Magical Mondays: Baby, My Heart Could Still Fall As Hard in Every Soulbond AU

For someone who doesn’t particularly like rom-coms, I sure do read a lot of fanfiction where romance is prominently featured. This could be because rom-coms, particularly Hollywood rom-coms, have become mostly clichéd retreads of the same old tired story where attractive cis lady meets attractive cis man and then they get together. There’s no suspense in it. Fanfiction, though, allows the writer and reader to explore the stories that Hollywood and primary gatekeepers of “worthwhile” media have deemed unsuitable—stories about people of color, queer people, polyamorous people, etc. It’s because these stories aren’t the ones normally seen on the silver screen or on television that the issues surrounding them become new, interesting, and, if done well, representative of more marginalized groups.

Fanfiction has in turn developed a lot of its own tropes. One of these tropes is the soulbond trope, or soulbond AU (“alternate universe”). In the soulbond AU, two (or more) persons find that they have a magical bond connecting them to their soulmate. Now, this is a trope that could easily become a cliché, but the development of the trope has, interestingly enough, taken on an increasingly intersectional feminist turn as it’s been allowed to change through the internet.

(art via wanderlusion)

(art via wanderlusion)

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Fanfiction Fridays: No Kidding by Curious

I don’t usually read fanfic on tumblr.  I don’t usually stick with fanfic that have a lot of spelling and grammar whoopses. And I am so happy I got over these two peeves and finished ‘No Kidding’, a BBC Sherlock fic about Sergeant Donovan.

The summary, well, sums it up way better than I could:

“Sergeant Sally Donovan will: defend her bisexuality, become a cop, punch people, move house, get a promotion, save Sherlock Holmes, throw a party, buy a cat, play the harmonica, go on bad dates, attend a wedding, attend a funeral, meet Irene Adler, get laid, and get shit done. Like a boss.

I loved this fic for a number of reasons.

First of all, there is barely any good femslash to begin with, compared to the number of good slashfics out there.

Second of all, the fic deals well with Sally both discovering and refusing to let people erase or fetishize her bisexuality, which is awesome.

Third of all, it’s nice to have a look into the background of Donovan’s character, since in the show she’s portrayed as someone for the audience to hate blindly because she hates Sherlock. Getting into Sally’s head, we see both that yes, if you knew Sherlock in the real world you’d probably hate him too, and that actually, Donovan has her own reasons for disliking him.

Fourthly, this fic is rife with original characters, but they’re interesting and well fleshed out, and thanks to them the fic passes The Bechdel Test!

Finally, hooray for a fic where the main character is a queer woman of color instead of a white dude!

Check out ‘No Kidding’ here!

Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Dear Fandom, It’s Not Always the Catholics

So, I have a little bit of a complaint here.

You see, I am a Catholic. In fact, not only am I a Catholic, but I actually decided to dedicate my life to the Catholic Church by studying theology. I am currently going for my Masters in Theology and further plan to go on to get my PhD. That means I have already dedicated about six years of my life to studying theology and I intend to keep doing so for the rest of my natural existence. Clearly, I care about my faith.

That being said, I am the first to admit when the Catholic Church does something wrong. Actually, because I am Catholic, I tend to come down harder on the Catholic Church and other Catholics for doing something wrong.

And I will come right out and say it—the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality is wrong. It’s not just kind of wrong, it’s completely and utterly wrong.

However, fandom, can you please stop making the Catholic Church seem like the freaking Westboro Baptist Church when it comes to homosexuality!

I have read a lot of fanfic and a lot of slash fanfic. Some are what you would call Alternate Universe, where instead of say Dean and Cas being a hunter and an angel fighting demons, they are both starting college and have been paired up as roommates—hilarious hijinks happen!

Inevitably, however, in slash fanfic set in our world a lot of authors tend to incorporate religion into the plot. After all, if one character has been taught their whole life that homosexuality is wrong and then realizes they are gay, well, that is a pretty dramatic and intense story. However, almost all of these fanfic have the uber-religious character be a practicing and devoted Catholic, which would be fine if they didn’t portray my faith like it was Nazism. Continue reading

Fanfiction Fridays: Gospel of Deception by thereisafire

Durarara!!’s Orihara Izaya is a multifaceted figure full of mystery and trickery. I’ve even heard a fan theory that he’s actually Loki, the Norse god of chaos, michief, and trickery, in human guise.

This fic sadly does not explore that facet of fanon. (Although if someone wants to write me that DRRR/Avengers crossover I didn’t know I wanted until just now, PLEASE DO IT.)

