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More Stories27

  • E Scootaling

    Scootaloo's a changeling. How will her friends react?
    12,695 words · 14,571 views  ·  1,700  ·  34
  • E Musicians and Dreamers

    Lunaverse. Octavia tries to recruit Lyra; Trixie doesn't trust her. Who will Lyra believe?
    20,745 words · 2,964 views  ·  227  ·  3
  • E A Present for Octavia

    Luna works with a castle page to find the perfect birthday present for Octavia
    4,825 words · 1,011 views  ·  158  ·  2
  • E Luna's Night Off

    Luna takes a vacation and plays some hoofball
    4,289 words · 1,301 views  ·  159  ·  3
  • E The Music of Ponyville

    Octavia Philharmonica and her friends must obtain the Elements of Harmony to defeat an ancient evil
    72,534 words · 3,078 views  ·  188  ·  6
  • E Greengrass's Night

    Duke Greengrass schemes to force a vote the way he wants it
    12,468 words · 1,817 views  ·  126  ·  3
  • E A Canterlot Morning

    Octavia and Fleur talk about politics
    7,649 words · 2,052 views  ·  145  ·  4
  • E Foaling Around

    The foals go to Canterlot. Chaos ensues.
    9,628 words · 2,143 views  ·  164  ·  5

Blog Posts173

  • 1w, 1d
    Antifantasy

    I try to keep a pretty open mind when I'm reading, and I do like to read a lot--at the last sci-fi convention I went to I wound up with over 30 new books--but there's one subset of the fantasy genre that consistently fails to work for me.

    I call it antifantasy, although I'm sure it has a more technical name somewhere. It's the fantasy equivalent of cyberpunk, except it lost a lot of the heart that cyberpunk had. Antifantasy stories are stories about how fantasy sucks. How magic is just a cheap shortcut that can't compare to building with your own hands. How superpowers can't help you solve any of the real problems in the world, like famine, bigotry, or the destruction of the world's ecosystems. How the dwarves are drunkards and the elves are vain and the vampires and werewolves are just pathetic sad-sacks begging to be put out of their misery.

    I don't understand these stories. If I'm picking up a fantasy story, I think it can be assumed that I like fantasy tropes. Why would I want to read 300 pages about how much fantasy is just cheap escapism for folks who can't handle the real world? Who, exactly, is the audience?

    The thing that brought this to mind was I stumbled across another review of "The Magicians", by Lev Grossman. Now, I've seen a lot of reviews for this book, and they're almost unanimously positive. And they all have pretty much the same summary: "The Magicians is about a guy who feels that his life lacks meaning, so he goes to magic school. And at first he's happy thinking that he'll become a great wizard who performs amazing heroics and saves the world. But then he realizes that wanting to be a great wizard is a pathetic, childish fantasy, and that the right thing to do is to give up on his dreams of being a hero and get used to dragging himself to a boring job he hates for the rest of his life. In the end, he learns that a real 'hero' is a happy, content cog in the machine. Only the vainglorious and the immature dream of anything more." And so the result is that every positive, glowing review of this book that I read makes me increasingly less inclined to read it.

    I mean, why would I? I like a lot of tropes associated with magic schools. I like reading about how ordinary people adapt to obtaining new powers, how they learn to use them, what setbacks they have, how they resist temptations to misuse them (or don't). I like reading about people who were once weak gaining powers and becoming more capable of defending themselves and those they care about. I like seeing the nerdy characters geek out at learning magical spell theory, and the athletic characters screaming in exhilaration as they learn to ride broomsticks. Ultimately, I like reading about the nascent heroes who become folks like Gandalf, Harry Dresden, and Harry Potter. If I didn't like those things, I wouldn't read books set in those environments. So why would I pick up a book about how Gandalf and the Harries are just immature tossers, and so am I, for daring to be entertained by them? Why would I want a book which says that the real hero of Harry Potter was Vernon Dursley, because while everyone else was gallivanting about and waving wands at each other, he dutifully attended to his job and didn't dare let himself feel even a hint of wonder or imagination?

