Let's Talk About Dreams and Disasters
So a while back, I did a “Let’s Talk” about Sunset of Time, one of the finest and most emotionally heart-wrenching stories I’ve ever had the privilege to experience. I would say that it was an emotional roller coaster, but it had more in common with a boxing match. As in, I was emotionally beaten to a pulp. Yet it’s one of those stories I can walk away from knowing full well that I was just in the presence of a master.
However, any good storyteller will tell you that stories need to have their highs and their lows. After a long series of emotionally traumatic events, you need to blow off the steam and release at least some of the tension. It’s part of life.
So I needed something happy, fluffy and cute. I wanted some shipping, some comedy and some fun.
Well, I got that and more in Quillery’s Dreams and Disasters.
Now, usually these follow ups/emotional retrospectives/commentaries/reviews/whatever-the-heck-these-things-actually-are usually involve stories with deeper meanings, intense themes, emotional whirlwinds and the like. Dreams and Disasters doesn’t have deep philosophical or sociological implications, though it’s a fantastic exploration of potential lands beyond Equestria (Or maybe I was just having too much fun to notice). There are amazing insights into the potential extrapolation of Earth culture in the MLP universe. But more than anything, Dreams and Disasters is just plain ol’ fun.
First of all, I was rather surprised to find that Dreams and Disasters, though I remember seeing it posted often in EqD before I got into reading FiMFiction, was actually part two of an ongoing series. So I was all geared up to read it, only to have to slam on the brakes and go back to Vanilla Twilight.
I was deeply upset by the fact that Vanilla Twilight didn’t have a proper cover. I fixed that. (And I just realized that Quillery actually is using it now! Yay!)
Speaking of covers, Dreams and Diasters sequel, Hold Your Colors, has probably one of the best covers I’ve seen on FiMFiction. Seriously gorgeous. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t have the author’s name. Come on folks! You worked hard on these things, put your name on your stories!
I found Vanilla Twilight to be cute. A bit on the slow side, but an interesting beginning. In addition, I enjoyed the simple fact that there was an actual reason for Twilight and Rainbow to get together. Well, in this case, Rainbow to find herself attracted to Twilight. Something that seems incredibly obvious after the fact: their love of the sky.
I’ve come across a lot of stories that just decide to have two ponies already together or pretty much just forces them together far too quickly. Nice to see a reason for it.
However, that same idea also made me a bit nervous about the main storyline of Dreams and Disasters: Rainbow Dash’s crush on Twilight. I was wondering if the author could actually pull off having that going over the entire length of the novel without it becoming old, stale or recycled. Because it quickly became apparently that their relationship would be the climax of the story.
Well, I’m happy to say that it worked just fine. Not only that, but we got a fun romp through exotic locales, met some very interesting characters and got to enjoy Rainbow being awkward a hell of a lot. And Oblivious Twilight is oblivious (and totally in-character for her).
But first, I must made a confession. I do like Owl City and have listened to him for years. So yeah...it worked for me. More on that later. ^^
Okay, enough yammering. Let’s get to the fun part! The play-by-play Highlight Reel!
The Devious Designs of a Daytime Diarch
And the Subsequent Scheming
of a Serendipitous Sovereign
Alliteration much? Jeez. This was an absurd way to start your story, but it was also awesome.
“I do believe I’ve at least a warranted a break to spend time with my favorite niece.”
Cadence shot Celestia a confused look. “I’m your only niece.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Have you heard Blueblood whine sometimes? You would swear that he were a filly in a colt’s body sometimes.”
Oh this was too good. Honestly, it wasn’t in-character with Celestia. I can’t see her ever saying this even in a totally informal setting like they’re in right now, but I don’t really care. The line is too damn good.
The prologue in general was a little bit iffy to me. The setup of the mission seemed to strike me as very odd. If this practice exists on Earth, I’ve never heard of it (which doesn’t actually mean anything either way). Maybe a bit more time should have been spent on this? Probably not in the Prologue, but more with Twilight and Rainbow? I’m not sure. That being said, the idea of Cadence jumping on this was awesome.
“...Just a little modifications of some schedules.”
Cadence grabbed a blank scroll from the pile of papers, and with a flick of a quill, she began to write. Celestia sighed and stood beside her niece, surveying what she was planning. “I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?”
