Okay, so it’s mid-April, but here is some left-over March stuff:
So I don’t really read fanfiction in general, although I’m not going to pretend that I never have. But I thought a lot about fanfiction in March, for some reason.
I ended up doing an analysis of stylistic differences between Jane Austen’s original works and some Austen fanfiction as a final project1 for a statistics class, because I simultaneously did not give enough fucks to do something “useful” but gave too many fucks to just analyze data that I didn’t care about? But I think I feel okay about how it turned out, and it may be of interest to my future fans, so: here it is.
I also started reading Captain America slash-fiction? Specifically, MCU Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers, post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier, no weird AUs, minimal smut-to-feelings ratio2. In general, I think comics-based fanfiction works better for me than book-based fanfiction, because:
- It’s harder to draw comparisons between the writing style of the fanfiction authors and the authors of the comics, because they’re operating in completely different mediums. If I read, say, Harry Potter fanfiction, I can’t help but compare the fanfiction author’s style to J.K. Rowling’s; even if the fanfiction author is an excellent author in his/her own right3, it’s still going to feel off to me because I want my fanfiction to feel like a continuation of the original work and any stylistic differences in the writing just emphasize that it’s not. For fanfiction based on comics (or based on movies based on comics), however, you can read the fanfiction more as a tie-in novel; as long as the dialogue is reasonable, the style of the prose isn’t going to feel as off because there’s nothing to compare it to.
- The concept of canon is less oppressive. Again, for book-based fanfiction, I can never fully get into the story knowing that it’s not and will never be canon. But canon in comics is super flexible, since all of these comics are so long-running. The characters in Marvel comics seem to operate in this weird universe where everything they’ve done is sort of canon but also kind of not, because they stay more or less the same age while their backstories keep piling up? Plus, you have all of these different authors writing the characters over time, so while we may have some essential invariants in terms of characterization (for example, their general origin stories, power sets, and defining character traits), different authors are inevitably going to have different interpretations of how the characters express themselves, both in terms of their interactions with other characters and their inner monologues. And the Marvel cinematic universe is more streamlined (so far), but a lot of MCU fanfiction seems to incorporate elements from the comics as well. So while Bucky/Steve isn’t necessarily canon, it doesn’t feel that much less canonical than a lot of things that technically are, since so many4 things technically are canon.
So, have some Bucky/Steve fanfiction:
- Steve Rogers Might Wear Tights, but He’s Not Your Pin-up Girl: This is an unusual one, in that it’s in the format of an essay that Bucky writes for a college class on Captain America, which maybe seems overly gimmicky, but I think it works. It’s the only one I’ve found so far that really addresses what makes the Bucky/Steve pairing more interesting than just “hot dudes making out”—within the MCU, Captain America is this weird mix of historical figure/modern celebrity/national icon of American masculinity, so what are the political implications if the Bucky/Steve relationship goes public?
- Reciprocity: I don’t know if this is “good,” but it was really compelling. Like, “holy shit, did I just waste most of a day reading 90,000 words of Captain America slash-fiction?” compelling. And I cried. I definitely cried. I don’t actually really like the characterizations of Bucky and Steve in this, but they do seem like valid (i.e. mostly thoughtful and consistent within the work) choices on the part of the author. There are also a lot of unnecessary descriptions of food, which may not be good writing, but it makes it delightfully clear that the author loves breakfast pastries and I respect that.
- your favorite ghost: I think this one actually is really good. Again, I cried. I definitely cried.
- There are also a lot of cute lighter fics about Bucky and Steve adjusting to the future. None of them have been especially noteworthy, but I do love a good Man Out of Time story.
In my defense, it was the end of an intense quarter.
1. The assignment description was just “Undertake an analysis of a multivariate data set that can be expressed in matrix form. The analysis should be using one or more of the methods covered in class.” so like…a lot of leeway there. ^
2. Like, in case this wasn’t clear from previous posts, my ideal romance novel is like hundreds of pages of feelings and subtext (lots of Significant Looks, maybe a few Significant Touches, but certainly no genital involvement) until finally, there is too much unresolved tension and we get “And then they bang. THE END.” I do not actually care about the details of the banging, just a confirmation that it happens. This is probably why I’m currently getting deep into Austen. ^
3. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered this, but in theory, it could happen, right? ^
4. Captain America first appeared in 1941. I don’t know if the hardcore nerds consider every Captain America appearance in the comics as canon, but still, like…presumably, a lot of weird shit has happened in the comics since 1941. ^