Rather, it boasts the fascinating pairing of Izaya/Trolling, and gets you inside Izaya’s head with backstory on how he becake the horribly manipulative person he is today, going all the way up to him getting Shizuo arrested. It’s terribly clever and well-written, and the author’s Izaya!voice is really spot-on.

Check it out here at AO3!

Fanfiction Fridays: Why I’m Glad Ginny Is Dating Draco Malfoy by Sarea Okelani

During my Harry Potter days I read pretty much every Harry Potter fanfic and consequently read almost every pairing. Among all those fics and all those pairings I had some favorites one of those was Draco/Ginny.

It really is one of the most perfect pairings feisty Ginny, snarky Draco, and a slew of proud angry relatives on both sides. It made for some excellent reads.

One of my favorite things was watching Ron try to deal with Draco and Ginny’s relationship. Ron already hated Draco and was fiercely protective of Ginny in the books so watching Ron try to deal with the fact that Ginny was dating his worst enemy was really just wonderful and often hilarious.

The fic Why I’m Glad Ginny is Dating Draco Malfoy by Sarea Okelani is a classic example of this. Watching Ron try to deal with Ginny dating Draco, trying to break them up, and failing over and over was hilarious. I don’t want to give away too much but know that it is both a funny and sweet fic that will definitely brighten your day.

Be sure to check it out and let the author know what you think.

Fanfiction Fridays: Secret Keeper by ermalope

Personally, I’m not the biggest slash fan. Oh, I’ll read it. I’ll read the hell out of it. But there’s always something about a story that doesn’t involve slash that just pulls me in. Of course, seeing as this is fanfiction, finding one that’s slash free and well written presents a challenge in and of itself. This brings me to Secret Keeper by ermalope.

This particular fic features a budding friendship between, of all people, Severus Snape and James Potter. I’ve actually read a number of believable fics between these two—surprisingly slash fics, but I digress—but this one is probably my favorite.

During the first war with Voldemort, when the Potters go into hiding to protect their son, Dumbledore suspects that one of James’s friends has betrayed them. Furthermore, they need a secret keeper Voldemort would not suspect. Though James and Lily are adamant in choosing either Sirius or Peter, Dumbledore suggests—you guessed it!—Severus Snape.

This suggestion does not go over well.

And it’s nice to see that it takes both a while to convince the Potters and Snape that this is merely the safest option, and not that it is a ploy by Dumbledore for entertainment value. And while the fic is mostly very serious, ermalope does spice it up with some added bits of humor, especially in the dialogue.

Dumbledore finished his tea and said, “So, to business. Can you guess what this little side project of yours will entail?”

“Not telling anyone else that I’m the secret keeper of the Potters,” Severus muttered.

“Especially Voldemort.”

“I can’t even tell him? I would never have guessed,” Severus said in the same miserable monotone. Dumbledore smiled humourlessly.

Because the Potters were in such a rush to cast the Fidelus Charm, and because they cannot leave their home for their own safety, it falls to Severus to bring them supplies every week or so, a task he does not enjoy.

Potter’s eyes narrowed, but he stepped back to let Severus in. “What are you doing here?” he spat as he watched Severus materialize out of thin air.

“Believe me Potter, if I didn’t have to be -” he stopped, and said in a more silky voice, “I’d expect more gratitude from you. I am saving your life. Part of this duty requires me to ensure that you don’t starve, as much as it would satisfy me if you did.”

Potter’s eyes, which had been still narrowed in intense dislike, widened – now horrified. “Couldn’t someone else… Sirius, or Peter, or… anyone do that?”

“Of course, Potter, practically everyone was falling over themselves to offer, but I, personally, couldn’t refuse such an honour,” Severus sneered.

The friendship between the two is slow going. While James is the one to push for it more, Severus doesn’t forgive easily, and he has an understandably hard time letting go of all the horrible things James subjected him to while in school, which does halt any progress the two make in getting along significantly.

On top of all this, McGonagall doesn’t trust Snape, and she also enlists one of his students to follow him around and spy on him while he’s teaching at Hogwarts. Furthermore, once James gets back his invisibility cloak and starts going out, it creates more problems. The one scene where these two issues collide into each other in the latest chapter is quite memorable. Needless to say, Severus’s reaction to the Potters leaving their hiding place brings out a few laughs, especially because by the time that happens, he has grown to care for James just a little.

Severus almost toppled out of his desk chair. “Wha – Potter! How – WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

“Look, Snape, I don’t like it any more than you do. But I had to contact you.”

“You could have just used a patronus, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ORDER!” Severus shouted.

“Where’s the fun in that, though?” James grinned, seating himself at a desk in the very front row.

“This isn’t a game, Potter!” Severus snarled.

