PaulAsaran 2,011 followers · 79 stories

Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords and reviews. New reviews posted every other Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCCLXI

    Is that all you've got, Beryl? Thought it would be easy, I bet. Just steal my electricity and everything would be ruined. You're gonna have to try a lot harder than that. Maybe you would have stood a chance if you'd taken after your big brother Harvey in 2017 and took my car too. But no, you weren't clever enough to consider that, were you? You neglected it. Just how you neglected that a car can charge an iphone, and an iphone can generate a personal wifi hotspot, and a laptop can use that hotspot to do whatever it needs so long as it has the juice! Perhaps you were unaware that I have two laptops, so twice the battery power, or that I would carefully conserve that power, awaiting the moment I would need it most. Or maybe you thought I would just roll over and die.

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    21 comments · 1,009 views
  • 4 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCCLIX

    Hello, FIMFiction! It’s time for another round of reviews.

    Over the last two weeks I have been pondering what I could use this introductory segment for. I always seem to have something to talk about, but I don’t know if the public at large is interested in most of those things. Do I bring up my own attempts at writing, at the risk of it looking like self-promotion? I’d discuss writing in general, but there are plenty of places that already do that. I used to talk about things going on in my own life, but that feels inappropriate. I am, at least for the moment, at a loss. Suggestions would be welcome!

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    56 comments · 2,568 views
  • 6 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCCLVIII - It's Showtime Edition

    I've always wanted to start a blog with that.

    Good evening, FIMFiction!

    Those of you unfamiliar with my sleepy avatar, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Who is this weirdo and why is he suddenly invading the site-wide news feed? Allow me to illuminate you.

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    50 comments · 4,139 views
  • 128 weeks
    SA: The Last Round

    "So, what do you think, Corejo?" Wanderer D asked, politely showing off the stack of papers in his claw.

    The burlap sack with the printed (in color!) face of Corejo remained silent.

    "I see, yes, yes!" Wanderer D cackled. "Ahahaha! Yes! I agree! This story should do fine! So, who's reviewing it? RT?"

    The sack that had the picture of RTStephens on it tilted just enough for a single potato to roll onto the table.

    "And we have two! Alright, team, I expect you all to figure out who's doing the next one, okay? Let's not keep the readers waiting!" He glanced expectantly at the several sacks with pictures around him. "Alright! Dismissed."

    "Sir?"

    "Ah, intern. Is that my coffee?" Wanderer D took the proffered mug and downed the contents in one go. "Excellent! No time to rest! We have to edit what the guys just handed to me."

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    110 comments · 9,385 views
  • 149 weeks
    SA: Round 186

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


    The Dodge Junction train ramp was not where Floydien expected to be part of a reunion.

    He especially didn’t expect it to happen four times in a row.

    “Wait, Winter? What are you doing here?”

    Winter’s eyebrows raised. “On Summer vacation. What about you?”

    “Uh, same.”

    “Guys!”

    The two Angels looked to where the voice came from. Cynewulf came running up to them, a wide brimmed sunhat and sunglasses adorning her head. “Fancy meeting you two here!”

    Floydien scratched his head. “Same. Are you on vacation too?”

    “Yep! Had a blast down on the Horseshoe Bay coast.”

    “Well, ain’t this something!”

    All turned to the fourth voice. Knight strode up, his body decked out in fishing gear, complete with a fishing pole balanced over his shoulder. “Haven’t seen so many of us in one spot since vacation started.”

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    12 comments · 5,126 views
  • 164 weeks
    SA: Round 185

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


    Winter and Knight stared out at the bleak townscape. All around them, the fires raged unchecked as Ponyville's former occupants stumbled mindlessly about, their undead faces ravaged by rot and decay as they moaned for sustenance. Knight turned to Winter.

    "Ready to go?"

    Winter nodded and shifted a backpack. "Got everything with me. I guess it's now or never."

    Knight gave a wry smile. "That's the spirit. You do have your reviews, right?"

    "Of course!" he said, patting his chest. "Right here."

    Knight nodded and said, "Alright, here's the plan: we stick to the shadows as much as possible. From what I can tell, their eyesight isn't that good, but their sense of smell is excellent. We just have to stay upwind."

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    10 comments · 4,705 views
  • 171 weeks
    SA: Round 184

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


    “I see. Alright, I’ll let him know.”

    Intern twisted a dial on the small mechanical piece attached to his ear, retracting a blue, see-through visor from across his face. He turned to Floydien, crossing his arms. “It’s confirmed. Generation 5 is on its way. Season 2 of Pony Life is just around the corner. And the series finale of Equestria Girls was scrapped for a holiday special.”

    Floydien lifted an eyebrow. “And, what does that mean for us?”

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    10 comments · 4,854 views
  • 175 weeks
    SA: Round 183

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


    Over their heads the flak guns peppered the sky. The planes roared and sputtered. The clouds were dark, heavy with the child that was war. It was all noise.


    Cynewulf looked around the bend. “You know, I’ve been reading old fics. Remember Arrow 18?”


    Floydien slipped—a Floydien slipped—One Floydien came through the fractured time in the lower levels of the Sprawling Complex. “Uh, human in Equestria?”


    “Yeah. You know, we were probably too mean about those.”


    “They were terrible. I mean some of them. I guess a lot of everything is terrible.”


    “Well, yes. But anyway, I was reading it, and it occurred to me that what I liked about it was that it felt optimistic in the way that Star Trek was optimistic. It felt naive, but in a way one wanted to emulate. To regress back into it.”


