More Blog Posts31

  • 14w, 1h
    State of Affairs

    Just an update of what's been going on with me.

    There are three main activities that I consider my life's essence and substance, which everything else merely revolves and, hopefully, fosters: those three things are writing, reading, and piano. Due to the peculiar nature of these passion's inability to provide sustenance, only my free time enables me to dedicate my spirit to these endeavors.

    Apropos writing, I have two things in my view: The first is a proper human novel for proper human publishers, sitting at about thirty two thousand words so far; this I consider to be the primary prose, deserving of all my assiduity in attention, in passion, in deliberation. The second is a silly pony fic idea I have, a lighthearted satire, which sits at about seven hundred words right now; this I consider to be secondary and inferior, to be worked on only when fancy strikes me, when alcohol has stirred my thoughts into a tenebrous mist and prevented my grasping the lofty, or when no one is looking over my shoulder at work.

    Apropos reading, it's Anna Karenina, or, as I like to call it, A Woman Spends Nine Hundred and More Pages Trying to Convince Herself that She Totally Isn't Turned On by That Man in Uniform and that She's Totally the Victim Here. Tangentially, Hester>>Anna.

    Apropos piano, though I still butt heads with Rachmaninoff, and have the sentient tentacle of the Prelude in G Minor more or less subdued (though the beast still screeches beneath my weight), I now am wrestling with the Prelude in B-flat Major; although I'm convinced that I, as a humble homo sapiens sapiens, am unfit to play this, as the score indicates that it's meant to be played by some twenty-fingered monstrosity, the span of whose hand could serve as a transatlantic bridge.

    Everything else, video games, jerking off on the internet, writing this blog post even, are distractions from the fear that paralyzes me when I look at these titanic tasks. It's not uncommon for me to look back at the end of the day, and see how much more productive I could have been if I were just a little more self-disciplined. And if the directly preceding sentence did not indicate to me that I ought to end this blog post, to let you—and me—get back to the tasks of import, and were I to continue any longer, may the carcass of my introspection be eviscerated and discarded, in order to let me drop all pretenses!

    2 comments · 60 views
  • 42w, 6d
    Written, read, and awaiting publishing

    So, that’s it.

    There are four more updates left in Subjunctive, all proofread and loaded up in the queue. They’re rather short, so next Monday, I’ll be publishing one per day.

    This story has been a part of my life for the past two years, and it feels strange to be letting it go. No more will it be nagging me from the corner of my hard drive; no more will my laziness be incited to action. The story is done, there it is, I leave it be, and I continue on with my life.

    It’s been a lot of fun. I ran into trouble, anxiety, had many personal adventures and completed personal milestones, changed a lot as a person, and made a new friend. Some of these were connected to the writing of this novel directly, others happened while this novel sat in the background, etching itself into the vague memories of this period of my life along with the vivid ones, an integral and inextricable part.

    The support you guys have shown me has been marvelous. Pretty much when I published my first story, I’ve checked every day to see if I have any alerts. Your comments have been a pleasure to read. But the comments concerning the story outside of this little hub we call FimFic, though they were few and happened infrequently, were a joy unprecedented to the career of this little pony fiction writer, not to mention the inspiration I gave to one user such as to compose an original piece of music based on the story.

    My only regret is that it took as long as it did. It was incredibly unreasonable for me to ask that you wait so long for such a thing. But I really hope that it was worth it.

    2 comments · 132 views
  • 52w, 1d

    Hello, readers!

    In case you don't read the comment section to Subjunctive, FimFic user ph00tbag made a song inspired by the novel:

    I don't really listen to music when writing, and when I do it tends to be of the romantic vein (Tchaikovsky 4 life), but it's really awesome to see someone make a derivative art piece based on what I wrote. I've always had fantasies of my stories becoming popular enough such that people do their own spin-off creations of it, but it's never happened before. Thank you, ph00tbag; you seriously just made my day and fulfilled a fantasy of this pony fiction writer. It thrills me that you like the story so much! Subjunctive is drawing to a close. I think there're about six or seven more chapters after this one, and then it's done. I hope you like how it ends!

    Also, new chapter today. Go read!

    Edit: In case my stoic and reserved style didn't communicate it clearly enough, I'm seriously delighted by this work, ph00tbag. I'm—and I hate this word, but—squeeing really hard right now. It's truly wonderful. Thank you, thank you, again and again. :twilightsmile:

    1 comments · 161 views
  • 55w, 4d

    At the time of my writing this, it’s 1:47 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, and I’ve just fulfilled my promise to myself: the epilogue of Subjunctive is done—and, with that, the rough draft of the novel!

    I did it. I promised myself I'd finish the novel during this break. I've done it, and with two days to spare!

    When I wrote the first words of this story—back in what, 2013?—I had vague ideas for this novel. I knew I wanted to write about changelings, but what can I do with them? Language, linguistics—there’s a novel, I said. But then I reached the second chapter and production stalled. I realized that the conception of this novel wasn’t done. I had the framework for a potential plot and some general ideas, but had no idea how it would develop or how it would play out.

    This is the equivalent of a builder having a few beams towering above him but no idea what to coat it with. He thinks that putting glass on it would be cool, but when and where?

    I thought that perhaps the story and the characters were just bad, and I had pretty much mentally abandoned the novel altogether. But after talking it out with my good friend and editor, I had some sparks of inspiration and managed to conceive of a fully functioning novel, complete with plot, conflict, and themes. And now, nearly two years after I had the first inklings of this novel, the rough draft is done.

    I've certainly learned my lesson! And this goes for every aspiring writer: PLAN A NOVEL OUT COMPLETELY BEFORE WRITING ANY LINES OF PROSE. Good thing I made this mistake now, writing pony fiction, which is supposed to be the training grounds before I become a novelist proper.

    I once again apologize to the readers I had before, who were reading this since 2013 before the EQD publication, and are still reading it. No writer could reasonably expect you to still be following, and I’m incredibly grateful that you still are. My only hope is that the story is as awesome as to justify your waiting time.

    My work is not done on Subjunctive. There’s still a lot of editing to do. Who knows what needs to be rewritten and thought over? But, on the bright side, my time working on this will be purely spent on editing and publication; thus, in theory, chapters should be published at a much more regular rate.

    The new chapter should be here this week, and the rest of the story will follow. Brace yourselves!

    2 comments · 147 views
  • 56w, 5d
    The End is Nigh

    Dear readers,

    I have a ten day respite from work, ten days in which my writing, reading, and playing of Kerbal Space Program will compete for the task I set myself to during this time. But during these ten days, I’ve made it my goal to finish Subjunctive.

    As of this moment, I’m writing the story’s climax. After that, I have two or three more chapters to write, then an epilogue. After that, I will be working through my backlog of chapters (I currently have five chapters written and unedited) to get them to you as quickly as possible. That means that there are seven or eight more chapters to go. They span about 1.5k-3k words each, though two are about 5k-6k. All in all, I estimate that the entire story will be 110k-130k words by the time it’s finished.

    The next chapter should be here next week. The chapter after that might take longer, seeing how long it is (maybe I can split it into two chapters), and it marks the beginning of the final arc. I’m quite content with how it’s coming out, and I’m very excited to show it to you.

    It’s quiet on this front. Just chugging away at this novel and fighting procrastination (to which, I suppose in hindsight, the writing of this blog didn’t conduce). I probably won’t be able to publish the whole thing by the end of this summer, but hopefully publication will be done by the end of the year.

    Thanks for bearing with me this whole time. Also, please leave comments! I don’t respond to them in the comment thread, mostly because I don’t want to confirm or deny the validity of a reading experience, but I enjoy reading the comments, the discussions, and gauging reactions. It helps me grow as a writer.

    2 comments · 149 views
  • 66w, 5d
    De Brevitate Meorum Capitulorum/Concerning the Shortness of My Chapters

    Salvete, lectores mei. Hoc bloggum facio ut modo Subjunctive capitulum novum paene perfectum esse dicam. Erit brevium (inter verba millia aut dua), sed habere capitulum secundum ad vos cum celeritate hoc capitulo quodam volo. Est aestas, etsi mihi occupatio aestatis est, scribere quantitatem magnam operis meis possum. Posse complere hanc fabulam ante finem aestatis cogito.

    Fortasse interrogatis cur capitula mea singulariter brevia sint. Sunt rationes nonnullae. Cogito generaliter fabulas quae capitula brevia habeant faciliores legendo esse; capitula per se sunt consistendo pro legendo scribendoque loci innati. Insuper, propter seriem naturam fabularum mearum, facilior mihi et ita lectoribus meis magis placet est scribere vulgareque saepius capitula brevia; proinde capitula plura do recepioque frequentius attentionem ab additione capitulorum novorum.

    Sed est ratio alia. Modus operandi meus est scribere magna quisquiliarum tunc dare ad editorem meum ut dicat quid bonum sit foedumque. Capitulum crudum ante editorem meum paene quisqulias habet paucaque bonorum. Thematibus saepe pecco, sententiae meae nimis longae sunt alogaeque, personae dramatis imparia faciunt, etc. Editor meus egoque faeces verborum secamus ac cremum consequitur. Sic longus est modus scribendi.

    In summa, capitulum posterum mox ibit. Gratias vobis pro legendo ago.


    On the shortness of my chapters,

    Hello, my readers. I’m making this blog post to say that the next chapter of Subjunctive is almost done. It will be short (between a thousand to two thousand words), but I hope to have the chapter after that to you quickly. It’s summer, and though I have a summer job, I find that I can still get a lot of writing done on this story. I think I can complete this story before the end of summer.

    You might be asking why my chapters are so short. There are a few reasons. I think in general that novels that have short chapters are easier to read for the reason that chapters in themselves give natural stopping points both for reading and writing. In addition, due to the serial nature of my novel, it’s both easier for me to write and publish more frequently short chapters and thus get more attention from the frequent updates, and it pleases my readers.

    But there is another reason. My modus operandi is to write a good amount of garbage and then give it to my editor so he can tell me what is good and what is shit.  The rough draft of a chapter before I give it to my editor has a lot of a garbage and very little good: I often screw up the themes, my sentences go on too long and often make no sense, my characters sometimes act in odd and inconsistent ways, etc. So my editor and I cut away the dregs of the words and the cream subsequently rises. Such is the long method of writing.

    In summary, the next chapter will be here soon. Thank you for reading.


    3 comments · 263 views
  • 75w, 6d
    No New Chapter This Week

    Sorry, sorry!

    I’ve been pretty good at keeping updates coming at a regular basis for the past few weeks; but, damn, has school got me caught up in its deadlines, its hassles, its bureaucratic incompetencies. . . . No, I must stop that line of thought now, for this is not for me to start bitching to my readers about my life problems.

    So, Subjunctive! I haven’t forgotten, and I’m still hard at work. I’m hesitant to give time estimates as to when I’ll publish the next chapter, but it won’t be earlier than this week and it won’t be later than the end of the year. Chapter XIII is much longer than most chapters (unedited, it’s a little over 6k words, but there’s probably a lot of bloat I can cut out; and it’s mostly moldy old prose, so I gotta freshen it up a bit).

    To give you an estimate, I’ve written up to Chapter XX, and have most of Chapter XXI finished (each chapter ranging around 2k to 6k words). My plan is to have the entire story done by the end of August (but, then again, that’s what I told myself last year :twilightoops:). We’ll see.

    If you like it or hate it, leave a comment in the story! I may not respond to comments, but I do read them.

    1 comments · 127 views
  • 77w, 5d
    Chapter XI and the Future Subjunctive

    I just published Chapter XI of Subjunctive. And I can hear some of you now:

    :raritycry: “Nuh-uh! Errenax doesn’t know what he’s talking about! Spanish has an future subjunctive!”

    :trixieshiftleft: Before you leave your angry comment to complain and to express your displeasure at the lack of scientific rigor in my My Little Pony fan fiction, let me say that I knew that Spanish has a future subjunctive and wrote the chapter as you see it now anyway. And here are my reasons for doing so:

    1. This isn’t Spain. :rainbowwild:

    2. Spanish's future subjunctive is archaic.

    3. Subjunctive is not a textbook or scientific paper; Subjunctive is a work of science-fiction. As a science-fiction writer, I extend, romanticize, proclaim, glorify, extrapolate, and exaggerate scientific concepts in order to construct drama and plots.

    4. If you take a changeling’s word at face-value, you’re going to have a bad time.

    That’s all. I hope you enjoy the new chapter. :rainbowlaugh:

    1 comments · 103 views
  • 82w, 6d
    Chapter VII in the Next Few Days

    I’m making this blog post for two reasons: First, for the dozen or so people who were reading Subjunctive before it got published to Equestria Daily, thank you for your loyalty and for being with me from the start! EQD wanted me to make some amendments to the prologue, Chapter I, and Chapter II as conditions for being published. I have done so, but never where I feel it would be contrary to what I’ve originally intended (and the edits in every case make the story better). Don’t worry, you don’t need to go back and read again to make sense of the story.

    To the new people, welcome and thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy what I have in store.

    The second reason I’m making this post is that Chapter VII is oh so close to being done. It’s just passed my editor, and I’m going to give it one more proofread before I publish it.

    I’m really sorry about taking so long between updates (Christ, it’s been nearly a year now since I published Chapter I; I'm sorry if you've been following since the beginning :fluttercry:). I’m ashamed to admit that those first few chapters were published before the novel was done being planned. There came a bump where I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to take it, some crisis moments, lots of procrastinating, an entire summer of nearly nothing written.

    But don’t worry! All the narrative problems have been fixed now (I think), and I’m really excited to get this done, to show you what I have. University is a bit hectic, and I’m always struggling to find times to read and write and edit not only my own stuff but my friend and editor’s fic. (Thank you for your patience, Golden Tassel!)

    I’m making the time apart from school, and I’ll try to get these chapters published more frequently. I’ve written about thirteen chapters so far (unedited), and I hope to get those—and the whole story, for that matter—out soon.

    So, bear with me, gentle readers! I’m frustrated more than you are about this slow rate. But know that it’s just that: a rate—i.e., I’ve dropped nothing, forgotten about nothing, but I'm working; it may be slow, but I'm working. Every day I think about this fic and how to write it and edit it, what will be the best times to publish, how long it’s been, what about this plot device, etc. I’m a bit quiet, but I’m still here.

    To summarize, Chapter VII should be out in a few days (I hope!), and thank you all for reading!

    2 comments · 121 views
  • 91w, 4d
    Season 4 Premiere and Humor as Evil (MINOR SEASON 4 SPOILERS)

    Writing, reading, thinking, watching ponies. I submit to you that there is no better way to spend a Saturday.

    Season 4! I approached this with mixed feelings, a bit of enthusiasm, a bit of apprehension. Season 3’s premiere was mediocre at best, its episodes the same, its only saving grace its last episode.

    But I loved the premiere. It was lengthy (though a bit slow to kick off), had some great drama and value-conflicts, Discord (around whom this essay is devoted), and had some nice eye-candy. It was really nice seeing the girls again, and for the first time in a while, after too much cynicism and too many forebodings, I’m actually excited about My Little Pony again.

    With that preamble, let us now get to the thesis of this essay:

    Discord is horribly evil.

    Not just a little bit evil, not just Saturday-morning cartoon villain evil; but a deep, insidious evil—a deep hatred for the good. His whimsical, chaotic nature, his air of “not giving a fuck,” is not what makes him a villain; they are merely symptoms of his underlying nature, effects of his mindset and his weapon for evil. And though he only has one weapon to unleash upon the good, it is a weapon that he’s refined and has become adept with, so much so that it is with this alone that he can wreck havoc on the minds and bodies of those of the good:


    To explain why this is so evil, we need a bit of pseudo-philosophy:

    Humor is a human being’s reaction to an absurdity. A human laughs when he sees a contradiction collapse in on itself. This is why second best pony, Rarity, is indeed so funny: it is absurd and contradictory to see this prim and proper lady losing herself to a rock, or when her fake eyelashes fall off. She has this image, and the essence of the humor is to have this negated. When you see this contradiction, you laugh.

    The implication of this is that laughter is a reaction which destroys the integrity of concepts, and renders them . . . well, ludicrous. E.g., picture a salesman presenting with a smile on his face his idea for an enterprise to some interested investors; and, when he’s done, the investors say nothing but laugh. As a human beings, all watching are immediately aware of the entrepreneurs’ perception of the concept—they view it as contradictory, and therefore unintegrated in concept. The reaction is laughter.

    An artist can use humor in very subtle (and not so subtle) ways to negate things he thinks are necessary of being negated. The most obvious example of this is satire: a satirists paints, in a humorous light, things that he regards to be evil or destructive. By laughing, he (and if the satire is good, along with the audience) negates the integrity of these concepts, destroying them in concept.

    Discord is the exact opposite of a satirist: whereas a satirist uses humor to negate evil, Discord uses humor to negate good.

    And the most insidious part of all of this is that you’re not even aware of it. You think: “Discord is just being silly, and he does funny things, so I’ll laugh with him!”—and you permit yourself a laugh, you permit yourself even for a second to negate what he’s negating, and you don’t realize that what he’s negating is something good, and he’s already brought you over to his side (see the Season 2 premiere for a dramatization of this abstraction).

    What made me realize this was a certain something he said to Twilight (among other things in the same vein): “Congrats, by the way, on the promotion. You totally deserve it.”

    And I laughed. In fact, I laughed really hard. I laughed because the implication is that Twilight did not deserve it, and to see him say that she did is a conceptual contradiction (i.e., sarcasm).

    But the axiom or implicit assumption of Season 4 of My Little Pony is that Twilight did deserve it. My Little Pony is telling us that Twilight worked hard to get where she was, and if you cherish the message of My Little Pony and the view of good that it has, then you have to implicitly accept this too.

    Discord, naturally as the antagonist, disagrees with My Little Pony’s view of good. And his way of negating that view is to subject it to humor. And the most insidious part of it is Discord’s facade is one of innocuousness.; yet if you laugh with him, you’re also implicitly agreeing that the Mane Six’s struggles are meaningless and futile, that the message of My Little Pony is naive and unrealistic, just by your laugh. Your laugh implicitly accepts that he’s right.

    Of course, by virtue of the fact that you watch and enjoy My Little Pony, you don’t agree with him at least conciously and you see him as a destructive villain; but such is the efficacy of this villain that even if you consciously regard him as evil, he is able to pick out your subconscious contradictions and inconsistencies and expose them, and have you laugh at them, having you yourself negate your own premises. (I submit that if you are absolutely certain that what comes out of Discord’s mouth is unequivocally wrong, you will not find anything he says funny; like in the premiere of Season 2, he plays to your uncertainty, and he’s damn good at it.)

    Lines like the one above quoted are very characteristic of Discord, and he uses them all the time, ranging from the blatant to the pants-shittingly subtle. In the Season 2 premiere, I laughed when he said: “Maybe the magic of friendship will help you”—the implication is that such a concept is unsound and will not hold in the real world; the implication is that the whole theme of the show is false. But the theme of the show is not false. In the end, the magic of friendship does help the Mane Six. Yet it is Discord’s ingenious and insidious use of humor that gets the Mane Six to doubt themselves (when he gets them to doubt themselves, that’s when he wins); such is his insidiousness that he gets me to doubt myself and my enjoyment of My Little Pony—such that whenever I laugh with Discord, I, for a second, am aware of the literal ludicrousness of my situation: an adult man watching a show about talking colored horses for fun and solving things by blasting them with friendship. Even if there’s nothing wrong with that, he is able to depict it so effectively as absurd that he makes me laugh—and his use and aptitude with humor to focus its destructive elements upon the good makes him one of the most evil characters I’ve ever seen.

