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

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  • Thursday
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXII

    Wow, last weekend was a busy one. Family gathering was relatively small this year, for obvious reasons. Although I must emphasize the “relative” part; usually when there’s a big holiday like the 4th, we end up with 20 people or more present. This weekend was “only” nine, including me, my parents, and my brother’s family of six. That’s right, six. That boy is a glutton for punishment, I swear to

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    7 comments · 215 views
  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXI

    My preliminary editing of the original fiction version of Guppy Love is all but finished! Soon I will have the entire story stored in GDocs and ready for prereading, which means it’s about time I started really looking for prereaders. I intend to ask the prereaders of the MLP version to come back to evaluate the changes, but I’d like to get a few others to offer a fresh perspective. I’m

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    16 comments · 303 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCX

    Howdy, folks. I’m afraid I don’t have much to report this week. Well, other than the very real possibility of maintaining 2,000 words/day of writing this month. Feels like I haven’t pulled something like that off in ages. Pays that I’m finally cutting down on the video games again. It comes in phases.

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    4 comments · 321 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIX

    The past week has been one of highs and lows. The brief crash has led to me being two days behind on my reading schedule. The good news is that I’ve got a Vacation Week coming up in a couple weeks that I can use to easily make up the lost time. The bad news is that my current major reading project was scheduled to be finished the day before its review gets published, so I’ve no choice but to

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    7 comments · 358 views
  • 3 weeks
    Charity Stream!

    I usually save these kinds of things for my main review blog, but this one's time sensitive, so: my old friend Cerulean Voice is hosting a charity stream! Head here to get the details.

    0 comments · 81 views

Paul's Thursday Reviews XXXI · 1:09am Apr 15th, 2016

Good news: I've finally selected an apartment.

Bad news: I don't move in until the 1st. This was an intentional move on my part for the sake of saving a lot of money. Problem is, that leaves me with my current commute until then, and that commute is long. As of right now I lose an average of 3-4 hours of my free time daily just to the drive to and from work. Add to that another hour lost on the mandatory lunch break (and yes, I do mean mandatory) and yet another hour lost doing regular household stuff, and I'm left with very little time in my day for pone.

Thus, I have decided that I won't be doing reviews next week. This is purely for the sake of freeing up that reading time to actually get some writing done, since I've barely been pulling of 500 words a day lately. By this time I'm almost certain that I'll never be able to finish a chapter as of this weekend, hence my decision.

But fear not, my mindless minionsfriends, for this will only be happening for the reminder of this month. Once May comes around my commute will be cut down significantly, and I'll once again have time to pursue both my pone-related responsibilities.

I go!

Stories for This Week:

The Immortal Game by AestheticB
An Ally Called Preponderance by Myriad Kay (Recommended by Viking ZX)
Tears in Dreams by Twi-Fi (Requested by Twi-Fi)
She Said No by Kodeake (Re-Read)
Burn The Fallow Land by RainbowBob (Re-Read)
Flutterbat vs. Timberjack by fluttershysone (Completed Story)
Total Word Count: 371,461

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 1
Worth It: 2
Needs Work: 1
None: 1

I literally just finished reading this yesterday. It took me four weeks. There were times when I wished it would have taken a lot less.

AestheticB’s The Immortal Game is an epic, nothing less. In this story’s rendition of Equestria, Celestia and Luna came to power by defeating and sealing away their godlike parents, Queen Terra and King Titan. But somepony has freed these two, and the Royal Sisters don’t stand a chance. Indeed, nopony does; Celestia is defeated, Luna is on the run, and Twilight is mentally repurposed via mind control, all within a span of two or three minutes and the first chapter. Thus, the story centers on the remainder of Equestria’s heroes as they struggle to rebel against the world’s new leaders.

The very first thing I felt about the story was distaste, which is due to two dominant issues. The most obvious is the immediate and unanticipated arrival of one of the most loathed tropes in the fandom: the OP Alicorn OC. And the King and Queen are indeed overpowered, to such a degree that it feels ridiculous. The second issue is that the opening chapter puts us right into the action without explanation or preparation. These two factors together from the very start disturbed my writer’s sensibilities and left me suspicious of the overall quality of the story I was getting into.

Now, the fundamental thing that makes OP alicorn OCs so loathed is that they tend to lack any explanation as to why they are so strong. The good news – mark that, great news – is that an explanation is eventually given, and the King and Queen’s vast power ultimately makes sense. But without knowing the history of the world or having any real indicators in the first chapter, AestheticB left the issue open, and therefore invites more impatient, critical readers to drop the story early.

