News Archive

Apr
18th
2014

(0) Today’s story is horrible.  (1)  You shouldn’t read it.  (2)  … er … what do you mean, a number above my head is counting up?  That’s silly!  You’re clearly hallucinating. (3)

The Numbers Don't Lie

[Slice of Life] • 20,101 words

When the Cutie Mark Crusaders dig up an ancient magical artifact, they unleash a spell on the town that allows everypony to see a “lie meter” floating above each other’s heads. While attempting to solve the mystery, Twilight Sparkle has to analyze the tenuous balance between friendship and honesty. She doesn’t like what she finds.

FROM THE CURATORS: One of the things that makes this story an exemplar of MLP fanfiction is its marriage of an imaginative premise with a profound understanding of the show’s core theme.  “We always say MLP is a show about friendship,” Benman said, “but what’s remarkable is how rare and special that is.  The best episodes teach lessons about friendship, and it turns out friendship is really complicated. … This is a story with an actual friendship lesson that actual adults need to learn in the actual world.  It’s about what trust means, and why trust matters, and the difference between being nice and being a friend.”

The essential ponyness of “The Numbers Don’t Lie” stood out to all of us.  “The fic does a good job balancing comedy and sincerity,” Chris said.  “It reads like a well-adapted show script, and it’s just plain enjoyable.”  shortskirtsandexplosions, who did the writing, gets credit for that, but we found the core idea (which was created by theworstwriter) remarkable as well. “The story’s got one of the most compelling premises on the site,” Horizon said.

Read on for our author interviews — two in this post! — in which theworstwriter and shortskirtsandexplosions discuss collaboration, cartoon morality, and postapocalyptic evidence of creativity.  Also, if you click through to the interviews, Hasbro will deposit $100 in your PayPal account. (4)

Read More
Benman · 1,551 views · Report
Apr
18th
2014

“Variable, n.: an element, feature, or factor that is not consistent … liable to change.”  How can you account for all of them when you’re dealing with primal chaos?  Today’s story follows a young dragon struggling with just that question.

Variables

[Slice of Life] • 7,722 words

After his defeat at the hooves of the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony the stony figure of Discord was dragged far, far, far out of Ponyville where the good ponies could eventually forget the name of their tormentor… again.

But, it seems, as the months have passed some creature in Ponyville has not been able to put aside what had happened. Now, that creature approaches, and it seems as though he’d like a word with the immortal spirit of chaos…

FROM THE CURATORS: At first glance, this fic seems sparse. “This is a 8k-word story about Spike monologuing to an inanimate object,” Chris said. “But make no mistake, Variables … is the rare monologue fic which not only justifies its monologuing, but which manages to inspire dread, empathy, and genuine thought.”  Present Perfect agreed: “Variables is a really razor-sharp examination of Spike’s character.  If you want a clear view of The Descendant’s treatment of Spike, there’s no better way than to have him on his own, tackling tough issues.”

While several of us noted how slow the fic starts off, we were all impressed by how powerfully it closed. “The way this story concludes is one of the most thought-provoking finishes I’ve seen in a ponyfic,” Chris said.  And even though it’s one of the earliest stories of the fandom, it has held its power over time.  “All I can think about is how rare it is for me to read a story twice, and how rarer it is for me to appreciate a story even more the second time around,” Present said.  “I had real emotion after reading this ahead of writing the interview.”

Read on for that author interview, in which The Descendant discusses Spike’s character, drawing out head-canon, and the value of a good Reuben sandwich.

Read More
Benman · 571 views · Report
Apr
19th
2014

Psst. Hey. Hey you. Yeah, you. Over there.

C'mere, c'mere. I got some stuff here to sell you. Good stuff. Real high quality stuff. Stuff that'll blow your mind.

It is also stuff that's generally illegal, so instead of selling you all these drugs I think it's best if we stick to featuring stories.

It's just better that way for everyone involved, y'know?

While the content featured here will not give you an addictive high, it will hopefully satisfy your craving for knowledge, refinement, and horse fiction. Which is almost as good, and substantially less likely to ruin your life. Maybe. Probably.

Oh, well, all right. Small colorful ponies probably will still ruin your life. Don't let this stop you from reading, though.

Here's some links you may want to check out regarding The Royal Guard and its featurings:

-The Royal Guard Group

-Submit Your Story!

-The Royal Guard's Reviewing Omnibus

-Join The Guard!

NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, THE ROYAL GUARD PRESENTS THE FOLLOWING STORIES:

This Week:

Action/Adventure

The Good, the Bad, and the Ponies, by Sharp Spark

A Drop of Sunlight: The Becoming of Sun Brandisher, by Autumn Wind

Comedy

The Education of Clover the Clever, by Daedelean

Dark

Hard Reset, by Eakin

The Boy Who Cried Wolf, by InquisitorM

Wyrmlysan, by Chris

And I Will Love You..., by Scootareader

Romance

A Figment of Her Imagination, by Paul Asaran

Felt Heart, by Tchernobog

Sad

Broken Gladiator, by Brony Writer

Why Am I Crying?, by Rated Ponystar

Slice of Life

An Earth Pony Orphan In The Unicorn Court, by Benman

The Gift That Keeps On Giving, by Pascoite

We’ll Keep in Touch, by soundslikeponies



ACTION/ADVENTURE



The Good, the Bad, and the Ponies, by Sharp Spark

Out on the frontier, the only friend a pony can really trust is the gun in her hoof. Out where the land is wild and the buffalo roam, more than a few ponies have foregone scratching out a living on the farms or mines to seek riches and glory on the wrong side of the law. As a particularly mysterious and valuable cargo heads west on a long train journey, six mares follow with trouble in their wake, each intending to claim the prize for her own.

Also, a lot of ponies get shot.

Will I like this?: An absolute blast to read. Everything fits within the context of the universe presented, the events in the story leave the reader on the edge of their seat the entire time, and to top it off, everypony's characters are totally awesome. It left me hungry for more. —PR BronyWriter


A Drop of Sunlight: The Becoming of Sun Brandisher, by Autumn Wind

Long before the coming of the Princesses and the Modern Age, long before the coming of Discord and the Chaotic Age, and long even before the three breeds moved apart, the Age of Separation, there was the first age: The Age of Grazing.

The Age of Grazing was the birth and childhood of the world, where ponies made many discoveries that would one day shape the future of Equestria and its sister lands. Behind every great discovery was a bewildered pony, marveling at a mystery of the world.

This is the tale of one such pony. From mouth to mouth and quill to quill, from whinny to word and from neigh to notes, his name has been transformed and altered, but today, now that his tale has been immortalized in a thousand history books, he is known as Sun Brandisher.

Will I like this?: An intriguing peek into the history of the early days of Equestria. Short and succulent read. Good for any fans of world-building and suchlike. —PR Pearple Prose



COMEDY



The Education of Clover the Clever, by Daedelean

Clover Cordelia is a freshmare student at the Cambridle Academy of Magic who is determined to become a great sorceress.

Star Swirl the Bearded is a legendary wizard who is in need of an apprentice.

Clover will soon discover that having great magical power might not actually make you easier to be around, and tends to attract unusual difficulties…

It's nothing Star Swirl can't take care of, provided he and Clover manage to resist killing each other first.

Will I like this?: Characterization is the name of the game here, and this story's take on Star Swirl is one of the most enigmatic and intriguing I've seen. His eccentricity is offset perfectly by his straight mare, Clover the Clever, and the interactions between them are a joy to behold. —PR Prak



DARK



Hard Reset, by Eakin

Twilight isn't having a very good day. An experimental spell blew up in her face, an army of changelings is attacking Canterlot, and she just died. Yet somehow, it looks like it's going to keep going downhill from here.

Given the chance to correct what's gone wrong, Twilight swears she's going to fix all this even if it kills her. Which it will. Frequently.

Will I like this?: A story that does not hold back in the action and pushes you right into it. If you’re a fan of time loop tales, dark fare, and one of the most snarky interpretations of Twilight Sparkle in the fandom, then you’ve found the story for you.  —PR Garnot


The Boy Who Cried Wolf, by InquisitorM

Words can bring joy. Words can bring pain. Words can bring knowledge. In the hands of the right pony, they can bring all of these things at once. In the lands outside the fledgeling Equestria, one such pony has tracked a newfound fable back to its source, and she has a few choice words of her own prepared—because words... words have power.