    “Uh, that sounds nice?”

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    7 comments · 6,058 views
  • 180 weeks
    SA: Round 182

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


    “Okay, Winter, hit it!”

    Winter pulled a lever that ignited a rocket placed underneath the communal Christmas Tree. The tree blasted through a cylindrical hole and out into the skies beyond. It only took seconds for the tree to become a tiny red dot against the blue sky.

    Winter stepped away from the control panel and down to where Intern was standing behind a fifty-five millimeter thick glass wall. “We could have just picked up the base and tossed it in the garbage bin outside, you know.”

    Intern scoffed. “Yeah, we could, or we can go over the top in a comedic and entertaining manner that leads into our reviews.”

    “You’re getting all meta, now.”

    “Exactly! On to the reviews!”

    ROUND 182

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    6 comments · 8,082 views
  • 185 weeks
    SA: Round 181

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


    For the first time in the year that he worked there, FanficFan finally experienced quiet in the Seattle’s Angels Compound. All the other reviewers had gone home for the holidays, leaving him and Intern to submit the last round of reviews of the year. However, with Intern off on an errand, FanficFan was left alone.

    With stories ready to be read by his partner, all the reviewer could really do was wander around the empty building, taking in all the holiday decorations left behind from the Office Christmas Party a few days prior, like office space holiday knick-knacks, lights strown about the ceiling and wreaths on nearly every door. Plus, there was some leftover cookies and egg nog, so that was nice. 

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    8 comments · 6,489 views
Jun
27th
2024

Story Reviews » Paul's Thursday Reviews CCCLX · 8:31pm June 27th

Before anything else: Viking ZX has a new book available for pre-order.

Also, help Estee get to Ponicon 2025 in Tokyo.

And finally: I have hit the 2k follower milestone. It only took me 10+ years! Alas, I have nothing special to do for this milestone, because I wasn’t watching for it and none of the stories I’m currently working on are anywhere near ready for primetime. I recall one milestone (500, I think?) where every word in the celebratory blog was a link to one of my followers, but yeah, I’m not doing that for 2k. Regardless, I am certainly grateful for the attention. It’s kind of amazing that 2k is still attainable at all in this day and age of FIMFiction.

Speaking of attention, how many of you noticed that I released a story a couple weeks ago? Given that the story has barely over 100 views as of writing, not many I bet. Now, I’m not bringing this up to whine about the numbers and beg people to read the story. I’m bringing this up to point out that even though I have 2k followers, it didn’t equate to immediate success. Last week I posted a blog devoted to this and I got some really good feedback on the topic. For all you aspiring authors out there who want to publish a story on FIMFiction and don’t want it to be completely ignored, I recommend taking a look at that blog and the comments within for all sorts of pointers on what not to do when you publish. Valuable stuff.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just finished reading an unusually high 50k words today across five separate stories and I really would like to stop looking at a computer screen for the next hour or two. To the reviews!

Stories for This Week:

When I Rule The World, I’ll Plant Flowers by SpiderSilky
One Fated Night by Dreams of Ponies
Our Winter Story by Meteor_Mirage
Rainbooms and Royalty by Trinary
Requiem for a Friend by Math Spook
Author Insert by Warren Hutch
May I Have This Dance? by Nordryd
An Apple a Day by The Fool
Find Out Who I Am by Miller Minus
Dazzle for President by Spyder27

Total Word Count: 169,735

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 4
Worth It: 5
Needs Work: 0
None: 0


Chrysalis is alone, starving, and not sure what to do next. Then Fluttershy finds her in the Everfree. What’s weird about this is that the pony was looking for Chrysalis. Fluttershy cares for the wellbeing of every creature, and that includes her enemies. Not seeing any other options, Chrysalis agrees to the pony’s terms.

This was… abbreviated. Which might sound odd considering its word count, but it’s true. The vast majority of the story is told in what I tend to think of as “transitional writing”. It’s that form of writing you use when what’s going on needs to happen but isn’t so important it needs to be shown directly. Except that a lot of the things SpiderSilky is skimming with this format are things that would greatly benefit the story for being more detailed.

How did the animals react when Chrysalis first showed up at the cottage? How did the first night go? At what point did Fluttershy break the news to her friends? What about that first conversation with Discord? Or the moment when Chrysalis realized she enjoyed gardening? Or when Fluttershy agreed to let her plant a garden in the sanctuary? All this and so much more we might know, but only in a vague sense. These are things that the reader needs to experience personally in order for it to have the best impact, but SpiderSilky didn’t bother, and that’s a shame, because scenes like those could have made this story.

There are other issues I have with the story. Sometimes it gets a little telly and repetitive, and there are other things.

Chrysalis was starving. The changeling queen had not eaten well.

The very first two sentences in the entire story are literally saying the same thing. There are ways in which repetition can be beneficial. This is not one of them.

“How did you find me? I demand to know!” Her voice roared out as the pegasus began to lower to the ground. The changeling queen stood tall, glowering down.

“Eep!” Fluttershy whimpered.

Why is the instinctual reaction – the “eep!” in this case – occurring 20 words after it is relevant? You need to be more snappy with this kind of thing to get the best effect.

“Ha! Ha ha ha! Hahahaha!” Chrysalis couldn’t remember the last time she laughed this hard.

Hello again, pet peeve. Because I’m sure it is critically important that the reader knows exactly how many “ha’s” were in the laugh.

