Recommended “More-Than-Human Shinji” Evangelion fics

Since I had to cut back last week, here’s another list to make up for it.

One though that almost has to have occurred to anyone who’s seen the movie End of Evangelion is how the only way Shinji seems to be special is in his ability to remain an ordinary guy under all that pressue, yet still become an epic hero by befriending those who become titans. Some stories do touch on the oddity of that distinction, by having him return from 400% sync with harmless cosmetic modifications, but that’s not really satisfying.

So… here is my list of good stories which answer the question “What might be if something about Shinji’s biology were as extraordinary as his role in the story?”

(Also, just a heads up. These fics have a higher-than-usual tendency to mix in elements from EVA spin-offs, such as T•RIDEN•T.)

True Angel by Innortal
Length: 206,915 Words
Status: Incomplete (and not updated since 2008)
Yui Ikari used herself as the first test subject for Evangelion Unit 01, and Rei looks like Shinji because she was engineered using DNA from Yui. Heck, “Rei” is what Shinji would have been named, had he been born a girl. All of these are canon… so what if Gendo attempted to experiment on Shinji before deciding he was a failure and creating Rei?
Yes, this is a “Shinji, the Nephilim” fic where Shinji arrives in Tokyo-3, but it’s not just any such fic. This is a Shinji whose abilities and understanding of them leans more toward Tabris than Rei.
In other words, it’s one of those “give the hero a free boost” concepts which works because the author is skilled enough to recognize that, if you lessen the struggle in one way, you need to make up for that source of reader interest in another. (And Innortal does a good job of finding ways to make things different, rather than easier.)
From a plot standpoint, what makes this story so special is that Shinji is more than a mere Nephilim, and his presence starts to have interesting effects on those around him (both human and EVA) over time. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that I love how Innortal has written the characters so they focus on the bigger picture as they become aware of it.
Given how often Evangelion fics focus exclusively on exploring fairly canonical characters, putting that kind of effort into well-done deviations from canon is refreshing and I especially love that this is one of those few stories that are both well-written and work to flesh out the nature of Adam and Lilith.
It was also an interesting choice to fuse in a coherent set of characters from Dual: Parallel Trouble Adventure when more were needed. (On that note, if you like Eva, check out Dual. It’s by the creator of Tenchi Muyo, it’s enjoyable, and, in hindsight, I now see that it has some interesting similarities to Eva that may be homages, such as both NERV and the organizations in Dual! being headed by academics turned warriors.)
As for the tone and focus, the story is mostly serious, but with the occasional bit of light-heartedness to it (such as the punchline for Pen-Pen’s reaction to Misato’s cooking) and it puts a fair bit of focus on Rei and her interactions with Shinji (and later, Tabris too)… something which I have a certain fondness for in Evangelion fanfiction.
The story is frustratingly close to being complete, having stopped updating part-way through its version of End of Evangelion, but, given how many stories die “right when things are getting good”, I’m not going to hold that against it. More content is more content and, all else being equal, that’s never a bad thing.
All in all, I’d say it wavers between 4.5 and 5 out of 5, depending on how much I’m willing to penalize it for my sense that a better balance between familiar and novel elements could have been struck. That said, it is still a story I’ve re-read and it definitely has that special something to it which I normally use to identify top-tier stories.
P.S. Don’t skip the omakes at the end of most of the earlier chapters. Innortal’s consistent use of them as “comedy outtakes” is beautiful, with my favourite ones being chapter 3’s, where Gendo’s Plan B for defeating Angels involves cloned Rabbits of Caerbannog, and chapter 17’s, where Innortal ran with the implications of typoing “Angel” and “Angle”.
Shinji’s Nightmare (FiMFiction.net) (Fanfiction.net) by Harry Leferts
Length: 67,877 Words
Status: Incomplete (and not updated since 2014)
Crossover: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Before you skip over this due to the crossover, bear in mind that Harry Leferts was the one whose writing managed to add MLP:FiM to the list of fandoms I follow via this and another fic. (The other fic being The Wizard and the Lonely Princess, which showed up in the Fanfiction.net faves list of an author whose taste I trust.)
Also, this story is effectively just an Evangelion story with an under-explored MLP character dropped in as a second main character. (If you listen to the excellent fan-songs The Moon Rises and Lullaby for a Princess, by ponyphonic, you’ll basically know everything relevant that was known about the character at the time. It’s up to fanfic authors to decide details such as whether Nightmare Moon was some kind of personality break, a possessing entity, etc.)
That said, on with the review.
This is another story with a similar abstract concept to True Angel. Shinji winds up more than human, the inability to keep it a secret provides interesting character interaction, and, with the resultant power, he enacts change for the better without fully understanding what he’s doing. That said, it’s significantly different in two ways: First, the primary relationship explored is different and, second, in this fic, Shinji isn’t merely “more than human”, he’s not human at all.
The divergence point for this story is the end of Shinji’s experience with 400% sync, when a freshly-defeated Nightmare Moon, floating in the aether, senses an opportunity to not only possess a body, but shape it as she wishes. The result? One Alicorn (winged unicorn) Shinji, complete with grippy hooves, pegasus magic, and instinctive levitation magic to drive Ritsuko to distraction, and a general physical inhumanity that Asuka does not take well… not that Shinji takes it very well at first either.
This is a very character-centric story. As in True Angel, it’s used as an opportunity to put more focus on Rei, her relationship with Shinji, and interactions between Shinji and Yui’s spirit within EVA-01. However, this does not happen to the exclusion of other characters, with Leferts not only finding screen time for Misato, Ritsuko, and various others around Shinji without it feeling unbalanced, but also having a knack for coming up with interesting and entertaining things for them to do and say.
In short, the story doesn’t forget what it’s about when allotting time. Shinji first, Nightmare Moon second… as is appropriate for such a recent and fundamental change, the story is still primarily focused on Shinji himself and his coming to terms with his new (and still evolving) circumstances.  Leferts just happens to be good at finding ways to make scenes do double or triple duty. (eg. Ritsuko teasing Maya… during a sync test with Shinji. Reforming a villain into a second mother figure… for Shinji. Shinji being forced to accept and use demigod-like powers to protect those around him. etc. etc. etc.)
…and, yes, that is part of how the story develops Nightmare Moon’s character. This story goes with the interpretation that the immortal sisters cannot have children, and the exiled fragment, created from social isolation, inadvertently accomplishes something they would envy her for in gaining a son.
I don’t want to give away too much else, so I’ll just say that I really enjoy Harry Leferts’s writing style, this is my third or fourth read-through of this fic. While the story arc isn’t as complete as True Angel’s, I’d still rate this as a solid 4.5 out of 5.
Alpha and Omega by Xed Alpha
Length: 222,719 Words
Crossover: Mass Effect
Status: Complete, with a sequel
Finally, let’s go for something a little different: A post-canon story.
In this Mass Effect crossover, EVA-01, winds up crashing into a cargo bay on Omega. Naturally, Aria T’loak is none too pleased when the human government flatly denies any association with it, despite the printed markings clearly indicating human origin and decides to claim it rather than letting them cart it away for research. Their poking and prodding at it then proceeds to wake up the fading remnant of Yui’s spirit and a half-angel Shinji, held in stasis within the EVA’s core since he reversed instrumentality at the cost of locking himself outside the universe… the last living remnant of many universes ago.
Now, first, let me be clear. I’ve never played the Mass Effect DLC that the author gives as the source for this characterization of Aria T’loak, so I don’t know how in-character she is here. That said, aside from that, I like how the story is written.
The story is a romance between Shinji and Aria and there’s a certain elegance in how Xed managed to draw parallels between Asuka and Aria, simply by showing Aria’s interactions with Shinji in appropriately chosen situations. Both of them with an interest in Shinji, both careful to not let anyone get close, and both with a dislike for weaklings. At the same time, it’s a story in which Shinji finally comes into his own, with Aria much more expertly finishing what Asuka sought to start.
This isn’t one of those stories where some adventure or exploration of a setting drives the narrative. This is a very character-centric story.  The main thing being explored is “Who is Aria T’loak?” and the primary adventure is Shinji adapting to his new surroundings and the slowly-emerging implications of his new demi-human status. (Leave the adventure for the sequel, which crosses over with what I believe to be Rebuild of Evangelion.)
That said, drama and adventure do start to come in about half-way through the second act… they’re just used as an authorial tool to develop the characters, rather than as the primary focus of the story. For example, at one point, Shinji gets kidnapped, which leads to this delightful quotable:

