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Bad Horse


Beneath the microscope, you contain galaxies.

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Jan
23rd
2014

Write-off: Yay me! · 8:43pm Jan 23rd, 2014

The results from January’s write-off are in, and my story, Moments, took second place. :yay:

Before you click that link and read it, you should know I’m pretty sure I’m going to add three more chapters and publish it on the infection. I’ve figured out one way to make it a happier story. (By ‘happier’ I mean everypony will finally get to die in the end. No, wait, really; it’ll be sweet. Trust me. :trixieshiftright:) [ADDED: The extended, fimfiction version is here.]

(My voice recognition software hears ‘fimfiction’ as ‘the infection’. I can’t argue with that.) [1]

If you want to look over just some of the competition stories, go to the discussion thread and read Pav Feira’s reviews. He’s good at highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of stories. (It’s a shame about that terrible accident he’s going to have before the next write-off. He keeps winning them, you see.)

Does placing second mean anything? Meh. It means something, but I see my favorite stories from the competition spread out all across the results, from “All of it, For Her” at the top to “The Ponies we Love” by new author Axis of Rotation (incomplete, but still more intriguing to me than any of the others--separate post on that later) at the bottom. The competition was tough enough that the final ranking was IMHO almost arbitrary, more noise and personal preferences than true quality.

And yet I realized, as 2AM approached, that I cared about my story’s ranking. I cared a lot. Why? I already have my opinion of it, and the opinions of some people whose judgement I trust more than voting results. And I don’t believe ranking comedies, slice-of-life, and tragedies against each other is meaningful. My opinion of my story wouldn’t change if it came in first or if it came in last. For some stories it would, but not this one.

So do I care because I want to know that other people like what I wrote? I don’t think so. How much of a warm fuzzy feeling (or deliciously cold and dark) I get from my stories isn’t affected by the thumb counts. That just affects my opinion of the general intelligence of the human race.

I guess I just like the acclaim. Hmm. Not very logical of me. Or else completely logical, if my mammalian brain is making me write fan-fiction to increase my reproductive success. (If so, it really shouldn’t let me write My Little Pony fan-fiction. I should start craving Twilight.)


[1] Ghost, do you see those things like ( and ) up above? They’re called ‘parentheses’. They’re like footnotes, but without the aggravation and wasted time.

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Comments ( 30 )

I got the spoon. :raritywink:

A gentleman footnotes[1], a mere knave puts his or her parentheticals in parentheses--the very notion! Instead of letting the reader get to the footnote at their own pace--respecting them, as you should--you intrude with an impatient demand that your tangent be read right now, instead of savored at a time and place of the reader's choosing. Fie, sir, fie.

Tch. How like an American to think of this, with your impatience, your spray-on cheese, and your polar vortices. Never did get the hang of delayed gratification, did you? It must all be instant, mustn't it?

For shame.


Oh, and the reason you care that the story got second place--well done, by the way!--is that you care that people like your stories. Oh yes. You are human, Bad Horse, human with emotions and such things as that--not an AI hammered cold out of bile, stale hate, and cold contempt. Bwa ha ha ha! Your secret is now out!


[1] Like so!

Oh, fun, Twilight can think of all sorts of other things she wishes she'd done and never got to do, and timeloop just enough of it to realize what she's missed out on. Very heart-warming.

What's your next idea? Rarity discovers the joys of methamphetamine as a way of increasing her workload? Applejack shatters all four limbs and becomes a hopeless lifelong cripple? Pinkie Pie's manic-depression shifts into an incurable lifelong depressive end of the cycle?

I ... probably shouldn't be giving you ideas.

N.B. It was a really good story.

1750503

I was fairly certain he was a horse, actually.

Maybe what's bad about him is the quality of his horse costume. With only him in it, the butt just sort of sags and drags along.

1750569
It's more metaphysical than that. He's such a bad horse, that he's human. It makes sense if you, y'know, if you don't think about it too muc--at all. :pinkiehappy:

Also, the idea of a villain masked as the bottom half of a pantomime horse is--at the same time--one of the funniest and saddest ones ever.

1750585

So a very bad horse is a human? I fear you've just predicted the next great wave of HiE stories.

I was sure I'd read that story before. I know I've seen "asteroid inbound, Equestria doomed, let's philosophize" somewhere before, though I think it was a Celestia piece.

1750633
Oh goody. I always wanted to be a mad prophet of doom. :pinkiecrazy:
Ia! HiE! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh HiE Fm'fikh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Ia!

1750660

That is not dead which can On Hiatus lie,
And with strange updates, even Mary Sues may die.

1750698
:pinkiehappy:

Since we are speaking of Lovecraftian things and of HiE, I'll just quote bit of Ken MacLeod which could--with hardly any modification--pass for a good HiE story:

Do you ever feel, in your caves of steel,
The chill of an ancient fear?
Do you shudder and say, when you pass this way,
A human once walked here?

