• Member Since 16th May, 2013
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Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords and reviews. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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  • Thursday
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCCXXIV

    So this weekend I decided I wanted to watch a Miyazaki movie, if only because HBO appears to have all of them. Plus I was feeling nostalgic. I’ve seen quite a few, including some of the lesser known ones like Porco Rosso, Pom Poko and The Wind Rises. But it appears I’ve still got some watching to do, because I discovered quite a few I’d not seen before. Rather than

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    18 comments · 306 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCCXXIII

    Hello everyone, and welcome to 2023! As a reminder, from here on out these blogs will be happening only once every other week instead of weekly, which is intended to free up some of my own time for things other than reading horsewords. As a consolation prize, I’m going to try to go back to my old 10-reviews-per-blog system. We shall see if I’m able to keep it up all year.

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    30 comments · 490 views
  • 5 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCCXXII

    This is it, folks. The end of the year for me. I decided many months ago that the last week of this year and the first of next year would be without reviews. So yeah, after this you’ll be getting nothing from me until January 12. I hope nobody suffers too badly from withdrawal (myself included).

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    13 comments · 499 views

I Am Never Doing This Again (Warning! Long Blog Incoming!) · 12:20am Oct 20th, 2015

105 minifics in this month's writeoff. You can bet your Best Pony I won't try this a second time. From now on, I only review the stories I get by luck of the draw. In fact, I wouldn't even call the following 'reviews.' They're more like commentaries, because I limited each to 100 words or less. This didn't give me anywhere near enough room to say everything I wanted to, and sometimes my criticisms had to be cut painfully short. So yeah, these won't be as high-quality as my usual reviews.

Please keep in mind that the following commentaries were written in no specific order before I knew who wrote what or what their ranking would be. To those of you who participated in the writeoff contest, these commentaries are simply copy/pasted from the ones I wrote in the discussion thread, so you won't be seeing anything new here.

Alrighty then! Without further ado, here's the long, long, looooooong list!

093: The Hills
Rank: Voluntary Disqualification

What in Sam Hill is this? You’ll never be able to convince me that this makes any sense considering the small amount of info we are given. Spike working for the mob? I call bull. And you know half the readers are going to presume his wife is Rarity, which means justification is needed for her to be a whore in total defiance of her character.

This concept might have worked with one of the longfic contests, where the author has time to give us some real context and defend the things being shown, but as a minific it’s indefensible.

What is this? No, seriously, what did I just read?

There are two possibilities here; either the author is very new to writing, or the author is actively trying to get a wooden spoon. Terrible Matrix reference, tasteless terrorism and 9/11 reference, and I suspect the author is smiling at my annoyance. At any rate, there’s so much wrong with this story that a mere 100 words would never suffice, and I shall not try.

But if I give it a crappy vote, have I succumbed to inevitability?


036: With a Side of Tomato Sauce
By VengefulSpirit (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 103/105

This did not amuse me. I’m all for dark humor (might I recommend Stepan Chapman’s The Stiff and The Stile?), but this one felt off. Maybe it’s just that I’m actually fond of Daring Do, and her legitimate fear (and uncharacteristic inability to think under pressure) disturbed me both in terms of the story style and as an individual.

And, of course, there’s no purpose served except perhaps to give less sensitive individuals a chuckle or two, after which they move on to the next forgettable story.

Creative title is creative.

Another hard sell, attempting to rewrite the facts with insufficient evidence – and even ignoring a few blatant inconsistencies. I should have felt dread here, but the sheer unbelievability of the concept kept that from me. If there had been some way to eliminate all of the issues in the 750 words available, I might have been more affected by this.

I’m a fan of dark stories, but my appreciation of them depends upon the emotion they evoke. I’m sorry to say this one fell flat.

To sum this story up in the easiest way: nothing happened. And it’s not the kind of nothing you can learn from, either. This story doesn’t seem to have a purpose or a theme, it just… came to be. Discord is entertained and Twilight doesn’t appear to have learned anything. I think less focus on the game and more on Discord’s ‘lesson’ would have done wonders for this story.

Weird stuff here, including the curious Bioshock reference of a title. The whole thing makes me think of Drosselmeyer from the anime Princess Tutu; I kept waiting for the part involving words written in blood.

In that way, I enjoyed it.

At the same time, I found myself wondering at the overall purpose of the story. Is it some kind of dissertation on fate, or just a mad old wizard writing whatever comes to mind? Stories like this are either indications of my feeble mind or of me trying to dig too deep for something that isn’t there.

032: Controlled Pawn
By ILM126 (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 99/105

Three instances of the phrase “each other” within 16 words, in the first three paragraphs.


Inexplicably OP (and presumably OC) villains, narrative that is telly in the extreme, abundant grammatical errors, and a concept as obvious as a meteor crashing into Boston Harbor. One big bag of nnnope.

But then there’s that opening set of lines, and I wonder…

Are we being played?

This is either a legitimate and failed attempt at making a good story, or it’s a clever game conjured up in a similar vein as The plane choice.

This entire contest is like one giant example of why context is so important. Is this an ‘immortality sucks’ story? Or did Twilight not take Tirek’s deal and now all her friends are dead? Or did some other calamity come along? I’d be okay (mostly) with all of those options if we had even a tiny clue as to which it was.

The story also suffers from some rough draft issues, incomplete and awkward sentences, being the most blatant. It’s really too bad, because this one had potential.

013: The Inevitability of a Wooden Spoon
By VengefulSpirit (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 97/105

The ladles! Won’t somepony please think of the ladles!

It's just a wooden spoon, after all.

It is just a wooden spoon. I don’t know if this is really clever or a throw-away line desperate for a chuckle or two. I’m leaning towards the former. As disdainful as I tend to be regarding blatancy, and this is as blatant as they come, I rather enjoyed this one. I’ve always been fond of the idea of putting perspective to things normally taken for granted.

