News Archive

Sep
12th
2014

After love, loss.  After loss, picking up the pieces.  After picking up the pieces, what then?  Today's story digs beneath Carrot Top's surface for an answer.

Shoots and Roots

[Sad] [Slice of Life] • 6,366 words

Time alone can't heal all wounds for Carrot Top. Sometimes life simply goes on in the worst and best possible ways.

FROM THE CURATORS: The Royal Canterlot Library's job is to spotlight the fandom's best, which leads to a lot of reading from established, well-known authors — so it's always a great feeling when we get to play hipsters and feature a little-known writer with obvious talent.  When Present Perfect noticed in the story's author's note that Shoots and Roots was Bachiavellian's "first real attempt at writing fiction," the discovery was accompanied by a cheerful expletive. "It's been ages since I read a story this good and saw that at the end," he said.  "I haven't been this excited about a story suggestion since That's All."

We found Shoots and Roots exemplary in its "unusually mature take on its core tragedy," as Horizon put it.  Chris, in his nomination of the story, explained: "It hits the sweet spot between sad and hopeful.  This could easily have been yet another 'ooh, look at this pony, her life sucks, now feel bad for her,' but despite Carrot Top getting dealt a tragic hand by life, the story is ultimately about acceptance, growth, and how we can move on without forgetting."  It's also about the relationships that strengthen her, as Present Perfect pointed out: "It's nice to see a story not leave all the emotional bang for the end.  I was left reeling by Derpy's generous understanding — I get really emotional when ponies are good goddamn friends to each other."

Ultimately, those friendships make Shoots and Roots' Slice-of-Life take on MLP a joy to read despite the tragedy. "This is one of those stories that takes something the fandom enjoys doing and makes it real," Present Perfect said. "What [the Pony Fiction Vault-featured] The Archer and the Smith did for Lyra and hands, this does for Carrot Top, Derpy and Dinky."

Read on for our author interview, in which Bachiavellian discusses Portal music, helpful mistakes, and recipe-swapping.

Read More
PresentPerfect · 525 views · Report
Sep
10th
2014

And just like that, it's September. Another month goes by, and another round of groups need advertising.

Remember that these posts are open to the public - if you've got a group you want advertised, send me a PM with a link to the group and a brief description of what your group is and why people should check it out. I'll add it to the list for October's post.

Here's everything that's been submitted since August:


Here be writer's blocks. And we are the knights that slay them!

This is the group for any and all writers that have a writer's block. Whether it be a temporary or serious case, our team of top notch goof-offs will help you to get your creative juices pumping, and to find ideas, skin them, leave their coats in the sun to dry, and eventually make 16th century style boots out of them that give you +6 kicking, allowing you to vanquish that writer's block with a swift tap in the bottom side. Join us, dear writers, in the quest to slay the deadly cube of writing!

The design of this group is to be a place where random ideas of all shapes and sizes can get tossed around (hopefully none of the big ones hit anyone in the head). Say whatever, be random, joke, jest, play, write, write backwards, eat food, drive cars, become immortals, and last but not least, tacos.

The idea is that inspiration comes in all forms, but most especially the creative one. Just write something, anything, the first thing that comes to your mind, and you'll soon find that you have many original ideas that can become fantastic stories or continuations. We will post prompts, questions, and perhaps even contests. Who knows? The limits are limitless!


A Tyranny of Twisted Truculence - Story Challenges for the Clinically Repressed

Dostoevsky once said that "deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad."

Join this group and harness the misunderstood power of futile prompting and pitiful prose. Explore the existing exercises or try your hoof at the current story challenge, the latter having been the subject of marvellous silent accolade.

In a friendly environment where there is no pressure to perform, one can only go up. Please assist us in testing this hypothesis—we're sure it works!


The Group That Makes Banners And Icons For Other Groups

Exactly as it says on the tin. If you’re not proficient with photo programs, or just don’t understand how it works, TGTMBAIFOG is here to help you.  Our Creators know how to use these programs and will help you to best of their ability.

We are currently looking for more people that know their way around photo manipulation programs to be Creators.

We are also looking at the possibility to help with cover images for stories, and banners for user pages.  We will expand into this as soon as we get more and enough Creators.

Everyone is welcome and, of course, feel free to stop by and get a banner and icon for your group.


Daisy Chain is a group dedicated to the shipping prompt series of the same name. We at Daisy Chain believe everypony can be shipped, and we should have fun doing so. Daisy Chain works in a series of 'Rounds', in these rounds every writer gets one chance at writing a fic, and one chance at prompting a pony. The ships for the fics are determined as such: Fic 1 = Pony 1 x Pony 2, writer of Fic 1 then prompts Pony 3, Fic 2 = Pony 2 x Pony 3. This way it functions in a chain (hence, Daisy Chain).

There are few for the ships: No incest, foalcon or clop (sexual references are allowed). There are also rules for the rounds, round 1 being know as the 'Mane Round' merely required a mane 6 member be in the ship. The rounds will be getting more interesting, and more of a challenge for our writers, as we go. All are welcome to join the group as readers, if anyone wishes to be a writer for Daisy Chain, please send me a message and I'll make the arrangements.

So if you want to see unique ships like: Maud x Fluttershy (Maudshy), Applejack x Teddie Safari (Applesafari), and Pinkie x Fleur de Lis (Fleurkie), this is a group you'll enjoy :ajsmug:


The Revive Dead FanFics Group is a group DARKPHANTOM13 started that is about continuing great stories that was either cancelled or the authors of said story died. Is there a story where the author either cancelled or hasn't been seen in who knows how and doesn't show any signs of coming back? Than you can add the stories to this group where they can hopefully get another author to finish them. Or you can find a story here and pick one you want to finish. There is a lot of great stories that have been left to rot on this site, why don't we help give them a second chance.


Human hate vs. Equestria

This group is a place where humans with pure hate come to let their minds roam free. Now the name of the group sounds like it's for nut jobs, but that's only because it is. You see, we humans sometimes tend to let out a bit of rage that can simply f*#k with our heads, so I and a couple of voices in my head decided that this would be a wonderful opportunity to create something great.

But the bottom line: This group is for people who love MLP, but in a dark and twisted kind of way. Like stories with war, hatred, betrayal, sorrow and anything else that makes you inner rage scream out to the world. So if you have some stories that have the main character, or a army of humans wanting to bring down Equestria with his/her bare hands, please add it to this group, and let your fellow humans read it. So come on you insane bastards, LET YOUR HUMAN HATE FLOW ONTO EQUESTRIA!


Balloon Ponies

Interested in balloons, ponies, or balloon ponies?

If that was a *Squeak* I heard, then come on down to the group where you can read all about lovable inflatable ponies, shoot the breeze, and remember to tie down so you don't blow away!

Of course, for all you darkfic types, we have stories that feature the dark aspects of ponies becoming ballons, or, even the romantic aspects. We've got everything you could want!...Well, maybe. But that's where you come in! Feel free to write or add stories about rubbery, inflatable ponies to the group, and brainstorm with the rest of us over at Balloon Ponies. We have the occasional contest, as well, so flex your rubber-writing muscles for our next one!


Elements of Insanity is a group dedicated to the very Pony Freaks made by TheInvertedShadow and his friends.

This group follows stories that have or are involving the Pony Freaks that Shadow and his pals made such as Brutalight Sparkcake, Rarifruit, Fluttershout, Applepills, Rainbine, Pinkis Cupcake, Derpigun, Painset Shimmercakes, Magic Mare and Creepy Belle. But this group also allows fan made Pony Freaks such as the creator's Pony Freaks.