    Discord is a wonderfully well-written villain, exceptionally well-implemented, and I would like to see more of him in the show. The fact that he’s “reformed” (which really only means that he’s convinced the heroes that he’s on their side) only adds more opportunity for the writers to show how destructive humor can be.

    2 comments · 190 views
  • 96w, 8h
    Blank Slate Reading

    Have the lovely cogitosum666 tongue your cochlea for nearly ten minutes straight. Fuck if I know what he's saying; but, damn, he sounds good.

    0 comments · 140 views
  • 104w, 2d
    Lesson 1—capitalization conventions

    4 comments · 174 views
  • 111w, 5d
    A Review Proper: Murky Number Seven, by Fuzzy

    Earlier, I made a post of my first impressions of Fuzzy’s Murky Number Seven, my experience of the first ten thousand words or so. In that much time, I had quite a bit to say; though, like I said, that opinion should not be regarded in any way complete.

    It took me this long to read five chapters of Murky Number Seven (I told you I was a slow reader), which is 148,367 words; which is, at time of writing is a little over a fifth of the novel. Thus, I feel that I can form a opinion that is well thought-out and complete.

    Synopsis of Chapters One to Five: Murky Number Seven was born a slave and has been traded from master to master for the entirety of his life. Having never known freedom, having always been told what to do his entire life, he neither desires freedom nor has any will to desire anything. In addition, he’s a crippled pegasus pony and is forced to wear rags to cover his wings lest he subject himself to bigotry. On the cusp of adulthood, he gets traded to the industrialized Fillydelphia, where he toils day in and day out in smog, fighting to stay alive each day, watching his fellow slaves dying around him. After watching a unicorn slave fly out of the city with nothing but her magic alone, he is enraptured by the sight, acquires a mind, thinks of her every day, and gets a will to survive. He makes a fail escaped attempt but is saved by a slaver Protégé. Protégé explains that he saved him from being enslaved by someone named Chainlink Shackles, a slaver who utterly terrifies Murky. Nevertheless, Murky is thrown to a crowd who wants nothing better than to tear him apart, but he’s saved by a large earth pony named Brimstone Blitz. Brimstone explains that he needs Murky to save Glimmerlight, a mare under his protection, by getting her medicine. After a long fetch-quest, he does.

    Oh, Murky. You and your “greys” and your “foetuses” and your “centres” and your “armours” and your “favourites” and your “amongsts” and your fervid disdain of the oxford comma; you’re so consistently English. I’m waiting for you to write “a herb”; when it happens, I’ll squee from the overload of Englishness. If they ever made a radio drama out of Murky Number Seven, I wouldn’t be able to take it seriously if all the characters didn’t have some kind of British accent. Murky would sound like Oliver from Oliver Twist. Wicked Slit would sound like Helen Bonham Carter. Make this happen. Now.

    Now, the review proper:

    Just by this synopsis, some quick questions are raised, namely with the world-building:

    Why are pegasi so rare in the wasteland? Just because neither of the parents are pegasi doesn’t mean that they can’t have a pegasus. How does no one know that Murky is a pegasus? You’d think that whatever slaver sold him would use that as a selling point. Why can’t healing potions fix his crippled wings? Why can’t healing potions fix his terminal illness?

    In addition, the city of Fillydelphia strikes me as a position that is incredibly untenable. Murky sees his fellow slaves dying every day. They’re treated very poorly and they live in filth. Fillydelphia is depicted as a thriving, productive, city compared to the rest of the wasteland, but I can’t see how they can get anything done. How can they when they’re losing slaves left and right? Slaves are expensive; how could you just kill them without a second thought like that? The truth is is that slavery is a terrible way of getting stuff done, especially when it comes to industry. It may be free labor, but you really get what you pay for. Observe early 19th century America, and compare the industrial free North with the rural slave South; the North had a GDP double that of the South and was a much more prosperous society as a whole. Slavery may work for individual farms which require unskilled labor, but the greater the project, the more complex the stuff you have to do (and I imagine what Fillydelphia is doing is quite complex, judging by all the machinery around the place), the less effective it’ll be. I was recently told by a collector of firearms that you shouldn’t by Karabiner 98ks after a certain date (1942 I believe) since Germany was using slave labor at that point and the quality of the guns are not as good as the earlier makes. Also, the pyramids weren’t built by slave labor. Come on, working in the African sun and getting whipped any time you fell down? You’d get heat stroke in, like, ten seconds and then be useless. Nothing would get done.

    Lastly, unicorns can fly now? We see in the show that they levitate slightly off the ground now and then, but fly into the heavens? If that’s the case, why don’t all slave unicorns just fly away?

    But that’s fine, really. These actually don’t bother me. As long as they’re there simply for the sake of telling a story that could not otherwise be told and as long as they’re not really drawn attention to, I can overlook these. And I’m not one to complain that Murky’s a pegasus; if it makes it harder for him to live on earth, then I’m not one to complain about introducing more conflict possibilities. Let’s move on to the meat of the story and review.

    I really do like the serial nature of the work. This is how a serial novel should be: each chapter is a novel or a story in its own right, its own conflicts, its own characters, and each chapter pushes the main characters slightly toward a different point. In one chapter, they’ll encounter a certain situation and react in a certain way; in another chapter, another story, they may encounter a similar situation, but they’ll react in a slightly different way because of their past experiences. It’s interesting to see how things like this develop.

    Now, this may be just me, but I found that once Murky got his free will, the quality of the writing . . . while it didn’t decline strictly speaking, Murky starts to focus more on his own thoughts; and, to be fair, rightly so. After all, once his free will kicks in, it becomes a much more personal story. But his own thoughts aren’t really as . . . eloquent as his observations of things that are happening around him (how does he have such a great eye for architecture?). In true Fallout: Equestria style, he seems to like. To think in. Sentence. Fragments. It’s not nearly as irritating as in the original, nor as common, but it happens every so often, though not really enough to make the story a deal-breaker. It does kind of makes my eye twitch when I see two sentence fragments that would’ve been better served. As a single sentence.

    I learned of the story mostly from people telling me how sad and tragic it is, how it can warm your heart and break it at the same time. When I first started reading, the moment I realized the character had no free will, I was appalled. How could you write a story about that? Reading it would be like reading the code to a computer program. Here you have a character whose soul purpose in life is to get hurt. It was starting to look more and more to me like sadist porn.

    Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. And, to be fair, there are times where I have gotten emotional. In all that time, there were three moments that got me right in the feels.

    First, the whole “drawing himself with wings outspread and smiling,” for reasons I said in my first impressions post.

    Second, Murky’s description of how his wings were mutilated. Something about a shed, an anvil, a hammer . . . and that’s it. Fuzzy doesn’t go into intimate details and instead has the reader fill in the blanks for himself. A wonderful, horrible (in a good way), choice. Fuzzy correctly realizes that the details aren’t important; and, besides, any details he could have given would’ve been no worse than anything else that the reader’s already seen. No, rather, what’s important is the implication of the event. Murky’s grounding not only puts him in sticky situations that would otherwise be solved with the ability of flight, but the presence of his lame wings is a constant reminder to him and the reader of the horrible injustice of slavery. The act of dragging him into a barn and crippling his wings is symbolic of Murky’s choice and mastery of himself being taken away from him as a slave (all the more horrible now that he has free will; revealing that he was a pegasus before he had free will would’ve taken most of the impact of it away). One word comes to my mind every time I think of that—unfair. It’s just not fair! As such, it’s just enough for Murky to remind me of what happened to him to prod my heartstrings—every single time. If the act were described, it would have put more emphasis on the details of the act rather than the act itself, the former not important while the latter overwhelmingly is.

    Third, when Murky is being paraded around the city for the point of being humiliated and the mare from earlier stands right up to the scary Chainlink Shackles, the latter probably being four times larger and taller than the former, and says without a stammer, without a second’s hesitation, without a shred of doubt, despite knowing completely what’s going to happen to her afterward: “He has a name!” If nothing in this story is deserving of my feels, it’s this moment. No matter how big and scary evil looks, no matter how terrible and inhospitable the world looks, no matter how much the bullies and strongmen of the world try—the goodness of the world, no matter how small, will never be able to be put down. The feels. The feels.

    Note that it’s the unfairness that gives me the feels in the second example, not the mutilation itself. Note that it’s the mare standing up to Chainlink Shackles per se, not her getting hurt afterward, that gives me feels. I do get the feeling that Fuzzy tries to get the reader in the feels by just describing pain. And not once has it worked on me. Why? Pain is an involuntary, irrational response. It requires no thinking to understand. Sorrow is a much more complex cognitive process than pain; pain can barely even be called a cognitive process. When he gets hit and says that it hurts, I say: “Well, that generally what happens when you get hit. What else did you expect to happen?” What could potentially be sad are the reasons per se why he’s getting beaten up.

    There many moments when the story is clearly set-up to get me in the feels, but I didn’t—most of Murky’s getting-beat-up scenes. He keeps going on about “oh, this hurts” and “Oh, this really really hurts,” and “oh, this really hurts,” and “now, it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.” After a while, it gets hard to buy. Murky has gotten beaten up his entire life, and he has yet to convince me that a certain beating is unique, despite how hard he tries. This is one of the problems I have with the character Chainlink Shackles, in that Murky says that he’s so horrible and he’d rather die than go into his servitude—but I have a hard time buying that anything that Chainlink Shackles does to him was any worse than anything Whiplash or Wicked Slit used to do to him.

    This story also suffers from what I call Deus e Machina syndrome. Murky is always in some unsolvable pickle and he always looks like he’s about to die!—and then he’s saved by some unexpected event. Never before have I ever seen more irritating applications of this literary device. To be fair, it’s annoying in general. It’s the ultimate cop-out. To name a few: a unicorn flies away in a burst of light to save Murky from being killed in the arena. Unicorn out of the arena. Unicornis ex arena. Murky is about to get killed by the machine but is saved at the last second because a pony was in the way of him. A pony out of the machine—or rather, a pony into the death-machine so that Murky Number Seven may not have to. Caballio in machinam mortis ut Ater Numerus Septem non requirat. Murky has his torso blown open at the foot of the wall and should, by all rights, be dead—but is saved by Protégé. Protégé out of administration. Discipulus ex administratione. Murky is being torn apart by the crowd but Brimstone saves him. Brimstone out of the crowd. Sulfur e turba. This is not interesting! Hoc attractivum non est!

    The problem is that Murky needs to get into sticky situations for the sake of the plot but doesn’t really have the prowess to get out of said situations. He needs someone to save him. But it really is cop-out story telling.

    Yes, this story has technical problems. But I don’t despise the story. My personal barometer when it comes to telling whether I despise something or not is whether I start picking on little things. If I hated Murky Number Seven, this would be the point where I would criticize it for being calligraphically inconsistent with quotation marks. But I don’t. Every time that happened, I ignored it, because there were enough interesting themes in the story to make me judge such little errors as irrelevant.

    Much to my surprise, not only does Murky get free will but also gets the ability to desire. Fuzzy seems to be saying, blatantly, that value-choosing and free will are inextricably tied, that one can’t live without the other. This is a quintessential idea of romanticism, i.e., the greatest artistic movement in the history of mankind, and to have Fuzzy put it so blatantly is wonderful, something that not even most professional writers realize.

    Oh, what am I saying? I’m looking too much into it. Fuzzy probably doesn’t even know what romanticism is, much less know how to apply—

    Protégé raised an eyebrow, looking up from the book of interest.

            “No 'master', for me?  How unusual amongst slaves, usually they would be afraid of being punished for ignorance.  But are unusual to begin with, Murk, in more than one way as well.  The pegasus who tried to get over the Wall to win the freedom he was denied by birth...there is a certain romanticism to it, don't you agree?”


    I just came.

    Holy hell, this comment is win in a million different ways. Where to begin!

    Quick explanation: I touched on this earlier in my first impressions post, but for those not in the know, simply put, romanticism is the category of art dealing with the ideal, not the trivial, with what ought to be rather than what is. A picture of Murky smiling with wings outspread could be considered in the romantic vein, because he’s not being depicted as how he is but how he ought to be. Generally, though not a hard and fast rule, if a character is described as “larger than life,” he usually is from a romantic story—a hero how person ought to be.

    So, this comment is infinite win. Number one, using the word “romanticism” in this context establishes Protégé as the erudite scholar that he is. Two, he correctly identifies the essence of the plot that had taken place beforehand. Three, he gives his opinion on the matter shortly afterward, shedding some more light on the character. Four, this was a very meta-moment for me, a point where it felt like Protégé was speaking directly toward me, a moment where it clicked and I thought I understood him.

    Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming awesomeness of this comment, it doesn’t augur well for the future of the story.

    Ayn Rand once said that “every writer is a moral philosopher.” What she meant was that by the way a writer chooses his subject matter, by the way he chooses to present it, by the words he uses to convey the emotions he wants to be conveyed with such a subject matter, he makes a point, a sort of argument, stating how he views the world.

    In the rest of the conversation that follows, Protégé says, in essence: “Yes, that was a very romantic thought you had, Murky. But you’re in the real world now, and such romantic thoughts have no place in the real world.” It seems to me that Protégé doesn’t consider romanticism an art form worthy of attention, that he considers such ideas to be an escape from the real world. But this draws a hypocrisy on the character: He says that Murky needs to face what’s in front of him and not run away, yet Protégé makes a deliberate effort to not say the word “slave” and instead uses the word “worker.”  He says he wants to see Murky free, but then why doesn’t he just let him go? He’s his slave, after all.

    How does Protégé strike me? I would say he’s exactly like the character Discord: he has this cool, smooth voice that wraps around his victims, lulling them into a sense of security necessary for his purposes. His sentences go on and on, going from one point to the next; and it sounds really good, but disinterested bystanders will see that his words really go nowhere. I would say that Protégé is like Discord—the only difference is Discord doesn’t actually believe any of the stuff that he says. Discord knows that what he says is nonsense, but he says it because he knows that it’s how to get the things he wants. Protégé actually believes the rubbish that he says. Unlike Discord, Protégé strikes me as very earnest. If I needed to sum up Protégé in one sentence, I’d say: “A man who truly believes that good can be obtained by the application of evil.”

    Now, if this were a character depicted as a straight-up villain, such irrationality is to be expected and would only push the argument of romanticism. But Protégé is depicted in a very sympathetic light. Murky even comes close to calling him “good.”

    This is very strange for me. What is Murky Number Seven and Fuzzy trying to say? At the end of Chapter One, I thought that Fuzzy was saying that slavery is bad and romantic ideals are necessary to prepare people for the battles that they’ll encounter, but with the introduction of the character Protégé, a slaver (by depicting the character in a good light), Fuzzy seems to be saying that, perhaps, romanticism isn’t relevant, that romantic ideals can’t exist in the real world. And, perhaps, slavery isn't a bad thing.

    Be it remembered that I wasn’t interested in Murky Number Seven until Murky drew himself as a romantic character and he saw the unicorn rise from the battle arena in a flash of light, i.e., until the romantic elements were introduced. I don’t read novels to read about slaves in dirt and grime being whipped. I can read about that in newspapers.

    One of the great things given to Murky after the whole event at the Pit was the image imprinted in his head of a heroine, watching her rise into the heavens through her own volition, bound to nothing. Such image gives him strength and is quite uplifting to read about.

    Imagine my dismay when I was told that that unicorn was Littlepip!

    Murky is madly in love with Littlepip—oh, pardon me, the Stable Dweller. He’s in love with the Stable Dweller. Because, you see, he’s not actually in love with Littlepip herself. How could he be? He’s never met her. It’s made very clear that what Murky is in love with is the image of an ascendant heroine. In love with the exceptional in humanity.

    This is an interesting device, in that it gives Murky all the benefits and the strive that come with hero worship, but also makes the story yet more tragic. Because we, as the reader, know that Littlepip is not a hero. In Fallout: Equestria, Littlepip is presented as an unexceptional, average person. The reader, presumably, knows that Littlepip is not the divine being that Murky thinks she is, that she’s merely a drug-addicted, horny teenager at her worst and nothing more than a rampaging antihero at best.

    It would’ve been no stretch of the imagination for Fuzzy to create his own heroine, a symbol more than a character. He could’ve had her make a moving speech on top of a rampart during the slave rebellion, had the wind filling her hair with the light behind her, had her incredibly beautiful despite living the in the dirt and mud, and he could have had her leave herself in Murky’s memory with her own image of her ascent to freedom.

    But he didn’t. Instead, we have Littlepip.

    This choice of Littlepip as Murky’s image of the exceptional is not an accidental one. There are many tongue-in-cheek moments when Murky fantasizes about Littlepip. He’ll say stuff like: “Oh, this is what the Stable Dweller would do! I shouldn’t do this, because the Stable Dweller wouldn’t do this in so-and-so a situation!”

    And when this happens, when Murky recalls her in a way we know not to be true, the tone is one of humor or pity.

    Such hero worship gives Murky strength, empowers him. And the reader is supposed to laugh at the fact that Murky has Littlepip all wrong or shake his head with a knowing, smug smile and say: “Oh, Murky. If you only knew.”

    Why this choice, then? In his head, Murky has the image of a romantic ideal. But by Fuzzy making this image in his head that of Littlepip, the reader is inclined to agree with Protégé when he says that such images that Murky has are irrelevant and not pertinent to reality. Murky Number Seven seems to be saying that heroes don’t exist and perceptions of heroes are falsities.

    I must say when I was told that that was Littlepip, my enjoyment of the novel slackened somewhat. Hope, freedom, passion, love, Murky! No, actually, Littlepip. Huh . . . this is disappointing. I wonder if the novel would be more enjoyable or less enjoyable if you didn’t know that the unicorn was Littlepip. But, clearly, Fuzzy intended you to know, because there’s too much irony in the things that Murky says in regard to her for it to be an accident.

    The story begins to peter out around Chapter Four as I got more confused as to what the story is saying. At first, it looked like it was saying slavery is bad and freedom is good, that hope and idealism are necessary tools for conflicts you face in reality. But then Protégé, a slaver, comes along, and it doesn’t look like it’s that clear cut. By the way Protégé talks, it seems like, hey, maybe slavery isn’t such a bad thing after all. The novel doesn’t seem to want to take a stance. Brimstone saves Murky and is caring for a convalescing mare; but he’s also a raider—one of the worst. Protégé is a slaver, but he’s played up to have Murky’s best interests in mind.

    Is it a terrible story? No. Is it good? When it wants to be good, it’s really good; when it doesn’t, it’s bad. Is it well said? At times. Does it bring up themes worth discussing? Hell yes! Murky Number Seven has brought up some really complex themes and some really good feel moments. It’s a bit lacking in some aspects of the character department, but I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out to see how these people develop.

    And now the gloves come off.