    (Disclaimer: in case it's not obvious from the above paragraph, I have not read The Magicians. I'm just talking about the reviews of it that I read, since those reviews convinced me to never, ever get anywhere near this book. I suppose it's possible that all the reviews could be wrong. That said, unless someone I trust actually reads the book and tells me otherwise, I'm not going to pick it up. After all, there's loads of books out there with premises I don't dislike on principle).

    There's other examples too, and by some otherwise really good authors. I'm usually a huge fan of Carrie Vaughn, for instance. Her Kitty Norville series is spectacular, as are her YA works "Steel" and "Voices of Dragons." She's even one of two authors for whom I get up early on the day her books come out so I can buy them before I go into work and read them over lunch. (The other is Jim Butcher, if anyone cares). But she wrote an antifantasy duology set in a superhero universe, and--in my opinion--it was almost unreadable. The first book is called "After the Golden Age", and the title's an apt description. The protagonist is the daughter of the world's two greatest superheroes, but the only tangible result of that is that she's taken hostage a lot. She's estranged from her family, because all the superpowers in the world can't mend real issues like familial rifts. Yes, in this story, the golden age is indeed over, superheroes have lost their luster, and our protagonist just tries to muddle through her days without dealing with any superheroes, villains, or powers of any kind. (Suffice to say I haven't picked up the sequel.)

    "Hero", by Perry Moore, is another good example. The protagonist is the son of Batman (with a slightly different name to avoid copyright). But Batman was disgraced, because a mission went wrong and people died, and now he's a lowly factory worker who can only reminisce about the glory days and maim the occasional burglar. Meanwhile, the son also develops powers, but they won't help him deal with bigotry (he's gay), or redeem his family name, or anything else he really cares about. I got about 1/5 of the way into this one before giving up. Again, if I'm reading about superpowers, I want to read about superpowers being used for something, not about how superpowers are useless for anything that really matters. (I'm aware that this story was critically acclaimed and even won a Lambda award, but I just could not get into it.)

    And, for a more recent example, Sofia Somatar's "Selkie Stories are for Losers." It's a story about selkies, which means that it's calling the reader a loser right in the title. Smooth. And the story is pretty much just about how awful selkies are, how they leave broken families and shattered lives behind them, and how anyone who would ever want to hear about selkies must be out of their mind. Just what I want to hear when I sit down to read a story about selkies.

    (For those not up on your mythology: selkies are creatures that can change shape between a human and a seal body. They change shape by taking off or putting on their sealskin. Selkie stories usually feature a human stealing the skin and trapping the selkie in human form; the selkie then marries the human and raises a family with them, until one day they recover their skin. They then flee into the ocean, leaving the family behind. So yeah, out of the box they're pretty depressing, but interesting things can be done with them. They're not just for losers.)

    If I had to describe antifantasy in one word, it would be 'tired.' Because these stories always feel that way. They are stories that seem weary and beaten down, laden with cynicism, bitterly contemptuous of the idea that magic and whimsey could possibly affect anything real. They're stories that laugh at the reader for daring to seek enjoyment from them. They laugh, and then they lean in close to the reader and murmur that, while elves and werewolves and Kryptonians are all fine fantasies for a child, the reader is now an adult and should know that real problems can't be solved with a magical wand. They chide the reader for trying to enjoy genre fiction, ignoring that they themselves are genre fiction, and sigh that all the innumerable fantasy stories are just petty escapism, useless for anything except as diversions for fools who don't care to deal with reality.

    And, just speaking for myself, but when I go to read a genre story, I'd rather read one that doesn't insult me for it.

    That's about all I've got. Has anyone read books like this? Anyone know if there's a real term for it besides antifantasy? Any ideas as to why someone might like these?

    4 comments · 70 views
  • 6w, 4d
    You Can Call Me...

    Dr. GrassAndClouds2.

    I.e., the PhD thesis defense went well. :-)

    18 comments · 79 views
  • 7w, 3d
    Rejected Video Game Titles

    Five Nights with Fluttershy

    Rainbow Dash Six

    The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Sparkle Princess

    Amnesia: A Machine for Pinkies

    Pacmare

    Luna: The Blue-ish Star

    Derpyronpa

    Dragon: The Bruce Cheerilee Story

    1 comments · 59 views
  • 17w, 1d
    Afterlife With Archie

    ...continues to be awesome.

