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Writer, reviewer, creator of Filly Fantasy VI, occasional PMV maker, and uploader of mildly amusing image macros to Derpibooru

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Drake's Reviews #6 · 7:55pm Jan 23rd, 2016

Been a while since I've done one of these, but I've been busy. Today I have a backlog of Season 5 finale fics to go through. To the reviews!

A Twidash-tic future by UTF.

This fic promises an alternate future Twilight sees where she and Rainbow Dash are dating. Well, this is promising! I'm up for some good TwiDash!

Then I started reading. The second line is basically "Oh, Golden Oak Library is still around in this timeline. Good to see it again." Really? That's Twilight's reaction to seeing her home again, after the Castle Sweet Castle episode? Overall the fic has a lot of poor formatting and is full of talking heads. There's also some Lavender Unicorn Syndrome going on, but I forgive it as we're dealing with Princess Twilight and Unicorn Twilight, and honestly there's never really been a good way to distinguish between them when they're sharing a scene. I've read other fics that try to refer to one as Sparkle, or use the Princess title to differentiate, but it's always awkward. It's no fault of the authors, it's just an awkward thing to write around, and I admit I don't have a better way.

Anyway, the major failing of this story is that it just isn't very engaging. There are good ideas, though. Twilight tells Rainbow and Alt!Twi about her world, and Rainbow despairs because this means their entire lives are a lie and they only got together because of a fluke. Twilight wonders if it's fair to either of them that they're going to lose this life when she puts things back, and when she goes back to her proper time she wonders if Rainbow has a thing for her. These concepts are all fine, but the author doesn't take full advantage of them. The story is only 1,500 words, not enough to really develop these ideas and give them the pathos they want.

For the record though, the author has only been writing since July 2015, and this was their first fic. No one's first fanfic is that good; mine was absolute crap. But I have to be honest; sorry, dood. But good luck in the future.

Recommendation: Good idea, poor execution. Pass.

Starlight Glimmer Overreacts to Everything by Yukito.

Reminding us how flimsy and pathetic Starlight Glimmer's excuse for villainy is. I'm actually starting to wonder now if Starlight is the pony equivalent of Kylo Ren. This badass new villain appears that everyone is interested in, then you actually learn their backstory and motivations and it's like "really? What a pansy, get some real problems!" Note I have not seen Ep 7 yet so I can neither refute nor support these views, but I keep up with the internet. :twilightblush: Anyway, fic.

We start off setting a good tone: absurd, silly humor. When the second paragraph has the line "Princess Twilight Jane Friendship Sparkle III," you know this is gonna be awesome. There's really no plot to this fic, it's basically a series of skits where Starlight suffers some minor inconvenience and goes berserk to the point of screaming and property damage. Short, but very funny. It actually avoids the potential for commentary on her poor backstory, and instead just focuses on Starlight being angry for humor's sake.

Recommendation: Good for some quick, effective laughs.

A Different Kind of Mentor by Jay-the-brony

For me, the Nightmare Moon future was the most intriguing of those seen. The others (Flim and Flam not withstanding) were expected - Discord turns Equestria into a world of chaos, Tirek goes on a rampage, Sombra is on the warpath, Chrysalis has captured most ponies. But Nightmare Moon? It's the one world where Equestria knows some level of stability and peace, and the ponies even seem somewhat loyal to Nightmare Moon. Could this be a Roose Bolton "a peaceful land, a quiet people" thing?

As it turns out, sort of. Nightmare Moon lectures Twilight on how ridiculous friendship and compassion are, pointing out that friendship didn't stop, she conquered Equestria through power, and it is an ordered, stable kingdom because no one dares question her. There's a neat bit where the Nightmare asks Twilight if she thinks friendship could topple her kingdom now, and Twilight says no - does she really think that, or is she telling Nightmare Moon what she wants to hear because she needs her help for now? It's ambiguous.

My only critique would be that I want more - have Twilight point out Celestia kept things orderly too, explore how Equestria under Nightmare Moon's rule compares to Celestia's, explore her motivations and feelings now that she's won and has all that she wanted 1000 years ago. I want more than just Nightmare Moon lecturing Twilight for a few paragraphs, I want to see the history and result of her beliefs and how they hold up. Ah well.

Recommendation: Good for a quick, interesting diversion.

...That's it? by Jay the Brony

I once said there is no problem with fixfics. To quote my own my own past blog:

I don't mind fixfics. In any medium, including Pony, there are some times when you just want to call a character out on something they did, and then you write a fic where another character does it for you. And, properly done, there's nothing wrong with that story. There's nothing wrong with wishing characters would take responsibility for their actions and learn from their errors, and likewise there's nothing wrong with wishing other characters don't forgive and forget and confront them over it to make them take responsibility. If folks have a problem with each other, talk it out and come to an understanding. That's part of character development: recognizing your flaws and mistakes, taking responsibility for them, and working to overcome them.

