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  • 233 weeks
    The Philosophy of Pie... Or "Things I Learned From Watching Pinkie Pie"

    1. Let your imagination get away from you; it will come back with cake.

    2. Sometimes, you cannot answer the riddle. And sometimes, that’s the right answer.

    3. When it comes to scrapbooking family memories, you don’t find the time—you make the time.

    4. Always ask the important questions, like “Is it ‘glowed’ or ‘glew’?”

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    0 comments · 374 views
  • 239 weeks
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    From October 2011 to October 2013, a series of videos was released under the unifying banner of Turnabout Storm, a fan-crossover series between My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Ace Attorney video game series, produced by NeoArtimus. The project as a whole was a success as far as fanworks go, inspiring plenty of fanart, pseudo-sequels, and reaction/commentary

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    0 comments · 417 views
  • 245 weeks
    The Cutie Map is Back... (Sequel Announcement)

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  • 254 weeks
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    Before the introduction of Thorax in “The Times, They are A-Changeling,” speculation on changelings was everywhere: How did they live; were there many hives or just the one; was love the only emotion they could feed on; did individual changelings have personalities of their own; the list goes on. Luckily, the fandom never stops at simply asking these questions, and with a variety of mediums to

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  • 258 weeks
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    If you’ve followed me for a long time, you’ll know I have a soft spot in my heart for the Alternate Mane 6 subgenre. Stories where the characters we know and love from the show are changed somewhat, if not outright replaced, have a lot of creative potential, giving both writers and readers a chance to explore a new perspective on the same basic outline. And while I could go down the obvious path

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    1 comments · 419 views

Fimfic Review: The Batpony Interview Trilogy... Or "Your Place for Batpony Headcanon" · 3:05pm Oct 31st, 2015

This year, I decided to something special for Halloween/Nightmare Night: actually release my obligatory blog on time!
Oh, and review a batpony story.

Batponies. Thestrals. Vamponies. Personally, I’m more partial to the term “bat-winged pegasi.” But whatever you call them, no one can deny they’ve left their mark on the fandom since their first (and so far only) appearance in “Luna Eclipsed.” They meet all the requirements: a unique design, little overall screentime, being a separate species (though this last one is under some debate). A number of fanworks exist using the concept of the batpony in many ways, from presenting them as fearsome warriors of the night to making them as cute and cuddly as the characters we see in every episode.

And I’m going to take a look at one of my favorite batpony stories (or series of stories, rather) and see if I can’t convince you to at least give it a look-see. I speak, as the title suggests, of what I refer to as The Batpony Interview Trilogy, written by Gulheru, consisting of, in chronological order, Interview with a Batpony, Rendezvous with a Batpony, and Journey with a Batpony.

Each story consists of two main characters: Twilight Sparkle and Midnight Wind, the latter being an OC conceived just for this series. Twilight is about what you would expect for a pony fic: curious and excited to learn new things, but just the right amount of socially awkward that comes off as adorkable and makes her more human (all things considered). These stories, in large part, are basically her stories as she attempts to unravel the heretofore unknown mysteries of batponies and batpony society.

Which leads us to Midnight Wind. A member of Luna’s Nightgaurd, Midnight is steadfast, loyal, and takes his position in life with the amount of seriousness it deserves (and we’ll be going over just how serious he gets as we go on). However, he still has enough playfulness to him that he isn’t a complete stick-in-the-mud, trading verbal quips with Twilight, especially in Journey, that lead to some amusing interactions between them.

The first story, Interview with a Batpony, is written in a transcript format, presented to the reader as a series of dialogue exchanges between the two characters recorded on an audiotape. The only “narration” in this story comes in the form of sound effects, from laughter to silence beats to the clicking of the tape recorder. This does mean that readers will have to pay attention to who’s talking, as no indication along of the lines of “he said”/“she said” are present, but the story does at least provide some indication as to who’s speaking, so nobody should get too lost.

Plotwise, Interview is just as it sounds; Twilight Sparkle has convinced a batpony, who is in the area scouting positions for a possible new Nightguard garrison, to allow her to interview him to find out more about him and his culture. It’s basically a world-building story than it is an actual story, but the interactions between the characters make it worth the time to read it. Additionally, some of the information Midnight gives is fascinating for those who actually like world-building, or are otherwise attempting to build up their own headcanon on batponies.

One concept in particular that will become a staple throughout the series is that of the Immaculate Moon, the batponies’ interpretation of Princess Luna as a literal goddess. According to Midnight, the batpony religion is probably the most important aspect of their culture, guiding every aspect of their lives. Midnight also talks about what he calls the “Eclipse,” the thousand-year period after Nightmare Moon’s banishment, probably the roughest period in their history, faithwise. Through this, he also shows great respect for Twilight, she being one of the mares responsible for cleansing Luna.

Another concept brought up in Interview is the myth of batponies being vampires. And this is where I have to give Gulheru props for creativity; just about every aspect from vampire lore is addressed and debunked, from aversion to garlic (a result of a sweet fruit diet) to mind control (mares swooning over the exotic beauty) to blood sucking (being fierce and determined fighters [for the most part…;)]).

Aside from these nuggets of world-building gold, there’s not much else to this story. As I said, the dialogue is well-written and funny, it’s comprehensible enough to read without getting too lost, and it’s a unique look at a pony type not entirely known to us. It’s light on any real story perhaps, but the world-building is a nice trade-off.

The sequel, Rendezvous with a Batpony, is just as interesting as its original counterpart, though for far different reasons. Stylistically, it can be described as “more of the same” as its predecessor, written once again as the transcript of an audiotape recording a second interview between Twilight and Midnight. The only real difference in terms of structure is that, whereas Interview was a one-shot, Rendezvous consists of five chapters and an epilogue.