“Well, I did try knocking on the door, actually, but that obviously didn’t work. So instead I just conjured a plank of wood and knocked on that. I figured eventually you would come and investigate.”
This...was extremely clever. I never would have come up with this on my own, but it’s perfectly in keeping with not only Twilight’s thought processes, but also her abilities (she does conjure a door out of thin air in Boast Busters, after all). Major props.
...The memories of her dreams came to the forefront of her mind with gusto. On a trip across the world.
“This is going to be a disaster.”
Okay. We get it. WE GET IT. ;)
“Naw, ‘fraid one’s all ya get. Don’t want Rarity to bust a gasket an’ come at me like a spider monkey.” Applejack flashed a wicked grin at Rarity. “Not that that would be very lady-like.”
“Y-yes, that would be quite unseemly of me. Although completely appropriate.”
Oh good golly. This was a freaking hysterical exchange. I was cracking up. Read it over a few times and continued to crack up. I’ll be billing you for the glue required to repair the damage later. ./hides
My other comment was “Okay, that’s enough of AJ and Rarity. One ship at a time!” (Continued immediately by an airship voyage. TOO MANY SHIPS!) Although let’s be honest, AJ and Rarity are practically canon at this point.
It was at Chapter Three where I finally got the titles. Yeah, I know. I’m slow on the uptake. I actually checked the Table of Contents and went “ayep.” That’s okay. It worked for me. Even though I still have no idea what the hell an alligator sky is!!
Sea Swirl watched her leave, smiling dreamily. You were right, Cadence, she was a mess. My boss is probably going to kill me for taking such a long break, but it was worth it. Now, the rest is up to her...
I wondered how many ponies Cadence would seed across the world to help them along. I’m glad it was just the one. That would have gotten old very quickly, but still, that was a great little touch. I will say that you did break your third-person limited perspective here though.
When the officer turned to Twilight, her eyes widened considerably. She looked up from the papers she had in front of her and back down again numerous times, her mouth hanging more open each time.
“M-Miss... Twilight Sparkle?”
We rarely come across situations where Twilight uses her status in any way, but it makes a ton of sense that she would have a great deal of status attached to her. Heck, we should even see it in a bit in the show and we don’t. I was thrilled during Newbie Dash when the Wonderbolts confess that “come on, you’ve saved Equestria like a dozen times or something!” Nice to know that the newspapers have finally caught up!
This could have been handled very badly and it become a crutch, but it wasn’t one. Twilight only actively used it a few times and most of the time it just embarrassed her. You kept to her character well. Well done!
Hrm. I recall them putting on a few shows in the country some time ago. I couldn’t be bothered to attend, however. There was so much more important things to do than to watch some pegasi spinning in the air all day.
Good job on making this guy slowly go to ‘annoyance’ to ‘biogeted <Buy Some Apples>er.’ It gets progressively worse and worse as time goes by...only to have Twilight tell Rainbow afterward that his wife ripped him apart in front of everypony for his behavior. Oh, that was perfect. Wish we could have seen that. But it’s a nice touch that we didn’t, because having it happen off-screen means that the reader will imagine all sorts of things.
“Ok, cool, whatever, so why are we racing it on a train? At the bottom of the ocean? In a glass tunnel?!”
Chill, Rainbow. Epic freakouts are Twilight’s sovereign territory. This entire idea was brilliantly executed from start to finish. The author definitely worked this out.
Dash smirked as she watched Twilight unravel. She snickered to herself and reclined onto her back. “You’re just too adorable when you’re angry, Twi.”
“Good,” Twilight panted. “Because I am not cut out for all this running.”
“I can carry you if you want, Twi,” Dash said, chuckling. “Miss Fifth Place.”
Cute. Nice zinger there.
That's probably the steamiest I'll ever start a chapter again. Heh, because of the steam. I'm so witty...NOT.
I mean this with love and laughter, but you’re a bit of a dork. (Okay, honestly, I busted up laughing while facepalming at this. I’m ashamed. And I couldn’t really believe what I was reading when I first read it and then just groaned so badly for Rainbow when she thought she was dreaming again...)
