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  • E Sisters

    Stories about two sisters who are best friends, and rulers of Equestria
    6,514 words · 13,412 views  ·  1,297  ·  18
  • E Mortality Report

    Celestia writes a report to her queen about what she's learned from living among mortals.
    4,313 words · 18,220 views  ·  1,486  ·  27
  • E Experience

    Celestia is thousands of years old, and has experienced almost everything the world has to offer. But there's one ordinary thing she's never experienced.
    1,289 words · 4,118 views  ·  645  ·  15
  • E Big Mac Reads Something Purple

    Twilight asks Big MacIntosh to read to the Cutie Mark Crusaders while she runs an errand.
    3,720 words · 4,864 views  ·  407  ·  11
  • E The Magician and the Detective

    Has Holmes met his match, in either sense, in the travelling showpony Trixie?
    14,788 words · 5,191 views  ·  305  ·  9
  • E The Saga of Dark Demon King Ravenblood Nightblade, Interior Design Alicorn

    Should the incredibly powerful new alicorn pursue his destiny as savior of Equestria, or his love of interior design?
    4,940 words · 10,230 views  ·  810  ·  34
  • T Bad Horse's Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Young Colts and Fillies

    Bad Horse retells bedtime stories to teach foals the real facts of life.
    2,642 words · 1,213 views  ·  240  ·  7
  • T Fluttershy's Night Out

    Fluttershy would like to be a tree. But she doesn't want to be an animal.
    7,936 words · 11,483 views  ·  476  ·  20 · sex

Blog Posts333

  • Sunday
    I don't want to know...

    24 comments · 274 views
  • Sunday
    Fifty shades of marketing

    My question about "story views" reminded me...

    "Fifty Shades of Grey" was a spectacularly popular Twilight fan-fiction; it had over two million downloads online. The publishing giant Vintage Press saw that number and realized they had a hit on their hands. They filed off the Twilight serial numbers, put it in print, marketed it like hell, and now it's sold 60 million copies, satisfying a huge but previously unrealized market for bad BDSM chick-lit-porn.

    Part of that is true.

    Though the Twilight fandom was very large, it was still too small, I thought, for one story to have two million reads. A little searching and I found the original quote was "over two million hits". It was reported by Anne Jamison, author of "fic: Why Fan-Fiction is Taking Over the World". I emailed her and asked where that number came from. She replied,

    The "millions" numbers I had were not public; I had them from screenshots from various writers. The counts were from fanfiction.net which, for the Twilight fandom, remained the biggest hub--most if not all stories that were also posted at Twilighted.net and TWCS were also posted on ff.net. Ff.net tallies reads but doesn't--unlike Wattpad or AO3--make them public.

    But for all the sites, read or hit counts are for every time someone clicks on the story--so if they click through the front page to get to chapter 37, that's 2 reads.

    Fan-fiction is published one chapter at a time. "Fifty Shades of Grey" has 26 chapters, but when it was originally published on fanfiction.net as "Master of the Universe", it had over 100 chapters.  More digging by gwern showed that the story had over 40,000 reviews when it was on chapter 70. It had 37,000 reviews when it reached 2 million hits. So let's say it had 65 chapters when it reached 2 million hits on fanfiction.net.

    fanfiction.net adds 1 hit every time any page of the story is reloaded. If you go to chapter 1 and read all the way through to chapter 120 in one sitting, that's 120 hits. If you log in, see it updated, go to chapter 1, and then go from there to the new chapter, that's at least 239 hits to read the book. If you refresh the page, that's another hit. (I verified this myself by refreshing one chapter of one story of mine 3 times on fanfiction.net, checking the stats before and after.) If you read half of one chapter one day, and log in again and finish it the next, that's at least 2 hits. If you leave it in an open tab on your computer, that's 1 hit every time you open your browser. If you reread the story, the hits double. If you click on the story each day to see if it's updated, hits go way up.

    Two million hits on a 65-chapter story means a theoretical maximum of 2,000,000 / 65 = 30,769 readers had read it on fanfiction.net when that "two million" figure was reported. More likely, given re-readings, users who always go in through chapter 1, users who quit halfway through, browser refreshes, etc., perhaps 10,000 readers finished it on fanfiction.net, and let's say another 10,000 on other sites. That's about as many readers as finished My Roommate is a Vampire.