    I was nice before when I was talking about stuff that was bad in the earlier chapters, because there were enough things that were good, really good, to make it seem petty to rip on the bad things. But the bad that comes next has nothing good in it to make me not want to restrain myself.

    I’m talking about Chapter Five; or, the Chapter That Killed My Desire to Continue Reading

    Chapter Five is when Murky and Brimstone go on a lengthy fetch-quest for anti-radiation poison for Glimmerlight. Which would be fine, really, if something happened in that chapter. If something went forward in that chapter.

    Nothing goes forward. If anything, things go backward as character traits regress, making it seem like things that had happened before never actually happened.

    Murky, throughout the chapter, goes about blindly obeying anyone who tells him what to do, whether it be a doctor, Brimstone, a guard, a slaver anyone. This would’ve been appropriate in Chapter One; it’s not appropriate in Chapter Five. Murky, throughout the chapter, seems to slowly lose his free-will—i.e., he starts to lose the only reason why Murky Number Seven is worth reading in the first place. And I’m not even looking too much into this. He even has this quick aside as he wonders if he’s losing his free will.

    Thus, the chapter is boring. Utterly, utterly boring. Insipid.

    Brimstone said something so profoundly stupid, so contradictory to anything he’s ever said, that I was actually appalled. When Murky is trying to cut off his wing and asks Brimstone for help, Brimstone says:

     “Wrong. are a coward, but only from standing up to what they think.  You're a pegasus, wings don't change that, Murk.  You'll always be one.  Something inside you, your soul, magic centre or whatever.  It's always going to be a pegasus.  Born for the clouds, bound to the open sky and all that other airy nonsense.  It's who you are.”

            He leaned closer.  I could have sworn I saw a knowing rise of an eyebrow.

            “You don't just turn your back on stuff like that.  It doesn't work that way.”

    You heard correctly, folks: This, coming from the guy—who sold himself into slavery because he wanted to turn his back on whoever he was before. This, coming from the guy who’s dedicated his life, quite literally in a sense, to changing who he is. What. What? What!

    This is stupid! You’re stupid, Brimstone! If you can’t change who you are, why are you here? Why the hell are you here, in Fillydelphia? Why the hell do you have such a close bond to Murky? Why do you protect him? Why are you helping Glimmerlight? What are you, you . . . you . . . stupid person!

    I mean . . . fu . . . fu . . . fudge!

    (I realize now that this takes place in Chapter Four, not Chapter Five. It still doesn’t make it any less stupid. If anything, it’s worse because the decline in the quality of the narrative started well before Chapter Four).

    Now, it’s completely believable that Brimstone would call Murky a coward for wanting to tear off his wings. I was expecting the conversation to play out like: “I don’t help cowards.” “I’m sorry, Brimstone, but I really do want to tear off my own wings!” “Yes, and that is what makes you a coward.”

    That would’ve been fine! It would’ve been shorter, it would’ve been poignant, and it would’ve said the exact same thing! But no, the conversation drags on until we get it kind of reluctantly said, and this stupid character contradiction tacked on at the end.

    You want to know how I know that this chapter is bad? Because it was at this point that I started to get angry about the inconsistency of quotation marks. Either use smart quotes, or don’t use them. Don’t pick and choose when smart quotes or regular quotes will suit you. Pick one or the other at the beginning and stick with it. If you don’t know how to use smart quotes, don’t use them. Also don’t pick and choose when you’ll use single quotation marks or double quotation marks; there are rules for when to use what and why. If Fallout: Equestria had any saving grace, it is because Kkat, either because she didn’t know how to use them or because she didn’t want to have to deal with them, didn’t use smart quotes. Either reason is a perfectly acceptable one to not using smart quotes. The Fallout: Equestria book printing project tried to make the quotes smart when they reformatted the thing; and because they didn’t know how to use them, they ended up fudging up the smart quotes (specifically, the smart apostrophes) completely. And now people have spent money to receive these books with bad quotes, because the publishers didn’t know how to use them. See? You are hurting other people when you mess up smart quotes.

    You see? I didn’t mind the bad quotes before, because there were good things to make me overlook them. But Chapter Five has me picking on smart quotes. It also has me picking on stuff like:

    Bloodbank was standing outside a room separated by a clear perspex viewing window.

    First of all, the “p” should be capitalized. It’s “Perspex.” It’s a trademark. I’m not even British, and I still know that. Secondly, why does the Perspex trademark exist in Equestria? Calling the material “Perspex” is exactly the equivalent as if Murky were to call a piece of tissue paper “Kleenex.” Out-of-universe. Immersion-breaking. There was no reason why you couldn’t have invented your own company.

    I was crawling through this desert of bad, boring story telling, reading about mindless action regarding characters who are taking actions unrelated to any of their personal values, parched, dehydrated, my vision going blurry—and then I saw a pool of water! A pool of water in the wasteland! And I was given enough energy to continue toward it, because it just looked too good!

    Murky is in the hospital. There’s only one bag of anti-radiation medicine left. But a doctor takes it. The doctor is about to hook it up to a dying patient, but then he leaves. Murky is left alone with the patient, and he has to decide whether to take it and presumably kill her or leave it and incur the wrath of Brimstone and lose Glimmerlight and her plans for escape.

    This is a great set-up! This is an amazing conflict! And to top it all off, who’s the patient? A weak, dying slave, who reminds Murky of Glimmerlight. A lesser writer would’ve made the patient Wicked Slit or another evil slaver, thereby influencing Murky, making it clear that one decision is bad and the other is good, making any conflict that Murky would experience unbelievable. But no, she’s a dying, fellow slave, who looks like she’s a good person. The only way this could’ve been set up better is if the patient were that mare from earlier whom Murky keeps running into every so often; but, at this point, I was thirsty and I really couldn’t complain. And the set up is good enough as it is!

    What a pivotal point for the character! Truly, he couldn’t be in a worse situation (only thing that could’ve made it worse is if the patient was the mare from earlier, but I can’t complain). So many questions are running through his mind, and he has to pick one, and whatever one he picks will define him forever for the rest of the story. I need it for my own protection, says Murky. But that would be stealing. How can I steal from this mare, who never did anything to hurt me, who looks like she’s suffering just as much as I am. But this is the wasteland, and she’d do the same to me if given the opportunity! But, no, that doesn’t justify it. It would be selfish to take it away. But taking it away wouldn’t be selfish, because I’m doing it to help Glimmerlight. But do I really care about Glimmerlight? Do I care about her or about escaping? Glimmerlight is a good person, Brimstone said so. But this mare looks like a good person too. Maybe she’s not! Maybe she’s a horrible person! Glimmerlight’s a better person, so kind, and she deserves it more! But how do I know that? I only have Brimstone’s word to go on that. Whom do I choose? Who am I? Can I condemn this mare to slavery? Pretend I do not see her agony? This innocent who bears my face, who goes to judgment in my place! Who am I? Can I conceal myself for evermore? Pretend I’m not the man I was before? And must my name until I die be no more than an alibi? Must I lie? How can I ever face my fellow man? How can I ever face myself again? My soul belongs to ’Pip, I know; I made that bargain long ago. She gave me hope when hope was gone! She gave me strength to journey on!

    Who am I? Who am I? I’m . . .

    Oh, wait, I forgot. The story is suffering from Deus e Machina Syndrome. Just when Murky has to make a choice. A nurse shows up. Oh, it’s okay, Murky! You don’t have to make a choice! You can have your cake and eat it too! You can get some more medicine by going on another boring, lengthy fetch-quest to find a doctor in a basement of some building, who in turn will send you on another boring, lengthy fetch quest.

    Doctor out of the basement. Doctor e carpisculo. The water I saw earlier in the desert was only a mirage. Aqua quam in deserto antehac videbam spectrum tantummodo erat.

    Or, in layman’s terms: cop-out. This is quite perhaps the greatest literary cop-out I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

    Why? Why! The set-up was so excellent! And this was not the only one! There were many great set-ups, and they were all resolved more or less satisfactory! The contemplation of suicide, for example. Fuzzy, I know you can set up profound conflicts like this. Not many can do that. Why did you have to resolve this one in the worst way possible?

    Murky goes back to the mall and gets humiliated by Chainlink Shackles in front of everyone. Chainlink Shackles likes to tease Murky that he’s his father. It sometimes pains me to see that Murky is so spineless. If it were up to me, Murky would say something like: “You know what’s genetic also? Dick size. You think my body is small? You ain’t seen nothing yet. And that’s inherited from the father’s side.”

    Come to think of it, where’s Brimstone? He usually goes all rampaging when Murky gets beaten up. Why doesn’t he beat up Chainlink when he’s whipping Murky? It’s not like he wouldn’t be able to take him on, and it’s not like he wouldn’t have any help. The raiders would join in; they like blood after all. They’d be able to overwhelm the guards no problem.

    And just when I think the stupidity in this chapter would end, Murky proves me wrong:

    One last desperate idea formed as I reached into my saddlebag for the mine I'd hidden in there.  I heard the Magister scream something as he saw it from outside.  Well...better dead than enslaved!

    “Better dead than enslaved”? What? But isn’t the entire point of the story that it’s better to be enslaved than dead? Where the hell did he get this “better dead than enslaved”? If he truly thought this, why hasn’t he killed himself years ago? What! What! What!

    Ugh. And so the chapter ends.

    That chapter was awful, just god-awful. It’s nearly as bad Chapter 4 of Fallout: Equestria, i.e., action for action’s sake, action that brings no character development, no explanations, nothing. I was actually told I could skip this chapter. Perhaps I should have. This killed all my interest in the story, and it’ll be a while before I pick it up again.

    The review ends here. Thanks for reading!

    As opposed to the words before, what follows next is extremely subjective, personal opinions, and should not be construed to be held against the story by any standards. My personal feelings on the matter in no way say whether the story and the characters are good or not. You can stop reading here if it pleases.

    I don’t like a single person. I hate Protégé, Brimstone, Chainlink Shackles. What I feel toward Murky is pity, and that’s not a good, fulfilling feeling. I could potentially like the mare whom Murky keeps running into, but she hasn’t had enough scenes to make me comment. Much like the show House of Cards, though it’s good when it wants to be, it’s hard to keep me engaged, since everyone in it is either evil, horrible, or abject.

    Heroes? Are there any? I get the feeling that Murky Number Seven says that there are no heroes. There’s just a scale of victims to victimizers. It seems to be saying that you’re one or the other, or some shade in between. What a horrible concept!

    Brimstone saves Murky and is trying to save Glimmerlight. Is he a good person? No, he can’t really be called good, since he still strongly identifies as a raider. Perhaps Protégé, is he a good person? Perhaps he could be. He seems to frown upon violence, brutality, and he’s quite smart and quick and persuasive. Is he a good person? No, he can’t really be called fully good, since he’s a slaver.

    Why all these shades of gray? Why all this unopposed evil? Where’s the struggle that’s not totally one-sided? Where’s all these elements to keep me engaged? Why does good not stand a chance? Is Murky Number Seven saying that good is impotent?

    To me, Murky seems to be the only character on the spectrum completely opposite of victimizer. But that means he’s merely a victim. I do feel I could really like the mare he keeps running into, but where is she? Three appearances in all this time?

    What bothers me the most? Why is Fillydelphia depicted as industrial and productive? Murky Number Seven try to depict slavery as bad, but it undermines its own argument by saying that Fillydelphia and Red Eye have accomplished the more than anyone else have been able to. Is slavery evil or not? If yes, then why has more value been produced by it than free trade? How do you judge good? By how much progress it makes? If so, then slavery is good and lack of slavery is evil. Lack of slavery keeps the wasteland stagnant while slavery seems to push it forward. It seems to me that the tone is that people who would want to fight slavery would also fight progress. But still, Murky Number Seven goes out of its way to show how terrible slavery is.

    What is it, people? Is slavery good or bad? Are Red Eye and Protégé good or bad? Enough with the gray! Take a stance!

    5 comments · 717 views
  • 115w, 3d
    Book Review: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

    I’m mad. Really fucking mad. Like, mad-to-the-point-where-I-just-want-to-punch-something-until-my-fist-breaks.

    I’ve read things I haven’t really loved before but which are technically flawless (e.g. Ayn Rand’s We the Living), and I give them the praise that they’re due. I’ve read things that are overrated, but I can understand why people like them (e.g. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird), so I don't rip on them too hard. I’ve read things that are bad but I like as a guilty pleasure (e.g. pretty much everything Dan Brown’s ever written, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six). Hell, I’ve even read things that are bad because the writing is bad and the characters are bad, the execution falls flat in pretty much every regard, but they don’t offend me because, under it all, you can see someone really wanting to tell a story, this passionate thirst to really convince me that what he’s saying is important—such that, though I will pan the story for its execution, I do, believe it or not, carry a little bit of respect for the effort made (e.g. Kkat’s Fallout: Equestria).

    John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces falls into none of these categories. This is not only the worst thing I’ve ever read in my entire life, but it offends me that the author would even think of publishing something like this.

    The story takes place in 1960's New Orleans. And inconsequential stuff happens to some inconsequential people. There. You’ve now read A Confederacy of Dunces. I do not feel sorry for having spoiled it for you. By virtue of the fact that you’re a human being, you have the god-given right to have Dunces spoiled for you and to not be subjected to this abomination of literature.

    The story is completely plotless. Things happen in it, but everything that happens is meaningless. Every action is unrelated to every other action, and the “story” progresses as if you’re not so much a reader watching the building up of a plot releasing with an explosive climax—it reads like an encyclopedia of a bunch of lowlives in New Orleans. “Here the lowlives do this; now, the lowlives do that; now the lowlives talk about things that require no effort on the part of the reader to comprehend; now the lowlives say something that has no intellectual merit whatsoever.” When I say that the story is “plotless,” I mean that in the same way that a real person’s life is plotless—he wakes up, goes to work, argues with his boss, comes home, argues with his mom, masturbates, and then goes to bed. I'm not joking. That's seriously the kind of events that John Kennedy Toole considers important enough to tell us.

    That is not a story. That is not a plot. At best, at best, it’s the potential for a single episode of a poorly-made sitcom.

    Maybe it would’ve been more tolerable had the characters actually been interesting people or funny. They’re neither of those things. They’re lowlives in the lowest sense of the word. They’re all stupid as hell. There’s not a single smart person in the story. Neither are there any good people. They’re all stupid, worthless people talking about stupid, worthless things. Every character is horrible, whiny, insipid, caricatured, annoying, and utterly repulsive. They talk about bowling, about their jobs, about drinks, have domestic disputes, talk about inanity, inanity, inanity, inanity—inanities! That's literally all the conversations in the entire book!

    Jones is a particularly horrible character. He warrants his own paragraph. I experienced Dunces through an audiobook. I swear to god—if I hear “Heeey!” or “Wooaaah!” or “Oooh-weee!” again, I can’t be held responsible for the hate crimes that I will no doubt perpetrate on humanity.

    What kept me from blowing my brains out through the whole thirteen and a half hour torture? A couple things. One, I thought this was some cleverly-disguised satire or social commentary, which would render itself all the more witty when I realized exactly what Toole was criticizing. There’s nothing. The story drags on from event to event, from inane comment to inane comment. A quarter of the book is a husband and wife arguing. A quarter of the book is a mom arguing with her thirty year-old son who lives with her. A quarter of the book is a black guy saying nothing more intellectually stimulating than “oooh-weee!” The last quarter of the book is the manager of a bar selling pornography, swearing at the black guy for not working hard enough, and swearing at the stripper for not being competent enough. Oh, and there’s this little bit about gay people. Yes, that’s literally all I can say about it. There's this part with gay people. Don't ask me why they're there; don't ask me what purpose they serve to the story. Because I honestly couldn't tell you, and I don't think there's a reason anyway.

    There’s no intellectually stimulating commentary or satire. It’s just dumb, dumb, and dumb.

    I'm sorry if my review isn't particularly intelligent. I should probably not be reviewing this directly after I've finished the book. I should let it simmer for a few days, let my opinion mature, but I need to make a note here. If ever, in the future, I think "Hey, perhaps Dunces wasn't so bad," I'll have this blog post to look back at and remind me of the vile and filth that I had subjected my ears to.

    Sunk cost bias, you filthy, filthy whore. This is how it works: you start something and then realize you're not enjoying yourself. You then then think: "Oh, maybe it will get better," and then read a bit more. As time and time progresses, you finally realize that you're only hating it more as it progresses. Then, there comes a point where you can barely stand it, but then you go: "Oh, well I'm almost done. I might as well just finish it." And then you finish and then you hate yourself. That's sunk cost bias. And I hate it. I hate it.

    One other thing kept me hesitant from putting down the book: sometimes, the narrator states a description in a very original and rather witty fashion—occasionally. Ignatius Reily, I must admit, has some very funny comments. It’s quite humorous to hear a fat guy clothed in lumberjack outfit, going around and screaming in a voice identical to Foghorn Leghorn, stuff like: “Do I believe such filth? What degenerate produced this abortion?!” or, when he goes to the movies: “They probably both have halitosis! She's no virgin—rape her!” Every time he says the word “abortion,” I do kill myself laughing, but only because the guy reading the book says it like Foghorn Leghorn.

    Ignatius is nothing but a walking punch-line. And that’s fine. That’s a completely legitimate (and, I must admit, at times humorous) narrative device. And I did laugh, at times. But you do not base a full-length novel on characters that are just punchlines—especially if the punchlines are more often than not not funny. Ignatius is funny at times. But there is no amount of humor that can justify making a full-length novel concerning the occasional witty comment.

    John Kennedy Toole committed suicide after two publishers rejected the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces. He got it published after his grieving mother pushed the manuscript into the face of another publisher, telling him that it was good. Either this publisher had a serious mental condition that makes him a danger to our very civilization or his publisher’s critical eye was mitigated by human sympathy for a grieving mother. I’m inclined to think it was the latter.

    In conclusion, to this book, I can only say, in the manner of Ignatius Reilly: “Do I believe this literary abortion that has assaulted my very psyche?”

    Alright, I'm feeling a bit better now.

    4 comments · 282 views
  • 118w, 3h
    First Impressions: Murky Number Seven, by Fuzzy

    After I posted my incredibly irreverent and scathing review of Fallout: Equestria (which, to my wonderful surprise, /r/falloutequestria seemed to like), people had a few things to say to me. Here are some quotes (I paraphrase):

    “Oh, give it twenty chapters! It gets better after twenty chapters.”

    “Oh, read Project Horizons instead! It’s not as well-written, but it’s good!”

    “You might like Murky Number Seven. I think you’ll find it has everything that you thought was lacking from Fallout: Equestria.”

    Murky Number Seven is great. Fuzzy has a very deliberate, slow way of telling a story.”

    Murky Number Seven is my favorite! But it’s very, very depressing.”

    Murky Number Seven!”

    Murky Number Seven!”

    Murky Number Seven!”

    Alright, alright, shut up! I got it!

    I don’t usually read pony fan fictions, but after enough recommendations, I couldn’t avoid this one. I started reading last night.

    Now, I usually read a few chapters before forming an opinion. And, in addition, I’m an exceptionally slow reader. I’ve only read about half of “Flying Without Wings” so far (took me two hours); so this is not a “review” but more of a “first impressions,” and this opinion should be regarded as in no way complete. I would want to wait, to write a proper review, but I was amazed that, even after the first ten thousand or so words, there is so much to say about this thing.