Queen Victoire. Now this was a great character. The entire escapade was probably my favorite series of scenes in the entire book, especially with the explanation. It makes wonderful sense that she would be desperate to escape (though it would have been nice to mention that she had a unicorn or pegasus help “remove” the map from Twilight’s grasp at the beginning to initiate the meeting). But even more so that you explain that she uses this as a method of connecting with her people. Reminds me of a great Babylon 5 quote:
Captain John Sheridan: If more of our so-called leaders would walk the same streets as the people who voted them in, live in the same buildings, eat the same food instead of hiding behind glass and steel and bodyguards, maybe we'd get better leadership and a little more concern for the future.
Bravo on that. Bravo!
“What kind of nightlife?”
Dash shrugged. “Parties, dancing, music. Ponies travel from all over just to go to Antlerdam for a good time. Cloud Kicker told me it was pretty awesome.”
Twilight chewed her lip. “I’m not sure if I’m completely comfortable with that.”
I’m never going to escape Cloud Kicker, am I?
Victoire smiled. She turned back, and instead of walking back to her carriage, she skipped, humming all the way.
She hadn’t even read it yet, and with a shrug, decided now was as good a time as any. City of Owls, she read. Book One of the Crystal Hooves Saga. Huh. I guess this could be good.
WE GET IT. YOU LIKE OWL CITY. WE GET IT!!!!
“Heh,” Dash chuckled. “Applejack and I know a few deer that live near Ponyville. They are pretty cool. Real earthy types.”
Squee for comic continuity reference!
Ash sang into his mic, creating a loud echo as they drummed out of the speakers like thunder.
Yeah, I own this beat!
Direct quote from personal notes: “I can’t believe you. I can’t believe you! I can’t tell if I think this is awesome or insane.”
“Alcohol...” Twilight muttered. She glanced at her glass, then at Dash’s. She did this a few times, before her eyes widened. “Alcohol? You gave me alcohol?!”
“I’ll take that as a no...”
Twilight glared at Dash. “How can you be flippant about this? I just drank a mental deterrent!” Twilight stood up and started pacing in tight circles, her eyes racing. “I’m going to end up in a dark alley with my I.Q leaking out of my ears!”
...wut. I don’t even drink and I’m still blinking doing a WTF at this. It’s too perfectly in character. I object!
“You did, Twi. You did a great job having fun. But any more fun, and you’ll be praying to Celestia for death in the morning.”
Twilight snorted, and let up resisting long enough for Rainbow to get her to her hooves. “That’s silly, Dash. Why would I ever do that?”
“Let’s just say I’ve got some experience in this.”
“You’ve prayed to Celestia before?”
Dash facehoofed. This is gonna be a long night.”
This whole scene was completely adorable and wonderfully believable in-character. However, if Dash doesn’t do something soon, I’m going to buck her. Hard.
The book-hat nodded….
Why does hearing Twilight described as a Book-Hat seem so damn adorable?
Twilight rolled her gaze to Dash, her eyes joyless and cold. She turned away and shielded her eyes with her foreleg. “Celestia, please kill me….”
...She took out her book, found her previous place, and with a smirk said “Told you.”
I’m snickering so much right now that the Mars company will probably be suing me. (Sorry, best I could come up with).
I am not a coward!
...I feel like they’re looming over me, and they're gonna fall over on me any second. I’ve seen some big mountains back in Equestria, but those are unreal. Coward.
This was a really good move here. To have Rainbow Dash going from doubt and questions to actively berating herself helped make the ongoing development of her struggling to admit her feelings work without becoming old. Considering how boisterous Rainbow Dash is normally, I (and just about everyone else) has always believed she has a massive insecurity complex (which we see come to the forefront in Daring Don’t, at least in part). It’s very believable to have someone so confident in certain areas of their life to the point where the impossible becomes commonplace to be utterly terrified in areas in which they have no experience.
“Vielen Dank für das Angebot. Aber ich komme schon zurecht.”
Honestly? The German annoyed me (as did other places where the characters were speaking in another language). There was just a lot of it here. I don’t like having to skip over sections, especially large swaths of dialogue without knowing what was going on. Yes, I could always pop it into Google Translate, but when I’m reading in an ePUB on my iPad, that’s a bit of a pain. That being said, it did add a sense of the expansive world to the story. So it’s a double-edged sword. I get what you’re going for, but it was still frustrating. I did finally end up looking it up with my iPhone I think.
Most ponifications of various names come across as somewhat forced and obvious. This is one of the few times where it hasn’t. Nicely done.
Gilda laughed. “You look cooler with a scar, even a tiny one like that.”