The quirks aren’t just in the writing itself. In one instance, it is noted that Chrysalis tends to be the quiet one between the two while Fluttershy does all the talking. Much later, near the end of the story, it is announced that Chrysalis is the chatterbox in their regular conversations and Fluttershy is the quiet one. You can’t have it both ways, author. I’d get it if this was meant to show a change in Chrysalis’s character, but I’m seeing no indication of this.

On the other hand, there are some flashes of skill in there. My favorites are times like this:

Instead, she moved further into the backyard, hiding in the shade of the trees as the ants gathered near her hooves, and she watched them crawl up her legs, weaving in and out of her holes and dents. Their crawling reminded her of when her babies would hatch out of their eggs.

These are good moments. Moments where we can learn more about Chrysalis’s true nature without having them completely spelled out for us (although that last sentence dances on the fine line, and I would have revised it to be a little less on the nose). They aren’t a constant, but they’re common enough and sprinkled throughout the story. SpiderSilky should try to seed more stuff like this into their stories, IMHO.

The story does eventually descend to the level of romance. Whether that’s a good thing or not will be up to individual taste, but even as a hopeless romantic I felt it was unnecessary. The story was doing well as a friendshipping tale, and the regular insistence that Chrysalis felt no love from Fluttershy continued it in that direction. Then, out of nowhere, it’s revealed that Fluttershy does love her and she just can’t feel it. Why can’t Chrysalis feel it? It’s not clearly explained, but the story seems to imply that what the changelings feed on and can readily detect is lust, not love. But again, it’s never clarified, so that’s an educated guess on my part at best, and not a satisfying one. The result is that the eleventh-hour romance feels like an arbitrary handout to the shippers, a handout we didn’t need because the story was working so well without it.

Not an uncommon idea, but being common doesn’t make it bad. I came away from this one with mixed feelings and the sense that SpiderSilky has some underlying talent that needs to be honed. The story works in a general sense, but it doesn’t ‘wow’ me. Still, with a bit more practice and some time in the forge fires of constructive criticism, we might see some great stuff out of this author in the future.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Night Light knows how important this night is. A pity his wife does not.

In this extremely brief story, we watch as Night Light prepares a powerful spell invoking what might be the magic of the moon in the Golden Oaks Library. He's doing so under Celestia's direct orders and in accordance with the signs and prophecies of astrology. It also happens to be the night that his daughter is being born.

Twilight Velvet is not enthusiastic. Or rather, she is, but the things she's enthusiastic about right now is maybe strangling her husband for the things she expects he and Celestia have been up to. No, no, not that.

The story combines an opening of vivid magic and a conclusion of comedic "I'm giving birth here and that means I'm allowed to hate you at the moment!" With those two things comes the implication that Twilight's birth – both the fact of it and the timing – are by no means an accident. One parent suspects this. One knows for sure.

An interesting tale, taking a not uncommon concept and making something a little different out of it. I rather liked it.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Fresh out of his amicable breakup with Cadance, Shining Armor finds himself attracted to the new guy at school.

Okay, before anything else: concept pitch! Pre-Friendship is Magic. Using pseudonyms, young Prince Blueblood, Fancy Pants, and Princess Cadance co-host a radio show about dating.

Now that that’s out of my system…

Set when Twilight is still a filly under Celestia’s tutelage, this story takes place in an AU where Shining Armor breaks up with Cadance upon discovering he’s gay. Still in high school, he and Cadance are now merely best friends, and they hang out regularly with schoolmates Prince Blueblood and Fancy Pants, who are dating. One day their high school gains a new member, a CSGU dropout named Sunburst. It takes no time at all for Shining Armor to become attracted to the stallion.

Amusingly, Sunburst is apparently in the obligatory goth phase of his teenage years; he wears all black and everything in his dorm room is also black. He still has his trademark blue cloak, but it got cursed by bullies at CSGU (bullying being one of the major reasons he dropped out). I don’t know why, but the idea of Sunburst going goth amuses the heck out of me.

To be clear, this story makes no serious attempt to make the ship sail. Yes, Shining and Sunburst quickly start making moves (more Shining than Sunburst, in truth) and are clearly dating by the story’s end a few days later, but that’s just it: it only shows the start of the relationship. Whether it will ultimately succeed is left up in the air.

But that’s alright. I like this a lot more than “love at first sight, love forever” 0stories, and while certain chinks in the pairing’s armor is apparent there’s no need to go all melodramatic about it with a story of this length and narrow focus. On top of that, we get amusing antics from the side characters. Blueblood and Fancy give out surprisingly decent dating advice while also making regular jokes about Shining and Sunburst being a rival “popular couple” for the school. Cadance gleefully goes into “I’mma Ship It And You Can’t Stop Me” mode. And let us not forget filly Twilight Sparkle, still tiny enough to make her anger adorable but also so good at magic she can haggle with Shining over magical favors (“Two books for an undone curse.” “Three!” “Two and ice cream.” “…deal, but you better pay up.”) (nb4 “There’s no such thing as curses!”).

It’s a fun story. Perhaps not very deep, but the characters are endearing (yes, even Blueblood) and the writing inoffensive (though I’m not sure Meteor-Mirage knows what “coy” means). Plus it’s got an unusual pairing, which will work great for those of you seeking that sort of thing.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


When Rainbow Dash performed her sonic rainboom for the first time, it caught royal attention. She’s spent years as the personal student of Princess Celestia, and honestly? It’s really cramping her style. After the two of them get into a nasty fight, Rainbow decides it’s time to run away cool off and stretch her wings in a new setting. This leads her to visit a little place called Ponyville…

So yeah, this is Friendship is Magic retold with Rainbow Dash in Twilight’s place. You know what’s going on.