“Interesting…” said Liara thoughtfully, “In my experience it is usually the governments who enact sanctions on the criminals, not the other way around…”

Also, while I don’t want to spoil to much, I will say that a third main character is introduced at the mid-point of the story who is an interesting twist on the “they carried an echo of the past with them” concept I’ve seen in other fics (which either weren’t memorable enough to make the cut for this list or were more suited to a list of do-over/Peggy Sue fics).
Now, with all that said, I do feel like the initial meld between Shinji and Aria felt a little on the “rushed for plot convenience” side, but it’s not something that ruins the story as a whole and, during and after Shinji’s first evening in Afterlife, the quality picks up quite a bit. In fact, one of the conversations feels like a belated attempt at lampshading the somewhat rushed nature of what comes before.
Assuming this portrayal of Aria isn’t horrendously out of character, I’d give the story a solid 4.0 out of 5 overall and, like all of the other stories I’ve been pulling out of my review backlog, this isn’t my first time re-reading it.
Oh, and I almost forgot… the fic has some adult scenes in it. Just a heads-up.
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Fanfiction Author Feature – dogbertcarrol

I had a very busy week and didn’t quite get my planned review post done in time so, rather than leave you with something incomplete or nothing at all, I decided to try something that wouldn’t require me to re-read entire stories in order to make sure I have my facts straight… a generalized author recommendation.

Early in my time on Fanfiction.net, my main approach to finding new stories to read was to read more or less everything by an author I liked, then poke through their favourites lists and repeat the process. (A digital successor to my very conservative approach to trying new print authors back in my teen years and before.)

