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Titanium Dragon

TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Recommended Story Reviews #16 – The Numbers Don’t Lie, Disgraced, Learning Curves, An Afternoon for Dotted Line, Friends With Discounts · 12:26pm Jan 30th, 2017

Recently, I’ve been trying to be more productive. There are all too many times where I’m aware that I’m wasting my time, and I’m trying to make more of an effort to divert said “dumb time” into time where I actually accomplish something of value.

We’ll see how well it goes, but I’ve managed to put out a review set every other day since I started. So, progress, right?

Today’s stories:

The Numbers Don’t Lie by shortskirtsandexplosions
Disgraced by HoofBitingActionOverload
Learning Curves by Tumbleweed
An Afternoon for Dotted Line by Ghost of Heraclitus
Friends with Discounts by Hyzaku

The Numbers Don’t Lie
by shortskirtsandexplosions

Slice of Life
20,101 words

When the Cutie Mark Crusaders dig up an ancient magical artifact, they unleash a spell on the town that allows everypony to see a "lie meter" floating above each other's heads. While attempting to solve the mystery, Twilight Sparkle has to analyze the tenuous balance between friendship and honesty. She doesn't like what she finds.

Why I recommend it: It is an interesting story about a complex subject.

This is, perhaps, my single favorite “episode-like” story on the entire site. The premise is given in the description – the CMC accidentally activate a magical artifact which results in numbers appearing over everyone’s head, and everyone starts falling apart because every time they lie, everyone around them knows it (not to mention that certain individuals end up with extremely large numbers over their heads, which is like an ominous curse).

This is a really great story precisely because it looks not only at the importance of honesty, but at the way that people tell lies to people for different reasons. Some do it to try and make others feel better, or to protect their feelings; others do it out of habit; others do it to preserve their self image; still others do it because the truth is damaging to them. It explores the idea that the truth can sometimes hurt, but also that it can sometimes set you free – as well as showing that, even with lie meters over people’s heads, they can still misunderstand each other, as well as eroding people’s underlying trust (as at several points in the story, characters have a brief, painful wait for another character’s number to increment, showing that they don’t really trust them).

The story isn’t particularly dense textually, but it manages to explore a variety of situations over its 20,000 word length, showing both the good and bad that the lie meter does. It makes some characters anxious, while others are still wholly capable of interacting with each other like normal ponies – but it also makes an interestingly wholesome point that the characters who are still capable of interacting with others normally even with those lie meters overhead are mostly pretty good, honest people to begin with. When it points out that lying isn’t always bad, it also shows that lying isn’t always good, either, and that people who habitually lie may well have bad habits.

And through all that, it manages to retain a lot of whimsical charm. There’s a lot of funny dialogue throughout the piece – characters react to the lies in various, sometimes quite amusing ways, and Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy are all funny in their own ways. Fluttershy’s lie counter is particularly charming, and it makes me grin every time I read about it.

Pulling off a well-constructed story like this is difficult, but SS&E did an excellent job here – it is very coherent, flows naturally, feels extremely in-character (even if Twilight never lying seems a bit unlikely given the character from the show, it works well here, especially as a means of teaching the audience the lesson it is trying to teach), and in the end, is extremely wholesome.

If you haven’t read this story yet, you should make the time to do so; it is well worth your time.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.

by HoofBitingActionOverload

Drama, Romance
8,117 words

When Rainbow Dash is accused of having cheated her way into her position in the Wonderbolts, her life is shattered. Rejected and ashamed, she returns home to her friends, where Pinkie Pie is left to pick up the pieces.

Why I recommend it: A somber piece about integrity and consequences.

Written back during season 2, this story is about Rainbow Dash returning to Ponyville after being kicked out of the Wonderbolts after cheating in a race that was part of the entrance exam to the Wonderbolts. During the race, she deliberately crashed into another pony and caused her to be severely injured; once the Wonderbolts realized what happened, she was expelled for life.

The story isn’t about her being kicked out, though; we only see brief glimpses of Rainbow Dash there, in flashbacks. Rather, the story is about the consequences of her actions, and about integrity.