Luckily for all of us, Trinary didn’t bother to recreate the episodes 1-to-1 like so many authors. While the players are all the same, the situation is drastically altered, possibly in response to criticisms of the episodes themselves. The relationship between Rainbow Dash and Celestia has a high priority here, complete with a pre-Nightmare Moon scene in which the two have a last-minute talk about what is coming and where Celestia would be during the main events. Indeed, Rainbow’s personal relationship with Celestia eats up a lot of her private attention before, during, and after the journey through the Everfree.

There’s also new characters involved. Zecora is introduced early, already knowing exactly what the Mane Six need to do to defeat Nightmare Moon but being cryptic with her (pretty stellar) rhyming and guiding them on their journey through the forest. Ditzy Doo is introduced as a sister figure for Rainbow, and Shining Armor is present as Rainbow’s crush; both play a role in the ongoing events.

On top of that, the challenges faced within the forest are completely different – and more personal – for each of the Mane Six. From Applejack being honest no matter the consequences to Twilight having to stand up for herself and her friends in a magic duel, every trial is completely reimagined and most are more high-risk than the show’s. This is easily the best thing the author could have done to keep the events from being stale.

And when the fight’s done, the story isn’t; Rainbow Dash gets to have a talk with Luna so that she can establish for herself that, yes, Nightmare Moon and Luna are not the same. There’s even an entire chapter devoted to Rainbow and Celestia having a surprisingly long and detailed argument about how the princess treated the events and Rainbow in particular, leading to a severe breach of faith for the prized student that also gets addressed before the story ends.

It’s quite the full package and certainly one of the better approaches to the overarching ‘Friendship is Magic Reimagined’ concept I’ve seen. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its hiccups.

Take, for example, the necklace scene. An entire chapter, complete with a song and dance number, is devoted to Rarity realizing and re-acquiring a necklace she lost during the journey. A necklace which was never so much as hinted at prior to this chapter but which, supposedly, she’d had with her all along. And while the necklace does become important later, the whole chapter felt like a waste of words. It clearly exists solely for the purpose of introducing the necklace in the first place. That could and should have been done when Rarity was first introduced as a character, and we certainly didn’t need to blow ~1,700 words (plus a whole song) on it.

There are a few odd, never-explained inconsistencies. For example, why is Rarity’s Element green? You read that right, green. Her element is purple, author. Is this meant to be some sort of joke about how Rarity supposedly hates the color green?

But the most frustrating part is how the writing tends to be telly. Honestly, I just couldn’t get into the narrative. It’s simple, direct, and tells us things that could be (and are) handled strictly through dialogue, body language, et cetera. During the dialogue-heavy scenes I could sometimes skip the narrative entirely for said dialogue because it was giving me everything I needed. You don’t need to go into detail about why Rainbow is pissed at Celestia, author, the context is already staring us in the face!

So there are issues. Fortunately, I feel like the good parts make up for it enough to warrant a positive rating.

I should note that this is one of the really early (2012) stories of the site, and Trinary apparently wrote a complete overhaul of the concept in 2018 that I might want to read someday, just for the sake of seeing how the author has improved. In the meantime, there are four direct sequels. A pity there’s no indication of which ones you are meant to read first, but I’ll take that to mean they’re meant to be simultaneous in chronology and reading the shorter ones in order of writing won’t cause any spoilers for the others.

Content-wise, this was an excellent recreation of Friendship is Magic. It has some issues, but anyone looking for a capable re-imagining of the concept will likely find something worthwhile here.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Friendship is EmpathyPretty Good


Requiem for a Friend

13,385 Words
By Math Spook
Requested by Math Spook

It came suddenly, with no warning whatsoever. A simple, easy-to-treat condition that nopony noticed until it was too late. Now Vinyl Scratch is dead, and Octavia’s life has been turned inside out.

Have you ever read a story that made you want to stop everything, grab the first person you see and tell them “You’ve got to read this!”? This story did that for me. For the first time I can think of, I regret my review schedule not because of how much I have to do or because I want to read something and I can’t, but because I just read something I loved so much that I want to break all my own rules and shove it to the forefront of my very next blog.

Which I did not do, but boy was it tempting.

The story opens with the reveal of Octavia practicing for what she considers the single saddest piece in music history when she receives word that her roommate, Vinyl Scratch, has very suddenly died from a long-unnoticed medical condition. What follows is a look into the chaotic mess that is Octavia’s mind as she struggles to deal with this loss.

The first thing to bring up is the depiction of Vinyl and her methods of communication. I’ve seen Vinyl interpreted as a somewhat rude/tactless chatterbox. I’ve also seen her as a mute, which has always been my favorite interpretation. But Math Spook goes elsewhere: Vinyl communicates in this story via sounds. She sings notes, makes noises, or works with instruments. It’s not that she can’t speak, it’s just that the world makes more sense to her through noise. Not only is this quite the original take, Math Spook manages to make it work with surprising effectiveness.

We have stories of Vinyl’s and Octavia’s relationship; how they met, how they became roommates, and how they became best friends. Such things are commonplace in stories of this sort, but Math Spook makes it a touch better than the usual through vivid descriptions and a certain chaotic interplay where you never quite know when Octavia will be relating the past or the present. This isn’t confusing at all, but instead orchestrated as a means of channeling Octavia’s overwhelming grief, where at times she finds herself reminiscing about some moment in their relationship due to something in the real world bringing back memories.