Ah, the open-ended story. I’m fully aware of what my choice would have been (as an author, not as Sweetie Drops). Then again, maybe I’d have gone the other way to avoid being predictable.

...yep, there’s the prompt’s trap.

This story was decent, but also felt too direct. The use of first person narrative (I got it right this time, Spooky!) is as much a no-no to me as second-person, and this one suffers from all the potential pitfalls of the style. Telling us exactly what Sweetie Drops is thinking is the easiest way to destroy the potential emotional impact.

075: The Pinkie Parable
By PorsineSnake (No FimFic account found)
Rank: 95/105

Uh… well. That happened.

While I fully approve of even Discord being startled by what Pinkie can do, I think a story starring just the two of them is still obligated to follow at least some level of logic. It strikes me as wanting to be really deep, but does so in the way a kid wanting to be an olympic swimmer panics and flails when he gets to the deep end. Couple that with the first draft errors and I lost interest quickly.

035: Horseshoe Theory
By axxuy (No FimFic account found)
Rank: 94/105

I sooooo want to make a political one-liner, which would almost certainly earn me the wrath of 90% of the site. So yeah, not going there.

More than anything, I am reminded of the wonderful and wonderfully atrocious The Code's Apprentice, which tackled the same subject in a far less appropriate manner. The only issue I have with this version is that, while it acknowledges the problem exists, it fails to suggest a solution. I suppose that’s better than forcing blatantly OoC behavior onto characters in order to architect one, though.

Here I was gonna make some not-at-all witty note about unoriginal titles… then I read the last line. OKnvm.

Although this was a somewhat effective use of talking heads, I think it needs a bit of polishing. Not everything was as clear as it could have been, and more than once I noted some very confusing mistakes that knocked me out of the story completely (like calling their son a ‘filly’). And using R63’d Trixie as the second main character is questionable, especially with the choice of style.

Am I missing something? Did Fluttershy once become Flutterhulk in the comics without being in a Power Ponies book, or something else outside of show continuity of that sort? Otherwise I have no idea why Flutterhulk would enter this picture.

I did like the handling of Fluttershy’s latent Flutterbat traits, though – I do subscribe to the notion that she was fully reformed. As far as the author’s query… I did get a little tension in there, but it probably could have been stronger overall.

I liked the story, even if I felt it could have been more.

I don’t know if this was clever or dumb, so I’ll take the middle road. When it started I was thinking ‘Pinkie,’ but by the third line it had Disco Chord all over it. It’s also an unorthodox approach to the the prompt, so I suppose it leans more towards clever.

Even so, it doesn’t seem to do anything, except perhaps exist. I think if there had been some kind of message or theme then this story might have been better. As it is, it feels like a lot of silliness for no gain.

I can’t decide if this is meta or not. I almost get the feeling that Twilight has found an enchanted book that is ‘talking’ to her, so to speak. It’s rather fun. I also like how it challenges the reader to figure out… well, the subject of the story, really. If I had to describe this story in any one way, it would be ‘subtle depth.’

I liked it. It works with the prompt wonderfully, gives us something to think about, but does it all in a laissez-faire manner that is appealing to read. Nicely done, dear author.

On the surface, this was disappointing. It’s just Button Mash being disappointed in a game that’s cheating him of all his bits.

But somehow, it feels a lot stronger than that. I find myself wondering; is every game the same, or did Button fall into the trap of comfort, ironically leading to his discomfort? I get the impression there’s something stronger going on here, and that the gaming company was a lot smarter than Button might have expected.

In the end, I couldn’t say whether this is a bland story, or a smart one.

092: Laissez-Faire
By VengefulSpirit (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 88/105

Ouch. This one actually hurt a little.

I’ve never been one for social critique, but I still liked this on the whole. Its message ran strong from beginning to end. About the only failure I see is that we aren’t given any indication of Autumn Leaves’ feelings. Yes, we know what happened to her, and yes, we know what drove her to it, but at no point are we given a look inside her head. With 190 words still available, I think the author could have found some way to pull that off.

For what it is? I liked it.

006: Duty
By monokeras
Rank: 87/105

Yeah, this one struck me as a touch ridiculous. It doesn’t even work with the prompt; there’s no ‘illusion of choice’ here, Twilight just let the negatives overwhelm her. There’s a fine difference between not having a choice and choosing to believe that there isn’t one.

I find defeatism extremely unappealing, and it severely hurt my image of this story. Throw in some weird sentence structure and a few other grammatical/stylistic issues and this one flops for me. Take it with a grain of salt, author: I don’t think I’m the target audience.

I’m all for people trying to be clever and experimental, but this went well over the line. I’ll grant that a lot is said with very few words, but at the same time I feel the whole story is out of place due entirely to its formatting. If I wanted to read a comic, I’d go to Derpibooru or DeviantArt.

That being said, the story itself is solid. Given her stringent rules towards the comic’s creation, it becomes apparent that the story is important to Fluttershy. It makes you wonder just how much of it is influenced by personal experience.

004: Troubled Thoughts
By JaketheGinger (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 85/105

This was… alright. I mean, the writing’s decent for the most part, despite a few spots of odd word choice:

That one I will have to give a separate letter for, before you go on.

Before she goes on… what? Reading? I’m trying to make sense of this.

All in all, it just didn’t strike me as emotional as it probably could have been. I think that’s the limitations of length, though; to squeeze in so many topics and get the emotion in there is definitely a challenge. Maybe with some revision?

That’s an interesting choice of title, considering the content. Is it too direct, or designed to make me think so? Is the interpretation to be literal, or is it all in Twilight’s head? And if it’s literal… WTF?

