Alternate Universe (also known as alternate reality), is commonly abbreviated as AU and it is a descriptor used to characterize fanworks which change one or more elements of the source work’s canon. The term most often refers to fanfiction, but fanart can also depicted the characters in AUs.
Unlike regular fanfiction, which generally remains within the boundaries of the canon set out by the author, alternate universe fiction writers like to explore the possibilities of pivotal changes made to characters’ history, motivations, or environment.
Alien Invasion AU – In which the story deals with an alien invasion when canonically it does not ever happened.
All Human AU– In which characters who are canonically non-human are now humans, with corresponding changes to their backstories.
Alpha/Beta/Omega AU – Often referred to as A/B/O or even Omegaverse. It is a growing trope of AUs originated in kinkmemes in which characters can be Alphas (dominant males or females), Betas (ordinary working class), or Omegas (submissive males or females).
Android AU – In which the main character or most of the cast are turn into androids that serve different purposes, such as bodyguard, solider, caregiver and so on. In other cases it becomes something similar to Absolute Boyfriend (Zettai Kareshi) where they are mail order androids that can be order online or from a cataloged. If not, they may have originally been human but turn into an android for whatever reason.
Angel/Demon AU – When angels and demons exist (in the case of canons that don’t have them) or a character is recast as one of them. However, these kind of AUs don’t necessarily have to have both beings in the story as some tend to focus on only one of them.
Arranged Marriage AU – Similar to the Marriage Law AU, only the difference is that not all the characters are required to be married. It is mostly focused on only one pairing and it is usually a pairing that wouldn’t normally get together such as crack ships or doomed ships. In some stories it is a plausible idea, but in others it is not.
Bakery AU – When most of the cast of a story works at a bakery while the rest are customers.
BDSM AU – Is when the entire cast is either a dominant or a submissive and BDSM relationships are considered the norm. Be advised that while a healthy BDSM relationship is consensual and not dangerous, if handled incorrectly it can result in abusive behavior which is offensive and considered bad BDSM etiquette.
Bookstore AU – When most of the casts works at a bookstore. If not, usually a few of the characters work there, while the rest of them are customers. Another version is the Library AU, in which one or two of the characters are librarians, while the rest of the cast spend their time looking for particular books.
Business AU – In which the story is set in a building and the characters are employees. Sometimes it is focus on one character who works as a secretary and another character as their boss.
Circus AU – In which the story is set in a circus and the characters are circus performers or customers.
Coffee Shop AU – Also known as
Barista AU. In most cases, one half of the main pairing is the barista and the other is or becomes their favorite customer; in some stories the whole cast works at a coffee shop.
Crime AU – In which the characters of a story are various type of criminals, such as
burglars, bank robbers, gangsters, drug dealers, smugglers, hitman/fixer and so on. This AU focuses on their criminal lives. It is similar to the Mafia AU.
Darkside AU – Is when the canon villain of the story succeeds in their mission and the AU story focuses on the outcome of it.
Desert island AU – Or an uninhabited island AU, in which a character or most of the characters of a story are trapped on a deserted island, usually from being shipwrecked or their plane crashing.
Dystopian AU – Is set in a dystopian society that is not the original setting of the canon.
Fairy Tail AU – In which canon characters are put into situations and/or settings from fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.
Fantasy AU – In which the story takes place in a fantasy universe where magic or magical abilities is normal, technology is nonexistent and supernatural creatures exist.
Flower Shop AU – Similar to the Coffee Shop AU and the Bakery AU, but instead the entire cast works in a flower shop. Or one of the characters works there and the rest are customers.
Genderswap AU – In which one or more characters in the story switch binary sexes, such as depicting a male character as a cis woman.
Harem AU – Or Reverse Harem AU is when a story that doesn’t contain any polygamous or love triangle relationships turns into one. Usually the main character has something happen to them that attracts the other characters to them, be it from a love potion, experimental perfume, spell gone wrong, and so on.
Haunted House AU – Or Haunted Castle AU, in which a character moves into a new home or castle and doesn’t know that it is haunted (usually by a ghost, sometimes a demon or some other type of creature) or they are dared by their friends to spend the night in it.
