Examining trends in fanfiction.
Geese are agents of chaos.
There’s little question here – they are so well known as chaos makers that Untitled Goose Game seemed a natural extension of goose behavior. Geese exist to cause trouble. And honk. Or perhaps, help someone find the love of their life.
It’s a little surprising to find that there’s an active soulmate AU that somehow manages to incorporate geese. The description text for Soulmate Goose of Enforcement is, as follows, “soulmate au where one person finds a goose who leads them to the other person. The difficulty comes in not being mauled by a goose.”
Oftentimes it can be kind of difficult to backtrace an esoteric AO3 tag, especially one the archive puts in the “Additional Tags” category, but in this case it was actually straightforward since a lot of the users tag in Shitty Check Please AU’s as the source of the tag. Shitty Check Please AU’s is an active Tumblr blog for the recently wrapped webcomic Check Please, which is about an American hockey player as he goes through college, about his experiences in both hockey and as being a gay man.
Words cannot express the stranglehold that hockey has in fanfiction circles, and while that usually refers to real person fanfiction related to hockey the sport, the Check Please fandom was particularly active on fanfiction websites as well as the original home of the webcomic, Tumblr. There’s an excellent write up on AO3 Comment of the Day about the particulars of where this tag comes from – but the basic rundown is that there’s a recurring goose that seems to appear in the comic, and one of the suggestions Shitty Check Please AU”s made for an alternative universe was where there is a goose that drives you towards your soulmate.
The tag has been in use since about 2017 and, while it is not a massive tag, considering that it’s an in-joke in a webcomic fandom it has incredible reach. For starters, the tag has about 400 fics actively related to it (“Soulmate Goose of Enforcement”) and it is in a ton of different fandoms from the standards like the MCU and Sherlock, to more smaller fandoms like Sesame Street and Letterkenny. Untitled Goose Game, of course, makes an appearance.
There are two routes in creating a Soulmate Goose of Enforcement fic. The first is that the Goose Is Known – for whatever reason, people have come to expect the goose in their lives, and they may even be waiting for the goose to appear and drive them to their soulmate. The second is that the goose is somehow summoned, by spell or other means, and no one knows what to do to make it stop but to follow its lead. If you’ve ever seen a mad goose in action, this makes sense.
These fics are, generally, for general audiences and what fanfiction audiences would call “fluff.” They’re also quite short – there’s only so much you can do with a mad goose chasing around your protagonist in search of the love of their life.
The goose is loose.
Amanda Hudgins is an occasional writer, former rugby player and wearer of incredibly tall shoes.