I have no choice but to assume that it’s all in Twilight’s head, otherwise there’s no way whatsoever that this story would exist. Basically, nobody would be doing any of the things happening in the story if it was to be taken literally.

And this leads to a huge number of questions in its own right.

Well, that turned real dark real quick. I liked the character analysis and the steady escalation. It makes me wonder if there was something really wrong in Stormwatcher’s brain cells. I find myself recalling Daemon McRae’s Schadenfreude, which is a curious comparison when you think about it.

All in all, I liked this one. Not spectacular, and its relationship with the prompt is questionable at best, but I liked it anyway.

I am thoroughly disappointed. This was looking to be something really interesting, with Trixie getting to put on a good display, and I was really hoping that Penn and Teller wouldn’tohwait, it was all just for a one-liner at the end of the story.

And no, I am not amused. Not even remotely.

A character study. *bangs his head on the desk* Another great character study!

I’ve never really given Fleetfoot much thought, but this story raises some interesting questions. Conflict avoidance, huh? Doesn’t seem like a common trait for a Wonderbolt, now does it? Consider me intrigued. I especially like how Fleetfoot took the risk in Rainbow’s favor despite not actually liking Rainbow. It has the feeling of some big moment without actually being a big moment.


Gotta admit, this one made me smile. Even though I don’t approve of the whole ‘character meets the author’ trope (it’s almost never done right) and the story is meant to be silly (I’m not usually fond of silly), the last line alone was worth it.

Still, this as an answer to the prompt? It just struck me as far too direct. Other stories have been far more subtle, whereas this one hits you in the head with a prompt-shaped sledgehammer. It can be argued there’s nothing wrong with this, but I find finesse a lot more impressive.

Okay, everydrone, on three: Creative title is creative!

This contest is making me understand just how popular this Trixie pony actually is.

Anyway, the story. While ‘Trixie is sad’ or similar isn’t a new concept, I approve of how this one is handled. It gives us just enough of Trixie’s background to understand, but leaves enough out to invite a myriad of questions. And this time it even works within the range of the word limitations, a truly rare feat.

Not bad, author.

026: Nevermore
By Pascoite
Rank: 78/105

Intriguing. Another one that leaves me with so many questions, and once more of the good kind. The pacing is great, and I love the subject matter. I love not knowing what really happened, because my brain in planning out all kinds of possibilities. It also has the strongest emotional power of any of the stories I’ve read so far. The showing is strong with this one.

I can’t think of anything to criticize. Maybe more adept minds will find something wrong, but I really enjoyed this.

Curious. Looks like another ‘author no longer controls the story’ type, but with much more interesting consequences. This one really appeals to me, perhaps due to the higher stakes involved. So many of these stories resort to dumb humor and shenanigans, and I’m always more of a ‘real world consequences’ type.

So yeah, I liked this. Yet another I’d like to see turned into something a little bigger.

Well, this is an End of Equestria scenario I never anticipated. Though I question exactly why things happened, I like the idea overall. And changelings as the protectors? I’d love to know the reason behind that.

This was a doomsday scenario done right, or so I feel. There’s just enough info there to satisfy me, but just enough unknowns to keep me thoroughly curious. I’d love for the author to turn this into something larger.

Still, the prompt connection could have been a stronger.

I found this highly amusing. I also question the validity of the message – those who preach such inclusion almost never actively practice it – but I liked the message nonetheless. More to the point, I like how the story takes the common tropes and flips them upside down… while, at the same time, maintaining them.

Weird, unanticipated and effective. And I’m really curious regarding who ‘I’ happens to be.

Oh, and a first person narrative that isn’t instantly annoying. It can be done.

I figured out who the character was by “mirror.”

Although the concept is decent, it’s another one that is hindered by the word count. I’m willing to accept the idea of Rarity’s entire character being one giant mask, but I’d only be able to do so with some real evidence, which a minific of this nature cannot supply.

There’s also the matter of the prompt, which is either deeply embedded in this story or nonexistent. Given my tendency to dig deeper than my cavernous cranium can reasonably manage, I’m giving the author the benefit of the doubt.

003: Choice of Illusions
By Waterpear (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 73/105

That opening line threw me for a loop. Way to be subtle, author.

Still, I liked this overall. It’s nice to see Twilight depicted as the strong pony she has become, rather than the fragile child so many authors keep her as. Having her throw the question right back was a good choice in my opinion.

My only complaint is that the Tantabus’s methods didn’t really feel… well, like Tantabus’s methods. I suppose it makes for a good vehicle and I can see a little comparison with its dealings with Luna, but it still felt off somehow. Too direct, perhaps?

Gotta admit, I like Sugarcoat. In concept. And I liked this use of her.

This was decent in its own right, but I feel like it lacked purpose. Was this meant to be a character study of Sugarcoat? Or maybe there was some deeper intention that flew by me completely? Even the prompt as it was used didn’t really seem to amount to anything.

Well written, but what was the point?

By JaketheGinger (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 71/105

Eh, this one did nothing for me. A potentially serious topic got thrown off-balance instantly by a supposed villain with no sense of self-preservation and Twilight’s friends concluding that she’s racist (Twilight, not the villain). The whole thing felt like a strained attempt at humor with a purpose, but instead it fell flat due to Twilight being decidedly out of character and her friends’ logic being a touch… well, illogical.

Most certainly not my cup of tea.

Ten bits the old codger kicked it right when the door closed.

A story that may have been meant to be crushing, but I’ve done my fair share of that. It’s realism in the face of hope, which is a dynamic I like to see and enjoy flaunting in my own works every now and then. Just because the readers want it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and a bad ending doesn’t necessarily mean the ending is bad.

A story bringing up a subject I strongly approve of.

Eew, second person! Get it away, get it away!