    To begin, let me start off by stating my three favorite novels of all time:

    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

    What do these have in common? They’re all romantic epic/adventure novels. They have adventures that take place on massive scales, are all thought-provoking; and all have conflicts, struggles, and conversations that are all timeless. The characters in all these are larger-than-life, depicted not how people actually are but how they ought to be; the plots are moved solely by their choices. Their values conflict with one another; and each character has to make a choice, and that choice, depending on whether or not it is consonant with their values, moves the plot in one way or another. Nothing in these stories is left up to God, Providence, outside powers, acts of nature—in these stories, you have the plot moved solely by the choices of the characters involved. And, wow, are these characters memorable. Everything they say seems thought out hours in advance; they know, for the most part, exactly what to say when to make the maximum impact. And, above all, I can’t say about any of the action scenes in any of these novels “it’s just an action scene.” Every action scene has a purpose; they’re all connected in some way to the values of the characters.

    After reading this, you might say to yourself: “As opposed to what? What stories don’t have characters that are larger than life? What stories aren’t entirely influenced by character decisions? What stories have action unconnected to everything?”

    To answer the second question, characters who are written to emulate real people. To answer the third question, stories like those Roman dramas, with their whole deus ex machina thing (stories where the characters are powerless, where their actions are futile, etc.). To answer the fourth question, stories that I see no point to (see Chapters 1 to 10 of Fallout: Equestria for a perfect example of action for the sake of action).

    With that in mind, let’s dive into Murky Number Seven.

    The story starts off simple enough: the life of someone born into slavery. It’s goes into more and more horrible detail as it progresses while revealing very little about our narrator, Murky Number Seven. The best way to describe my reaction is one of shock and disgust. But it was shock and disgust connected to nothing. It didn’t seem like there was a reason for me to be shocked and disgusted.

    No matter, I thought. It’s just setting the stage for our narrator and his struggles and his conflicts and his desires, etc.

    Whatever the opposite of “larger-than-life” is, that’s Murky Number Seven. He’s small, weak; his past-time is crying, getting beaten up, and stepped on. He describes his life with vivid detail. Each sentence he says is more horrible than the last.

    As shock and disgust followed shock and disgust, I still waited for the character motivations. I thought I knew where this is going. Slave stories are nothing new: you usually have one or a group of slaves who risk everything for a hint of freedom, or a few who work and hope that one day they’ll be free? Note the conflict here: the slaves want to be free while the masters want to keep the slaves.

    So, I was thinking, is Murky Number Seven a slave that will risk it all? Or is he a slave that will just keep quiet, his protests being all in his head, waiting, surviving, until he can be free? Well, I thought, after this description of horribleness and wretchedness, I’ll find out.

    But it doesn’t stop. The details climb more and more.

    I was getting worried. I had my suspicions that Murky Number Seven wasn’t an individual, that he wasn’t a slave; that he was just a black hole—not even that, because a black whole has mass and darkness. I worried that Murky Number Seven was the worst thing a character could be: nothing. A literary device that leaves no room for plot, no room for conflict, no room for anything. That the descriptions of violence and torture were just there for their own sake, for that cheap shock value. But, I thought again, he’s a slave; there’s no possible way that he’s nothing. A slave has to be something. That word alone carries so much, and he—

    And then we’re told that his cutie mark is a pair of shackles.

    And then I realized it. I think he may have explicitly said it once or twice, but I glanced over it. But it hit me then when this was revealed:

    Murky Number Seven is nothing. He’s not a character, not even an entity. He’s nothing.

    He’s not a slave who would risk it all for freedom. He’s not a slave that damns the masters under his breath. He’s nothing.

    He has no thoughts other than to tell the reader what’s happening around him (very few parts of the narration are actually what he thinks); he has no desires, no dreams, no wishes (he thinks those who risk everything for freedom are stupid for dying).

    And, worst of all, he has absolutely no volition.

    And I looked back at all the descriptions of slavery, and it struck me: Because he has no volition, there is no conflict in this story, i.e., there is none of that "thing" which makes a story a story, a plot a plot.

    Absolutely none. Murky Number Seven’s cutie mark is a pair of shackles. He has no volition of his own. He does things because his masters say so. “I get beaten? That’s because my masters told me I should be beaten. What other way would there be?” And I realized that, because Murky Number Seven tells very little about how he thinks, everything that I, the reader, thinks is depressing, comes from me projecting my own feelings onto him. Him, on the other hand, doesn’t know; he doesn’t know that the abuses are actually abuses. He’s like an animal we feel sad for—but we’re only putting our own silly human emotions on him, when in reality, he doesn’t feel those things.

    He’s a slave because that’s who he is. He does things for his masters because he’s a slave and that’s who he is. He gets beaten up because he does things for his masters because he’s a slave and that’s who he is. There’s no conflict of values here. His cutie mark is a symbol for slavery. And he’s a slave. What more can be asked of him?

    And all of this, the actions of this non-character, taking non-actions, in a non-conflict—all of this is horribly, horribly well-written.

    The amount of detail describing the actions is horribly thorough. The descriptions Murky Number Seven’s tortures and the treatment of the masters are vividly gruesome. The fog, that stench that hangs constantly over Fillydelphia can be felt to hang in the nose. I read a fifty-word long sentence, and it seems like each word has been deliberately chosen to be more terrible than the last. I read the sentence and I think: “What part of that sentence had even an atom of hope and possibility?”

    When Murky Number Seven mentions his drawings, I thought that that would show that he wasn’t unconscious, that he had some presence, that he knew what ought to be and that his art would be the outlet for that. I thought his art would be the medium in which he would be able to externalize his thoughts. Maybe he’s just not a good narrator (he's certainly a good describer; as I've said, what's actually happening is horribly well-written). Maybe he can’t describe what he feels with words. Maybe it’s only in drawing that he can depict what he thinks. Maybe his art would give me the reason to read about him. Maybe his art would make this non-character a character.

    I was wrong. He draws the world exactly as he sees it. He draws charred bodies and smoking craters. He has no more artistic skill than a camera.

    Murky Number Seven cries because he cries. He’s a slave because he’s a slave. He takes orders because he’s a slave because he’s a slave. And he draws what’s around him because that’s what’s around him. I was shocked when he describes all these things, but I could not feel bad; to feel bad for someone, he has to be something. Murky Number Seven is not.

    It’s hinted that other slaves kill themselves for freedom, but we don’t follow them. We only follow Murky Number Seven. And, between him and his masters, there’s no conflict of values. “Getting beaten up” is not a conflict; masters are supposed to beat up slaves. If the master thinks it’s right for him to be a master and the slave thinks that it’s right for him to be a slave, then the act of a master beating up a slave has no conflict of values.

    There is no conflict. All we have are excessive descriptions of goriness. The more I read, the more the story looked to me to be nothing more than sadist porn. And it was at that point that my cynicism started to increase exponentially:

    “Oh, he runs into the only girl slave! What a stupid love interest! Oh, he blushes when he looks at her but he has no desire for mares? Oh why, oh why, am I not surprised!” Just enter The Pit and be done with it, you nothing, I was thinking.

    But no, he has to draw first. He’s thinking about her. Oh, he’s going to draw her, and it’s supposed to be sweet, and all that. How are you going to draw her, nonentity? Covered in mud exactly how you saw her? Ugly exactly as you saw her? And we’re supposed to go “aww” and stuff, right?

    He sketches and sketches and sketches . . .

    Hurry up with that picture and die already! As horrible as it might sound, I was starting to sympathize with the slavers. At least they had values. At least they were some people. At least they were characters.

    That took forever! Alright, how ugly did you make her?

    He didn’t draw her. He drew himself. Alive, at that.

    Alright . . . that gave me a moment to pause. I wasn’t expecting that. Still, he’s drawn himself before a million times. What? Are you missing an eye this time in your picture? Are you an animated corpse, your brain drawn ten feet from your body? Are you . . .

    He’s smiling in it.

    He doesn’t even know what a smile is. And he drew himself smiling.

    And that’s when I felt the punch to my stomach as, suddenly, all matter in the universe rushed toward the empty space that was calling itself Murky Number Seven.

    For the first time in his life, Murky Number Seven has the image of a romantic character. Not only that, but he depicts himself as it. He depicts himself as a romantic character—him as he ought to be. He knows what is and what ought.

    To love someone, you have to first love yourself.

    In that instant, a million conflicts of value rushed into the story. Subsequently, when Murky Number Seven cries in his corner, I cried with him. When he heard the bones of his allies cracking, I cowered with him. When he said he didn’t want to die, I believed him. I think he may have said that he didn’t want to die before that, but I didn’t believe him; it sounded too hollow.

    I had been reading for two hours, and I had to take a break after the image of the pony flying without wings. I took a break when Murky Number Seven has his first desire—to be free.

    In that one instant, Murky Number Seven became a character. He now has thoughts, desires, and wishes. And they’re all in conflict with his masters. And there will be a struggle and a story (how well that plays out remains to be seen).

    This story is as promising as hell, and I will get back to reading it (it’ll take me a while; years, even), and I fully expect to cry with Murky Number Seven when he describes, with amazing detail, everything that happens, everything he thinks and feels. A reaction like that (which I’ve done my best to document) has never been gotten out of me by a fan fiction before.

    I don’t know if you did this all on purpose, Mr. Fuzzy; I don’t know if you knew that the story had no conflict, that you set it up that way, that you knew that no meaning to the story would come until you demonstrated that Murky Number Seven had desires; that you knew that when you did, it would make everything beforehand and everything to come have meaning. I don’t know if you had all this in mind; but, regardless, I will say it: Well, played, sir. Well-played. Murky Number Seven drawing a picture of him smiling is symbolically one of the most profound things I have ever read.

    5 comments · 916 views
  • 125w, 6d
    Les Misérables

    0 comments · 333 views
  • 127w, 3d
    Book . . . err, audiobook review—In Search of the Castaways; or, the Children of Captain Grant, by Jules Verne

    I believe it was David Sedaris who said that if people who like books are called bookworms, then it logically follows that people who like books on tape are called tapeworms.

    I am loathe to read two books at once, simply because it’s a reflection of my poor attention span, i.e., it’s like admitting to myself that I can’t finish one book before starting another. Though I make an exception for books on tape: the corporeal copy is for sitting at home and reading, and the book on tape is for when I’m out and about. The first book on tape I listened to was Mogworld, by Yahtzee, written by Yahtzee, read by Yahtzee, and I can’t imagine any other way to experience the book. An excellent listen. Don’t buy the book; buy the audiobook. It wouldn’t be the same without Yahtzee’s voice.

    Audiobooks are great; it’s like reading, but you don’t feel like a lazy asshole. Imagine my initial joy when I found! The Project Gutenberg of audiobooks!

    Unfortunately, there were two drawbacks to this discovery. Number one, when I started listening/reading to Mogworld, I found that my OCD extended to audiobooks as well. The “fifteen seconds back” option for audiobooks is a blessing and a curse. Number two, Librivox is free, and all the books are read by volunteers. Most often than not, the chapters are read by different people; some are good, but most are bad. And, Murphy’s Law kicking in, the good ones are the busy ones who don’t have time to volunteer their voices for audiobooks, and the bad ones are the ones who like to narrate the most. I guess you get what you pay for, but I will be more cautious in the future.

    So, Jules Verne! You may know him as the author of such classics as Around the World in Eighty Days, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, the last of which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. It’s probably one of the greatest adventure novels ever written, and Captain Nemo is an incredibly intriguing character. The only flaw in an otherwise perfect book are the lists upon lists of fish; but, really, if you ignore that, the book is flawless. The translation by William Butcher is amazing. It’s just a great overall book.

    I found that Jules Verne wrote a sequel called The Mysterious Island which wraps up the events of the Nautilus after its mysterious fate. But, according to the Wikipedia page, it’s both a sequel to Leagues and another book, one I didn’t know, one that the North American Jules Verne Society doesn't have a page forIn Search of the Castaways; or, the Children of Captain Grant. Normally, I like to research about translations quite extensively before diving in, but there only appeared to be one translation in existence. Though I had no interest in the book, I wanted to read it just so I could read The Mysterious Island. I downloaded the audiobook and I spent a few weeks listening to it.

    Premise: Lord Glenarvin, a Scottish nobleman, is aboard his yacht with his new wife on a pleasure cruise. A shark attacks the boat, and they kill it. They cut it open, and what’s this? A convenient plot device—I mean, a message in a bottle? Some Scotlanders are shipwrecked? They have been for the past two years? Well, it’s up to Lord Glenarvin, his cousin Major McNabbs, the castawayed captain’s two children whom they looked up as soon as they returned to Scotland, a pompus and pretentious French geographer who joined the expedition by accident, along with any other allies they might pick up along the way, to find the marooned Captain Grant at any cost!

    Let me just say at first that the audiobook sucks. For the most part, the volunteers suck, and it’s quite unnecessary that they give that “disclaimer” at the beginning of every chapter. It’s so jarring to listen to different people between every chapter, and for every good narrator, there’s ten shitty ones. Would not recommend. You’re probably better off reading it.


    Jules Verne is a master of florid prose. The descriptions of the land and the environment are incredibly vivid. Though there are some descriptions of things that are irrelevant, though Verne’s obsession with flora and fauna are still there, it’s not obtrusive, and it’s quite relevant, all things considered. One moment occurs where the party encounters some cattle headers, and Verne describes in detail how they got there. He’s a master of historical and geographical trivia, which he shows through the character Jacques Paganel. It’s actually pretty interesting stuff.

    Speaking of the party, the characters, for the most part, are fun to listen to, and they play off each other quite well. Each has his own personality, and each clashes with the rest. For a while, I thought that the banter between Paganel and McNabbs was thinly-veiled flirtation (one of Paganel’s first words are “But to-day, captain, it gives me great pleasure to begin my intercourse with you.”).

    Actually, come to think of it, it’s really only Paganel. This character had me laughing all the way to the end. His entrance is humorous, and his intonations have that stereotypical Frenchness that I can’t help but laugh at. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that he was a character written by an Englishman who was making fun of the French; it’s good to see Jules Verne harbors no antipathy to the stereotypes of his native country. Paganel brings to the group his usefulness and his entertaining quirks, and he’s just overall a great character to listen to.

    It has a great climax, and it had me on my seat until the end (that is, the part from where they got captured by the savages, to the end of the book). The descriptions of the savages were very visceral, horrifying, and real; it actually made me fear for the fates of the characters, making me wonder what would happen, made me bite my fingernails in apprehension and terror. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t touched and close to tears at the end. I don’t want to say any more than that, for fear of giving spoilers; but, really, this is a courtesy on my part only, and you have no right to complain if you receive spoilers when reading a review of a one hundred and forty year old novel.


    There's a reason why Verne is not known for this novel and a reason why the novel has faded into obscurity. The book, for the most part, is kind of . . . shit. I’ve already said my complaints with the Librivox recordings, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the book, really.

    To begin with, all the women are awful characters. They’re whiny, they contribute nothing to the group, and the men always have to make concessions to them (e.g., carry them across rivers; having to fit out a wagon, because god forbid they should have to walk!). They are such useless characters that you wonder why Verne thought it necessary to include them in the first place. You could argue that this was just the nineteenth century view of women, but The Count of Monte Cristo never had women actually hinder the plot, and Les Misérables has Eponiné standing up to a street gang without batting an eyelash. My only guess is that Verne’s editor, whom I’m told was very hindering to Verne and his work, thought the novel was too much of a sausage-fest and wanted some women to “increase the audience.” As it stands, they are absolutely useless characters; I hated them, and I hated their whining.

    The characters, for the most part, are all forgettable. All you can say about Lord Glenarvin is that he's the hero; all you can say about Major McNabbs is he's the gruff military stereotype; all you can say about Mary Grant is that she's the flimsy love interest for John Mangles, the latter being the yacht's captain is all you can say about him. And, actually, the relationship between John Mangles and Mary Grant probably would be considered morally objectionable in our day (she's sixteen, and he's thirty)—you so silly, Victorian era.

    And the plot in general is . . . well, it’s not bad in the strictest sense of the word; it’s just . . . shallow. It’s just a typical adventure story. It involves walks across desert plains, fights with wolves, pirates, savages . . . boring, tired stuff. A lot of it is just walking, and I found my mind straying; the book was not able to engross me until the end.

    It’s just that I expected a bit more from Jules Verne; this guy was writing about electric-powered submarines in a world when man barely understood how coal worked. Yes, Leagues is the sequel to this book, and Castaways is vastly inferior to it, but still—to go from Leagues to Castaways was a massive disappointment.

    There’s really not much to say. The plot is extremely generic: set out to the land, walk across it, encounter hazards of nature, make mistakes, pirates, good-doers, evil-dooers, etc. In fact, the entire first two books of the novel are useless to the plot, and you could probably start at book three without missing much.


    The book is so damn forgettable. Jacques Paganel was great—but that's really just about it. If you’re interested in Jules Verne, you will not want to start with this novel. I recommend Leagues. If you’re a diehard adventure-story fan, or if you want something to read on the beach, something stupid, something that doesn’t require any brain power to read, you may like it; but, in my opinion, there are so many better adventure stories out there. But, it’s free to read and to listen.

    And I’m not sorry I listened to it. I have all the context for The Mysterious Island now, so that’s good.

    Oh, what was that song? It hit me while I was in the bathroom:

    It’s the theme song to Penn and Teller: Bullshit!. Why I thought it had to do with spies, why I thought it was a cartoon, I’ll never know. My brain is such an asshole.

    But doesn’t matter. It was killing me, and I’m so glad I know what it is now. I can rest easy. I can get back to life.

    1 comments · 155 views
  • 128w, 2d
    The Discovery of the Greatest Speaking Verb That Has Ever Graced the English Language.

    I used to be a big fan of the speaking verb "said." It's small, only four letters, doesn't detract from the dialogue (i.e., the most important part that the reader should take away with him), but still allows the reader to know what is being said. Your eyes skim over it without staying too much on it, but you still understand what is being done.

    Not anymore. "Said" is perhaps the most bland speaking verb in the English language.

    This only recently occurred to me. I read the verb in Les Misérables. My eyes lingered on it, and it was love at first sight. Look at it. It's beautiful:

    "That's true, excuse me!" ejaculated Thenardier, "you are quite right."

    Behold it in all its glory. "Ejaculate": to utter suddenly and vehemently.

    Behold why it is superior: it is four syllables long. Compare that with the one syllable of the unobtrusive "said," which has only four letters. The god of speaking verb has as many syllables as how many letters the word "said" has. Thus, mathematically, it is superior.

    Whenever I write a story, I will no longer use the word "said." It is a dog's word. "Ejaculate" will replace all speaking verbs. Never mind "exclaimed"—useless dialogue tag, for there's a mark which you should always use for that. Many people are fans of the word "exclaimed," but the problem is is that it is like one exclamation mark, and style dictates that you may never use more than one exclamation mark. Forget all that: "ejaculate" is like the quadruple exclamation mark, yet not prohibited by any style guides.

    No more "blurted"; it means the same thing as "ejaculate," but it does not roll off the mouth as pleasantly.