Two of the fics I discovered in that process which really stick in my memory to this day were A boy in the hand (a Ranma-Sailor Moon comedy where Hotaru decides to try and catch a boyfriend) and Glaring Problems (a comedy which starts everything off with Uzumaki Naruto decides that maybe the civilians of Konoha should know what it’s like to have countless pairs of eyes glaring down at you).

As a sample of said humour, here’s a paragraph from the latter story’s take on Team 7 meeting the Demon Brothers on their first real mission:

Team 7 crested a hill, only to find a pair of nin standing back to back in the center of the path, surrounded by an ungodly amount of orange squirrels who just stared at them unmoving.

Both of these fics are written by the same author: dogbertcarroll. …an author with a knack for creative ideas, and an amazing rate of output (despite, apparently, having trouble keeping volunteers willing to transcribe handwritten prose) …but “a bit of a problem completing stories” would be an understatement.

Even the automatic “96 stories” listing Fanfiction.net generates is misleading, since over 800,000 words of that is in nine “Fragments” stories… compilations of whatever new ideas for first (and sometimes, second, third, fourth, etc.) chapters come to dogbertcarroll’s mind… occasionally getting split out into their own stories if they get long enough.

That said, it’s not to say longer stories never get updates. For example, Walking in the shadows is over 70,000 words and still receives the occasional update. (In it, D’Hoffryn convinces Xander Harris to accept an interdimensional detour for his roadtrip and he picks up Sirius Black as a travelling buddy.)

The key to enjoying dogbertcarroll’s work is to treat it less like your novel of the week, and more like a newspaper comic strip or bathroom reader… A little, usually self-contained bit of entertainment of predictable character to receive in your inbox as a pleasant surprise every now and then. In other words, sort of like the Lone Traveler series of shorts by dunuelos (basically Quantum Leap, Harry Potter edition) or the multi-author Infinite Loops multiverse started by Innortal, but with less of a concrete theme to risk growing tired of.

On the other hand, dogbertcarroll does still update some longer fics on occasion. For example, Lex Marks The Spot, in which, Xander Harris wakes up as Lex Luthor and decides to fix as much as he can, while trolling the Justice League with his comics-originated knowledge of when and how they’re likely to spy on him.

In short, if you’re willing to try out high-quality funny fics with the caveat that they are likely to never be completed, I highly recommend dogbertcarroll.

Enjoy. 🙂

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Fanfiction – Hell is a Martial Artist

Today’s feature is “Hell is a Martial Artist” by Ozzallos, a Ranma ½ – Oh My Goddess! crossover, which is also a “Ranma-chan fic”.

Now, before you start to tune out at that last point, I want to point out something: I’m normally not a big fan of Ranma-chan fics, because authors almost universally write them badly. This is not the case. Ozzallos, for those unaware, is possibly the best author of believable Ranma-chan fics in the entire fandom. (See, for example, the abandoned Kunoification, which looked like it might actually get away with believably pairing up Ranma with Tatewaki Kuno.)

Also, for people unfamiliar with Oh My Goddess, I’ll provide a basic summary of the relevant points, since this is a fic that you can still enjoy if you only have first-hand knowledge of Ranma ½: In Oh My Goddess, the story revolves around a guy who winds up with a Goddess for a girlfriend (Belldandy, who could be described as “Kasumi Tendo with more character depth”).  Belldandy’s older sister, Urd, is actually her half-sister, being the daughter of Kami-sama and Hild, the Daimakaicho (which roughly translates to “Grand Demoness”). In Oh My Goddess canon, this is used so that certain story arcs can have “my future mother-in-law is literally the devil and she’s bored again” as the driving element.

Now, with that said, let’s get on with the story. Hell is a Martial Artist is a tale of Ranma Saotome willingly becoming the adopted daughter of Hild. Does that sound interesting when paired with my assurance that it’s done well?

The story begins during the Ryu Kumon arc. Ranma has been sent flying by Akane after using her posessions for training and happens to crash-land next to a brewing spat between the Norns and Hild. Being Ranma, he proceeds to offer to help the young-looking girl (Hild) even the odds but his offer is turned down. However, he does manage to have enough of a foot-in-mouth moment to goad Urd into a fight. In the end, Urd recognizes the Hiryuu Shoten Ha a second too late, Hild’s interest is piqued, and Ranma wakes up in her office.

This is one of those stories which succeeds or fails entirely on how the plot points are implemented, so it doesn’t make sense to go into too much detail. This is a story about the slow development of a relationship between Ranma and Hild which could be seen as Hild corrupting Ranma, but could also be seen as two characters with less than ideal family situations finding long-denied companionship and understanding in each other.

What makes this story work so well is how Ozzallos uses and draws attention to the similarities between Ranma and Hild as portrayed in canon. Both are used to being misunderstood, both like to “harmlessly” take advantage of others (eg. Ranma-chan scamming extra treats off food vendors in canon, Hild having a history of bending the rules around her position), and both have big egos.