    What actually happened was that a fanfiction that had been read by at most a few tens of thousands of people was reported on in a way that misled publishers into thinking that it had millions of readers, when really, it just had a lot of chapters. So they put a major marketing campaign behind it, and sold tens of millions of copies.

    But was Fifty Shades of Grey really what people wanted? Or would the same thing have happened with almost any book they'd marketed as heavily?

    23 comments · 213 views
  • Sunday
    What do "story views" mean now?

    The site upgrade is pretty awesome; I'm still discovering big changes. But I'm confused by the new meaning of "story views". I saw my stats page says I have 242,137 story views, and I thought, Awesome! A little while ago I had only 100,000!

    Then I realized that was impossible.

    Exhibit A: Terein. 1 story. 1 chapter. 188 views of that chapter. Yet his/her stats page says 381 story views.

    I had never heard of Terein until just now, when I went looking for someone with just 1 story with just 1 chapter, and as I was typing out his/her username just now, I got a pop-up notification saying "Terein posted a new thread in The Writer's Group."


    But anyway.

    Exhibit B: Web of Hope. Might be reading this. 3 stories, 6 chapters between them, 1242 views across those 6 chapters. Stats pages says 2059 story views.

    Story views--what do they MEAN?

    17 comments · 163 views
  • Saturday
    Symbolism in the Doctor Who episode "Amy's Choice"

    A good Doctor Who plot has two plots. One is the Doctor saving the world. Another is helping somebody (possibly the Doctor) deal with some personal problem. Ideally, these two plots should connect.


    At the start of the episode, Amy is engaged to marry Rory, but still finds herself attracted to the Doctor. Then a mysterious “Dream Lord” springs a trap for the Doctor, forcing Amy, Rory, and the Doctor to move back and forth between two realities. In one, the Doctor is visiting Amy and Rory, who have been married a long time and are having a baby; they are all chased by murderous old people. In the other, Amy and Rory are travelling with the Doctor, but they’re all trapped in a TARDIS drained of power and are slowly freezing to death. Each time they wake up in one reality, they feel convinced that it is the real world, and the other is a dream. But time passes in the other reality while they aren’t in it, and they don’t have enough time to escape the threats in both realities. The Dream Lord tells them that they must choose which reality is real, and kill themselves in the one that is a dream. For reasons I no longer remember, Amy must be the one who chooses which of these worlds is real.

    Of course the worlds also symbolize the two men she feels she needs to choose between. And her choice ends up depending not on reasoning out which world is real, but realizing which man she wants to be with (Rory). (There’s a crossed circuit in the symbolism, because she has to choose the Doctor's world rather than Rory's world in order to be with Rory, who was killed in Rory's world. He should have been killed in the Doctor's world if they wanted to keep that symbolism straight. Though they way they did it still worked.)

    After she chooses, and they kill themselves in Rory’s world, the Doctor kills them all in the Doctor’s world--and they wake up back on the TARDIS. The Doctor explains how he figured out that …

    … wait for it…

    … both of the worlds Amy thought she had to choose between were just dreams.

    Whoa. See how that fits with the symbolism?

    In Rory-world, the danger was old people. In Doctor-world, the danger was freezing to death. Almost as if she were afraid of growing old and boring with Rory, and afraid of a cold life with the Doctor, who did not love her.

    So Amy has now resolved to marry Rory, but has also learned that both of the futures she imagined she was choosing between--as well as her greatest fears about those futures--were all just dreams, which may or may not happen regardless of her choice.

    Thus, this episode has one adventure plot-line and one love-life plot-line, and they are unified completely by the end. But which came first: The adventure plot, or the love plot?

    In this case, we know: The love plot came first, according to Wikipedia.. And that doesn’t surprise me. Everything came back to Amy’s love quandary. It would have been amazingly good luck if a random adventure story had all that fall out of it in the second draft. It can happen, but not reliably.

    (Bonus: There’s a third plot line in this episode: Who is the Dream Lord? The answer to that tells you a lot about the Doctor.)

    NOTE: I'm linking to this post from the Story & Episode Annotations & Analysis group, which everybody seems to have forgotten about.

    7 comments · 202 views
  • Wednesday
    ROF1. A general evolutionary theory of fiction

    What’s a story?