    The Thénardiers are the best characters, for they are the only ones who understand the meaning of this all-powerful word. Marius murmurs; Jean Valjean drawls; Cosette chirps; Javert bellows; Eponiné coughs—the Thénardiers ejaculate. It goes without saying why the five preceding characters are inferior.

    Witness more wonderful uses of the this most sublime of verbs:

    "Pardie!" ejaculated his wife, "where do you suppose it came from? Through the window, of course."

    Javert redeems himself with the line:

    "What a grenadier!" ejaculated Javert; "you've got a beard like a man, mother, but I have claws like a woman."

    And the line:

    "The devil!" ejaculated Javert between his teeth, "he must have been the most valuable of the lot."

    And many, many more examples. The verb says all and leaves the giver and the receiver satisfied. It's great to ejaculate; it's even better to be ejaculated upon; and it's just great to say.

    This concludes the proof.

    7 comments · 170 views
  • 131w, 4d
    Thoughts on the finale and Season 3 in general

    Just had the opportunity to watch the finale of Season 3, as I always have to wait an extra day to watch the new episodes, as I'm a PROUD CUSTOMER OF APPLE INC. ® and the ITUNES STORE ®. Just a bit of a digression: I know many of you don't buy the episodes off the store, but you should, really, and I say this not as an Apple fanboy (I'm not), nor as a My Little Pony fanboy (I unashamedly am), but as a man who knows what the spirit of money is and who respects the work and effort and value provided to me by others. "But!" you cry, "Apple's DRM on their videos compromises the integrity of my collection!" I understand that, and I sympathize. If only there was some sort of program that losslessly removed DRM from computers running Itunes 10.6 or 10.7, for Windows or for Mac. If a program like that did exist, it would require that your computer be authorized first, but if it is, it losslessly removes DRM and saves your videos. Such a program would not remove the identifier tags, meaning that if you have intentions of filthy piracy in mind for the removal of DRM, they would be thwarted, for uploading it would allow everyone to see the metadata and would allow Apple to sue your ass (and rightfully so). But, unfortunately, no such program exists. sigh What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Season 3.

    In general, Season 3 was very mediocre. It did not posses the subtlety or the humor that made Season 1 so charming; it did not have songs, for the most part, that were as memorable as the ones from Season 2. The episodes are blurring together in my mind. For me, the only ones I'll remember is the Discord one and the wonderbolt one. The rest left me with just a "meh," kind of feeling. It just didn't seem to me that as much thought were put into the episodes as in the previous seasons. It was at the end of Season 2, i.e., the wedding episode, where I actually became aware, for the first time since the first few episodes of Season 1, that I was an adult man who was watching a cartoon for little girls about talking horses—this feeling stayed with me for the entire duration of Season 3 and only went away during the two aforementioned episodes.

    That being said, let's talk about the finale.

    A musical episode? Beautiful. That's something the show needed. Though many of the songs were insipid, there were two or three that stuck out (can't remember their names), and I know I'll be listening to them in the future.

    Right off the bat, I was immediately intrigued by the pacing of the story. There was a lot to include in this episode, so the writers obviously could not follow the standard story formula of "Setup, Conflict Establishment, Rising Action, Climax, Resolution," and, instead, has us dive right into the rising action. Thus, until it was actually explained why their cutie marks were reversed, the episode put me into a dream-like state, made me question what was real and what wasn't—fitting, for their was actually a spell that really did abridge their personalities, their talents, and reality in general. So much was thrust onto the viewer and Twilight at once, that the despondency she felt a third of the way through or so was actually believable, i.e., this monumental problem presented so quickly and so overwhelmingly really did make me feel that this might be one thing that was too difficult for her (similar to the Season 2 premiere). I can only describe the sequence with Princess Celestia and Twilight as "eerie,"; this moment actually made me question what I was watching, made me wonder where this was going, made me speculate as to the changing themes and the nature of the show—and, most importantly, for the first time in a while, made me sit on the edge of my seat with my nails in my mouth, dying to know what happened next.

    In addition, despite Season 3's shortcomings, I do have to applaud the animators: Every additional episode seems to have some new sort of visual subtlety or something that makes my jaw drop and just say: "Wow." If nothing else, I do believe Season 3 was less story-driven and more visually-driven, that the animators just wanted to see how much they could do. And it was really impressive, every bit of the season and the finale, I must admit, visually-speaking. All in all, Season 3 was good. Not great, but just good. Season 1 was amazing; Season 2 was great; Season 3 was good. I refuse to extrapolate from the given data.

    And Twilight's an alicorn now.

    Now, I knew this would happen. I avoided spoilers and speculations where I could, but it was impossible not to know that Twilight was going to become an alicorn. I also heard that there was a bit of a backlash, complaints; I saw Twitter posts of the writers assuring everyone that everything would be ok. Now, even when I look back, with my twenty-twenty hindsight, I cannot shake the question that I had since the beginning: What was the big deal? Everyone knew that Twilight was going to become a princess, an alicorn. What was the big deal, really? Were people upset that that meant she was going to leave her friends, that the show was going to turn into something different?

    I don't know, but I will say this: it kind of made sense, to make her an alicorn, I mean. My only complaint with the episode was how the mystery was brought up in the first episode of season 3 and never referred to again until the end. Though I don't care for the character Twilight that much, I must say that, all in all, I thought it was a satisfactory ending. I'll google what people were mad about the moment I finish this blog post, but I have no idea why people would be so upset.

    Think about it: I presume that, when this episode was made, the writers didn't know that there was going to be a fourth season. How else would you have wrapped it up? Twilight, a student, came to Ponyville to learn about friendship, and when she finally solves an age-old problem with the lessons learned from her friendship, she passes; she graduates; and she returns to Canterlot a completed person. They did a really good job with her transformation: when she first notices her wings, you can see the apprehension and the doubt in her eyes; you can see she her questioning whether she's ready, whether it's the right decision, etc. And then, after her coronation, when she's told to address the populace, you can tell that she still has reservations, that she's wondering whether or not she can do it; but then she turns back, sees her friends, and she embraces them. They remind her how she got where she was, and she knows that she won't let them down. That was the entire point of the song that they sang.

    In conclusion, the episode really did feel like an "end," a deep exhale after a long journey, a proper conclusion to an epic story; and if the entire show had ended right then, had it not been renewed for a fourth season, it would've felt right.

    EDIT: Found this while browsing the My Little Pony subreddit. A very good point, very similar to mine. Let me just copy here the best part:

    ""As a finale this episode is stellar. It's a way of showing us how far we've come. A long time ago, we had just a pony and a dragon in a tower full of books; now, we have a princess, her wonderful friends, and a massive country full of love and hope. But all the same, we've still got the same ponies that we've adored, and even if we never see hem again, they'll continue to live their lives, practicing the virtues of harmony, knowing every day that life is good and they can make it better. They'll do what they've done every day, and we don't need more episodes to know how it'll all play out; we can say goodbye without regret, knowing that, while we may never see these girls again, we've all learned so much that we can only be thankful for it."

    Emphasis mine—the most important part, what I was trying to say. There's nothing worse than being the fan of something and then seeing it end poorly. If you want a regretful ending, I direct you to the series finale of Angel.

    3 comments · 137 views
  • 131w, 6d
    Les Misérables again—no, the book. Tome I and the first six books of Tome II

    There’s no way I could do justice to Victor Hugo’s magnum opus with just one review, so now that my e-reader says that I’m one-third through it, I’d figured I’d just post my thoughts on the first tome, Fantine, and the first six books of Tome II, Cosette. I actually think I’m going to complete this in the three-month timeframe I gave myself.

    Here’s a quick thought: Have you ever noticed how Les Misérables is the only foreign book that did not have its title translated? I mean, look at “The Count of Monte Cristo” (Le Comte du Monte-Cristo), “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas” (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers), “The Mysterious Island” (L'Île mystérieuse), and “War and Peace” (Война и миръ). But we keep Les Misérables—translation: “The Wretched Ones.” I guess publishers figured that English speakers wouldn’t pick up a massive, five-tome epic called “The Wretched Ones.”

    I love me a good political, romantic epic. The romantics have this amazing ability to create such visceral emotions with such lovely prose that you find yourself carried away on the lines of ink. The problem, when reading the foreign romantics, is getting a good translation, i.e., one that preserves the intentions of the author while still translating it accurately—not an easy task. When I was reading The Count of Monte Cristo, I got about seven chapters into the one on Project Gutenberg before I realized that it read very choppily. I found the one translated by Robin Buss by Penguin Classics, and that really did convey the romantic language and style that I thought Dumas was going for.

    For Les Misérables, I received, for Christmas, the Penguin edition translated by Norman Denny. He explains that a translator’s goal is to preserve intent first and foremost, but he also said that he made abridgments of the text that were more “digressive,” for he said that modern English readers would find a lot of what was written irrelevant, and that Hugo and his work should not be treated as museum pieces, but as living, breathing texts.

    Bullshit! I thought. Of course books are museum pieces! I want to read the book Hugo wanted me to read, not what you, a twenty-first century man, think what would be relevant to me. Let me make that judgment; let me read what Hugo wanted me to read, and I’ll decide if it’s relevant. So, let’s read!

    I’m reading the Project Gutenberg edition, translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood. I chose this edition because, generally, the more recent the translation, the better it reads. I was told that the Signet translation was good, but according to Wikipedia, it had a “modernization” of the language and is based on the original translation. The Chicago Manual of Style calls retranslation a “sin.” I’ve heard that Julie’s Rose’s translation is downright awful and tawdry, so I avoided that. Isabel Hapgood’s translation (1887) is the most recent, unabridged translation from the French original. And the fact that it's free is, of course, a plus.


    I'm actually quite surprised at how much I'm enjoying this. I thought it was going to be a long, thick, unstimulated, history-book-like novel, something that I'd have to force myself through; something that I was only reading because I thought I should read it, as opposed to reading it because I enjoy it—but I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

    The translation is quite lovely. Yes, the language is antiquated, but it gives it a really nice, romantic air, and I generally have no problems following. The words feel like a a whirlwind, carrying the reader away into Hugo’s ideas; and, for the most part, it flows extremely well, unlike the Project Gutenberg translation of The Count of Monte Cristo.

    Right off the bat, the book dives into some really serious questions. The book does something that many modern writers fail to take into consideration: the book makes me think. Most writers nowadays are more concerned with telling a story per se, and I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, but I must say that I love the romantics for their desire and ability to make me feel the powerful emotions that they wanted me to feel. For example, when I reached the political debate that the bishop of Digne (oh, I’m sorry! His name is “the Bishop of D—”), that was when I knew the book was going to be good. The imagery in that scene is absolutely amazing; it was an incredibly touching, tear-jerking moment that I almost forgot that the man’s last breaths were given to a political debate. The Bishop is such a sweet man; every paragraph describing his actions really warms my soul.

    I want to say, a really moving, shocking scene that stayed for me was Tome I, Book II, Chapter VIII, “Billows and Shadows.” A disturbing, horrifying, spine-shivering description of a man overboard. The thing serves as a metaphor for the penal system, but it’s a great read it its own right. I highly recommend just this scene if you’re not going to read the book. It’s free to read online, and this chapter is very short: a little over seven hundred words.

    Speaking of short chapters, may I say that I fucking love them? I used to not like reading; it seemed to go on for too long. But I think American and British like long chapters, while the French like short chapters, and I must say that I’m quite fond of the latter. The Count of Monte Cristo, a political-romantic-adventure-epic, had one hundred seventeen incredibly short chapters, and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, a regular-adventure had them as well. Chapters are great demarcations, more so than section breaks, and, for whatever reason, they keep me wanting to read more. It just feels like a break, a breath of air that I can take, an appropriate place to put the book down if one feels like it. Something irks me about putting a book down mid-chapter; it feels like I’m breaking up the action unnecessarily.

    I also want to say something about the French language: I really, really love the tu/vous (singular-informal vs plural or singular-formal) distinction. It’s a really subtle way to convey mood and tone of voice in writing, and it happened only once in The Count of Monte Cristo. I was delighted to see that Hugo uses this distinction quite frequently, and tu/vous is translated into English by thou/you, i.e., whenever someone wants to be informal, in the translation, they start speaking in Early Modern English. It’s a nuance of language that, English, unlike French, has rendered more-or-less archaic, but there’s so much subtlety that can be conveyed through this tu/vou-thou/you distinction.

    I’m going to get this out of the way: I cry at every scene with Jean Valjean. He’s such a good man, but he’s never had a girlfriend, a wife, or any children. Everything he does is so warm and touching, and I really just want him to have a good, happy life. I cried when the Bishop bought his soul for god with the candlesticks; I cried when he was reassuring Fantine in her death-throes, and I cried when he rescued the sailor in the galleys. His relationship with little Cosette is so sweet that it gives me diabetes—he just cares so damn much in this world of revolution, of back-stabbing, and of abandonment, i.e., in the world of Les Misérables. Something really nice to see and to read about.

    Fantine is an exceptionally tragic character. Hugo spends so much time saying how beautiful she is, how pure and how sweet she is, just so he can tear her down in the worst way possible. The musical did not do justice to how bad she actually had it. But, to be fair, the musical couldn’t do justice to a lot of stuff e.g., the song “Who Am I” does not even come close to the internal conflict Jean Valjean had in the book. That was probably one of the best chapters.

    Hmm, well, I don’t really know how well I can describe how good this book is. I’ll leave you with: the writing is phenomenal; the concepts are amazing; it really is a riveting, chilling story, and I’m really invested in the characters. Will Jean Valjean have a good life? Will the dogged policeman Javert learn to love? We’ll have to read on.


    I’m not calling this section “The Bad,” because, well, there’s nothing really bad about Les Misérables, because, as far as I’ve read, it’s a romantic masterpiece. I call this section “The Dubious,” because there are parts in it that may put off some readers. For example, here’s the first three sentences of the book:

    In 1815, M. Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D—— He was an old man of about seventy-five years of age; he had occupied the see of D—— since 1806. Although this detail has no connection whatever with the real substance of what we are about to relate, it will not be superfluous, if merely for the sake of exactness in all points, to mention here the various rumors and remarks which had been in circulation about him from the very moment when he arrived in the diocese.

    Now, if you read this and rolled your eyes at any point during this excerpt, or groaned even a little bit, I highly suggest you put this book down now; you’re not going to like the rest. The thing is, Victor Hugo is quite . . . digressive, to say the least. A notable example occurs during a high-tension chase in Tome II (Javert is chasing Valjean), and Jean Valjean is watching over his shoulder, watching the figures in the distance follow him, etc. He stops at at an intersection, wondering where to go—and Hugo goes into baffling detail of the history of that intersection in the middle of a chase. It seemed really breaking to the flow of the story. Also, a more evident example is, at the end of Tome I, Jean Valjean gets recaptured and sent to the galleys. “Oh shit!” the reader must be thinking. “How is Jean Valjean going to get out of this? I better pick up the next tome!” The reader picks up the next tome; and, instead of reading about everyone’s favorite convict, he’s treated to about twenty thousand words about the Battle of Waterloo. I mean, I found that shit interesting as hell, but it may put you off.

    Tome I, Book III, Chapter I, has not aged well. Basically, it’s just a listing of names with no reference to any of their actions, no further explanations, and just a bunch of French angst. For example:

    All the young girls were singing the Hermit of Saint-Avelle, with words by Edmond Geraud. The Yellow Dwarf was transferred into Mirror. The Cafe Lemblin stood up for the Emperor, against the Cafe Valois, which upheld the Bourbons. The Duc de Berri, already surveyed from the shadow by Louvel, had just been married to a princess of Sicily. Madame de Stael had died a year previously. The body-guard hissed Mademoiselle Mars. The grand newspapers were all very small. Their form was restricted, but their liberty was great. The Constitutionnel was constitutional. La Minerve called Chateaubriand Chateaubriant. That t made the good middle-class people laugh heartily at the expense of the great writer. In journals which sold themselves, prostituted journalists, insulted the exiles of 1815.

    What . . . what? This means nothing to me. I was against Norman Denny’s translation ethic from the beginning, but after this chapter, I really do see what he’s talking about. But, at the end, Hugo says that these actions are “wrongly called trivial,” as they form human history. I mean, I guess I can’t argue with that, but that chapter was a bitch to read.

    The characters: I’ve heard complaint that Jean Valjean is too good to be believable, Cosette is too sweet to be believable, Thenardier is too evil to be convincing, and Javert is too mechanical to feel real. I understand these complaints, though I would like to say that these pure characters are very typical of the romantics i.e., the romantics depict people how they ought to be, rather than how they actually are. Jean Valjean, the goodman, is an exemplary one; Thenardier, the evil man, is a horrid one. Javert is dogged for the sake of being dogged i.e., Jean Valjean is depicted as good for the sake of goodness (how a goodman should be); Thenardier is evil for the sake getting as much as he can at the expense of others (what evil should be depicted as). These characters may turn you off; you may be rolling your eyes at how much Hugo is rubbing in your face how innocent Cosette is and how good Jean Valjean is, how mechanical Javert is, and how evil Thenardier is; but, personally, I love that shit. That’s how the world should be. I should know what’s right, what’s wrong, whom I should be rooting for and whom I should be censuring. I think the Greeks had it right: they worshiped human perfection (as evidenced by their statues). They aspired to be perfect, and they created characters who were perfect, who were role models. I like reading about heroes.

    Actually, I want to talk about Javert for a bit. I really do think he needs to be fleshed out more. At first, I thought that romantic antagonists were always cynical, always jaded, always hated the good guy for the sake of hating the good guy—but that all changed when I encountered Gérard de Villefort of The Count of Monte Cristo, whom I firmly believe to be the greatest antagonist in the history of literature. Javert pales in comparison to this guy. I actually believe that a man like Villefort could do what he did, while Javert on the other hand . . . I don’t know—Javert feels to mechanical. Yeah, Javert’s a machine, and he serves his purpose, and I guess he is supposed to be a machine. But still! I mean, Les Misérables is supposed to be the definitive piece of romantic literature, yet The Count of Monte Cristo set my sights too high with romantic antagonists with Villefort. Fuck, I could talk about Villefort all day. I guess Javert is fine as he is (being born to a whore and a thief in prison explains his belief that every man is inherently evil, which, I guess is one of the reasons why I found Villefort so damn interesting), but I wouldn’t mind if he was fleshed out a bit more before he commits suicide. Because, as of now, when I watch the musical and watch Javert commit suicide, his whole song seems to me to be just a drawn-version of the error message “DOES NOT COMPUTE.” Again, he, no question, serves his purpose as a romantic antagonist, but I wouldn't hate to see him fleshed out. Fortunately, there's a lot of time for that. But the description his countenance is quite chilling, quite well thought-out, so I really can't complain.

    But, I mean, the digressiveness breaks up the story so you don’t get bored; Javert, Jean Valjean, and Cosette—me wanting to see how they finally interact is what’s keeping me reading. Reading about the Battle of Waterloo for twenty thousand words is interesting, and it gets me excited to turn back to Jean Valjean. I love that French history stuff, and I must say reading the heavily annotated Penguin The Count of Monte Cristo really helped me get a lot of references. It just may turn off some readers.


    Alright, alright, I lied. In Tome II, there is one bad part so far. And those are the nuns. Those fucking nuns.

