become army killing superheroes at the end of the story, but all of the combat remains very much in the style of canon Naruto.

The Metropolitan Man (Complete)

A common frustration with Superman is that he is supposed to be incredibly powerful, yet writers never write him as being as powerful as he should be. Not so in this story. Told from the point of view of Lex Luthor (again!), this story pits the smartest man on Earth against the superpowered alien from outer space. How do you plot against someone whose supervision and superhearing allows him to know everything that happens in his city, and probably for a wide radius around that? How do you beat someone whose powers just don’t make any logical sense?

As a nice touch of flavor, this fic is set in the 1930s, which was when the first Superman comics were published. This also just happens to drastically cut down on the technology that Luthor has access to. Well-written and with some very thoughtful philosophizing over how the mere presence of an all-powerful being alters all moral considerations even if the being does nothing.

Team 8 (Incomplete)

Finally, I can’t wrap this up without a shout-out to one of the first fanfics I’ve ever read and also one of the famous fics of all time. This classic fic has Naruto joining Kurenai’s team instead of Kakashi’s team, resulting a drastically different personal development arc for him.

Unfortunately this fic was never completed. The author did pop up to add a new chapter in 2013 after a very long hiatus but nothing else has been added since so it’s most likely dead.

If there’s any interest in this, there are also other fics that I’ve enjoyed but that I can’t recommend as highly as the ones listed here.

Leave a Reply