    "Story" is a very broad category, even when counting only fiction. It includes:

    - nonsense stories that are supposed to be stupid and make no sense:

    One fine day in the middle of the night,

    Two dead boys got up to fight.

    Back to back they faced each other,

    Drew their swords and shot each other.

    A deaf policeman heard the noise,

    Came and killed the two dead boys.

    - meta-fiction (stories about stories), like Borges' stories that are literary analyses of imaginary stories ("Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote" is my favorite)

    - ancient Greek rape comedies [h]

    - Goodnight, Moon

    - Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra

    - Waiting for Godot, a story about nothing happening

    - this story from the infancy gospel of Thomas:

    After that again he went through the village, and a child ran and dashed against his shoulder. And Jesus was provoked and said unto him: Thou shalt not finish thy course. And immediately the child fell down and died. ... And the parents of him that was dead came unto Joseph, and blamed him, saying: Thou that hast such a child canst not dwell with us in the village: or do thou teach him to bless and not to curse: for he slayeth our children. And Joseph called the young child apart and admonished him, saying: Wherefore doest thou such things, that these suffer and hate us and persecute us? But Jesus said: I know that these thy words are not thine: nevertheless for thy sake I will hold my peace: but they shall bear their punishment. And straightway they that accused him were smitten with blindness.

    I don’t believe there are rules about what kinds of fictional narratives can be set down as text and appreciated. Anything goes. So what am I talking about when I talk about rules of fiction?

    A general evolutionary theory of fiction

    I think people have evolved cognitive dog-treat-recognizers, things in their brains that give them little jolts of pleasure for doing things that tend to get their genes propagated. When we read fiction, we get these doggy treats even for things we didn’t do ourselves. [1]

    The evolutionary explanation for erotica is obvious: People enjoy sex. (I don't know why there isn't food porn, too.) Bashing your opponent on the head gives you a different kind of jolt of pleasure. Action stories are efficient structures that give you jolts of pleasure at bashing other people on the head without suffering the (culturally-specific) jolts of guilt that prevent people from bashing each other on the head all the time.

    “Dramatic” stories play on the reader’s emotional bonds to the characters. This requires a complicated story structure to build up these bonds, then yank on them so you react as if these things were happening to your friends.

    Dramatic stories are like roller-coasters. Roller coaster design has rules. Some are engineering: The track has to go up before it can go down. Some have to do with what patterns of tension and release feel dramatic: You need to cluster small, fast curves and loops together; you need to have moments of respite between these clusters.

    None of the examples I listed at the start of this post are dramatic, except for the rape comedies. So drama isn’t found in all fiction. But it’s in a hell of a lot of fiction. Drama is the backbone behind most good stories. It’s what you feel when something is at stake and you care what happens. When people say stories must have conflict, or that there must be two false climaxes followed by a climax and resolution, or that a play or movie must have a three-act structure, they’re talking about dramatic stories. If you read Syd Field, Jack Bickham, or Writer’s Digest, you’re going to get theories of dramatic structure. Most of what is written about how to write novels and movie scripts, is written as if conflict-based dramatic stories were the only kind of story. So they’re a pretty important class of stories! [2]

    BUT. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of sets of “rules” about dramatic stories, or “basic plots” of dramatic stories. They’re… helpful, maybe. But most of them just address the plot: What sequence of events happen in a story? They’re stuff like this:

    1.        Once upon a time there was …

    2.        Every day …

    3.        One day …

    4.        Because of that …

    5.        Because of that …

    6.        Until finally …

    What’s the point of that? You’d have to really work at it to write a story that didn’t fit that structure. I want to understand what my brain is looking for when deciding whether to give me a mental doggy treat. Knowing a hundred slightly different plot sequences that trigger it is a good start, but we can do better.

    “Literature” is, I’m gonna say for the moment, stories that make you think about things outside of the story. In my mind, Song of Ice and Fire is fantasy, while Lord of the Rings is fantasy and literature. Twelfth Night is (bad) romance. Romeo and Juliet is (bad) romance, and literature. 2001 is science fiction. Brave New World is science fiction and literature. If you read Aristotle or Dramatica theory, you’re going to be reading about how stories make you think.