I understand the author’s intention. He wanted to shock the reader and set the scene immediately, while firmly establishing Terra’s and, especially, King Titan’s seeming undefeatable nature. It’s a message to the reader that this story will not go easy on them. This is all fine, and might even be considered laudable, but I still find the decision to explain King Titan’s practical invincibility later to be questionable at best.

Despite this poor first impression, the story rapidly earned my forgiveness with a thoroughly strong plot, (mostly) thrilling battles and great character interpretations. The situation is always desperate, the action is vivid and at times gripping, but the personal issuea in the background of the blood and assaults of personal identities are just as powerful. The author does lose some points for using non-canonical names for established characters and places – like Twilight’s parents and the Golden Oaks Library – but this can be forgiven seeing as of how I’m reasonably sure they didn’t have canon names at the time the story was written. In fact, the age of the story plays in its favor; a lack of today’s often self-conflicting canon gives AestheticB plenty of room to create his own world with entirely unique backstories for the characters, from Rarity’s parents to the nature of Discord. It’s all played out with imagination and flare, and I tip my hat to the author’s creativity.

But a few issues do still crop up.

The first thing I note is the author’s consistent use of the cliffhanger. This worked wonderfully at first, leaving me longing to ignore my blasted reading schedule and just turn to the next chapter (by the will of Luna, I resisted). There was a constant sense of inevitability and dread as the situation grew worse and worse. However, I gradually came to see a pattern, and once I did the cliffhangers lost their power and their usefulness. After seeing the same “Everyone’s about to die/lose/give up” routine at the end of so many chapters, I stopped worrying about it because I knew that it was just a rouse. By the time I reached chapter 14 and its supposedly nail-biting cliffhanger, I’d grown numb to the effect.

The lesson to learn from this, I think, is to use cliffhangers like one must use all literary tools: in moderation.

The second issue I found came very late in the game (pun not intended): the side characters. Don’t get me wrong, they were mostly interesting and worth getting to know. But when the story came to its end, where were they? Sir Unimpressive just disappears off the map, Spitfire gets her fifteen minutes and is never heard from again, and so on. Even the rest of the Mane 6 are sort of undersold once the last chapter is underway, their conclusions feeling like little more than footnotes. After all the crap and shit and blood these characters have been forced to wade through, I can’t help but think they deserved more. Hell, the final scene doesn’t even mention them, and without them the whole adventure would have been lost in its infancy!

Props where they’re due, people. Props when they’re due.

In the author’s defense, he may have been going for a more quiet “they’ve gone back to their peaceful lives” routine. Some of you might even prefer it that way, but I still think they’d have wanted to be there for the big moment in the epilogue.

And what about Discord? Shouldn’t we be worried about him at least a little?

The last complaint I have: the combat. Or, to be more accurate, the first fight scenes. I’m not sure if I grew into AestheticB’s style of writing them or if he improved, but when I first read them they felt over-descriptive. The author begins by showing us every kick, every spell, every flap of the wings. After a few hundred words of this, it became boring. Huge chunks of the word count in the early chapters were taken up by just the fights, which made the story itself seem secondary.

Again, I don’t really know if AestheticB improved upon his writing style as the story progressed or I simply grew accustomed to it. Either way, the problem gradually grew smaller and smaller until about a third into the story, when a nice balance seemed to finally be found between life or death struggles and the advancement of the plot. By that point, the fight scenes became interesting without being overbearing, with some of the excessive descriptions being traded for generalizations, and for that I was glad.

Oh, wait, I’ve thought of something else: the victory. I won’t say how the final blow ending the conflict is dealt, but I will note that I’m not buying it. At all. I’m meant to believe that one of the most confident, powerful and dominant minds in the history of existence, who has had only one goal and purpose for thousands of years, fell victim to that?

No. Way.

To clarify for those of you who have read the story, I’m not complaining about the method in and of itself. AestheticB uses it a couple times earlier in the story, in ways that I found to be wholly believable and perfectly legitimate. But for that final fight? It just felt unrealistic; a weapon shoehorned into the story for the sake of offering some overarching morale that came out weak as a result.