    That is all.

    (Oh, and really looking forward to the forthcoming "Betty: RIP" arc!)

    0 comments · 113 views
  • 19w, 3d
    JULP Update

    After review by the Lunaverse Quorum, Just Us Little Ponies has been approved for Lunaverse-canon status! Woohoo!

    Thanks once again to everyone, including RDD, Emeral, and Fizzy for reviewing it, and Talon for being an incredibly helpful and supportive beta. :-)

    6 comments · 104 views
  • ...
 426
 2,408
Source

This story is a sequel to Musicians and Dreamers

Octavia Philharmonica has betrayed her friends and allied with the corrupt nobles of Luna's Court, but her usefulness is at an end. After a discovered attempt to redeem herself and save her friends from the politicians, she finds herself compelled to play the infamous Symphony for Moon and Sun -- a piece from which no musician's career has ever escaped intact. Princess Luna hates the piece and shuns anypony who dares play it, and no venue will host a pony shunned by the princess of Equestria. In her desperate straits, her only hope is the aid of her former student Lyra Heartstrings... but not only is Lyra still feeling the effects of Octavia's betrayal, but Octavia isn't even sure that she deserves the help. Can Lyra get through to her former teacher and help her survive the most important performance of her career? Or will both of them find their careers crashing to a premature end? Lunaverse story.

First Published
24th Jul 2012
Last Modified
4th Aug 2012

Perfect, absolutely perfect.

Then again, I never much doubted that this would start well.  I just hope it continues to impress me.  I'm not sure if I could take it if this brilliant setup ended as badly for me as Carrot Top Season did.

Good start.  You've got a nice lyrical style and I can't help but be a little interested in the atmosphere of dusky intrigue you've set up.  Plus, I love the literary trope of the Unplayable Piece.  Hope to see more of this.

Looks like Octavia's about to learn that Greengrass's cool stuff actually has a very high price tag. And Lyra's about to learn what Loyalty really is all about.

So, the more musically inclined among you are probably wondering why the piece is a Symphony if can be played, apparently, by solo cello. (For those not so musically inclined: symphonies are generally for a full orchestra). But that's not always the case, see, for instance, Alkan's Symphony for Solo Piano, one of the greatest piano works ever written. Symphony here means that the work will sound, well, orchestral, i.e. with an absolutely huge range, but it's still restricted to a single instrument.

Nice foreshadowing right out of the gate there.

>>963189

Actually the only thing bugging me a bit isn't that it's called a symphony, but more so that it's specifically cello piece; seems suspiciously plot convenient.  Not to mention part of me would have preferred the idea of a more flexible piece, so that many of those who tried and failed to perform it might have done so with different instruments under the mistaken impression that was the major fault Luna had with such attempts.

>>963932: The story doesn't say it's a cello piece.

I guess my comment was unclear (and I've edited it to make it clearer). I was trying to say, 'people might think it odd that Octy alone can play a symphony, since she's just got the one solo cello and 'symphony' usually means 'full orchestra', but solo instruments can play symphonic pieces; see Alkan's, for instance, which was actually written for solo piano.'

The piece itself can be played by almost anything (it was originally written for something in particular, but all the musicians discussed are more than capable of transcribing it to their own instruments. Lyra will have to do some of this for lyre to help Octy practice.)

And yes, one of the failed musician we'll see is going to try to solve the problem, in part, by switching up the instrumentation.

As an aside... I am really hoping Greengrass' final story is him realizing just how effin' dumb it's been to try and manipulate the Elements, as Corona comes back and he realizes he's made attempt after attempt to basically aid her in conquering Equestria.

Then he either dies or is horrifically wounded.

Also, very nice. :yay: Man, Lyra and Octavia and this piece... damn.

>>964501: I figure he'll end the season either in disgrace, forced to return to his home fiefdom with his career in shambles, or in jail.

That way, he can show up as a one-scene surprise ally to Trixie in season 2.

Trixie: "You're not mad?"

Greengrass: "Mad? Of course not. It was a wonderful victory, Trixie. I never saw it coming. Besides, I wouldn't count me out quite yet."