    Literary stories, I think, reward you for learning. They're simulations that teach you what might happen if you do one thing in some set of circumstances. The dog-treat mechanism in your head drives you to seek literary lessons that tackle the questions currently important to you. This may account for the strange fact that there are specific story types, like alicorn OC stories, that many people love and many other people think are stupid. Maybe they’re beneficial to children, or to people struggling with self-confidence.

    So stories don’t serve any single function. There are as many broad, top-level story types as there are evolved patterns of experience that trigger mental doggy treats, and a good story will trigger lots of them. But a few top-level story types are very general and very important, and I want to understand them better. If our more-specific theories about how stories work mate well with the top-level evolutionary justification, it’s a sign that we may be onto something.

    A general evolutionary theory of popular bad fiction

    The brain doesn’t expect your experiences to be fictional. So it gives you a reward even when you’re just imagining someone else having these experiences. An ape gets a big jolt of relief or exhilaration for outwitting a predator or enemy, and that’s fine, because that doesn’t happen much in the wild. But your brain wasn’t informed that you can sit down at B. Dalton’s and read trashy novels and make it give you that jolt every ten minutes, for things that don’t benefit your genes at all.

    Some “popular but bad” story types might be ones that fool your brain into thinking it’s succeeding or learning when it isn’t. Nonsense stories, for example, are bad baby literature. Babies learn fastest by looking at things they haven't seen before. They get cognitive dog treats for looking at anything surprising, even if it's surprising just because it's really stupid. Nonsense stories don’t help anybody learn anything, but because they’re full of things that don’t make sense, they keep triggering your brain’s reward for paying attention to things that you don’t understand yet.

    Even stories that benefit you some way can be “junk stories” if you indulge in them too much. In a world where we can seek out exactly the kind of food we want, we end up eating too much fat, salt, and sugar. In a world where we can seek out exactly the kind of story experience we want, we end up reading “too much” (from the perspective of our genes) of certain kinds of stories.

    So I expect successful stories to include “good good stories” that reward you for confronting things in fiction that help you or your genes in real life, “junk food stories” that we over-indulge in because they give us big rewards for things that don’t happen very often in real life, and “good bad stories” that reward you for mentally jacking off [α].


    h. A Greek rape comedy is a once-popular story type in which a young man prepares to marry a young women who, unknown to him, was recently raped. When he realizes she's pregnant, he must cast her off as a shamed woman. But then it turns out that he was the man who raped her, so it's okay. Everybody has a good laugh and they get married and live happily ever after. (This summary is a  little unfair to the Greeks, since they didn't have a concept of, or at least a word for, rape. On the other hand, that in itself is another indictment of them.)

    1. Transhumans will of course evolve brains smart enough to distinguish real experiences from fictional ones, and to reward them only for real ones. They will therefore no longer enjoy fiction.

    2. It’s hard (maybe impossible) to distinguish between drama and tension. Dramatic structure, whether it’s 3-act theory or scene and sequel structure, can be used to create drama, but it can also be used in action movies where we arguably don’t care much about the characters, like Crank.

    α. Not that jacking off is bad. Or using birth control. You don't always gotta do what your genes want you to. Usually, your genes are looking out for you. But plenty of stories are designed to teach you altruistic lessons that are good for your genes, or your society, to your detriment!

    37 comments · 264 views
  • ...

By the time Celestia had resolved all the pending petty disputes between neighboring farmers, and some even pettier disputes between great nobles, the sun's rays slanted low into the great hall. There was only one case left, and no way of putting it off any longer.

Celestia sighed. "Bring her in," she called.

The guest, or prisoner, was escorted down the red-and-gold carpet, one very serious-looking guard on each side, eyeing her as if they expected her to bolt for the side door at any moment. Sometimes one's own propaganda caught up with oneself that way. But if the guards were hoping for excitement, the prospects seemed dim. With her head sunk toward the floor so that her white mane fell over one eye, and looking naked (half the ponies in the room were naked, but only she seemed self-conscious of it) without her cape and hat, the bedraggled sky-blue unicorn looked neither great nor powerful. She shuffled to stand in front of the dais and look mournfully up, not quite meeting Celestia's eye.

"So," Celestia said, "I meet the Great and Powerful Trixie at last."

Trixie blushed with shame and looked down again.

