Yuletide 2013
December 26, 2013 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday morning, fans all around the world woke up at the crack of dawn to eagerly open their gifts on the most important day of the year. ...Wait, what, I have to go do this "Christmas" thing? Sorry, I'm busy reading this year's new creations for the Yuletide Fanfiction Challenge (previously).

Yuletide is a Secret Santa fanfiction exchange that takes place every year around Christmas time.

The basic setup:
1) "Nominate" media to be part of the challenge, whether that's a TV commercial, a popular sci-fi series, a cult favorite video game, or even...anthropomorphized planets.
2) List the fandoms you'd like to write and receive a story in, and the characters you'd like to write and read about.
Optional step 2.5) Write a letter to Santa with more details about your likes and dislikes to help your author craft a perfect gift.
3) Get your secret assignment.
Optional step 3.5) Panic.
4) Produce a story of 1000 words or more, in your recipient's requested fandom with your recipient's requested characters, by December 22nd.
5) Wake up Christmas morning and enjoy!

Of course, if the panic overcame you, authors always have the ability to throw in the towel and have their request picked up by one of Yuletide's thousands of dedicated pinch hitters, who will often claim a request in seconds.

Despite some early stumbles, this year's challenge has been a huge delight for anyone who loves fandom and fic, and some of the early breakout hits might even be enjoyable for the non-fannish, like:

* Susie Derkins' duel with Death, which naturally takes the form of Calvinball
* A continuation of Neil Cicierega's pleasingly creepy Windows 95 tips tumblr (previously)
* A somewhat meta-referential story about Galaxy Quest's in-universe fandom (look out for the bonus Galaxy Quest zine!)
* A scathing takedown of Jonathan Franzen's undying rage (semi-previously)
* A story that answers the question of where Christianity fits in to the world of Neil Gaiman's American Gods

Looking for more? See this year's impressive output of over 2500 stories here, or sorted by fandom here.

And I would be remiss to let perhaps the most famous Yuletide fanfic of all go unmentioned. (Warning: story linked in article is possibly Not Safe For Anything.)

Further discussion and recommendations can be found at the Yuletide Livejournal community, and participants also gather in a Yuletide IRC channel to share the agony and the ecstasy that is Yuletide.

But maybe you didn't like your present this year? Got a rude response from your giftee? Or you're just in it to gawk at the inevitable drama? There's always yuletide_coal, an anonymous Livejournal community for the Grinches of Yuletide to commiserate about the coal in their stockings.
posted by capricorn (53 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Its the crackiest time of the year!
posted by The Whelk at 8:23 AM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Squee! I'm still finding awesome recs from Yuletide 2012. There's just so much wonderful stuff to sift through.
posted by asperity at 8:24 AM on December 26, 2013

I know someone who had to bail on her Yuletide story this year (not me; I don't write). I hope the giftee got a great pinch-hitter.
posted by immlass at 8:28 AM on December 26, 2013

I think the best thing about Yuletide is that it is a rare fandoms exchange so (with the possible exceptions of fusions and crossover elements) you won't see the fandoms here that have thousands of fanfics about them already. I love some of the super big fandoms lots but there are so many rare jewels here it is delightful!
posted by pointystick at 8:38 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

If y'all want a delightful pan-Yuletide tribute video: One-Night Fandoms.
posted by asperity at 8:45 AM on December 26, 2013

I love Yuletide so much. I wasn't able to write this year or last, but I really miss doing so. So far I've found a few gems, but I'm still going through the list before I post my recs.
posted by strixus at 8:45 AM on December 26, 2013

“It’s not a cabal,” Max reminds me. “They’re the concom, not the Illuminati.”

“The Illuminati would be less banhammer-happy,” I grumble, but I let it drop. GQ fandom, for all its weirdness, is pretty well-run by its benevolent overlords: minimal wank, maximal inclusiveness, zero tolerance of cosplayer gropers or entitled man-children. I’ve even volunteered at GalaxyCon the last few years, mostly because Katelyn comes up with really awesome programming for the fanwork track, and she knows I can be trusted to not go mad with power if she lets me sit on her panels.

And it's five sentences in and I'm in love.
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on December 26, 2013

I knew exactly where the "most famous Yuletide fic" link would lead.
posted by kmz at 9:16 AM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

you can't do a post about Yuletide and then _not_ link One-Night Fandoms: A Tribute to Yuletide, which is a gorgeous songvid about small fandoms.
posted by ari_ at 9:24 AM on December 26, 2013

As for the rare fandom rule, it's always interesting to see new fandoms that you know are going to be big but which haven't had time to accumulate enough fics to be disqualified. You know Sleepy Hollow isn't going to be eligible next year.
posted by kmz at 9:28 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

pointystick: "I think the best thing about Yuletide is that it is a rare fandoms exchange so (with the possible exceptions of fusions and crossover elements) you won't see the fandoms here that have thousands of fanfics about them already."

