Christian is a 21-year-old college junior-to-be. He lives in Arizona. He studies computer science and computer maintenance. And in his spare time, he writes the longest work of fan fiction ever composed. The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest is currently over 3,500,000 words, making it almost three times as long as Marcel Proust's seven-volume À la recherche du temps perdu, six times as long as Infinite Jest, and thirteen times as long as Ulysses. TSEW is "based" on the Nintendo fighting game Super Smash Bros. in the same way that Proust's novel is "based" on a bite of tea cake, and it is a monumental thing. At present, the work has 28 chapters, which are grouped into a rough structure based on 32-bit role-playing games (Disc One, Disc Two, and so on.) Christian writes under the name AuraChannelerChris, and his prolificacy is not limited to fan fiction: A mere two hours after we emailed Christian a set of 17 questions, he responded with more than 2,000 words.
How long have you been writing fan fiction?
Since the day Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released in North America. [BuzzFeed: March 9, 2008]
What do you think originally inspired you to write fan fiction, as opposed to writing fiction with entirely new characters?
This may sound really odd, but I started writing fan fiction because it seemed like a good way to learn English. Yes, that's right. I started writing fan fiction because my English was bad. In fact, I mainly learned how to write and speak English from video games when I used to live in Mexico. Speaking the language was easier compared to writing, and after moving to the U.S. [in 2008], many English teachers saw how I was very developed in the English for a person who came from Spanish-speaking Mexico. I was on par with a native U.S. citizen in a single year of classes. I'm so grateful for all the help from teachers and my reviewers for helping me reach this level to write compelling stories.
What is your writing process? Take me through a typical day of writing for you.
Oh, I'm embarrassed to say. My writing process is pretty random at times. Whenever I have my laptop (an Acer) or a computer with an internet connection, I usually get to writing to pass the time. If I don't have anything else to do, writing is a sure bet.
Writing many paragraphs can become dull eventually, so I like to listen to video game music to lighten the mood, preferably music that comes from the current story arc I'm writing. It really helps to listen to music, even while readers are reading because it helps to envision a lot of action during battle scenes. The story also recommends tracks to listen to during key events to give a more realistic feeling. I just hope the current track doesn't affect the reviews I get.
Who are some of your favorite non-fan-fiction writers and why?
To tell the truth, I hardly read any works of fiction from notable writers. I mostly read fan fiction as a whole.
I was limited to reading the typical school books needed to complete assignments. I did find a lot of them worth the read to pass the time like The Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven, Hatchet, Flipped, and Of Mice and Men. There was a lot of diversity in all those stories. Even if I needed to do book reports on them, I found their plots to be engrossing and interesting.
How does it make you feel that your work is three times as long as À la recherche du temps perdu"?
Honestly, I can only blush in embarrassment for finding out about this, and at the same time, I feel like I'm not human or something. These fingers of mine are in love with keyboards.
What is it about SSMB that made you want to write about it?
I saw a lot of potential in each character to extend upon their personal storylines that their creators never seemed to go an extra mile. For example: I've seen how Fox acts pretty jerkish towards Krystal at the start of Star Fox: Command so I decided to continue on his story with unsuccessful attempts to apologize to her and get hooked up again; how a pretty docile little thing Kirby is until he sprints into battle; how Link has this weird characteristic of barging into people's homes and taking whatever item he finds; how Mario is actually the nicest guy around compared to the impatient Sonic, etc. There are just a lot of reasons in each character that makes them special to keep on writing.
What are your favorite games?
Hoooo boy. I mainly play a lot of RPGs. I have played nearly all of the Super Smash Bros' characters' games. Other favorites include Shin Megami Tensei games, Final Fantasy, and some oddballs like Arc Rise Fantasia.
Really, I can't just pick a favorite.
How long do you think The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest will be by the time you finish it? When do you think you'll finish it?
I have livid nightmares that this story will end at ten million words. Who knows, really? Perhaps at 400 chapters, this huge tale will come at an end.