They've cut off our heads, but we're not dead,
And we're bound by an ancient vow.
That does not sleep which dreams in the deep,
We're the Great Old Ones now!

1750725

That's delightful. *googles*

Would you recommend that book? It looks right up my alley.

1750746
I've not read it[1], but I have read Cassini Division and it is exquisite. Insofar as my recommendation, being blind, is worth anything--I'd suggest it cheerfully.

[1] I have an excuse--where I am the difficulties in acquiring books are tremendous.

1750768

Well, I'll throw a few of his things on the ole Amazon list, then. He looks like he could put a little salve on the hole left by Iain M. Banks, at least.

I'm going to run out of shelf space soon, though, and we're rather out of places to put new bookcases.

1750797

Well, I'll throw a few of his things on the ole Amazon list, then. He looks like he could put a little salve on the hole left by Iain M. Banks, at least.

They are both Scottish, you know. So's Richard Morgan. And Charlie Stross. And Alistair Reynolds.

...is there something in the water in Scotland, and if there is, can we export it worldwide, please?

Anyway, yes, if Iain M. Banks is something you enjoy[1] Ken MacLeod will, indeed, be right up your street.

Also, fun fact: The oddest crossover I ever contemplated was a Banks/MLP one. Based on one sentence in Consider Phlebas.

[1] Excellent taste, sir!

I'm going to run out of shelf space soon, though, and we're rather out of places to put new bookcases.

I feel your pain. I live in a tiny tiny tiny little place, and I only have room for one full-sized bookcase. This has caused me to schlep a lot of my books to my parent's home. Except now they are cross because they have too many books[1], too. Lately I've been extending my shelf-space by playing tetris with my books. It's doing okay, but now I rather think that I'm legally obliged to put a 'Warning! Contents under pressure!" sticker on my bookshelf.

[1] I take that back. You can't have too many books. You can have too little shelf space. Actually you always have too little shelf space. Law of nature.

Congratulations!

Theory: I think you care about your standing because, even if you don't care about the individual reactions of the write-off readers as much as you care about the opinions of the people you trust, this is still an audience and moreover it's an audience you respect.

Featureboxing a story (essentially) means that you've done well in pitching the story; you're doing well among the low-engagement general populace. Getting a story onto EqD means that you've done well (or lucked out) in meeting the arbitrary standards of a small number of gatekeepers. Judging by the comments in the write-off thread, doing well in a write-off means that you've impressed the sort of reader who digs into the story and has the capability for reasoned analysis. That's gold, man. Ego gold. People who care about stories like your stuff.

1750843

Also, fun fact: The oddest crossover I ever contemplated was a Banks/MLP one. Based on one sentence in Consider Phlebas.

Now I desperately wish to know which line it was.

...is there something in the water in Scotland, and if there is, can we export it worldwide, please?

Maybe it's the whiskey? I keep writing with whiskey, but it just makes me goofy instead of visionary.

You can have too little shelf space. Actually you always have too little shelf space. Law of nature.

We had 'enough' for a while, but only because we bought six new cases and retained the old double-case (for a total of 99 linear feet of shelf space) when moving into our new place. The collection has since grown to the limits of its available space, like a papery goldfish.

1750868
I envy your bookshelves and your book collection. So much envy. You have no idea.

Ahem.

Yes.

Anyway.

Regarding which sentence, I'll tell you:
It's on page 466 in the paperback Orbit release and describes the post-Idiran war fate of Stafl-Preonsa Fal Shilde 'Ngeestra dam Crose. The sentence fragment in question is "went primitive without permission on a stage two uncontacted with a tribe of wild horse-women"

Now if you reinterpret horse-women a bit you suddenly have an interesting new facet to Pony history. :pinkiehappy:

1750901

There are two leather and dark wood recliners in the room with the shelves. It's the best stab I can make at Proper Victorian-ish Library within the white plaster and popcorn ceiling confines of the living room of a rented apartment built in 1970 or so. My wife brought perhaps 400 of the books with her when she moved in with me in 2006. There is a reason I married her, you see.

"went primitive without permission on a stage two uncontacted with a tribe of wild horse-women"

And taught Celestia a little something about Referring, or lent her a little trinket to help with it, and suddenly the meteoric rise of two unheralded unicorns into Immortal Alicorn Sisters comes into a sharp new focus. Oh dear.

Now you've got me doing it.

1750994
See? It all fits. It all fits perfectly and is in no way my desperate attempt to somehow get snarky Minds with names like Ravished By The Sheer Implausibility of That Last Statement into MLP. Nope. Not me. :pinkiecrazy:

1750503 Ghost, your love of footnotes is your fatal flaw. [1]


1. And I don't mean "fatal flaw" as in "flaw leading to tragedy". I mean "fatal flaw" as in "the thing likely to lead to your demise." [2]
2. As in, that which makes you a ghost. Isn't that a pretty irony? [3]
3. The delicious irony here is that I can use your flaw to lay the blame for your demise on you, laying a trap for you even while helpfully informing you of your fatal flaw. [1]

1751017

And then word gets out of Contact about the star orbiting a planet and half the minds in known space are suddenly nosing around the system for the novelty value.

