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First, an announcement: Fillies and gentlecolts, please join us in extending a warm welcome to the newest member of the Royal Canterlot Library team: AugieDog! Over his time in the pony fandom, Augie has assembled an impressive bibliography (which includes a previous RCL feature!) and regular participants of the Writeoff Association will likely recognize him as Baal Bunny. And those are just some of his accomplishments in the pony fandom--he also writes and sells original fiction!
We're all thrilled to have Augie on board. His tremendous experience is already shaping our upcoming features and is undoubtedly going to shape our reading list in the days to come.
In today's interview, Chopper's Top Hat discusses authorial flirting, sideways Cardassian, and a classic Trixie tale that's all about reversing our expectations.
[Sad] [Adventure] • 5,572 words
The magician's art lies in the act of misdirection. This is true even in a world where magic exists. Trixie has mastered the art, but how much of her act is true magic, and how much is an illusion? And what if that same question applies to her entire life?
Discover the truth about Equestria's most Great and Powerful showpony, in a story told in a most unconventional manner...
FROM THE CURATORS: Today's story is a blast from the past in two different ways — not only was it written in the earliest days of the fandom, but it was also one of the first stories that the Royal Canterlot Library ever voted to feature. We shelved it for years due to being unable to locate the author, but having recently stumbled across Chopper's Top Hat again, we're pleased to unearth this classic for modern audiences.
Given that history, it's quite fitting that this story digs into Trixie's backstory with a unique backwards storytelling style. "I still love this for one simple reason: it takes a narrative device which could easily backfire, and uses it cleverly and effectively," Chris said. Former curator Benman agreed — "The gimmick works as intended, which is really impressive, and it's actually necessary to telling this particular story" — and Present Perfect also concurred: "It builds up ... and the gimmick works with that; it wouldn't have the same effect read chronologically."
One thing we did disagree on — which speaks well for the quality of the story — was which part we enjoyed the most. "The first chunk is really cool. The reverse chronology thing keeps adding new information that illuminates and recontextualizes the previous content," Benman said, while Horizon took the opposite tack: "It all felt necessary to give the ending its powerful thematic closure." Chris, meanwhile, appreciated the act of reading it: "Figuring out how the story hangs together is really the fun here." Overall, it added up to quite a solid package, as Horizon noted: "It has aged really well."
(Today's story can be found here, but first, continue below the break for our author interview.)Read More
KNIGHTY WHERE ARE THE UPDATES. I DON'T SEE ANY UPDATES.
That's because there hasn't been any. We just spent the last 3 hours moving to a brand new cluster setup for the site, rather than sitting on 1 box like we have been for 4 years. It's almost like we're a real website now. We've been at the absolute peak of our old server for a long time now and this new setup takes our usage down to next to nothing and gives us TONS of room to expand, and makes it incredibly easy to support easily 20x the amount of traffic down the line with minimal effort on our part. You should see even faster page loads (though they were already pretty darn fast) from now on.
Hi guys. So, lately we've noticed that there's been a little confusion over what exactly Fimfiction considers to be a NSFW image. The rules do say that you shouldn't post them, but they're a little unclear on exactly what a NSFW image IS. This being so, we've sat down and put together a clearer policy on what sort of image content is too much. I guess it bears reminding that none of this is particularly new stuff. Fimfiction has been running on something akin to this policy for months now. We're just trying to lay it all out nice and clear and notarized so that nobody gets blindsided by the rules in ways they couldn't have really known about.Read More
Like the titular tree of today's story, this farmer's tale has deep roots.
[Slice of Life] • 13,558 words
Applejack tells Fluttershy about the great oak tree atop a hill on the farm. It was the first one she ever planted, y'see. That doesn't have anything to do with why Granny Smith is in the hospital, and why Applejack isn't there.
Nope. Not at all.