But that’s just stylistics; where the story truly differs is overall tone. Rendezvous is considerably darker than Interview. The story even opens up with Midnight talking about his deceased wife. And things only get more uncomfortable from there, with special mention going to Midnight’s telling of a rumor of one of the members of the Covenant, the governing body of the batpony homeland, that puts her in what can charitably be called a “negative light.”

The darker shift in tone is easily reflected in Twilight’s dialogue in response to such revelations. This story really hammers home that batpony culture is far different from Equestrian. And while Twilight tries to remain tolerant of Midnght’s ways and attitude, she is still very much upset whenever he appears to be indifferent to even what must constitute as a cardinal wrongdoing in general. Twilight’s behavior in this story serves as a grave reminder just how strange and unusual Midnight’s world is to her, and by extension the readers’, way of thinking.

This all comes to a head in the epilogue, where probably the most shocking thing about batponies is revealed. I won’t spoil it here, mostly because I don’t want to give too much away and you have to experience it for yourself to truly grasp the implications. I will say, though, that if nothing else, reading Rendezvous is worth it just for this epilogue alone.

This isn’t to detract from the rest of the story, however. The darker tone of the story leads to a further level of intrigue. Other than that, though, Rendezvous really is “more of the same” in regards to recommending it when compared to Interview.

Journey with a Batpony is the final installment of this trilogy, and it is a far different beast than its brethren. Whereas the first two stories were written as transcripts, Journey is written like a normal story, complete with standard narration, shifting viewpoints in the third-person, and an actual plot. Only two things make this story part of the trilogy; the characters of Twilight Sparkle and Midnight Wind are still the main protagonists, and the world-building of the previous two stories are both added to and expanded upon.

The story involves Twilight making a journey to Noctraliya, the batpony homeland, in an attempt to establish better relations between the two countries, as well as experience firsthoof what their culture is like. She is surprised to learn that Midnight Wind will be a part of her escort, a fact Midnight himself is also happy with. From there, it’s a journey to the eastern Tramplevanian Alps as Twilight deals with other Nightguardsponies, a closer look at the culture, and the inevitable political battlefield she has now found herself in.

With the benefit of actual narration, the inner thoughts of the two characters (though mostly Twilight) are much more interesting and easier to grasp. Twilight’s narration is a nice combination of logic and emotion that ends up being pretty hilarious as she struggles to balance the two. And while Midnight has no inner struggles to match those of Twilight’s, his own point-of-view shows how truly dedicated he is, not only to the current task at hoof, but just in general, whether it be to the Nightguard or to his faith.

But with this story having a much more involved plot, it naturally requires more characters. In addition to the notable batponies Twilight meets along the way, with the real stand out being Midnight’s colleague Deep Mist, the story also often cuts away to Princess Luna and her aide, Moonwarden, being the party most affected by batpony relations on the Equestrian side of things. On the Noctraliyan side is the Covenant, particularly Azure Mist, who seems to have her own plans for when Twilight begins to attempt negotiations.

In regards to the many batponies this story introduces, it’s kinda nice to see more of them aside from just Midnight. Don’t get me wrong, Midnight is a good character, but the introduction of more of his species means that a wide variety of batponies can now give us context as to who he is as a pony. Plus, even the ones that don’t have readily identifiable characters make the story feel more populated and gives the species (and story) a sense of camaraderie.

The batponies’ religion is on full display in this story, and if Midnight seemed to be devout in his beliefs, some of the characters are downright zealots. Remember that I stated before that this faith is one of their most important aspects of life. And this story proves it, especially once Twilight reaches the Border and finds herself in the local place of worship. The reader feels both the awe and just the slightest bit of discomfort that she feels at the experience.

And really, I think that’s Gulheru’s strongest point with this series: feeling. Most of the narration, when not describing the events of the plot, is dedicated to working out the characters’ emotions, from Twilight’s wonder to Midnight’s resolve to Luna’s moral dilemmas. This is especially true when the story hits the romance subplot between Twilight and Midnight, hinted at from the end of Rendezvous and flowing naturally through Journey until the payoff. (The spoilered section here regards a part of the series that was hinted at in the epilogue of Rendezvous, and I still don’t want to spoil it, even if this particular moment all but needs to be addressed.)

No story is perfect, however, and if I have to criticize this trilogy, I have two main points of contention. The first is grammar. My belief has been that if it sounds weird when said out loud, maybe it’s time for a rewrite, and the grammar is the biggest example with these stories. In particular, I feel like there are a few missing “the”s and the like. I mean, on the one hand, that could have been intentional, since batponies like Midnight are not native speakers of Equestrian. But when this tic extends to the narration and Equestrian characters, it can distract a little. But this is a fanfic, so I’m not expecting A++ English Comp level writing. And it happens rarely enough that it really is just a minor nitpick.

My second point, however, is a little less forgiving, and that comes down to the language. While I praise the descriptions in Journey, Gulheru can take things a bit too far, extending his poetic prose to the dialogue, even for characters that would not necessarily talk that way. Even Twilight, who is the most intelligent of the Mane 6, speaks in sentences that seem almost unnaturally flowery for her character.

But in the end, both of these points do not detract from what is an amazing series. Even though Journey is only fourteen chapters at the time of posting this recommendation with no end in sight, I would not hesitate to tell you guys to give this trilogy a read, even if you only read Interview just to get a taste for a truly unique story. (And hey, if you liked it, give the others a shot, too. Like I said, the epilogue of Rendezvous, at least, is very much worth it, and Journey is moving to some interesting places as well.)

This is CF, signing out.

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