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comicfan616


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  • 224 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 · 362 views
  • 230 weeks
    FiMFic Reviews: Turnabout Storm Adaptation... Or "The Victim's Autopsy Report"

    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 · 404 views
  • 237 weeks
    The Cutie Map is Back... (Sequel Announcement)

    The Watchers of the Map are back in my latest story, "The Mission Begins Anew." Check it out here.

    0 comments · 359 views
  • 246 weeks
    FiMFic Reviews: Nightmare Night Special... Or "The Creature Double Feature"

    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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    0 comments · 443 views
  • 250 weeks
    FiMFic Reviews: The Music of Ponyville... Or "The Alternate AU"

    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 · 406 views
Oct
2nd
2016

FiMFic Reviews: The Music of Ponyville... Or "The Alternate AU" · 6:41pm Oct 2nd, 2016

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 and try to review the Lunaverse (pretty much the quintessential AM6 series), that comes with a lot of baggage, particularly being so big and consisting of so many different stories by so many different authors that to review even the so-called “pilot episode” would eventually turn to comparisons to those other stories.

So instead, I’ll review something a little more low-key in terms of ubiquity within the brony fandom, and done by an author of the Lunaverse itself, no less (meaning we’ve got some pedigree to consider). That story is The Music of Ponyville, written by GrassAndClouds2, the first story in what’s known as “The Cadanceverse” (and yes, I’m aware it’s supposed to be spelled “Cadenceverse,” but that’s the official name, so I’m just gonna roll with it).

Now, normally, this is the part of the review where I talk about the basic plot, while attempting to keep things as spoiler-free as possible. But by now, any brony worth their salt should be able to guess how such a story unfolds: Student, Loner, Ponyville, New Ponies, 1,000-year Evil, Everfree, Trials, Elements of Harmony, Rainbows, The End. And while there are some fics that may change one or two elements from time to time, the overall story doesn’t change much. But what does change is the presentation.

The primary protagonist for this particular story is Octavia, a classical music student at Cadence’s School for Gifted Musicians. And I’m just gonna say this outright; she is, at the start, at least, the worst main character out of any AM6 story I’ve read. Not as a character, though, but as a person/pony in general. In the first half of the story, Octavia would like nothing more than to be left alone to practice and compose. And while sending her to Ponyville was Cadence’s attempt at breaking her out of her shell, Octavia tends to see herself as much more cultured and enlightened than anypony else in the town, so all she can do is bring her culture and enlightenment to them, much to everypony’s chagrin. And it still takes her until after the double-whammy of both Nightmare Moon and the Tyrant Sun to realize her mistakes (oh, uh, by the way, this story has both Luna and Celestia as the 1,000-year evils). Even Page Turner, this story’s equivalent of Spike, who has been the most patient with her, ends up abandoning Octavia by the halfway point.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to absolutely hate her. Oh, she is clearly in the wrong nine times out of ten (at best), but she has one advantage that keeps me from outright despising her: the narration. The story is told from a third-person viewpoint with the bulk of it having Octavia herself as the central focus, meaning that all relevant narration is a reflection of her thoughts and opinions. It really helps to bring her reactions to Ponyville and its citizenry into perspective and makes her logical leaps seem reasonable, if only on the surface. It’s thanks to this style of storytelling that I was able to keep reading; I may not have agreed with Octavia, but I was able to sympathize, and that kept me going.

But it wouldn’t be an AM6 fic without five other characters. In order of appearance:

Bluenote (also known as Beauty Brass elsewhere in the fandom) is an earth pony tuba player whose musical skills may be lacking, but her enthusiasm is unparalleled, making her the go-to music teacher for foals.
Medley is a pegasus who runs a music shop, specializing in instruments and maintenance of the same. She also makes her own instruments, such as her Aeolian harp (which is too big to be played normally, but instead relies on wind to produce sound). She may be an overall good-natured pony, but she does get frustrated easily.
Lyra Heartstrings (who I imagine needs no introduction) is the town bard and a Petrarchan-style lover towards Bon Bon, preferring to watch her from afar rather than reveal her intentions to her outright. She has a flair for the dramatic.
In a surprising turn, Fluttershy is also part of the main cast. She’s the town vet who also conducts singing birds as a hobby. She’s not nearly as timid as in the show, but not out of character in that regard, either, though she is rather passionate when it comes to animal-related causes, practically panhandling others when trying to collect donations.
And finally, there’s Vinyl Scratch (it was only a matter of time, given that Octavia’s the lead character), a DJ specializing in wubstep and has the attitude and energy to match her occupation of choice. She’s also really skilled in sound magic.

