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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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Jan
31st
2017

Read It Later Reviews #66 – On Forensic Accounting & Choral Singing, Friendship is Physics, Sunny Skies All Day Long, Hyperportentia, Not In Bluff Nor Bravado Nor Loneliness · 1:27pm Jan 31st, 2017

The funny thing about procrastination is that sometimes it ends up wrapping back around into productivity.

It’d be nice if I could be productive in the directions that I aimed, but at least I’m getting something done.

Today includes a few stories from the RCL, as well as a couple stories that I previously read that didn’t quite merit a recommendation, along with a final story – one that I’ve put off reading since the Outside Insight contest all the way back in 2014.

Let’s see how they go, shall we?

Today’s stories:

On Forensic Accounting & Choral Singing by Ghost of Heraclitus
Friendship is Physics by Violet CLM
Sunny Skies All Day Long by PhantomFox
Hyperportentia by MyHobby
Not In Bluff Nor Bravado Nor Loneliness by Vivid Syntax


On Forensic Accounting & Choral Singing
by Ghost of Heraclitus

Comedy
2,802 words

Leafy Salad explores the implications of close harmony singing on white-collar crime. Or, at least, that's how it is getting put down in the report...

Why I added it: I’ve read it previously.

Review
Leafy Salad, of Ghost of Heraclitus’s Civil Service verse, is not pleased at all. It seems that one of the people running one of the five major Equestrian banks has been behaving fraudulently. And not the good kind of fraud where you make your bank money illegally, but the bad kind of fraud where you not only break the law but do so badly and manage to lose large amounts of money at it.

He is being cooperative with the authorities, who have given him one week as a free man before arresting him, mostly so that they don’t crash the bit by revealing that one of their major banks is insolvent. Alas, this probably means he’s going to do a runner on them to Zebrecia or some other foreign nation, but at least the Equestrian economy will survive.

Leafy Salad doesn’t like this idea. But he has been barred from arresting said banker for any sort of financial crime. It seems it is time for Mr. Salad to get… creative.

This is a silly story, but is very heavily dependent on the rest of the verse to really have an idea of who Leafy Salad is; as such, this is the sort of thing that you’d only really want to read after you’ve read the others. And unfortunately, while the story is amusing enough for what it is, Leafy Salad is really the only real character in it – the banker is fairly two-dimensional, and the rest of the characters, while okay, are mostly just there as props and thus there isn’t really much of an angle of engagement on it.

If watching someone arrest a crooked banker in a rather comedic manner seems fun to you, this might be worth your while.

Recommendation: Worth Reading if you’ve read the other Civil Service stories.


Friendship is Physics
by Violet CLM

False Document
3,143 words

Star Swirl the Bearded, exiled by Princess Platinum and worried for his continued survival, sends a letter to Clover the Clever briefly detailing his views on ponykind's origins, the nature of the physical world, and the future of his species.

Why I added it: The Royal Canterlot Library.

Review
This story is actually not a story at all, but rather a false document. This story casts Star Swirl the Bearded as Equestria’s version of Aristotle, and here he takes the concepts of friendship and hostility – which he considers to be central – and attempts to explain his world with it.

And, like Aristotle did, he makes a hash of it. He comes to some correct conclusions, but often for the wrong reasons, and he attempts to use reason to explain things, and does not quite seem to comprehend some of the evidence he does make use of.

This is interesting because, as a false document of pony science, it posits a different way to think about the world than Aristotle, but one which makes sense for Equestria and Star Swirl’s ideas about how the world should work. It is an interesting piece, all the more so because we see echoes of some of his ideas in the world around him, so it makes sense that he arrived at the conclusions he wound up at. And yet, he is wrong about many things, some of which would soon be disproved, such as their location being the center of the world, as the ponies migrate after he writes this piece and do not return to their former home.

I suspect that this is one of those things which is likely to be hit-and-miss though; if you are the sort of person who is a nerd for alternate flawed world views that some sort of ancient society in a fantasy world might have come up with, this is likely to be right up your alley. But if you’re not, this is a very dry piece, and as there is no real story here, it isn’t going to appeal to you on that axis.