Trixie: "But then why are you helping me now?"

Greengrass: "Oh, you know, I'll expect a few favors, political concessions and all that in exchange. But really, Trixie, the Game deserves a better player than that idiot you're up against now. You're that player. Now: here's what you do..."

(I can totally see a 'Talking Chess' duet between them).

>>964675

This too me would be a much more preferable end for Greengrass.  One where he suffers tangible loss for his crimes, but is left more or less intact and available for future stories (he's just too good a character to simply throw away, like Striker seems so keen on).  Also, since it's Greengrass we can't ever be truly sure if he'd actually be redeemed or just working the angle for his next scheme.

>>964501

Personally, I have more than a few ideas concerning Greengrass' end. At the very least I hope it's going to be him thinking that the Game isn't fun anymore.

>>966230

I'd be fine with that, though I'd personally prefer a version where he wasn't such a sore loser.  I prefer to see him as being full aware of the high risk nature of the games he plays, and while he might be supremely overconfident, I'd like to think he honestly acknowledges that hard crash failure is simply one of the risks of playing in the first place.  It's why he has no sympathy for those who can't play as well he does, but I don't really see him as being hypocritical would circumstances swing against him.

Maybe more of a glum admission that losing means he won't be able to have anymore fun, but still having enjoyed his ride while it lasted.

>>966838: Right, I don't think he'd be a sore loser either. He wouldn't be a hypocrite of the type to whine about losing; he knew going in that politics was risky.

Now, losing to Lulamoon in particular? He might be unhappy about that.

Although yes, I can see him being glum about his plans crashing down and him being basically forced from the Court, or at least losing all his influence. He may well be sad about no longer getting to play the Game in any meaningful sense.

I liked setting up the contrast here, between Lyra, who has a devoted, loving marefriend and other allies, and Octavia, who is completely isolated. But of course, that's why Greengrass selected her. (Well, one of the reasons). She doesn't have allies, or even a friend to do a sanity check on her. Well, accept for a certain cat burglar, but the good Duke doesn't know that.

Bit of a slow chapter, but I wanted to sort of set things up before Lyra shipped off to Canterlot. Plus, I wanted to give Bonbon some focus. She's been absent from a lot of the stories so far, especially the more aggressive side of her that was postulated in Brainstorming.

Next time: Lyra in Canterlot! Octavia's been practicing for two days, has she actually made any progress? And the first gaiden story, the saga of Concerti Brilliante and his quest to play the piece!

(Incidentally, for those wondering why the Music Academy also canceled, I seem to recall it being endowed by Luna or something. They can't offend her, for the same reason that the John Smith Academy of Science can't host John Smith's mortal enemy to give a talk).

Dude. :pinkiehappy:

Dude. :twilightoops:

Dude. :rainbowlaugh:

Dude. :rainbowderp::pinkiegasp::applejackconfused:

Dude, this is awesome, and a brilliant opening. :moustache:

Still no complaints, keep up the good work ... or I will cut you! :pinkiecrazy:

Seriously though, this is a nice clean chapter.  It may all just be setup, but that should never be underestimated.  I just hope the actual meat of this story can live up to it all without going overboard.

>>969001

Yes, we've been needing more BonBon, and I thank you for this contribution.  Also, I hardly think you needed to explain the academy canceling, it's all just part an parcel of her dead-mare-walking status.

>>969001

Of course, the question becomes why Luna even lets ponies attempt the peice in the first place. She's certainly know the disasterous effect it has on their careers.

I think, for all the dourness that Luna can bring to a scene, that she's fundamentally an optimist. That each time somepony is dumb enough to try, she's willing to give them a chance, just for the slightest possibility that they might get it right.

>>969305: That's my view too. There is a way to play it right. It's just that the ponies who have tried don't understand her (or it) on a fundamental level, and so they keep letting her down, and generally offending her in the process.

First chapter and I'm already invested. Great job. :pinkiehappy:

Man, Greengrass really knows how to get back at someone. Can't wait to see how it turns out

Excellent work so far. This is a fascinating concept and you're pulling it off well.

Very nice.