"Trixie. We are very cross with you." Celestia only ever used the royal "we" to indicate that she also spoke for Luna. "Do you understand why?"

The magician said, in a small, repentant voice, "Because I am a selfish and arrogant pony."

Celestia's lip curled in a bitter smile. "Then I should be cross with half the ponies in this room. No, Trixie. Try again."

Trixie risked a look up, and a look of worry crept into her face, which was more convincing than the repentance. "Because," she said experimentally, "of the damage that the Ursa did to Ponyville?"

"Closer." Celestia leaned forward in her throne. "Trixie, can you tell me what our rule of Equestria depends on?"

Trixie's legs bent backwards even as she bowed her head forwards, as if her rear half were thinking about bolting and leaving the front to fend for itself. "Power?"

Celestia shook her head. "No, Trixie. Not power." She calmly watched Trixie squirm and waited for an answer.

"Love? Friendship?"

"That's very flattering of you to say so, but no."

"Ancient mystical rocks?" Trixie guessed with a weak grin.

Celestia shook her head in a disappointed fashion. "No, Trixie. Trust. Our rule depends on trust. I sit here on a throne in Canterlot, and govern counties so far away it takes days for news to travel back and forth. How do I know the ponies in all those far-off places are acting as they should?"


Celestia smiled. "Now you've got it! And, more importantly, why do the ponies in those far-off places obey the commands of a princess most of them have never seen—who might, so far as they know, not exist at all? Why do they not come stomping down to the castle in a mob, and make angry demands, or scheme silently against me in their distant secret places?"

"I'm... supposed to say trust, aren't I?"

Celestia snorted. "You think it's the guards, the army, and my terrible sharp horn. But it isn't, Trixie. It's trust. Trust makes Equestria go round." She stood up off her throne and took one step forward, towering over the much-smaller pony at the bottom of the steps, whose knees were beginning to tremble. "And when you lie to ponies, and you pretend to be something you aren't, it isn't a little thing of no consequence, Trixie. It teaches ponies not to trust. That makes it an attack on the foundations of Equestria. That makes it a threat to our peace."

"I didn't mean it like that!" Trixie protested. "I... I just wanted ponies to respect me!" Trixie glanced round her at the guards and the spectators, but found only stony faces.

Celestia let out a disdainful bray. To the shock of everypony, she stomped down the steps of the dias and stared directly into Trixie's face, their horns almost touching. "You wanted respect!" she spat. "You wanted admiration! What a despicable reason to deceive ponies!"

The guards standing beside Trixie backed away a few steps, giving up any pretense of guarding Celestia from Trixie, and glanced at each other nervously. Celestia paced slowly around Trixie, from her head to her tail and back again, never looking at the unicorn mare. "Do you understand what could have happened if you'd gotten away with it? More lies, more lies to cover up those lies, more respect. More unearned trust. More ponies depending on you to do things you can't, like those foals rushing out to find an Ursa because they were so sure you could fight it off."

The crowd of onlookers had fallen absolutely silent, staring open-mouthed at their princess. The guards looked to the old chamberlain, who had served the Princess since before they were born, and he looked back and shook his head as if to say, No, I've never seen her like this either.

Celestia's heavy hoofsteps echoed loudly as she began pacing faster. "You were building your own cage out of lies. If not for this Ponyville fiasco you might have gone on for years, building it bigger and stronger until you couldn't have gotten out of it if you'd wanted to. You don't know how lucky you are that you were caught so soon!" She came to a stop back in front of Trixie and glared at her, sides heaving, and now it was Celestia who was trembling.

"I'm sorry!" Trixie bawled. "I'm so, so sorry, I—"

Celestia spun around and looked away. "Escort her from my palace," she said, without looking back.

The guards snapped out of their daze, and saluted Celestia's hindquarters. They escorted Trixie out, and then the stunned audience gradually trickled out, until only Celestia, still staring into the back corner of the room and breathing heavily, and her guards remained.

"Get me Shining Armour," she called.

The captain of the guard galloped in minutes later and drew up before her, blowing his dark-blue mane out of his eyes with every breath as he huffed from running. "Your majesty?"

She set off immediately toward the private section of the palace, and he fell into step beside her. "Your shield," she said. "Have you managed to teach Purslane how to cast it?"