There are three admins on this group. And the creator make threads detailing the latest Elements of Insanity videos that TheInvertedShadow, his friends, and many EOI fans make and many fan arts. If you are a fan of the Elements of Insanity, do not hesitate to join us.


That's it for September! See you next month!

Eldorado · 1,010 views · Edited 6d, 1h ago · Report
Sep
7th
2014

Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


A chill wind rippled across the plain, sending a cloud of grey dust swirling in its wake. It had once been a happy wind, of the sort that regularly blew through green fields filled with bunnies and butterflies and other such cutesy critters, but it had traveled far from such idyllic surroundings. In place of the scent of flowers, it brought the musty scent of decay, the stinging taste of ash, and—curiously—a hint of abused ink.

A sheet of paper whirled and danced in the wind, defying the cracked and broken ground beneath it. It fluttered above deep craters and worn trenches, mounds of upturned earth and muddy defiles, until it finally came to rest in a hole. But this was no ordinary hole; in this hole sat two figures.

One of them turned to look at the sheet of paper.

“You’ve got one on your head,” said ambion.

“Your turn,” said Belligerent Sock.

Reaching up, ambion plucked the crinkled page from Sock’s threadbare cranium. His eyes roved the text in detail, squinting against the ambient dust. After a few long moments, his squint turned to a frown.

“No go,” he said, tossing the sheet back to the wind. “Just about Luna and her twisted love for a villainous OC. Missing basic grammar, too.”

“Hm,” said Sock, nodding.

Silence reigned for several moments.

“I want to get out of the hole,” said ambion.

Sock offered a flawless counterargument. “No, you don’t.”

“I’m pretty sure I do.”

“You don’t want to get out of the hole.”

“We’ve been in the hole for, like, a week.” ambion crossed his arms. “I’m tired of subsisting on the sporadic rain, occasional midge, and my fear of death.”

“I don’t think you understand. The hole is where we’re safe.” He pointed out at the blasted wastes. “Out there are things that will bleed you given half a chance. Things like self-inserts and clop and…” He shuddered. “…anthro.”

“And you really think we’re that much safer sitting in a hole like this?”

“I know so.” Sock waved at the surroundings. “See this meta-narrative of which we are a part?”

ambion’s eyes glazed over. “Uh…”

“Right. It’s all around us, transpiring even as I speak. And every narrative has a certain plot, right? Well, right now, we’re operating according to such a plot. And the plot says to stay in the hole.”

ambion blinked, then broke into a grin. “So, what you’re saying is, we’re in a plot hole?”

“The hole has a proper name and you know it,” Sock snapped. “But yes, you could say that.”

“And so I did. Now, here’s a question. Wouldn’t being in a plot hole imply something’s gone wrong with the narrative?”

“Nothing’s gone wrong. We’ve been sitting here, looking for stories to review for a whole week. It’s not our fault they haven’t decided to walk into our midst.”

“Yeah,” said ambion, rolling his eyes, “I don’t know how they could have missed us. Couldn’t we just take a peek out there?”

This called for a drastic and powerful argument. Sock took a deep breath. “You don’t want to get out of the hole.”

“Hm,” said ambion, nodding.

They went quiet. The sound of the wind returned to fill the silence.

“Meh, I’m bored enough.” Without another word, ambion clambered out of the hole and disappeared into the dust.

Sock sat and stared for a moment, blinked twice, and stared some more. Had any crickets been nearby, they would have chirped their laughter at his expression. He blinked again.

“Plot twist!” he cried, and scampered after ambion.


ROUND 51


STORY 1

Cheese ‘n Crackers, by Shotoman

Cheese Sandwich is all about making ponies smile, just like the preposterously popular pink party pony of Ponyville taught him all those years ago. As a party planner, that usually means he makes 'em smile in droves. Droves! But when he encounters a certain down-on-her-luck unicorn illusionist, well, who needs droves when a single smile says just as much?


ambion:

This story can be read in all of a few minutes. It doesn’t break any new ground where pony fiction is concerned, but it’s not aiming to. Here we get a simple, short and sweet encounter of two well-liked secondary characters. The setting is lightly adorned and the story short as it is, is content to be carried largely on the scene’s dialogue and the playfulness of its characters. This one isn’t going to be bringing you any surprises, (except that, yes, Trixie can be playful) but it could well bring you a smile and people fond of the silliness and lightheartedness intrinsic to Cheese Sandwich will find something to enjoy.

Belligerent Sock:

CHEESE ON CRACKERS?! WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS?!

One of the things I like to do on this site is hunt up curious character combinations. After all, we see pairs of white socks every day—sometimes you need to try the polka-dot socks with your striped ones, just to see what comes of the mix. Sometimes, you get fics like this, whose two principal characters seem like totally obvious choices in hindsight.

Seriously, Trixie and Cheese Sandwich are pretty much made for each other. Not romantically, mind—you ought to know my stance on the sinister science of shipping by now—but in the traits they have in common. They’re both traveling perfomers; that alone is fertile ground for exploration.

And it is those green fields this fic wisely focuses on. Set shortly after each character’s last respective arcs, they both present themselves with personalities and outlooks which feel very much like the show. Trixie’s carrying a bit more baggage, but that’s what helps establish the conflict and give her something to think on in her introspective moments.

Once the two start interacting, well, I won’t spoil anything, but it goes pretty much how you’d expect. It’s a dynamic that works; their shared experience in showbiz serves as a good icebreaker as well as the topic of further discussion. It comes so naturally that I find myself wondering why you don’t see more fics like this.

It opened my eyes to the fertile ground that is these two ponies’ interactions. I find myself wanting to see more interaction between Trixie and Cheese, especially if it’s as enjoyable to read as this fic is. If there’s better praise for a piece of writing than “I want to see more”, I don’t know what it is.


STORY 2

Flight of the Magpie, by DuncanR

The surly but brilliant police inspector known as "The Lens" has spent her entire career putting thieves and burglars behind bars... but only one of them was ever skilled enough to evade her. "The Magpie" is a masked pony responsible some of the most daring and spectacular thefts in Equestrian history, and despite his fame nopony knows who he is or what he wants.

After seven years of pursuit, Inspector Spectacles is determined to stop his most brazen heist yet and put him in prison one and for all... but nothing is ever so simple. Even in defeat, the charming and enigmatic pony has the city of Canterlot in an uproar. Although the Inspector knows everything about his methods, she must now unravel the truth about his personal motives—and in so doing, face a fearful moral quandary.


ambion:

Flight of the Magpie has something of a fast, intelligent feel about it. It doesn’t do well despite having a near exclusively OC cast but because of it, and clips along at a quick pace well suited to the cat and mouse premise of the story. The characters are distinct, well developed and interact believably with manners and foibles all their own. Minor characters play their roles well, bringing humour and excitement at just the right times at just the right levels. The world feels well-founded, with references to fictitious places and the jewels therein that bring to mind daring heists and ingenious cunning.

The frustration of Lens as she deals with her opponent’s celebrity status and the fundamental realigning of her own understanding of, not the how, but the why makes this moderately sized story nonetheless a considerable journey for our protagonist.

The line of questioning that underpins the story is fairly apparent early on and the lack of anything pedantic or argumentative about the way its addressed meant that I was interested to read on to find out what conclusions the story came to not just on the narrative level but on another one too. Disagreeing with the conclusions is as satisfying as agreeing with them, and makes Flight of the Magpie a solid, flashy story that’s entertaining and brain-chewable also.

The story does not have any tags, but potential readers should imagine it as being Adventure, or Adventure-Comedy.

Belligerent Sock:

THIS ONE FLIES OVER A CUCKOO’S NEST!

So, let’s talk about character. No, not integrity or honor or anything like that—I know there’s a dearth of that around here, and I’m a prime example—but what it means to craft a unique, individual personality within the confines of a story.