FROM THE CURATORS: This is a story that has had our attention through multiple iterations, starting out as a shortfic of under 4,000 words before being expanded into the larger multi-chapter story it is today. We have Bradel to thank for introducing it to us: "I'm a sucker for a good AJ story and a good grief narrative, so this is in my wheelhouse."
"This is a story told in negatives," Present Perfect pointed out. "Applejack doesn't want to talk about what's really bothering her, so she talks about her first time planting a tree. Said tree wasn't an apple tree, but an oak. It's a story just as much about Fluttershy as about AJ, but it focuses entirely on the latter." Bradel put it thusly: "What I really love about this story is the tension between foreground and background. ... Although the story never seeks to hide what it's doing, its impact is delivered through metaphor and implication rather than direct engagement, through paralleling Applejack's stories with her state of mind."
But what really sold the curators was the dynamic between this story's two main characters. "The meat of the story packs a punch, and the interactions between Fluttershy and AJ felt genuine," Chris said. "The real triumph is the conversation. Rather than drop the current setting to skip back into the past, Applejack's story-within-the-story is spoken, with fits and starts that make it feel naturally told without being unfocused," Present offered, and Bradel added, "I enjoy how the story forces Fluttershy and Applejack to trade roles — here, Applejack is the avoidant one and Fluttershy is the more direct one. I find all the narrative subversion going on in this story really delicious."
Read on for our author interview, in which Noble Thought discusses long commutes, character growth, and rewriting.Read More
Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.
“Friends and… other friends, we are gathered here today to mark the passing of… Okay, who let the rodents into the snacks?”
All eyes turned from Belligerent Sock, who was dressed in a set of non-denominational black robes of dubious origin, to the squirrel and ferret who were quickly turning the nearby refreshment table into a whirlwind.
Professor Plum said, “I don’t think anyone ‘let’ them. They just sorta did. It’s their, uh...”
“Idiom?” said Burraku Pansa.
“If we can all keep our minds off the refreshments for a moment,” Sock continued, “we do have the trappings of ceremony to attend to.”
A large, black coffin sat before them, held above a freshly-dug grave. An intricately detailed portrait of Trixie lay atop it. The gravestone read, “Here lies alexmagnet. He died due to having a life.”
Sock produced a stack of papers, setting them on the podium in front of him. “Now, I’d ask everyone to say a few words, but given the size and color of that bottle Pav’s swinging around, I think that’d be a bad idea.”
“Ish jus’ green tea, I schwear…”
“It actually is,” said Csquared, sitting next to him. “I can only guess he’s drunk on the drama.”
“Regardless, I don’t think anyone will begrudge me for handling the long and lengthy speech which must accompany our dearly departed into the embrace of Mother Earth.” He cleared his throat in a harrumph-ful manner, and turned his gaze to the pages before him. “alex was a good reviewer, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors, and reviewing. He died, as so many of his generation did, before his time. And so, in accordance with what we think his dying wishes might have been, we commit these four stories to his memory. May they forever be… Oh come on, guys. Really?”
The rest of the congregation had descended on the snack table, evidently eager to partake before the snacks were scattered to the winds. Sock worked his jaw for a moment, and looked down at the stack of papers. Four stories. Alone with his dead.
“Ah, hell. Maybe they have deviled eggs.”
In the chaos after Luna's banishment, four warlords meet.
FOUR HORSES? THIS CAN’T END WELL!
Villains. Let’s face it; we’re supposed to hate them, but more often than not, we love them. Why? Because they’re the ones who really create the stories they inhabit. They’re the ones who, by their simple presence, create a problem for the heroes to overcome. Also, they’re always wearing the best socks.
This fic is a testament to those facts, because its whole premise is simply “four bad guys in one place,” and that’s enough. Set in the far-distant past, shortly after Nightmare Moon was sealed in her orbiting prison, and the land of Equestria has descended into chaos. Yes, this is a story well-deserving of its “Dark” tag, since there’s some brutal wars going on, and each of our villains refers to various atrocities with a suitably nefarious detachment.