That’s the thing that really catches my attention with this one: the story is full of common scenes you’d expect to see, like a funeral and the consolation of companions and so on, but somehow every one feels like more than that. Every scene is a piece of a greater whole, collectively encapsulating the totality of Octavia’s maddening grief. And I do mean “maddening”; her final big breakdown is a powerful, painful thing to watch.

Another favorite element is the constant defensive insistence on Octavia’s part, a self-protective instinct that tries to drive away all thoughts of companionship. For every pony she meets, she has some excuse as to why they aren’t “friends” or really anything close or warranting extra attention. Rarity is just her tailor, Jasmine is just an overly conversational provider of exquisite tea blends…

Vinyl is just her roommate. A roommate who she always looks forward to seeing after travels for work, who she loves to jam with, whom she wrote music with, whose hoofsteps when she comes home at night after a gig comfort Octavia and lull her into peaceful sleep. Just a roommate. Not a friend, and certainly not a pony worth crying about. Ignore these traitorous tears.

And all of it tied together by that one treacherous note, the saddest song in all music history, the song that Octavia is fiercely, wildly determined to get absolutely perfect in this next solo performance. A note that she’ll never get right no matter how long and how hard she practices.

If I had any reservations at all about this story, it is but one: a lot of the material is described through music. Musical notes, musical terminology, musical concepts. I am not exactly well-versed in such things, and it can make the intended ideas being passed along feel vague. This didn’t hinder my appreciation of the story in the slightest, and for those familiar with them it will probably be a boon. But I can see the possibility of some people not appreciating such terminology being the primary tool for Octavia’s narrative descriptions, so I figure it warrants pointing out.

I’ve read a great many stories about grief and getting over the loss of a loved one, enough so that most have become rather trite for me. Not this. It combines the joy of a friendship well-lived with a poetic agony of loss in a way that is nothing short of beautiful. This is above and beyond the best; it sets the bar so high I question if it will ever see its like again. It’s a fantastic introduction to Math Spook’s library, and one I cannot recommend enough.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Twilight has managed to combine all of her favorite things into a single event: a literary symposium and book signing. It’s got books, it requires checklists, she’s got her friends to help out, and it earned her a note of approval from Celestia. All is good in the world. Good, that is, until the authors arrive.

Generally silly and pointless, this story seems to exist mostly to ponify certain authors. It does feature A.K. Yearling, but outside of the canon we’ve got ponifications of, say, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Rice Burroughs. The big joke is that nopony in Equestria writes fiction, so Burroughs’ ponification is a jungle pony who dresses in tiger skins and speaks like a cave man while Lovecraft’s ponification is a worshiper of genuine eldritch abominations (and possibly is one himself).

It’s silly and fun, sure. But it also seems to lack any point beyond what we see on the surface. It’s a joke fic serving no higher purpose than to be a joke fic. If that works for you, then by all means give it a go.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Screwball Mio AmoréPretty Good
Screwball OverPretty Good
The Turning of the Screwball - The Strange Case of Button StitchPretty Good
The White MarePretty Good
Out of the NestWorth It


Cheese Sandwich invites Pinkie and all her friends to his New Years Eve party. Surprisingly, she accepts. Now Cheese just needs to enact his dastardly romantic plan, which is… not at silly as you might expect.

You know, I’ve never mentioned it before but I actually consider Pinkie Pie the most attractive of the EqG. Not in terms of fanart and other such works, but in canon. Any time I see a screenshot of the girls’ human variants, provided Pinkie isn’t being ridiculous (as Pinkies do), she always strikes me as the most photogenic. No point to saying so, it’s just that the cover art reminded me of it.

Anyway, this is a simple and traditional romance with no bells and whistles. Pinkie Pie and the girls attend a Cheese Party, then Cheese comes on to Pinkie in the least silly and most gentlemanly way. Pause for Pinkie panicking and going to Rarity for advice, then a romantic (and chaste) rendezvous on the roof. The end.

Simple. Traditional.

I suppose the real question is, do you like simple and traditional romances? Because seriously, there’s nothing to make this one stand out from every other romance. It’s very tame. Would “vanilla” be an appropriate term in this case? So if you’re going to get into it, you need to be looking for that kind of story. You won’t find drama, you won’t find Cheese Sandwich and Pinkie Pie having goofy shenanigans, and there will be no effort at flowery narrative.

If that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, have at it. I myself prefer my romances to have a bit more… flavor, but there’s nothing wrong with the story. It’s just bare bones, is all.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Study DateWorth It


Granny Smith was there when Pear Butter died. She'll also be there when Applejack dies. Inevitably, when these times come around, ponies ask the obvious question: why does she keep living? The answer is as weird as it is tragic.

Long story short: Granny Smith is a fruit vampire, similar to how Fluttershy became Flutterbat. But also different, both because of how it happened and the fact that she retains her equine intellect. And if you're reading this and you put the pieces together with my opener, then...

Yep. It's an "immortality sucks" story. You are free to yawn now.

But there are some advantages, starting with the fact that the story is centered around Granny Smith instead of one of the alicorns. Plus there's the comedic bits, particularly the part where Granny first wakes up from being "dead" and how her family reacts to that. And then there's the ending, which is poetic in ways the rest of the story blatantly defies being.