Right, I knew I'd left something out! I wanted to mention that it's a rare fandoms only exchange, with certain requirements for a fandom to qualify based on the number of fics already written. For a lot of us it's the only time of the year when we see fannish activity around the more obscure media we love, like (shout-out to my Yule Goats! ♥) the two lovely gifts I received in Chihayafuru and Mukuro Naru Hoshi Tama Taru Ko (Narutaru), two semi-obscure anime/manga series.

Bonus addendum: if you are looking for a particular type of story this year, there are a few challenges-within-a-challenge created to bring certain underrepresented parts of Yuletide to light.

* Misses Clause, which is focused on the inclusion of female characters
* Chromatic Yuletide, for stories featuring characters of color
* And, confirming everything you suspected was true about fandom, this year's newest mini-challenge is Yuleporn.
posted by capricorn at 9:45 AM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yuletide! I honestly get more excited about it than any non-fannish holiday this time of year. (I'm Jewish, granted, but still.)

I have two stories in the archive this year. Anyone care to guess which they are?
posted by nonasuch at 9:55 AM on December 26, 2013

Do they involve incestous coffee commercials?
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 AM on December 26, 2013

I've written Yuletide fics for four straight years now. It's a crazy, nail-biting hell of a good time, and sometimes, every once in a while, someone utterly knocks something out of the park.

My favorite Yuletide fic for sheer "holy shit, they totally pulled this off" audacity is No Reservations: Narnia.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Alas, no.
posted by nonasuch at 10:04 AM on December 26, 2013

I just read a The Good Wife/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover in which Alicia is 1/8th Vulcan due to time travel shenanigans and it was a lot of fun. I mean...DEEPLY silly and ridiculous, but I feel like that's kind of the point when you're writing a crossover between The Good Wife and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Yuletide is the only fannish thing I really have the time or patience for these days, and I LOVE IT. Looking forward to seeing people's recs here in the thread, as always.

(I wrote a thing that like four people are ever going to read but ADMITTEDLY that's also kind of the point of Yuletide.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:04 AM on December 26, 2013

Title: The Center Cannot Hold
Summary: In a world where people only read text messages and genre fiction, people live without hope in a dystopian hellscape. After many wars, society finally finds a way to restore civilization to its former glory. All citizens are required to regularly engage in sexual relations with a prize-winning author. They now understand that the semen of literary geniuses is the glue that holds their cultural heritage together.

People are so happy to have a functioning society again that everyone goes along with it. But what happens when one brave young woman stands apart? This is the story of Saskia, the woman who refuses to sleep with Jonathan Franzen, even though it might destroy her entire civilization. Part Resident Evil, part Who Killed Andy Warhol, this film is sure to make audiences think about what the world would be like without highbrow literature.

posted by The Whelk at 10:27 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

(uggggggghhhh and I JUST NOW discovered I have left a couple of [bracketed beta comments] in the text of the uploaded story by accident. Now I'll spend the next couple of hours rolling around in agonized embarrassment. I AM SO GLAD SOMEONE COMMENTED TO POINT THIS OUT O_____O )
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:49 AM on December 26, 2013

I turned out happy with the one I wrote this year; it's in a tiny fandom of my heart, and it doesn't matter how few people ever see it. I like it, and my recipient likes it!

The one I received, I was very grateful and cheerful in my thank-you comment, as it was a good try and has obvious affection for the source. It's obvious my writer is not a native speaker of English, though; I do wish she had had an English-speaking beta, because it wouldn't have been hard for someone to quickly comb out a lot of the worst problems. But I know how deadening deadlines can be, and I can't imagine facing a Yuletide deadline in a language I'm not fluent in!
posted by theatro at 11:37 AM on December 26, 2013

Oh--and, re: the One Night Fandoms vid, which I agree is a lot of fun and a nice distillation of Yuletide sentiment: thingswithwings migrated away from Livejournal to Dreamwidth a few years ago. So, the LJ post's links to the vid are both obsolete by now.

The Dreamwidth post about the vid is here: http://thingswithwings.dreamwidth.org/46651.html , and has a currently-working link for downloading it.
posted by theatro at 11:48 AM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I read the Care Bears fic and its fame is truly deserved. I am far beyond the age of those that actually watched the Care Bears and thus my childhood was not subjected to a glittering ball gag. I suppose if I wanted to be truly destroyed I would have to seek out Davey and Goliath slashed with Gumby. Speaking of childhood violations, my wife once found a slash story of Goofus and Gallant that was so perfect it made her laugh at the thought of it for weeks. Goofus was a total slut.
posted by Ber at 11:59 AM on December 26, 2013

Okay, I have now read a fic which has the summary, "Mulan is a Resident Assistant on a dormitory floor at a college. Gosh, some of the students on her floor come from really screwed-up families."