    Alright, well, Jean Valjean, holding Cosette, is running away from Javert, right? A nineteenth century police chase! How exciting! And he, just barely, makes his escape into a convent! What’s going to happen? What’s going to happen?

    Hugo spends twenty-thousand words describing the history, the culture, and the layout of the convent.

    I mean, good god! I know that this nun stuff is important, but that book could have been half the length that it was. In fact, it even bleeds out of the book; the book ends, and he’s still talking about the nuns! He even goes so far as to say that monasticism is a plague to society; fair enough, I suppose, but it shouldn’t take you that long to get back to Valjean. Ugh, it’s just this little thing in an otherwise phenomenal (so far) epic.

    So, that’s my thoughts of the first third of the novel. I hope you liked it!

    1 comments · 176 views

Has your book been a failure? Too bad. . . . You should have completed it when you conceived it.

—Victor Hugo

The first time you probably heard (or will hear) the word theme apropos of novels and plot was (or will be) in your high school English class. If you’re like me, you probably rolled your eyes when your teacher said “the theme of this book was so-and-so, and by so-and-so metaphor or by so-and-so encounter, the author is stating that . . .” and whispered to the guy sitting next to you: “Like I’m supposed to believe that the author was thinking about all this when he wrote the book!”

I realized that I was both right and wrong. I was right, in the sense that: when writing the book, the author was not thinking about anything else but the words on the page and the scene he was creating. I was wrong, in the sense that: I believed that the author did not have these premises in mind in his subconsciousness.

When I say the word theme, I’m going to be using Ayn Rand’s definition, when she stated that: “A novel’s theme is the general abstraction in relation to which the events serve as concretes. . . . The theme of Gone with the Wind is: the impact of the Civil War on the South—the destruction of the Southern way of life, which vanished with the wind. . . . The theme of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is: the injustice done to the lower classes of society.”

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, your romance is going to have a theme, and what that theme is is going to be dictated by your subconscious premises.

No, you do not need to be actively thinking about that theme to be writing a book, but it’s going to come out one way or another. Thus, any good writer forms an intimate relationship with his subconsciousness and can trust it to give him the physical words that can express what he feels.

But here’s the caveat: what is in your subconsciousness is purely dictated by what you put into it. This means that if you only put garbage into it, only garbage will come out.

By “garbage,” I mean contradictions and inconsistencies. It is absolutely essential that you think about your theme and make sure that it’s internally consistent. Inconsistency is something that can and will destroy your romance. If there’s a thematic inconsistency in the back of your mind, don’t tuck it away; pull it out, think about it, and resolve it. If you don’t, then you’ll have to live with the fact that your romance will be a failure. Don’t think it won’t show in your writing, even if you don’t see it yourself.

That being said, to argue this, I point you toward two exhibits: Murky Number Seven, by Fuzzy; and Fallout: Equestria, by Kkat.

By all accounts, by just reading their plot synopses, these should be exhilarating romances. The scopes are enormous, the conflicts are dire and tense, the number of situations that these characters could be put in are limitless; and the number and quality of resolutions to those situations could be deep, complex, and moving.

These romances have everything going for them. Yet, by having inconsistent philosophical premises*, both somehow manage to squander all their opportunity.

*Note that I’m not saying immoral philosophical premises; I’m saying inconsistent premises. You could have a completely immoral philosophy, yet present it in a flawless artistic light. But I’ll get to that later.

First up, we have Murky Number Seven. It has an unbelievably interesting theme, something that would no doubt provide us with complex and timeless moral questions that the reader would take away with him long after he’s put the book down:

The theme of Murky Number Seven is: the struggle of free will over social positions, and what some will do (or won’t do) to fight back to regain their rights.

With his huge premise, with his huge characters represented in their essentials, with his depiction of evil for the sake of evil, his depiction of the good and the innocent, the timeless conflicts he has shown himself capable of creating, with his slaves’ demonstration of defiance even in the face of these evils—with all these, Fuzzy shows exceptional promise as a romantic writer.

And like a romantic, Fuzzy (for the most part), attempts to present what he thinks as good as the heroes and what he thinks is evil as the villains: the villain Chainlink Shackles is a villain because he doesn’t think he needs morality when the world has gone immoral (when, according to Fuzzy, when the world has gone immoral is when a man would need morality the most); the villain Protégé, a slave-turned-slaver, represents the evil of complacency, that what is evil is innocence that allows itself to abandon its morality; the hero Brimstone Blitz, the contrast to Chainlink Shackles, a character born under similar circumstances but with a completely different moral code, demonstrating that though the characters in Murky Number Seven ascribe a great deal of value to the position one is born in, Fuzzy doesn’t at all; and, best of all, through his protagonist Murky, Fuzzy not only shows the abuses that evil is willing to exact onto the innocent—but he also shows that evil is impotent, that no matter what evil does to poor little Murky, it’s never enough to destroy his will and spirit.

After expressing my initial skepticism regarding Murky Number Seven, a friend assured me that Murky himself was indeed a romantic hero. My first reaction was one of disbelief: What? How could this week, crippled, crybaby be considered one of those larger-than-life, powerful characters who move the world through their will alone? And after a lot of thinking, I realized that Murky is enormous as a person and as a character: because even though Murky vomits his body weight twice a day; even though he is whipped, beaten, poisoned, taunted, derided; even though he’s been mutilated and violated; even though he’s been put into chains for his entire teenage life; even though he’s been through torments that would make Rasputin blush—even after all of these things, he still has the urge to fight and be free. These huge slavers think they’re so tough—but even after all these years, they have yet to kill this tiny little pegasus’s will. The fact that Murky exists shows that evil is impotent. If he’s not a romantic hero, I don’t know who is.

These are the reason that I really wanted to love Murky Number Seven. The premises that Fuzzy have laid down are excellent, the character outlines amazing. With his themes of nature vs. nurture, with his heroes as those fighting to rise from their born positions, with his villains the ones wallowing in complacency, Fuzzy clearly demonstrates himself to be on the premises of volition and judgment, showing that it is these qualities that push life and plot and conflict—the defining characteristics of a romantic writer. To my knowledge, Fuzzy is the only established writer in the Fallout: Equestria fandom on the romantic premise, presenting his own value-judgments and abstractions through his characters, who have been reduced to their essential values. He ought to be praised for crafting such a narrative.

Unfortunately, I realize Fuzzy’s premises more than he himself probably does. The concretes of Murky’s theme are horribly inconsistent, and it’s enough to ruin the story. And when a writer is on the romantic premise, inconsistent or half-realized themes are represented in their concrete forms (more so than on the naturalistic premise, for on the naturalistic premise the values of the author are not as overt). Characters are concretes of values; thus, Murky evinces its inconsistency of values through inconsistent character actions.

Take Brimstone Blitz, Murky Number Seven’s hooker with a heart of gold.*

*Brimstone Blitz isn’t literally a hooker (or, maybe he is, I don’t know; I wouldn’t put it past him), but he’s on the same literary premise: because of his profession, his internal values clash with how he has to conduct himself. This isn’t bad; quite the contrary, it creates some juicy conflicts, which is why the Hooker with a Heart of Gold trope is so popular. But to create a conflict, to create moral ambiguity, actions and values and choices need to be consistent, i.e., the reader needs to be able to understand why a person like that would be conflicted as he is now.

In the following scene, Brimstone Blitz introduces himself to Murky, the latter hitherto only referring to the former as “Number Six”:

My struggles were pointless as I felt my hind legs dangle helplessly a good two feet from the floor.  My eyes locked on his as I heard the growl of unhinged madness and anger.  Staring into his gaze, I could see the years of borderline insanity still in there, furious that I had suggested anything other than the harsh truth.

        “I am a raider,” he intoned with barely suppressed anger, “a life, longer than many in the wasteland, dedicated to the pursuit of free madness.  You sat in your guarded little pens while I stormed the wastes.  Had I met you, Murk, I would have used you as a toy like those eejits just tried to.  Aye, I would have plucked those wee wings myself.  I have killed, tortured, raped and broken anypony that wasn't in my clan for longer than you've been alive.  Once, I burned a little buck like you alive on our camp fire for not giving me his young mare friend to have in my tent that night.  I took her anyway.”

        Fear clenched my gut as I stared toward the massive raider.  Those eyes...he was telling the truth.  He was angry, whether at me or himself I couldn't tell.  I felt him draw a long breath before lowering me to the floor and looking the other way from me.

        “You don't simply turn your back on so much agony caused to others, so much fucked up stuff like that and say 'that's it, I'm an ex-raider now.' It doesn't work like that!” . . .

        “ why did you stop?”

        His eyes closed as he took a breath, seeking to calm himself, apparently.  I could see the thin line between now and the fury of the raider fought back down.  Did he have that voice in his head?  The raider in his mind?  Just like I had a slave?

        “...the Goddesses are forever watching us, Murk.  Do you believe in them?”

        His voice had dropped, was he embarrassed at his outburst?  I nodded shakily, thankful to see his face slightly relax from the rage that had overcome it.

        “You might say that Fillydelphia gave me some...perspective.  To see what it was like from the other side.  It's a good place for ponies like me, out of the way, forced to work to do something greater in the place of ponies more innocent.  Like you.  But I don't labour just to rebuild”

        He fixed me with a stare.  He was deadly serious.

        “I accept my slavery.  Only through this place could I ever hope to even begin to atone for the sins I've done in the eyes of the two Goddesses.”

It may not seem like it at a first glance, but this is one of the most romantically consistent scenes in the entire story, and also one of the most memorable, powerful, and wonderful. Through the juxtaposition of the enormous Brimstone Blitz and the tiny Murky, Fuzzy concretes the entire conflict of Brimstone Blitz:

My struggles were pointless as I felt my hind legs dangle helplessly a good two feet from the floor. Saving Murky, and then proceeding to assault him is a perfect concrete of Brimstone’s internal conflict: a raider who desires to be good. In addition, Murky saying that he felt his legs dangle, instead of saying “my legs dangled,” further showing Murky’s perpetual loss of power.

“I could see the years of borderline insanity still in there, furious that I had suggested anything other than the harsh truth.” By using “insanity” and “harsh truth” in the same sentence, Fuzzy gives us another amazing juxtaposition of Brimstone’s conflict. Brimstone does not commit enormities because he’s insane; once again on the romantic premise of volition, Fuzzy says that he’s insane because he chose to commit enormities, and now he’s showing us what happens when that insane pursues the truth. Well-intentioned—but horrifying.

“Once, I burned a little buck like you alive on our camp fire for not giving me his young mare friend to have in my tent that night.  I took her anyway.” Ending this paragraph with these sentences is infinitely more powerful than if Fuzzy were not to have it. If Brimstone had only said “I have killed, tortured, raped,” it would’ve meant nothing, as we don’t know for sure if what Brimstone think is “killing, torturing, and raping” is the same thing as we think it is. But by giving us an example, Fuzzy concretes these otherwise abstract concepts. If there is nothing the reader takes away from that paragraph, it’s this sentence.

 He was angry, whether at me or himself I couldn't tell. Though it could have been presented better than Murky outright explaining it here, the idea is still solid and powerful: he can’t tell what he’s angry at, because Murky has ascribed something good to him but has also deviated from the truth—and Brimstone doesn’t know whether this is Murky’s error or his own.

“You don't simply turn your back on so much agony caused to others, so much fucked up stuff like that and say 'that's it, I'm an ex-raider now.' It doesn't work like that!” This line is actually unnecessary, because we’ve already seen what he talks about and how he’s treating Murky. Even so, it’s still consistent within the scene: in essence, Brimstone is saying that one must take steps to become better. Keep this line in mind for now. I’ll get back to it.

 “I accept my slavery.  Only through this place could I ever hope to even begin to atone for the sins I've done in the eyes of the two Goddesses.” Atone: a powerful word, carrying many implications. Just by speaking this word, Brimstone’s premises are established: he acknowledges what he did was wrong, he desires to right those wrongs, he desires to be forgiven, he desires to change, and he believes that he can change.

It's passages like these that make Murky a gem among fan fictions. Granted, it's not perfect. There are a few things I can complain about; but the things that Fuzzy does well in this passage are so good that all the little things become trivial. The trivial things don't show who Fuzzy is as a writer—the good things show what he is capable of.

Now, did Fuzzy have all these things in mind when he was writing the story? Absolutely not; it would’ve been impossible to get a single sentence down. Rather, he has these subconscious premises he wishes to convey, and they come across in his writing whether he’s aware of them or not.

But I can tell you with certainty that Fuzzy was not aware of these things; because if he were, he would’ve not written the two scenes that follow:

There is a scene after Murky seems like he met a new friend, a fellow slave, someone with whom Murky may be able to trust and someone who might be able to help him in the future—but then the other slave finds out that Murky’s a pegasus, and then tries to kill him. (An excellent scene, making sure that the reader knows that this bigotry is deeply personal within the Fillydelphians. If the reader wasn’t convinced that the world truly hates pegasi after the scene where Murky is paraded around and taunted, he does now.)

Thus, Murky wants Brimstone to help him cut off his own wings. Though it’s immediately apparent to the reader that this won’t help, that this is a bad decision, the reader can understand why Murky would want to do this. Brimstone responds thus:

You're a pegasus, wings don't change that, Murk.  You'll always be one.  Something inside you, your soul, magic centre or whatever.  It's always going to be a pegasus.  Born for the clouds, bound to the open sky and all that other airy nonsense.  It's who you are.”

He leaned closer.  I could have sworn I saw a knowing rise of an eyebrow.

“You don't just turn your back on stuff like that.  It doesn't work that way.”

The reader can easily infer that Brimstone is not talking about Murky and his being a pegasus strictly speaking—he’s only using it as a metaphor to describe a deeper philosophical view. And, strictly speaking, Brimstone has said the same thing he said in the first scene.

The difference here is context.

In the scene quoted before the last, this is Brimstone’s response to Murky asking him if he’s a raider; and Brimstone’s response, in effect, says that he hasn’t atoned long enough for him to say that he’s absolved of his sins. Thus, says Brimstone, it would be wrong for him, at this point in his repentance, to not be referred to as a “raider.”

In this scene just quoted, the line comes across in a different light: in this scene, Brimstone is effectively saying that the role into which one is born strictly defines who he is for the rest of his life.

This above quoted scene contradicts Brimstone’s philosophy of atonement: the desire to change, and the belief that one can and should change who he is. And Murky Number Seven has been telling us up until this point that the role one is born into does not define who he is, nor does it justify or define the choices he can and will make when he gets older:

Brimstone is a born raider who wishes to atone and not be a raider—Brimstone is a hero. Murky is a born slave who fights to be free from slavery—Murky is a hero. Protégé is a born slave turned slaver—Protégé is a villain. Chainlink Shackles is a born slaver who is content to be who he is—Chainlink Shackles is a villain.

If a villain were to drop this line to Murky, I’d understand. But this is completely out of character for Brimstone, the guy who dedicated his life to showing himself and the goddesses that people can change their roles. It also contradicts the message of Murky Number Seven, which says that prejudicing against born roles is wrong.

Now, is there any thematically consonant reason that Brimstone would not want to not help Murky cut off his wings? Absolutely, I can think of a million. But the reason he gives is inconsistent with his character. It throws the previous speech out the window.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Later, when Murky is caught in a pickle and finds a mine he can blow up, killing himself and his captors at the same time, his justification for trying to blow up the mine is: “Well...better dead than enslaved!”

Up to this point, Murky has had many opportunities to kill himself. But every time he decides to bear it, to fight another day—because he firmly believes that, unlike the other slaves whom he sees dying to try to get freedom, he believes in a little bit more tact. In addition, there’s a very memorable and powerful scene where he’s standing on the edge of a building, contemplating whether to just jump off and end it all—and after he decides not to, he’s horrified at how he could have ever considered killing himself in the first place.

Thus, in order to read Murky Number Seven past these parts, the reader has to, whether consciously or subconsciously, pretend Brimstone’s and Murky’s comments never existed. They contradict with everything that came before, and I imagine that they would contradict with everything to come.

This is not the only thing the reader has to ignore. There are a few other incidents that contradict:

The story bills itself with the epigraph Dare to Dream; yet when Murky dreams of LittlePip, his heroine, the reader is supposed to laugh at him for his dreams being wrong and unrealistic about her. Fillydelphia is depicted to be a nightmarish hellhole, with slaves dying every minute; yet, somehow, it manages to be the most productive area of the Equestrian Wasteland.

If daring to dream is the ideal, then why does Fuzzy have said dreams ridiculed? If slavery is truly evil, then why is it depicted as a thriving, productive industry?

These are questions that are never brought up, that are thrown in there between the good parts, leaving the reader scratching his head and wondering how it all fits together. And these are contradictions which require a lot of mental energy for me to ignore; which means that it’s quite fatiguing to read Murky Number Seven, and I have to do it only as mindless escapism.

Which is a shame, really, because when Murky Number Seven wants to be that great romance I so desire, it is. When Fuzzy knows what he’s doing, he can create these scenes that stun and mesmerize, making me shiver long after I’ve put the book down.

The scene that comes to mind is the scene in Chapter Five when Murky has to decide whether to take medicine from a dying mare to help Glimmerlight, or to leave it and let Glimmerlight die.

When I first read the scene, my heart began to race, and I had to check the ebook I was reading to make sure that I was indeed really reading an amateur fiction—a fan fiction of My Little Pony, of all things. No words of mine can accurately praise this set-up. This is a conflict. This is how moral ambiguity should be done. The reader can understand why Murky would be conflicted about this issue—not only that, but this conflict is timeless and unbelievably pertinent to the nature of mankind. At this point, the story is not about pastel-colored ponies; it has long before become a philosophical argument into human morality.

I will even say this: this is a set-up I’d expect from the highest-tier romantic novel. Don’t take this as me blowing steam. Believe me when I say, with full earnestness, as an appreciator of romanticism and literature: this is a conflict I’d expect Victor Hugo or Dostoevsky to write (not with ponies, but you get the idea). This conflict reminded me why I read fiction in the first place. This conflict reminded me why I want to be a writer. To find this in a pony fiction . . . all the more wonderful. If I can ever construct a conflict even a quarter as deep and as powerful as this one, then I will consider myself sucessful.

But, unfortunately, conflict is inseparably tied with plot, and plot is inseparably tied to theme. And though Fuzzy has made the mental connection between conflict and plot (something most professional writers never do), he has not made it between plot and theme. And because of this, it’s not surprising that the conflict resolves itself in the way it does, i.e., a deus e machina results, absolving Murky of the responsibility to make a moral choice*.

*I nearly cried when this happened. I couldn’t believe that Fuzzy could create something so wonderful and then proceed to destroy it.

In conclusion, Murky Number Seven is an unfortunate case—this is a romance that has every reason to be good. Its premises are amazing, its characters are amazing, and the author has an profound ability to craft conflicts that terrify and astound. But because of its inconsistencies, the romance is broken unless the reader ignores them. This is a story that I really, really, really wanted (and want) to like. There’s so much good stuff buried in here. But as it progressed, I found myself unable to make excuses for it.

That’s an example of how otherwise great writing can be ruined by inconsistent premises. Let’s turn our attention to Fallout: Equestria; or, how an inconsistent premise explicitly stated at the beginning can doom an entire novel from the start.