Hild masterfully “corrupts” Ranma as she gives “her” the sympathetic ear “she” desires, yet, at the same time, eventually getting caught by surprise by how much she’s grown to care for what began as merely an uncommonly entertaining mortal… Two individuals who keep surprising each other by continuing to give the benefit of the doubt. (With the backfiring of Urd’s attempts to warn Ranma being a nice seasoning on the mix.)

On a more specific level, I especially like how Ozzallos used this context and interactions with Hild to justify Ranma becoming increasingly comfortable with his female form. So many people forget that, by this point in the manga, Ranma’s main issues with the curse are the lack of control and its social implications. Take Ranma at his most disillusioned with his birth mother, a master manipulator like Hild who wants a daughter, “mother-daughter bonding” over activities Ranma has already shown a propensity for in canon, and a sequence of events that builds trust between them, and the eventual gift of control over the curse, and having Ranma come to enjoy spending time in female form is surprisingly plausible.

I also like the inherent nuance to how Hild is portrayed. Urd thinks Hild is dangerous and not to be trusted, while Ranma comes to see Hild as misunderstood… and they’re both right. (With the irony that Urd is possibly the only other person who could safely trust Hild and Ranma’s recognition of that is a not-insignificant part of why Urd’s attempt to “save Ranma” backfires.)

Now, I should caution that this story does not have a high opinion of the Tendo and Saotome families, and Nabiki in particular. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it qualifies as “bashing”, but Ozzallos definitely takes the opportunity for Hild to “take the blinders off” in order to turn Ranma away from them and, for Nabiki, let’s just say that Hubris is a very bad thing to have when the devil’s in town.

As for the technicals, there is the odd typo, such as “puissant” instead of “pissant”, “kawaii-kun” (cute, with a “-kun” honorific) instead of “kawaiikune” (uncute), or “mana” instead of “manna”, but they don’t show up often enough to be a significant issue.

Finally, don’t skip the author’s notes on this one. Ozzallos is in fine form when talking about the origins of the characterizations being used and how canon events play into the fic.

On the one hand, it’s incomplete, but, on the other, this is my second or third re-reading of it and I’d rate it somewhere between 4.7 and 5.0 out of 5. (And, judging by the author’s notes, it’s very close to complete, even if Ozzallos never does manage to find time to get back to it.)

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Fanfiction – A Black Comedy

Trigger Warning: This Harry Potter fic contains a infrequent appearances of a house elf who talks like the old stereotypes of slavery-era black women and the setup for a joke in chapter 30 makes it clear that the resemblance is intentional.

After mentioning it as a point of comparison last week, I realized that I’d never actually reviewed this, so, here you go.

I mentioned last week that A Black Comedy by nonjon was “the pinnacle of this genre” for me, with “the genre” referring to stories where Harry gets pulled into an alternate universe… so why was that?

The story is a mix of character comedy and adventure, which adds a more serious plot in the third act. While mostly a story about two frat-boy jokesters laughing their way through a new lease on life, it also does a beautiful job of underpinning it with well-considered elements and creatively novel details and twists. Perhaps most importantly, it’s complete too!

However, to be fair, I should acknowledge the apples-to-oranges nature of comparing across genres. I consider this the best of its type because I can’t think of anything less comedy-oriented which I hold in equivalent regard.

Anyway, let’s get started. The story begins post-canon with a Harry Potter who is now working in the Department of Mysteries, studying the Veil. Frustrated at his progress having stalled and working through lunch, he winds up getting pulled in after the safety measure for his newest test fails. As a perfect setup for the tone of the story, the prologue ends with his underwhelming last words in his home universe: “You can keep my sandwich.”

Upon arriving in the new universe (and getting the jump on the Unspeakables who want to interrogate him), he then proceeds to go out into the world and meet up with Sirius, who, it turns out, was stuck in the Veil until Harry accidentally uncorked it several months earlier.

What follows is the story of “The Lords Black” taking a laid-back attitude toward their new lease on life as they confuse the good guys and mock the establishment and the bad guys. What makes this work so well is that, despite its somewhat unfocused, slice-of-life nature in the first two acts, it lacks a certain sloppiness to the writing that seems to characterize so many stories. While the story doesn’t take itself all that seriously, there’s a strong sense that nonjon took the task of writing it very seriously.

For example, it makes sense that, if Voldemort spent two decades completely stalemated by a mysterious figure, he might come to refer to him as “that fucker”. Likewise, it makes sense that, if he did so, his followers might get a little confused about which particular fucker he’s ranting about after losing a duel with the Lords Black.

Unfortunately, I can’t give too many plot details, since the story has several plot twists and character reveals that I don’t want to spoil, but I will say that it includes some very entertaining bits, such as:

  • Meeting with Dumbledore and the Potters and engaging in some entertaining banter and bullshitting.
  • Deciding to strike up a career robbing Death Eaters and coming up with their own appropriately immature alternative to the Dark Mark to leave behind.
  • Accidentally making the local Hermione Granger rediscover the appeal of a boring life after they meet her, drunk in a bar… because of a surprise trip to Egypt which ends in blunt-fruit trauma.

As for one-off jokes, one example would be when Harry and Sirius go to get new owls and Sirius winds up with an owl named Smokey which nobody else bought due to a flatulence problem, while Harry decided to name his owl by firing off random names until he gets a positive response… say hello to “Kid Killer McGee”.