Dash laughed too. She felt a world's worth of tension die with the relief that the had finally, truly reconciled with one of her oldest friends. It wasn’t an easy battle, but she truly felt at peace with everything that happened.
Short, but effective. With the sudden departure of the two from the games, I was concerned that we weren’t going to get any closure for this particular subplot (I should have known better). Instead, it was handled pretty well.
Twilight’s eyes were twitching, her mouth hanging open and uttering a series of stammered responses. “You...Trotsky...speak...WHAT?!”
Sputtering Twilight is Awesome Twilight. (What can I say? I’m a huge fan of Twilight freakouts. Probably because they make my own freakouts pale in comparison. After all, my hair doesn’t (normally) catch on fire when I get really ticked). I also could just hear this in Twilight’s voice.
...It’s hardly something I would call “Fluttershy friendly,” but it’s how life is lived out here...
A term I hadn’t heard before, yet something that definitely works.
(From Author's Note) “..Oh! I mean.... Dash no...”
Okay, the whole confession/panic is something that’s been done to death, in fiction, in Hollywood, on Broadway and just about everywhere. But that’s because it usually works. Especially for someone like Twilight, yeah, panic is the most obvious response to something like that. The key is how it’s handled after the fact. But more on that in a bit. ^^
But, there is a scared little mare out there, who is confused, and most likely lost in the cold, who needs you now more than ever. So, you can sit here and lament like the child you are showing me to be, or you can go out there and prove everything you have told me about her, and be the mare I know you are.
A character like Aurora is a hard thing to write. To come across as so insanely blunt, yet so insanely correct without becoming cruel is a very fine line to walk. While I think she slips a little in places (and a few more in Hold Your Colors), my thoughts when I read this moment was simply “I like her.” We don’t see enough characters like this, those who speak bluntly out of true love instead of just speaking bluntly to “tell it like it is.” There’s a vast difference between the two I think a lot of folks don’t understand.
Honesty isn’t an excuse for cruelty. But considering how much Dash has been dragging her hooves on this, she seriously needed a sharp kick to the flank to her in gear.
“I’m here, Twi.” She sniffled. “And I always will be.”
I admit I teared up a bit at this scene. I could imagine it perfectly in my head. And to have her pull a Sonic Rainboom to try and find her...yeah, it’s overkill, but it’s also very much Rainbow Dash.
But first, I need to figure out what a bow is.
Well played. A nice bit of comedy to end the emotional rollercoaster with. ^^
“...And then I saw the Rainboom. I knew you were out there, looking for me, even after what I had done. You found me." She sniffed and placed her hoof on Dash. She stared with a fond expression, wet with fresh tears. "You saved me.”
Awwww dammit! Stop making me tear up. I’m tired of crying because of cuteness.
Remember when I said that the confession/panic thing had been done to death and what happens afterward is what really matters? Well, here it is. Twilight’s completely cold to Rainbow until the very end, because she’s fighting with her own feelings. It isn’t something she manages to get over in a few hours. It’s something she really had to wrangle with. Something that requires a lot of thought.
Sometimes I wonder about the various romances I read on here (yes, I’m a romantic, shut up). I wonder how much romantic experience folks have when they write stories. How much of what they’re writing is from what else they’ve read or seen? Or is this how they think things should go? Real relationships are slow things, at least most of the time. I think the whirlwind romance idea is far more rare than many think.
Now, I have only my own experience to go from. I’ve been married eleven years and I proposed to my wife on our one-year anniversary. I wasn’t patient. I know folks who waited a lot longer than me, but still, that’s a year. A lot of stories paint this crazy romance that happens in a few days.
It’s wonderful to have a slow burn tale and more of a revelation of what was already there. The journal was an excellent touch, retelling the story without rehashing it from Twilight’s perspective, especially with her thoughts at the end when she realizes that there is something there, it just scares the hell out of her. She’s still panicking, but she’s finally reached the point where she’s ready to ask for help.
“...It would have been too weak to follow it at a distance, except for a skilled unicorn to increase the power.” She turned her head to Dash and smiled weakly. “Or a desperate pegasus trying to find her friend. All I can think of is that your rainboom charged your gem so much that even my latent magical aura would have led you to me.”
The best way to handle a “new” concept in a story in an established universe is to work within the framework already provided rather than creating something wholly new. This did it very well.