And then some drone makes an impolite comment about it being due to the gravitational pull of Celestia's cake-enhanced flanks, and suddenly a GSV is being gently but firmly pushed out of the system while Luna laughs her butt off.

Somehow, this leads to half the Culture cast dying, and Celestia is very put out about it.

1750503

None of you--none--knows the use of the poignard.†

"A patch of rude mechanicals," the lot o' yer! :raritydespair:

† In my mind, a young Sean Connery runs around in spandex jockey shorts serving the harsh and judgmental god Zenodotus.

1750725

As one of the Pretty Good Middle-Aged Ones I couldn't help but notice:

Do you ever feel, in your caves of steel,
The chill of an ancient fear?
Do you shudder and say, when you pass this way,
A human once walked here?

They've cut off our heads, but we're not dead,
And we're bound by an ancient vow.
That does not sleep which dreams in the deep,
We're the Great Old Ones now!

To which I can only reply:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

I likewise noticed my favorites spread out across the voting. :O Quite interesting.

Well congratulations! You know your story reminds me of something my father once said: "The difference between a Greek comedy and a Greek tragedy is that in a Greek comedy, there's one character left alive to bemoan the deaths of all the others."

So I suppose technically...

But no, it really is a sweet story, albeit in your own...inimitable...

...

Idiom, sir?

...Yes! Idiom!

1751029[0]
[0] Trap me in footnotes[1] you say? That puts me in mind of an old saying[2], you know. And your little cycle is nothing[3]--I have seen things you people wouldn't believe--pilcrows[6] on fire, of the shoulder of OED.

To think you could capture me in a cycle of footnotes. It's preposterous. Or perhaps to say it in a language you'd understand.

(It's preposterous.)

[1] Bad Horse, me old china, have you ever heard of the saying[2]
[2] Never challenge a centipede to an arse-kicking contest.
[3] The true challenge is the fractal footnote tree, though recursion[0][4] helps with this a lot, as you tried to do with your little cycle[3].
[4] See also: recursion[4].
[5] A footnote alone. Unconnected. What might happen in this stagnant linguistic-typographical backwater, in this little petri dish of words, what strange and exotic hybrids and mutants may caper, cavort, and gambol? Look, yon goes 'remorsel,' the smallest possible unit of guilt, and tither slithers mimsy, with slithy in tow. And these are merely the closest part of the Footnote Alone, the Fields We Know, in fact. Think what strange amalgamations might dwell deeper, nameless things like q7wr*, a word in search of a meaning, or Chmmr, a name in search of a vowel. Deeper still, the shortest poem, one character long--one that does not appear in any book, on any keyboard--dwells as king of a strange land of typographical innovation, where new and odd symbols swarm on the ragged sea-edge, warmed by a dying Sun. And beyond that, the Ocean of Meaning lapping softly at the shores of the Wordless isle where the three sisters, Tip-of-My-Tongue, Um, and Ah dwell in perfect silence. And below the waves? On the silty ocean floor? What man can say? What man can imagine?
[6] I see your poignard, 1751044, and raise you a pilcrow.


1751032
And leading to new ships being born with names like GCU Oh That's Just a Cupcake in My Eye, GSV Friendship is Magic and its sister vessel GSV Animosity is Mundane.


1751055
It's from a discussion of things Lovecraftian that we got to mentioning Newton's Wake, actually.

But I do love that song. :twilightsmile: The Lovecraft Historical Society does some amazing ones. This one is probably my favorite:

1750862 beat me to the punch. The what matters all the much more because of the who. That said, I'm totally stealing this quote:

How much of a warm fuzzy feeling (or deliciously cold and dark) I get from my stories isn’t affected by the thumb counts. That just affects my opinion of the general intelligence of the human race.

I'm glad Moments did so well! It was a tough call between that and Solstice, but I think I can safely say that Moments was my favorite. It definitely left me thinking! The fact that the three of us were separated by like a point or two is a pretty awesome problem to have. :pinkiehappy:

And you flatter me. :twilightblush: I'll ramble more about All of It in the discussion thread, but as for my reviews, nah. I just know how meaningful it is to receive that kind of detailed, author-blind feedback from cool people, so I try to pay it forward and express my personal reactions as clearly as I can. Nothing more than that.

(It’s a shame about that terrible accident he’s going to have before the next write-off. He keeps winning them, you see.)

As for this... I'm afraid you're too late. The terrible accident happened decades ago.

1750868

Maybe it's the whiskey? I keep writing with whiskey, but it just makes me goofy instead of visionary.

BTW, is this how you psyche yourself up to write? :pinkiecrazy:

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