A character is, like any sock, the product of multiple ingredients. Personality is the thread which constructs them; their role in the story is the elastic which dictates how far they can stretch. Onto this can be added any number of stains and little holes and threadbare places to highlight their history, and bam! Slap that fellow in the shoe of context, and he’ll walk on his own.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not enough to simply come up with a character and hope they can march their way to wherever the story takes them. You need to start them off on the right foot, and the way to do that is to make them memorable from the get-go. Ideally, the first scene where they appear is a situation which perfectly encapsulates everything about them.

You can probably see where this is heading, and yes, this fic does precisely what I just described. Its opening is a great interweaving of both character and plot; it throws you right into the mystery, right into the characters, and right into the heart of the story. We’re quickly introduced to our protagonist, Inspector Spectacles, and she quickly demonstrates her prowess in the realms of security and counter-intelligence.

From this springs a narrative that is equal parts intrigue and well-conceived political drama. The events of the opening act are merely the tip of the iceberg: the initial heist quickly turns into a battle of wills as Spectacles meets the titular Magpie and begins unraveling exactly what makes him tick. I guess that’s another thing you can chalk up with this fic: it’s an intriguing character study, as well.

Now, no fic is perfect, and I think this one does lose some of its initial “oomph” toward the end. The prose tends to fall to the background in place of the characters’ interactions, with an emphasis on simply moving the story forward. That aside, though, it does all come together into a conclusion that feels both complete and satisfying. The mystery underlying the mystery is one which runs the gamut from simple caper to legal drama to moral dilemma, all without skipping a beat.

And that certainly makes this little bird worth chasing.


STORY 3

Equestrian Horizon, by JinShu

Lieutenant Commander Firefly and her Timberwolf flight are combat fliers of the highest caliber and seasoned veterans of the Continental War, a massive conflict from which the world is just beginning to rebuild.  When a nation lost to time suddenly resurfaces in the frozen north,  it is her fliers that are tasked with keeping peace in the frigid skies over the Crystal Empire.

But even the best cannot escape the scars of war.  Images of battle continue to haunt Firefly, demons that she cannot seem to exorcise on her own.  Meanwhile, she still has a squad to lead, a new recruit to train, and patrols to conduct.  But what begins as routine patrol work rapidly escalates into deadly dogfights and furious fleet actions.  There is more to this fight than just a few rogue griffons out for blood and coin.  As the situation rapidly spirals out of control, the Timberwolves find themselves embroiled in a conflict that will determine the fate of not just the Crystal Empire, but the entire free world.


ambion:

Equestrian Horizon begins in the aftermath of an Equestrian World War, drawing heavy inspiration from the Ace Combat games, and I will simply say right here that I know nothing at all of these games.

That being said, I never found there be the exclusive-feeling awkwardness typical to stories derivative of something and so will vouch that ignorance of Ace Combat is no reason to shy away from this story.

Equestrian Horizon lovingly embraces the jargon and the culture of military life and applies them with a familiarity and confidence that gave it a lot of credibility for me. The world-building, which definitely needs to be strong for a story of this nature, holds up well and makes for a vivid, albeit violent, Equestria.

Another almost exclusively OC cast, the characters of Equestrian Horizon are distinct and hit the ground running (or not...’cause wings...you get the idea) and our protagonist, Firefly, is a strong, likeable, and ultimately fallible character.

A good balance of action and character driven downtime keeps the story fresh and while the story is Incomplete, it is one to follow with interest and enjoyment.

Belligerent Sock:

SO, HAVE YOU FOUND A REASON TO FIGHT YET, BUDDY?

Full disclosure: I freely admit that I might be a bit biased with this one, because I am an Ace Combat fanatic. Long have I desired a proper crossover with that series, and this is about as close as I’ve seen anyone come to meeting the standard. A fic like this, with some honest effort put into it, makes me happier than Baron Von Richthofen’s socks after yet another aerial victory.

Now, I’ll also say this up front: this one probably isn’t for everyone. This is a straight piece of military fiction, with all the requisite tropes and jargon in abundance. If that’s not usually your cup of tea, this one probably won’t do anything to change your mind. If, however, you’re fine with the idea of ponies waging war, and are up for some in-depth worldbuilding and high-flying action, then this might be one for you.

Because that’s exactly what you’ll get with this fic. The author has obviously put a lot of thought into this setting of theirs—the exhaustive prologue being one such example—as well as the weapons and methods of the war being waged by our pegasus pilots. The real-world analogues are obvious, but work well enough that they don’t feel too out of place; rather, they feel like a logical extension of the setting. As long as you can swallow the basic premise, the rest all falls into place.

Underneath all the worldbuilding is a pretty character-centric work. The Timberwolves, as they are known, all have distinct personalities, and feel three-dimensional enough to garner attention. Firefly herself is the focus of the work, and well, she certainly begs attention. She’s abrasive, prone to heated outbursts, and seemingly lacks all respect for authority—in all honesty, she’s the sort of personality that grates against my military sensibilities. What saves her, though, is that her antics are acknowledged as a problem within the story itself, and it seems there’s still plenty of time for her to experience some character development.

If there’s one nitpick I do have, it’s that I wish the author had resisted the temptation to include music links with this fic; that’s always struck me as an odd and, dare I say, detrimental, sort of behavior. It breaks immersion, distracting the reader from the fic itself and substituting the meaning of the author’s words with that of another artist. That said, I do understand that with a musical pedigree like Ace Combat’s, you’ll want to trumpet the soundtracks as loudly as possible. Hell, I’m guilty of it with this very review.

In conclusion, while this fic doesn’t necessarily push any boundaries in its respective genre, it hits all the right marks for a story of its type. It’s got the action, it’s got the worldbuilding, it’s got the characters, and, if I may say so, it’s got a bit of genuine Ace Combat flair to it. This is worth watching the skies for.


STORY 4

Back and Forth, by adcoon

Cadance receives a letter which no one delivered, written by two little fillies who never lived. It mentions a daughter Cadance didn't know she had, and a great wolf no one's ever heard of. Cadance decides to find the two and grant their wish, but why did she go alone, and what did Clover the Clever write on a rock in the middle of nowhere?


ambion:

Back and Forth is a story that, as of writing this review, poses a great many questions. From nearly the moment it gets underway the story fills you with the feeling that there is a lot going on here - in past, present and future, all - that we aren’t privy to. Not yet at any rate, so that these revelations are lurking. Waiting. There is a lot going on in this fic, and seeing how it will all piece together will make Back and Forth the kind of story where updates are hungrily devoured.

Princess Cadence is a character that tends to get a lot of flak in this fandom, so seeing her not only lead a story but lead it well - in a story dark as this, no less! - is a nice plus for her fans. Here Cadence is intelligent, competent, and bold, all in line with the better iterations of her character. But the tags to this story don’t betray themselves and what would otherwise make for a preppy, perky pink princess adventure gets thunderously, brutally subverted.

How well do pretty colours, glitter, and good feelings size up against violence and evil?

About as well as you’d think.

Belligerent Sock:

NO, THIS ONE IS NOT ABOUT PONY PING-PONG!

In case the impression hasn’t rubbed off on you yet, I love mysteries; it’s been my long-standing belief that this site is diminished without a proper “Mystery” tag. Mysteries, by their nature, invite thought on both sides of a story’s presentation. They require considerable forethought by the author, and they challenge the reader to a higher level of thinking than simply parsing the words on the page.

Any story that has the balls to withhold information from its observers—like a casual sock—is one that garners my attention. This fic makes it apparent that it’s holding all the cards right from the description. It digs its claws into you even further with its opening lines.