This might have been a much more powerful piece if the author hadn’t tried to ram the emotions down my throat with the choice of perspective. Part of me also feels that there’s too much exposition, that the background would have been better served through dialogue. Still, with only 750 words to work with, that’s not exactly easy. Wishing for better, I accept the decisions made.

When it comes to the phrase ‘not my cup of tea,’ this story excels. The last line isn’t funny, it’s jarring, and the shock value of Twilight’s language is the exact opposite of a boon. The majority of the story also lacked humor or, for that matter, anything interesting. I fail to see a purpose or theme other than to throw that line out at the end and hope the readers find it entertaining.

Which it wasn’t.

For a story clearly intended to be serious, the opening felt rather tongue-in-cheek. The two sides are a stark contrast to one another and I’m not sure I approve of it.

I’m also trying to find the intention of the author. I gather that there is one, and it has to do with Twilight’s question and Rarity’s ‘answer,’ but it seemed just a little too indirect. Normally I’m all for subtlety with that kind of thing, but this one may have taken it too far.

Balancing acts are so frustrating aren’t they?

I always take the road less traveled!

Robert Frost called. He wants his concept back.

It takes Twilight to her ridiculous extremes, but it’s still clever. I certainly didn’t see this one coming, and I love that it uses two very different characters to reach two very different conclusions on the same subject. Very appropriate. Me likey.

The narrative was too heavy-handed for me to really get into this one. It spends too much effort telling us – emphasis on telling – how Luna feels about the situation. I also question how well the story meets the prompt, as I fail to see any inevitability in the story. Luna wasn’t forced to make the decision she did, at least not as far as can be determined by what the story gives us.

Sorry, author. Even though the story stars Best Pony, this one didn’t do anything for me.

Ack, another well-devised character study! Will they ever end?

So Discord wants freedom, but freedom is boredom, and either way the result goes unchanged. This is more thought-provoking than the regular fare, in that it makes me question Discord as an individual. His questions feel more substantial and important than what others have pondered, although that could be because when he chooses to go the other way, terrible things happen.

Out of all the character study stories this prompt has spawned, I may like this one the most. That may just be because it has more weight, though.

088: Altheia
By Foehn
Rank: 63/105

This? This I enjoyed. It’s worldbuilding while leaving so many questions, but they’re the good kind of questions. It’s the kind of story that leaves me wanting to know more, but refuses that desire and forces me to come up with my own solutions. I like the style, I like the mystery, I like the faint hints of connectivity amongst the ancient cities. Not to mention a link to the prompt that I never saw coming.

I’d love to see more like this.

Ah, yes, the inevitable question of Cadance’s employment at Crystal Prep. This is one clear concept that I don’t mind, if only because it hasn’t been beaten to death by the fandom. Yet.

Although I acknowledge Cadance’s reasons as solid, I question whether it is the right choice. By her own admission, she can’t help every kid at the school. In fact, I imagine most of them are completely beyond her reach. Nor is her decision inevitable, which brings to mind the prompt and the story’s suitability regarding it.

Not a bad tale, but it doesn’t stand out, either.

I’d have liked this a lot more if Rainbow hadn’t been depicted as ridiculously incompetent. I know she’s got a reputation, but this was a bit much even for her. Neither did I find the story amusing, as it was undoubtedly intended to be. It sort of just kept going until the end, leaving me with only one thought:

“That’s it?”

That was interesting, and entirely unexpected. I can’t tell if the ending is meant to imply something cultural or cerebral, although I’m leaning towards the former. The story is a nice look at the differences of culture, one way or another. It also brings out the questions of the cow’s place in Equestrian society, a significant can of worms.

Nothing amazing, but a curious read nonetheless. I find myself wondering what Twilight will do next.

"This." Rarity's pupil's shrank. "Is the worst." Her eyes widened. "Possible." Her lip wobbled. "Thiiiiing!"

:ajbemused: And that’s all I have to say about that little disaster.

I like this showing of a repentant Trixie. This story felt like friendshipping, and if that’s the case I approve greatly; it’s nice to see two ponies can do something together without the author ultimately resorting to romance. And I’m particularly pleased that this involved Rarity rather than one of the more common choices.

Terrible choice of quote aside, this is one of the better stories, methinks.

014: Dance of Illusions
By Kanzlerin Maud (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 58/105

So… is this an alternate universe where Flutterbat was never cured? Or maybe it’s meant to happen during the episode? I would love to have better context.

Otherwise? Interesting piece. It makes me wonder if there’s any hope for Flutterbat. Its connection with the prompt feels frail, though. It seems to me like there could have been a lot more to this one.

And now I will make you all suffer the D’Awws.

Another one where the author gets sucked into the story. This one, however, worked better than most by putting forth a curious question: does the writer dictate the story, or does the story dictate what is written? Or at least that’s what I got out of it. It’s yet another unexpected direction for the prompt, and I highly approve.

And that last line feels a lot more clever than it seems.

Way too much exposition. Way, way too much. I suppose I can understand why the author chose this course, but I can’t help but think that it all could have been handled in far better ways. Lemon Zest shows potential, sure, but in this way all her worries just make a long list about as boring as her school day.

I need some headphones.

How curious that one author depicts Twilight as perfectly reasonable while another depicts her as insane.

As much as I love Rarity, this seemed just a little too over-the-top for her. She never struck me as the indecisive type, which makes this all the more awkward. I mean, the story’s nice enough, I suppose, but in the end it’s just a bunch of silliness about Rarity freaking out over absolutely nothing, which is not her wont. Well, not in regards to this particular nothing.

And here I expected a Soarin-related story.

I never read the original and, having a disdain for bandwagons, haven’t come anywhere near the junk resulting from it. As such, I’m probably not the right person to judge this story. I can say that I share Twilight’s annoyance with the inane questions. I suspect that the author’s goal was to address a known problem with an obvious solution, which of course was never used in the original or any of its spawn.