This fic is basically that - Starlight shows Twilight her past, and Twilight rightfully points out that this motivation is hugely underwhelming for an antagonist that did what Starlight has. A friend of hers got her cutie mark and ran away? Yeah, sucks for you, sorry. But that hardly explains adopting a philosophy that cutie marks are evil and going around robbing innocent ponies of their cutie marks.

The story then takes a more serious turn with Twilight deconstructing how badly Starlight handled the loss of her friend, and takes a surprising twist - Twilight brings up Apple Bloom and Twist, and how Bloom got the Cutie Mark Crusaders after losing a friend in Twist due to her cutie mark. A brilliant reference to a very old episode, and an aspect of canon I'd actually forgotten, I had to go check to see if it actually happened. Twilight sums up that Starlight handled her problems like a child, and has been her entire life - now it's time to grow up, realize she was wrong, take responsibility for it, and do the right thing.

With a bit of rewording to the dialogue (I doubt the canon will ever use the word "cult") and maybe some shortened bits, this is a much more satisfactory ending to the finale, while keeping to the same moral that we did get.

Recommendation: If the finale's ending disappointed you, give this fic a shot. And if it didn't, it's still a good alternate look.

The Reality I Choose by The Hat Man

We end with a fic featuring Best Human! Well, she's a pony in this, so I guess she's Best Pony, now. My only hesitation going in is that it promises Twilight will find an alt timeline where things aren't that bad and will have to choose to stay here or try to restore the right timeline. I've seen a lot of stories that offer the same choice, and it usually goes the same way every time. Heck, my TFSD sequel idea had a very similar thing to it!

Twilight winds up in a Ponyville where Sunset Shimmer is the Princess of Friendship, Twilight is a Grand Vizier to the Crystal Empire, and Sir Spike is Celestia's personal aide. From there we just explore this alternate universe. Including, to my disapproval, alternate Element-bearers. I don't mind fics that do that, but it seems out of place here - I don't care about the Doctor and Derpy, I want to see how the Mane Six are faring in this alt timeline. We get nods to a couple of them, but that's it. Twilight and Spike sit down to weigh the pros and cons of this world compared to the other, and reach the obvious decision.

What I like about this fic is that the alt timeline is not simply "everything is better than ever." Nightmare Moon wasn't turned back into Luna and was re-banished to the moon, Pinkie apparently never left the rock farm, Fluttershy is a shut-in, and Twilight and Spike doesn't know each other very well. On the other hand, King Sombra has reformed and wed Celestia, Sunset is happy, her non-existent influences on the other world mean none of the chaos of the three films happened, and even if their lives are different, Spike and Twilight themselves are doing fine. It really does create a dilemma here, trying to figure out which world is objectively better. We know the conclusion, but that's a fault of the type of story more than it is the author's handling of it.

My only disappointment, again, is the different Element bearers; we trade Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy, for Derpy, the Doctor, and Cheese Sandwich, with token mentions of Rainbow and Fluttershy. We only mention Pinkie as far as "where is she" - I presume she's still at the rock farm but she may not be, the story doesn't specify. Further confusing is that Rarity and Applejack are still here, and if you're gonna go with the changed Bearers thing, why not go all the way? And if you do wanna go this route, demonstrate to me why these five ponies (Sunset aside) were chosen to get the Elements? How has being the Element of Loyalty affected the Doctor and what did he do to prove he embodied it like Applejack did? In an author's note the author admitted these three were around because he liked them - I have to be mean, but no. Narrative quality should not be sacrificed for fanservice.

This is why I say the alt Element bearers thing was out of place in this story - it distracts from the main narrative and raises questions it isn't interested in answering.


Recommendation: An interesting look at an alternate universe scenario, though it doesn't devote as much time to some elements as it should.

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Comments ( 3 )

Howdy there! So I saw my story got added to your "Reviewed" list and decided to dig to see what you said. I thought it was a fair review.

Truth be told, it was a story that I wrote more to explore an idea and I really didn't expect it to get so popular out of nowhere like it did. Anyway, the reason why the element bearers were different was to add an extra layer of moral ambiguity to things, as Twilight would have to acknowledge that her friends might be living their dreams like Rainbow Dash, or living as shut-ins like Fluttershy, or just totally unknown, like Pinkie Pie. I wanted to reinforce the dilemma of a world that was neither awful, nor wholly perfect right down to the characters. Furthermore, it seemed that if there was a world where Twilight wasn't the Princess of Friendship or the Element of Magic, then it meant that others might fill the other roles too. However, AJ and Rarity are Ponyville natives, born and raised, so they would have been there when Sunset came to visit Ponyville for the Summer Sun Celebration, so it seemed like their roles would go in much the same way.

Still, I'm not entirely happy with the fic either, and I'm still rather amused by its popularity, but it's good to see an honest and fair review of it. Thank you! :twilightsmile:

3762378 My first fanfic was when I was 14, and it was an Inuyasha-Yugioh crossover where Naraku is the Spirit of the Millennium Ring.

As I said, no one's first fic is all that good. Mine was awful.

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