James frowned at a potion stain in the middle of his desk, and then glanced up at Severus. “Look, I know. I do. I thought that a patronus showing up might be a tad disruptive in the middle of one of your classes, so I came here myself and waited for you to be free. We need your help.”

“What, did the Dark Lord show up at your doorstep?” snarled Severus.

“Not yet. But Dolohov did.”

Severus said nothing for a moment, but smiled lazily. “Ah. So. You’ve come to beg me to –” his smile vanished. “Hang on a second. Dolohov is right outside your house because you got yourself caught in a pub, and you react by leaving your hiding place to tell me about it?”

James raised one eyebrow. “It would appear that way, wouldn’t it?”

“How are you still alive, Potter?”

Eventually, during this conversation, the aforementioned student walks in.

Unfortunately, Severus didn’t get the chance to elaborate on those feelings, because they had been intruded upon. Charity Burbage had wandered into the classroom several moments ago and had been staring from one man to the other silently, eyes wide, for those past several moments.

They stared back. In that instant in which the back of his mind whirred for a solution to this dilemma, Severus somehow noticed how remarkably like a deer caught in the wand-light James Potter looked when he was startled.

After that instant, he came to his senses and snapped, “Can I help you, Miss Burbage?” as though she had interrupted an ordinary discussion between himself and another staff member.

“Uh –” she said. “I was just – I’m just a little early. For class.”

Severus stared at her. “Class starts in an hour and a half.”

It was Charity’s turn to blink. “Does it? I’ll go, then.” She all but ran from the room.

James smirked. “I’m a little early for class, Professor. Who was that?”

“Oh, no one,” Severus replied ferociously. “You know. Just one other person who has seen you! Not only that, she’s seen you with me! I’ll have to wipe her memory or something.”

James snorted. “And I bet you will.”

Severus continued, oblivious to James’s quip. “Dumbledore will never let me do that, of course. Maybe I should reason with him. What matters now is Dolohov.”

As of currently, Secret Keeper is fifteen chapters long, with over forty thousand words. It’s another story that hasn’t yet been completed, but neither is it abandoned. Ermalope has done an amazingly good job on this story thus far, and it is something that I look forward to reading whenever I see an update. Check it out here, and leave the author a comment or two if you like it.

Homophobia and Slash Fanfiction

Hi, readers! This is a very old post! In the interests of openness and transparency, the editorial staff at LGG&F have decided to leave it up. However, our views on this topic have evolved and become more nuanced over the years. For a more layered approach to this issue, we suggest these posts:
Sexualized Saturdays: Is Slash Fanfiction Degrading And/Or Homophobic?
Sexualized Saturdays: Queer Representation or Ship Representation?
Sexualized Saturdays: A Genderqueer Take on Slash Fanfiction
Sexualized Saturdays: Femslash and Fandom
Sexualized Saturdays: On Sterek, Shipping, and Selfishness
Why Is There So Much Slash Fic: Some Analysis of the AO3 Census

You are displaying the former if you hate the latter.

Allow me to explain.

The reason I’m writing this is because I know many people who are staunch supporters of gay rights but are downright disgusted by the idea of slash. When I mentioned fanfiction to a new college friend a few years ago, she told me an anecdote about a friend of hers who was a Remus/Sirius shipper. But she phrased it in a way that made it clear that she thought that was weird and gross and just beyond the pale. In another instance we were talking about our shared love of Hikaru no Go and I had joked about Touya and Hikaru’s epic love (holla, Hikago!), and she responded “You don’t have to make it gay, I was just saying.”

Pictured: Epic love.

I continue to be very close friends with this girl, but it took me far longer to come out to her as bi than it otherwise would have because these instances and others made me worry that she would come to dislike me or be suspicious of me or display any number of other gay panic-related reactions when she found out she was friends with a real-live queer person.

These little outbursts of hate toward the idea of queering characters not portrayed as such in their original work are easily comparable to, for example, getting angry at a fanartist for portraying a humanized version of Twilight Sparkle as black.

Oh, but she sounds white to you? Well, maybe Dean Winchester seems bi, or Sherlock seems asexual, or Lelouch seems gay to me. Why do you have a problem with that? Oh, it is certainly noble to champion the cause of gay rights as a lofty ideal, but when people you know or characters you care about suddenly shift your paradigm and become queer themselves, and you get uncomfortable, that’s a leetle bit of homophobia rearing its head. If you assume that every character whose sexuality is not explicitly stated in a show or book or movie is straight, you are succumbing to the heteronormative fallacy of ‘straight til proven queer’, a frustrating and frankly illogical trope.