Recommendation: Recommended if the idea of reading about a pony Aristotle appeals to you.


Sunny Skies All Day Long
by PhantomFox

Slice of Life
8,536 words

Princess Celestia tires of constantly being surrounded by decorum, deference, and formality, and decides to take a day off from being Princess. But visiting Ponyville incognito is harder than she expects. Will she be able to fit in and make friends without blowing her cover?

Why I added it: It is one of the most popular stories on FIMFiction. I read it a long time ago, and was curious how it held up.

Review
Princess Celestia, tired of her royal duties and with some prompting from Princess Luna, decides that she wants a day off. Disgusing herself as a pegasus pony named Sunny Skies, Celestia decides to visit Ponyville, where she gets to talk to the whole cast incognito.

This is an early fandom story, and it sort of shows; it follows a pretty traditional path of the protagonist meeting/visiting all of the Mane Six, as Celestia does various minor things with each of them, chatting with them briefly (and throwing off Twilight a bit, who swears she looks familiar…) and trying to avoid Pinkie Pie, who seems to have recognized her on sight.

While this story has an obvious conflict (Celestia trying to take a day off and spend it as a normal pony, without the stress and without ponies fawning over her), the story doesn’t feel like it has much of an effect on the characters – stuff happens, to be sure, but no one really learns anything from it, and Celestia taking a day off is pretty much the start of the story.

As for the prose itself, it somewhat resembles a children’s story – the sort of writing style I’d expect in something directed towards children. That isn’t entirely a bad thing, but the prose at times ends up feeling a bit telly as a result.

In the end, this is a cute story, and there’s likely a reason why the idea of royalty in disguise resonates with people – it puts characters in a new setting, and given that people already like Celestia, seeing her be a common pony is I suspect fun for folks. If that’s all you are looking for, this is a decent read, but if you’re looking for some sort of message or greater meaning, this likely isn’t for you.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.


Hyperportentia
by MyHobby

Slice of Life
6,161 words

Hy•per•por•ten•tia noun \hī-pər-pȯr-ˌten-t(ē-)ə\
1. congenital fate disorder where the affected receives a disproportionate number of visions, prophecies, or warnings of the future directed at them.
2. severe pain in the butt.

It's common knowledge among ponies that Destiny is a natural occurrence. Much like a pony’s body, it grows and develops over time. Each pony’s Destiny is as unique and distinctive as their voice. The phenomenon manifests in the physical realm through the appearance of a cutie mark.

Unfortunately, like all natural occurrences, sometimes there's something off. A misplaced gene here, an excess chemical there, and what was supposed to be true Destiny becomes... aggravating.

So it is with Acacia Tree, the first seer Manehattan has seen in five-hundred years.

Why I added it: The Royal Canterlot Library.

Review
Acacia Tree is a sage. But not just any old sage. She’s a sage who suffers from Hyperportentia – a disorder where random things happen around her, constantly, to show her the future. Destiny, writ large in real life.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, a lot of ponies’ lives are extremely boring. But at least she always has an umbrella when she needs it.

This is a lovely story, and I really liked it. Acacia is very resigned to her fate as a seer of all things stupid, and while she scoffs at writing horoscopes, her actual job at a restaurant is not much better (but even more amusingly appropriate, considering). We’re swiftly introduced to her coworker, a very bubbly mare who is overly impressed by Acacia’s very stupid little fortunes, and her friend, Ritz, a stallion writer who is not really overly impressed with his own destiny.

Acacia and Ritz are fun characters, and I have to admit Ritz is a pony after my own heart in some ways, scoffing at destiny even when it seems to be written on the butt of every pony around him and his best friend is a seer. It takes talent to be that stubborn and hard-headed, but he makes it work and is exactly full of the cheesy sort of smarm a character like that needs to work. Acacia’s own bitterness plays off of him wonderfully, and the two characters work well together through the end of the piece.

I have to admit I love prophetic twists, and this story includes some that made me laugh out loud; indeed, the story is quite amusing, though it is not, in fact, a comedy. But it is more of a dramatic piece than a slice of life, in truth; while it is a series of seemingly mundane events, there’s actually a lot higher stakes to this piece than it appears at first glance, and the story’s conclusion works excellently at tying it all together and delivering its moral to the audience.