Will I like this?: A pony walks into a bar and starts telling stories. If you're hoping I'll follow that with a silly punchline, you're going to be disappointed. If you're in the market for a great dialogue-driven story, however, this may be exactly what you're looking for. —PR Prak


Wyrmlysan, by Chris

Prophecy is a dangerous game; meanings which are obvious can become obscure in an instant, and fates are laid bare only in hindsight.  

After the fall of Discord but before the rise of Nightmare Moon, a dragon breaks the peace between his race and ponykind, and Princess Luna flies to mete out justice.

Will I like this?: A well-constructed story which manages to feel like the most epic fantasy despite its short length, "Wyrmlysan" is a deliciously dark little tale. It's rare to find any story that manages to portray pre-Nightmare Luna in a believable, compelling manner, but this pulls it off flawlessly. —PR Headless


And I Will Love You..., by Scootareader

       

For several years now, Tom has been maintaining a vigil over the Everfree Forest. Set to guard the secret of the Mirror Pool, he has never once let anything through.

He is surrounded by life and vibrancy, but he feels none of it. Nothing notices him or cares to notice him. He is alone, as alone as a rock can be.

Bloomberg similarly feels lonely, but is surrounded by wanton lust and fake intimacy. He stands apart, but wishes for the eternal coupling that he remembers so many of his elder trees having in Sweet Apple Acres.

Separated by distance and only able to see each other in their dreams, these two must find a way to reconcile far more than their inhibitions if they have any hope of being together.

Will I like this?: By all logic this story shouldn't work. It's a shipping story about Tom and Bloomberg, and it is played 100% straight and... the author pulls it off flawlessly. Nobody can ever say that a ship is impossible again after this story. This story, I think, has changed shipping forever. Scootareader did something amazing here. Everything I thought that I knew about writing romances is wrong. —PR BronyWriter



ROMANCE



A Figment of Her Imagination, by PaulAsaran

Egged on by Rainbow Dash, Princess Twilight has found a way to summon Daring Do from the pages of one of her own books! This seems like a wonderful thing; all her fans get to meet their hero, after all. But there's something wrong. Daring was meant to be a storybook puppet, content to stick around for about a month then fade away with a smile and a wave. Instead, Daring has opinions. She's thinking independently. She's self aware, and she doesn't want to disappear.

Daring Do is alive. That wasn't supposed to happen, and it complicates things. As Twilight heads off to engage her royal peers in an ethical debate over this issue, Daring is left to her own devices, wondering whether she'll even be allowed to live.

But the questions around her own existence aren't the only worries Daring faces. Eager fans won't give her a moment's rest, a certain author isn't happy that her life's work is being toyed with by mages, and to top it all off, Daring's starting to fall head-over-hooves for a certain timid pegasus.

And when Rainbow finds out that Daring's got eyes for her oldest friend, she may go from being Daring's greatest fan...to becoming her greatest enemy.

Will I like this?: A story of hope and love with a dash of existential and ethical dilemmas for seasoning. It asks how much of a life you can live in only three weeks. —PR Lab


Felt Heart, by Tchernobog

Rarity discovers an old tradition involving the exchange of felt dolls as a sign of affection.  This sparks a brilliant plan to play matchmaker with her friends, and between herself and Twilight.  

But brilliant plans never go as expected, do they?

Will I like this?: Ah, Felt Heart. A matchmaker-Rarity story that shows that not all romance stories can be labeled simply as "shipfics," and can be so much more. It reads like a dream, and feels so very real. Romance is more than falling in love, it's a journey with its own challenges. Sometimes, you just need that little push... —PR Flint Sparks



SAD



Broken Gladiator, by BronyWriter

The Power Ponies are coming again.

Another escape from custody, another scheme to take over Maretropolis, and another chance for the Power Ponies to defeat her. Such is the cycle that Mane-iac has endured for as long as she can remember.

And she's sick of it. She's sick of all of it. Now on the cusp of one more battle with her nemeses, she can only think of how much she has sacrificed for the city in her battles against the Power Ponies, and how much more she can take.

Will I like this?: There are only a handful of stories out there that explore Mane-iac's character, and even fewer that have done it well. This little gem helps to fill that void, offering a sympathetic portrayal of a villain who deserves a lot more attention. —PR Prak


Why Am I Crying?, by Rated Ponystar

For as long as any of the Cutie Mark Crusaders can remember, Diamond Tiara had always been the biggest bully they knew. But when that said bully dies in an accident, each of them starts to go through their own emotional experience from this sudden change in their lives. Each will learn more about themselves and about the pony who they all thought they knew before she is laid to rest.

Will I like this?: Character death is rarely handled with the delicacy and weight that it deserves. For young characters, this is doubly true; finding believable, in-character reactions for the rest of the cast is even rarer. "Why Am I Crying?", therefore, came as an incredibly pleasant surprise. It doesn't feel cheap or ham-fisted, and the depth that its narrative gives to the Cutie Mark Crusaders is astonishing without ever stepping outside the bounds of what is believable for a child. —PR Headless



SLICE OF LIFE



An Earth Pony Orphan In The Unicorn Court, by Benman

In the time before the three pony tribes became one, a rampaging monster tears apart a noble caravan. Now the baron’s shattered family must put itself back together—with one remarkable addition.

Will I like this?: A nice bit of history/world building in a style that we rarely get to see, and even more rarely get to see done well. It focuses on the characters, and is both a lead-in to a larger story, while still working as a stand-alone deal. It's a really interesting look into Equestria long before the events of the show, particularly in the area of inter-race relations. —PR BronyWriter


The Gift That Keeps On Giving, by Pascoite

The Princesses' birthday celebration is here again, and Mayor Mare needs a scapegoat—er, trusted citizen—to handle Ponyville's gift. Certainly, deciding what to get for an ancient ruler who's seen everything will be a piece of cake. Hm, cake. Maybe that's not such a bad idea.

Will I like this?: A charming, touching look on the princesses, and how the entirety of Equestria views them. Pinkie Pie is wonderfully characterized here too, better than most authors manage, actually. It's a very good read, that will leave a smile on your face. —PR BronyWriter


We’ll Keep In Touch, by soundslikeponies

Left only with a promise to keep in touch, Rainbow Dash struggles to convey her feelings, and to figure out what the words were that she couldn't say on that last snowy night at the train station before Twilight left. As everyone slowly drifts apart, Dash will have to put in the effort if she wants to keep her friends together.

Will I like this?: The whole things feels more like a heartfelt memory than a here-and-now story. The important bits are crystal clear, and everything else is purposefully blurred behind the narrative lens so as not to get in the way. All in all, an experience that shouldn’t be missed. —PR ArgonMatrix

Obselescence · 1,595 views · Edited 4d, 15h ago · Report
Apr
13th
2014

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


A picture is worth a thousand words. Forty-one of those are ‘blood.’ Welcome… to Seattle’s Angels.

In Fimfic community news today, Obselescence has devoured Alexstrazsa. Or… his beard has. We’re not sure. When asked for comment, site moderator Obselescence emphatically denied this claim.

“That’s ridiculous,” he urged, as half a torso and a pair of legs were slowly drawn as if by the convulsions of peristalsis further into a beard that, being fair but not excessive in size should not have been able to do as it now did. “Everyone knows that flesh-eating beards were banned from the site. This is the worst kind of slander,” he insisted, quickly turning to pummel the still living, still struggling body of Alexstrazsa into submission. Intern ambion asked Alexstrazsa for his take on this development, but all he got was a muffled, indistinct voice as if echoing from a great chasm, a sudden shriek and what sounded quite like the crunching of bone.

In other news, dear readers, it seems I have become a plum. I’m not sure how this happened, or how it is possible that I still communicate with you as I continue to do, or even how I can wonder about this, seeing as I no longer have the brain, spinal cord, and assorted nervous systems usually considered necessary to do so. More on this story as it develops.

Oh good, intern ambion has just come back. Did you get any comment out of Alexstrazsa? Wait, those hungry eyes… I am a plum, yes, but I am still your supervisor. No, put me down! Don’t polish my supple purple skin on your shirt. Readers, I do not know if fruit feels pain, but if I should momentarily begin screaming take that to mean probably yes!

I don’t know if anyone can see this, but I will go on as long as I can, oh gods the teeth, the teeth!

AND NOW, DEAR READERS, THE WEATHER:

ROUND 41


STORY 1

A City of Opportunities, by Sasha Nein

Vinyl Scratch, an up and coming, heavy hitting producer is thrown together with a shadow veiled, classically trained composer as they each try to make a living in the celebrity ridden streets of Canterlot.  Little do they know, however, they will have to wade through the pressures of fame and popularity, heinous conspiracies and silver tongued threats, before they can walk the golden road of their fulfilled dreams.