Despite all of this, the story is great on more levels than I have time to describe. I loved the characterization and character growth, the constant back-and-forth of hope and despair, the epic world background, and most certainly the villains. The use of OP alicorn OCs was competently handled despite the rough introduction, the writing is generally strong, the combat exciting. While I wouldn’t put it in my favorites, I can say with firm conviction that The Immortal Game has rightfully earned its praise. It’s a shame AestheticB hasn’t bothered to expand upon this world, because I would have loved to have seen more.

It’s also a shame that the Round Robins don’t allow mature stories, because this would have been a shoe-in.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

I had no idea what to expect with this one, but it was recommended by someone who I’m pretty sure knows what he’s doing.

An Ally Called Preponderance takes on the trope of Pony on Earth (PoE?) in an entirely new and unexpected way. In the story, we first learn of an esteemed biologist who is contacted by an extra-terrestrial via, of all things, an email. This alien refers to himself as Preponderance and is most certainly not a pony. The good doctor doesn’t get to meet Preponderance in person, and after a few hurried and shallow contacts he disappears entirely.

Five years later, the Cutie Mark Crusaders accidentally stumble upon a teleportation device (whether that belongs to Twilight or somepony else is never clarified) and find themselves on Earth. Whether by luck or planning, they stumble upon the notes of Preponderance, where they find the contact information of our confused scientist.

Here’s the unusual part, at least from a storytelling perspective: the doctor is trapped in Iceland because of a snowstorm. As a direct result, all of her efforts to help the CMC come in the form of regular communication through an iPhone. The doctor can only watch and guide them as they struggle to survive. It’s not something one would expect, but it wins a ton of points for being a new and creative approach.

The first thing that bothered me about this story was its tone. When it opens, the story feels nothing short of clinical in its presentation. After a while, however, I realized that this was an intentional element, crafted to emphasize the nature of the doctor herself as she writes the story. As the events continue, the story’s style gradually shifts from bland recitation to more meaningful, human interaction, suggesting that our Iceland-trapped guide is becoming more and more personally involved. It’s a great element to the story that I think people could learn from.

Another interesting oddity is the reaction of… well, everybody. Three cartoonish little ponies walk into a hotel lobby, and present a phone to the man on duty, from which some woman declares that these are three extra-terrestrials and can they please have a room? After an admittedly appropriate reaction of surprise, the man’s final reaction: yeah, sure. You want just one?

And here we have another exceptionally different take on this story. For the first publicly recognized time in history, aliens have made contact with Earth. Most authors would have introduced panic, disbelief, perhaps set in place an evil government hell-bent on capturing and dissecting the aliens. Instead, the entire world is remarkably open to the idea; police come to their aid without so much as a shot fired, national figures treat them politely, they even manage to go to a busy restaurant and get little more than a lot of curious stares. It was so different from everything we come to expect in literature that I found it remarkably refreshing.

The debate for the realism behind this I have no interest in delving into. Make of it what you will.

There is one major issue I have, and it’s one I’ve touched upon many, many times before. This story is written as a journal by the doctor, transcribed in between her calls with the CMC. Once again, we have an author who makes the assumption that people who write journals can recall everything, including entire conversations, perfectly. I didn’t believe it was possible with the dozens of other journal-like entries I’ve read, and I don’t believe it now. Still, I know this is not something 90% of the audience will care about, so it should probably be considered a subjective complaint.

All in all, An Ally Called Preponderance is exciting, fun, well-written, and above all else, creative. If my scheduling methods didn’t require I control how many stories get featured, I’d have this in my next Round Robin. For now, we’ll just have to settle for the fact that it’s a great story, and I wish we could get more from this author.

I originally had this set at the "Pretty Good" level, but after thinking on it a while, I've changed my mind. I think this one deserves more.

Bookshelf: Why Haven't You Read These Yet?

Tears in Dreams

5,613 Words
By Twi-Fi
Requested by Twi-Fi

This story acts almost like a character study of Sweetie Belle. Tears in Dreams is told in (ick) first person from Rarity’s perspective. In it, Rarity tries to comfort Sweetie after she comes home from being bullied, and unintentionally gets pulled into Sweetie’s nightmares. As a result, Rarity comes to know a lot more about her sister than she ever did, and reaffirms their loving bond.

The first thing I noted about the story is that it struggles with pacing. This begins with the opening, which is a bit bland and does the absolute minimal amount of work required to set the scene. It also becomes apparent as Rarity transitions from dream to dream with very little fanfare or visual aid. Perhaps Twi-Fi intended the story to jump from scene to scene – it is a dream – but it felt awkward almost every time. It doesn’t help that the writing style is direct and, resultingly, not all that engrossing.