As previously stated, there are four of these malevolent malcontents—including everyone’s favorite stereotypical evil OC, Sombra—and all of them receive ample characterization despite the fic’s relatively short length. Each has a different history and temper which they bring to the table, and while some of their ascribed actions veer toward the edgy, they nonetheless feel believable in the darker context.
This is remarkable, since, for the most part, all they do is talk. Their characterization comes purely through dialogue, and their little mannerisms in-between, and it’s surprisingly effective given, again, there’s little screen time for them. It helps that each has a distinct voice, and that the dialogue itself has a fine, snappy quality to it. As to where all of this talk ends up, well, I leave that for you to discover, readers, but rest assured it ends up someplace quite awesome.
On a final note, there is a minor hiccup with continuity, as Sombra somehow appears after Luna’s banishment, but his presence doesn’t really detract from the piece—indeed, him being at the table lends another, deeply sinister edge to the proceedings. But, if you’re a stickler for canon, you might find it jarring. For myself, I raised a brow at first, but was fine with it by the end.
Carabas does some seriously good world-building. He’s also quite the strong author, as recent contest results would suggest. The fact that we’re still featuring him here means you lot clearly haven’t caught on
The White Horse paints quite the grim picture of Equestria after Luna was banished to the moon. In the wake of Luna’s banishment, Equestria was in turmoil. Power-hungry politicians saw this as an opportunity to increase their own power, going so far as to openly rebel against Celestia’s rule. Two other warlords rose to power on a trail of mindless slaughter and scorched earth. And finally, Sombra* chose this moment to strike against Equestria. It’s a perfect storm of chaos as these four warlords meet to divvy up Equestria amongst themselves. That they’re even at that point speaks volumes to just how poor of a state Equestria was in.
This is Equestria, though. Things like mindless slaughter and scorched earth just don’t belong. Yet here they are, and they fit into the story so naturally that I never gave them a second look. As I mentioned earlier, the fact that four warlords were meeting up to divvy up Equestria speaks volumes to the world Carabas has created. By establishing that and building up the warlords’ characters throughout the story, Carabas was able to weave previously incompatible ideas and actions into Equestria just about seamlessly.
There’s a lot more I want to say, but anything of the sort would spoil the most exciting moments in the story. And sure, you might figure them out on your own before they happen, but it’s much more satisfying to figure them out on your own, yeah?
*Of course, that does bring up the story’s greatest flaw: Sombra is present. We know from canon that Celestia and Luna defeated him together. Yet here he is in a story taking place after Luna was banished. Oops
Fluttershy's songbird choir is renowned throughout Equestria, in demand by ponies everywhere. Looked at from the other side of the perch, though, it's not always the life it's cracked up to be. If you want to hear the real story, straight from the bird's beak, Mazarine is your jay. Though you may have to set aside most of an afternoon...
THIS ONE’S FOR THE BIRDS!
Like an overly-starched sock, this one begins with a rather stiff opening, but don’t be mislead by it. This is indeed one ramble you’ll want to see through to the end, because it’s so darn interesting.
What really makes this one stand out is its voice. We’re being talked at by a bluejay, and yes, this is about what I’d expect such an azure avian to sound like. The color-focused names he gives to the other characters, phrases like “yolk help us all”, and all manner of other little turns of phrase fill the bird’s lexicon. Further, our little Mazarine is one ornery little guy; he’s not afraid to let his bitter nature through in his words.
Yes, he’s got some some punches to throw, especially at the Mane Six, and seems to reserve a special antipathy for “Lavender-Purple” as he calls her. Seeing our heroines through the filter of a bird is rather funny, especially since, as Mazarine points out, they’ve had some less-than-cordial interactions with the various avian species which inhabit Equestria.
But, of course, he also reserves a special place in his heart for “Yellow-Pink,” and it’s this thread that strings the whole piece together. Mazarine is an intriguing bundle of contradictions, but the one certainty in his personality is his adoration for her. If there’s one thing to pay attention to here, it’s that little silver chord.