Professor Plum:

What's this?  A story with Octavia and Vinyl, and it's not got the romance tag?  What is this sorcery?  Everyone knows they're in love and/or some sort of supernatural creature.  Usually both.

"Oh hey, what's that story you're reading, there?"

"Oh, nothing.  Just some lesbian vampire horse fanfiction on the internet

I must say, however, that this portrayal is rather... unique.  Octavia on her training final mission before becoming a fully-fledged ninja, having descended from a long line of the shadow-warriors is not something every story has, but that may be to their detriment.  Best yet, it feels like Octavia The Ninja, as opposed to Ninja Pony #331 wearing an Octavia mask, which is an extremely unusual thing to say considering Octavia has no canon personality.  I suppose it's the fact the characterisation strikes close enough to the fanon Octavia to still bear the same theme, but carries this theme in a new direction (waving a katana while doing so).  The same applies to Vinyl Scratch.  Yes, she's a DJ (This just in:  Pope confirmed to be Catholic), but stays away from the exceedingly dumb (and above all flat) DJ she's often portrayed as. The new take on the dynamic duo is really rather refreshing, and executed much better than I was expecting.  

The fact that Octavia isn't a 2D cutout of the snobby musician-type and Vinyl more than a stereotypical bass-junkie places this one leaps and bounds ahead of a good proportion of similar stories, but the story itself is actually entertaining to boot.  Two pieces of criticism I would level at the author, however:

Please don't hyperlink music mid-story.  And if you must do so, please make hyperlinks that work

If you're going to have action scenes that feature the word "decapitated", you should probably have the gore tag.  I'll admit, fimfic's guidelines are a bit blurred on this topic, but I'm pretty sure that counts.

Still, this one's probably among the most amusing I've found so far, in spite of aforementioned problems.  The fight scenes are reasonably well executed, the jokes light-hearted, and the characters enjoyable.

People looking for a story with feel-good comedy and the occasional spot of ass-kicking ninja action should definitely give this one a shot.

Ambion:

Octavia is a ninja. Well, almost a ninja. All she has to do is shadow a DJ and keep said DJ not-dead, and she’ll be a ninja for realsies.

Certainly a unique premise to open with.

A City of Opportunities takes the conventional approach of mashing these two characters together in kissy-kissy motions and turns that on its head. Now don’t me wrong, I’m a great advocate for kissy-kissy, but that’s besides the point entirely. What we have here in ACoO is action, adventure, and intrigue. And katanas. Well, a single katana.

For all that stuff about being a ninja (Well, almost a ninja) Octy comes across as really quite sheltered, naive to an extent, and the story is as much a growing-up story as it is a swish-swish-schwing! one. Really, the naievete is quite cute, and all the more so for being unexpected (yet working so well) in a setting where, it may have been mentioned, there are katanas.

Well, a single katana.

But yes, it was very pleasing to find here that she is, in truth, Octavia, and just so happens to be a ninja (almost) rather than being a Ninja that happens to be named Octavia.

To put it another way, first and foremost she’s a relatable character, not a cookie-cutter reprint of some kind of brooding, overly-skilled anti-hero, (of which there are so, so many) and the unusual circumstances in which she was raised have not taken away the ability to relate to her. Rather, they’ve added (and limited) Octavia's pool of experience to help shape a believable - and of ultimate importance - enjoyable iteration of the character, with room to grow, in whatever ways that may come to be.

Vinyl is played to much the same strengths, namely that her apparently defining qualities aren’t her only qualities. She’s dynamic, capable of noise and quiet, of sincerity and deviousness, thoughtlessness and intelligent observation, making for a scope of possible interactions far broader and more engaging than many, more conventional TaviScratch narratives could ever allow for.

A fun story, if perhaps a little more violent than the tags tell. With action, reaction and interaction aplenty, it manages to have characterisation meshed intimately into the workings of an adventure story, a quality overlooked by all too many writers these days, when ‘action’ seems to be the final word on a one-word recipe.


STORY 2

Dear Rainbow Dash, by fluttershywriter

Scootaloo has never had the best luck. Her parents never seem to get along, she's moved seven times in her eleven years of life, and she'll never be able to be like other pegasi. But in the past year, things have been looking up for her. She's made friends, and it seems like she might be staying in one place for a little while.

Then, without any warning, her parents decide that the family will be living in Cloudsdale with Scootaloo's grandmother.

In her frustration, Scootaloo writes a letter to Rainbow Dash, never intending to send it . . . and to her surprise, chooses to contine writing. Over the course of several months, Scootaloo learns secrets about her family, her idol, and maybe even herself,


Professor Plum:

What's this?  Scootaloo writing letters to Rainbow Dash that are never sent?  Good god, here we go.  Best get ready for all the Scootasad feels that'll be hurled our way.  I swear, it seems impossible to find a story which doesn't have scootaloo dying a bunch, or have her parents die tragically, or so on, and so on...

"It's a rather dim attempt to capture the same shock and awe. And that's the thing about shock:

once you're doing it about every five minutes it just stops being special." ~ Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

But what's this?  No tragedy tag?  Not even a sad?  It's slice of life?!  And Scootaloo's parents aren't dead?  I think I may need a lie-down...

Okay, I must clarify.  Scootaloo's life sucks in this one (I'm pretty sure that's a requirement), but this story is less about explaining to the reader why they should pity the poor little orphan filly who'll never fly and never get a cutie mark and never get her parents back or what-have-you.  Scootaloo's parents are definitely going through a rough patch, with the titular letters to RD expressing how the young pegasus deals with such a turbulent time.  It's a pretty decent attempt, all told.

It took me a little while to realise this, but the way this story's written is actually quite clever.  The occasional conversationalist tone, and relatively mediocre syntax are deliberate (I assume), and are part of Scootaloo's character, not the author's.  Once I factored this in, it became more engaging, helping me engage with the story.

One final note would be the fact that this story is so much more subtle than the majority of Scootasads out there.  It doesn't feature graphic descriptions of Scootaloo being beaten by one pony or another, but the mention that she might expect a beating from them has the same effect, or an even greater one.  Overall, I found this one to be not too shabby.

Ambion:

IN A WORLD, WHERE-

Scootaloo is always being writ as an orphan, or getting killed all the time, but otherwise invariably is the most short-stick-getting filly of the fandom, it’s difficult to find a story where one can actually be made to feel pathos-de-Scoots.

Before someone shoots me in the kneecaps, let me clarify - I love Scootaloo. You love Scootaloo. Everyone loves Scootaloo (but if you don’t that’s okay too), but her character gets so inundated with sad/tragedy/dark/sad/moar-sad that eventually they all blur together, and get dismissed out of hand.

To paraphrase The Incredibles: “When all Scootaloos are sad, no Scootaloos are.”

Not the case with Dear Rainbow Dash! Less is definitely more; it’s not even tagged sad, dark, tragedy, or any of that schtick.

And it’s right not to be. This is slice of life through and through. The very nature of the fic, given as a series of letters, is the very definitive in ‘slice’, and life is just that - the mundane, the daily, the things of a normal life.

And hell if this didn’t evoke some serious pathos because of that. I kid you not, this modest-seeming SoL has the refined, mature melancholy of any dozen sad-Scoots you care to bludgeon me with.

The use of first person (what with being letters, of course) is used very well, making the story an incredibly personal, at times almost invasive trip in which we tag along with Scoot’s inner self, the thoughts, feelings, resentments, whims and aspirations of everyday life. She narrates these letters that in no uncertain terms are the catharsis of her constant struggle to cope and adjust from what she had to what she has, and the parallels that can be drawn between this narrative and reality are many.

An evocative story, one to remind the weary reader just what Scootaloo is -and what she isn’t- and a very fine example of the Slice of Life genre done right.


STORY 3

The Long Delivery, by Not a pipe

Big Mac's delivery route is a little different from Applejack's. It's also different from each delivery before it. But he has a map and a will. And he will not let himself be stopped.

Written for Writer's Training Grounds #011: "Somepony to Watch Over Me"

Big Macintosh wishes chimeras were the only things he had to contend with on his delivery route. What he goes up against is far, far worse...


Professor Plum:

If I were to sum this story up in a nutshell, it would be "Simple".  It knows what it set out to do, does it quick, does it clean, and finds enough time to put a few jokes in-between.  The entirety of the story can be summed up by "Big Mac makes a delivery to a very distant customer"

Big Mac walks east...

To quickly mention the technical side of things, this story is best described as "adequate".  No-one will be reduced to tears by the majesty of its prose, but I found very little to complain about.  At least this author didn't attempt to pick my playlist for me...