Finally, the last act has some interesting serious character exploration which I don’t want to spoil.

All in all, it’s hard to give an accurate summation, specifically because it’s the way everything fits together that makes it stand out from the crowd, and because the feel varies, depending on which subplot or set of characters are being focused on.

What I can say is that, if you’re looking for a fun Harry Potter fic about two humorously immature guys and you don’t mind one racially insensitive joke within two novels worth of text, you owe it to yourself to at least try this. I’ve re-read it at least three times and I’d definitely give it a 5.0 out of 5 rating.

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Fanfiction – 0800-Rent-A-Hero

While I’ve been too busy making progress on my programming projects this week to give you a themed list, I don’t want to leave you with no fanfic review at all, so, this week, let’s talk about 0800-Rent-A-Hero.

For those who are unaware, 0800 is one of the prefixes for toll-free numbers in the U.K., equivalent to 1-800 numbers in North America. Now, despite the somewhat flippant title, this is actually a fundamentally serious fic, with bits of wit included to keep the mood light.

The basic gist is that, having finished canon events, Harry Potter gets sucked through a tear in dimensions by a summoning, forced through a too-small hole, and nearly dies in the process. When he wakes up, permanently disfigured, he discovers that another reality’s Order of the Phoenix tore him from his friends and adopted family with no hope of return in a gamble to foist one Iris Potter’s prophecy off on him… naturally, he doesn’t take it too well but, legally, he’s a non-entity, so he has to pay lip service to Dumbledore’s machinations.

What makes this story most distinctive is the world-building the author put into an aspect of “Harry White”‘s cover story that he made up on the fly… that his best subject was divination. This is a story where we get to see Harry rediscovering “lost” means of practical divination because he’s the only one didn’t know they were supposed to be lost and did the bloody research. It’s also a story where he starts building interest in divination among the student body after, during a potential crisis, he looks like a badass when combing tea-leaf reading and a form of scrying to find and stop an imperioused student from causing harm.

At the same time, it’s also an interesting story about the developing familial relationship between Harry and Iris after she discovers that the Marauder’s Map says “Harry Potter”, and the friendship between Harry and Tonks after he eventually forgives her for her part in the initial ritual.

It’s another story that’s incomplete and unlikely to be completed, but I’d rate it at at least a “4.5 out of 5: Great”, which would probably have earned a 5.0 if it were complete. (or +1.5 on a more intuitive -2 to +2 scale where 0 is “I can’t point out any problems, but this is too boring to read.”)

It’s one of those rare stories where the world-building surrounding Iris and the divination feels skillful enough that I feel curious about them in their own right, rather than merely in the context of the plot. (This is one of the things that makes nonjon’s A Black Comedy the pinnacle of this genre for me. Among the other stories I’ve reviewed recently, I think Blue Magic by Tellur is the only other fic that pulls this off… not even Browncoat, Green Eyes, which is also by nonjon, manages.)

…and, as a bonus, let me suggest Potter vs. Paradox as an enjoyable story going in the opposite diection, with a 43-year-old Iris Potter attempting a desperate gamble to go back in time, and winding up a child allied with the Black family in a world which has reflowed itself into canon as a “known hazard” of the kind of advanced time meddling she, Hermione, and various others spent years putting together.

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Homebrew Update Notifier Update

Three years ago, I got annoyed enough to hack together a quick cron+shellscript update notifier, but it was never perfect, because the Zenity window liked to steal focus or pop up on top of other things.

Now, I’ve decided to remedy that problem, by porting it to Python and using a desktop notification as a non-intrusive prompt.

Screenshot

Ironically, that’s a bug that really is a feature. (cronjobs can’t see my KDE notification daemon, so they cause the Xfce one to spin up, and I don’t mind that for this purpose because the KDE one forces all tasks to collapse into a “missed notifications” tray icon after a non-configurable timeout while I’d prefer this to stay eye-catching.)

Here’s the code, in case anyone wants it.

If I ever get to replacing the call to apt-get with python-apt, maybe I’ll swap out the GObject event loop for a PyQt5 one, whip up a simple little “confirm these packages” popup of my own, and then expose the download/install progress indication via a KJobView popup.

If you’ve never seen those, here’s a screenshot produced by some example code I wrote to answer this StackExchange question:

Screenshot

I just wish they’d written the code to actually obey the “can’t pause” and “can’t cancel” hints.

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Recommended “Sci-Fi Discovers Harry Potter” fics

Well, I’ve already done a list of the best fics where Moses comes to the mountain, so now let’s do ones where the mountain discovers Moses. In other words, a list of stories where characters from sci-fi settings discover the Harry Potter setting. (I like these because they tend to result in interesting reactions to the unexpected on both sides.)

The big difference here being that these tend to have more of a focus on worldview-challenging and characters. (In a “Harry in sci-fi” story, bigger-scale events already in motion in the setting tend to demand attention while, in a “sci-fi discovers Harry”, the meeting of two very different worlds tends to be the whole point of the plot.)

