General author recs:
You could do worse than to just read everything.
Formerdinosaur, aka Hollycomb, aka Wettermark
You might know her from another fandom, as her fanfics have been justifiably popular in Star Trek, Harry Potter, Baseball RPF, and Hunger Games, among other places. Also, she singlehandedly invented Toy Story slash. Hollycomb understands South Park characters better than anyone. She does great justice to Cartman especially, though she's also great at Wendy, Kyle, and Craig. A prolific writer, she is unafraid to dabble in new genres and styles, makes the most out of the show's mythology, and writes romances that appear justifiable in light of the show's cynicism and crudeness. Holly has written way too many fanfics to single many out, and her writing is recommended so frequently that in some sense it feels redundant to tell you to go read it. Instead, I'll link to this post, in which I mentioned some lesser-recced fics of hers which happen to be among my personal favorites. I'd also like to recommend the fic Self Improvement, a gift fic for me which I adore that happens to have been posted since I made those initial recs.
I genuinely believe Julads is hands-down the best author to have written South Park fanfiction. I've included one of her fics below because I think it is a stand-out, not to be missed, but my actual recommendation is that you read everything she's got. It's an incredibly rich and varied catalogue of fics, all of which are fun to read, the experience so pleasurable to me that if she ever actually writes again I am fully prepared to lose it. If I'm underselling or seemingly spilling less ink on this than you'd expect, it's fully because I consider her the best, period, and I am not sure what else to add to that.
Many of these stories were written by authors who have written more than just one fic! Check out their catalogues for more.
A Lack of Color by mr. eames
A fic about Stan's depression that in some ways predicts the depression Stan would struggle with on the actual show. An AU in which Kyle and Stan just meet at the moment in which Stan is about to commit suidice. In some senses it's productive to read this story as a twist on Kyle's reaction to Stan's depression. If they hadn't known each other, would Kyle have been more patient, less unwilling to help? Essentially, though, this is a variation on the theme of Stan and Kyle's need for one another.
All Right, This One's For All the Marbles by Percentile
There is a kind of snappy exuberance to this fic that makes it worth reading, aided in part by a particularly crabby Kyle. The author is quite obviously British and not everything works, but by and large it's a fun read.
Denominator by Brightened
This is quite a lovely, simply little fic about Stan and Kyle's life together, as told through their sexual history. It's low on plot and high on creative storytelling, as if giving an incredibly well-written synopsis of Stan and Kyle's mutual history as lovers. There's some flourish to this fic that makes it glow even as it never strays far from an established pact; it is also deft and compact enough that it doesn't wear out its welcome. An overlooked, underrated gem.
Dopey by Cherry Champagne
Generally I am not a fan of Ike as a character in fan fics, perhaps because he is such a small boy on the show that it's extra hard to get a grip on him. In some ways this fic is an excellent character study of Stan. It posits what might happen if Stan's crush on Kyle was not reciprocated.
How Long Till Your Surrender? and Floor to Ceiling, by wettermark
These two fics form a discursus on how Cartman and Kyle could end up together in a sense, and on why their relationship couldn't ultimately work. Kyle is reduced to a pathetic kind of humanism that makes him come alive as an actor; the choices he makes are ill-informed and in some cases made out of fear, but he makes them himself, serving his own interests. In that sense this fic is an answer to any Kyle/Cartman fic that makes Cartman into a victor and Kyle a victim. Everyone in these two stories exacts autonomy to an extent that the author feels absent, rather than overtly controlling. This is the Stan/Kyle fic for people who prefer Cartman/Kyle, and the Cartman/Kyle fic for people who prefer Kyle ending up with Stan.
My Future's Bound by denofiniquity
The first third or so of this story concerns the development of Stan's sexuality, and features some interesting and unique content in that regard. The premise, that Stan and Kyle accidentally have cybersex in an MMORPG, is firmly rooted in canon and feels true to the show in some ways. Following Stan and Kyle's eventual romance, the story begins to unravel into much-tread territory concerning their relationship and its sustainability.
No Grave Is Rich by ttchaku
On its surface this is a story about Kyle having sex with Cartman in order to save Stan's life, but there is somewhat more beneath the surface; the ending curls around to a light twist. Not everyone will enjoy this fic, which is set during wartime in 2021, the characters in their early 20s. It's hard to say whether this fic functions due to its execution of character dynamics, or writing style. Either way it's a striking oneshot.
Pandemonium by Marilyn Manganese
This is an mpreg body-horror fic that reads like it's set within the world of South Park. It's brutal, but short, and inside of it there's a touching portrait of Kyle and Stan as both very devoted and also totally insane.
Sanctuary by imparfait
A pitch-perfect Star Trek: The Next Generation AU in tone and mood -- but not literally; the SP characters are on a ship, but not the Enterprise. Handles alien-abduction and its consequences -- trauma, and mpreg -- with subtlety. Stan is the vessel's captain, Wendy its medical officer, Kenny the second-in-command, and Kyle was a science officer before he was taken. This brisk story has an overtone of horror, but unlike "Pandemonium," above, there is a happy ending.