One thing you’ve likely noticed from these descriptions is that each character has at least some familiarity with music. So it may not come as a surprise when I say that the core aspect of this story is, in fact, music. Involving more than just the characters’ careers/hobbies, music is a constant presence throughout the fic, from the general focus of study in Cadence’s school to the fact that the Equinox Celebration Octavia is preparing for involves a concert as its headlining event. Some of the narration is devoted to describing (through imagery, usually) the music that is currently playing. Even the Elements of Harmony, when they are finally revealed, become musical instruments (a nice touch that only adds to the creativity).

But where the music really comes to the forefront is in the musical numbers. Yes, this is one of those stories where the author takes an actual song, changes the lyrics a bit to fit the characters and situation, and provides a link to a YouTube video of the original song. And this fic has more such songs than any I’ve read, a total of six, with five of them occurring in the second half.

However, this leads to one of the fic’s bigger downfalls, and, unfortunately, it’s not one that can be easily reversed. See, the problem with this style of writing is that it breaks the pace of the story; you have to stop reading, click the link, wait for the video to load up, get through the inevitable advertisement, and then you can keep going. And with six songs in one story (five of which happen just about every other chapter), that’s a lot of pace-breaking. But it doesn’t end there; it’s hard to stop the song as it goes from one verse to the next, so narration suffers as a result, unless the author can write a paragraph that can be read comfortably all the way through in the intervening moments between verses. And of course, because the song already exists, its lyrics will inevitably clash with those in the fic, creating a slight disconnect between story and song.

While this is a lot of negativity to work through, keep in mind that, as mentioned, problems like these are somewhat inevitable. It’s just the price we pay for such an experience. And at the end of the day, that experience is worth it. The songs all do their jobs in setting the tone of the current situation and are fun to listen to and sing along with. Among my favorites are “The Beast of Everfree,” “My World,” and “I Am a Little Pony.”* Even the songs that change very little in the way of lyrics (“Eye of the Pony”* being the standout example) still work in the context of the story. (However, I should note that “The Beast of Everfree” splits the original song in two parts, a main song and a reprise, and to avoid spoiling the end of the song, the link appears at the reprise. A bit annoying, but all things considered, the author did handle it as best they could.)

But I do have one more thing to nitpick about. It’s a minor thing, but it was something I couldn’t help but notice. I mentioned before that the author, Grassandclouds2, had previously contributed (and still does) to the Lunaverse. And with this story, it really shows. There were times when I felt like the author had taken the plot of Longest Night, Longest Day, the Lunaverse origin story, and nearly copied it beat for beat. This isn’t to say that this story is a plagiarized version of the other, just with different characters; there are far too many differences in the plot and overall tone to call it that. But in regards to story structure, anyone who’s read Longest Night, Longest Day will likely notice how similar the two stories are. I found it particularly noticeable during Octavia’s fall from grace, from the townsponies’ grievances to Cadence’s disappointment, which was followed immediately by the tyrants’ reveal. And Medley is probably more similar to Raindrops than she has any right to be.

But that’s enough negativity, because this story does a lot to help it stand out from being a “Lunaverse clone” (if that’s even a thing [though I wouldn’t be surprised]). For example, how it distributes the Elements of Harmony. (Oh, don’t give me that look; with this kind of story, it’s a minor spoiler at most.) In most other stories, the Element of Magic always goes to the main character, the one the story has been following since the beginning. But, as I’m sure most of you would have figured out, Octavia being an earth pony kinda throws a monkey wrench into that tradition. But whereas other fics in this situation would simply reinterpret the Element, this one decides to dodge that option entirely, instead giving Octavia another Element while giving Magic to somepony else. All things considered, that’s not especially ground-breaking or even noteworthy, but it does help the story to stand out from its brethren.

In fact, despite my earlier claim that this story is very similar to the Lunaverse’s origin story, The Music of Ponyville is one of the more unique stories in the Alternate Man 6 subgenre I’ve ever read. It’s similar enough to the source material that readers can identify all the familiar beats, but changes enough elements (no pun intended), as well as adds its own, to be its own entity. Add in how it takes full advantage of its creativity and provides excellent characterization, and this story is an amazing experience.

Recommendation Rating: :heart::heart::heart::heart: An enjoyable fic; an easy recommendation. :twilightsmile:

*Songs mentioned in this review/Comparisons:
“The Beast of Everfree” – “ The Beast of Pirate’s Bay” by Voltaire
“My World” – “My World” by The Cruxshadows
“I Am a Little Pony” – “Riding a Black Unicorn” by Voltaire
“Eye of the Pony” – “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Report comicfan616 · 406 views · #review #mane 6 #AU #Lunaverse
Comments ( 1 )

Glad you enjoyed the story! Always fun to hear from someone who did. :pinkiehappy:

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