Best of the Best

Culture Shock by Ruskbyte
Length: 72,186 Words
Crossover: The Culture series by Iain M. Banks
Status: Incomplete (and not updated since 2008)
I’m going to start with a warning that, despite its length, this story is little more than a first act and hasn’t been updated since 2008. That said, the fact that I’m still recommending it should say a lot.
This is the story which started my interest in sci-fi crossovers and, at the same time, introduced me to Mr. Banks’s Culture novels.
As the story opens, Diziet Sma and Skaffen-Amtiskaw are responding to a report that a 15-month-old boy somehow linked into the hyperspace grid in a place which local records call “Godric’s Hollow”. After investigating what became of the child, they decide, both for his own well-being, and to satisfying their curiosity, they will raise him in The Culture. Things then skip to shortly before Dumbledore and 12 others unexpectedly drain themselves to near death when performing a ritual to turn Harry’s Hogwarts letter into a portkey capable of reaching through the powerful wards which, after all, must be the reason Harry cannot be tracked to any point on Earth.
What makes this story so delightful is how entertainingly it blindsides both sides with challenges to their worldviews once things get going. By the time Harry’s Hogwarts letter arrives, his hyperspatial abilities (eg. apparation) are well-understood by those who raised him (though they have failed to produce clones which reproduce them)… yet they are completely puzzled when they encounter aspects of this “supersitition” and “nonsense” which are a full-blown Outside Context Problem.
I love stories where people where highly-intelligent, rational, scientifically-minded, mature adults (ie. Star Trek: TNG or better) have to come to terms with magic not just being some biological expression of an aspect of physics they already know… and it’s not just the author’s excuse to work out their frustrations at science not taking their faith as seriously as they do. There’s just something deeply satisfying about watching professional researchers (or equivalent) react to having their worldview turned on its ear by an author who truly understands that science is a method of inquiry, not a belief system, but doesn’t get so caught up in it that they cast all examples of magic as new expressions of known scientific phenomena.
(I think it’s at least partly for the same reasons Sherlock Holmes is so fascinating: It’s a challenge despite how visibly competent the characters are and how much the author reveals to the reader, rather than just being a case of the author implicitly saying “take my word for it”.)
As far as the feel of the story goes, it’s unarguably intended to feel like a Culture story first and foremost and, while it’s been a while since I read a Culture novel, what I do remember is a pretty good match: A delightful blend of light-feeling fiction, mostly serious, but with a dash of humour her and there, which works beautifully for this kind of “challenged worldviews” story.
If you’ve never read a Culture novel, let me give you one example to whet your appetite: The A.I.s (called Minds) which run the ships and space stations choose their own names… and they choose names like “Artificial Stupidity”, “Just Passing Through”, “Your Mother”, and “Stood Far Back When The Gravitas Was Handed Out”. (The last being one of a series of names chosen in response to complaints that names of Culture ships should have more gravitas.)
I’ve re-read it multiple times and my only complaint is how little of the story arc Ruskbyte wrote out within the 72,186 words he gave us. Nonetheless, if you don’t mind reading fics incomplete enough to tease like this, I still highly recommend it.
Blue Magic by Tellur
Length: 219,849 Words
Crossover: Mass Effect
Status: Incomplete
If I had to pick a single “sci-fi discovers Harry Potter fic” to take first place, I’d pick this one in a heartbeat.
The initial setup for the story goes as follows:
When a 90-year-old Liara T’Soni suggests to her mother that their stealth technology is advanced enough that it could be used to more effectively ease new species into Galactic Society, she never expects to be given a top-secret assignment to study the species of the recently-discovered GT89534 (A.K.A. Earth), nor to serendipitously observe young Harry Potter’s use accidental magic to apparate onto the school roof. Oh, sorry, his display of biotics on a planet without eezo.
Being still young and inexperienced as Asari go, Liara’s resolve to follow instructions doesn’t last long when her increased scrutiny forces her to witness the actions of Dudley’s gang. The result? One scared-off gang, one Harry Potter who’s jumped to the conclusion that he’s met a Jedi, and one slightly overwhelmed Liara revealing far more than she should about the real state of things, just in time for Benezia to discover what has happened.
Well, with Harry befriending Liara and medical scans showing that he does indeed possess Element Zero (which is actually magic condensed into physical form), despite there being none in Earth’s environment, events start to unfold and Harry winds up secretly and unofficially adopted by the T’Soni family.
With this setup done, the story can be thought of as having two parts: Before and after Harry’s Hogwarts letter… and both the off-Earth and “during Hogwarts” parts feel like they could carry the story alone.
Before Harry receives his letter, the story follows the T’Soni cast, occasionally checking in with a young Hermione or a member of the wizarding world (eg. Dumbledore, Ginny, etc.) to tell an engaging narrative of three groups who will then meet and start to interact when Harry reaches Hogwarts age.
In addition to presenting interesting hints about the greater narrative, such as Harry discovering a mural with a phoenix and a dragon hidden in a Prothean dig site, it also introduces entertaining OCs such as the passing mention of one of young Harry’s acquaintances being a Volus obsessed with extranet gaming, and the introduction of an enjoyable Quarian OC as a friend of Liara’s, originally brought in to design an efficient solution for digitizing books borrowed from Earth libraries.
Once Harry receives his letter, things start to change, with Harry befriending Fawkes during the trip back to Earth and it being revealed that Dumbledore, acting as executor of the Potter will, has gone ahead with his plans to restore Potter Hall in anticipation of Harry’s return. I love the shape things settle into here, with Liara (and others) spending time at Potter Hall while they try to investigate the nature and history of magic, while Harry meets Hermione on the train and sets up another interesting dynamic.
This is another one of those stories which does a great job of knowing when and how to flesh out its characters and its world and, once the scenes which follow Harry, Liara, and Benezia away from Earth get going, it actually makes a better “Mass Effect side-story” fic than any of the pure Mass Effect stories I’ve yet tried.
In fact, I’m having trouble coming up with good examples of any type which do this nice a job of making me enjoy just following the characters around.
That said, while I don’t want to spoil too much, I also love amount of effort that’s been put into reconciling Harry Potter magic with Mass Effect biotics. It’s a delightfully elegant interpretation, the storytelling used to reveal it is satisfying, and “biotics is to magic as crude walking robots are to animal locomotion” is a satisfyingly way of explaining the relationship between magic and biotics and why magic can do so much more.
Definitely a story I’d recommend and, while the wait since the last chapter means it’s unlikely to be completed, I find that I don’t mind so much. “It’s just enjoyable to hang out with the characters” is a very powerful thing for an author to achieve and, given the hints of the direction it might have intended to go, that might have suffered had it gone on longer anyway.