Part of this is rooted in persistent and terrible stereotypes. If, when you think ‘gay’, you think ‘faaaabulous’, you’d never imagine Dean Winchester getting into a relationship with a guy. If when you think bi, you think ‘slut’, you never would imagine someone like Durarara‘s Mikado as bi. If you think ‘butch’ when you hear ‘lesbian’, you’d never in a million years think of, say, Luna Lovegood as a lesbian.In fact, these conceptions would be unnatural to you because they don’t fit into your nice little easily identifiable boxes.

But part of the magic of slash fanfiction is that it does escape these stereotypical boxes. It says “yes, some gay people are faaaabulous and fashion-inclined, but my Albus Severus Potter is gay and he is a bookish quiet Slytherin in love with Ravenclaw Quidditch star Scorpius Malfoy.” It helps break the mold that gay people (or any flavor of queer people) are one-size-fits-all feather-boa’d cutouts and helps perpetuate the notion that wizarding heroes and villains, vampires and vampire hunters, famous detectives (consulting or otherwise), gang leaders, bandits, and doctors (or Doctors) can be queer and still be badasses or hardasses and evil or good or neutral (or lawful or chaotic).

Many of the readers and writers of slash fanfic certainly get their sexual jollies out of reading and writing it. As a reader and writer of slash myself, I do not deny this. Some people read slash because the idea of two guys getting it on is hot to them, and leave it at that. But there is so much more to slash than just ‘gay porn’. Saying all slash fanfic is gay porn is like saying all movies are porn—sexual encounters may make up a significant and vocal minority of plotlines, but there also exists a wealth of stories that circle around adventure, drama, comedy, romance, and angst for which teh sexxors is only an optional plot device. So assuming that all slash fanfic is porn is like saying all gay people are promiscuous—it’s heterosexist and false.

Likewise, reacting in disgust to the idea that someone has envisioned a world where ‘straight till proven queer’ is not the guiding light is being homophobic. If you don’t like slash, don’t read it. I’m not going to hold anyone at gunpoint and make them read Love Under Will (especially because of that horrible cliffhanger ending that was never, NEVER RESOLVED AJA).

Here’s what you should do: live and let live. Accept the fact that some people like reading slash and go on with your life. Slash will not turn you gay or hit on you. Reading a story with gay people in it will not magically tattoo a ‘sexual deviant’ alert on your forehead, and neither will knowing someone who reads it.

And then here’s the next step: realize that slash is not a genre in and of itself that you can avoid the way I avoid dry political biographies or asparagus, but is in part an attempt at transforming the literature we have into a literature that is inclusive of non-heteronormative characters. And it’s, dare I say, a work-in-progress. (A WIP if you will, and don’t we all hate those.) People still warn for slash in summaries (aka, warning: GAYS!); and, hell, it’s still seen by most of the internet as the straight-white-upper-middle-class-woman’s porn; but in reality, slash is just a regular fan story where the main characters happen to be queer.

Morgan Freeman once said that he hated the idea of Black History Month, because it continues to separate black history from the mainstream of all history. Like, we only have to focus on black history for one month, then back to ‘regular’ (read: white) history for the other eleven. Calling slash its own genre is a similar fallacy. Beneath the umbrella of ‘slash’ we have adventure epics, tragic romances, political thrillers, exciting mysteries, and, yes, steamy encounters. And those are the genres by which we should define stories, fan-written or otherwise. “Queer” is not a genre. And continuing to frame it as such continues to make queer stories about mysterious others rather than about people just like you.

Fanfiction Fridays: Semper Victoria by Katkiller-V

avatarIt’s been my experience that people seem very open to the idea of being introduced to someone new in a published work, but not in fanfiction. I would theorize that this is because people read fanfiction mostly to further explore already existing characters, and new characters are almost always written off as being dreaded Sues. This is such a lie. Yes, a good proportion of original characters in fanfiction are bad. I think we can all agree on that. However, I can list a good number of fanfiction that feature numerous original characters that are far more than just decent, but compelling, thought-provoking, and realistic.

Semper Victoria by Katkiller-V is one such fic. It’s summary reads:

Humanity is on the brink of self-destruction, and unobtanium may be only hope for our species. A story where Pandora is not an Eden, and the shades of white and black have been washed into a sea of gray.

First published late last year, it took the author just under two months to post all forty-nine chapters and start on the sequel, Semper Furor. I can only assume she either had most of the first story written, or at the very least outlined, before she began posting. Notably, she’s been taking much longer to finish the sequel, but she manages to maintain the same quality of writing throughout, that being remarkably decent for something found on Hey, Katkiller-V obviously knows a good deal more about grammar than other fanfiction authors, so I’m not going to complain whenever I see a typo.

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