"He's working on it," the captain replied.

"I take it that means no?"

"Well," he said apologetically, "what with the wedding in a few days..."

Celestia came to an abrupt halt and turned towards the captain. "I apologize for keeping you somewhat in the dark about this. I did not wish to start a panic. But it is high time for somepony to start panicking. Allow me to explain. Are you familiar with vamponies?"

The captain pursed his lips, and said diplomatically, "I was under the impression they did not exist."

"They do not. They are merely symbolic representations of something too terrible to speak of in stories. Imagine, Shining, a being which drained you not of blood, but of love. A being which left you alive, but with no feelings for your fellow pony. All the feelings you had for your Cadence, for your parents, for your sister, would be gone, fodder in the belly of a monster to feed it for a day or two. You would live the rest of your days in uncaring selfishness, nothing more than a pony-shaped machine."

A shadow passed over the captain's face. "That would be a fate worse than death."

"Indeed," Celestia agreed.

He inhaled slowly. "We will not fear," he said. "We have faith in you."

Celestia looked him in the eye, and he looked back, his honest face full of admiration and trust.

"Teach Purslane the shield," she said.

She left the captain and hurried to the second-floor sitting room at the front of the palace. The sky was turning red as the sun sank toward the horizon.  Celestia stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the courtyard. She smiled at the crowd of ponies, and a cheer went up. Many of them had travelled days just so they could say that one day they had watched the Princess raise and lower the sun. The pages standing at the corners of the balcony raised their trumpets and sounded them, and she aimed her horn toward the sun. It began to glow gold with magical energy, turning white as it grew more brilliant. She took a deep breath, screwed up her face in a look of intense concentration, and once again pretended to lower the sun.

#1 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

It might be just me, but I tend to prematurely stop reading stories in which Celestia goes into rage-bitch mode. It's just way too out-of-character for my canon-minded brain to wrap itself around. Happily, I kept reading this one, and I'm glad I did. It's a very well-written story, and now my mind is wanting to know what is going to happen to Trixie now that she's put out of Celestia's presence. Well done.

#2 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Da fuq? How the hell did it transition to that?

#3 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

This is brilliant Celestia is in the same position as Trixie would have been if she continued with her lies.

#4 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

I see what you did with that chapter name. :twilightsmile:

#6 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Yup. Totally didn't see that coming....

#7 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Now that is an interesting take on a few concepts.

Definitely appropriate AU tag, but nice concept all around.

Not gonna fave it because there wasn't much story to it other than the concept, even though the scenes were written well.

Don't really get the bit about Shining teaching his shield.

#8 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Well, lordy.

#9 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Do you know what this means?

Lies are the enemy of Equestria. Which means...

APPLEJACK IS BEST PONY. Element of Honesty represent. :ajbemused:

#10 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

I'm not sure I entirely get the point. I'm fairly certain that Celestia talking about creating a web of lies that is impossible to escape from is actually her talking about herself, and I'm thinking this might be Celestia as a changeling, but that's all I got :derpyderp2:

#11 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

What happened here? I'm going to need an immediate sitrep.

#12 · 104w, 4d ago · 1 · ·

What the hell? I see too many suggestions, she could be talking about trust, or she could know what is going to happen in the future. She could be a changeling herself, but so many things don't add up to that. She could be regretting her own lies (hypocrite) or she could be trying to make sure that her lies stay together. She might be trying to save Trixie from the Changelings (if she can see the future) or she could be sick of her reflection...


#13 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Well you got my thumbs and gold star. Now to read your other works.

#14 · 104w, 4d ago · 1 · ·

What? ... *scrolls up, rereads*


#15 · 104w, 4d ago · 3 · ·


Because Celestia is a pretender and will not be able to defend Canterlot in case of an invasion if Shining Armor's shield fails or if Shining Armor is not around but on his honeymoon.

#16 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

That was very well done.

Does anyone happen to know of any other stories where Celestia doesn't actually raise the sun?

#17 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

So....she doesn't want another bull(REDACTED) artist running around starting a rebellion, eh?