As this is a perfect piece of Yuletide fanfiction, I can now close the browser window and get some actual work done.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:32 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yuletide time is the best time! I adored my fic, even though it made me want a third season of Life even more.

I'm still making my haphazard way through the archive, but I just read this glorious Christopher Marlowe/William Shakespeare AU fix-it fic (NSFW at all), because the gods of Yuletide love me and want me to be happy. You guys, I would (and have) read novels worth of Marlowe/Shakespeare, and I am so thrilled Yuletide is always a reliable fix for this particular craving.
posted by yasaman at 1:02 PM on December 26, 2013

My favorite so far is this Legally Blonde femmeslash piece which is just too cute for words. (And it's femmeslash, not just femslash - a distinction which I did not know existed.)
posted by restless_nomad at 2:42 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

On man, Clavin finds HOW TO BE A WIZARD from the Diane Duane books? I didn't even know I wanted this until five seconds ago.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on December 26

so happy right now
posted by mikurski at 4:04 PM on December 26, 2013

Oh man, Nimona Christmas! (You guys read Nimona, right?)

In other yuletide-fanfic-of-awesome-webcomics news, Oglaf femlash that manages to capture its bizarre yet sexy sense of humor.
posted by rivenwanderer at 5:45 PM on December 26, 2013

There are Simon Snow fics! And MacDonald Hall (Gordon Korman).

I don't write fanfic, and I only read it irregularly, but I always follow up on Yuletide.
posted by jeather at 6:12 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Found fanfic there based on Redshirts. That's kind of awesome.
posted by jscalzi at 7:26 PM on December 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

(ack! i am getting a little 'don't cross the streams!' on behalf of the Redshirts fic author, but I'll get over it. Deep breaths.)
posted by nonasuch at 7:32 PM on December 26, 2013

Fanfic based on Redshirts seems like it might cause the universe to implode. *goes to read it*
posted by restless_nomad at 7:33 PM on December 26, 2013

Eh, it's a fine old Yuletide tradition to dig the meta hole as deep as possible.
posted by nonasuch at 7:35 PM on December 26, 2013

I put some fanfic in your fanfic so you can fic with your fans.
posted by The Whelk at 7:37 PM on December 26, 2013

Oh wow... for last year's Yuletide, Andrew Plotkin wrote an interactive fiction XKCD/Invisible Cities crossover. I feel like I could spend weeks exploring these archives.
posted by teraflop at 8:09 PM on December 26, 2013

This is my 6th Yuletide, I don't know, just not feeling it this year. The Calvin ones are good, some of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine ones are fun, the Franzen one is kind of terrible, the writer doesn't seem to know anything about Franzen or film treatments. Maybe that's why hit counts are so low this year - there aren't any amazing or wtf fics that people are talking about.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:28 PM on December 26, 2013

BetweenTheBars, that's how I feel, too. I'm still excited about Yuletide, and still reading all the things, but there doesn't seem to be the handful of Major Breakout Stories that we usually see, nor have we seen the one or two Major WTF Stories that often happen. I've read some stories that I really like, but nothing (yet) that makes me feel like the thing I'm reading will have super broad appeal, really.
posted by MeghanC at 11:02 PM on December 26, 2013

Two things:

a) some of the good wife ones are v. good, oh so good.
b) i love the xian fan fiction ones, because for much of the first and second centuries, there were huge canons of deutrocannonical literture that functioned exactly like this, and so it reminds me of like Thecla.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:34 AM on December 27, 2013

posted by The Whelk at 6:55 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do Yuletide almost every year (under a different handle than this.)

I agree with the others that I'm not feeling the huge outpouring of recs, but I feel like this is due to the way fandom as a metagroup has fragmented pretty firmly in the last few years - there's the impossible to organize Tumblr people and the 'I'm still on LJ' people and the Dreamwidth faction and a few other random ones (Twitter, Plurk, LJ clones, etc.)

That said, it was a weird year for me - I grabbed some pinch hits because my original assignment was so awful and boring that I needed something else to make me enjoy it. I ended up getting a fic I loooove and I've discovered a small group of people who seem to be possibly starting to coalesce around a particular theme.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:35 PM on December 27, 2013

I also write, and have for the past several years, and yeah - things are really quiet. It's not unsurprising in some ways - unless you're one of the big stories, most of these are such small fandoms that you're just happy you made your recipient happy and then got maybe a handful of other kudos. But things are so all over the place now that the excitement may be diffused as well.