Shirtless and Fat and Crying in Hell by 4pollos
Delivers precisely what it promises and then some, this adorable and swift little fic really does play like an episode set a few years down the road with a slash subplot. I tend to shy away from middle school stories, yet this one works overtime to sell the situation by being somewhat blasé about a partly traumatic, partly ridiculous situation. Its charm is never exhausted, powering the fic the whole way through.
Swarm & Handle by Julads
An in-progress masterpiece. The story concerns Kyle, who's run away from home to join Stan (the titular "Swarm") and Kenny ("Hack") as train-hopping itinerants in 1913. The very best AUs pull out recognizable details from characters you know and use the weird setting to reinforce truths familiar to readers. This Stan and Kyle are so true it barely reads like an AU to me. There's fantastic period detail, and a compelling story about Stan and Kyle (who is dubbed "Handle") finding themselves, and each other, out on the road (well, the rails, more like) while they're far away from their homes, physically and emotionally. There aren't a lot of huge revelations, so there's little more to give away necessarily, but this story is so compelling and such a joy to read that I'll let it stand on its own. Please check it out.
The One Where Cartman Totally Fags Out by CitizenJess
One of the very first fics I read upon getting into SP fanfic – so, yes, this story is quite old in fan years, but has stuck with me the entire time. It's Stan/Kyle but told through the point of view of a Cartman who's pining for Kyle and knows he can't have what he wants. It's neither angsty nor sappy, striking a good balance between an optimistic view of an adult Cartman with some maturity and the fact that, ultimately, he is who he is.
The Well and the Lighthouse by Effingbirds
This story defies convention to the extent that I have personally recced it repeatedly over two and a half years, in spite of the fact that it showcases a pairing I don't tend to read (Christophe and Gregory) and an AU that's well overdone (World War II). The fic subverts the latter by setting the action in occupied France, where Englishman Gregory is assisting the resistance against the Germans. This fic benefits from comprehensive research and a full arsenal of South Park's ensemble cast, creating a rich and immersive story. It's Gregory's story, really, though along the way he falls in love with Christophe, a development that feels authentically integral to the evolution of Gregory as a person, rather than romance-driven happenstance. Fans of Stan and Kyle will get sucked into their story as it unfolds. When people say Second World War AUs are overdone in the fandom, point them in the direction of this fic.
When the Sugar Spins by Fracturates
I had the great fortune to beta this fic, which is a domestic Stan/Kyle set over the holidays. Stan is mildly agoraphobic and Kyle’s totally fed up with Christmas when they receive an unwelcome guest. This is straight-up curtain fic and a lesser-known gem, with hints of character flaws indicating what makes Stan and Kyle work as a couple. This author wrote a couple of great stories, including one fascinating WWII AU about Kyle waiting back on the home front, but she deleted most of her stuff so that fic is sadly lost. This one is hosted on a Secret Santa community so it survived the purge. Short and sweet, straightforward but complex.
Writing on the Wall by unemployed
This story appeared as if from nowhere in 2008 by what appears to be a sockpuppet account. Unemployed never wrote anything further, never engaged with the fandom, and never contributed beyond the 7,000 words in this fic. Like many fics that came into the fandom long ago, some of the ground covered here has been improved upon or superseded by fics that were written later. Yet this story remains essential to me for its level-headed approach and its startling description of the bleakness of life in a redneck mountain town. It offers little in terms of slash payoff, but it also serves as the foundation for a rich emotional catharsis that comes at the end of the story.
You Can Write It On My Grave by Delires/natsu
The divisiveness of this fic is its strength. I have spoken with several people who do not care for this fic. It is pretentious in some ways (idolization of Rimbaud is an ongoing motif), but the thing that seems to bother most of its detractors is the characterization of Kenny as a smarmy, self-destructive self-aggrandizer who isn't as deep as he (and the author) thinks. It's also been said that when Kyle ends up with Stan it feels forced and that it's less ideal than if Kyle had abandoned his life and run away with Kenny. My reading has always been that the fic's position is that in the end, Kyle and Stan are a good fit. It's also needlessly violent in some senses. This endorsement sounds more damning than a recommendation should be, but I do believe it's worth reading as a deconstruction of Kenny's fandom characterization. He and Kyle do love each other in the end, but they are too different to end up on the same path. The author's notes structure this as a mystery (will Kyle get with Kenny, or Stan?), but it's more satisfying to read, to me, as a character study. The scenes of Stan taking care of Kyle toward the end have lingered with me years after I read this.
Authors not recced above with S/K fics I have enjoyed at some point in the past eight years:
Mileage may vary; included for reference.
Foodstamp (as of January 2015 Foodstamp has deleted her SP fics on FFN; if you are curious about them please inquire, as you never know who’s saved a copy…)
Comment, question, suggestion, disagreement?
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