Runners-up

Potter Trek by stephenopolos
Length: 24,423 Words
Crossover: Star Trek (post-TNG/VOY)
Status: Incomplete
An unspecified amount of time after the end of Star Trek: Voyager, the crew of the U.S.S. Skyforge fail to disable a damaged Iconian facility which is tearing its planet apart, setting off a sequence of events involving a subspace rift and Section 31 tampering with their computer core. As a result 53 crew members wind up using the pattern buffers as a lifeboat and the ship winds up in orbit around Harry Potter’s Earth, with the ship’s designated ECH unexpectedly having his command access limited by a control program hard-coded to “Return to Earth. If necessary, find a captain who can rebuild the Federation.”
Arriving just in time to observe the “high-energy emanations” of the fight at Godric’s Hollow, Sky (the A.I.) beams Lily’s body onboard for study and, upon discovering that there is still suppressed neural activity, decides to place her in stasis and tag young Harry with a nanite-based transponder in case revival can be achieved.
The story then time-skips seven years forward to Harry, in his cupboard, engaging in one of his favourite past-times: Listening to Star Trek: The Next Generation when Petunia forgets to turn off the TV. It is now that the story really gets started, as, wWith a wishful thought to prime his magic, and the phrase “Emergency beam out” from the show, the transponder switches out of surveillance mode. A dozen quick risk calculations on Sky’s part, and Harry finds himself on the Skyforge where he soon passes out and wakes up under the care of an EMH modelled after Dr. Leonard McCoy.
The story then alternates between two casts: Harry, as he’s raised by Sky, Bones, and various other holograms on the ship, and the aftermath of his “running away”, which follows people such as the child welfare workers who smell something fishy about the Dursleys’ story, and Dudley after his parents dig a deep enough hole for themselves for him to be sent to St. Brutus’ Secure Home For At Risk Children.
First, let me say right out that this story has its flaws. That’s why it’s a runner-up. For example, it calls Section 31’s control program a V.I. despite this not being a Mass Effect crossover. Also, it tends to err on the side of exposition and contrivance at times and the use of a holodeck full of OCs does feel a bit like the overuse of the holodeck as a storytelling device in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
That said, it’s a novel concept and I enjoyed reading it, so I think it deserves a mention. I hope I’m not giving it too much benefit of the doubt, but we’ll see.
The story arc hasn’t progressed very far yet, but judging by by the way the two narratives have been flowing so far, I’m hoping to eventually see the two groups start to interact.
Rediscovery by Argonaut57
Length: 23,482 Words
Crossover: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Status: Complete
This interesting little oneshot explores a different kind of Star Trek – Harry Potter crossover, where first contact and the arrival of alien species so soon after World War 3 spooked the Wizarding World enough to flee from Earth.
The story aims to be like a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode and the setup is that the Enterprise is bringing a batch of state of the art sensors and probes to study an impenetrable region of space called the Pyrrhus Anomaly, which has remained unchanged since it swallowed up four star star systems (including a Vulcan separatist colony) in the year of the Federation’s birth.
Given that this is the Enterprise, I think you can guess that unexpected things happen.
This is another story that, while flawed, is worthwhile for its novelty.
Looking at the positives, It’s got some interesting world-building ideas and I’ve never seen another “contact fic” which is written as a oneshot akin to a Star Trek episode.
The negatives are less nebulous, so I can go into more detail: First, it’s a bit too fond of its information dumps. Second, there’s the occasional bit of the author’s headcanon that isn’t ideal. It also has a few minor technical faults, such as missing scene dividers and the use of abbreviations for ranks like “Cmdr”, but I saved the biggest fault for last…
This is a story that hurts itself by being too desperate to tie things back to events in the canon time period. It incorporates far too many characters with familiar family names, and there’s no way I can imagine to incorporate a subplot where descendants of Death Eaters steal a cloning device to try to bring back Voldemort without it harming the story overall.
In conclusion, despite its many flaws, the setting is unique enough that I’m happy to have read it for that… I’d just be happier if someone would read it, wait five or ten years, and write a superior version inspired by the faded memories of the bits that work.