From that perspective? I approve. But to be fair, this is probably something I should abstain from voting on.

As often as I roll my eyes at yet another Scoota-orphan fic, I approve of this one. It’s just the right level of dark, and the tension right before the ending was great. There is, of course, the big question left unanswered, and it’s one that I wholeheartedly approve of. And let’s not forget that the whole thing makes a great case of show vs. tell.

This? This is how you do it. Consider me pleased… er, in a sense.

Although I think a little more information would have been helpful, I like the story for what it is. The concept of escapism is something I am intimately familiar with, so this left a small punch to the gut. Maybe it’s because I like Trixie so much, but this story worked well for me. I do have to question why Trixie jumped from magician to musician and back, though.

Also, I learned a new word.

087: The Flag
By Strythio
Rank: 51/105

This? This was great. Even Blueblood was adorable at one point in his life.

There was a mistake or two here or there, but they were few enough to not be a detriment. The whole story was a delightful view on the perspective of a foal facing certain doom at the hooves of She of the Study. I couldn’t stop grinning, from beginning to end.

Well done, author. Sometimes it’s nice to get something playful, and this was a breath of fresh air when considering all the gloomy material I’ve been reading for this contest.

Mixed feeling here. It all feels kinda random and chaotic at first – what else is expected from Pinkie? – only to give us something curious at the end.

I’m not sure how to interpret this story. I mean, I get the purpose and the contrast being shown, and I know what the author is trying to say. But the whole thing felt as though it should have been… I dunno, stronger. Maybe if the author had focused less time on Pinkie and Maud and given Marble and Limestone a bit more attention?

I half-expected this to be a TwiLuna ship, and instead I get an analysis of the reality of being a god. While I don’t subscribe to the notion that alicornication equals deism – there’s far too much evidence against it – I’ll not ignore the delightful implications of it.

Alas, while I like the story in general, I think it is one of those most hindered by the word limit. The concept alone is worthy of a novel. Instead we are doomed to this tiny insight, which is likely all we’ll ever get.

055: Big Red
By Everyday
Rank: 48/105

And the appropriate reaction is: d’awwwwwww.

I enjoyed this. It had a point (although I question whether AB picked up on it), had some nice Big Mac/AB interaction, and generally just left the warm fuzzies. I don’t really have anything in the way of criticism for this.

F-ing Yeerks.

I find the subject matter profoundly disturbing, which may affect my judgement, albeit in the story’s favor. What I liked most was how I knew, with a distinct and terrible dread, that something was wrong as early as the third paragraph, and spent the rest of the story on edge. That’s some impressive work right there.

Then the story ends with tragic (in more ways than one) directness. I don’t blame the author for the choice; I am appropriately horrified. At the same time, I feel there could have been a better way to describe the situation.

I’m less interested in the despair of Button’s situation and more in the display of escapism. It’s a rather good vehicle for this story, and it suited Button perfectly. This is one of the better ones, I think. It tells you so much without ever bothering to be direct, and I like that a lot.

Also, the first time I read the name “Dr. Shrinker,” I had to do a double-take because I thought it was “Dr. Stinker.” Excuse me while I :facehoof:.

The concept of trollestia – or, this specific version of trollestia – amuses me. So how do you top that?

By trolling trollestia, of course.

I have only two complaints: first, that Luna didn’t intentionally set this up, and second, that the word limit forced us to see only so much of Celestia’s struggle. A pity, this has all kinds of potential. I mean, really, I half-expected Celestia to get to the end of the trials to find her sister and the Bearers waiting with big grins, the evil having been vanquished hours ago.

Oh well, opportunity missed.

By the end of this, I was feeling Apple Bloom’s pain.

And yet I am amused. Weird.

At any rate, there’s the question of what Apple Bloom’s real dream is, which may very well be to escape home. Can’t say I blame her, considering what she has to put up with day-in and day-out. This is just as much a look at Applejack as it is at her sister.

Not the greatest story in the contest by any means, but I still enjoyed it on the whole.

Doggonit, what’s with you people and mind control? Are you all trying to give me the heebie-jeebies? Yeesh...

“Ahahaha!” the mare laughed.

Mr. Author, your story just lost a lot of respect in my eyes. Writing out the laughter is never, never a good decision. And then, to actually tell us she laughed right after? If you absolutely must write it out, why tell us the same information twice?

Other than that glaring misstep, this wasn’t a bad story. I would have appreciated a bit more background regarding Sombra’s current situation, though.

This would have been so much easier if I actually understood Mahjong. As it is, I have no idea what’s going on in the game, which means I have no idea how Rarity’s inner thoughts have anything to do with it. The only Mahjong I ever played was the single-player iteration. Simply put, I have no idea what’s going on.

With no small drama,
It is fitting to abstain.
Play another game?

This was more confusing than anything. It felt a lot too jarring with each transition. This is a story that might have been strong if it hadn’t been squeezed into a mere 750 words. With a bit more space, the pacing might have been eased and the reader wouldn’t be left scrambling to make sense of what just happened. I’m sure I was meant to be amused, but the setup simply wasn’t right for it.

The story just felt chaotic.

I’m annoyed at the (admittedly inevitable) conclusion many have come to about Big Mac. He dressed up for one day to try and help his little sister out, and now everyone thinks he’s a closet crossdresser. Why can’t it be that he’s just comfortable in his masculinity?

But I digress. It’s a great story, taking the subject matter and fitting it well in the common Equestria setting. I can’t think of much to complain about, save to question why Twilight – incarnation of friendship that she supposedly is – is one of those that needs to ‘come around.’

Utilizing Deutschlandlied lyrics for the title? Insisting that a certain German landmark is more glorious than Canterlot Castle?

*Peers at author* I might know you.