High School/College AU – In which the characters are shown in high school or in college together. They are often done with characters who canonically meet later in life, altering or entirely overwriting their original backstories. Similar to this AU is the Boarding School AU and the Elementary School AU.
Hogwarts AU – In which the characters from other stories are placed into the setting of Harry Potter. These can be coexistent with Harry Potter canon, or ignore it entirely. But they are often portrayed as students of Hogwarts instead of teachers that work there.
Hospital AU – In which the characters of a story are doctors, nurses and patients in a hospital (sometimes it is set in an asylum).
Hooker AU – Where one or more of the characters is a sex worker. The more common is the Pretty Woman-type fantasy of a hooker with a heart of gold, rescued from life on the streets by a client. Sex work of all kinds is portrayed: brothels, escorts, street prostitution, “call-girls” as well as strippers and go-go boys.
Most of the time one character of the pairing is the hooker and the other the client, though some stories have both characters as prostitutes (sometimes along with other canon characters, in either a brothel-type setting or living on the streets).
Hunger Games AU – In which characters from other stories are competitors in the Hunger Games.
Ice Cream ShopAU – When the casts works at an ice cream shop. Possibly one of the characters owns it, while the rest are employees or customers.
Law Enforcement/Military AU – In which the cast are policeman, federal agents, soldiers, marines or whatnot and the story focuses on their lives.
Mafia AU – In which the characters are in a mafia.
Magic AU – Incorporate magic in stories where there is no magic present in canon.
Marriage Law AU – It spawn from the Marriage Law Challenge in the Harry Potter fandom, in which the premise is to forced marriage between a Muggle-born to a Pure-blood (or Half-Blood) due to a new decree passed by the Ministry of Magic to help preserve the magical population.
Master/Slave AU – In which the cast are place in an universe where slavery is an accepted economic and cultural institution. Some stories treat this as a significant moral problem to be resisted and overthrown if possible; others treat slavery as an unchangeable institution.
Merpeople AU – Or also known as Undersea AU, in which a story is set in the ocean and the characters are turned into mermaids and merman. Sometimes it’s focus on only one character that becomes a mermaid or merman and another character that is a human. When it’s the latter the AU usually turns into a Little Mermaid type of story.
Modern AU – In which characters from a historical (or pseudo-historical) canon universe are placed into a modern setting.
Monster AU – In which the characters are changed into non-human creatures, such as Incubus/Succubus or other kinds of monsters.
No Human AU – Also known as Animal AU, is the opposite of All Human AU, in which characters that are canonically human are now non-humans.
Noir Detective AU – In which the characters are put in a typical ‘40s or '50s film noir environment. Or sometimes as a homage towards the style, in which the characters are still their canon selves, but plot or aesthetics are given a noir slant.
Opposite AU – In which canon personalities and backstories are swapped out with an opposite versions of themselves. Such as a quiet shy character may become loud and outgoing.
Pacific Rim AU – In which the characters are put into the world of Pacific Rim (most often as Jaeger pilots). This AU gained popularity due to the concept of Drift Compatibility that made for excellent shipping interactions.
Pen Pal AU – Is when two characters (who have met in canon) have not met each other in this AU. Sometimes they live in the area and other times they don’t live on the same continent. Usually it is their school that sets them up as pen pals. If not, it is because one of the characters writes a letter to the wrong person/wrong address or they accidentally
texts the wrong person.
Pirate AU – When the whole cast are pirates and it is focus on shipboard life, usually it is set in early nineteenth-century Europe. Sometimes it’s pirates in outer space.
Prison AU – In which characters meet for the first time in an prison environment where they have to depend on each other.
Private Detective AU – When one of the characters becomes a professional detective while the rest of the cast are their clients or the detective’s contacts in the police department (sometimes they work in other fields, in which the Detective character calls them in for favors to help solve difficult cases).
Reincarnation AU – In which stories with historical canon setting have the characters become reincarnated into a modern setting and in doing so they are quite similar to their canon selves.