Honourable Mentions

This time, I’d like to also spotlight a couple of stories which don’t fit the literal theme of the list, being contemporary non-crossovers rather than sci-fi, but which do fit the more abstract theme of discovery and rational inquiry that helps to make the best of these sci-fi crossovers so good.

Harry Potter and the Golden Needle by xenocidender
Length: 97,849 Words
When the Dursleys leave Harry home alone for a week during the summer after the Triwizard Tournament, he is left alone with his thoughts and his summer Transfiguration homework: An essay requiring that he provide and defend an explanation for Gamp’s Fifth Principle, which states that one cannot transfigure gold. As luck would have it, just after having concluded that no two theories about the principle agree, Harry is reminded of the atomic theory of matter by the TV he forgot to turn off.
The story does have very enjoyable and witty character interactions, as well as some novel plot elements such as encountering Susan and Amelia Bones after fleeing Dudley’s gang and it does spend a fair bit of time on a subplot with Amelia investigating how Harry wound up with the Dursleys, but it’s Harry’s essay and its implications which give the story its title and earn it a place on this list.
When Harry arrives back at Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall reveals that, ten years earlier, Professor Vector turned in a very similar conclusion while still a student and asks Harry if he’d be interested in helping her with a research project on the topic, as belief that something can be done is an essential component.
The rest of the story is split between Amelia Bones investigating Harry’s home situation and focusing heavily on the aforementioned research project, with a backdrop of Dolores Umbridge… and I quite like how the author has clearly put a fair bit of work into world-building. (Especially the scene when Professor Vector engages in world-building expostion disguised as a rant at Umbridge.)
When the three sides of the story start to converge, it’s because Harry was inspired to think about his Umbridge problem differently due to his interactions with Vector. When Fudge tries to get him up before the Wizengamot, Amelia Bones is ready to interfere because of her pre-existing interest in Harry’s circumstances.
On the Amelia Bones side, you get to see things like Amelia contacting a friend who works in muggle law enforcement after Harry’s file on the wizarding side is unnaturally sparse. On the project side, the story goes into detail on the mechanics of why previous attempts have failed so disastrously. For example, it actually provides a plausible sequence of arithmantic properties for Gold, based on the relationship between its atomic and molecular structures and various prime numbers. I like that a lot. On the Umbridge side, we get to see the exchanges between Umbridge and Fudge, Fudge and Malfoy, and Malfoy and Riddle which are behind the whole effort, as well as the satisfyingly escalated circumstances that result from Harry being inspired by his interactions with Professor Vector.
It’s clear that, had the story been completed, skills gained in seeking to manipulate gold would have been The Power He Knows Not, and this is another one of those stories which could have been amazing were it completed, but is still quite a worthwhile read in its incomplete state. It’s also another one of those “I’ve never read anything else quite like it” stories that everyone should at least sample.
The Perils of Innocence by avidbeader
This is a story that shouts its intent to be distinctive from the very first scene. It begins at a live-in facility for children with psychological issues, with one of the staff interacting with a young child who isn’t confirmed to be Harry Potter until the second half of the prologue.
Chapter 1 then time-skips to four years later, when nine-year-old Harry meets Hermione Granger, whose parents are seeking help with her bouts of accidental magic. Thanks to a conveniently inveterate bully, they almost immediately discover that they have a certain often-inconvenient ability in common.
What follows is a charming first act where two (later three) prepubescent children build a friendship as they work with the staff at the facility to understand and control the mysterious ability they share.
However, variety is to be had because, a dozen chapters in, their Hogwarts letters arrive and we actually do get to see what I was hoping for when I first found this: A really unique “worldview challenge” moment. In this case, Professor McGonagall getting set up for an interrogation of sorts with some psychology professionals and three pre-Hogwarts students whose skill in wandless magic rivals or surpasses most adults who attempt it.
…but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s rushing them to Hogwarts. It takes just shy of another dozen chapters to get beyond their introduction to the wizarding world and their carefully considered decision to choose Hogwarts over one of the other, smaller schools and their experiences in Diagon Alley.
All in all, that makes for a story that’s split into equal thirds: Pre-letter, post-letter but pre-Hogwarts, and Hogwarts… and each segment has a subtly different feel, but also a consistently satisfying feel of un-hurried attention to character interaction and unfaltering pragmatism among the cast.
Like Harry Potter and the Golden Needle, this is another one of those stories where the only bad thing I can say about it is that it’s unfinished… and that, despite it being unfinished, I still found what did get written worthwhile enough to have  re-read.
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