But in all seriousness, for once I feel as though background proved a detriment to the story. The connection to Pinkie’s point felt strained at best, and the initial setup too explainy to be functional. I think a different, more generally familiar setting would have opened up room to more gracefully shift to Pinkie’s explanation.

This was a nice little look at the relationship of Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. It also raises that ever-so-often question of how ponies end up with the perfect name almost every time, and the consequences of not doing so. It suffers a lot from a lack of proofreading, but other than that? I approve.

This makes only the third story I’ve ever read regarding the relationship between Fluttershy and Discord in this particular way. I dare say it’s one of the better ones. However, I think the opening atmosphere is a little jarring when compared to the rest of the fic. Maybe that was the author’s intention?

This is another one where the word limit caused problems. With a bit more breathing room, I think the author could have made this an exemplary story without the jarring pace. As it is, I’d have to call it ‘decent.’

Wait, I’m confused. Was Quills and Sofas not meant to be a store but some kind of lounge? Or is Davenport just frustrated because nobody buys his furniture anymore?

I’m all for subtlety and letting the readers figure things out, but I think a little more direction on the author’s part would have been appropriate. It’s not a bad story in the overall, and it’s nice to see things from the perspective of somepony not commonly utilized by the fandom. The story just lacks clarity.

The Finalists

It’s interesting that Fluttershy would be the one chosen to act as a judge and grader. I’m curious as to what made the author choose her instead of the obvious choice. I also find myself wondering about Fluttershy’s choices; how professional, how detached? Those last notes in the narrative before the second part leave me doubting.

And then, of course, there’s the question of Dinky’s success. Did she really earn it?

And last but not least, there’s the highlighting of the downsides of victory.

A number of curious thoughts in a nice package. I liked it.

021: Above
By PaulAsaran
Rank: 34/105

Yep, this was mine. I did write a review for it, but only because I didn’t want it to be obvious that the story was mine when it ended up the only one not reviewed. I can only say that, while I am baffled by the fools who didn’t recognize my obvious and undeniable literary genius – what is wrong with these people? – I am at least pleased that I finally managed to get back into the finals. Go me!

And why exactly can’t they make clones of the guards instead of Twilight? Also, I find it improbable at best that Celestia would resort to such tactics; I can’t help but think that she would truly value even the life of a clone.

The transition between Twilight and Celestia went announced and thus strikes me as sloppy, and there are numerous rough draft issues with the story. Combine all of this with a very weak connection to the prompt and I am unimpressed.

050: Of Caramel Apples
By VengefulSpirit (no FimFic account found)
Rank: 32/105

On the one hand, I have trouble seeing AJ as so deceptive in nature. On the other hand, if it was natural, then she wouldn’t think of it as such.

All in all, I approved of this. What an interesting way to bruise a guy’s ego and leave him wondering all the same. It’s playful in its delivery, amusing in its point, perhaps deconstructive in its nature. All while being, at least to me, a lot of fun.

I’d love to see a sequel in which a stallion uncovers the truth. Perhaps Spike?

012: Tick
By billymorph
Rank: 31/105

Oooh, I like this one. It begs us to ask if the best course of action, sometimes, is no action at all. Sure, there’s a lot of weird unknowns and tantalizing questions to be had, but I think this “End of Equestria” scenario was handled better than most. This is the kind of story that could have spawned something a lot bigger, and I am disappointed that it will probably remain a mere minific.

Not my favorite of the bunch, but definitely high on the list.

Ah, Celestia, you tyrant, you.

The dark place As Lambs brought us to gets revisited, and I am disturbed. Celestia’s choice of words for Twilight were just right to get the consequences in there. There’s also the question of just how deep it goes; did Celestia just get a little help in comforting a filly, or was she tweaking something much, much more sophisticated?

We have no way to know. I’m savoring that lingering unease.

Ah, the “Trixie knew Twilight and Moon Dancer” routine. Though my eyes roll at the obvious concept, I find the story appealing. Trixie is one of my favorite side characters and it’s always nice to see good things happen to her.

The closing of the second part left me confused. Given the extra-long blank space, I thought at first that Moon Dancer was at a loss for what to say. I think some formatting shifts would have helped with that misconception. Otherwise, this was nice. Nothing spectacular, but nice.

If I were Luna, I might be pissed.

Creation theory and pony history in one small bottle. Not bad overall, although I think making Celestia the sole creator will lead to problems down the line (oh, wait, I think it did). This was a creative little story, with consequences and implications to leave me wondering for a good long while should I feel inclined.

Not bad, author. Now turn it into a series and I’ll really be impressed.

And then Muse was fired and Fate made quadrillions off her work.

As much as I enjoy the concept of challenging fate and will acknowledge that the imagery is kinda cool, I couldn’t help but feel that this story was missing something. A stronger emotional impact, perhaps? Or maybe it has something to do with the narrative.

I hate it when this happens. All I can do is apologize to the author for lacking any useful criticism. The story just feels like it needs more.

Oh, look, another ‘immortality sucks’ story starring Twilight. At least it’s not Celestia this time. Has anyone seen one of these starring Luna?

This one didn’t work for me. It’s not that it’s poorly written (it’s not), or that the ponies aren’t in-character (they are). It’s just that the concept is as old as Magical Mystery Cure, and older than that if you go outside the fandom. This story brought absolutely nothing new to freshen up the idea, either.

This one fell flat with a forgettable splat.

Now this is more like it! The formatting, the emotions, the visual play. I love the approach, I love the subject matter, I love constant strain. Even different perspectives with different conclusions, which displays a new direction on the prompt that I’ve yet to see mirrored in any other story.

This one’s my favorite so far. By a long shot.

I’ve never read a story about Screwy before. I may need to read more.

Overall, I liked it. It felt like a strong example of show and tell, taking neither to an unpleasant extreme. Just the right level of exposition too, which is something I find most writers struggle with.