Reverse AU – Is when the roles (and sometimes backstories) of the characters are swapped, such as the hero is the villain and the villain is the hero.
Rockstar AU – In which the main casts is a popular music band or one of them is a solo artists with many groupies which may consist the rest of the characters.
Roommate AU – In which the characters in a fandom are all living together in an apartment or an house. Usually this kind of story is focused on two characters that become roommates.
Royalty AU – Where one or more characters (who canonically aren’t) are members of a royal family. This usually goes hand in hand with a historical period, featuring a Medieval AU or Regency AU, although some works are set in Modern times or even the Future.
Single Parent AU – In which a character has a child or becomes a parent in someway and raises them on their own.
Soulmates AU – Is when two (or more) characters are fated to be together, sometimes through multiple lives and/or into the afterlife. Sometimes but not always, the pairing might have a characteristic or tell to help them find each other, such as identical or complementary birthmarks, tattoos, scars, or an invisible string that ties to their other half which becomes thicker and shorter the closer they get to them. Some stories only need a character to hear (or just see) their soulmate to know who they are.
Space AU – Where a fandom that is canonically set on Earth becomes set in outer space.
Spy AU – Also known as Secret Agent AU or Espionage AU. The whole cast is turned into spies, sometimes they work for the same organization, government or they operate independently. Other times the AU is focused on only one or two characters that are the spies.
Superpowers AU – In which the characters have superpowers and are either heroes and/or villains.
Steampunk AU – In which a story is turned into a futuristic/sci-fi version of a 19th Century, usually Victorian or Edwardian containing clocks, gears, springs, steam power, analog computers, airships, etc.
Vampire/Werewolf AU – In which vampires and werewolves exist (in the case of canons that don’t have them) or a character is recast as a vampire or werewolf. However, these kind of AUs don’t necessarily have to have both species as some tend to focus on only one kind.
Victorian AU – In which characters from a modern or future-set story are relocate to a stereotypical Victorian romanticism era.
Western AU – In which the characters are transplanted into the “Old West”; or sometimes, especially in science fiction stories a Space Western equivalent, which may involve a western-type plot without horses and cattle ranches.
Wonderland AU – In which the story and the characters are turned into their own version of “Alice in Wonderland”.
Zombie Apocalypse AU – Also know as Zombie AU. In which stories that don’t contain an zombie apocalypse have it happen to them.
Note: This isn’t a complete list of AUs, but I will keep updating it whenever I come across something new (or someone lets me know what I’m missing). Also, keep in mind that sometimes an AU story is combine with others elements. For example, instead of the very common story about the characters attending a high school in modern times, it can be a magical school set in an futuristic world.
I was ready to sleep early, and I notice this from Season 4. Of course it had to exist a gif for this. Castiel telling Chuck that he is an “admirer” of his work while he glances at Dean from top! to bottom! . Ohhhh my sanity…. Since I been and active Destiel Shipper, I swear I can’t see anything if is not with subtext, Destiel has shown me new colors and special filters. I’m done…
a vibrant and beautiful creature, Arian mermaids reside in shallow, brackish water such as lagoons, sometimes playing tricks on nearby humans or even drawing ships to their doom with siren calls, their tails are a deep, blood red, marked with unclean, black stripes and fins that unfurl like fans at the end of their tail and its sides, as sharp and dangerous as their teeth, delicate webbing between their fingers
these laid back beauties stick to mangroves and slow moving water, they decorate their bodies with the wonders of the sea: pearls, shells, and even the ocean life itself, allowing starfish to stick to their tails, they avoid others but will save many sailors from drowning, their scales are as golden as the sun, their fins strong yet tapered delicately
these mermaids are often found in the middle of the sea, playing with dolphins or even whales, they often tease sailors and flirt with them relentlessly, their tails are particularly long and strong, scales so small they are indistinct though they creep up Gemini's stomach, their fins are awe inspiring shaped like wings at their back and trailing in a swirl behind them, a radiant blue and white like the surf
these mer make their homes in coral reefs, curled up with eels and using clams as pillows, they protect the reefs from boats and fishermen, they hoard pearls and all other treasure they find, their skin and scales are almost translucent, resembling mother of pearl, and emit a soft light similar to the moon, yet their scales are hard like shell and their nails and teeth must be sharp to defend themselves and the reef
