Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Alternate Realities by accident and by design

Alternate realities are part of both science fiction and fantasy. but they also happen, both accidental and by design, in fan fiction. Ultimately, fan fiction always is a bit of an alternate reality of existing books, movies, TV series, games, or whatever. Fans take the characters and the worlds and use them to tell stories they would want to see told with them.

Accidental alternate realities tend to happen in series, no matter whether they are novel, movie, or TV series. The series is not finished, but people are already writing fan fiction. They will try to anticipate future developments and usually they are wrong. For a lot of fan fiction in that area, you can easily tell how much of the series was out by the time the fan fiction in question was designed.
Alternate realities by design are anything but rare as well. ‘What if’ is an interesting question for stories. Taking one aspect of a world and changing it will lead to alternate versions of that world. “Star Trek” did it in the series itself, created an ‘evil’ and much more aggressive variety of the universe. “Buffy” also had an episode with a different reality. Quite some series have done Christmas specials and suchlike in which a main character wonders what the world would be like, if they had never been born (off-handed I can say “Married … with Children” and “Fairy Odd-Parents” had such an episode). “Futurama” did a great episode with an alternate world in a cardboard box. And for every ‘official’ alternate world, fans have been doing a hundred or more.

A Black Comedy” is a fan fiction that incorporates both. From the story told of the ‘normal’ timeline, it’s obvious that the author has read novels 1 to 6 of the Harry Potter series. Everything that happens after the end of book six differs from the novels, so it’s pretty safe to say the story was plotted and possibly written before book 7 came out. But then, at the age of 25, Harry more or less accidentally also falls through the Veil at the Ministry (as Sirius Black has done at the end of book five) and finds himself in an alternate timeline. Sirius arrived there, too, but only days before Harry, after being trapped between realities for ten years. Stories with alternate realities in connection with the Veil are not uncommon, because there is never any explanation for what happens to people who fall through it. Do they really die? Do they stay behind it, waiting for a chance to go back? Or could it be a gateway to another dimension?
In the story, that is well written, rather long, and an interesting read, both Harry and Sirius land in the same timeline, in which their counterparts have been dead for 25 years. On the fateful night of Halloween 1981, when Harry’s parents died in the novels, Harry was alone with his godfather, who fought valiantly, but was killed. As was baby Harry. So Sirius and Harry pose as members of the Black family and start wreaking havoc with things (making money by robbing Death Eaters, for example). The alternate reality has no Chosen One; Harry died at the age of one, Neville disappeared (and died) at the age of six. A mysterious wizard in black is the main opposition for Voldemort, who has turned the Death Eaters into some sort of terrorists instead of an army. There is quite a host of new characters, too. And old characters with a new background. James and Lily Potter lived and have two more children, Sarah and James Jr. Tonks’ parents died when she was little and Remus Lupin raised her. Ginny, never pining for a saviour, has become a tough bartender who won the Hog’s Head off Aberfourth Dumbledore (who also exists in the novels) in a drinking contest. The Ginny of Harry’s old world died in her sixth year and has been following Harry ever since, even into the new timeline. There’s a lot of ‘what if’ in the story and it works out quite nicely.

Thinking up and writing alternate realities is quite fun and a basic essence of fan fiction, anyway.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Two Good Fan Fictions

Ehem … long time no see, I know. It’s not that I haven’t been writing lately (quite the opposite), but I haven’t been doing a lot of blog posts. This one, however, is going to be fun enough.

Fan Fiction, for all those who have not heard the word before, are stories written by people who are using characters and worlds out of movies, books, computer games or other media. They are pretty varied and pretty easy to get these days, because of the internet and the many Fan Fiction sites that have sprung up.

I will today present you with two Harry Potter Fan Fictions (well, actually one with a sequel) which I found quite hilarious. Be warned, however, that the grammar and spelling is obviously faulty, even for someone for whom English is not the native language. You can find both Make A Wish and The Hunt for Harry Potter at Feedbooks as free e-books.

That all said, here my reviews for the two stories.

“Make A Wish” starts out at the end of Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts. Instead of returning home with the Dursleys, he decides to take some time for himself. Thinking he is going to die, he wants to have some fun – inspired by the Make A Wish Foundation. So Harry gets himself some gear for travelling around and things start to get interesting. Among the stuff he is given by a suspiciously helpful shopkeeper are a fake passport on the name Black and a bracelet which makes sure Harry is not recognized. Soon the mysterious Mr. Black, whom nobody can describe well, gains a lot of reputation. After defeating a group of Death Eaters in Amsterdam (in about 3 seconds), the law enforcement communities start watching him and making wrong connections. Soon Mr. Black goes from (possibly) being a retired Auror or Unspeakable to being a former member of the French resistance (during WWII), to being an at least 2,000-year-old Roman, to being a reformed Dark Lord who possibly killed a huge number of mages in Ancient Egypt (and possibly sunk Atlantis). Not to mention he must be a man like no other, tiring out a large group of Veela and coming back with hairline fractures in his pelvic bone. While Harry is partially responsible for things that happen, much more is simply bad timing from the Death Eaters (like portkeying outside a balcony on the tenth floor of a hotel in Switzerland or in front of a train in Austria) or simply coincidence. The story is amusing, has everything from fun to action, and actually is something I have read several times so far.

“The Hunt for Harry Potter” takes over after the end of “Make A Wish.” Harry Potter has disappeared from the face of the earth. Mr. Black came back under the guise of Harry Potter (not much of a surprise, isn’t it?) and Harry merely left his friends a note saying he needed time to himself and would, possibly, come back one day. Several parties, therefore, start looking for Harry. There’s Hermione, who teams up with Luna, Tonks, and Remus Lupin (while Tonks follows her own plans which include somehow seducing Remus) to look for Harry. There’s Albus Dumbledore, who follows his own trail. Meanwhile, a new organisation is after Mr. Black who has decided to open his fortress close to Antarctica to members of magical law enforcement and teaches such enlightening classes as making an Atlantean omelette (without breaking eggs) from Merlin’s own cookbook or underwater basket weaving (you have to learn how to breath underwater first, of course). Reading this story without reading “Make A Wish” first would not be a good idea, if you, however, want some more fun after finishing the main story, “The Hunt for Harry Potter” definitely would be a must.

Both stories make a lot of cultural references to various books, TV series, and suchlike. Think of agents 86 and 99 from Control or the phrase ‘port me up.’ There actually is an Acme Corporation in the story (and their acme spell drops something heavy on people).

Happy reading for free with those two stories!