While I like the individual bits, I can't shake the feeling that The Fool is trying to juggle too many moods in such a short story. The tonal shifts come too fast and give us events too emotionally removed from one another; it's like the author couldn't decide what kind of story they wanted. Or perhaps they wanted a somber story but threw in the humor bits out of fear that the story would be "too serious to handle" otherwise? I'm not sure, but it certainly feels off.

Not bad, but not quite 'there' either.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Another Slice of PiePretty Good
The Magician and the FiddlerWorth It


Fluttershy has all the animals staying at the Sanctuary now, and that means that it gets quiet at her cottage at night. Very quiet. And lonely. It’s enough to drive a mare mad. Fluttershy has thus decided that she would like to, quote, “find somepony”. But before she can do that, she has to figure out what kind of pony she wants to find.

This was adorable as only Fluttershy can be. The story is a personal battle in which she goes around hoping to find an answer to her sexual identity, a topic she’d never addressed before for simply having been too busy. But how she goes about it is… Well, let’s just say it’s clear she is lacking in experience. From a jaunt to a local library (that isn’t also housing an alicorn) to spending time at the wrong kind of bar, Fluttershy will be in for a struggle that is every bit as embarrassing as it is amusing.

Yet as amusing as it is, Miller Minus doesn’t shy away from the fact that it is embarrassing, and at times mortifying. Sexuality can be scary for your average pony, and Fluttershy is not that by any means. It’s an interesting thing that there are certain words Fluttershy struggles to use, not because they’re “bad” but because the idea of how they might relate to her only heightens her uncertainty and confusion. Throw in a Luna cameo that unintentionally helps Fluttershy figure herself out, and finish it all up with Rarity being the best (good: platonic; acceptable: extroverted) friend a mare could ask for, and you’ve got a fun and tasteful little story about Fluttershy being brave in the face of her self-identity crisis.

This was cute, but also surprisingly relatable. Give it a go if you want to watch a very well-characterized Fluttershy getting out there to answer some of the most embarrassing of personal queries.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
AnalemmaPretty Good
In The Belly Of The LightsWorth It


Adagio’s wife wants to have a game night with her friends, so that’s what they do, because Adagio loves Sunset and is willing to put up with such things for her sake. But when their game of Monopoly doesn’t go well for the siren, she decides it’s time to… uneven the odds.

Now this is how you play Monopoly!

Simply put, Adagio declares herself the President of Monopoly and (somehow) manages to convince her fellow players – Sunset, Rainbow Dash, and the OTP commonly known as RariJack – to play along. While I can’t say I ever went that far in the game, it does remind me of a few of my more interesting plays with my cousins (some of which were promptly banned once said games were over).

A silly slice-of-life tale starring SunDagio, mostly with Adagio trying to make herself above the rules (as Adagios do). Also with a sprinkling of romance as Adagio tries to keep in Sunset’s good graces throughout the game. If that appeals to you, then by all means jump in. I personally greatly enjoyed it, although that’s mostly due to enjoying watching Adagio bend the rules and being the Master Of All She Surveys So Long As Her Wife Is Okay With It.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Lingering TouchWorth It


Bonus Review: Where the Drowned Girls Go

150 Pages
By Seanon McGuire
Published 2021

Cora Miller had been a mermaid once. But she had to flee that world, on account of the Drowned Gods who seek to claim her. She’d been living at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, which was founded specifically for people like Cora, but she finds herself unconvinced that the school is helping. And so she decides to transfer to the Whitethorn Institute, a rival boarding school with a notorious reputation that she believes can finally let her escape the Drowned Gods’ call. She soon learns, however, that this place is far more of a prison than it is a school.

This is the seventh book in a series, and I had no way to know that by looking at the cover. Still, it’s easy to follow even without any knowledge of the series. It is set in a universe where there are multiple worlds – alternate dimensions? – connected by magical doors which appear to people when they feel they don’t belong in the world they were born in. Usually, these people are children, and they appear more commonly for girls (although the why is not specified, at least not in this book). Our protagonist, Cora, went through a door to a place called The Trenches, where she happily lived as a mermaid for an untold time. Then she was lured to another world called The Moors, where she met the Lovecraftian Drowned Gods. She fled back to the “real” world in hopes of escaping them, but they constantly whisper to her, threatening to pull her back into their clutches at any moment.

Much of the story is set in the Whitethorn Institute. The school promises to make children forget about the doors and what they discovered behind them, and Cora volunteered to attend hoping that forgetting would make the Drowned Gods leave her alone forever. She quickly discovers that the Whitethorn Institute is, as stated earlier, a literal prison for children with strict rules, harsh lessons, and a fierce determination to crush all sense of individuality, creativity, and joy from its student body. It even has solitary confinement, where students have to sit in a white room where the lights are always on without food or drink, sometimes for days.

This moves very fast, Telling you everything you need to know and jumping from situation to situation like lightning. This doesn’t detract from the plot, however, which follows Cora as she tries to make friends with her dorm mates (some of whom are not at all inclined to play along), fights to ignore the pull of the Drowned Gods, and seeks to escape the Institute by whatever means necessary. Joining her is the mysterious Sumiko, who died once but was brought back to life by a candy man, Emily who once lived in a world where it was Halloween every day (I want that door!), Regan who can talk to horses and things like horses (I strongly suspect she's based on Megan from oldschool MLP), Stephanie who lived with dinosaurs, the nameless girl whose identity was stolen by a rat king, and Rowena who fell through a time door. Sometimes friends, sometimes enemies, these characters are interesting from start to finish as they gradually unravel the truth about one another and the Institute they are all trapped in – some of them willingly.

