Mundane AU

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Non-magical AU
Related: All Human AU, Modern AU, Earth AU, Magic AU
See Also: Mundane, AU, Alternate Reality
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Mundane AU is a term that is sometimes used to refer to an Alternate Universe fanwork set in a Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror canon where all the genre elements have been removed. The resulting AU takes place in our own mundane world without magic, non-human creatures, time travel or alien technology. (The opposite concept is a Magic AU.)

Some fans use the term Non-magical AU for fandoms like Merlin or Harry Potter with canonical magic. In BTVS, the term All Human AU is used when Spike and/or Angel are written as human. In X-Men, these are generally called "non-powered AU"s. In some fandoms there is no standard term. You might see a story header like, Dean and Cas are in high school, but there's no Demons and Cas isn't an Angel. High School and College AUs are popular choices when a fan makes a mundane version of a genre source. In Gateverse fandoms the term Earth AU is often used, but it can also include stories that are set on Earth, but still retain some genre elements.

Some fans do not like the trope, and think it's just badfic or crackfic. Or, if they're into the canon for the genre elements, stripping them away may take all the fun out of it. In the header for a Kingdom Hearts story on ff.net, Hades' Phoenix says, "This fic will also retain things like magic, potions, and moogles because it's just no fun to write a purely mundane AU."[1]

Sometimes the character is so closely tied to the parts of the canon that a Mundane AU removes, they become a different person. This might actually be the attraction for fans of the trope. If you write about Spike as a human, you are, in a negative image way, still talking about Spike the vampire. You might also just want to write your favourite character as someone who hasn't murdered scores of people. Or you might want to write about the characters on your favourite show working at a coffee shop.

Meta

The trope works well and is popular in some fandoms and not others. In a reposted conversation between hradzka and thefourthvine about AUs in general, thefourthvine says:

"So let's consider SGA instead, and McKay/Sheppard because it's what I know and what there's the most of. First, these are not complex characters, relatively speaking; we know little of their backgrounds, histories, goals, fears, whatever - we have bits, but just enough to salt through an AU; not enough to make it hard to do. And they have point-by-point characterizations rather than three-dimensional characterizations. Is he sarcastic? Does he talk too much and too fast? Is he smart? Kind of not so up on the social niceties? It doesn't matter if he's a computer repairman or an alchemist or a flower: we know that's Rodney McKay. (If you can make his dialog sound like McKay, you're golden, basically.) Second, it doesn't matter if they're in Atlantis. They change a little over the seasons, but in standard arcs that are easy to mimic in any story. And what does Atlantis make them, really? Adventurers? Not exactly, and anyway, that's not unique to the setting. Um - interested in Ancient technology? Substitute another word for "Ancient" and you're golden. A team? Absolutely, but you can get that in almost any story. And so on."[2]

She generally makes the point that AUs, particularly mundane AUs, work when the characters in the canon are more archetype than three-dimensional character intertwined with the setting. SGA is absolutely a fandom with a huge number of Mundane AUs.

trobadora came out and asked about the attraction of All-Human AUs and lots of people gave lots of answers that covered the gamut from badfic, to easier to write, to separating individual from identity.

In Canon

  • Supernatural showed Dean and Sam in a fantasy world where their mother didn't die and they weren't raised as hunters in the Season 2 episode "What Is and What Should Never Be", and the angels put them in a fantasy world where they were corporate drones and not brothers in the Season 4 episode "It's A Terrible Life". They also crossed over into an alternate universe without the supernatural in which they were temporarily swapped into the bodies of television actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki in the Season 6 episode "The French Mistake".
  • Stargate: SG1 showed Teal'c in a fantasy world where he was a human firefighter on Earth in the Season 6 episode "The Changeling".

Fanworks

References

  1. Lithium, accessed December 10, 2010
  2. TFV and me (mostly TFV) on fannish AUs, accessed December 10, 2010
  3. wikipedia:Benjamin Sisko Benny Russell, accessed December 10, 2010