The “Second Annual AWESOME Awards for Excellence in Chuck!Fic Writing” first phase of voting is going on right now over on FanFiction.net. I voted yesterday, and having nominated Ulstergirl for a category or two, it’s reasonable to assume I voted her way here or there. 🙂
Ulstergirl (or NDNickerson as her Live Journal account name identifies her) might not be one of the top names you’re familiar with if you’ve approached “Chuck” fanfic from FanFiction.net. In fact, the most reviews she’s ever got for a “Chuck” story was 20 (as of this writing), which is woefully low compared to the several hundred many of the more popular fics have attracted.
As she says herself, she doesn’t expect very much response from the FanFiction.net audience, although she continues to post there in the hopes that it will act as a loss-leader for her work at Live Journal and her own web site, Ivory-Charmed. And it is through one of these two latter venues that you should find her works.
Why not read her stories at FanFiction.net? Well, you can. In fact, I think most if not all of her “Chuck” fics are available there from her author’s page. But I don’t recommend it. Why? Because they’ve been edited to comply with the site’s position on “adult” content. And having read both the ‘NC-17’ versions on Live Journal and the ‘R’ versions on FF.net, I have to say with all candor that the full versions deliver a more searing, visceral impact that sets them apart from the mainstream fics.
I don’t want to get into a debate about conservative values, or whether writing explicit sex scenes is in poor taste, morally questionable or simply pornography. I do care that the stories get to draw from a full palette of human experience in order to engage the reader. And the powerful symbiosis of sexuality and emotion is only diminished when it has to be bisected in the interests of social conformity.
There are, no doubt, venues in which the overt display of sexually provocative material should be limited, if for no other reason than the desire to be accommodating to those who would find such material offensive. But I believe that fanfic, whose audience by and large considers it to be a secretive pleasure, should not be one of those venues. FanFiction.net should consider it sufficient that the stories are marked with the appropriate rating, and that potential readers be presented with an age challenge as an unambiguous demarcation. Maybe one day they will.
At this point, many of you (hah, as if there actually are a ‘many’ reading this blog) might be asking yourself, “why bother worrying about adult content when there’s lots of other authors who are practicing self-censorship?” That’s easy. Ulstergirl is a fantastic author. For those whose main joy in reading fanfic comes from vicariously experiencing the complex interactions of character relationships, her work is like catnip. She has a highly visual style, often using tell-tale character actions to inform their feelings. And every single one of her fics has, during its course, created scenes that are seared into my memory. Scenes that reading hundreds of fics since haven’t erased.
There’s the beer-soaked PDA in a Mexican karaoke bar (“all the proof you need”) and Chuck’s defiance of inevitability through a deliberately provocative whisper (in “Restless”) or my favorite, the unexpected authenticity of a mission moment (in “to keep the sky from falling”). These scenes are delivered with power and with passion, and I can’t imagine anyone coming away from them unaffected.
I don’t know whether Ulstergirl will win any of the awards this year. I certainly hope she does, and I’ve done what I can to help. If any of what I’ve written here makes you more interested, I suggest that you give some of her stories a try. And if you like them, don’t be shy about reviewing – it’s such a small price to pay for what she’s sharing with us.
Ulstergirl’s Fics can be found here.