That being said, the story takes some interesting liberties with the background of Sweetie and, curiously, Diamond Tiara. Sweetie is given a more depressing history than the average fanfare by providing the strong suggestion that Sweetie’s parents literally don’t want anything to do with her. Rarity has, in this variant of the world, more or less become Sweetie’s mother, and the result of this is touching. From a character development standpoint, I find the concept appealing and brimming with potential.

The delivery of Tears in Dreams could use some polish, yet the concept behind it is great. I am also pleased to note that this story is a marked improvement from the last Twi-Fi story I’ve read. It’s always nice to see a writer improve in their craft, and for that I must give kudos.

Bookshelf: Worth It

She Said No

3,662 Words
Kodeake provided no cover art.

One might look at this story as a reactionary piece, although it’s less a reaction to any one episode and more towards a common thread in the series. What thread is that? The idea that every time there is a problem in Equestria, Celestia calls upon Twilight to do something about it rather than act herself.

In She Said No, Princess Twilight has decided she’s not going to be Celestia’s pawn anymore. When Celestia sends her a letter asking she come to Canterlot to help with an emergency, Twilight sends a simple response: “no.” When Celestia comes to investigate, Twilight promptly accuses her of robbing Twilight and her friends of their free will. She points out a number of problems she has with Celestia’s manner towards her before renouncing her own place as princess. Celestia, of course, tries to reason with her.

This story became the target of a lot of flak when it was first released, mainly because Twilight’s behavior is blatantly OoC and makes her seem more like an unappreciative child than a princess. But Kodeake makes it clear in the author’s notes that they knew this was an issue from the beginning. Apparently, the story isn’t meant to be taken seriously, but instead to simply be interpreted as a soap box for everything that is wrong with Celestia in terms of her behavior towards Twilight. In that aspect it succeeds. Considering that I did something very similar in one of my own stories, I can’t in good conscience fault the author.

As a story, there are of course some big issues. Again, Twilight is so blatantly OoC here that she doesn’t seem to be herself at all. Kodeake could have gone through the trouble of explaining how Twilight came to these conclusions, detailing her gradual recognition of her perceived situation. Instead, we jump right into the flames, and so it appears forced in all the wrong ways.

The second chapter does alleviate some of the burden on the reader by showing the aftermath of Twilight’s decision in a reasonable way that suits her, Celestia and her friends quite well. Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late. The fact that the second chapter was written purely in response to the negativity the story was receiving is another point against it, but not a big one.

I suppose your level of enjoyment for this story will depend upon two things: do you feel like Celestia is manipulating everypony behind their backs in some giant chess game, and if so, does that annoy the heck out of you? Oh, and a third thing: can you take authors on soap boxes? For my part, while I can’t blame the author for making the choices they did, as a story it needs some more time and planning to make it worthwhile.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Burn the Fallow Land

25,185 Words
By RainbowBob

I’ve known RainbowBob for a while, and I consider him a friend. The fact that he ultimately bowed out of the MLP scene was a point of sadness for me, although it was a move I fully approved of given the circumstances. We worked together on a number of projects, but I believe that Burn the Fallow Land was the very first time he approached me for assistance. He credits me as an editor, but I don’t think I was as influential in the story as the others involved.

To my awareness, Bob has always written only three story types: clop, the ridiculously funny, and the exceptionally dark. Burn the Fallow Land is the third type, and like many of his dark stories, alludes to what I can only assume is a deep love for Lovecraftian and eldritch horrors. The story crafts an alternative telling of why Luna was banished 1,000 years ago, in which an otherworldy entity known only as The Nightmare takes over the body of Celestia in order to manipulate the world into something far darker than it ever was before.

The story can be hard to follow at times, particularly when we hit the perspective of the Nightmare itself. This is likely intentional, a means of clarifying just how alien the entity is, such that even its thought processes and conception of reality is entirely different from our own. As we steadily come to learn more and more about this foul being, the horror that is its very existence only grows stronger.