Regardless, I suppose I should mention the characterisation, but to do so for most would spoil their arrival, so I'll stick with Big Mac:

He's definitely Big Mac.

Readers who appreciate a slightly more abstract form of humour will definitely find this one to their liking.  The main source of entertainment is to be found in the places he visits along his journey, as well as the people therein.  From caverns to Queens, manticores and even the occasional supernatural spirit, the way the stoic stallion interacts with each provides a quiet chuckle, as he carries on his way.

A quick read, certainly, and definitely not a bad one.

Ambion:

Perhaps not the strongest story to find itself touched by an angel (good touch, I assure you!), I nonetheless quite liked this one. The Long Delivery takes us on A Short Sabbatical through a nonsensical landscape of imagery, surreal and oh so rich with imaginative mystery.

The story is somewhat susceptible to grammatical error, I won’t pretend it isn’t, but to those readers with a tolerance for such trifling matters, the read is well worth the time for the array of disparate noises, colours, and sensations our calm and stoic Big Macintosh leads us through. Several moments throughout make for little smiles, as the bizarre and nonsensical, at times, swaps places with the immediately recognizable, giving a sort of familiarity to the hazy-dream like qualities that exudes from this story. These little moments along the way lead us on to the ending, which pulls much the same style of stylistic swap, on a grander scale, hopefully turning a little smile to a big one.

A colourful story, free of the usual trappings of plot and characterization, instead letting itself be a happy and simple romp through imagination and wonderment, all quick enough to read with tea.


STORY 4

The Griffon Wars:  A Soldier’s Memoirs, by Dusk Quill

When Private Fleethoof recognized his dream and joined the Royal Guard, he never thought he would ever experience the might of Equestria's military firsthand. But when Equestria's safety is threatened by an old enemy, he'll find out just what sacrifices war and survival demand, what it truly means to serve for Princess and country, and just how important some friendships can be. See the war through the eye-witness account of a soldier on the front lines, all taken from one enduring journal.


Professor Plum:

YES JAKE, WE ARE FINALLY REVIEWING THIS STORY.  YOU CAN REST YOUR WEARY HEART NOW.

*ahem*

In case the title hadn’t tipped you off, this one’s a warfic, and I’ll start it off with a warning:  It has ponies with guns.  If ponies with guns is a thing that stretches your suspension of disbelief too far, then I don’t think this will be the story to change that for you.  If you can stand the sight of ponies with mouth-grips and whatnot, then this is pretty much a must-read.

TGS:ASM follows young Private Fleethoof, fresh from bootcamp in Equestria's military, head full of dreams of the mighty General Fleethoof who must surely be arriving soon.  And, as the title would suggest, defecation hits the oscillation, and this Royal Guard Reservist isn't quite so reservist any more.

War were declared

But yes.  War were, indeed, declared, and Fleethoof certainly sees his fair share of the fighting.  More so, in fact, as his sleepy beach-side billet is turned into First Contact with him slap-bang in the centre.

One thing I will admit to liking quite a lot is the way in which it's written.  The story is framed by the idea that Princess Celestia is reading the journal of a pony who fought in the titular wars, and features plenty of excerpts and entries from said journal.  But the story itself isn't completely bound by this form, and whisks the reader away into the scenes that have been recorded.  A really rather nice way of handling it, I feel.  The story is deeply personal, with very little about the war as a whole.  It's about Fleethoof's part in it, just as you'd expect a journal to be.

Now, I must admit I'm not particularly well versed on modern military.  Ask me about WWII-era fighting vehicles (land and air) and I've got a shot at knowing a thing or two, but once you get past the sixties, it's all sausage to me.  Moreso than most on this site, being a Brit.  Thankfully, however, a drill sergeant friend of mine was able to provide a bit more of an in-depth and personal opinion of how Equestria's military is portrayed.  In a review he wrote, he compliments the fic for portraying life as a grunt with startling accuracy for someone who's never served, right down to the disappointing lack of .50cal freedom-slinging right out of basic.  But the review tells us more than this.

In it, Jake mentions the fact that he's... put out, I suppose, by the fact that the guns the ponies have are exceedingly human.  It doesn't make sense to have a shoulder stock when you walk on four legs, for example.

But I didn't notice this problem, and that's a great sign.  Not only is the story well-written, and the characters nicely portrayed, but the author is willing to listen to constructive criticism, and actively accept advice on how to improve.  And that alone makes this story worth praising to high heaven.

Ambion:

‘War’ is a very big word. Immense. Quite a number of writers try to encapsulate that only to fail, their efforts bad or worse, mediocre.

For a story to strike a balance in a war setting is certainly more difficult than doing the same in, say, a SoL setting.

This leads us to The Griffon War: A Soldier’s Memoirs. Ancient myth tells us that griffons are the eaters of horses (probably a sign of hostility), but in bronydom the griffons occupy a kind of memetically enforced null-zone. As tends to be the case put forward, what with ponies and magic and more pones than one can shake a stick at, Equestria tends to be portrayed as this rather unstoppable, unmatchable force of a nation/empire/principality(?)/whatever.

Here, that preassigned supremacy is tossed right out the window. We see the world through a character who is remarkable in his ordinariness, a casual person caught up in events bigger than his perception or understanding.

The use of the journal adds an emotional dichotomy to the story. It both gives us access to the inner being of the character of Fleetfoot while at the same time pushing us aside, as if saying that has happened, has happened, and that while one can read the words and imagine what the character went through, the association from that is not at all the same to the association of having fought and bled and died together.

Heavy stuff, granted, but done in a way that does not try to force the weight of it down any reader’s throat. This can be read for the action alone, and that would be enough to carry the story. It can be read for the journal entries alone, and that too would be enough to carry the story. Independently, each component is self-sufficient, and I don’t think it would be wrong at all to say that different readers would take away different impressions in reading this.

An interesting story. One of many that attempts to work with the idea of war in coloured-pony land, and more successful in its endeavour than most. There’s a spectrum of emotion here, with action to satisfy a reader’s bloodlust and introspection to consider the implications of that, too.


Welcome back, dear readers. As you hopefully can tell, I am not dead. Or at least, as not-dead as any of us can ever truly hope to be. I am still a plum, and that is something of an inconvenience. I still don’t know if any of this is reaching you, being as it may that I don’t fully trust the apparent sensory input and cognitive abilities of a small, rather sweet-tasting fruit.

But really, readers, can we have ever trusted our senses, or our minds? Has anything really changed? Perhaps. Or perhaps...not at all.

Anyway, I thought I heard intern ambion coming back, but I guess not. He might have said something, I’m not sure. It was kind of muffled. It sort of sounded like it were coming from far away, as if from a chasm. There might have been a muffled scream and the sudden sharp crunching of bones, but this is Seattle’s Angels, and if we stopped business to raise a fuss every time that happened, why, we’d never get anything done!

Good night, dear readers, good night.


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 · 1,510 views · Report
Apr
5th
2014

Today’s story puts stories in your story, so that you can story while you … ahem.  Tune in for mythology, wit, and a public battle of oneupmareship with Pinkie Pie.

Telling Tales

[Comedy] [Adventure] • 21,723 words

Tall Tales didn’t intend to be in Ponyville for long. It was supposed to be a brief stop on the way to the storytellers’ gathering in Connemara, and nothing more. How was he to know he’d be offered the opportunity to show southerners real storytelling? More to the point, how was he supposed to refuse? And just what does this pink pony want with him, anyway?

Now he’s shanghaied himself into performing, and must use all his skill to stay on stage, on target, and within the bounds of sanity. So gather round, pull up a bollard, and listen to some proper Equestrian folk tales.

Or watch one stallion go slowly mad in public. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

FROM THE CURATORS: Art as a statement on art: as previously mentioned, a tricky balancing act.  But Telling Tales pulls it off with flair, giving us a remarkable look at the interplay between storyteller and audience.  ”What sets this apart is the narrative voice — and I mean voice,” Benman said. “It perfectly captures the style of someone telling a tale aloud.” Horizon agreed: “The narrator’s voice was indeed remarkable.”

Telling Tales is also exemplary because it works on multiple levels — which was reinforced for us when we started discussing its strengths.  Chris dug in deeply: “The setup is an irate traveling storyteller getting harassed by Pinkie, but what’s really great here are the stories themselves, which show an incredible range and reflect multiple storytelling traditions.”  But Benman disagreed: “I liked … the really cool metanarrative of the storyteller using the tales to flail at his own problems … which utterly gets the main cast even though they’re mostly in supporting roles.”