Rainbow Dash’s friends are all waiting at the train station for her. Pinkie Pie is, of course, supportive, and Rarity and Twilight are trying their best – but Applejack is outright angry, and wants to hear from Rainbow Dash herself why she did what she did.

But Rainbow Dash can’t tell her the truth. Just as she did to Spitfire, she lies, claiming she wasn’t responsible. But everyone knows that isn’t true – even Rainbow Dash isn’t really trying to be convincing. She just can’t say it out loud.

This is an angle that I don’t see many stories take – a lot of stories are about triumph, but this story is ultimately about recovering from failure. Rainbow Dash messed up – big time. She did something very, very wrong and seriously injured someone else in the process. She’s all twisted up inside, and is terrified that everyone will hate her even more if she admits what she did.

Pinkie Pie in this story serves as the voice of love, optimism, and conscience, encouraging Rainbow Dash to try again, even though Rainbow Dash messed up badly. Pinkie loves Rainbow Dash unconditionally, even though Rainbow Dash doesn’t feel like she deserves it. But Pinkie Pie (and Twilight, and Rarity) recognize that she needs their support.

This is a nice story, and is pretty emotional; our hero, a character we care about, is hurting, but we as the audience come to both empathize with her pain as well as recognize what she did as wrong. This is a tough trick to pull off, but this story pulls it off well. Rainbow Dash isn’t okay by the end of it, but that’s alright – in fact, it works better that way, as it leaves us, the audience, in the right place and mindset, as things aren’t really okay, but they can get better, and Rainbow Dash can do better, and is going to try.

Recommendation: Recommended

Learning Curves
by Tumbleweed
Sex, Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life
1,313 words

Before the Grand Galloping Gala, Applejack makes a very...personal request of Rarity. How could the element of generosity refuse?

Why I recommend it it: Because I’m shameless.

Applejack invites Rarity out to a barn in one of the more remote corners of Sweet Apple Acres. The Grand Galloping Gala is coming up, and Applejack has never… well, you know… and certainly not with another mare

This story is terrible and shameless and entirely amusing, like many of Tumbleweed’s works, and I couldn’t help but smile and shake my head by the end of it.

Recommendation: Recommended.

An Afternoon for Dotted Line
by GhostOfHeraclitus

Comedy, Slice of Life
5,781 words

Set immediately after A Canterlot Carol, it shows Dotted that being reminded goes both ways. A fluffy and cheerful story of an afternoon, just for Dotted Line.

Why I recommend it: It is a lovely little heartwarming story.

A sequel to A Canterlot Carol (and by extension, the rest of the Civil Service stories), this is unaccountably not posted as a stand-alone story, but as the first part of Ghost of Heraclitus’s short story collection.

The day of Hearthswarming itself, Dotted Line is accidentally awakened by Princess Luna after staying up far too late doing all the paperwork his staff (which he had sent home the previous day to spend time with their families) ordinarily would be doing – as well as some of the work that Princess Celestia herself would be doing.

As such, Princess Celestia gives him an order – to stop working, for one day (or at least for the afternoon), and get some genuine rest. But he hardly seems to know what to do with himself – not until Leafy Salad invites him over to spend time with his family.

Written in Ghost of Heraclitus’s usual style of British footnote humor, this is a lovely story with a great deal of style to it. There’s humor sprinkled in throughout the prose, with the jokes never feeling stuffed in, instead seeming to naturally flow from the characters, environment, and prose itself. But this is also one of those heartwarming stories, the kind that makes your heart grow three sizes that day after reading it and giving you a terrible case of cardiomegaly.

This is something of a fluff piece, and is almost entirely inhabited by OCs, but they are lovely characters and Dotted Line in particular is a lot of fun.

If you haven’t read this already, you should. If you haven’t read Ghost of Heraclitus’s other stories, you should read his stand-alone pieces first, and then read this.

You won’t be disappointed.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.

Friends With Discounts
by Hyzaku

2,566 words

Ponyville's premier pranksters pull Ponyville's princess into their latest prank, but after the town's rumor mill completely misconstrues the situation, Twilight finds herself in rather hot water.

Still, maybe getting that license isn't ALL bad...