Murky and Fallout: Equestria: though the former is derived from the latter, both were written with their respective authors on completely different philosophies, and this is evident to some extent in their styles. While Fuzzy is on the romantic premise, Kkat was on the naturalist.

Was Kkat really on the naturalistic premise though? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

While romantics like Fuzzy strive to depict abstract values as fully realized characters, naturalists like Kkat strive to create believable, everyday reality and characters; naturalist characters are not homogenous walking concretes of values—rather, they’ve been created with the intent in mind of creating a real person, i.e., someone you could meet on the street.

What is the result of naturalism? Often much smaller characters than their romantic counterparts. They’re often quiet and innocuous; and their problems are very personal, in the sense that they pertain to no one but themselves.

But these schools, romanticism and naturalism, are immiscible. Someone subconsciously writing on the romantic premise but trying to craft a naturalist story will fall flat, and vice-versa.

That being said, let’s get into Fallout: Equestria.

Recently, I translated the first chapter of Fallout: Equestria into Latin for the shits and giggles. If any of you speak a second language, I urge you to translate certain documents for practice from one language to another: not only will it make you more conscious of grammar, but it will make you more aware of author intent, and it will make you a better reader. Translation is not just taking words and changing them into words in the equivalent language: quite often the literal equivalent of a word in another language will carry different connotations then the original, and it is up to you as a translator to make sure the author’s original message gets through preserved (see footnote seven in the Latin translation).

With my translator’s eyes, going over sentence by sentence, I analyzed every sentence for Kkat’s intent. Reading every sentence, I asked myself: “Now Kkat says this, but what does she really mean?” This is the only way to translate.

And I came across two sentences. I almost translated them without thinking, but then I had to stop. I read them. I read them a second time. I read them a third time. Even after the fourth read, I couldn’t believe they were actually there.

This sentences were not merely bad. They were not merely character-breaking. Through these two sentences in the first chapter, Kkat managed to, somehow, undermine everything that could have possibly followed in the story. And unlike the contradictory sentences in Murky, which I can easily believe were just mental derps by Fuzzy and can be ignored without really impacting the rest of the story, these were foundation-setting sentences, the motivators for the entire plot and conflict, such that to ignore these sentences was to ignore the entire story itself.

I hadn’t given them much thought the first time I read them; but if I’d understood them the first time I’d read them, I could’ve told you that Fallout: Equestria was bad before having to read ten chapters of it.

It was doomed from the start:

I’ll admit it now, I’d had a crush on Velvet Remedy for years.  Me [sic] and at least three hundred other ponies [have a crush on her].

Before I go on, stop reading this essay and think about these sentences for a second. Do you see anything wrong with them? Consider LittlePip, consider what she does, consider the plot of Fallout: Equestria, consider where the story goes, consider its theme—consider the story as a whole. Stop reading here and just ask yourself: is this sentence consonant with everything else? Analyze these sentences just like I did a few paragraphs back with Murky Number Seven. Look at each word and ask yourself its implications, and what that must say about Kkat and her philosophy. Do that, and then come back.


To understand why these sentences break the story, you must first understand the characters and the context. LittlePip is chooses, in the face of objection, to leave the stable for the purpose of rescuing Velvet Remedy. Despite objections from her overmare, she still sets out with a steadfastness inexorable. LittlePip is a character driven very firmly by her morals: she will often do things without thought in the face of others objecting if her morals tell her to do so. If she feels passionately about something, there’s nothing to stop her from doing it. The entire plot of Fallout: Equestria revolves around the passion and will of this moral figure.

That being said, let’s see why these two sentences, in themselves, break the entire story:

I’ll admit it: Here, LittlePip says that her feelings for Velvet Remedy are something to be admitted, as if they were something that brought her shame, a thought that she’d rather not keep in the foremost part of her mind due to some unmentioned factor. Why? The reason is never given.

I’ll admit it now: With the use of the word now, LittlePip declares her feelings to be a mere afterthought, something not important enough to mention any earlier than where it is now. This clause, by itself, is a complete admission of moral weakness and insecurity when it comes to her feelings about Velvet Remedy.

I’d had a crush on Velvet Remedy for years: The use of the word crush here implies the juvenile, immature, and the ephemeral. A crush is something that inherently carries very little weight, one of those passing, uncontrollable feelings that have no more impact in our lives than breathing.

Me [sic] and at least three hundred other ponies: Here, LittlePip is flat-out admitting that her feelings are nothing unique, nor special. This is further stressed by the word least, i.e., saying that her feelings are so commonplace that everyone has them.

What is the result of every single word of these sentences? The lowering of LittlePip’s highest value. Everything in this sentence makes the reader convinced that this value LittlePip has, i.e., her love and admiration of Velvet Remedy, is inconsequential.

But LittlePip’s feelings for her, Velvet Remedy, are not inconsequential. Velvet Remedy leaving the stable is what drives LittlePip to leave it herself, even when others object. Moreover, her feelings for Velvet Remedy, because they’re actually what make her leave the stable, is the basis for the entire story.

It is a common pitfall for naturalist writers to hesitate in giving their characters, especially young characters, any radical feelings or moral values. And even if the writer does, if these values or feelings are held by the protagonist, he won’t be depicted as “superlative,” i.e., surpassing in moral admirability the feelings of anyone else. The supposition is that what some (or what I, the author) feel isn’t “right” or “wrong” or “better,” but just “different.” Naturalists also don’t believe in homogenous, completely noble human beings: if a character is a hero, he will have a grievous flaw that will drag him down from the pedestal he deserves; if he’s a villain, he will have a morally understandable motive that can be sympathized with simultaneously with motivations of the protagonist. “To make a hero feel real, you have to give him flaws and vices,” is the naturalist argument often trotted out.

But I state here, firmly and passionately, that it is these flaws, vices, and rashness in thinking that make LittlePip feel fake. I state here that absolutely no young woman would abandon her home, her family, her friends, risk life and limb, be willing to sustain injuries and kill scores of people—all to go after someone toward whom she calls her feelings, as a passing thought, a “crush,” which she thinks three hundred others share. It is the above quoted line that makes LittlePip lose all the poignancy and weight that she otherwise may have had.

In addition, as someone who loves heroes, as someone who has a desire to see the intransigent best doing the best when everyone else is doing wrong, as someone who ascribes a great deal of worth and merit to hero-worship, this line is morally repugnant to me. Because, in fact, what LittlePip feels toward Velvet Remedy is not what three hundred other ponies feel. If that were true, if three hundred other ponies felt the exact same way toward Velvet Remedy as she, LittlePip, did, then there would’ve been three hundred other ponies trying to get out to go save her.

To downplay her feelings, as LittlePip, the protagonist and hero, does, to lower such a passionate, unique, powerful, plot-moving feeling: as an appreciator of romanticism, I find this unspeakable.

So why? Why would Kkat write such an insipid, character- and plot-breaking line?

It is my speculation that though Kkat said this, she actually felt the exact opposite, whether she  admits it to herself or not. Though Kkat spends the entire first chapter telling us how inconsequential and average LittlePip is, she, Kkat, didn’t think LittlePip was average at all; rather, I think Kkat liked the idea of a young, intransigent hero; she liked the idea that the power of love and hero-worship can bring out the best in a man and can overcome obstacles that would otherwise seem unassailable. I think Kkat liked LittlePip. I think Kkat thought that LittlePip and her feelings were better than many, many others.

But, furthermore, I speculate* that Kkat, subconsciously on the romantic premise, lacked the conviction that her judgment was right in this case. She doubted that her romantic view point was tenable.  So, consciously writing on the naturalistic premise, but really not on it at all, she, Kkat, deliberately lowered LittlePip, hoping that by giving her, LittlePip, this immature and ephemeral viewpoint and motivation, she, Kkat, could keep part of her romantic ideals while still making the character feel “real.” But the result of these inconsistencies is a character that feels fake, flat, and ultimately unreal, unbelievable, and untenable.

*I feel so certainly in these speculations, that I don’t even consider them speculations. Considering where Fallout: Equestria goes, considering that LittlePip is one of the only few in the world who are motivated to do good solely for the sake of good, who want to bring justice to injustice solely because it ought to be done—considering all this, considering where the story goes, Fallout: Equestria is indeed supposed to be about the nobility of heroism.

And, indeed, the reader will not be surprised to find that this lowering of a hero, her values, and her pleasures is not an isolated incident. LittlePip, this “hero” who’s supposed to have this inexorable will, becomes a helpless, unwilling victim to a drug addiction. In addition, I’m told that later in the story, LittlePip’s lover and worshiper frequently takes pleasure in embarrassing her hero—by publicly describing their acts of love in humorous, trivial, light-hearted tones. I will let these incidents speak for themselves.

To conclude this argument, I’d like to stress that all of these story- and character-breaking things are not bad things in themselves. Even if one may disagree philosophically with them, these things can consistently contribute to a story’s theme and message. The examples I’ve described are only bad here because they are inconsistent with their respective stories’ themes.

Inconsistency: that is my main point. A story that is inconsistent, no matter what it preaches, will not stand.

Fallout: Equestria, in its beginning, really never had a chance. When I think of the case of Murky Number Seven, or how an otherwise profound story with a deep message, crafted by an author with an enormous amount of skill, could be brought down because of a few inconsistencies and naturalistic pitfalls, I’m struck with a deep sorrow. If the faults in Murky are due to the fact that it’s a romantic novel extrapolated from an ostensibly naturalistic novel, i.e., if the faults in it are due to the fact that Kkat and her naturalism set the precedent, declared that naturalism and its implications is the only proper way to write a story; and Fuzzy, a romantic writer, deriving his themes from it, felt that he had no choice but to adhere to such things—if these things are true, then so much the worse. It truly does pain me to see Fuzzy struggle with these conflicting concepts, trying desperately to reconcile them and still be true to himself, still believing that he can truly do it—when he doesn’t realize that trying to hold inconsistencies together is a losing battle. Murky Number Seven is already longer than Atlas Shrugged and still has not even begun its third act, and I believe that Fuzzy’s inability to consolidate and realize his values on this accord, something that he may only be able to placate by constantly switching back and forth between the two in the narrative (thus breaking it further), accounts for why it’s so long.

But should Fuzzy learn from his mistakes, should he start writing afresh, should he create a new world where he is the unilateral ruler and king, where the characters he creates are dictated only by his own mind and not influenced by the will of anyone else, should he start writing again—you can be sure that I’d wake up at midnight to buy the first copy of his hardcover romance.

Report Integral Archer · 1,597 views ·
#1 · 99w, 5d ago · · ·

So there aren't any comments here, (yet,) but somehow your blog ended up on FoE's Reddit and there's two comments over there right now.

#2 · 99w, 4d ago · 5 · ·

I think you are profoundly mistaken about the meaning of that phrase, and how it reflects on Lil'Pip's character and the larger FoE plot.

The thing is, what that sentence says is that what she (and indeed, the rest of Stable 2) feels towards Velvet is more of an Idol worship than true love. Thus, she leaving the Stable doesn't makes her heroic, sacrificing peace and stability in order to rescue her lost love, but instead foolish, seeing the Wasteland as an escape from the drudgery of the Stable, from which she would return a hero, not by saving Velvet, but by returning her to the Stable (as monomythic a plot as you can get). Indeed until chapter 5 (after meeting Calamity) there is no indication that Lil'Pip even understands the negative consequences of her leaving the Stable, seeing the Wasteland as a place where she can play the Hero and show off. Everything comes crashing down when she finally meets Velvet in chapter 7.

Chapter 7 spoilers: Velvet was never in danger. She left of her own volition in order to help the Wasteland, and Lil'Pip journey is meaningless, and almost harmful to Velvet's purposes. From this point on, the story isn't about Pip being a Hero, but instead becoming a Hero, and gaining the characteristics necessary to become that hero, mainly thanks to her experiences with the Memory orbs and the (deceased) Mane 6. It isn't the Hero Journey, but the Journey to a Hero.

I haven't got around to reading MN7, but if you are interested in a FoE fic with a proper care for that greater thematic structure, you should consider reading Project Horizons, which is essentially a story about what it means to be moral in an amoral world, and that takes great care in establishing that in light of each of the main characters, and the world itself.

#3 · 99w, 4d ago · 5 · ·

While I may lack the literary background to argue on your level, I must disagree with your assessment of Littlepip. What I feel you have missed, although it seems simplistic, is that Fallout Equestria is a first person story. Littlepip downplaying her own heroic nature is a well established part of her character. Little Pip, through her narration is telling the reader that she's no hero, while at the same time showing through her actions that the opposite is true.

I’ll admit it now, I’d had a crush on Velvet Remedy for years.  Me [sic] and at least three hundred other ponies [have a crush on her].

Now if Kkat had written that in Omniscient narrator, we would have to take it as fact, but as you yourself point out

...LittlePip’s feelings for her, Velvet Remedy, are not inconsequential. Velvet Remedy leaving the stable is what drives LittlePip to leave it herself, even when others object. Moreover, her feelings for Velvet Remedy, because they’re actually what make her leave the stable, is the basis for the entire story.

Little Pip's narration is far from infallible, and her style of narration is another vehicle through which her character is developed. This is particularly evident in during the Party Time Mintals subplot.

“But I have to be careful with you,” I said to the Party-Time Mint-als in my saddlebags. “I can’t let Calamity or Velvet Remedy get to thinking I have a problem with you. I don’t want to lose my friends because they think I’m addicted.”

While Little Pip is obviously showing through her actions that she is addicted to Mint-als, she, at the same time, is telling you she isn't.

So, while Little Pip may not be a full blown unreliable narrator, she certainly tells the story through the lens of her own bias, and with the inconsistencies of her own memory.

#4 · 99w, 4d ago · 2 · ·


I should hope so. I posted it. :rainbowlaugh:


I believe the "desiring to play the hero" thing, but I never got the feeling that it really was a prime motivator to bring Velvet back to the stable. Pip wasn't particularly liked by many people. I never felt that it was the stable dwellers that she wanted to please; rather, it was Velvet herself. And you said that everything up to Chapter 7 was meaningless—so much the worse. As a reader, there's nothing I hate more than to be told explicitly, or implicitly, that my time has been wasted.


You misunderstand me. I don't believe that it were "a crush," like LittlePip said. I believe it were much more than a crush. But unlike the drug thing (which, from appearances, looks like a great way of dramatizing an addict's denial), the "crush" line, unlike the drug line (which is dramatized)—the crush line is narrated to the reader. You're right, LittlePip doesn't actually feel that way—thus, the line destroys her earnestness as a character; and, unlike the drug line which is dramatizing a conflict, serves only to lower in the reader's eyes a prime motivating factor of the story. At best, assuming the line is false, the line serves the reader to see LittlePip as regarding herself remarkably average and self-effacing (when she, as a hero, is not that at all, and to claim otherwise is exceptionally dishonest); at worst, it makes her seem shallow and insipid.

#5 · 99w, 4d ago · 5 · ·


You misunderstand me. I don't believe that it were "a crush," like LittlePip said. I believe it were much more than a crush.

No you misunderstand me. I know you don't think it's "a crush" I even included a quote to demonstrate that fact. My point was that unreliable narrator, is a technique and not an inconsistency. In this example Kkat has used the technique effectively to show the meek, self-effacing nature of the protagonist whilst simultaneously showcasing their embarrassment over their romantic attraction. The embarrassment helps to convey her youth and inexperience, and to further alienate her from the stable population. That one line holds a lot of meaning and is instrumental in developing her character.

You're right, LittlePip doesn't actually feel that way—thus, the line destroys her earnestness as a character

At best, assuming the line is false, the line serves the reader to see LittlePip as regarding herself remarkably average and self-effacing (when she, as a hero, is not that at all, and to claim otherwise is exceptionally dishonest); at worst, it makes her seem shallow and insipid

So you mean to tell me that any character that suffers from self doubt, any character that can't give a completely unbiased assessment of themself is being shallow and insipid? Self-effacing heroes are so common that it's a cliche, a heroic trope. A tip of your hat and and an "I just did what any good person would do." is expected when you successfully resuscitate someone or pull them from a burning building. From a naturalistic perspective accurate self-assessment is an unusual and highly prized trait. Of course Littlepip doesn't consider herself a hero. To do so would be the height of arrogance and completely stunt her growth as a character. She's a dynamic naturalistic flawed hero, not a static romantic paragon, and that's what allows the reader to relate to her.

#6 · 99w, 4d ago · · ·


In this example Kkat has used the technique effectively to show the meek, self-effacing nature of the protagonist

And this is the problem. Pip is anything but meek (a thousand dead raiders between her and Velvet will testify to that). She's anything but self-effacing; she ascribes a great deal of value to her morals and values, such that the slightest affront will set them off (and when it comes to her other values, she doesn't efface her reasons for taking action; find me a passage in the story where she says "Slavery might actually be an okay thing").

That line was clearly a naturalistic apology for an otherwise strong character. And, everything else considered about Pip, it doesn't hold. After that line, I can't believe such a person would exist or be tenable.

So you mean to tell me that any character that suffers from self doubt, any character that can't give a completely unbiased assessment of themself is being shallow and insipid?

If such that that assessment doesn't make sense to me as a reader; if such that that assessment provides a conflict that, considering everything I know about the character, doesn't make any sense as to why he'd be conflicted; if such that that assessment serves only to lower; if such that that conflict does not provide a meaningful dissonance and conflict, and only serves to "make her a believable, immature teenager"? Then, yes, it's shallow.

Of course Littlepip doesn't consider herself a hero. To do so would be the height of arrogance and completely stunt her growth as a character

Pip is indeed arrogant, bombastic, and impassioned (at least at the beginning). Like I said, her arrogance (or, rather, determination) is what drives her to cut through raider after raider when most would've just paled. She cut through raider after raider for Velvet—yet her feelings toward her are, evinced by this line, the equivalent to a shrug (and modest, and false—she clearly feels more than a crush, again evinced by all the dead raiders between her and Velvet).

This cognitive dissonance is one that makes no sense. I can't understand why someone like that would have so conflicting feelings an actions in this case.

She's a dynamic naturalistic flawed hero, not a static romantic paragon, and that's what allows the reader to relate to her.

Not to this reader. This reader finds her probably one of the most unrelateable he's ever read.

#7 · 99w, 4d ago · 2 · ·


find me a passage in the story where she says "Slavery might actually be an okay thing"

Alright, page 704:

>>Fallout Equestria

I found myself conflicted. I seethed at the treatment of the slave ponies, which amounted to nothing short of slow and torturous murder. And yet… I understood Red Eye’s goal. Maybe not all of it. The whole Unity thing was getting downright creepy. But the progress? The striving to make the world a better place at any cost? The same drive had left me flank-deep in blood, and I was not apologetic for it.

Red Eye will put you to work doing things we probably should be working together towards anyway. (Although by choice and in safer conditions!) Me? I’ll put a bullet through your head if you are a raping, murdering blight on ponykind. In both cases, we had decided that ponies who don’t choose to live their lives the right way had forfeited their right to live freely, if at all.


That line was clearly a naturalistic apology for an otherwise strong character. And, everything else considered about Pip, it doesn't hold. After that line, I can't believe such a person would exist or be tenable.