We Who with Songs Beguile does an excellent job of handling its perspective. It’s told from the perspective of a bitter old blue jay talking about his experiences with ponies, especially with the Mane 6. And as it turns out, he’s not fond of ponies. He thinks they’re rude. He thinks they’re nonsensical. He even seems to think that Yellow-Pink* isn’t his benevolent caretaker.
This perspective certainly seems wrong. But Loganberry did an excellent job of presenting a point of view that has limited information. The blue jay, Mazarine, doesn’t have all the information we have. He hasn’t seen the show, after all. So it naturally follows that his interpretation of various events and characters is going to be incomplete. But writing that incomplete perspective is challenging since it’s so easy to slip in a little tidbit here and some information there that your character just shouldn’t know. Loganberry not only avoided that trap but managed to write such a convincing character in Mazarine that I questioned things that I don’t think I should have been questioning. I mean, I have the more complete picture of what’s going on in the show, right?
*I thought this naming convention was a great touch to the story. It added a lot of character to bird culture and really enhanced the perspective Loganberry was going for. It made the story feel distinct from a more traditional pony story, which I think is very important given what the story was trying to accomplish.
Lord Ragnarok, newly crowned King of the dragons, stands upon a hill overlooking the country of Equestria, an army at his command. Princess Celestia is urgently roused from sleep with a dire warning of impending attack. Thus begins a chain of events that would bring together two of the most powerful rulers of the age, and forge the unlikeliest of bonds. One that would bring salvation to one, and solace to the other.
DRAGONS AND HORSES AND SONGS, OH MY!
So, y’all may recall a little story we featured way, way, back in Round 54 that had Celestia and Luna venturing to Tartarus as well as interacting with a whole bunch of nifty characters. Well, this marks what I believe is a first for Seattle’s Angels: we’re featuring a prequel to that story. Oh yeah, it’s that worth it.
Now, this story isn’t really the second of a pair of well-made socks. It’s a sock of similar shade and thread, but nonetheless distinct enough to set it apart from its companion piece, and certainly robust enough to stand on its own. No prior knowledge is required to understand the goings-on here, and indeed, by premise alone it’s more than enough to warrant its own narrative. “Celestia has a dragon buddy” simply begs for words to be expended in its name.
And at over 30,000 words, this one certainly accomplishes that. This is a century-spanning tale, one which has its roots right near the whole Nightmare Moon fiasco (we seem to be finding ourselves there a lot today) and thus concerns much of Celestia’s early history. She demonstrates an interesting characterization here—mostly her canon self, but with glimpses of a deeper hurt and drive beneath that surface—which, while not perhaps the most novel, is nonetheless well-realized.
It’s this personality beneath the mask that makes both her and our other principal character, the dragon king Ragnarok, a great duo to read about. Each character has their little nuances which they keep hidden from most everyone around them, and it’s from these circumstances that their unlikely kinship emerges. It’s a long, slow process—again, we’re dealing with several centuries here—but that’s what makes it all the more fun.
On a final note, I’ll simply say that Ragnarok is a very intriguing character. That’s all I’ll say, because I’m fairly certain Csquared will handle all of the necessary gushing on that front. Take it away, mate!
Of Dragons is a story I’m going to have an incredibly difficult time reviewing. As Sock mentioned, he expects me to do all sorts of gushing, and well, he’s not wrong. It’s kinda all I wanna do. So I’m gonna give my best shot at an honest recommendation before I just spew my nonsense.
Of Dragons and Horses, Songs and Solace is a companion piece to Eclipse, a prequel of sorts. However, the only information from Eclipse that’s actually relevant to Of Dragons is that at the time of Eclipse, Celestia and the dragon king, Ragnarok, are old friends. So even if you’re like me, and you’re especially anal about reading stories in their proper order, there really isn’t much of a proper order here.