It is also bursting with fun ideas; the idea of ponies having fate disorders is a fun one, and both Acacia and Ritz have rather fun ones in their own ways. I’ve seen some similar ideas, but the idea that it is a recognized condition in a land bursting with Destiny-with-a-capital-D is an interesting one.

This was a lot of fun, and Ritz and Acacia were fun characters to watch. The RCL was right; this is well worth your time, and yet it presently has under 1,000 views.

You should fix that.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Not In Bluff Nor Bravado Nor Loneliness
by Vivid Syntax

Slice of Life
7,386 words

Ponies? Yeah, you hear a lot about them growing up in the minotaur homelands, and it isn't all positive. Actually, almost none of it is positive. They're different. They've got those weird pictures on their flanks and those little prayers they mumble to their princesses. Ponies are gentle, passive. They're not like us.

See, a minotaur is supposed to act a certain way. You bulk up. You get aggressive. You don't let anyone else push you around, and you don't associate with ponies. I've heard the same thing my whole life, ever since I was young.

Why I added it: I’d heard a lot of good things about it, and Vivid Syntax is a good writer.

Review
One of the stories from the Outside Insight contest a few years ago, this story is told from the point of view of Iron Will. Iron Will doesn’t quite fit into minotaur culture – it is an extremely aggressive, in-your-face, confrontational culture, and Iron Will isn’t quite that. Not as a child.

As he gets older, he learns how to adopt a much stronger demeanor, and decides to go into business teaching confidence to ponies – creatures that minotaurs (and goats) think of as weak, stupid, and easily influenced. But while he has all those nice catchphrases and ways to part ponies from their bits – and his money-back guarantee pretty much guarantees that any pony who isn’t assertive enough can’t get their bits back to begin with – he starts to recognize that his seminars aren’t really helping ponies at all, and he’s seeing the same behavior in some of his students that he resents in his own people, and realizes something has to change.

This is a story about finding balance, something that both Iron Will and many of his students seem to suffer from. Iron Will’s students take aggression way too far – they don’t understand backing down. But that seems to be a problem with minotaurs themselves – something Iron Will understands all too well. There are times to be confrontational, and times to not, and while Iron Will doesn’t quite get it, he gets it a lot better than many. He’s got a good heart to him, even if he struggles to express it.

In the end, we’re left with Iron Will still not really getting it, but having a better grasp on what he is missing – he had always sensed that minotaurs were wrong about ponies, but he couldn’t quite understand why. Even at the end, he doesn’t quite understand – but he at least has taken the first step, by actually talking with ponies and trying to understand them.

If I had a complaint, it would be that the story feels a bit jaggedy – it doesn’t quite feel like it all comes together, as while it skips from scene to scene, it feels a bit disjointed at times. The ending isn’t quite as neatly wrapped up as I might want as well, though the final few lines do work pretty well.

All in all, this is an interesting look in Iron Will, even if I can’t say that I really loved it.

Recommendation: Worth Reading


Summary
On Forensic Accounting & Choral Singing by Ghost of Heraclitus
Worth Reading

Friendship is Physics by Violet CLM
Worth Reading

Sunny Skies All Day Long by PhantomFox
Worth Reading

Hyperportentia by MyHobby
Highly Recommended

Not In Bluff Nor Bravado Nor Loneliness by Vivid Syntax
Worth Reading

I think if I keep enjoying too many stories, people are going to start casting changeling detection spells in my direction.

That being said, I will admit I changed my methodology somewhat; I’ve been trying to steer away from reading whatever, and been trying to read stuff off of my high priority shelf, such as the three stories on this post that I hadn’t read previously. It paid off in this post, but I admittedly also included two stories that I had read previously.

We’ll see if I can stick to it for my future Read It Later reviews. I mean, I want to read stories I like… right?

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 163

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 582

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 2099

Comments ( 21 )

5/5 recommended? Who are you and what-

I think if I keep enjoying too many stories, people are going to start casting changeling detection spells in my direction.

...yeah, that.