Why I recommend it: This story amused me far more than it had any right to.

Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie get together to play a prank on Applejack. All seems to go well, until some guardsponies show up the next day with some questions…

This is a silly little jokefic, but it manages to be entertaining for what it is, and it made me chuckle more than once. While the setup with the pony who ends up ultimately getting them into trouble is a bit unnecessary and doesn’t really intersect with the rest of the plot in any way, the core of the story is amusing enough and actually manages to get multiple punchlines out of a fairly simple idea.

Recommendation: Recommended.

The Numbers Don’t Lie by shortskirtsandexplosions
Highly Recommended

Disgraced by HoofBitingActionOverload

Learning Curves by Tumbleweed

An Afternoon for Dotted Line by Ghost of Heraclitus
Highly Recommended

Friends with Discounts by Hyzaku

Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling to actually write prose. I need to try and focus on that more, but I have been feeling constantly fatigued from my messed-up sleeping cycle, and it is always a bit offputting. Still, that’s no excuse; I must soldier on!

While reading this set, I also confirmed something I’ve long been suspicious about; a long time ago, I took word reading tests and they generally told me I read at something around 300-400 words per minute, and I assumed for a long time that was true. But as I’ve done a lot of these reviews, I’ve realized that when I read 10k word stories, I don’t spend half an hour or even close to that doing so.

So tonight, when I read The Numbers Don’t Lie (a 20,000 word story), I checked my starting time and my ending time (1:36 am and 2:02 am) and realized that my true reading speed must therefore be something north of 600 words per minute, which explains why my time estimates for reading stuff have been so off.

Hopefully this will encourage me to start attacking longer works, as they now should take me half as long to complete. :raritywink:

Incidentally, at present, I've reviewed 969 posted fanfics from 915 different sets (I've done 971 reviews. I've reviewed two stories twice; one story was heavily rewritten, the other was incomplete when I first reviewed it. The reason for the disconnect between the number of stories on my shelf and the total number of story reviews is that I've done a number of short story reviews of stories from a single collection of works). Does anyone have any fun suggestions for what I should do at #1000?

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 165

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 581

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 2099

Comments ( 13 )

Try reviewing some really long story for #1000?
Even if you're giving longer stories a try, a 100k+ word one is something else.

Author Interviewer

You should do Fallout: Equestria :V

(psst, you forgot to include a genre for Ghost's story)

Actual for real EDIT: "Numbers" really is amazing. I'll put the other four on my Read Later, because they all look good.

Fixed! (It was Slice of Life, Comedy, for those wondering).

I was going to joke "in before someone suggests Fallout: Equestria".

I do plan on reading that and Background Pony at some point. I've read some of both.

The Numbers Don't Lie is a great story. I was surprised that I hadn't reviewed it previously, as I had thought I'd re-read it fairly recently. Apparently not.

I've got a Read It Later review set that is at 4/5 stories right now and actually has a HR in it; I'm going to probably post that set tomorrow.

Turns out when I read stuff off my high priority RL list, it tends to be better. Who knew?

Oh look, you reviewed The Numbers Don't Lie as well :raritywink:.

Doing a big fameawesome fic for your 1000th would be cool. Eternal comes to mind, and someone already mentioned FOE, but I'd recommend a different tact and go with Without a Hive.

You could do some stats over all the stories you've reviewed - which characters you like the most, how often Fluttershy cries, that sort of thing?

For your 1000th, you should review Rainbow Dash Gets An Abortion.

… oh, wait.

brb writing a trollfic that mashes up that and the Donald Trump pussy-grabbing one

That story is in both the Motherhood is Magical and the Scootafamily groups to this very day.

Only one of those is my fault, though I like to think both are my fault in spirit.

Y'know, an average reading speed of 500 wpm (or thereabouts) really throws a lot of things into perspective ... as, when I get down to things, it seems I write roughly 500 words an hour. Ish.

And so, using that as a criteria, a great many of my stories take about as long to read as it does to listen to a punk song. Go fig.

If you have a top five list of stories (assuming you have not yet reviewed them), you could do a review set of those counting up to review #1000. Alternatively, you could do the top story of each of five different genres.

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