8686 has a knack for writing character interactions and really building relationships. It’s one of my favorite things about him as an author, and he was on point in Of Dragons. From the moment they met as enemies, Celestia and Ragnarok played off each other so well. Seeing their relationship develop throughout the story and getting a glimpse of Celestia beneath her cloak, as Ragnarok puts it, was an absolute joy to read.
On top of that, Ragnarok really appealed to my stupid sense of humor.
Ragnarok growled in frustration. “Celestia! I have just killed your pony here...” he brought Sky to his eyeline – “I am afraid you are dead. Please behave as such” – and then turned back to the Princess. “Now are you going to surrender?”
I really enjoy little tidbits like that bolded section, and they happened throughout the story. But it doesn’t even matter if you find them funny. That’s not why they’re there. They added what I thought was a very necessary element to Ragnarok’s character, and that element really complemented Celestia’s near lack of humor. It provided natural, fluid opportunities for the two to interact and grow as characters.
ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ﾉ W E D I D I T B O Y S ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ﾉ
What is it like to fly? Delve into the mind of a monster and find out.
MY THREADS ARE LIKE TEN-FOLD KEVLAR, MY ELASTIC IS A VICE, MY TOE A PRISON, AND MY SOLE DEATH!
Rounding out this round, we’ve a fic which concerns dragons, has dark tones, and has a great voice. Seems a grand summation, it does. And it does so in little over a thousand words.
Yes, like a good sock, this one slips on quickly and does all it needs to in a very short amount of time. The plot isn’t all that substantial—it’s really more of a vignette—but the way in which it tells it is so effective, I almost wish there was more to be had.
Our dragon narrator is about what you’d expect from one of his kind. He’s got that Smaug-like power and arrogance, and is quite obviously an unrepentant monster. It’s an interesting perspective, seeing how such a huge creature views the world around it, and handles his earth-shattering place in it.
On another note, this fic is one of very few I’ve come across which has directly inspired a piece of music. I’ll reserve judgment on said song, since we’re here to discuss the literary word, not the lyrical, but suffice it to say that any fic which gets somebody rocking out has something going for it.
Two stories about dragons? That makes this an honorary dragon round, right? Sounds pretty sweet to me.
They Call Me Flightless Fury is a short character piece that oozes power. In just over a thousand words, I felt the sheer power and absolute confidence of Flightless Fury. And while I can definitely see why the Smaug comparison works, it wasn’t quite what I got out of the story. I think calling it absolute confidence instead of arrogance is an important distinction, and it’s why I didn’t arrive at the Smaug comparison. I saw it more as, well, the only example that immediately comes to mind is from Glory Road.
At one point during his recruiting trip (about thirteen minutes into the movie if you want to check), Coach Don Haskins comes across a player who’s showboating with some fancy dribbling and body fakes. Coach proceeds to take this player to school and shows why all that fancy dribbling just isn’t good enough.
I think Flightless Fury is approaching Dash in much the same way. He sees what she’s doing as all flash and no boom. He views Dash as some upstart, and it’s his job to show her what’s what. He believes that he knows what flight is for and why it’s important, and that Dash does not. His conviction oozed off the page.
And by golly, he’s going to show Dash the boom.
“First time I’ve ever been thrown out of a graveyard,” said Sock.
“We did come close during our Halloween romps,” BP pointed out.
“Yeah, but I never thought ol’ Finster got a good enough look at our faces to identify us. Crafty ol’ coot. He probably had cameras somewheres.”
The posse made their way up the escalator to the Seattle’s Angels tree fort, all of them in various states of consternation and food-induced lethargy. The front door of the fort irised open, revealing the main foyer in all its gilded opulence. A large pile of Trixie-patterned pillows, Trixie plushies, and Trixie plushie-pillows sat off in one corner, adorned with a sign which read “alexmagnet’s Hoard. Do not touch.”
“I suppose we’re going to have to get rid of all this,” said Sock. “Unless someone wants it?”
Silence reigned. Silence, save for a faint “*cough* worst pony *cough*”.