It was good to see some Bon Bon time in a story. I think the reason Bon Bon doesn't get that much focus is because writers just don't know what to do with her a lot of the time (and I'm not just talking about lunaverse writers). It seems that the community hasn't really given her much of personality aside from being someone to bounce Lyra's antics off of.

Octavia was on form as usual, in her own depressing way. Frankly I hate to see what sort of mess she will be in by the time Lyra gets to her. :fluttercry:

>>969001: Also, now that I've brought up Octy not eating sweets or desserts, I totally want her to bump into Pinkie at some point. (Not in this story; Pinkie doesn't show at all, but maybe in another little side story somewhere. Octy goes to Ponyville, bumps into Pinkie, and, ah, it doesn't go well.) :-)

Oh, my. Watch this....Octy's 'death-seeker' attitude will be why she gets the thing right. Luna has never really forgiven herself for the necessity of dealing with Corona so any sort of triumphant end-note would grate. A DIRGE, on the other hoof, would be just what the doctor ordered.

Personally, I see him doing something very stupid like ranting about how clever his plans are only to have Luna tell him to stop talking about his plans out loud. Of course, that would make him Doctor Wily in the webcomic Bob and George but he might get that crazy in the end.

Nice depiction of Octavia facing her upcoming 'execution' with as much dignity as she can muster.

>>969657: Yeah. One thing I like about Octy, particularly this rendition, is that she's quite serious when she talks about bravery, honor etc. being important to her. She isn't going to flail around and try to find a way out of it; she'll accept it as her just desserts and deal with it as best she can.

>>969682

Indeed, especially as she only seems to consider her options as play cancel, or no-show, but never that there is a potential forth option.  It's still bad, but her best alternative would probably be to show at the concert and then play something completely different.  She'd come off as an egoistical attention seeker that only used the forbidden symphony's name to generate false hype, but it would probably still be her best shot at having anything resembling a career afterwards.

>>969736: There's also the 'go get her foreleg broken' method, which would still result in her canceling, but at least she'd have a reason besides 'chickening out.'

Or she could just burn the theater down and hope she doesn't get caught. :-) Can't play if there's no venue.

Once Lyra arrives, she and Octy are going to talk about the other options such as these, to try to demonstrate why Octy isn't considering them.

>>969740

Well, I can already see that Octavia's not the kind of pony to force a cancellation. While the rest of Equestria might buy it, she would always know that she chickened out.

And there's the fact that it might not save her anyway. She's already started to be shunned and there's no reason to believe that would end if she tried to duck playing the symphony.

It seems the only way out is through. Too bad no one knows the path needed to take.

>>969740

Ah good point, especially the injury one.  Though I'm guessing that beyond being dishonest, Octavia would dismiss that one if only because she might never heal properly and thus never play her best again, which to her would be just as bad if not worse than losing her career.

Ayway, looking forward to that discussion with Lyra.

Hmm. Looks like Luna doesn't like being depicted as some kind of heroic warrior that was all too happy, gleeful even, to kick her sister's butt. Imagine that.

Running tab: things that do not work playing the piece:

1. Making the story "Luna was pure, noble, and strong, and justly beat her sister into the ground."

Looks like even Octavia has her limits. She's superb, but even she's having trouble playing with this weight hanging over her head.

But hey, Octavia is handling it okay so far. She's at least making sure to sleep, eat, and groom. That's a good sign... right?

I like the way Lyra's journey turned out. She had an excruciatingly painful day just getting to Octavia, but when she sees how her friend was suffering, she just forgets all about it. Then again, she's Loyalty. It's what she does.

Next time: Lyra tries to get Octavia to accept her help! Will it work? Also, the second attempt to play the piece, by Concerti's sworn rival, Fame Fortisi. Can she do what he could not?

Okaaayyyy.....this is very much not good for Octy at all. This, of course, means that when Greengrass does the Scooby Doo villain speech, it'll be all the more satisfying.

>>975250: Well, she's handling things a lot better than AJ, at least. She's sleeping and eating, and she's maintaining some semblance of perspective. (None of the "I must play this piece or EVERYPONY DIES!") Isn't that a good sign?

Like I said, a dirge would suit Luna to a T.