There’s one complaint I’ve heard from others that is fairly legitimate, and that relates to the combat. It seems pretty clear to me that Bob took his influences here entirely from the Dragon Ball franchise; the fights take forever, they’re interrupted by long bouts of talking in which nothing really happens, and every blow involves wanton destruction of the local terrain. Oh, and super attacks take an eternity and a half to charge up, even when they are canonically known to do so within a matter of seconds. For some of you, this might be a good thing. If you’re not into a story just for lots of ridiculously epic combat, though, you may be put off, as this appear to be intended as one of the major draws.

In fact, taking a step back to look at the story as a whole, it could be argued that having Celestia and Luna get into an epic battle for supremacy may have been the primary purpose of this story.

The narrative is decent, but at times can be very telly. I must once again relate this to Lovecraftian influences; the descriptions and style of Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, for example, were telly in the extreme, but that style serves the purpose of easing the description of an entity that, for all intents and purposes, defies description. Bob takes things a little too far at times, with needlessly strange statements, turns-of-phrase that don’t quite work, and the occasional awkward description.

Ultimately, I would suggest this story to those who like lengthy fighting scenes and/or want to see an interpretation of the Luna/Celestia conflict that doesn’t fall into the bare bones of ‘Luna was jealous’ or ‘Luna was possessed.’ As a general story, it doesn’t bring anything exceptional to the table, but it’s not without its highlights.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Flutterbat vs. Timberjack

20,373 Words
By fluttershyone
Co-authored by fluttercord45 and Browneyedbagel
Completed Story

By now it’s no secret that I’m a horror fan. What people might not know is that I happen to have a certain love of the black and white classics, stemming from a collection I found at my elementary school library that put the old movies into simple book form. Dracula, The Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, I loved them all. When I saw that this story existed, my mind immediately went back to those old, silly horrors. Even knowing it wasn’t going to be anything like them, I had no choice but to indulge myself.

Flutterbat vs. Timberjack is exactly what it says on the tin; AJ gets bitten by a “weretimberwolf” and is turned into the Timberjack (as named by Rarity), and Fluttershy lets her inner Flutterbat out to defeat her. It’s as simple and obvious as can be. Normally, “simple” and “obvious” would be huge negatives for me, but my inner horror fanboy can only squeal with impish delight at the idea. I could have a lot of fun with something like this.

Which is why it pains me so much to have to be honest about this story. As a genre, horror has always enjoyed lax standards due to an easy-to-please audience base, but even by those standards, Flutterbat vs. Timberjack is woefully inadequate. There’s far too much wrong with the story for me to list everything; the knowledge that this was featured (four times!) only emphasizes the strength of the concept and the lax attention of the general public regarding proper writing.

The first and most blatant issue is the narrative in its entirety. This story was conceived from an RP performed among the authors. Looking at the style of writing, I strongly suspect that the narrative was ripped right out of the RP, with little to no attempt to clean it up. There are run-ons, the tenses are mixed chaotically, typos and missing words abound, and I can’t tell you how tired I became from seeing the word “then” repeated ad nauseum. Just for kicks, I copied one of the chapters to MSWord and used the Find function to count; I found 75 instances of the word “then.”

The lines are all painfully direct. There’s no attempt whatsoever to establish atmosphere, to channel emotion or to emphasize events. Things just happen, in a steady, endless and unemotional stream, with little attention paid to pacing. The fighting is detailed to the point of frustration, yet also vague (can anyone tell me what a “rolling tackle” is supposed to be?).

Then we have characters that make no sense. Take, for example, Discord. We all know this guy. We have a good idea as to the near-limitless nature of his abilities. It’s pretty clear to anyone who knows anything about him that he could almost certainly solve this dilemma with a mere snap of his fingers. As such, there are a few things I’d like to know, such as: why he had to manually make an antidote for Timberjack instead of snapping one into existence; or why he made no attempt to protect Fluttershy – whom he apparently is supposed to be in love with in this universe – and instead disappeared to let the fight happen; or why he’s making dangerous bets with rival draconeqii that directly and intentionally put Fluttershy’s life in danger.

Or how about Rainbow Dash? The fastest pegasus alive is not only not fast enough to keep ahead of a rampaging Timberjack, she doesn’t even bother to think of flying away.

Oh, or Pinkie tying up the original weretimberwolf, only for it to immediately break free? No, that’s not bad on its own… until she does it again and this time, inexplicably, it works like a charm. Speaking of the weretimberwolf; this thing just turned AJ into a monster. So our solution is to tie it up, get the ingredient needed to cure AJ… and then just forget it ever existed?