Narrative hooks are important in any story, but are especially true in mysteries, where the reader must be engaged with constant little hints as to the bigger picture, or otherwise provided with challenges to their perceptions. Again, the fic succeeds in this right from the start, and the effect is only compounded as things progress.

Like I said, any good mystery requires its reader to pay attention, and things happen in this fic which very much warrant you to pay bloody attention. There’s a subtle uneasiness that builds throughout—little things that are somehow wrong, which create a compounding sense of dread. And when the story drops all pretense, it only begs more questions—exactly as it should be.

Now, be forewarned, readers: this one is very much deserving of its “Dark” tag. By the point the story currently stands at, Cadance has been through a life-threatening gauntlet, with all the injury and death that implies. The antagonistic forces at play here are not very friendly, and the laws of narrative dictate that they’re only going to get nastier as things head forward.

And as for exactly where things are headed, well, even I have no clue. Again, this is what I love about mysteries—waiting for the other shoe to drop and seeing if it either blows your mind or makes you go “Aha!” Or both. Suffice it to say, this is one I have marked for future reference, and I highly suggest you do the same.


“So, long story short, we managed to find the four.” Sock dapped some iodine on a cut on his cheek. “Could’ve gone a little cleaner, admittedly.”

“Yeah, I’d say so,” said Alexmagnet, his hands folded on the Desk of Authority. “You guys spent way longer out there than you needed.”

Sock shrugged. “I told him to stay in the hole.”

“Did you, now?”

“Yeah. Said it multiple times. Even tried listing off the hole’s virtues. Like how it only floods half the time, or how worms sometimes turn up inside it, or how if you smell a certain spot at certain times of the day, it smells kinda like licorice.”

“See, I think it’s stuff like that that makes people averse to the hole. The name doesn’t help.”

“It’s called the ‘BS-Hole’ for a reason. Not changing it.”

Alex sat back. “Well, a job done’s a job done. How’s ambion?”

“He started mumbling ‘The horror…’ about an hour ago. Pretty quick recovery for taking multiple self-insert clopfics to the face.”

“Hm,” said Alex, nodded. “Well, now that it’s over, what are your plans?”

“I think,” said Sock, lifting a shovel out of nowhere, “I am going to enlarge my hole.”

Alex sighed. “Not helping, Sock.”


Feel free to visit our group for more information and events, and to offer some recommendations for future rounds. See you all next time!

Alexstrazsa · 1,226 views · Report
Sep
5th
2014

What would Equestria be without the rule of its solar princess?  Today's story speculates that the answer might be "nothing" in a more literal way than anyone suspects.

Equestria From Dust

[Adventure] [Alternate Universe] • 69,579 words

Celestia awakens to see an empty world, white sandstone stretching the horizon. She wanders the world as she builds it from her imagination, filling it with life, but as time passes, the world that she created begins to seem like little more than a lucid dream, conjured from the dust.

FROM THE CURATORS: "Mythology fics are always going to be divisive," Chris warned us when he nominated this one, but he had nothing to worry about — this one solidly won over its critics.  "Even though I generally don't care for premises that hinge on Celestia and Luna being gods, this story does too many things too well for me not to support it," JohnPerry said.  Similarly, Horizon got hooked: "We've seen so much great Equestria mythology come through here that the merely good is getting underwhelming … but once the world had fully come together, Equestria From Dust grabbed me enough that I read all 70,000 words in a single sitting."

What made the story so compelling?  "Celestia," Chris said. "It paints a vivid picture of who Celestia is in relation to Equestria, and does so while crafting a suitably grand parallel for her budding awareness in her shaping of the world.  I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a great example of how to paint a character in a memorable, expansive manner."  JohnPerry found other elements to like: "The characterizations, in particular, felt right (which is high praise from me whenever Discord is involved).  Going through it, I kept fearing that moment when it would slip up as we moved from 'creation' to 'ruling' to 'fighting evil,' but it never did, thanks in large part to the clever stylistic choices the author employs."  And Horizon found its use of narrative tension exemplary: "Not only is there a compelling mystery in the darkness that Celestia fights, but the relationships we know from canon are also kept dangling over the characters like the sword of Damocles.  It won't end how you expect, but it will tie everything up beautifully."

Read on for our author interview, in which Soundslikeponies discusses Lovecraft's reality, redeeming artistic flops, and trial by bear.

Read More
PresentPerfect · 789 views · Report
Aug
31st
2014

YOU THOUGHT I WOULDN'T, SKEETER

knighty · 2,867 views · Edited 2w, 2d ago · Report
Aug
29th
2014

While a number of fanfics focus on Prince Blueblood doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, today's story takes the unique step of following that process through a battle with depression.

Glory

[Sad] • 8,782 words

No one's important. No one's special. Except for the princesses.

Blueblood's always known this. He's always accepted this. He'll never be special. He'll never do anything important.

But now he has to. There's too much at stake.

He knows he'll fail, but he has to try. Because...

FROM THE CURATORS: Blueblood as indifferent nihilist: certainly a unique take on his character, and one that won us over despite our initial doubts.  "It doesn't quite match what's in the show," JohnPerry said, "but it's intriguing enough for me to give it a pass on that angle.  The tone of this piece and the themes of depression are deeply compelling and maturely handled."  In our discussions, Chris summed up why: "Glory offered a very interesting take on the kinds of circles depression can lead one into; the idea that 'if I invent something, it doesn't matter because someone else would have done it later anyway' seems a classic example of something that might be obviously fallacious, but can sound true in your more vulnerable moments."

The story offered rewards beyond the depth of that theme — such depths that we all found different things to appreciate.  "It's got a really original villain, something that's hard to come by," PresentPerfect said.  "Add to that a light but succulent dose of worldbuilding and a strong meshing of internal drama and setting, and there's a whole lot to like here," Chris said.  And JohnPerry added: "I appreciate the fact that the author gives a choice between two superbly written endings."

Read on for our author interview, in which Rune Soldier Dan discusses pragmatic ponies, robots vs. monkeys, and in vino veritas.

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PresentPerfect · 983 views · Report
Aug
27th
2014

BUCK is over for another year (and maybe forever? Who knows…) so of course I have to do a little write up on the weekend. It’s not going to be too long because I don’t have a ton to say this time compared to last time really but that’s fine by me!

I quite literally begged Blueshift to go, and it ended up that he was a panel member along with me which was excellent. I’ve been desperately wanting to meet him forever so BUCK was a great excuse to do so. Along with my friend Grandiose, Arcainum, his girlfriend Eevee, Zeeraw and Ruby (horse news person) we spent most of the time together drinking quite a lot on the Friday and just generally hanging out during the course of the convention. It was nice to spend time with them all because they’re all good fellas and ladies.

Our writing panel was actually the first of the weekend and I’m quite glad it was because it let me enjoy the rest of the weekend a bit more stress free! Thanks everyone who came along because I think it went really well. The format worked well for getting a lot of information out in the allotted hour. BUCK this year wasn’t doing Q and As which meant I had to come up with a bunch of topics beforehand, but I did let people ask relevant questions during the topics themselves which seemed to work for pushing the conversation along.

Following that we had the charity auction. After noticing a Derpy plushie for sale as I walked to the front I decided that was my target this year, and weirdly it was actually the 2nd item that went up for sale. £820 and arm pain later, she was mine! In total the auction raised over £11k to help against diabetes which is fantastic! I consider it a life investment incase I ever get it :P The cosplay contest was next and uh…..well…..it was interestingly run. There were some good cosplays as usual and lots of...kissing on stage….disgusting straight ships too. I almost vomited. The last event of the Saturday was the Lunar Eclipse. We stayed for Rc88’s set but not too much more because sadly the audio had a lot of issues :( so we just went off to Wetherspoons for a bit before calling it a night.