As with so many of these minifics, I feel this could have been much bigger and stronger, but for what it is I am very pleased.

011: Gazing
By Calipony
Rank: 23/105

Ah, a story touching upon my most hated episode, and further inviting ire by reminding me that the intelligent course of action may have resulted in disaster.


Really, though, it’s an interesting ploy. I like how it seems to suggest that there was only one ‘right’ choice despite all logic to the contrary. Although it lacks the impact of other stories in this contest, it suited the prompt nicely and leaves tantalizing questions regarding what is to come. Not bad.

I’ve never been fond of the whole ‘playful and silly sisters’ interpretation of Celestia and Luna, yet I still enjoyed this. I do like to think of them as having a more typical sibling relationship, and this played on it nicely by combining that aspect with the mentality of a few millennia of experience. Amusing, but not over the top. My kind of humor.

And of course, Celestia’s method of guaranteeing an outcome was both smart and endearing. I only wish there had been time to see Luna’s inevitable counter-prank.

This story suffers from the same thing that nearly all “End of Equestria” stories suffer from: context. 750 words is not enough to convince me of the legitimacy of whatever untold terror caused Equestria’s downfall this time. I know we’re just supposed to accept this as the setting and not think on it, but damn it, I can’t.

That said, I found this very effective in the overall. There was a distinct sense of dread and doom throughout. If only the whole thing didn’t hinge on Doctor Who references. Is the threat to Equestria itself a reference?

This was a curious display, to say the least. I would have absolutely loved to have gotten a name for our two deities. I’m sorry to say that I’m still trying to figure out if there’s some intended, deeper goal with the bold words, though. It’s probably simpler than my feeble mind anticipates.

Light, comfortable, pleasant and sad all at once. A worthwhile display. I only wish it could have been a little longer.

Oh, wait. It is.

The concept borders on the kind of silly I don’t approve of, yet the style manages to be serious enough to keep me interested. That is a delicate balance I rarely see. Yet at the same time, I never found it as funny as it was probably intended to be. As such, I am uncomfortably divided on my opinion.

I think it’s good, but the whole thing felt ‘off’ in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s like the narrative was missing a certain ‘oomph’ to it. My apologies, dear author, but in terms of constructive feedback I am stumped.

Darn it, why do you people keep writing worthwhile stuff? This was a delightful piece in its quiet condemnation. The pacing worked just right, the metaphor served its purpose well (although I recall it being a snake, not a scorpion), and it all works wonderfully together. It’s always nice to see real-world analogies connected to Equestria in good ways.

But just one teensy little thing: title formatting. Look into it.

I loved this. All the adorableness of childhood, thrown into my favorite genre of the weird, stirred together with a dabbling of the dark to make one awesome little package that’s got me grinning like a foal – minus the fangs.

New favorite. Do continue, dear author.

Note: This ended up being my overall favorite. Just saying.

Floating icebergs. I wanna use that somehow. *preps for blatant idea theft*

Seriously, though, I liked this. It’s a great depiction of Rainbow, showing off her character wonderfully. And the ridiculous – or should I say, dumb? – setting was entertaining. The story even worked well with the prompt. Why can’t I be creative like that?

Great concept, good flow, well written. Not bad, dear author.

Hmm… Important and valuable lesson, solid reasoning, uncertain conclusion, exposition through dialogue. Add to that the ignorance of the common pony, a less common take on the burden of knowledge, and a suitable characterization of Twilight.

I like. I like much.

076: Vice Versa
By horizon
Rank: 14/105

Well now, that was entirely unexpected. There was this sense of frustration running through the entire story, and I approve of that. The story also played on the concept of inevitability quite well, pushing one type in our face while hinting at another. The whole thing is dark with a tint of hope.

This story seems to invite a lot of differing views without trying to do so. I’m not sure just how deep the author meant for this to be, but it felt stronger than its surface suggests. I approve.

And that’s how Equestria was made!

Amusing. The author manages to pick out every ridiculous Mane 6 weakness that, believe it or not, would probably work within the confines of the show given the blatant mistakes that litters its colorful frames.

Thank Luna for fanfiction, amiright?

I liked this. Yet another one that touches upon the prompt in unexpected ways. A little simple overall, and maybe even obvious, but then, isn’t that the whole point?

Predictable. Amusing, but predictable. I’m willing to let the manipulative use of the prompt slide, as well as my questioning of the whole TwiPie thing.

The only really negative aspect of this is that it doesn’t do anything. Compared to a lot of the others I’ve read, it feels a bit lackluster.

“Armie?” Seriously?

I liked this. It’s one of those “Oh, I want it to happen so badly” stories where it never happens. A pity about those freedom laws; they make proper arrest and seizure so difficult. But hey, innocent until proven guilty, right? What are the lives and souls of a few ponies compared to due process?

All facetiousness aside, I look forward to the inevitable day when Abacus Cinch shows her true colors in a proper Equestrian setting. Since that may never happen in the show, I look to fanfiction for that pleasurable experience.

This story? It’s a start.

This story did little for me, save perhaps greatly reduce my appreciation of one Ms. Harshwhinny (a character I normally have no qualm towards). It’s such a shame that Pinkie’s well-meaning advice and sound logic got thrust aside so easily. It’s more a shame that this story highlights the feelings of a lot of real-life individuals.

Which, in retrospect, makes it not that bad a story after all. At the very least, I applaud the author for utilizing such a disagreeable central character. I never liked the insistence that central characters had to be personable, anyway.

This one went exactly where I expected it to, with the exception that I had anticipated the ‘Princess’ being Twilight given the textbook reference. While I’m usually not fond of predictability, I didn’t mind this time. For once, the word limitations helped immensely, preventing the author from dragging this into something it need not be.