#18 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Bad Horse, you're a great writer, but ... I'm really struggling here to find the one crucial clue that will click into place and make all this make sense for me. :fluttershysad:


It seems clear on a second pass that Celestia is trying to stop Trixie from making the same mistake she did and building the "cage out of lies".  Given the severity of Celestia's reaction, it seems like in the process she's digging herself in that much deeper -- simultaneously trying to give Trixie a second chance that she didn't get, and resenting her deeply for it.

What I don't get is the changeling part.  It seems wholly extraneous.  However, I don't think Bad Horse would have included it -- especially not that major of a point, in a story this size -- if it weren't relevant.  This is a meta-clue that the answer has something to do with changelings but there's not enough context in the rest of the story to make sense of it.  Is Celestia a changeling herself?  (I don't think so; she's telling Shining to defend ponies from them.)  Did Celestia get eaten by one?  (This is the conclusion I'm leaning toward -- but she demonstrably cares for both Trixie and the ponies under her rule, albeit in a roundabout fashion.)  Was she testing Trixie for changelinghood?  (If so, I think she passed.)

Edited to add:  I really wish I knew whether in this AU the sun and moon have always moved on their own, or whether they get moved by someone-who-is-not-Celestia.

#19 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

>>1459250 >>1459433

The key is the last line of the story.

#20 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

HAH!  Awesome!  Chrysalis nabs Celestia rather than Cadence.  I find this awesome and approve heartily.  How did nobody else pick up on that?


#21 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·



How did I not notice that?

Wow, that realization just made this so much better. Have my like, and favorite... and my first born.

Wait a second... there are some issues with consistency with cannon here... oh right AU. So the unicorns of pre-Equestria were also faking it? That would honestly make for a more interesting story. And count as satire. Wait another second... is THIS satire?

#22 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

across the vast expances of space and time

the rustling of my jimmies could be heard

#23 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Unrelated but awesome: If Purslane's name is a reference to the plant, that's a goddamn subtle and clever easter egg:

In antiquity, its healing properties were thought so reliable that Pliny advised wearing the plant as an amulet to expel all evil.


#24 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

>>1459565  You're a cynical one!  You will go far.

>>1459609  The changelings are just there to be a terrible threat that people aren't really taking seriously because they assume Celestia can take care of everything.

>>1459681  That is brilliant.  But I didn't pick up on it either...

>>1459722  Also, reputed to stave off depression.  Herbal and edible wild plants are a hobby of mine!  Yours too?

#25 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

Hmm, interesting, and thought-provoking.

Caught in a web of one's own lies; et tu, Celestia?

#26 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

I actually stopped reading partway through and skimmed the rest because 1. I didn't figure out why Celestia might have acted the way she did and 2. I didn't see that alternate universe tag. Looking at the comments to try and figure out what this story's supposed to be at all, I found this comment: >>1459619 And then I read the last line.

"Oh, now I get it!" :derpytongue2:

#27 · 104w, 4d ago · · 4 ·


Too much left to interpretation, I just can't do it. I feel really dissapointed. Whatever, I guess I'll follow this.

#28 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·


Really great story but the question is that is it truly an Alternative Universe or truth of reality, Seeing how things laid out in "The Canterlot Wedding" episode? As for dealing with Trixie, I imagine Celestia dealt with her to "eliminate" competition and have the ponies trust misdirected to her, if not reinforce the trust in her. Great touch on concept and like the idea a lot, two thumbs up my man:eeyup:

#29 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

This got me thinking.  (Granted, there isn't much else to do when you're at work. :twilightsheepish:)  What does Celestia's pretending to raise the sun mean for the show's mythology.  Although it has a big ol' AU tag, there is nothing in the story indicating that Celestia and Luna are not immortal (or perhaps just really long lived.), nor any indication that the Elements of Harmony are not exactly as we have seen.  If those two things are in fact true, then the implications of the whole Nightmare Moon thing become much MUCH worse.  

Blast it, I had a whole big ass WMG in my head a minute ago.  Why do these things evaporate whenever I actually start typing. :raritydespair:

#30 · 104w, 4d ago · · ·

It's a bit suspicious, isn't it, that Celestia can't handle Nightmare Moon, can't handle Discord, can't handle Chrysalis... realistically, one assumes that she simply suffers from the Worf Effect - warning, link to tvtropes, don't follow if you want to do anything else today - due to the difficulty of fitting in enough storytelling in 22 minutes.