Read on for our interview, in which James Washburn discusses nuclear friendship detente, petty victories, and the historical accuracy of a war waged over a bull.

Read More
Benman · 811 views · Report
Apr
3rd
2014

Hi guys! Did you know that reading pony fanfics is a good source of up to ten (but possibly zero) important vitamins and minerals?

Neither did I, until I made that all up just now.

Seriously, though. Stories make our world go ‘round, via complex gravitational processes nobody really understands. That in mind, The Royal Guard has brought you yet another truckful of stories to keep our world turning. You should read them, else you may be indirectly responsible for the sudden rotational demise of our lovely blue planet.

HURRY! READ NOW, ELSE WE MAY ALL DIE.

But first, here’s a few links you may want to look at:

-The Royal Guard Group

-Submit Your Story!

-The Royal Guard's Reviewing Omnibus

-Join The Guard!

NOW READ:

This Week:

Action/Adventure

The Ambassador’s Son, by Midnight Shadow

The Last Human: A Tale of the Pre-Classical Era, by PatchworkPoltergeist

Dark

The Writing on the Wall, by Horse Voice

Wind and Stone, by Ruirik

Beyond the Wall, by Filler

Sad

Old Friends, by RBDash47

Protect, by Lord Destrustor

Author, Author!, by Pascoite

Slice of Life

Reading Rainbow, by Corejo

Go West, Young Mare, by JohnPerry

Bitter-Sweetie, by InquisitorM

Diary of a Pliant Tyrant, by xjuggernaughtx

A Taste of the Good Life, by Eakin

Comedy

Roll For Initiative, by Prak

Romance

The Terrifying Prospect of Swans in Love, by Fedora Mask



ACTION/ADVENTURE



The Ambassador’s Son, by Midnight Shadow

A noble earth-pony family, fallen somewhat on hard times, is killed in a mining accident. They leave behind a single male heir, who is in sore need of a guardian, and of protection. Celestia takes the young pony under her wing and delivers him not to ponies - not earth, unicorn or pegasus - but to a dragon, an ambassador, an old friend of hers.

Playing a game which may just be deadly to the uninformed, the dragon decides that the one path open to him to ensure the safety of his charge and to carry out his sworn duty, is to adopt.

Will I like this?: It's quite a rare sight to see sad and comedy labeled on a story. It's rarer still to see one that works. An orphan colt, an adoptive father of draconic proportions, and clever prose that will leave you shaken or laughing makes for a rare breed of literature. Check this one out, you won't know how to feel! —PR Flint Sparks


The Last Human: A Tale of the Pre-Classical Era, by PatchworkPoltergeist

Reader, in ancient days, the old lords of the world numbered in thousands. Then hundreds. Then even less.

Now, they are found only in tapestries and fanciful ballads.

The creatures are all vanished. All but one.

Rumors say there are more of him, somewhere far away. A young and supposedly gifted mage called Star Swirl, and Heartstrings, a gentle spinster. have joined him on a journey to find the rest.

Will I like this?: It's a rare story that manages to capture the feel of classic epic fantasy. "The Last Human" does so with aplomb. A truly entertaining adventure story that explores the rich possibilities for fantasy in Equestria, with some of the most memorable scenes from any story I have yet to read on this site. —PR Headless



DARK



The Writing on the Wall, by Horse Voice

Daring Do can't believe her luck when she is asked to help explore the most ancient tomb known to ponykind. But terrible danger awaits her, for beneath the earth rests something beyond equine understanding.

Will I like this?: An extremely engaging Daring Do adventure that quickly takes an intriguing, enthralling, and entirely chilling turn. With or without the real-life subtext that it touches upon so well, The Writing On The Wall is an extremely well-realized story that isn't afraid to dip into some truly creepy subject matter. —PR Headless


Wind and Stone, by Ruirik

After eighty years Pathfinder has seen it all, and tried to drink most of it away. When an eager young guard comes with questions for him, he is forced to relive some of his hardest memories.  Memories of Home.  Memories of Loss.  Memories of wind and stone.

Will I like this?: A story of war, friendship, and true brutality. Wind and Stone earns its 'dark' tag and then some. Strong in character and terrifying realism, I couldn't suggest a better fic for those who love epic-length stories of war amongst ponies. Make sure to strap down your emotions for this fic, because once the roller coaster crests the slope, you're in for one hell of a ride. —PR Sorren


Beyond the Wall, by Filler

Never enter the woods alone, for there are monsters there. They can look like anything, even another pony. And if you waver in Gaea's love, you will become one.

Will I like this?: A creepy, almost Lovecraftian atmosphere, combined with tight pacing, ensures that this chilling short story will stay with you long after you finish reading. —PR Prak



SAD



Old Friends, by RBDash47

She noticed the pony for the first time when she was young, not long after she'd received her cutie mark. He became her oldest friend.

Will I like this?: Death is not something to fear, for it is only another part of life. The next journey, so to speak. Old Friends captures the melancholy, yet uplifting, spirit of the journey to accept Death. It will make you think, feel, and ponder the next journey without crushing your soul or happiness. There can be happiness found in the sad genre, and this story is the kicker. —PR Flint Sparks


Protect, by Lord Destrustor

The world is dangerous. It is not safe, not as safe as it used to be.

But this is why you are here. This is who you are, what you are.

You must protect the ponies.

Always.

You will protect.

Will I like this?: There are few things more noble than to put one's own life on the line for the sake of another’s, and Protect understands this quite well. A short and sweet story about the nature of artificial intelligence and emergent consciousness, this story manages to pack much more meaning into its words than many works three times its length. —PR Headless


Author, Author!, by Pascoite

Much to her surprise, Pinkie Pie has discovered that the pen is a mighty tool, indeed. When she first tried her hoof at writing, she had no idea what the consequences might be. Now, more is at stake than she ever could have imagined.

Will I like this?: A very nice deconstruction of what might happen if Pinkie Pie actually did have fourth-wall awareness. Short, sweet, and a nice examination of Pinkie's character to boot. Very nice. —PR Headless



SLICE OF LIFE



Reading Rainbow, by Corejo

When a freak reading accident causes Twilight to be admitted to the Ponyville hospital, Rainbow Dash is right by her side.  Compelled by a sense of duty and repayment, she takes it upon herself to cheer up her friend.

Will I like this?: With creativity of showcasing a story inside a story, this is well worth the read, and really drives home that Rainbow Dash is the Element of Loyalty for a very good reason. It's a sweet little story that at its heart is about two good friends. —PR BronyWriter


Go West, Young Mare, by JohnPerry

Daring Do has lived for many years, and in that time the world has changed dramatically. Burdened with the decisions of her past and in an Equestria she no longer recognizes, where does a mare find her way in this strange new world?

Will I like this?: There are a lot of stories detailing Daring Do's adventures, but precious few that cover her early or later years. This one does both. Take a trip into the future of our favorite archaeologist, and see where it all began. —PR Prak


Bitter-Sweetie, by InquisitorM

Nopony knows the changes that time will bring, and Neither Twilight nor Sweetie Belle could have guessed that their trials would have brought them so tightly together. Now, as Twilight draws closer to the end, Princess Celestia pays her a final, private visit, but the ramifications are huge and could change the course of Sweetie Belle's life without her ever knowing.

Will I like this?: While the story of Twilight's final hours is touching, the real power of this story is in its portrayal and exploration of Celestia. If a gripping new take on Equestria's princesses in an easily digestible one-shot sounds appealing to you, don't pass this up. —PR Prak


Diary of a Pliant Tyrant, by xjuggernaughtx

It's funny what an idle slip of the tongue can lead to.  When Discord makes an off-hand comment to Fluttershy about the mental diary he kept when encased in stone, she begs him to continue it.  She says it will be "therapeutic", but he's sure it'll be a real bore.  But who can resist those puppy-dog eyes and a bribe of fresh cookies?  Grudgingly, he takes up a pencil to document his thoughts and experiences in his new life.  A life among his old enemies.  A life he never wanted.

Will I like this?: A story that flawlessly characterizes Discord by presenting his "diary" in a way that makes it sound like he himself wrote it, something that can be exceedingly difficult to pull off. Not only that, but Discord goes through a realistic arc with some excellent conflict through the course of the story, which is something else that's hard to do when the text is made up of diary entries. xjuggernaughtx pulls it off perfectly. —BronyWriter


A Taste of the Good Life, by Eakin

Main Course is a successful chef and restaurant owner. Or he was, anyway, until a fire tore up his life's work and left him adrift. When he visits his sister in the rural backwater town of Ponyville, he discovers an abandoned building that's perfect for a quick fix-up so he can flip it for a profit. But the building comes with an unforeseen tenant, and when he lets her stick around he discovers that maybe, just maybe, there's something out there more important than wealth and fame.