My charity auction plushie collection :p

The Sunday morning was the speedfic contest. This was at the totally unsociable time of 9am and in the same room as the LoE panel. Naturally we expected nobody to turn up but we actually got a good 30 or so people. Sadly we didn’t exactly have 30 pens provided so I had to run to the shop and buy some just before we started. Our prompt was “Ponyville’s small town charm is disrupted by something British”, which was relevant to the con but open enough to spark some creativity we hoped. The next 2 hours involved reading through that mass of stories to pick a winner which was a girl by the name of Jade, a Fluffle Puff cosplayer.

A lot of fanfic....

I had to go straight to the guest buffet after that where I spent most of the time chatting to either RC88/Pixc or various other people who came up to ask for signatures which was really flattering, especially the kid who asked me to sign his iPad cover! If I’m completely honest, I think the guest buffet is an off event and I half expected it to not happen again this year. You get all the guests sitting around 1 place while other people try and pluck up the courage to say hello. I understand what the organisers want to happen but it doesn’t really seem to. I think it needs more rigid organisation to achieve that.

After hanging outside the con for like another hour we went to Polsky’s panel which was really good! His episodes aren’t my favourites and I almost felt bad for that after his panel because he seemed like such an interesting guy with a lot of intelligence behind his writing. Of course the panel also had a bunch of super awkward idiots slagging his episodes off to his face, but he handled it like a pro and the crowd were clearly really on his side which was great to see. Blueshift did a write up that you can see here: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2014/08/dave-polsky-panel-at-buckcon-2014.html. We went to get dinner at this point at the Steak and Lobster restaurant next door which was DELISH. and took us up to the VIP panel. I’m really annoyed more people didn’t ask Heather things because she seemed like such an amazingly cool dork and I wanted to hear her talk the most of all. I had to disappear half way through to figure out what was supposed to be happening with the closing ceremony which I was supposed to be announcing the fanfic competition winner at but in the end that didn’t happen. I was a little disappointed because I did want to say what the prompt was at least but oh well.

On the Monday I ended up finding Jade, the contest winner, to give her back her fanfic. She was lovely and here from the Netherlands on her own. She had a bunch of stuff she couldn't take back on the plane that was supposed to be going to someone else who didn't turn up so....I ended up with it! She gave me an MLP towel and some alcohol from the Netherlands which I believe is a spiced rum but I'm not entirely sure yet!

In all, I had a lot of fun meeting people new and old. That’s why I go to conventions.

knighty · 1,246 views · Edited 2w, 6d ago · Report
Aug
23rd
2014

Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


“Grandpav’s back! Yay!” With giggles and excited clamor, the young children rush to secure the best seats for themselves. “Tell us a story!”

“A story?” Grandpav stares into the distance, taking a light draw on his tobaccy pipe. “Well, certainly. Once upon a time, there was a pony named Rainbow Dash. She was the fastest pegasus in—”

“No! Grandpav!” The children giggle and shake their heads. It’s a common prank of Grandpav’s. Familiar. Part of the ritual. “Not that kind of story!”

“Yeah!” says another. “We wanna hear a story about reviewing fanfics!”

“Yeah!” raises the chorus of shouts.

“Oh, reviewing horsewords,” says Grandpav, a twinkle in his eye. “Well why didn’t you say so? Hmm…” Sighing wistfully, Grandpav stares out the window, thinking back to days of yore. “Well, for one thing, our Featured Box wasn’t cluttered with this ‘pile of mops’ snowclone nonsense that you kids think is all the rage. Back in my day, we had proper bad snowclones! Like ‘peaches’! Or ‘Luna discovers a thing’!”

“What’s that last one?” asks a little girl, raising her hand.

“What… what is this?” Grandpav asks, blinking and motioning with his hands. “You ask me a question and then you raise your hand to be called on afterward? Is this all just a formality to you? Vah.” He swats away with a hand. “We had a group of reviewers who did that once. Gave reviews first, asked for permission second. You know what happened to them?”

“They got disbanded fer creatin’ an ‘ostile environ, did ‘ey?” asks a young boy with a cockney accent.

“No one likes a smarty pants,” Grandpav scolds him. “And no! Far worse than that. They were forced to transmit all of Fimfiction—all of it—down the coast, down the ways toward ‘Bama! Course, back then we didn’t have no fancy, high-fallootin’ dee-ess-ell lines. No sir, they had to use the telegraph machines. Send down those fanfics, one letter at a time, beeep bep-beeep-beeep bep-bep bep-beeep-bep-bep bep bep-bep-bep beeep bep-bep bep-beeep.” He pantomimes the motion with a shaky old finger.

“That sounds like Skrillex!” chimes one of the girls, before her face sours. “I hate old people music.”

“So, how did you find fanfics to review?” asks another child. “Did you hafta listen to that Skrillex machine?”

He laughs, ruffling the young child’s hair. “Heck nah, that’d be stupid. Nah, the boys and I would walk three miles to town, to visit the local soda jerk. We’d order ourselves a round of Four Lokos and do the Harlem Shake, until the fur traders would pass through town. We’d sell them the pelts we’d gathered, and in exchange they’d give us some terrific fanfics. The kinds you just can’t find nowadays in that newfangled Featured Box you kids keep yammerin’ on about.”

One of the girls tilts her head. “Wouldn’t they be selling fur if they were fur traders?”

“Nah.” Grandpav shakes his head. “They were collecting, y’see, to make into fursuits.” The children nod with new understanding.

“Still, though! Fanfics which we’ve never heard about?” The children look on, starry-eyed. “What were those like?”

Grandpav takes another draw from the tobaccy pipe and rubs his beard in thought. “Well…”

ROUND 50


STORY 1

Three Left Turns, by SirTruffles

Equestria's last night is nigh.  Next evening it will be ash.  Twilight slips off with but the past to bargain with.  Can she buy a future?


Pav Feira:

The journey to find new and interesting stories, whether as audience or author, invariably forces us into new and interesting territory. While many stories could take place in a familiar context, like a party thrown by Pinkie Pie, there are limits to what can be told. Shattering those limits requires braving into unfamiliar territory.

Seen here: pictorial representation of the analogy I’m trying to draw here.

Three Left Turns takes a lot of risks, mostly with how much it forces the reader to infer. The main character is inferred, though obvious hints are dropped. The dialogue is inferred, and while the narration captures it nearly verbatim, this shift in prose can be a bit grating at times. The setting is inferred, perhaps the best usage being here, under the mantra of show don’t tell. Even the conflict is inferred, and while a few rereads have been enough for me to capture the broad strokes here, there’s a number of questions I’ve yet to find answers for yet. (Disclaimer: I am not a clever pony.)

But I feel that these risks pay off. At the risk of alienating the reader, these many questions serve to hook the reader, to draw them in, to find an answer in the next paragraph as well as two more questions. It requires a more active reading style than the average fic on this site, for the reader to digest each line, grasp the symbolism, recontextualize their understanding, and yes perhaps even reread. And yet it’s an experience that an author would be hard-pressed to emulate under the confines of “Today is a beautiful day in Ponyville,” said Rainbow Dash.

All said, it’s a curious sort of tale, set in a marketplace somewhere between Faustian and fantastical. It speaks of worth and need, sacrifice and loss, and it’s all-around an interesting read.

Csquared08:

I first read this story at 1 AM. Don’t make that mistake. Read this when your mind is fully alert. It’ll make your head happier. I know mine was.