>>1459565 Not to toot my own horn, but there is some similarity to my own 'Madame Butterfly' . Pluggin' ones own stories, that's a little, you know, evil, right? But it's okay here, presumably, because, well, League of, you see.

>>1459800 Am I stupid, or did you not write another story with a 'dark' Celestia, but one who actually had the power she claims to have? Only now I can't find it?


#31 · 104w, 3d ago · · ·


> The changelings are just there to be a terrible threat that people aren't really taking seriously because they assume Celestia can take care of everything.

To be honest, I'd consider that a weakness in the story. An enemy that can convincingly impersonate your loved ones tends to interact with the topic of trust.

#32 · 104w, 3d ago · · ·

>>1461636  Hmm.  Good point.  Any ideas how?

#33 · 104w, 3d ago · · ·

>>1461600 Am I stupid, or did you not write another story with a 'dark' Celestia, but one who actually had the power she claims to have?

There are 3 dark Celestia stories in Pony Tales.  Or you could have been dumpster-diving in Bad Horse's Bad Stories; there's one or two in there.

#34 · 104w, 3d ago · · ·


I'd forgotten that thing existed, actually. It was 'The Real Reason'. No wonder I could never find it again.


#35 · 104w, 3d ago · · ·

They're not lies, they're stories, exactly like a traveling entertainer is supposed to tell. It's not her fault those two idiots actually believed her! :raritydespair::raritydespair:

(Yeah, I know, AU and not the point, I just felt like venting.)

#37 · 104w, 3d ago · · ·

>>1459800 I uncovered that one through research (I'm pretty good at faking erudition via google), so sadly I can't connect via shared hobby.  Still tickled at the reference, though.

Also, re my confusion (>>1459609), I agree with >>1461636.  The changelings are a bright, tempting path that goes straight into the metaphorical weeds.

This isn't a comedy, but you're writing a story with the framework of setup -> punchline.  The last line recontextualizes the entire story that came before it; we have to re-evaluate everything from that final revelation.  The instant that you introduce trust issues into a story that explicitly involves changelings, that re-evaluation points to a lot of places you weren't intending to go.  Note that I ruled out all of my own guesses but couldn't shake the conclusion that there was something more there, and other bright readers (e.g. >>1459681) went straight for the changeling jugular.

As far as fixing it, I think all you can do is either explicitly paint the possibility as a red herring in the story*, or else change the crisis.

* Even adding something like "... as she had done every day for millennia ..." to the last line would help, since that would rule out Celestia herself being a changeling -- but because there are just too many possibilities for changeling insertion (present/past, any named character, unnamed character) I think you simply need a new problem for Celestia not to be able to handle.

#38 · 104w, 3d ago · · ·

>>1462035 Probably the most straightforward approach would be to substitute some other crisis, like a swarm of parasprites in Fillydelphia.

#39 · 104w, 2d ago · · ·

Nice twist at the end.


#40 · 104w, 2d ago · · ·

Hah, that's a nifty twist; The Great and Powerful Celestia. :raritywink:

#41 · 94w, 2d ago · · ·

so I'm thinking "that's a cool scene with Trixie" and then started to wonder why we were going into the changelings, and then the gamechanger:

"and once again pretended to lower the sun"

and OH SNAP. :pinkiegasp: And now we have to reexamine everything with Celestia

Comment posted by Ellington deleted at 7:33am on the 18th of May, 2013
#43 · 69w, 2d ago · 7 · ·

Man, the final line is what makes this story. Just glorious.

One handy thing about having established characters like this, I suppose; you can do stuff like that without having to build up for it, and no one sees it coming at all.

Well done.

#44 · 51w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1868326 Orbit, my friend! Learn it. You didn't think Equestria was the only planet in the Equus system, did you?

#45 · 34w, 4d ago · · ·

Very nice! Makes you really step back to think about some plot points. :rainbowkiss:

#46 · 30w, 4d ago · · 1 ·

I heard scribbler's reading of this and while I liked it, that last bit doesn't sit with me for one obvious reason.

Season 1 episode 2, after nightmare moon has brought enteral night, it isn't until celestia is returned that the sun rises again.

#47 · 17w, 22h ago · 1 · ·


This story has the Alternative Universe tag for a reason. :rainbowwild:

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