Will I like this?: Ah, the good life. Living as a chef with your own restaurant, watching said restaurant burn down, and having to move across the country. And that's just the start of it! Compelling dialogue, a great start, and pacing that keeps you in without giving you whiplash. Plus, it's in good taste, no pun intended. —Flint Sparks



COMEDY



Roll For Initiative, by Prak

Equestria stands on the brink of ruin.  A necromancer has raised an army of the dead and is poised to plunge the world into darkness.  Monsters and brigands roam freely across the land, preying upon the innocent.

Only one hope remains.  Armed with swords, spells, snacks, and a bag of dice, five heroes band together to defeat the forces of evil...if their rolls are good enough.

Will I like this?: Considering that we're on a website dedicated to fanfiction about talking magical ponies with arcane magic powered by friendship, it's not really hard to take the next step in nerdom. Roll For Initiative is a charming, hilarious, and quite witty story about the mane 6 playing their own version of Dungeons and Dragons. I'm going to have to roll a natural crit to find my sides again. —PR Flint Sparks



ROMANCE



The Terrifying Prospect of Swans in Love, by Fedora Mask

Twilight Sparkle has always loved Celestia—as a friend, and a mentor, and something else as well. And she finally, finally found the courage to admit those feelings.

Celestia turned her down as gently as she could. That's what she thought, anyway.

But the night is still young—and it's a night for being wrong.

Will I like this?: A cleverly-constructed scenario, strong characterization, and witty presentation make this story a must-read for fans of romantic comedies. —PR Prak

Obselescence · 2,370 views · Edited 2w, 5d ago · Report
Apr
2nd
2014

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


Upon the placid blue desert of the open sea, there was no shelter from the sweltering sun or the scorching wind. There was no shelter from the salty air that scratched the throat and leeched the moisture straight from the eyes. There was nothing but the bobbing of the ship, the creaking of the dry, splintering wood on deck, and the two Seattle’s Angels perched at the bow.

One might be tall if he wasn’t hunched over the railing, his eyes pinched into a permanent squint from interminable days of glaring at the unbroken surface of the waters. A heavy blue mariner’s coat, coarse and sticky from dried sweat and the powder of evaporated salt, hung in near tatters over his thin shoulders. His cap still featured the proud logo of the Angels, the forbidden word “Faffing” struck through with red, but the crisp shape it once had was now sagged and forlorn from several soakings in the sea. He had a peculiar habit of leaping from the hull to catch stubborn stories that threatened to slip loose from the nets.

The other occupant of the ship was a red squirrel who looked ready to die.

“We’ve been out here near three months. It’s been two weeks since the last sighting,” the squirrel rasped through a dry throat. “Fresh water’s nearly out.”

“Mmhmm,” grunted the other man.

“I reckon we can still make it back to land if we leave in the next three days, but even that’ll be stretching it.”

“Mmhmm.”

“Core,” said the squirrel, “I think we need to face facts. We missed the deadline. The shoals will not flash their silver fins for us. The sea only heaps a bounty of salt and heat upon our heads. We’ve failed.”

“Only when you give up, m’boyo. That be the only time our actions shall lead to failure.”

“Also I think the heat’s going to your head. You’re talking like a sailor, like, all the time now.”

“I got the beard for it ‘pon this voyage,” replied Corejo, stroking his extremely manly and salt-streaked stubble, “might as well get used ta’ the vernacular, aye?”

The squirrel gave a dusty, windswept sigh. “It’s over, Core. The Angels will starve. The bins will go empty and we’ll be forced to leave.”

“Have faith in the bounty of the sea, matey,” growled Corejo. “Sure, the waters of FIM Fiction are vaster’n they’ve ever been, an’ like a deep-plumbed mine her treasures are a mite harder to find… but she’ll deliver. She always has.”

Red coughed. For a long time there was silence. The sun passed the high noon mark and settled into the sweltering long haul of afternoon, and soon it would be in their eyes again.

“Look,” Red muttered, taking a final swig from his squirrel-sized canteen with Rarity’s cutie mark emblazoned on it, “for best pony’s sake, Core. It’s not worth it to die for something like this—”

“Hold on, boy!” Core said, grabbing Red’s arm, which because of the size difference meant his entire body. There was a distinctly loud and adorable squeak. “D’you feel that?!”

“I feel my stomach twisting in on itself from hunger if that’s what you mean.”

“No, no! Hold yer tail to the east, rodent! Give it a lick!”

Red gave a longsuffering groan, but did as he was asked once Core let him go. He almost heaved at the oceanic tang of a salt-encrusted tail, but when he held the scraggly thing proud and aloft, he nearly dropped it again in shock.

“A breeze,” he whispered. “At last, a breeze!”

The two of them stood there as a cool easterly wind kissed their cheeks. It started as a vagrant whisper, but grew swiftly into a blustering gale that almost knocked them over. On the horizon there was a line of white that soon became a great crest of foam from many splashing bodies.

“Arrr!” growled Corejo. “What’d I tell ye, Squirrel? Even in the worst doldrums our dear seethin’ sea of fics shan’t disappoint! Get the nets! Hoist the jibs! Finagle the yardarms!”

Red swung down to the deck and scampered along the splintery wood, leaping up and curling his fuzzy body around large levers to bring them down. With loud clanks and the beautiful hiss of unraveling rope, great nets collapsed into the water. Corejo dashed to the ship’s wheel and turned them about, picking up his best writer’s pen and bellowing into the gale whipping up great waves around the ship’s hull.

“FANFICTIONS HO!”

ROUND 40


STORY 1

Fall, by Axan Zenith

When a massive snowstorm sweeps through Equestria, the Wonderbolts are called to serve and protect.


RedSquirrel456:

Second person fiction, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

You are being used to dramatic effect in this story and it’s working!

In spite of second person fics having a somewhat sticky and unsavory reputation—meaning I generally just don’t like them— this fic manages to try and do what so many second person fics don’t: actually get the reader to immerse themselves in the story. While I’m not sure why, exactly, a genderless and anonymous pony is being cast as “you,” when I got to the end I realized that the faceless protagonist actually made this story work better and feel more touching as a result. Instead of flat out wish fulfillment, I found myself reading a fic that left me a bit more hopeful in anonymous heroism and the idea that bravery can be found in just about anypony, whether it’s their job to be brave or not.

In Fall, the reader is a Wonderbolt doing double-duty as a weather control agent, which sounds really cool until you realize that means you have to plod through a blizzard to hit a switch so FIllydelphia doesn’t suddenly run out of that newfangled electro-magic that’s powering their lights and warmth. It’s an interesting viewpoint, to say the least, but the dull, thankless nature of the job actually lends itself to a blank slate character. Why are you here? Why did you join the Wonderbolts? Why are you the one being sent on this milk run? These are the fun questions you get to answer for yourself.

Of course, the job is only complicated when you realize the blizzard is worse than you thought, and you may not be alone out there in the cold.

Like I said, what really works here is the immersion factor. It’s a lonely, dangerous situation, and there’s nopony who can help our plucky pegasus out of the danger. I can appreciate isolation when it’s combined with good scenery and appropriate stakes, and this story manages to pull them both out of its metaphorical hat. The scenery is the bleakness and solitude of wandering in a blizzard. The stakes are your life. I sincerely wanted to believe that I was capable of handling a situation like that, and being a character who could stand up to that kind of challenge is something we can all get behind.

Okay, maybe there’s a little wish fulfillment, but it’s on my part and it isn’t blatant within the story itself. It even comes with the enduring message that changing the world isn’t as important as doing what you know is right by other ponies. Who can say we were ever really here unless we make an impression on the lives around us, instead of the soil or the air? That this story touches on such themes despite being in a genre you wouldn’t expect and manages to make you feel like they were addressed properly is an accomplishment worthy of note.

In spite of this story being called Fall, it definitely raised my spirits.

Corejo:

So apparently we’re upping the ante on second-person fics we post.  Overall, I’m still of the camp that third and first person perspective are inherently better than their second-person counterpart, but things exist for a reason.  Today, that reason is Fall, a quick one-shot by Axan Zenith.

Let’s get this out of the way now: this story concept isn’t fresh out of the oven.  Lots of other writers have explored the idea of “kicked-to-the-gutters protagonist does something morally subjective.”  And I have to say it begins to wear on you after a while.  This one, however, at least took it from an original angle.