To me, this story is first and foremost an environmental story. It’s a story created by its setting, not a story set in a setting. Without the setting, there would be no story, and with a different setting, the story would be entirely different. That might sound pretty obvious, and you might say, “Well, doesn’t that apply to any story? Wouldn’t every story be different if the setting changes” Sure it does. But not to the degree that it would change Three Left Turns.

Think of it like a tour. Tours are all about impressions, especially first impressions. Colleges want you to attend and take your money, realtors want you to buy the house, and so on. And to do so, they put their best foot forward, and make sure you only see that foot. Any other foot, and the experience leave a drastically different impression.

SirTruffles is also keen on making the right first impression. Except, it’s not exactly a positive impression he’s going for. It’s a dark and gloomy place, this Old City. The opening scene with the blacksmith leaves a distinct first impression. This Old City and its inhabitants ooze misery and hopelessness, decay and despair. And as the story goes on, we see this environment take its toll on the main character. Through his vivid descriptions of the setting, SirTruffles has put us in a specific state of mind. He wants us to feel despair and hopelessness so that those feelings are amplified as we follow the main character through the market.

The setting is so tightly interwoven into the characters and the plot that any changes to it would drastically alter the mood of the story. It’s a pretty unique story, with its heavy reliance on the opening description of the setting. It’s one I enjoyed quite a bit, even at 1 AM.


STORY 2

True Colors, by Alligator Fists

Pixelbright is a young unicorn driven by a question about the nature of the world. Her friend, Peppermint Tea, is integral to her quest. But the journey of discovery is not always an easy one, and the first steps are often the most difficult.


Pav Feira:

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules get bandied around here frequently, for good reason. Rule #3 is an important one that deals with character motivations: “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” Which is great advice to be sure. If your character has no motivations, no drive, then they’re just sort of… there. For no reason. And the audience picks up on this. (See also: needless inclusions of all the Mane Six in Season Four episodes.) But that said, a singular motivation is often not enough, either. A motivation is a good starting point, but don’t mistake that for being a complete, well-rounded, nuanced character. A single motivation just gives you, well, Pinkie Pie wanting to throw parties all the time.

”No, Twilight, I know for a fact you don’t party, okay? You do not party.”

And this gets to the heart of what I liked so much in True Colors. Sure, we get introduced to Pixelbright. We learn about her cutie mark and her interests, and we get this call-to-action in the form of a letter. “Okay!” thinks the reader. “I’ve got this fic figured out. We’ll probably see preparations for travel, or perhaps the journey itself, and this fic will be about—” But then, wait, Pixelbright needs to tell her best friend. And on the way, we meet up with a few townsponies… and ask about their days, and… Hmm. On my initial reading, I was actually a little skeptical of this fic. Had the author really just set up a plot hook, only to immediately forget about it, letting the fic drift aimlessly?

But as I read through to the end, I really started to appreciate what was going on here, namely the detail of the characters. As much as I may make a caricature of myself in these reviews, I could not honestly summarize myself in one sentence. Nor could you do so for the Mane Six, for they have their levels and their breadth. Therefore, when creating original characters, why should an author do any less? The arrival of a letter, no matter how exciting, is not a free pass for Pixelbright to act like a single-minded jerk to her friends and family. She genuinely cares about Peppermint’s plight. She and her friends laugh at Soul Patch’s antics. The arrival of the letter doesn’t cause Pixelbright to drop her nightly routine.

I’m not necessarily stating that these characters are overly intricate with complex and detailed layering. Quite the opposite in fact, I’m struck by how natural the characters feel, rather than artificially grown in a laboratory. Rather than appearing in a collection of scenes that are strictly dictated by the plot, it felt moreso that one scene organically grew out of the previous scene, and that the narrative was a natural result of that. Your milage may vary—Vonnegut also instructs us not to waste the audience’s time—but I sure didn’t feel robbed. I enjoyed watching the days with these ponies unfold, driven by the character interactions themselves rather than roughly dragged along by the narrative. And as a result of the time spent, I feel that I know the characters well after just a one-shot. Especially if you’ve lamented your own work feeling “forced” or “rushed”, this is something to check out for comparison.

Csquared08:

It’s rare that I find a one-shot with such seamless scene changes and such vibrant characters. True Colors manages to do this with an entirely original cast of characters.

The first thing I noticed when I saw this story was its age. It’s about two and a half years old. It certainly shows its age, too. While it’s well-written, it’s quite unpolished. There’s a smattering of grammar mistakes throughout that I’ve noticed to be characteristic of early stories. There’s probably a good reason for this, the most likely of which is the difficulty in finding editors way back then.

The reason I bring this up is that despite its lack of grammatical polish, True Colors feels polished in every other aspect. The characters are vibrant and organic. The scenes flow into each other beautifully. It all seems so vibrant, so organic, so familiar. It feels like a typical Slice of Life fic starring the characters we know so well from the show.

Except it isn’t. It’s set in a town we don’t know and stars characters we’ve never met before. In a little over 10k words, Alligator Fists has created a town that feels just as real as Ponyville. And while I was satisfied with the way the story went, I wanted so much more of this town and these characters that seemed so familiar.


STORY 3

The Lotus Eaters, by horizon

On an unassuming carnival midway in central Equestria sits the key to your dreams: A machine that lets you, for a short time, live a life in which your greatest regret never occurred.

These are the stories of what happens after those fantasies are over.


Pav Feira:

“What if?” is a natural human sentiment, popular among scientific and inquisitive minds. It’s also, arguably, one of the primary driving forces behind fanfiction. “What if Dash broke her wings? She wouldn’t be able to join the Wonderbolts, but probably she’d make out with Fluttershy at some point, because reasons.” Fanfiction, whether as the storyteller or simply as the reader, is one such vehicle to explore these alternate scenarios. It’s not strictly limited to the embodiment of stories; “what if?” can itself be a plot device, allowing the characters themselves to view these alternate possibilities that could have been.

So that’s what it would’ve been like, if my coup had succeeded...

In this one area? Well, perhaps The Lotus Eaters isn’t necessarily breaking new grounds. Where it gets me is in its conciseness. This is not a particularly long fic, especially not when it is broken up into a short series of vignettes. One such vignette is less than 250 words, in fact. And yet, the fic makes effective usage of those scenes. Each chapter says all it needs to say. This is less to do with precise word choice (some might fault the repetition in Chapter 3) and more to do with outlining and structure. A friend of mine recently lamented to me that he feels physically incapable of writing a one-shot shorter than 10k, as it feels too anemic and underdeveloped. I myself worked on a short story with a 1,000 word max cap, and felt the claustrophobia of trying to compress everything I wanted to say into such a small space. Brevity—impactful brevity—is as much a talent as any other tool in the writer’s toolbox.

But I’m not just saying “this was great because it was short.” The other, related area where this fic impressed me is in the different moods of each chapter. Between its comedic, tragic, and sentimental chapters, each one brought something new to the table rather than just “and now it’s somepony else’s turn.” Each had a different message to tell, and the sum impact of all the chapters speaks to the reader because of their differences, rather than hammering home on one preaching point from a few different angles. A pony’s past is their entire life, prior to the present moment, and you can’t say anything universal about the past any moreso than you can say anything universal about all ponies. Well, aside from saying that they are all little, and all mine.

Let’s be honest though: the subversion in the last chapter is what makes this fic for me. It’s so comedic specifically because of how the author managed to subvert their own formula, after so quickly having established the formula to begin with. If the introspection or feels aren’t quite up your alley, the comedic punchline just might be, thus this fic has a little something for everyone.

Csquared08:

In Greek mythology, the lotus eaters were a group of people living on an island off the coast of North Africa. They show up in the Odyssey as one of Odysseus’s many obstacles to getting home. Well, they aren’t exactly the obstacle; rather, their namesake is, the lotus plant growing on the island. This plant was supposed to have magical properties: Any who ate the plant would fall into a peaceful, apathetic sleep.