This story fascinates me, and after doing a little research I think I’d like to read the other stories in the series. While I reiterate that you don’t need to have read them to get what is happening here, it’s clear that there are some references to past events, such as how Sumiko died and came back to life. I am very much interested in learning more, especially considering Sumi was my favorite character.

This was a quick, fun read, and I look forward to exploring the rest of the series in the near future.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!


Stories for Next Time:

The Mystery of the Old Ponyville Time Capsule by GrangeDisplay
Oh My... Did I Misread the Signs? by Blue Dragon
delivery. by Buck Swisher
Stages On Life's Way by Cynewulf
Insomnia by Perfectly Insane
Tearek by RainbowBob 
Silver Kisses by MegatronsPen
Old Pony Tales for Hearth and Home: A Collection by the Quill Siblings by Charcoal Quill
On Princesses by Between Lines
Woohoo, We’re About to Crash by Selbi


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Reading Progress:

Mother of Invention
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Blogs Completed Through:
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Comments ( 24 )

The transitional writing When I Rule The World, I’ll Plant Flowers engages in, especially where skimming over events that should actually be shown is concerned, is quite a sore spot for me, so even if you'd given the fic a higher rating, that would be a hard pass for me. Pity, as I like the concept.

For what it's worth, I do remember liking Rainbows and Royalty at the time, and even at the time, the surplus of "redo the pilot" fics had raised the minimum standard for me. So I can take your word on that. Still not one I'll ever reread – I noticed the telly writing even then, and the writing direction hiccups sound familiar – and while the reboot of the story was better, my standards for such had raised by the time I looked at it that I actually didn't finish it. But, this is a highly-read early fic, so it's only fitting you got around to it.

I’ve also seen her [Vinyl] as a mute, which has always been my favorite interpretation.

Amen to that, brother. This take is rarer than it should be, and as someone who has rather tired of Vinyl as a brash chatterbox, if I am to read a story about Vinyl, I'd much rather have this. But this fic's take sounds pretty great too!

As for the fic, overcoming the grief of loss is a genre that has become rather trite for me too, but I trust that if you're that enthusiastic about it, it's worth it. Besides, it's only 13K, so I'll add it to the list. Apparently it was featured by TCC56 earlier this year, but I missed it, probably because there was another Octavia fic there I'd already read to gush about. :twilightsheepish:

You know, I’ve never mentioned it before but I actually consider Pinkie Pie the most attractive of the EqG.

Not that I ever think of these cartoon character in that light even slightly, but I can see it. Her bubbly, infectious attitude can go a long way towards making one seem confident and assured without being egotistical or boastful about it, and that kind of relaxed confidence can really make one seem more attractive.

Finally, I've read Find Out Who I Am before, and gave it a Decent rating. Possibly that might have been a bit mild, judging by your take? Not drastically enough to the point of me feeling compelled to reread it to check, but I'll endorse your take.

TCC56 #2 · 2 weeks ago · · ·

Requiem for a Friend

I'll absolutely stan for this one. Math Spook's one of my top new authors for the last year and this is an absolutely wonderful piece.

I myself prefer my romances to have a bit more… flavor

While I can see the need for a little tea in one's romances, I understand that it can be difficult when using Cheese and Pinkie. One is a fictional character where there are a lot of holes you can fill for backstory and personality, but the other is based on a real person. Since I've been working on a story like this myself, I can honestly say that it's difficult to find anything other than the guy's songs. He didn't do a lot of interviews over the years and his actual private life is very private. One of the few celebrities it's hard to get information on. Personally, at least, it feels a little weird to fill in details for somebody I can put a real name and face to. But, based on a guy who is said to be polite, reserved, and christian, I can see how you get a very vanilla romance out of it.

You know, I’ve never mentioned it before but I actually consider Pinkie Pie the most attractive of the EqG. Not in terms of fanart and other such works, but in canon.

I can't say I see it. I also don't think I've ever thought about this either, though. Bias included I'd say Applejack based on her relatively human skin tone, or Dash based on her outfit with the leggings. Otherwise, the EQG designs and proportions have always been strange to me up until the later parts of the series which is where I'd stopped watching a lot of it.

Speaking of attention, how many of you noticed that I released a story a couple weeks ago? Given that the story has barely over 100 views as of writing, not many I bet. Now, I’m not bringing this up to whine about the numbers and beg people to read the story. I’m bringing this up to point out that even though I have 2k followers, it didn’t equate to immediate success.

I know what you mean, if you post a full story in one go it feels like a coin toss as to weather or not it gets noticed. There are factors you can manage to increase the chances of people seeing and whatnot but I find nowadays that pretty good stories can go relatively unnoticed quite easily.

Like you said, you want views and all but other than shameless self-promotion the only way to get them seems to be just hoping for the best.

(I’m not trying to complain about it or anything, just point it out, as this scenario isn’t the case for me. I just have one story that I update that’s doing relatively well)

I accidentally spilled too much flavor into my romance, I think... 👉👈:twilightblush:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

you definitely caught my attention with Requiem for a Friend there 🙄

Thanks for giving a shout-out to Axtara - Magic and Mischief!

So Long As Her Wife Is Okay With It.

I love that part :rainbowlaugh: Thanks for the review! I'm curious what made you pick one of my stories for review, but it was still a nice review nonetheless~ Thanks for the compliments! Since you liked Dazzle for President, you may also like another comedic story of mine, The Princess of Friendship... With Benefits?

Again, thanks for the review!