Moving on. The dialogue is amateurish at best, the characters don’t react properly to much of anything, there’s no sense of timing (Discord has the remaining four ponies watch a film while the two are still fighting), the formatting is awkward at best, saidisms litter the story, and very little of the story makes realistic sense. As I said, even by the low standards of the horror genre, this is a feeble showing.

I couldn’t possibly recommend this story in its current state. For an idea brimming with so much potential, this is nothing less than a pitiful disappointment, and a stellar example of how RPs do not make for good literature. About the only scary point in all of this is that the story somehow had a 95% positive voting ratio at the time this review was written.

Bookshelf: None

Liked these reviews? Check out some others:

Jeremy's New Years Reviews!
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXV
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews Have Returned!
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews XXX

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Comments ( 14 )

I agree that an "easy-to-please audience base" is a common and tangible problem for a lot of reasons. I think singling out Horror for having lax standards, however, is not terribly accurate. The standards for horror are not comparatively lower than those for crossovers, porn, or a lot of other genres.

As an extension of that point, fanfiction as a whole has fundamentally lax standards. I understand it made for a good hook into the review, but it feels disingenuous.

Aside from this highly specific point of contention; good, thorough reviews as always :raritywink:

You're right, fanfiction standards tend to be lax, and since I don't judge by fanfiction standards, it tends to be highly noticeable. But horror stories, regardless of medium, have always stood out to me as being particularly lax. Even when there are those I really enjoy watching/reading, I'm blatantly aware of the egregious flaws in them. There are exceptions, of course.

Maybe it's just that I've seen/read so much horror that I'm more acutely aware of their fallacies than I am for other genres.

3871255 I intentionally phrased my first paragraph so that it applies to both "professional" (being generous) media and fanfiction. I made a typo, however, so try and pretend that didn't happen.

I suppose having more "experience" with a genre might influence ones standards and perception of it. Even then, I have trouble believing Horror suffers from lax standards any more than the genres I mentioned (if not more so). Comparing Hostel to Lord of the G-Strings to Alien vs. Predator and so forth isn't really much of a variance in quality. They're all bad within their genre.

If anything, I would posit that Horror is slightly better off than some genres, since at least it has multiple sub-genres that can have different standards and running themes. Psychological Horror tends to have higher standards than Torture Porn, for instance. Of course, "can" and "tends to" are the key words there. :derpytongue2:

Tears in Dreams is told in (ick) first person from Rarity’s perspective.

You don't like first person?

Here's a review I can live with. :twilightsmile:

Tear in Dreams gets revised and tweaked every now and then. I could probably rewrite it now to round out some of those clunky prose (and maybe I will). Jumping form scene to scene was the intention, as Rarity's inspiration room is used like a stage for Rarity to interoperate Sweetie's dreams; I'll have to re-evaluate those transitions to see the awkwardness, I guess. I was trying to be minimal and symbolic with the imagery, focusing more on the characters; perhaps it suffers because of that. My writing being direct is the result of writing so many technical documents; sometimes it's hard to be subtle when you have to "idiot proof" everything (ugh). I'm not making excuses, my writing needs much work, it's just some background. This is the first story I wrote that I feel is decent and can comfortably say I like.

Yes, you are right in thinking this is a character study of Sweetie Belle, and it's a bit of a Rarity character study too. Anyway, I agree, the prose can be bland and clunky, but nonetheless, I'm pleased there's something worthwhile here. Thank you for the review.

Paul, I had to dig this up, because it's too funny not to. A while back, I had posted a blog about sex, the immortal game came up, and Aes had this to say:


For context, the blog in question: http://www.fimfiction.net/blog/91363/thoughts-on-outrage

You know, in thinking more about it, I think I can venture the reason as to why An Ally Called Preponderance is so different in tone and context—or at least, one reason: it's a Sci-Fi story first, not a pony story.

I realized this following an event about a month ago where I was talking with a friend about modes of travel between universes and the effects thereof, and I gave him the basic rundown of Preponderance without once ever mentioning the MLP connection, until he asked me where I'd read it and I went "Oh, holy smokes, that's an MLP fanfic."

But it doesn't feel like an MLP fanfic. Most MLP fanfic puts the "pony" first and foremost. Over everything else, before even the story, is the fact that it is pony, and My Little Pony.

