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Literature / Stranger Than Fanfiction

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Four friends.
One celebrity.
One unforgettable road trip.

Stranger Than Fanfiction is a Young Adult Fiction Novel by Chris Colfer, published on February 28, 2017.

Topher Collins, Sam Gibson, Joey Davis, and Moriko "Mo" Ishikawa are four high-school graduates who've been friends since the fifth grade, all of them united by their shared love of Wiz Kids, a Science Fiction Adventure series about a bunch of genius teenagers traveling across time, space, and dimensions in a machine they made from a port-a-potty (Sound familiar?).

For their final summer together before they part ways, they decide to go on a road trip across America, just the four of them.

Or so they think.

The night before they depart, Topher sends an E-Mail to the website of Cash Carter, the actor who plays Dr. Webster Bumfuzzle on Wiz Kids, and tells him he and his friends will be going on a trip. Seemingly out of nowhere, he decides he's going to come along with them. The four friends are absolutely over the moon at the star of their favourite show coming along with them. Then they start getting to know Cash Carter as a person.

Stranger Than Fanfiction contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Playground: When Cash notices that they're close to his favourite amusement park/water park, High Tydes, he starts begging everyone to go there. When they get there, however, they discover, to Cash's horror, that the park was closed since September 26th, 2007 because the costumed entertainers were groping the guests, and the staff were serving alcohol to minors.
  • Closet Gay: Joey. He's gay, but is afraid to come out because of how his family might react. Even his friends didn't know until Cash outed him in front of them. His friends of course accepted Joey, but his family basically disowned him, and he went to go and live with Topher.
  • Coming-Out Story: Joey is gay and Sam is a trans guy, but both keep this fact a secret for fear of how their family and friends will react. They are both outed by Cash in the end.
  • Die for Our Ship: In-Universe example. Shippers of Cash's character, Dr. Bumfuzzle, and co-star Amy Evans' character, Dr. Jules Peachtree, known as "Bumtrees", now as "Peachfuzzlers", tend to take their support of the ship to such extremes that they will harass any girlfriend that Cash gets. He brings up an example where his most recent girlfriend broke up with him because she got a box full of hair and a note saying "We know Amy and Cash are in love. Get out of their way or this will be all that's left of you! Sincerely, the Bumtrees.". The police traced it back to a group of fourteen-year-old kids in Moose Jaw, Canada.
  • Disappeared Dad: Sam's father was absent in his life. The therapist concluded that this is why he identifies as transgender, although Sam knows it isn't.
  • Fan Community Nickname: In-Universe.
    • Fans of Wiz Kids are known as Wizzers.
    • Shippers of Dr. Bumfuzzle x Dr. Peachtree are called "Peachfuzzlers". They used to be "Bumtrees" until an incident involving Cash Carter's last girlfriend.
  • Fan Convention: Wiz Con in the first chapter.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Mo's father is adament that she go to Stanford and study business when she expresses her wish to study writing at Columbia University (while minoring in economics).
  • Hypothetical Casting: In-Universe. Joey tends to think that the perfect actor to portray God would be Ian McKellen. In his mental movie of God deciding to make being gay okay, he's accompanied by Moses (played by Denzel Washington) and Jesus Christ (played by Idris Elba).
  • Love Epiphany: Topher has one at the Rosemary's Abortion concert, realizing he's in love with Sam.
  • Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls: Mo likes writing "Peachfuzzle" fanfics. She plans to change the characters when she becomes a real writer, and publish them as her own stories.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: The cast of Wiz Kids are nothing like the characters they portray. Topher and his friends make note that Cash must be a magnificent actor to be able to portray Dr. Bumfuzzle, given how much of a Jerkass they see him as.
  • The Pastor's Queer Kid: Joey Davis' dad is the leader of the second biggest congregation in Illinois. Since his whole family are pretty devout, Joey is afraid of what might happen if he comes out. At the end of the book, he does, and his family kicked him out of the house in response. Lucky him, Topher let him live with his family instead.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: In-Universe example. The ship of Dr. Bumfuzzle and Dr. Peachtree is known as "Peachfuzzle".
  • Road Trip Plot: The novel focuses on the four friends and Cash on their road trip across America.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Although Sam presents as female, Mo is the only girl of the road trip travelers.
  • Sobriquet Sex Switch: Sam still goes by such after he comes out, although he presumably changes his birth name "Samantha."
  • Stage Names: Cash reveals his name is this. His real name is Thomas Anthony Hanks. His stage name is a Portmanteau of the last names of Johnny Cash and June Carter.
  • Title Drop: The final line in the book from Mo.
    Mo: Definitely not, I don't care what Cash said on the first day in the car-everything that's happened to us this summer, well... it's all been stranger than fanfiction.
  • Trans Tribulations: Sam is a closeted trans guy, and over the course of the novel, he's constantly afraid if his mother and friends will ever accept him as such. He also deals with a therapist who insists he's just a confused mentally ill girl.
  • Trans Relationship Troubles: Topher has a crush on Sam, and Sam likes him back, but is afraid that Topher will reject him when he learns Sam is actually a trans guy. It's a major reason why he hasn't come out.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Some time after Cash's death, Topher receives a call from Cash's lawyer, who asks him, Joey, Mo, and Sam to come to Chicago to receive their inheritances from Cash, which they were surprised to receive. In addition to funds to pay for their educations, they each receive something else from him.
    • Topher received money to hire a full-time caregiver for his little brother so Topher can focus on his education.
    • Sam received a "Transition Fund", with the implication that he can use it for his gender transition.
    • Mo received the official rights to Cash's life story.
    • Joey received Cash's Upper East Side Manhattan apartment for if he decides he wants to go to college in New York.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Cash Carter's favourite amusement park when he was a kid is called "High Tydes". Mo reveals that since she didn't know about the y, she was looking for "High Tides" as a result.