Now let’s talk about the neatness of very different cultures or groups running into each other. This is far easier to pull off in original fiction than the AU Villain. Entire books and even series can be made out of cultural clashes; Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold is one stunning example, and C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series is one of my personal favorites to read and re-read.
The thing is, it usually takes a whole book – or series! – to set up a proper cultural clash. If all you want is to write a relatively short, fun story exploring the concept, you may not have the energy for that. So how to do it in a short piece for fun?
Trick #2: Crossover Cultural Clash.
Every show, and group of heroes, has its own “culture” and standards as to what are the proper ways to do things. How do you defeat an enemy – by beating them in a card game, or beheading? How do you treat a friend; candy and hugs, or a rough pep talk when the chips are down? What are the limits when you’re defending people you care about? What’s the worst thing that could happen to you on any given day?
If you find two shows that you think you can make fit together for a story, you have a built-in culture clash.
Three authors on Archive of Our Own I’m particularly going to recc’ for this: Kryal, Ellen Brand, and Jedi Buttercup. I’m sure there’s plenty more, but I’ve been following these three for a long time.
For Kryal, two that are particularly good are The Dragon-King’s Temple (Stargate/AtLA) and What the Cat Dragged In (MCU/Miraculous Ladybug). The usual levels of violence are higher in Stargate and the MCU, so there are some interesting ways things either get toned down (ML) or we see more real-life consequences than usual (AtLA).
Ellen Brand has plenty, but I really like Unprofessional Opinion (outsider take on Detective Conan) and Loose Ends (Tony Hicks of Godzilla: the Series poking Sunnydale). An outsider’s look at how really weird a canon situation is brings the wonder of the original canon right back again.
Jedi Buttercup… wow, so many awesome crossovers. Pausing to Wonder (CSI/Dragonriders of Pern), imagine the delinquency (Sleepy Hollow/Guardians of the Galaxy) and Of Iron and Fire (Fast and Furious/The Last Witch-Hunter) are three in particular you would never think work… and they do.
In case anyone’s wondering, there is one particular culture clash I’d like to see in a fic, but I’m not sure I can write it myself. That would be Shen Yuan (Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System) as Shen Qingqiu suffering reverse culture shock by getting dumped back into the modern world still as a xianxia cultivator… and still up against monsters that need his level of skills and power to take down. Say, if he ended up in the Chitauri invasion of NYC, or something….
(Which a friend pointed out is actually three culture clashes in one neat package. 1) Reverse culture shock of coming back to the modern world. 2) NYC is definitely not China. 3) Aliens WTH.
Bonus: I’m a scholar and geek, not a fighter, why does everyone expect me to use this sword, I’m not Liu Qingge-!)
Free to good home!