You are a Wonderbolt assigned the task of fixing the power line that keeps all of Fillydelphia from freezing to death during a blizzard, in a nutshell.  Things happen.  “Oh, snap!”s are had.  Moral ambiguity is shared by all.  The pivotal decision made in the story is the safe one of the two—because who wouldn’t pick the same thing?—but it shows Axan Zenith’s awareness of his perspective.  After all, you’re making the choice, right?  You could argue that, but overall I had a problem with the perspective.

As most who oppose second-person perspective would tell you (myself included), the biggest pitfall of the perspective is how it forces a thought or feeling into the reader.  “Don’t tell me I’m sad,” or “That’s not what I would have done,” are examples of what a dissenting reader would say to an according piece of narration.  I had my fill of these moments while reading this story.  The beginning paragraphs were deceptively enticing, setting the stage for what I thought was going to be a revelation of second-person fics.  But then we got to the meat of the story, where the narrator began throwing ‘my’ thoughts and emotions around like a ball.  There were moments where Zenith forwent internal monologue for stretches of observation, and lead me to my own conclusions of how I felt, but they were too spread out.  For what they were, though, those bits were worth every word in them and gave me a more positive view on this perspective if one were to truly refine it.  And I guess while I’m in the negative section of my review I might as well say I didn’t like the ending.  It simply felt too forced yet happy.

Overall, I can say I enjoyed reading most of it, even if the narrative assumptions got all up in my grill more than was probably healthy.  There was a section in the middle where the perspective switched to third person for story reasons.  Though the story event was rather cliché, I definitely enjoyed the writing itself, which was on par with many of your more popular works in the fandom.  If you like second-person stories about Wonderbolts, this one might tickle your fancy.  To those who, like me, don’t enjoy being told what you feel, go ahead and skip over this one.


STORY 2

Fahr Drill, by MyHobby

Big Macintosh, as the Chief of the Ponyville Fire Brigade, is in charge of training prospective recruits for their noble community service. This time, the recruits are a bunch of young stallions who hope to do their little town proud. They're a little rough around the edges, but that shouldn't be a problem.

So, of course, it turns into a problem.

This would be the day the regular fire brigade is unavailable to fight fires...


RedSquirrel456:

Isn’t it amazing that Friendship is Magic manages to take mundane things and make them awesome? This story reminds us of why the show is so entertaining. It finds that little bit of magic in a simple thing and then gently blows on it until it balloons into an out of control explosion, rather like how a fire is started.

This is the story of how the Ponyville Fire Brigade fails really, really hard at their jobs. Of course, it’s not all their fault: Big Macintosh is the only responsible one in the group and the rest are a motley assortment taken from the town’s population of young colts and Spike, who can actually cause fires by breathing.

Fan favorites are all here: Rumble, Button Mash, Snips and Snails, Featherweight, and good old Pipsqueak wot wot cheerio chap are all in attendance to help Big Mac not fight fires at all while he tries to help them do otherwise. All the colts are given very distinct personalities in very few words, and while that’s a concise assessment it’s actually an extremely impressive thing. MyHobby knew who he was writing and how he would do it before he even got to their parts in the story, and I applaud him for that.

The story is divided into two sections: the part where Mac tries to train the little colts and dragon, and the part where they actually “fight” a fire. The comedy in the former is derived from a totally normal situation turning rather hilarious because of great character interaction between silly little boys acting their age, and the comedy of the latter comes from the juxtaposition of a normal day in a normal town being interrupted by a very abnormal fire. Why is this important? Well, down-to-earth comedy that you find in ponies acting totally normal in funny ways is really, really hard to do. That Fahr Drill makes it entertaining is good enough on its own. But this turns into greatness when the second variety of oddball strangeness is thrown into the mix, and it’s mostly why I recommend the story.

The characters are flawed, but likeable, and they wouldn’t be funny without those flaws. We laugh because we like them. The story itself is well written and easy to devour in a single afternoon. The writing is above par and I’m kinda running out of good things to say. So the real question isn’t “how many incompetent colts does it take to not put out a fire” but “why aren’t you reading this yet?”

Corejo:

Big Mac is one of those characters we don’t get to see much of through the show.  While that has certainly changed here in season four, he’s still the same old, lovable support character we’ve known since season one.  Big, strong, and dependable, no other canon character personifies a firefighter quite like him.  He was a good pick for this story over any OC MyHobby could have come up with.  More importantly, these characteristics are played just so for the comedic factor derived from the trainees that make up the central joke of the story.

Naturally, the trainees—Featherweight, Snips, Snails, Button Mash, Pip, Spike, and Rumble—are the exact opposite of what one would call “firefighter material.”  Things quickly get out of hoof for Big Mac, and we as the audience are left to empathize.

It’s a short story—only 2k—so there isn’t much wiggle room for a well-rounded buildup of events, which is the story’s biggest drawback.  MyHobby does a great job instilling each character with  character, but the silliness we get from their interactions simply doesn’t have time to be what it wants (I liken the thought to the Royal Wedding two-parter: good episodes, but not enough air time to do it justice).  I would have loved this story to have been in the 4-6k range, just for the sake of smoothing out interactions and to justify reasons for certain events.  But that shouldn’t be a deterrent, as the characters in this story shine far brighter than those in many others.

There’s no reason not to read this one.  Come for the laughs, and then stay for them, too.


STORY 3

The Nightmare Sonata, by adcoon

Lyra never had a nightmare in her life, so why did she ever decide to compose a piece embodying the spirit of the night terror in honor of Princess Luna? More importantly, how will she find a nightmare to help her?


RedSquirrel456:

Normally a fic about a pony reaching beyond their station to try and achieve greatness has the tragedy tag crawling all over it. There’s going to be a lot of grimdeath and horrordark, somepony’s probably going to die, other ponies will be shocked and traumatized forever, and the whole thing will end in a flash of fiery destruction.

This isn’t one of those stories. In fact, in showing a pony trying to reach out and touch something not usually able to be touched, this story shows how doing such a thing just might help us make a new friend, even with ponies who once frightened or even hurt us in the past. This is a story about finding inspiration in the dark. It’s a story about a creative pony who, in the process of creating, finds out how to be a better pony at the end. Most importantly, it’s a story about Lyra Heartstrings not being obsessed with humans.

Lyra is suffering from musician’s block. She wants to write something great, something inspiring and lovely, and she wants it to be written in the name of Princess Luna. But she can’t. Figuring that Luna is the Princess of the Night, she delves into all things scary to inspire herself. Urban legends, Rainbow Dash’s horror movie collection, and even including summoning an actual Nightmare is on the list of things Lyra will do to be able to write again.

Hm, I wonder if that’ll work for us? Someone look up ‘summoning arcane horrors’ on the list of how well things cure writer’s block.

But this story is not a horror story. It’s a heartwarming one about Lyra learning how to be a little less focused on being the greatest musician ever and more about being a better friend than she was before. One doesn’t normally find genuine self-improvement in a tale like this, and it drew me to it like a Hollow to a bonfire. Lyra is searching, but the objective of that search changes through the story from ‘write great music’ to ‘maybe fix some of the things I got wrong in life.’ Maybe it doesn’t do that the most organically or the most inventively, but the change is pleasant and made me feel really, really good when I finished this tale.

It does help that Lyra’s characterization is a bit off-kilter—she’s not a wacky comedic sidekick or a crazy conspiracy-theorist or even (Celestia forbid) a depressed hoodie-wearing curse bearer, but a very driven artist who is merely desperate to make something worthwhile. This is a freshness, a newness, an originality to her character that I think is sorely missing when it comes to our fanon. Why isn’t Lyra portrayed as something other than what she has been for the last three years? Why not take her or Derpy or Time Turner in completely new and unexpected directions?

Why not, like Lyra in this tale, reach out beyond the comfort zone and up to the stars themselves?

Corejo:

Mmmm… This story is delicious.  Not in an eating sense, silly.  I don’t know how that’d be possible, unless I eat my computer—which would be expensive and probably dangerous.  What is delicious about this story though is the writing.  

This is the final of the four stories in terms of what I’ve read, and I have to agree with the old addage “last but not least.”  “Last and definitely first” is more accurate here.  adcoon shows off his/her ability to write with the piece The Nightmare Sonata, and does so remarkably well.

The tone of the story is consistent.  An initial expectation might be that of something that would progressively become scary, or have some scary parts to it, but adcoon keeps things simple and never strays from his objective.  It’s about Lyra seeking something she’s never experienced before: a nightmare.  There’s more parallelism and other storytelling things going on here, but it never really lets on until the end, keeping the story fresh and interesting along the way.  

