If you find that nothing on Netflix or Audible is getting you through winter, there's good news:
Fanfiction.net is a never-ending font of exceptionally pure and exceptionally weird content.
Furthermore, plenty of that pure, weird content takes place right here in Minnesota—from wizarding tales to vampire romance to gay romance to... bird romance. Here’s a roundup of a few of our favorites.
Remember that movie Rio? The 2011 animated musical comedy starred an extremely endangered Spix’s macaw named Blu, who leaves his sheltered life in Minnesota for sunny Brazil in a desperate attempt to find a mate and repopulate his species.
As it turns out, not only is there Rio fanfiction, not all of it takes place in Rio. This tale, Minnesota Love by Zachmoviefan, turns the whole plot on its head. The characters start in Rio and are absconded to the northern wilds of Moose Lake, only to find unexpected romance as the exotic pets of a Minnesota girl named Linda. Along the way, they feast on apples, have snowball fights, and meet a cast of new Midwestern characters, like a tough-guy sparrow, a couple of sassy Canadian geese, and—we cannot stress this enough—“Jameson the owl.”
If you need some extremely mild-mannered bird-on-bird romance set close to home, this bad boy runs 80,000 words, and it’s as wholesome as all get-out. Also, fun fact: According to the Fanfiction profile, Zachmoviefan is from Kentucky.
The real miracle is love
If you love the Disney film Miracle and you can’t get enough of the underdog USA hockey team beating the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics, we’ve got a game-changer for you. This story has all the Miracle magic, plus a lot more smoochin’, and the Minnesotan dial is turned up to 11.
Pleasing the Crowds by author RestitchMyRippedJeans stars Jennifer “Cal” O’Callahan, sister to Olympic recruit Jack O’Callahan. Rather than spend her senior year all alone in Boston, she enrolls at the University of Minnesota while her brother and her puck-slinging friends are going through Olympic training in Minneapolis.
Cal seems like the last person who’d want to be a Golden Gopher, especially after all the nastiness during the ’76 NCAA Tournament between the Gophers and the Boston University Terriers. But upon arriving in the Twin Cities, she finds herself embedded with the enemy, and surrounded by cute but hotheaded Minnesota hockey guys. So, if you’re into college hockey, punching, and steamy scenes like this excerpt from Chapter 9—
“After a full five seconds, I came to my senses and withdrew. I pushed against his chest and he immediately pulled back. ‘I can’t do this,’ I breathed. Because I couldn’t. I couldn’t kiss Rob McClanahan.”
—you may just be into all 67,000 words of this.
Twilight without all that Twilight stuff
It wouldn’t be a fanfic roundup if we didn’t include something from Twilight. If you’ve always been into Stephanie Meyer’s peculiar brand of sexy vampire romance, but you’re just so dang Minnesotan that you’d rather it take place in an ice rink, hoo boy, have we got a story for you.
In bellamarie117's Take the Ice, we meet Bella Swan, who is—in this fanfiction universe—an aspiring Olympic figure skater attempting to recover from a nasty injury in Minnesota. That’s where she meets an NHL player with a “velvety baritone voice”—none other than Edward Cullen. (Shoutout to the Xcel Energy Center and downtown St. Paul as name-dropped locales.)
Given its source material, Take the Ice is shockingly light on vampire stuff. There’s tons of skating, family drama, intense gazes, anxiety about sex, and a scene where everybody sits down to watch Star Wars. If you want scenes of neck biting, you’re going to be disappointed. This epic weighs in at 470,000 words, and Bella’s mom is a piece of work the WHOLE TIME.
Ever wondered what the Minnesota equivalent of Hogwarts would be? Welcome to the St. Croix Academy in Stillwater, a sprawling 80 acres of lush meadows that Muggles perceive as a dairy farm. Unlike its Old World counterpart, it seamlessly blends technology and magic into one curriculum. Also, there's gym class.
In It’s My Life by Fyreheart, wizarding wunderkind Harry Potter transfers from Hogwarts to St. Croix looking for a change of scene, perhaps seeking a school where he isn’t nearly killed once or twice a year.
Harry has a lot to adjust to in this new American environment. “Muggle” is a politically insensitive term ("non-magical person" is preferred), detentions are spent doing homework in a quiet room rather than scrubbing cauldrons or writing “I must not tell lies” in your own blood, and safety goggles are required when working with dangerous potions. He is, in a word, delighted.
The whole thing is 80,000 words long. Come for a localized take on the Harry Potter franchise, and stay to read the headline “Lucius Malfoy to be Extradited to the United States.”
I wish I could quit you
We saved the best for last. Snuggle in, hold the one you love, and thank your lucky stars, because there’s a Brokeback Mountain fanfiction set in Minnesota.
Brokeback Mountain tells the story of two sheep herders, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, who fall in love amidst the Wyoming mountains. Their fraught, secret, on-and-off-again romance ends in tragedy when Jack dies, leaving Ennis with a lifetime of grief and regret.
In Minnesota Dreams, writer rachelle gives the Brokeback boys another chance at happiness. The story is actually a sequel to a previous Brokeback fanfiction, Divergent Dreams, in which Ennis and a very-much-still-alive Jack settle down on a farm in Minnesota.
It’s stories like these that cut to the pure, radical heart of the fanfic world, a world where buried gays are disinterred and allowed to grow old together, where love, not tragedy, is the star of the show. There’s still lots of drama, angst, and difficulty in store for the couple over the course of 73,000 words, but [SPOILER ALERT] it ends with Ennis and Jack alive and in love.