Preponderance doesn't do that. It's a Sci-Fi story first ... and a pony story second. Which makes it unique. You could remove any reference to MLP and still be left with a very interesting scenario and slice of a story, because that Sci-Fi element is what the story is rooted in ... not the involvement of the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

It's not that the story isn't an MLP fanfic—of course it is!—nor that it doesn't belong—it does!—but rather that the MLP angle is not the focus, but rather an aspect of the story at large. The MLP is a part of the story, like tires are part of a car, rather than the story being the vehicle to present MLP. Make sense?

Anyway, just an interesting observation on part of what I realized earlier makes it so fresh in its approach. Thought you might like it.

Glad you enjoyed, and good luck with the move! Hope all goes well with it, and that long commute is blissfully waved goodbye to!

All in all, An Ally Called Preponderance is exciting, fun, well-written, and above all else, creative. If my scheduling methods didn’t require I control how many stories get featured, I’d have this in my next Round Robin. For now, we’ll just have to settle for the fact that it’s a great story, and I wish we could get more from this author.


HAH! I remember reading The Immortal Game for the first time and thinking when they first introduced 'that' concept. I thought that it was a cool idea, but within the context of using it to defeat a being whose entire purpose is basically steadfast single-mindedness felt a little thin, even to me.

TIG has the best use of swords within pony fiction though, hooves down.

P.S. Congratulations on your new job! :twilightsmile:

I survived that length of commute for year and half; you can make it to the 1st :twilightsmile:
Music, audiobooks, and podcasts helped a great deal.

Author Interviewer

So glad you enjoyed Preponderance. :D It sits, I believe, at number four in my top 15 fics shelf.

TIG was definitely worth it, although it was a pain to slog through it at times.

Where do you stand on FoE and its spinoffs? I tried reading the original a while back and couldn't get through the first chapter. Then the comments section of a completely unrelated story piqued my interest about the character Psalm in Project Horizons, so I've been hooked on that one for the past three weeks. I'm even biting the bullet and reading past Chapter 33... if I catch up to where Somber's left off before he updates Fimfiction again, I'll have to go to the EQG or Gdocs version to finish it.

No, I typically don't like first person. Some stories pull it off well, but most fail spectacularly.

I admire your ability to go back and make adjustments. Aside from fixing typos and maybe improving a sentence that sounds off in hindsight, I never go back to edit my published works. And I mean never. I firmly believe that the path to improvement is in the constant production of new material, not the revisiting of the old. But the downside of that philosophy is that those old stories with their flaws never get fixed, and sometimes I really regret that. So kudos to you for working to improve those stories which you feel need work.

Consider me amused. and AestheticB 20% cooler. :derpytongue2:

You do tend to reflect more on the deeper aspects of stories, which may be why your own tend to be so good. I've always been the type to look at the surface and not dwell on the nuanced workings of stories (including my own), and as such I didn't have even a remote inkling of this concept until you brought it to my attention. That being said, I like what this brings to the table. Every so often I am reminded that there's a lot more to the construction of a story than my limited awareness recognizes.

Sometimes I fear my ability as a writer is limited due to this.

The swordplay was pretty awesome. I'm sitting here trying to come up with a way to argue your statement, but I've got nothing.

Music. I listen to lots of music. Pandora is my friend.

It took me a moment to realize you meant FO:E, not FoE. My reaction could have been very different had I not realized that. Anyway...

You're asking me what I thought of FO:E? Did you not see my massive and massively gushing review? I enjoyed it so much, even I briefly considered joining the side story bandwagon – and I hate bandwagons. But I have yet to actually read any of the sidestories. As soon as Project Horizons is completely uploaded to FimFiction, it's going on my fast track.

...you weak, unworthy individual. :trollestia:


Aha... now that you reminded me, I do remember reading your review back then. I still wasn't sure whether you had gotten into any of the spinoffs, though. I know that I'm totally going about it the wrong way around, but I also watched the Karate Kid, Mighty Ducks, and Evil Dead second installments before the originals, so I suppose you could say it's in character for me to read Project Horizons first as well... thankfully I'm old enough to have not watched The Phantom Menace first, otherwise I'd have missed out on an awesome franchise.

I had my own worries with the immortal game since like most war fics the mane six can easily be written horribly thankfully they weren’t here. I was shocked that the author even had Pinkie for once not be a stupid useless clown i really hate clowns especially ones who do nothing to move the plot along. Where ever the dude is i hope he’s gone professional and is writing novels. Sorry for necroing the blog comment section.

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