Normally this is where I would shift to a ‘bad’ aspect of the story, as is a loose norm of my review process, but frankly, it’d be impossible to do that with this story… There really isn’t anything bad to say about it.  The writing is brilliant, never flowery yet always exquisitely interesting; the pacing is spot on, with actions well planned and Lyra’s thoughts chained logically; and dialogue flows effortlessly.  The last of that list is key; dialogue is easily the hardest thing to execute in a story, as each character needs their own voice and speech patterns.  This story doesn’t disappoint—even the narrative of the book had its own distinct voice!  Now that’s knowing your characters.

Did I mention it’s about Lyra?  And that it’s not about some obsession with humans or their human-y appendages?  It’s a serious story about Ponyville’s own musical mare in a realistic situation.  What other reason do you need?  You know, besides all the stuff I mentioned above about how objectively great this story is.


STORY 4

The Definition of Me, by Grayson Gears

How can an entire race be defined by only a few words? There's so much to them than that.

Spike's going to fix that, and maybe learn something about himself along the way.


RedSquirrel456:

Short and sweet is something that can describe the very show we watch. So it’s only fitting that most often the inspiring stories that remind us that fine tales are contained even in small packages don’t even break 3,000 words.

In this little vignette, Spike is doing something that almost nobody can envy him for: reading the dictionary! Why is he reading it? Because he’s a growing dragon and maybe he’s actually kind of interested in learning for once? I’m not sure. It’s not the strongest setup, but the payoff comes when Spike discovers that “dragon” is in fact a word in the dictionary. Excited to learn what the rest of the world thinks of his kind, he opens it up to find… a devastatingly succinct summary. Upset at the injustice of his entire race being boiled down to a sentence or two he decides to think up his own definition, going off what he’s learned and just what he intuitively feels.

What results is a short but rather nice exploration of how Spike sees his own kind. There’s some rumination and introspection as Spike lists out the qualities of dragonhood, and some interjection by Twilight Sparkle. This is a quick scene that manages to give some depth to a character many are accusing of being railroaded into incompetent or comedic sidekick territory. One thing that I especially commend it for is being able to write Spike as the young person that he is. He is maturing and developing, but he’s nowhere near finished, and his thoughts are similarly uncertain in this story. One thing we seem to forget is that Spike might show flashes of maturity, but they’re just that. He needs help and guidance and often has very odd ways of doing things that only the young can think of, and he’s very stubborn about those things.

The most heartwarming thing, though, is that it touches on something that the show itself probably needs to address even more than it has already: Spike’s search for identity. I can’t say much without spoiling an already short story, but I can heartily recommend it and suggest that learning authors take a few cues from it.

I congratulate the author for taking a character who so many seem to exaggerate in ways that just feel wrong, and writing a small yet pleasing story that feels so right. Take a look if you don’t believe me!

Corejo:

A Spike story!  I don’t read these often.  I have nothing against the little guy, it’s just I’ve never seen him as a character capable of being a “main” character.  I love his general usage as a voice of reason in the show, but whenever he became the central character of an episode, I was always left feeling disappointed, as his “character development” often entailed a forced series of events/mindset to drive the plot of the episode (like the Owlowiscious episode).  And it was often in an over-the-top manner intended to wring out every last laugh from the audience (again, Spike’s villain costume from that same episode).  

Sadly, many of the Spike stories I’ve read follow the same pattern of silliness through forced character extremes.  But I was glad to have read Definition of Me.

This story is less a story and more a ‘moment in the life.’  A dictionary arrives for Twilight, Spike decides on a whim to read it, and thoughts/feelings follow.  Very little happens, and the moral is simple, albeit cliché.  I still like it, however, because it’s short and it knows what it wants to say.  And it doesn’t put Spike into a ridiculous situation just for the hell of it.  It lets him be him—the young and impressionable dragon that he is—and that’s a lot more than most Spike stories can say.  This Spike felt real.  He had the simple-minded innocence of a child that fits his assumed age range, and an equally inverted self expectation.  Grayson Gears pulls off Spike’s character development from the show to this point well, and that shines toward the end when it comes time for the climax, if there really is one.  Again, it’s more of a short non-story, but certainly worth your time.

I have to say that there were lots of grammar errors—mostly comma splices—but they didn’t feel seriously hindering.  If you find that these kinds of mistakes give you migraines, stay away.  But otherwise this is a nice piece of realistic, relatable Spike.


In less than an hour, after a flurry of activity, it was done.

Corejo and RedSquirrel sat on the deck of the ship, soaked to the bone. A mad scramble to catch as many stories as possible and sift through them to bring home only the best left them exhausted, yet flush with victory. They bore the scars: ink spatters, bits and pieces of run-on sentences and loose letters, even a few dangling entrails of purple prose. It was all splashed on their bodies and across the hull of the ship.

They turned and looked at each other, then turned back to their catch. Four great stories that had been wrestled into submission, reviewed for quality and ready for general consumption. It had come late this year, but still, it had come. The churning sea of fanfiction still had some pearls to be fished from it yet.

“It’s time we got back to port,” said Red.

“Aye, that it be,” whispered Corejo.

Neither of them moved.

“How about we just sit here a while first,” said Red. “Take it all in.”

“Aye,” grunted his shipmate. “I can manage that.”

As the receding story shoal retreated into the distance, the two reviewers sat in silence. They turned their faces up to the next breeze and wondered when the next great rush of stories would come.

They looked up at the mast of their ship, where the proud banner of Princess Neon Boom still flew in the dying wind, weather-beaten but unbroken.

And in their hearts they knew that as long as such sights could be seen, the world still had some great catches left.


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

Obselescence · 1,478 views · Edited 2w, 6d ago · Report
Apr
1st
2014

Good day, folks! Pav Feira here with some important information regarding what is undoubtedly FIMFiction.net’s all-time favorite bunch of people, Seattle’s Angels.

Read More
Wanderer D · 4,237 views · Edited 3w, 1d ago · Report
Apr
1st
2014

Hey folks! It's been quite a momentous year for Facebook, and moving on through 2014 we'd like to purchase even more companies to assimilate them into our "social" network. It's definitely about being social and not about peddling products or selling your data or anything.

Thus, I'd like to announce our latest purchase; Fimfiction.net! Following our recent purchase of Oculus VR, fimfiction seemed like an obvious next step. Fanfiction can clearly be enhanced with more ad....venturous settings. Imagine reading a fanfic and the world comes to life around you full of ad....renaline pumping moments.

Don't worry, this purchase can only be good for Fimfiction, with our infinite amount of money and resources how could anything go wrong? Soon you'll be able to share all your favourite clopfics with your friends and family, and best of all? You don't even have to do anything! Just log in to the site and your entire browsing history will be available for your closest family to enjoy. Isn't sharing great? Starting tomorrow, all accounts must use their real name and address to use fimfiction. This means we can target ad....orable, cute shipping stories to you!

We'll also be changing the feed to further emphasise the social aspects of the site. We'll be adding the ability to post status updates so you can let everyone know when you're eating a delicious lunch, or even just that you woke up!

We hope you guys are as excited about this acquisition as we are!

btw we sacked knighty

Thumbs up to the future!

knighty · 9,428 views · Report
Mar
29th
2014

How far do you go for somepony who needs your help but doesn’t want it?  Today’s story peels back the foliage for a compelling glimpse at a disturbing family.

In Bloom

[Dark] [Slice-of-Life] • 8,661 words

In a yard, all alone, a pony whiles away the time caring for the lawn and the roses. Roseluck can understand that, to a point. And she’s determined to help.

FROM THE CURATORS: Although we had a vigorous debate over whether this story’s unflinching look at a psychologically abused child was in the spirit of the show, there was one thing which we unanimously agreed: In Bloom is “well-written and powerful,” to use Chris’ words.  Present Perfect went further: “In Bloom has got everything I love about stories in general.”  And Benman dug into what makes this story such an exemplar of high-quality writing: “This does an excellent job with exposition. Pasco has a knack for picking out small details to hit the reader right between the eyes with the full weight of what’s going on.“

Ultimately, this is a story about pony — and its collision with a far grimmer mindset. “Friendship is a key theme here,” Bradel said, and Benman agreed: “This is not a nice story, but it has nice things in it, and the brightness stands out against the darker backdrop.”

Read on for our interview, in which Pascoite discusses collecting rocks, child-rearing, and comprehending rules.

Read More
Benman · 1,019 views · Report