Nothing much to say about this chapter.  It covers what needs to be covered, but really doesn't carry much weight of it's own.  Actually, it kind of feels incomplete, like it's only the first half of what should have been a longer chapter, though I won't really be able to say that with any certainty until you post the next chapter.

Anyway, now to read today's bonus.

>>975255: All I will say at this point is that I sent the 'correct' performance of the Symphony to RDD to check, and RDD said that it's fine and correctly captures the Luna/Corona fight.

More than that, you'll have to wait. :-)

>>975254

Given that the repetitive amount of "...or EVERYPONY DIES!" was a big contention point for me with that particular fic, yes, the lack of such in this fic is indeed a very good sign. :ajsmug:

Seriously though, this first bonus chapter plays well enough and I'm getting a feel for the way subsequent attempts will unfold; I'll look forward to the rest.  On a side note, I wonder how much effort you intend to put into showing the spoken language of each chapter progressing over the course of the centuries.

>>975373: Er... not very much, honestly. Language/linguistics is not my strong point.

Luna will probably use fewer 'thees' and 'thous' as we move on, but I'm not going to focus on keeping the other characters in period dialogue.

Glad you enjoyed the bonus!

Poor Concerti. Poor Luna, too. To an extent, it's kind of her own fault due to the whole turning Celestia into Corona thing and impressing on ponies that Celestia was long gone, and Corona was all that was left, when really there was no difference between the two except time. But, Corona has become the being that ponies can heap all of their fears and hate onto.

Now then.

“What thou thinkst of me and mine sister?

"My" and "mine" in this sense is sort of like "a" and "an." "Mine" is used if the next word begins with a vowel, otherwise "my" is used. Ditto thee and thine

“Speak not to me.” hissed Luna. “If that is all thou thinkst I am, then that is all I shall be to you. Should thy life be threatened by some monster, Concerti, I shall defend you.” She turned, eyes flashing. “And, should that not happen, I never wish to hear thee again!”

It should be "thee," in both instances here - you (or, technically, ye) is the plural form, except in the vulgar (low-class) forms of Equestrian at this time (the vulgar forms, of course, eventually becoming common Equestrian).

>>975568: Edited. Thanks for the olde-English help; I'm not very knowledgable about old linguistics.

>>975580

My knowledge entirely comes from Google...though it's worth noting that this isn't Old English.

This is Old English:

Fæder ūre þū þe eart on heofonum, sī þīn nama ġehālgod.

It's completely unreadable to a modern English speaker, excepting some rough cognates, like fæder (father) and nama (name).

>>975619: Ah. I guess by 'old English' I meant Canterbury Tales-esque English. I guess that would be middle-English or somesuch.

>>975628

Yup, Chaucer is middle English, while Shakespeare is early modern, and towards the end of early modern at that.

Old: Fæder ūre þū þe eart on heofonum, sī þīn nama ġehālgod

Middle: Oure Fadir that art in heuenes, halewid be thi name

Early Modern: Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name

Modern: Our Father in Heaven, hallowed is your name

>>975249

I think you know perfectly well that Octavia's just been going through the motions on all of that, much like with her attempts to learn the symphony.

>>975669: True, but it's still more than AJ did. Going through the motions on things like, say, sleeping, is a lot more helpful than just not doing it.

(Also, she's not just going through the motions on the music; she's genuinely trying hard to learn it. She's just not succeeding, but it's not like she's just doing it mechanically and without carrying).

Ouch. Bad decision Concerti.

>>975636

Hey! Someone else who has heard old english and understands just how ridiculously foreign it sounds in comparison to modern english!

>>975691: You think that's a bad decision, you haven't seen what some of the other ponies will try... (not referring to tomorrow, but at least 2 of the others are going to go completely off the rails... to the point where I think folks will be rooting for Luna to dropkick them to Mars).

Yeah, I can understand both why he thought that this was a good idea and why Luna was offended, which is good.

I've got some Middle English in the upcomming chapter of my own fic and that was a real mission to write. Yeesh!

>>975867: Thanks! I was trying to show both of those -- to show that Concerti's not just an idiot, he actually put thought into it, but at the same time Luna had a legitimate gripe with the performance.

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