I got a great story this year, which doesn't always happen, so that's pretty neat.
posted by PussKillian at 1:31 PM on December 27, 2013

Wow, worlds colliding right here! I did Yuletide the very first year--so long ago that Harry Potter was an allowed fandom (but only for rare characters/pairings). I've got one story in this year, for a teensy tiny (almost all of the few other stories in the archive are past YT stories) 80s fandom.

I knew the 'most famous' Yuletide story would be either the Care Bears BDSM one or the Anthony Bourdain-in-Narnia one.
posted by lovecrafty at 2:41 PM on December 27, 2013

Beauty is the Beast.
posted by divabat at 4:15 AM on December 28, 2013

Omg, found in the Yuletide Madness section ...it's about Richard the 3rd's Remains...and is basically the best Doctor Who episode never made. I am totally, totally stealing this in the future ( or is it THE PAST?! Buwahahahahaha)

posted by The Whelk at 7:41 AM on December 28, 2013

Will people who posted their fics anonymously eventually name themselves? I have found a couple of pieces by people I'd love to follow.
posted by not that girl at 8:26 AM on December 28, 2013

Will people who posted their fics anonymously eventually name themselves? I have found a couple of pieces by people I'd love to follow.

All fics are initially posted anonymously, as part of the structure of the exchange -- the authors will be revealed on January 1st!

As for this year's Yuletide being quieter -- I agree! I actually think that the experience of posting fanfic -- particularly outside of Major Current Fandoms -- has gotten much quieter in general in the past five years or so. There's a lot of reasons for this, but I think one of the major ones is the increasing ubiquity of smart phones.

This was part of what killed LJ, too, actually. It used to be that you couldn't read Yuletide -- or LJ, or blogs, or whatever -- until you were either back home at your own computer, or had made a point of getting real computer access elsewhere, either by bringing your laptop or stealing time on a relative's machine or even going to a library or internet cafe. You weren't consuming Yuletide stories until you had specifically set aside time to do so, often with an emphasis on long chunks of uninterrupted time and the mental space to relax and read a ton of fanfiction all at once.

That was back in like...2007. Now people obviously do much more of their internet reading and social media checking on phones, and people on phones are much less likely to want to type out a comment, particularly when dealing with an interface that hasn't been specifically engineered to make mobile commenting as easy and painless as possible. So Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook do well, with lots of single-button-pressing to express approval and a culture of super-quick-super-short comments that are very easy to post from your phone.

But things like Yuletide...well, people kind of treat it like a e-book. (In fact, lots of people download the text of the story onto their phone, which is very easy to do on AO3, so they can read things offline.) They'll push the "kudo" button if they think to, but they very rarely comment -- I have lots of stories with like, 150 kudos and maybe ten comments, and I've been told that that's actually a pretty good ratio. And at the holidays, when SO MANY people are away from their computers and reading things on planes or surreptitiously surfing while they wait for dinner to be ready or whatever....you know, you read something you like, you get excited about it, you MAYBE hit the kudo button, and then by the time you're back at your computer again and have the time and presence-of-mind to make a comment, you've mentally moved on to other things.

And I think the reading-in-stolen-moments thing has also shifted the culture of Yuletide away from "Read as many stories as possible in as many fandoms as you can to discover hidden gems!" to something more like, "Read your story, read the stories in the White Hot Fandom of The Moment, then wait to see what the Big Breakout Stories are and read those so you can be part of the conversation." I have friends who still make a point of reading as much as possible, but they're all my age or older and SUPER old school in their fannish habits.

Personally, I've read many EXCELLENT stories this year that have almost no comments at all. It kind of breaks my heart a little. So I make a point of leaving comments, and I put stuff into the "Yuletide Recs" bookmark tag, and I do my best to make things fun and satisfying for as many other authors as I can.

Just makes me wish I could read faster. :/
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:39 AM on December 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

All fics are initially posted anonymously, as part of the structure of the exchange -- the authors will be revealed on January 1st!

posted by not that girl at 11:17 AM on December 28, 2013

I kinda wish I could do Yuletide because, as an Award Wining Author Of Flash Fictiion ( tm ) I think I'd be good at it, but I'm also not great at doing fanfic for things I'm not unhealthy invested in. Ah well.
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 AM on December 28, 2013

For me Yuletide has been an exercise in becoming unhealthily invested in something random for a couple of brief yet intense months. This year it got me to go back and watch a bunch of episodes of [REDACTED] and get all teary eyed again at [REDACTED]'s death scene and even more certain that [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] totally kissed at some point.
posted by capricorn at 11:51 AM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

A grown-up, NSFW take on the Velveteen Rabbit.

(may not necessarily be what you think it is)
posted by divabat at 8:39 PM on December 28, 2013

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