Certainly an ominous reference for a story lacking a Dark tag.

Yet it’s a fitting reference. In his companion story (side-story, perhaps?) to No Regrets, horizon runs four characters through this machine created by Flim and Flam. This machine is quite similar to the mythological plant Odysseus’s unfortunate sailors ate. But instead of putting those who use it to sleep, it shows them their greatest regret, followed by what would have happened in their life without that regret, whatever it was. It’s really a simple idea. What if your life hadn’t been marred by x regret? What then?

How each of the four characters deals with that question, though, is what makes this story interesting. While they all follow the same general formula, the outcomes of each chapter are entirely different, and so are their tones. The first chapter is rather sobering, but the second is rather humorous. Normally, the sudden shift in tone would be  jarring, but here, it worked well.

All in all, horizon took an interesting mythological reference, asked a simple question, and produced four short stories, each taking a different look at how that question can be approached. It’s short, sweet, and very interesting. And occasionally, it’s morbidly amusing.

An important note: I mentioned earlier that this is a companion story/side story/whatever to No Regrets. I have not read that story, and at the end of the first chapter of The Lotus Eaters, I felt I lacked necessary context. By the end of the third chapter, however, I felt the context I lacked was no longer necessary to my understanding of The Lotus Eaters. So don’t feel like you need to read No Regrets before reading this story. Or you can be like me and become incredibly annoyed that you read them out of order. Pah. I blame Pav.


STORY 4

The Incandescent Brilliance, by KitsuneRisu

An accident occurs, leaving two ponies trapped in a room with nothing to do but wait in an eternal field of stars.


Pav Feira:

This website is certainly no stranger to sad tales of loss. (Heck, this isn’t the only sad fic in this review alone!) Even when you toss out all the bad and fixate on the good, there’s plenty of fics about Celestia outliving other ponies, or Rainbow Dash coming to terms with not becoming a Wonderbolt, or one friend reminiscing over the deathbed of another. Now sure, in the hands of a less experienced author, the sad scene can simply be used as an oversized mallet to bludgeon the reader with “all deez feelz”, but that’s not really the most effective use of such a scene. With The End looming on the horizon, the character is able to put their affairs in order. To contextualize. To reflect.

Seen here: R63 Trixie, basically. Well, metaphorically. Okay, not really at all. Dumbledore was just the first reference that popped into my head, okay? And rather than back down, I stuck with my gut instinct. Sheesh, way to be overly critical of my .jpg choices.

Without spoiling the outcome, the setup of this fic certainly paints of bleak picture. In the name of science and/or magic, Trixie and original character Russet have effectively unraveled spacetime. It’s one of the scenarios where your “percent chance of survival” suddenly becomes a relevant thing to fixate upon. And while they wait for the cavalry to arrive, they have naught much else to do but talk. And talk they do.

But of course, the point is what they talk about. Sure, as we might expect, the older Trixie alludes to her past redemption, and the younger Russet thinks about his parents. But as the conversation proceeds, they each reach the core of the issue I do not apologize for that pun. The things that truly matter come to light. This gives us a more focused introspection, because now we’re no longer burdened with issues like bravado or obligation or empty promises. This new context on (remaining) life gives us a more honest view of what the character truly cares about, and what they really value. Certainly, moments like the award scene are the most on-the-nose examples, but this sentiment permeates the entire fic. A character study under normal circumstances is great, but a character study with nothing to lose gives us the truest results.

While the use of potential doom does force some feels here or there, The Incandescent Brilliance still stands strong, giving us an effective dose of pathos and exploring character facets while the opportunity still exists. Definitely worth a read.

Csquared08:

It is often said that at the end of your life, your life will “flash” before your eyes. Or something like that. It’s a common enough phrase, but not one many seem to explore when writing.

Incandescent Brilliance takes that idea, and explores it in a rather unusual way. Instead of the expected staggered series of flashbacks, we’re introduced to two characters: a much older Trixie, and a fellow by the name of Russet. As far as they know, they’re about to die, and there’s nothing they can do about it. They react to this terrible situation quite differently, and that’s where the story picks up.

One panics, and the other is calm. I’ll let you find out who is who, but eventually, the two get to talking. And through this talk, they’re creating not only a sense of empathy within each other, but within the readers. We get to see what makes them tick in a meaningful, genuine situation. There is nothing artificial in their conversation. There are no emotions forced upon the reader. There is simply a heartfelt conversation followed by calm acceptance.

It was such a simple thing, yet it was so impactful. It really exemplifies what a Sad story (Or is it a Tragedy? This story seems confused :rainbowwild: ) should strive to do: Have the reader experience feelings naturally.


The drive home takes place in icy silence. Csquared glares out through the windshield, a small series of creases upon her brow. Pav occasionally shoots glances her way, offering a well-rehearsed pout each time, but each display only caused the smouldering rage in her eyes to burn brighter.

They pull into the driveway of Seattle’s Angels’ Secret Clubhouse, and Csquared kills the engine. The two sit in silence for a moment before she speaks. “Stop talking to random children on the playground about fanfiction.”

“But I’m training the future generation of—”

Stop talking,” Csquared says, raising her voice. “To random children. About fanfiction. Seriously. It’s like a twenty-five minute drive to the police station, and the rest of the guys always make me come to post your bail, even when I’m right in the middle of playing XCOM. It’s super inconvenient for me.”

Sighing wistfully, Pav stares out the window, thinking back to days of yore. “Can I at least keep the tobaccy pipe?”

“Fine, whatever.” Csquared flicks the question away, dismissively.

“Yesssss.” Pumping his fist, Pav hops out of the car, flailing his arms like an idiot as he runs inside.

Csquared looks at the camera like she’s on The Office.


Feel free to visit our group for more information and events, and to offer some recommendations for future rounds. See you all next time!

Alexstrazsa · 1,566 views · Report
Aug
22nd
2014

The sands of today's story hold a magical and timeless mystery.

Desert Rose

[Romance] • 17,452 words

As the prince of Saddle Arabia, Altair wants for nothing, but a chance encounter shows him the one thing that he lacks: love. Desert Rose intrigues and excites him with the mystery of her past and the beauty of her form. Only she can teach him the secrets of the desert: open his eyes to a world with riches beyond gold, and power beyond a scepter.

The sands cannot be caged, but the desert winds will set Altair free.

FROM THE CURATORS: Although this is tagged Romance, the first thing that impressed us about it was how much narrative depth there was beyond the love story.  "(The protagonist) Altair is going on a classic hero's journey," Chris said, "but the particular angle is interesting, and the setting is well realized."  Present Perfect agreed: "It's got a lovely fairy-tale feel and a very memorable character arc.  I can remember it right now despite having read this months ago."

Like the previously featured A Faded Touch Of Blue, this "is a great look at Saddle Arabia," as PresentPerfect put it, with loving attention to worldbuilding that brings the desert nation to life. "The prose is delightful, and the setting is brilliantly realized," JohnPerry added, "exotic yet conveyed with a certain familiarity at the same time."

But Desert Rose is exemplary in an entirely different way. "It's much less nuanced than Faded Touch," Chris said, "but it's got evocative writing, fun characters, and a timeless moral."  That's because Desert Rose, at heart, is about the mystery of its titular character, and her mystery is a compelling one.  "She's as intriguing to the reader as she is supposed to be to the protagonist," JohnPerry said.  "A hearty recommendation from me."

Read on for our author interview, in which Golden Vision discusses lyrical inspiration, Whooves polarization, and punching evolution in the junk.

