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October 19th, 2012

“Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past” by Viridian (S’TarKan)

Gioia’s Rec:
“Nightmares of Futures Past” (last updated Oct. 19, 2012 after a 3 year gap between updates) is one of my favorite Harry Potter re-do fics, in which a war-weary Harry sends his memories back to his 11-year-old self in an attempt to escape the hollow victory and brutal war he has just survived.

I must admit I procrastinated in rec’ing this 1,000-page epic, due to its WIP status.  And although I’m fairly certain that there will be more to this story posted at some point (Click Here for the author’s comments regarding the story’s pending updates), I also think it’s possible that this story may never be completed in full. So please be aware from the outset that this story is incomplete and may always be so.  But that’s okay.

Regardless of the story’s status, it still merits a very favorable rec thanks to the story’s rich characterizations, intriguing plot, creative development of what could have been an overused, clichéd plot device, and the sheer fun and excitement which this story contains in abundance.  I’ve read Nightmares of Futures Past more times than I can count, as it never fails to captivate me.

One problem which many fanfic authors encounter in writing a re-do/time-travel fic is the urge to fix too many things – to make the canon problems just disappear with quick remedies.  I like the way that Viridian candidly illustrates the major flaw in that approach, by repeatedly demonstrating how one seemingly innocuous change to the timeline can automatically throw everything off, bringing about widely varying differences between the new timeline and the old one, often in the most unexpected and inexplicable ways.  For example, in Viridian’s story, Harry is perplexed during his second year at Hogwarts when Cho Chang, a student whom he barely knows in this timeline, is brutally attacked during the Ravenclaw Quidditch practice.  He cannot figure out why any changes he has made to the timeline would cause that to happen, and yet he knows that his changes must be at fault, because the attack didn’t happen in the original timeline.  That incident is just one of many which indicate that Viridian has carefully plotted out his story in great detail, weaving in seemingly unrelated plot threads, to create a complex and broad story which keeps the reader entranced from start to finish.

Regardless of whether you typically enjoy re-do fics, I strongly recommend Nightmares of Futures Past, as it sets the standard for all others of this subgenre.  In fact, Viridian’s story is such a classic favorite within the Harry Potter fandom, that readers may recognize several elements which have since been affectionately spoofed by other fanfic writers.  The story is greatly beloved because the characterizations are extremely well-developed, the plot is never dull, and the author keeps us guessing as he cleverly depicts just how unpredictable people (and fate) can be, even when Harry thinks he has everything all figured out.  There are a few minor stylistic elements which I wasn’t as fond of, but I notice that even those trifling details disappeared as the story progressed.  The story just kept getting better and better, with the author’s already obvious talent improving even further with each chapter.  I sincerely hope this story is completed some day, but even if it isn’t, I’ll always be grateful for the countless hours of entertainment I’ve reaped from it.

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