That’s not to say that the author would have done so anyway, but still, it’s a bullet dodged, and I am pleased. Though nothing spectacular, it handled an old concept decently.

Going both in and out, I have just one thing on my mind:

This is one of those stories that agonizes with the big question: who are we seeing? My eyes suggest one thing, my suspicions suggest another entirely. It’s frustrating. It’s interesting. It’s easily the best use of the unanswered question to have shown up so far in this entire contest. There’s so much information, and none of it tells us a thing.

This is a strong competitor for my favorite.

002: Victory
By KwirkyJ
Rank: 7/105

This did not end as I anticipated. I seriously expected Pinkie to pull some outrageous, ‘take all of Rainbow’s pieces in one move’ victory.

I like this more. It’s nice to see Pinkie’s definition of victory, the way she handles Rainbow’s worries and cheers her up in ways that are at once ridiculous and curiously logical. A nice character study of a pony that I myself have always struggled with. Or, to be more accurate, avoided.

I rather liked this one. Trixie’s character shined through to me, and since I’m one of her staunch supporters, that helps a lot. I also like that this story showed Trixie having a positive future, rather than the dregs often associated with her. It’s also a curious play on inevitability, granting you one piece of knowledge but denying the next.

Not bad.

Man, there’s a lot of Trix-fics in this one. But again, happy moments for Best Side Pone, and I am pleased. So many ways to depict her, and this one’s no worse than the last.

About the only criticism I could offer is to question why Trixie would, out of the blue, just start thinking about the Alicorn Amulet in the middle of a trick. It seems rather… convenient. But it’s a minor complaint, mostly conjured based on the desire to have one at all.

Celestia hands out questionable literary advice, then undergoes… something. This feels a lot like an ‘immortality sucks’ kind of story. I don’t particularly mind that, but I know a lot are disdainful of them, and I am disdainful of the overused or obvious concept.

Despite this, I approve of the approach. I think it worked well, pushing a little freshness into a tired scheme. The setting, the arrangement, it all worked to me. Stories like these show that even worn out ideas can catch the eye.

Third Place Entry

On the one hand, I am more than a little annoyed at the idea that all of these characters were Celestia’s student, especially with no evidence whatsoever to support it. It’s not like similar names and appearances imply anything in this regard.

That being said, seeing the different answers was neato, portraying the different personalities nicely. It makes me wonder what specific answer Celestia was looking for, and if perhaps Twilight unwittingly got it right after all. Though I disapprove of the story’s context, I think it is effective.

Second Place Entry

This one’s more clever than it seems at first. Once I realized the trick at the end, the descriptions at the beginning made a lot more sense. Very effective, or so I think.

At the same time, this one felt like a stretch to me in terms of the prompt. Maybe I’m just dumb and need it explained to me, but I’m not seeing much relating to it. Good story in general, but… yeah, feels like the aim’s a little off.

First Place Entry

I just want to know one thing: how the heck has society not collapsed? I guess I can see it, people (er, ponies) working to figure things out. Still, I can’t imagine the world taking this peacefully, which makes me wonder if there isn’t more to the curse than everyone is aware of.

An interesting story, but one that could use a little fleshing out.

Comments ( 16 )

Kanzlerin Maud

Curse those temporary Halloween names for two of those, which will eventually break the links. I couldn't find the rest.

I'll admit to my story being one of those "Twilight's more practical (and powerful) than others will admit" stories. I really need to get off my duff and finish it up for publication while the meme is still steaming... I mean hot. Yeah, that's it.

It's kind of funny seeing reviewers tackle all the stories in a contest of some sort, then swearing they will never do that again.

Thanks for giving me something to read while waiting for my kid's appointment to be over. :twilightsmile:

I swear I'll enter the next writeoff if the prompt doesn't totally screw me over like it did this time. I have a few ideas that require short story format to be effective anyway.

This was definitely an ambitious endeavour! Kudos on managing to get through the entire stack. I swore to myself months and months ago, after the Writeoffs got more popular (they were hovering around half this size for a long while), that I would never try to do more than 40 reviews in a round, because I can't resist the urge to dig in with my feedback a little deeper … I've kept to that, and while I feel bad that I can't talk about everything, it's been a sanity-saver.

I do hope we see more reviews out of you in future rounds, but the 100% reviewers (which, increasingly, is FanOfMostEverything, and occasionally Titanium Dragon, and rarely some ambitious third party) are kinda crazy. In a good way. :derpytongue2:

Yeah, that is frustrating. It's the reason I chose not to bother doing it myself. Thanks for the links!

It'd be different if it didn't eat up such a huge amount of my time. The only reason I was able to do it this time is because I'm still out of work.

No prob! Yeah, this prompt was tricky. And honestly, my story didn't fit all too well.

I'm definitely going to be limiting myself, but I do intend to do at least some reviews for the writeoffs I choose to enter. Dunno what my personal limitation will be – maybe a percentage? I kinda like those. And by lessening the number of reviews, I'll free myself up to provide higher-quality ones. Hopefully.

Good god. That's a lot of entries.

That's not even the most we've had. One round there were 140 entries, 115 after 25 were disqualified.

Vengeful Spirit
Yet another name change. Looks like this one's permanent.
You could say that Kindred is...

That's a lot of mini fics.

Ya know. I sometimes go back and reread some of your previous blogs (usually reviews) and I noticed something...

Ya know how 'long' blog posts are usually mostly hidden with a 'Read More' button?

Well, this is the longest blog I have ever seen and for some reason FIM does not do the whole 'hidey' thing with this one. So every time I (and probably any others) scroll through your blog list and come across this one the whole thing is shown. :rainbowderp:

I wonder what FIM is thinking... :applejackconfused:

Heh... hehe... :twilightblush:

Yeah, that would be my fault for not adding the page break code. Oops.

Thanks for pointing it out.

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