“I’m willing to learn for you, Dash.”
Dash looked at her hoof clutched in Twilight’s and looked back into her eyes. “What are you saying, Twi?”
Twilight sniffed, and choked out a teary laugh. She wiped the tear away and smiled. “Teach me… Teach me how I can love, Dash. Teach me how I can love you. If you give me a chance to try, to understand how we can make this work, I promise I’ll be the best student ever, for you.”
This is the perfect Twilight answer. A student down to the marrow in her bones. She’s approaching it from her unique perspective and it’s something I haven’t seen a lot of. You captured her mentality pretty damn well here. You also took the time to actually have them talk it out, to work it out, rather than Twilight just throwing herself into Dash’s hooves. That’s what made this all the sweeter.
“...so… I’ll be your special somepony, if you’ll have me after all I’ve put you through. I owe you at least that chance.”
Ayep. I think that’s fair. ^^
“Twilight shuffled her legs. Her ears folded back as her blushed deepened. “O-our first kiss? Th-that’s what special someponies do, right? I-I’m not completely unread in love.”
Never change Twilight. Never become anything other than that adorakle unicorn we’ve all fallen in love with.
“Yeah…” she panted. “That was pretty awesome. It was almost like…”
Twilight smiled. “Magic?”
Dash smiled as well and tightened her grip. “Yeah, magic.”
“When can we do this again?”
(Dammit, I needed to dance for the song a few more times, shut up!)
Okay. Confession time. I finished reading this on a Sunday afternoon. The moment I finished it and realized what that link was to, I brought out my iPhone, pulled up “When Can I See You Again?” and played it loud throughout my bedroom.
But what was even cooler was that fact that the song worked perfectly as a “credits” song. Yeah, I know it was the credits for Wreck-It Ralph. But when I listened to the song, I could actually see the various scenes in Dreams and Disasters playing out in my head. From the beginning of Vanilla Twilight in the opening to the various exotic locales in between the choruses and the finale of each arc at the end of each chorus. I wish I could put what I can still see in my head into words. In fact, it hasn’t changed. This song (which has always been one of my Owl City favorites) is now permanently associated with this story. Whenever I hear it, I immediately to back to this story. From the airship to the sonic rainboom, the whole story plays in my head during the course of hearing it.
I also may have repurchased the Ocean Eyes (Deluxe Version) album. ...and then listened to only Owl City for about a week straight. So if this was all some sort of conspiracy to get Adam Young even more money, congrats, you win.
There were a few places where the names of Owl City songs for the chapters didn’t make a lot of sense (then again, a lot of Owl City’s songs are frankly nonsense, but I think that’s part of the charm), but in the end, the theme worked very well. Now, let’s finish this out, shall we?
I have seen an increase in my paperwork as of late, she wondered. Perhaps Celestia knows why I’ve been receiving more tax amendments lately.
I’d be lying if I said she was wrong. We definitely found it.
“A big thank you to Ambris for the beautiful capstone image to tie everything together.”
You want to hear something cool? I’ve had this picture in my pony artwork collection for years. I’ve always known it was from some story, but I was delighted to find it was from this story. The artwork is simply gorgeous and yes, it’s the perfect capstone. I’d also like to say that I was utterly thrilled to see that you did the exact same thing with Hold Your Colors.
After all, a picture says a thousand words right? So nothing like a great picture of two adorable ponies in love to end an adorable story.
So there we go. It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper followup. I do love doing these. Maybe someday someone will do one for me (once I get something worthy out there). This was a wonderfully sweet story that managed to handle multiple story arcs effectively without losing the cohesive whole. I’ve read a globetrotter stories that didn’t feel connected at all (honestly, Apotheosis, for all its amazing world-building, never felt all that cohesive to me), but this story didn’t have the problem.
In the end, Dash’s feelings are threaded through the story throughout their adventures and that’s what binds it together. So it really feels like a true adventure story but in the world we know as opposed to something completely unfamiliar. I have to say, I like these better. I like the ones that build directly off of what we know instead of immediately heading to totally unfamiliar territory. It’s a personal preference and I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoys it.
So that about wraps it up! An excellent romance adventure starring one of the most classic ships in the fandom (Even if SunLight is still a better ship. Sorry. Just the truth. ;) ). Highly recommended to one and all.
And to the author, I say bravo and well done. ^^