4403955
I'm actually finally getting around to reading The First Time You See Her this morning.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

>Reading stories you like

Pssh, who does that? :V You're here to suffer like the rest of us!

Also, >tfw TD likes things I don't like. It's quite the >f, given that usually it's the other way around.

Man. You are back and taking names. Good to see so much productivity :)

4403957
Hah! Which of the stories did you not like?

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

4404000
Sunny Skies. :| It killed my brother!

4404038
I liked it more when I first joined the fandom. Unfortunately, it really shows its age. That being said, I suspect there's a reason why a lot of people new to the fandom read it and enjoy it, even though there's lots of better-written things.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

4404049
It definitely falls under the "first fic I read and loved" kind of thing. There are reasons I haven't gone rushing back to reread The Party Hasn't Ended Yet, after all. <.<

Someone please help. This is Titanium Dragon, and Horizon has somehow hacked the site and switched accounts with me for the purpose of posting positive revie

(Edit: User was blocked)

4404293
Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. :trixieshiftright:

Violet CLM is such an incredibly underappreciated writer. Have you covered other stuff from him?

4404743
Nope! Any particular suggestions?

4404844
Home is where the hearts are is magnificent, it's in my personal top 5. About polyamorous romance between Pinkie Pie + Fluttershy / Rainbow tackled seriously and from a mature perspective.

For something much shorter, the Parable of Dead Lizards is only 3k words long and super interesting. It's another very stylistic piece, like Friendship is physics (totally different direction though).

Honorable mentions to Magic on the Rocks (about Trixie and the Pie Family) and The way the Ball Bounces... I'm not as confident that you'll like that one because it's a very particular kind of humor, but I found it hilarious all the way, so much that I keep coming back and re-reading parts of it.

I mean, I want to read stories I like… right?

Pish tosh. If you delve too deeply into your Read It lists, you'll discover stories by the likes of me… on all three lists… some of which I don't understand your impetus to read (I think they're good stories, but they don't seem like your thing). I feel like being on all three of your lists is an accomplishment in its own right. :raritywink:

4404958

some of which I don't understand your impetus to read (I think they're good stories, but they don't seem like your thing)

Which ones might those be?

4405018
*grumbles about the lack of author name search on bookshelves*
Based on a cursory search (and my terrible memory for such things):
Read It Later: Til Sunday Do Us Part
Read It Eventually: Generous Gifts
Both are on EqD, and the first one has gobs of praise from people who say they don't normally like the subject matter… They also center on romance between Spike and Rarity. I'm not saying don't read or review them; you're more than welcome to. I'm just surprised that they caught your eye for whatever reason.

What of mine lurks on your Read It Sooner list, on the other hand… I'd hoped you and the rest of the reviewing world would give it a looksie

4405097
I've been meaning to get around to Cleave, I just haven't yet.

And Sparity isn't generally my cup of tea, but I'm willing to entertain it. You're a talented writer, so I'm interested in seeing what you did with it.

I am glad you seem to like my stories. :)

I was going to complain about Sergeant Hyacinth being a very well developed character and mention her relationship with her daughter and a conversation she had with Rose Salad...and then I realized I haven't written those bits except in my head.

Um.

I need to write more.

4405751
I would be 100% in favor of you writing more, as would most folks on FIMFiction, I suspect. :twilightsmile:

Also, I believe I've now reviewed every one of your posted stories, so clearly that means it is time for you to write more. :raritywink:

I really appreciate hearing your thoughts on these stories. It brings such a smile to my face every time I see that people still enjoy Hyperportentia even years later. I am glad to have entertained, and I hope to continue to do so in the future.

Thank you for the signal boost, too.

I mean, I want to read stories I like… right?

But does your audience want you to read stories you like? Do you really think they'll come back again and again to read your reviews if you're genuinely enjoying yourself? It's a paradigm shift I don't think Fimfic is ready for! :pinkiegasp:

4409386

But does your audience want you to read stories you like? Do you really think they'll come back again and again to read your reviews if you're genuinely enjoying yourself? It's a paradigm shift I don't think Fimfic is ready for! :pinkiegasp:

You're right, what was I thinking?

RED THUMBS FOR EVERYBODY! :flutterrage:

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