Then again, the story is inspired by so many video games that is hard to tell when it'll be finished.
Would you ever submit your work to an editor? More broadly, do you hope to ever turn this into, or write, a published book?
That would be pretty rad if that ever happened. I could either become a big influence in making many teens and children get into literature, or get my butt sued to high heavens by Nintendo.
But, I feel like a work like this would be better suited for animation. After coming so far into writing this, it gave me a somewhat hopeless dream of seeing a true Nintendo anime. What I seet would probably give the Pokémon anime a run for its money, but that's just my opinion. Because of how there are many characters, I'd have to cross a hell lot of hurdles from their creators to get permission to do an official adaptation.
For people who might not have the time or the literacy in Super Smash Bros. to read your work, can you summarize the plot?
For starters, it's a sequel to The Bond of Aura that tells about my OC [original character] named Chris who has a fateful encounter with a special Lucario [a species of Pokemon], who is scared and curious of what has happened to him after ending up in the real world where there are no Pokémon or battles. Through that story, Chris tries to make Lucario's stay in the real world an enjoyable experience by teaching him common practices such as reading, cooking, and other household chores, all the while bonding, hence the Bond part in the title. Chris can do all that without his parents getting suspicious because his parents are conveniently away from the house nearly all the time. Literally. But said "parental neglect" stems from Chris's own actions, and he himself is struggling to live in solitude. Getting a non-human person dropped into his room wasn't the answer he was expecting, but he manages to live with it. After a lot of anxiety, Lucario eventually deems Chris as his true trainer.
From there, the large sequel came about. One Super Smash Bros. Brawl copy leads to the discovery that there are many worlds (or rather, video games) out there separated from the real world, and that said worlds are being targeted by Tabuu [a boss from Brawl] and his Subspace Army to expand the Subspace realm. The plot of this one is a "what-if" version of the real final battle against Tabuu gone wrong.. Master Hand is himself the leader of the faction and he's the one who makes a hasty decision to go into the real world to get outsider help to stop the army from moving out. Luckily for him, he gets the help, with mixed results.
The theme of bonding with others becomes ever larger. Because there are over 40 main characters running around, character development comes in several different doses. Not only that, but Chris's knowledge of everyone is either a boon or a curse depending on the situation. It's not just about him and X knowing each other. The rest of the cast do have other people to talk to, which leads to varying degrees of development. I knew beforehand that just representing the main characters' worlds in arcs would take me to the point that, for example, if Solid Snake were recruited at the last arc before the final battle, he wouldn't get enough development. So I came up with the idea of making a massive multi-crossover story that not only includes the worlds of every Smasher, but also extends to many of their different storylines, and, most important of all, includes games outside the Nintendo realm (the many Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, Mega Man Legends, and Star Ocean III).
Now, people will probably scoff at the mere thought of including non-Nintendo worlds in this, as the characters in this story are most likely never going to be seen outside their worlds, like for example Yoshi in a Resident Evil place (relax, he was never seen there), so I laid out some rules. One rule is that I only make eight or so characters go into a crossover world if they can fit into the theme. Because of this, you can see characters like Link fitting into Chrono Trigger, and said arc had characters that came from other eras allowing characters with similar backgrounds to take a leading role in the arc, allowing a humorous relationship between Ayla and Donkey kong to be born or Marley showing un-Princess-like behavior around the calm and composed Zelda.
So, in a few words, each Smasher character has their own personal dilemma and views that clash with another character. The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest is not only about stopping Tabuu from eventually reaching the real world, but it's also about everyone's struggles to overcome their challenges as people.
Most people can't read 3,500,000 words; what part of your piece are you most proud of?
I think I should give an example of the many I have. The Chrono Trigger arc in particular had so many moments I can't begin to describe. That arc was amazing in my eyes, as there was a lot of time travel hijinks, a pretty emotional development between Link and Lucca, and the seriousness of the mission at hand.
Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bernstein reports on and writes about the gaming industry and web culture.
Contact Joseph Bernstein at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.