these mermaids are brazen, they often approach populated beaches, drawn by the laughter of the children they love to play with and often save from drowning, they decorate themselves with the treasures of the sea, braiding pearls and shells into their hair, wrapping beautiful plants around their waists, their tails are like sunlight, their eyes sharp and golden, and their fins almost heart-shaped
these reclusive mermaids live in freshwater rivers where they hunt fish and play in the current, they clean the rivers of trash and help animals survive, algae creeps up their tails and their skin is splattered with markings similar to the pebbled riverbed, their tails are almost rough like an alligator's back and this skin creeps up their spines as well, colored a similar dark green
more siren than mer, these gorgeous beings often steal sailors away, seducing them with first their elegant voices and then their eyes as bright as the sky, they don't realize that they are harming the sailors, only taking them to a better place, Libran mermaids are like wisps of mist, airy and light, tails shiny and a gentle blue, fins delicate and wispy
no human has ever seen a Scorpio mermaid, they remain deep beneath the sea where few have ever reached, where no light touches, reclusive and secretive, their scales are as dark as the night but their skin is patterned with intricate swirls which emit a hazy, purple glow just as their eyes do, their tails are as lithe as an eel and finned in a similar manner
who knows where you will spot this mermaid, they travel all over the world, from freshwater to the deepest depths of the ocean, constantly exploring and seeking out other mermaids and people alike, their scales are scattered across their body, the color of the sunrise, and their fins are a brilliant fan, ombre and almost ruffled as it creeps up their tail in layers
reclusive and quiet, these mer stay in deep water, very rarely coming to the surface, they are predators but do not attack humans as other mermaids do because they wish to be left alone, their tail is not scaled, rather more similar to a shark's flesh, a deep color that wavers between purple and blue, their fins hard and sharp, all lean muscle and dark eyes
these mermaids often hang around heavily populated beaches and even ports, curious about human beings and their technology, they often make friends with humans and visit them regularly, when not amongst humans they are exploring the ocean, their tales are a deep, regal purple, their hair long and tangled, a very similar color, and they decorate their bodies with strange items they find in the water
these little mermaids are mostly reclusive but very curious about humans, they live in lagoons or among the mangroves, quiet and never imposing, they keep the animals safe and use their magic to keep the water clean, their scales are a deep magenta that glimmers in the light, fins as long as their hair, at their jaw rests a pair of fan-like fins that they use to scare away predators
1. It was my mother who first discovered the fuel leak. Or at least, that’s what we thought it was then. My grandmother, who was the last of us to have set foot on Earth, had died the month before. We had gathered in the laundry atrium, which was the largest open space without ongoing maintenance work, and made such tribute as we could: this is one of the first things I remember. My mother said it felt like a new era, like we were on our own. Although of course we had been out of radio contact with Earth for many years by then. And then, so soon after: the fuel numbers didn’t quite add up. The guardian angels of the old world gone, and we were on our own. But we had excess fuel against unplanned contingencies. It was the slowest of slow leaks. No big deal.
2. There is another thing that is odd about the path of the ship: sometimes it makes corrections that we did not tell it to make. Not often, but sometimes. I wish I could say that I was the one who discovered this, but I think it was Grace Cao who first noticed it. The ship does have a mechanism for external course corrections. It was designed for two circumstances: to retrieve the ship in the case of the crew becoming somehow disabled at launch, and at the fabled other end: for our children’s children’s children to be guided into port on the new worlds by the settlers who had landed before them. It uses a separate communications channel: minimal data and supposedly programmable across huge distances. But it is entirely possible that it is buggy. Still, the end point of our journey is the system that it always was. Also, hopefully, no big deal.
3. Over the years, we have gone from thinking of the ship as a complex but explicable machine to thinking of it as a mysterious engine that we cannot quite control. Too much not quite lining up. Maintenance is turning into ritual. The Machine is turning up in the old stories from Earth. It keeps us alive but it can punish us. It is capricious and sometimes angry. So we were ready for the latest development, I suppose. Too ready: there is so me scandal down in engineering with Peter and the Adeosun wards, and I have heard people say, joking-not-joking, that our fuel problems are down to moral failing.