Suddenly, the pile of merch shifted, as though alive. Several plushies toppled to the ground as a figure pushed itself up from the blue depths. The figure yawned, smacked his lips, and looked around at all of them.
“Oh hey,” said alexmagnet. “What’s up, guys?”
The Angels blinked, simultaneously. Ferret was first to ask the obvious question. “So, wait. If he’s here. Then who did we bury?”
Red asked the other obvious question, “Hey, has anyone seen Core?”
We've actually had this ready to go for like 2 weeks but kept forgetting to deploy it. Smart huh?
Anyway, the site now has multi factor authentication! yay! What does that mean I hear you ask? Well, you can now add an extra level of security to your account by adding an additional login step that requires use of a phone/tablet/other device. It's totally optional though.
The Multi Factor Authentication page explains it further (you can get to this page by going to edit your account and clicking the link on the right). You've probably seen it for things like MMOs, gmail and various other sites and we're delighted to offer it on Fimfiction now as well.
It's an average day here at the Royal Canterlot Library, but today's feature definitely isn't an average story.
[Adventure] • 52,517 words
Wake up. Go to work. Save Ponyville from unimaginable horrors beyond time and space. Have lunch with your PFF.
Ditzy Doo lives in a different world than her fellow ponies. She sees things nopony else can see — like higher-dimensional spatial anomalies, fae creatures, and eldritch abominations. And she uses what she sees to solve problems that other ponies don’t even realize are problems.
But this time, Ditzy may have bitten off more than she can chew. Something very unfriendly is trying to enter Equestria through Ponyville’s Town Hall. An earth pony with an hourglass cutie mark has taken an unhelpful interest in Ditzy. The Princess’s personal student has grown suspicious. And, most irritating of all, her alarm clock radio is acting strangely.
Ditzy must race against the clock to save Ponyville — a clock that keeps playing the same song over, and over, and over ...
FROM THE CURATORS: This isn't the first time we've seen a story about the secret life of the pony we know as Derpy Hooves/Ditzy Doo, but Alarm Clock did so many things right it couldn't help but stand out from the pack. "There's the outlandish callouts to the show," Present Perfect said. "There's the ridiculously well-placed fandom tropes. ('I emptied your fridge' as a significant plot point? Inconceivable!) There's a wonderful character in Derpy (an early standout moment was her fretting over being unable to handle power). There's good use of time and dimensional travel, and the fact that never once did I feel lost in the story. It was exciting and funny in all the right ways."
If those elements sound like familiar Derpy/Ditzy cliches, prepare to be surprised. "This upends half of Derpy fanon while justifying the other half," Horizon said. "The whole first chapter is about giving her a reason to be in Fluttershy's henhouse during the 'Find a Pet' song, and shortly thereafter is a chapter centered on foalsitting her friend's daughter Dinky. Doctor Whooves plays a prominent role ... as a foil. Nothing connects where you'd expect it to, but it all works." Chris agreed: "Meta Four takes plenty of gentle passes at fandom standbys, but never in a lazy or immersion-breaking way."
That's all the more impressive given the wild ideas the story throws at us. "This is honest-to-goodness magical realism crossed with My Little Pony," Horizon said. "It hedges its bets somewhat in the chapters where Ditzy is trying to bring normal ponies up to speed, but when she's fortunetelling for the fia or moving her hoof fjothward, the story is gloriously unapologetic about its oddness." That was aided by a fine touch with characterization and setting. "Everypony in here just feels right," JohnPerry said. "For all the upending of fanon and interdimensional weirdness going on in here, this still manages to feel like Ponyville at the end of the day."
Ultimately, though, Alarm Clock was just a joy to read. "This is the most fun I've had reading a fanfic in a while," Chris said. "This story shows how you can write a clever story, an engrossing story, and even a dramatic story, all without taking yourself too seriously."
Read on for our author interview, in which Meta Four discusses villain malapropisms, Gallifreyan baggage, and how to rescue a story from a two-year hiatus.Read More