If you don't think a person can be socially awkward and still kill swaths of people in a moral outrage you haven't been paying attention.


Pip is indeed arrogant, bombastic, and impassioned (at least at the beginning). Like I said, her arrogance (or, rather, determination) is what drives her to cut through raider after raider when most would've just paled. She cut through raider after raider for Velvet—yet her feelings toward her are, evinced by this line, the equivalent to a shrug (and modest, and false—she clearly feels more than a crush, again evinced by all the dead raiders between her and Velvet).

This cognitive dissonance is one that makes no sense. I can't understand why someone like that would have so conflicting feelings an actions in this case.

I don't know why you're still attributing her killing the slavers to her love fore Velvet Remedy. It's clearly a separate issue. She kills the slavers, because they're slavers and she hates slavery.

>>Fallout Equestria

I knew this was foalish, but where there were slavers, there were slaves in need of rescue. I knew part of me was just trying to live up to my overblown reputation; but I’d also been a captive of slavers, if for only a few hours, and I couldn’t just ignore the fact that there were ponies up there who needed somepony to care enough to try and help them.

She even has an argument with Velvet Remedy over it once she finds her. Clearly she's not doing it for Velvet's sake.

>>Fallout Equestria

“It’s different!”

“Oh?” she challenged, “How?”

Because these are slavers who are killing people and selling others into slavery and death, even foals! And the zebras were just… the zebras just wiped out our cities. I stomped at the ground. Okay, maybe I didn’t have any logical reason why this was any different, but

it felt different.

“Look,” I tried reasonably, “These slaver ponies… when you save one

of them, you’re making it possible for them to hurt and kill other

ponies. Destroy lives. The slaves you heal? They’re being sold into

horrible work that ends up killing them. The slavers are just using

you so those poor ponies survive the trip into hell.”

#8 · 99w, 3d ago · · 2 ·


Not one part in that quoted paragraph comes close to LP saying that slavery per se is a good thing. She says that slavery is flat-out wrong, and never deviates from that. She understands the root of Red Eye's goals, but she doesn't once say that his methods might be okay.

E.g. One can say communists have good intentions without actually saying that communist methods are good.

If you don't think a person can be socially awkward and still kill swaths of people in a moral outrage you haven't been paying attention.

That is not what I said. I said that I don't think a person who has the capability to take radical actions when he's morally determined would ascribe so little thought to those morals in the first place. Yet this is indeed—and this is the thesis of my essay—what LP does when she says that her feelings for Velvet, the feelings that make her take radical action in the first place; and it makes everything else, the character, all her further moral outrage and steadfastness, unbelievable and implausible.

#9 · 99w, 3d ago · 4 · ·


Not one part in that quoted paragraph comes close to LP saying that slavery per se is a good thing.

You're moving the goal posts, you asked:

find me a passage in the story where she says "Slavery might actually be an okay thing"

If LP isn't having a moment of doubt, why is she so conflicted? Why is she drawing parallels between herself and Red Eye?

That is not what I said. I said that I don't think a person who has the capability to take radical actions when he's morally determined would ascribe so little thought to those morals in the first place.

What does love have to do with morals? Where's the disconnect between being a naive lovesick teenager who abandons her home and becoming galvanized in moral purpose when confronted with the atrocities of the wasteland?

#10 · 99w, 3d ago · · ·

Why is she drawing parallels between herself and Red Eye?

Because they're both motivated to do what they think is right, both motivated to make the wasteland a better place. LP still abhors Red Eye's method (slavery) and not once says it might be an okay thing to do to anybody.

What does love have to do with morals?

Absolutely everything. A moral code tells one what it is right for him to do and what it is wrong for him to do. A moral code will tell him who is right to love and who is wrong to love. A moral code will tell him how to act in regard to that person whom he loves.

Where's the disconnect between being a naive lovesick teenager who abandons her home and becoming galvanized in moral purpose when confronted with the atrocities of the wasteland?

Nothing. But I don't believe for a second that such a "lovesick teenager" who would and does become "galvanized in a moral purpose" would call her lovesickness a "crush shared by three hundred others."

#11 · 98w, 5d ago · 13 · ·

Someone pointed this essay out to me, so I figured that I would drop by.  It is nice to see someone attempting to put so much thought and analysis into the stories they read.

Unfortunately, in this case, you simply haven't read enough of the story to form accurate conclusions.  Your analysis, at least in the case of Fallout: Equestria, is fundamentally flawed.  This is, in part, because you don't grasp the themes of the story -- something unsurprising as you have read so little of it --  and thus you cannot accurately determine inconsistency with a theme.  Likewise, you do not understand the character of Littlepip, and you do not have the insight to properly analyze the context surrounding the passage of contention.  (Again, while the former is simple misunderstanding on your part, the latter is at least partially due to truths about her life in the Stable that are not revealed until much later.)

Is the "nobility of heroism" a major theme of the story?  Yes insomuch as heroism is portrayed as noble, and the need of heroes is a major theme of the story.  But not in the romanticized way you speak of it with phrases like "the power of love and hero-worship" and "inexorable will".  Fallout: Equestria portrays heroism as something to aspire to; Littlepip is a pony striving towards that ideal, not an embodiment of it.  

More importantly, you have missed that this is but one of the major themes in play.   Another, perhaps more vital than heroism, is the nature of virtues.  The story explores how important virtues are, how frail and easily warped they can be, and how friendship can act as a guide and bulwark against the forces that would corrupt them.  A third theme is the classic danger that good intentions can lead to the most harmful of results.  And the one I suspect will be most offensive to your ideology: sometimes, the right thing to do isn't the heroic thing to do.  Sometimes, to make the happy ending possible for others, you need to be willing to abandon being the hero and do things that will make you reviled -- to be the villain of the piece.  All of these themes interweave and play off of each other throughout the story.

Allow me to go through the passage you hare hung up on with you in order to assist your understanding.  Fair warning: this will include spoilers.

I’ll admit it: Here, LittlePip says that her feelings for Velvet Remedy are something to be admitted, as if they were something that brought her shame, a thought that she’d rather not keep in the foremost part of her mind due to some unmentioned factor. Why? The reason is never given.

Correction: the reason is not given yet.  

Like many who "fall in love" with their idols, Littlepip didn't truly know Velvet Remedy.  She had built a mental construct of her idol.  She wasn't in love with the actual person.  Instead, she had romantic daydreams about the pony she imagined Velvet Remedy to be.

Yes, this is something to be admitted.  Littlepip, as of the telling of this story, has done a lot of growing up.  She now recognizes the nature of the feelings she had for what they were.  She admits, to others but most importantly to herself, that her feelings were nothing more than a crush.

I’ll admit it now: With the use of the word now, LittlePip declares her feelings to be a mere afterthought, something not important enough to mention any earlier than where it is now. This clause, by itself, is a complete admission of moral weakness and insecurity when it comes to her feelings about Velvet Remedy.

Again, you made an inaccurate assessment based on not having read the story.  By using the word now, Littlepip is showing that she has grown and her ability to recognize this has changed between the time she is telling the story and the time being depicted.  

During the course of the second arc of the story, Littlepip grows to know Velvet Remedy -- the real one -- and become friends with her.  The romantic illusions are shattered and replaced with a true friendship.  By the twenty-fifth chapter, Littlepip has come to terms with this, and has finally reached the point where she can not only admit her earlier foalishness, but take comfort in what has replaced it.  

I’d had a crush on Velvet Remedy for years: The use of the word crush here implies the juvenile, immature, and the ephemeral. A crush is something that inherently carries very little weight, one of those passing, uncontrollable feelings that have no more impact in our lives than breathing.

Littlepip calls it a crush to make this point.  She knows that her feelings were a juvenile fantasy, neither actual love nor directed towards an actual person.

But LittlePip’s feelings for her, Velvet Remedy, are not inconsequential. Velvet Remedy leaving the stable is what drives LittlePip to leave it herself, even when others object. Moreover, her feelings for Velvet Remedy, because they’re actually what make her leave the stable, is the basis for the entire story.

You have severely misinterpreted both Littlepip's character and the basis for the story.  Granted, you have read less than a tenth of the story.  But even giving leeway for that, I cannot quite fathom how you analyzed what you have read so badly.  (Although I will make a guess below.)

But first, let my correct the primary misconception that has caused all of your speculation and analysis to fail disastrously:

Littlepip's crush was not the motivating factor for her leaving the Stable.  It was not her "highest value", nor was it a virtue of her character.  It was, in fact, quite the opposite.  Littlepip's crush was the character flaw that blinded her, allowing her to be manipulated in the first place.

Even Littlepip did not believe she was leaving the Stable because she was in love.  Her conscious motivation was to fix a problem -- she would rather act, sacrificing her own safety and security, than do nothing and face a life of having been the cause but not part of the solution.

Subconsciously, she was motivated by a combination of her Special Talent (which I will not reveal here) and one of her most driving personality traits, the latter being curiosity.  Littlepip is not a character driven by love; she is a character driven by the need to make things right and by the need to explore and discover... something that was utterly stifled in the world she lived in.  Curiosity's role may surprise you, but it shouldn't.  Consider that she didn't understand how anyone could get lost in a Stable, despite the fact that it occasionally happened.  What does this say about the level to which she explored the place?  Consider that the direction she naturally went in exploring new talents: lockpicking.  Even from the Prelude, Littlepip unintentionally reveals the influence this trait as had on her all her life.

It is the subconscious motivators that overwhelm the relatively weak bonds holding Littlepip to the Stable.  These are more than sufficient to push her to abandon a home where she feels unwanted, unproductive and ultimately hopeless.  To abandon her family, which consists only of a mother whom she feels disconnected from already, and her friends, of whom she has none.  Combined with her virtue (also not revealed here), these motivators make her leaving of safety and the first step into the unknown almost a foregone conclusion.  Her crush was, at most, something that she could, in the beginning, mentally point a hoof at in an attempt to justify what she was doing.

In short, this was not an "insipid character- and plot-breaking line".  Rather, it was the exact opposite of that.

I speculate that in your subconscious desire to romanticize the character, you missed several very important character-revealing passages and de-emphasized elements you should have paid more attention to.  I suspect that you have, quite ironically, ruined the story for yourself because of your own subconscious premise.  As an " appreciator of romanticism", you want Littlepip's motivations to be founded in the romantic, and take offense to the shattering of romantic illusion.

To downplay her feelings, as LittlePip, the protagonist and hero, does, to lower such a passionate, unique, powerful, plot-moving feeling: as an appreciator of romanticism, I find this unspeakable.

Except that the feeling wasn't passionate.  It wasn't unique.  It wasn't powerful.  And it wasn't plot-motivating.  It was exactly what three hundred other ponies were feeling.  It did not serve to fuel Littlepip's heroism.  It only served to make her weak and desperate in other parts of her life -- to act as a barrier to friendship and a chance at love.  A barrier that she would have to overcome, and as that line foreshadows, eventually did.  And that... all of that... was not what you wanted to read.  You were philosophically against core elements of the story, but you couldn't perceive and handle that.  So you inserted passion and power where there was none.  You tried to imbue plot-motivation where it didn't belong.  And that is why your speculations and analysis went tragically far from the mark.

Still, an "A for effort".

In the end, it was not Fallout: Equestria, but rather your reading of it, that never had a chance.

#12 · 98w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

What insightful essay.

You made all of these conclusions on stories you have not yet finished?

Perhaps a reanalysis should be done upon completion of the stories. After all, it would be like tasting a pie without biting it. How do you know what it tastes like when you never take a bite?

I have learned a bit.

Thank you.

#13 · 85w, 9h ago · · ·

I seem to be late to the party, but I find this a fascinating comparison of the two stories, and a good example of some much needed dissent in a sub-community awash with consensus.

#14 · 85w, 4h ago · 4 · ·

There are a lot of great insights in this post, but also a strange blindness to your own admitted prejudices in the section on Fallout: Equestria, in which you elaborated on the distinction between romantic and naturalistic characters, and then complained at length that Fallout: Equestria uses naturalistic characters.

This isn’t bad; quite the contrary, it creates some juicy conflicts, which is why the Hooker with a Heart of Gold trope is so popular. But to create a conflict, to create moral ambiguity, actions and values and choices need to be consistent, i.e., the reader needs to be able to understand why a person like that would be conflicted as he is now.

I don’t believe the hooker with the heart of gold trope posits conflict or moral ambiguity within the hooker. It’s about the hypocrisy of society, which condemns the hooker for violating arbitrary social rules. The trope shows that those rules have nothing to do with having a good moral character. It shows that society doesn’t value virtue, and “morals” aren’t about morality.

But this is completely out of character for Brimstone, the guy who dedicated his life to showing himself and the goddesses that people can change their roles. It also contradicts the message of Murky Number Seven, which says that prejudicing against born roles is wrong.

Very good point; but this may be deliberate. The main obstacle to Brimstone’s reformation may be that he doesn’t think it’s possible. (I haven’t read the story.)

If slavery is truly evil, then why is it depicted as a thriving, productive industry?

Why would something being evil prevented from being a thriving, productive industry? I haven’t read Murky, but this is one of the themes of Fallout: Equestria. Red Eye’s slave labor camp is evil, but it’s working, when nothing else is. Red Eye, one of the main villains of FoE, is also one of the only characters who cares and still has hope for the future. I think kkat meant it to be unclear whether Red Eye’s actions are in fact evil, or justified in the long run. If you view FoE through the lens of conventional morality, you’re going to bounce off it without understanding anything.

Murky has to decide whether to take medicine from a dying mare to help Glimmerlight, or to leave it and let Glimmerlight die. ...a deus e machina results, absolving Murky of the responsibility to make a moral choice.

That is bad literature, very bad; but it isn’t a departure from theme. It’s the presentation of a false theme, and by false I mean “incorrect”. This is the norm. A few months ago, I was watching one of Blueshift’s streams of a Dr. Who episode, and they set up a trolley-car conflict where the doctor would have to hand over an innocent man to be killed, or else an entire town of moderately innocent people would be killed. And I threw my hands up in disgust and stopped watching, because I knew the writers would resolve it by having the Doctor think of something clever, or in some other way resolve the issue with no losers. (And they did.) That’s because the theme being presented is that the world is set up so that morality works. Virtue is rewarded, good and evil are clear choices, and the world will magically resolve any situations in which they are not at first their choices. This is what most people believe and what most stories preach. Subverting this is what makes Fallout: Equestria so unusual.

While romantics like Fuzzy strive to depict abstract values as fully realized characters, naturalists like Kkat strive to create believable, everyday reality and characters; naturalist characters are not homogenous walking concretes of values—rather, they’ve been created with the intent in mind of creating a real person, i.e., someone you could meet on the street.

But these schools, romanticism and naturalism, are immiscible. Someone subconsciously writing on the romantic premise but trying to craft a naturalist story will fall flat, and vice-versa.

That’s a great insight.

Through these two sentences in the first chapter, Kkat managed to, somehow, undermine everything that could have possibly followed in the story.

Not in the least. LittlePip is just starting her character arc. It would be bad for her to be fully-developed at the start of her arc. Furthermore, you just said she was a realistic character. Now you’re complaining that she isn’t a consistent romantic character. Also see the comments by >>1381787, >>1381826, and >>1395699 . Well, you did, but you bounced off them:

As a reader, there's nothing I hate more than to be told explicitly, or implicitly, that my time has been wasted.

It wasn’t wasted. It showed LittlePip’s initial immaturity.

You're right, LittlePip doesn't actually feel that way—thus, the line destroys her earnestness as a character; and, unlike the drug line which is dramatizing a conflict, serves only to lower in the reader's eyes a prime motivating factor of the story.

It doesn’t destroy her earnestness either in the past (when she acted on her crush), nor in the present (when she knows better). Nor would it matter, if it did. The fact that you use the word “destroy” instead of “diminish” or “tarnish” shows you demand heroes who are pure, mere abstractions of simplistic virtues rather than real people.

I state here that absolutely no young woman would abandon her home, her family, her friends, risk life and limb, be willing to sustain injuries and kill scores of people—all to go after someone toward whom she calls her feelings, as a passing thought, a “crush,” which she thinks three hundred others share.

You’re wrong. Read the newspaper. Talk to people. This happens every day.

Because, in fact, what LittlePip feels toward Velvet Remedy is not what three hundred other ponies feel. If that were true, if three hundred other ponies felt the exact same way toward Velvet Remedy as she, LittlePip, did, then there would’ve been three hundred other ponies trying to get out to go save her.

Now you’re playing semantic games. When LittlePip says ”Me and at least three hundred other ponies [have a crush on her]”, she didn’t say that they all felt the exact same way; she didn’t say whether in her private ontology feelings encompass the resulting actions; she didn’t say or know whether she was a reliable narrator on that point.

In addition, as someone who loves heroes, as someone who has a desire to see the intransigent best doing the best when everyone else is doing wrong, as someone who ascribes a great deal of worth and merit to hero-worship, this line is morally repugnant to me.

I read that as, “I love only romantic characters, and kkat successfully confronted me on this point.”

Velvet Remedy leaving the stable is what drives LittlePip to leave it herself, even when others object.

A realistic character never does anything out of a single motivation. FoE spent a lot of time establishing LittlePip’s other motivation for leaving the Stable; the entire the first chapter, if I recall.

I feel so certainly in these speculations, that I don’t even consider them speculations.

That’s a giant flashing red warning light that you have run up against something that you’re unwilling to think about.

LittlePip, this “hero” who’s supposed to have this inexorable will, becomes a helpless, unwilling victim to a drug addiction.

Here again you’re explicitly saying, “I don’t like naturalistic characters.” Since you are aware of the differences between them, and the different ideologies behind them, you should admit that you’re just pushing an ideological agenda here, not critiquing flaws in a story.

#15 · 84w, 5d ago · 1 · ·

LittlePip, this “hero” who’s supposed to have this inexorable will, becomes a helpless, unwilling victim to a drug addiction.

I'm way late to this party, but there's another important point I think which comes up as far as Fallout and drug use goes.

In Fallout, some of the drugs actually make you a lot better. In real life, there are essentially two classes of drugs - steroids and stimulants - which make you "better", and steroids only work in the long term, not in the short. Almost everyone has been under the influence of caffeine... which really doesn't make much of a difference honestly. Stronger stimulants, such as amphetamines, have more noticeable effects.

What Fallout does is essentially take these drugs and amp them up, so that they make a huge difference but have rapid and rather dramatic consequences on your health and are quite addictive, not only because they actually have an in-game addiction mechanic, but also because you, as the player, want to abuse them because, well, they make you awesome. I haven't actually played fallout 3, but I can tell you in the first two fallout games, the drugs can make a pretty big difference... but I personally almost never used them because they were too scary.

LilPip is in the situation where using these drugs helps her out in numerous situations. Not only is she growing addicted to them, but she increasingly feels she absolutely needs them to survive in the face of the hostile world and to save people. Indeed, there is ambiguity over how true this is - the drugs actually ARE powerful, and really DO help save her bacon several times. But nothing she does will matter if they destroy her before she can actually accomplish anything.

So while the drug addiction is nasty, it is not like someone getting addicted to, say, heroin, and more comparable to a stimulant addiction, except amped up to eleven because the effect is even more beneficial, and the side effects even faster to accumulate, and she's in a very deadly world.

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