4. Nevertheless, I think the changes we now see are more likely to belong in the domain of the fuel leak. And this time they are worrying. If we sustain this level of fuel depletion to our destination, we will be out of reserves. Too many things to go wrong. There has been an uptick in the rate of fuel loss, and no obvious reason for it. I sent Xuebing and Grace Cao out on a spacewalk to inspect the fuel tanks. It has been a long time since since anyone went on spacewalk. We had to fire up the fabricator to print a new seal for the second suit. But they have not found anything external.
5. The way it fluctuates is curious. I am not sure that we are looking at this the right way.
6. Of course, the other option is that it is something in our course correction. We have certainly not made any deviation in heading for years, intentionally or unintentionally. It cannot be that. Could it be speed correction? We are at the speed we would expect to be at, at this point in the journey. But if were to deviate from this, the ship would automatically intervene to put us back. It would use fuel. But why would it need to? We are in deep space. We are as alone as any humans have ever been. There is nothing here to slow us down.
7. Some further time has passed. Grace Sharma has been plotting the anomaly. But I fear now that we are already beyond the point where the mission is lost. We will not be able to correct at the other end. Perhaps when we get there we can send the settlers a distress call. Perhaps they can rescue us somehow.
8. The crew at the bridge all know it now, but for the while we have not told the others. Maybe there is some way out. If only we knew what was happening! It is hard to extract the information, but with Bernard-Rose and Grace’s help I think we have it confirmed: the engines are running at a higher rate than they should for what is supposed to be primarily a power-generation role On a whim, I tried assuming the missing fuel had gone into speed correction. What could the forces on the ship have been to cause that? And out came the plot, like a dream, like a nightmare. Because this was a curve that I had seen before.
9. The Wang-Fernstell curve. Physics class. One of a range of competitors to the standard model of quantum gravity. A fringe idea, really. In any case not experimentally confirmable on the small scales available in the solar system. But on a long voyage across deep space: yes, absolutely confirmable. You would observe a slow deceleration over time, oscillating in a distinctive way, increasing in magnitude. Or, if you had a ship that corrected for that sort of thing, you would gradually run out of fuel. And then stop. In deep space. So it seems we have made an incredibly important discovery about the structure of the Universe. And it seems that we will never be able to tell anyone about it. It seems that we are doomed.
10. I have told the others. The ship is very quiet. I cannot stop thinking of all the ships that went before us, of all the ships that will come after. Did they all make this discovery, once they were beyond hope of rescue? Are they all lost? Is the Earth even now churning out new ships to drift, lifeless, into the void, and pinning all its future hopes on them? We have turned off the speed correction in the hope of saving fuel for power, though we will be able to eke a tiny amount out of the solar panels when that fails. But now, of course, the ship has started making course corrections again, ones that we cannot override. Of course. I have asked Peter to move up to the kitchen hold. It is not at all clear that he is safe.
11. Another correction. We are going to run out of fuel. We are coming towards our final resting place.
12. We are coming towards our final resting place. And there is something there. Something gleaming in the starlight up ahead. It is hard to make out. A complex, huge, many-looped grey thing, studded across with tiny lights.
13. It is the ships. It is the other ships. Thousands and thousands of them, all linked up: something between a space station and a planet. We are within radio range of it now. And they have been calling us! We are to dock at the nearmost point. They called us from an atrium full of trees. Trees! I have never seen such a thing. But why not use some of the seeds now, whilst they lie becalmed? And maybe it will not be forever. They say there may be something they can make of the new physics, some way to make these odd forces work for us. But for now I am just marvelling at the thing they have made. It has states. There are parts of it where the languages are diverging. There are parts of it that worship the myth of the machine. We will all have to choose where to live and what to work on. So much to do, to keep it alive!
14. But one thing still to do now: use the remaining fuel to power up the long-range transmitter. We need to send the requisite course corrections to the next ship down the line.