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Fanfic Recs / System Shock

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Proof that the remaining 10% is worth running through SHODAN's corridors for here.

These are recommendations made by Tropers for System Shock fanfics, all of which have to be signed to stay on the page. Feel free to add a fanfic of your own to the list, but remember to use the template found here.

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Stories focused on the family and the friendly relationships of the cast. Plot-focused stories or light day-in-the-life stories. Pretty much anything that isn't focused on romance.

Free Radical by Shamus Young

  • Recommended by Robin Zimm, Joysweeper, Electron Blue, Korodzik, Jonn, aaron-em
  • Status: Complete
  • Back cover blurb: When a black-hat hacker tries to break into TriOptimum's spaceborne computer system to steal a new computer-interfacing neural implant, he fails, but ends up being brought up onto the company's space station and offered the implant if he will do a little 'job' for the TriOptimum CEO. But when the hacker wakes up after six weeks comatose and recovering from brain surgery, he finds a dreadful mess: flickering lights, missing doctors, homicidal robots, mutant zombies, and a frantic radio signal from Earth trying to find out what is going on up there...
  • Comments: I came to Free Radical from a perspective of literally zero knowledge of the video game. Knowing that, and judging it purely as a standalone science fiction novel, I found it a fantastic read.
    • Joysweeper: I knew a little and ended up Youtube-ing the game so I could get SHODAN's voice fixed in my head. This is pretty good. There are some occasional poor word choices and grammar quirks, but it's a compelling enough narrative to make up for it.
      • LATER: ...Eh. Grammatical errors got worse as the story progressed. One of the lines is '"Are you ok hacker" she asked.' It also deviated pretty far from the game's ending. Very far. I mean, SHODAN was hacked to give her empathy, then she repented and came to Earth? Really? I was watching a Let's Play as I read. ...Also, afterwards I contracted a fever and dreamed I was a rogue cyborg on Citadel Station leading a resistance. That was weird.
      • Free Radical does deviate from the canon ending, but not in the way you're describing: Having gained the ability to understand what she'd inflicted on the people under her care, SHODAN accepted her death abord Citadel Station as just penance for what she'd done. However, before she sent Deck off to make his escape, she copied as much of her memory to him as she could manage under the space and time limitations imposed by his finite and already-occupied brain and the rapidly disintegrating station. Judging by his dialogue and behavior after returning to Earth, it's plain to see that Deck's communion with SHODAN has had an enormous effect on him, perhaps to the extent that the result could reasonably be considered a hybrid of both minds, but I don't see anything in text or subtext to support the idea that SHODAN outright overwrote Deck's mind with her own, which would be strange behavior indeed for anyone who had just acquired the faculty of empathy.
      • I thought this was an excellent re-imagining of System Shock's plot, especially the ending. A hard-core Shock fan may not like the changes to the story, but it's a really good way to bring the story to the medium of print, though as noticed by the above it has a few grammatical errors. Highly recommended.
      • Depends on the hard-core Shock fan; I've always found SHODAN a thoroughly well imagined and compelling character, especially in the sequel game, and have thus been disappointed that both games finished up by treating her as just a disposable final boss with optional sequel hook. Whatever flaws may mar it, Free Radical is palpably informed throughout by the same enormous respect, and as such earns a place among the small and select company of deuterocanonical works which leave the actual canon faintly disappointing by comparison.
      • Indeed, to give Free Radical the faintly dismissive label of "fan fiction" gives both the work and the author unduly short shrift; under the not inconsiderable guise of a compelling science-fiction story, there lies an awesome amount of subtext of the sort "literary fiction" fans profess to love, the difference between Free Radical and literary fiction being of course that the former lacks pretense and the latter lacks appeal. Read with a careful eye and a thoughtful mind, Free Radical reveals itself as a surprisingly subtle meditation on themes ranging from death and rebirth, to procreation, to apotheosis and the nature of godhood, to the attainment of wisdom and the essential impossibility of right action in its absence — and, read without those things, Free Radical stands up quite well as a damn good story worth the attention of any fan of SHODAN, System Shock, science fiction, or just good stories in general.

Stories focused on the romantic relationships between the cast.

  • SHODAN and...videogame journalist Kieron Gillen? YMMV; not a fic and not really shipping per se, but a perspective on the character which suggests a certain bent of thought on the part of the author.


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