|Creator:||John C. "Wildbow" McCrae|
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|External Links:||Wikipedia article, Official web site, Worm Wiki|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Worm is the title of a popular serialised web novel by John C. "Wildbow" McCrae, published from 2011 to 2013. It is now completed at nearly 1.7 million words.
Some Brief Canon Info
The series is set in a grimdark world of superheroes and villains (collectively known as "capes") which is slowly collapsing under the weight of repeated disasters. It is the first book of the Parahumans series; two sequels, Glow-Worm and Ward are on line but have received much less attention from fans, and almost all fan works are based on the original serial.
The central premise is that the first parahumans appeared in 1982 and began to proliferate rapidly. Most are "triggered" by a traumatic event, such a serious accident or emotional trauma, though other causes such as heredity are seen as the story progresses. Some operate as superheroes, others are supervillains and "rogues" (parahumans who use their powers for other purposes such as business or entertainment). There are also various monsters created by the mysterious forces responsible for the parahumans, most notably virtually indestructible "Endbringers" capable of destroying cities and entire nations.
The main setting is Brockton Bay, an American city with several major parahuman criminal organizations and superhero teams.
There is a very large cast (listed here), but a few characters include:
- Taylor Hebert, AKA Skitter, AKA Weaver, a 16-year-old girl who triggers after being repeatedly bullied and eventually forced into a locker filled with rotting tampons, insects, and other rubbish. She gains the power to control insects. Her first attempt to become a superhero goes wrong and she inadvertently becomes a major criminal figure, but eventually unravels the true nature of parahumans and acts to end some of the problems of her world.
- Danny Hebert, Taylor's father. He leads the dockworker's union (which has been badly affected by this world's disasters) and is in mourning for his wife; he is unaware of Taylor's activities for some months after she triggers.
- Emma Barnes, Sophia Hess, and Madison Clements, the bullies responsible for Taylor triggering. Sophia is the instigator of the bullying and is secretly a parahuman.
- Lisa Wilbourn, AKA Tattletale, tactician of The Undersiders, a minor criminal gang Taylor joins that eventually grows to a much larger size. The Undersiders are secretly under the control of Coil, a shadowy criminal figure.
- Amy Dallon, AKA Panacea, a healer and adopted sister of Victoria Dallon, AKA Glory Girl, a powerful fighter. They are members of the superhero team New Wave, made up largely of members of the Dallon family.
Worm was an extremely popular web series and still has a large readership; Wikipedia reports 80,000 visits a month to the site in June 2015, nearly two years after completion. It does not appear to have spun off as a separate branch of fandom with its own conventions etc. The fandom and the work is sometimes considered to be adjacent to the rational fiction community. Fans are mostly from the written SF and comics community, with some interest from wargamers, role players etc. since the setting and some details such as the ratings used within the story to estimate the characters' powers are similar to those used to describe characters in tabletop and on-line RPGs. Some details such as the division of characters into "heroes", "villains" and "rogues" and the broad classifications of superpowers are very similar to the online City of Heroes RPG (2004). Weaverdice, a non-commercial RPG based on the series is run via IRC channels.
Fan works include fanfic and fan art. Common themes in fanfic include alternate powers for Taylor and other characters, a variety of relationships (often but not always focusing on Taylor, most notably Taylor/Tattletale, Taylor/Panacea, and Taylor/Glory Girl, with relatively few heterosexual 'ships), "fix-its" for the fairly horrible events of the serial, and crossovers, usually on one or another of these themes. Due to the nature of the source material stories often involve body horror, mind control, character death and other issues which may distress some readers.
It's a popular fandom with nearly nearly ten thousand stories shown on line as of April 2022. A significant amount of fanfics are hosted on the forums of SpaceBattles and its fork Sufficient Velocity, with NSFW fanfic being on the Questionable Questing forums. Many of the fanfics on these forums are in the form of quests. /r/WormFanfic serves as a hub for Worm fanfic in its various locations. Worm Story Search serves as a tracker for most Wormfic across AO3, fan fiction.net, Spacebattles, Sufficient Velocity and Questionable Questing.
Example Fan Works
- Ex Synthetica (2019-20 WIP) by willyolioleo "Taylor doesn't get to control insects. Instead, she controls things that are slightly... smaller. Tinker/Master Taylor. Updates weekly, hopefully. Based more on fanon than canon." An example of an altpower story, with Taylor becoming a "tinker" (mad scientist) with mastery of nanotechnology.
- Tank Top (2019) by henghost "Lisa is used to hard data and information and understanding everything, but thinking about Taylor (about Taylor being with someone else) makes her confused." Example of the most popular ship for this series.
- A Wand for Skitter (2019–20) by ShayneT "Waking in the body of a murdered child, Taylor Hebert, once a super villain and later a super hero must discover who has been killing muggleborns while being forced to go to Hogwarts, among groups who are the most likely suspects." One of the most highly regarded Harry Potter crossovers.
- Cenotaph (2013-2014) by notes, one of the most prestigious Worm fanfics. An AU with a point of divergence early on in canon. Notably emulates the tone of canon very well.
- It Gets Worse (2015–19) by ack1308 "This is a Taylor Hebert centric story, starting just after the locker. Details after that are sketchy ..." Fix-it AU in which Taylor's power is ridiculously good luck.
- Taylor Varga (2016-20 WIP) by mp3_1415player "Taylor has a bad day that ends in a locker. Everyone has heard that one. It goes somewhat differently after that, as her call for help is answered by something from a lot further away than one might expect... A story in which Taylor makes a very large friend, the world gets confused, and Danny comes into his own." The longest Worm fanfic on most sites, a crossover with the short-lived Luna Varga, which gives Taylor a power set that scares the Endbringers. Notable for multiple crossovers and frequent omakes.
- Brockton's Celestial Forge (2020-ongoing) - an ongoing Worm Jumpchain fic by LordRoustabout.
- Parahumans Zine (2020), organized by 0nil and therealtsk.
- Worm Fanzine Project (2023), organized by serv and v-wind. carrd, Archived version
- We've Got Worm, a recap and discussion podcast covering Worm and Ward.
- Spacebattles broke Wormfic, here's how:, an essay about trends within the Worm fandom by Pachycephalosauria.
- you know, it strikes me, that for all her ‘my way or the highway’ attitude..., Archived version -- started as a meta by junebugtwin about Taylor's characterization and willingness to take face the same dangers she demands of everyone else, additions by chartic and greatwyrmgold debating whether Cauldron's actions were justified, effective, or worth supporting (from a Doylist perspective).
Archives & Fannish Links
- r/Parahumans on Reddit
- Worm (Literature) on TV Tropes
- Worm (Parahumans, #1) by Wildbow reviews on Goodreads
- Worm Story Search (external link) is an automatically updated list of fanfic posted for this fandom on Spacebattles Forum, Sufficient Velocity, Questionable Questing, A03, and Fanfiction.net. The default order is most recent posting, it can instead list by title, rating, hype, word count or creation date, in ascending or descending order. Rating and hype are not clearly defined. It's updated hourly. Fanfiction.net updates aren't tracked reliably due to the site's bot restrictions.