Read More
PresentPerfect · 819 views · Report
Aug
22nd
2014

Hi guys. It's that time of eternity again. Y'know, when Xondar returns to reap your flesh and strap you to his painwheel of everlasting fire.

"How can I save myself from this horror?" you might shriek, as Xondar's fire draws ever closer to your tender heart.

Well, the answer to that's easy! Read more pony fanfiction. And to help deliver you from the wrath of a dark god, the Royal Guard has collected some promising-looking pony fanfiction for you to read. Check it out!

Final note--read fast. If you're interested in more regarding The Royal Guard and their story recommendations, here're some links for you:

-The Royal Guard Group

-Submit Your Story!

-The Royal Guard's Reviewing Omnibus

-Join The Guard!

AND NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO... STORIES!

This Week:

Action/Adventure

The Majestic Tale (of a Mad-Pony in a Box), by R5h

Slice of Life

Teacher's Pet, by Pascoite

Shoots and Roots, by Bachiavellian

Comedy

The Curious Incident of the (Robot) Dog in the Night-time, by Bradel

Putting The 'Harm' In Harmony, by Mr Maximus

The Brony International Guard, by psychicscubadiver

Sad

If Memory Serves, by Pascoite

Dark

A Glimmer of Hope in the Black, by Flashgen

Wild Fire, by Horse Voice

Johnny Never Knew What Hit Him, by Horse Voice

The Wreck, by JohnPerry



ACTION/ADVENTURE



The Majestic Tale (of a Mad-Pony in a Box), by R5h

Traveling between parallel universes is impossible, especially during the process of regeneration, but the Tenth Doctor doesn't have time to question the facts. He's just been thrust through a tear in the fabric of reality, gotten a new body, and landed on a planet called Equestria. Specifically, he's landed in the worst possible place in all Equestria – somewhere that's ready to unleash a “big ol' storm of chaos.”

That's just the beginning of the Doctor's strange new lease on life: there's a whole host of mysteries to explore. Who is Derpy Hooves, the gray pegasus who understands more about him than even she knows how to explain? How does Princess Celestia already know him? And what's the truth behind the Order?

Above all, the Doctor needs to discover if this new universe can heal the wounds he suffered in the last. Only one thing is certain: there's an awful lot of running left to do.

Will I like this? Explosions, world-ending calamities, ancient foes of unknowable rage and power—the Doctor has faced them all, but now, a new challenge arises, the most fearsome of them all: walking.

Or Discord.

With subtle jokes, a wide cast, and enough action for two universes, don’t walk but run to read this story. —q97randomguy



SLICE OF LIFE



Teacher's Pet, by Pascoite

Fair or not, most classes have that one perfect student, that one little flower that the teacher can't help but adore. Cheerilee's class is no different.

Will I like this? This expertly crafted tale may be short, but the emotions are genuine, and it will tug at your heartstrings like few stories of its length can, especially once you start peeling back its layers. —Prak


Shoots and Roots, by Bachiavellian

Time alone can't heal all wounds for Carrot Top. Sometimes life simply goes on in the worst and best possible ways.

Will I like this? The past and present blur together into one cohesive whole called life. Carrot Top’s life is like many others’, filled with loves, kindnesses small and large, losses, and changes. She and those she affects paint a panorama of life together, one that only the readers can appreciate. —q97randomguy



COMEDY



The Curious Incident of the (Robot) Dog in the Night-time, by Bradel

For four years, a pair of alien observers have been living in Ponyville under assumed identities, performing cultural studies and avoiding unwelcome attention. But when a piece of advanced technology is stolen from them, the observers must do everything in their power to get it back—preferably before their superiors decide to blow up the planet.

Will I like this? What can I say? It's funny, it's a different take than you're likely to have seen on a few characters, and... well, to say more would spoil it, so let's just say that I certainly didn't regret reading this, and neither will you. —R5h


Putting The 'Harm' In Harmony, by Mr Maximus

I can't believe this! How dare they forget who they're dealing with! I'm the very Element of Generosity! But to ask me to share my suite with the likes of... her? It's inconceivable, preposterous, ludicrous! They seriously think I, Rarity, fashion designer extraordinaire would be willing to share even a suite with such an... uncouth beast! Unfortunately, the Canterlot Ritz—and every other hotel—is booked solid, so it is either this or nothing. I suppose as long as I keep to myself, I will survive the week. Right?  

Will I like this? The "odd couple" is one of the most sure-fire ways to create a good comedy. Rarity and Gilda, as it turns out, are an excellent odd couple in this story, which is not only full of hilarious personality clashes, but some great action, too. —GaryOak


The Brony International Guard, by psychicscubadiver

Twilight is an intelligent mare, and always has something to say. But when a group of bizarre creatures shows up at her library offering life long service and devotion, for once she's at a loss for words. Which is too bad, because she'd really love to ask: what's a human and why are they so weird?

Will I like this? It's a fun little story, one that takes an interesting look at the whole "brony fanaticism," how we perceive our ponies, and just what some of us might do for them. It's a nice story with a few good laughs. If nothing else, it will leave you with a smirk on your face. —BronyWriter



SAD



If Memory Serves, by Pascoite

Odd how some things stick in one's memory—certain places, personalities, sounds, even smells. Touching on one of these elements can cause a lifetime of experiences to come flooding back.

And just as quickly, they're gone.

Will I like this? Alzheimer's is a serious illness that has tragically affected the lives of many, and this story handles it in an exceptionally engaging and fulfilling manner. It's sad, the feels are rich, and those looking for their daily dose of sadfic will not waste their time with this piece. —GaryOak



DARK



A Glimmer of Hope in the Black, by Flashgen

Case Report: Summary of Events

Submitted by: Verdant Vines

Location: Ponyville

Dates: April 16th to April 23rd

Case: Ponyville Mass Disappearance

Classification: Top Secret

To whom it may concern,

What follows is an update on the status of the investigation into the disappearance of the entire citizenship of Ponyville.

Will I like this? The follow-up to what might be one of the best Lovecraftian-style tales written in the last year. Excellent pacing, excellent atmosphere, and subtle horrors that disturb without spoiling the story, mood, and characters. A must for horror fans. —Garnot


Wild Fire, by Horse Voice

Five years ago, a storm brought a strange winged pony to The Village. Now, she lives at the edge of this small society, cast out, but unable to leave. As a year of terrible misfortune befalls the Villagers, they look for somepony to blame, and long-standing tensions begin to come to a head.

Soon, one side must break, for in The Village, there is neither friendship nor magic.

Will I like this? It's not every fic that takes an animator's OC and gives her a dark, compelling backstory, so if that all sounds interesting to you then you should probably take a look at Wild Fire. —R5h


Johnny Never Knew What Hit Him, by Horse Voice

Am I dead?

No. I can feel my limbs. They're numb. I can't move.

Have I been captured?

There's a sound. Voices. Women. Talking about me.

Oh God—there's something attached to my spine!

Will I like this? "Herald" by ShortSkirtsandExplosions might be the best grimdark story on the site, but if you think that anyone writes dark stories as masterfully as Horse Voice, you are sorely mistaken. A little rushed because of a contest word limit, but it takes a bunch of tropes and makes them work really well. This story is definitely worth checking out. —BronyWriter


The Wreck, by JohnPerry

A.K. Yearling leads a quiet, peaceful life as a novelist living in Canterlot with her fiancé.

But recently, she has been haunted by dreams of a strange shipwreck, and she doesn't know why.

Will I like this? Dreams are the portals to your innermost desires. But that's where it stops. It would be unnerving if the boundaries between reality and dreams blurred, but they can't. Dreams are dreams, and they will always stay that way . . . right? —NightWolf289

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