I personally greatly enjoyed it, although that’s mostly due to enjoying watching Adagio bend the rules and being the Master Of All She Surveys So Long As Her Wife Is Okay With It.

Sold!:pinkiehappy:

I've read "An Apple a Day," but I can't figure out under what circumstances, as I don't have any notes on it. It was probably a review request at the /fic/ Training Grounds, since I lost my file of those, the timing of its publishing might fit that, and I can't think of any other way I wouldn't have notes. But I don't remember anything about it, so I don't know what my opinion of it was.

Thank you for your kind words. That story was informed both by my experiences with grief and my enjoyment of classical music. I worked quite hard on it, and I think it's the best thing I've written. (Which means that if you pick up something else of mine, prepare for disappointment! There's even a one-in-three chance you'll get a revolting crackfic!)

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5788852

Not that I ever think of these cartoon character in that light even slightly, but I can see it. Her bubbly, infectious attitude can go a long way towards making one seem confident and assured without being egotistical or boastful about it, and that kind of relaxed confidence can really make one seem more attractive.

I don't even mean it like that, I mean just a general photogenic nature. It's like, looking at screenshots of the other girls I'm more often than not just thinking about the scene the shot was taken from or moving on because it's not what I as looking for. But if the shot happens to involve Pinkie by herself, not doing anything exaggerated, I finding myself stopping and thinking "that's a good picture". It just feels like that happens more for her than any of the others.

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5788873
I honestly don't get this. I never look at Cheese as "oh, he's just Weird Al ponified". I can see why anyone would look at him that way, but for me, he's Cheese Sandwich, not Weird Al. In my mind they are separate individuals, and I am perfectly capable of devising my own interpretation of Cheese's character completely removed from Weird Al.

But that's really beside the point. When I said "vanilla", I meant a general lack of creativity. There's no effort to make the story interesting beyond the fact that it is a romance. Being "polite, reserved, and christian" doesn't mean you're incapable of literary flare and bouts of creativity. Dante's Inferno? Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God? Paradise Lost? Even if there's a good reason for Cheese to go the typical romantic route for Pinkie (and I can think of some good in-character reasons to do so), there's nothing saying the narrative couldn't get flowery or witty with it, or some work couldn't be done to enhance the setting/atmosphere.

Bias included I'd say Applejack based on her relatively human skin tone

Or Sunset, if you're into tans.

But as I was trying to say to Ghost Mike above, I'm not talking about sexiness. I just mean that sometimes a screenshot will have a generally pleasant aesthetic compared to others, and more often than not Pinkie is at the center of them.

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5788879
I generally don't like self-promoting, so I don't do it often unless I feel a story is truly underappreciated. That said, it can be really annoying when a story you spent maybe an hour on and you don't feel is all that great becomes the most popular fic of your career, vs. the story you devoted more than a year to and nobody noticed its release.

Meh, the trials and tribble-ations of the common author, amiright?

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5788891
Eh, happens to all of us.

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5788954
Uh, it's called Dazzle for President. Why wouldn't I want to get in on that?

Since you liked Dazzle for President, you may also like another comedic story of mine, The Princess of Friendship... With Benefits?

Is that a request? That sounds like a request. Say the magic words!

5789056
Oh, it wasn't a request. XD I was just saying that I have another story that might strike your fancy since you liked this one. :twilightsmile: However, if you would want to make a review of it, I would not be opposed to getting an actual human review. :rainbowlaugh: The only review I got for The Princess of Friendship... With Benefits? was made by an AI. So, if you ended up reading that fic, I'd love to see your thoughts on it!

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5789076
And this is why I'm being semantic about review requests these days. Sometimes it can be hard to tell. I even went just now and added to my request rules to try and clarify this kind of thing.

5789079
I understand how hard it can be to tell what people are saying/asking for sometimes :rainbowlaugh: Can you believe I've been asked for free story requests five times without them actually saying the words "Could you write a story like..."? Instead, they just sort of hint at it. lol But yeah, if I was actually requesting a review, I'd be pretty straight forward about it. :twilightsmile:

5789048
Okay, to me the word vanilla implies a genre, i.e. it's a straight traditional romance, which is what I would expect from the pony based on Weird Al. On the other side of this, I am totally the opposite in that I really don't see cheese much as a pony and more as like the ponification of the man himself. It would be the difference between Twilight and Tara Strong's pony. One is a character in a series and the other is a representation of herself in this world sort of thing. I don't really separate the person from the pony.

I'm not talking about sexiness

I understand what you're saying, I just don't see it.
And besides, Sunset looks like she has jaundice, not a tan to me.

Is there a link to this Ponicon convention? I've tried searching for one, but Google has failed me. I just wanted to see the details of the convention we're trying to send Estee to.

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5789341
Good question! I did some digging and finally found what appears to be the official blog. It's entirely in Japanese so you'll have to get the site translated (unless you happen to know Japanese), but it's clearly still active. They've even got an intro video starring an anime-style Rainbow Dash.

I also located what appears to be the con's official Facebook page, which is also mostly in Japanese but does have a little English here and there.

5789380
Thank you for that. That does help. I do read some Japanese, and make do with translation apps for the rest of it. It is somewhat odd that the last thing they mention on the blog is the 2024 convention. I did not see any details about 2025 yet. Perhaps more details will be forthcoming.

PaulAsaran
Site Blogger

5789442
I think Estee is planning ahead in that regard, as in she's presuming that there will be a 2025 con and trying to get ahead on the inevitable cost.

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