• Member Since 14th Feb, 2012
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Horizontal rankings · 1:22am Sep 27th, 2017

So Estee did a thing last week that I thought was a cool idea — sift through your own back catalogue and rank your own stories from best to worst. I found it interesting as a reader to see where the author's opinions differed from mine — so I figured I'd spread the idea and post my own rankings, along with bonus commentary on why I felt the way I did!

With each of my FIMFiction-published, non-anthology stories, I've added not only my own rank, but also how far above or below reader consensus I've placed it — the up-or-down-arrow in parentheses. (That's based on sorting my stories by "Rating" and similarly removing the anthologies.) That makes it a little easier to highlight the most interesting divergences of opinion! :raritywink:

(Warning: Unusual levels of ego ahead. :rainbowwild:)

horizon stories — ranked by horizon

(With color commentary!)

1. (⬆+20) The Last Dreams Of Pony Island

I feel like I've largely dodged magnum opus dissonance, but this is an absolute exception — and I'm pretty sure that the reason why is that it's impossible to categorize in a way that sounds like something you'd want to read. Even adjective chains like "An experimental poetry-collection dark historical mystery" only get about 2/3 of the way to being accurate (let alone enticing!), and "ponified Spoon River Anthology meets Rashomon" relies on two references few modern readers will get without googling. Regardless, the contest I ran to write this story's final chapter surpassed my fondest hopes, and the story still holds up almost perfectly for me in hindsight. Skywriter's comment of "I am still trapped and haunted by that night in the public house before everything goes horribly wrong, listening to Leitmotif play the reel and watching Littlemoth dance, and I suspect a little tiny piece of me will never escape it" remains, years later, the story feedback I'm proudest of receiving, ever.

This is not an easy story. It's a tangled mess of a puzzlebox for dedicated readers to unravel. However, everything in it stood up to the fine-grained scrutiny of dozens of dedicated sleuths, and with surprising economy of words this paints an entire island full of distinct voices who collectively draw the reader into an ever-deepening tragedy. Everything that people appreciate about my writing is at a full-throated howl here.

2. (=) Administrative Angel

In many ways this is the diametric opposite of Pony Island: blunt, direct, prosaic, optimistic, and a direct deconstruction of Equestria Girls rather than a far-flung barely-pony OCfest. I'm not surprised it was high in reader rankings — but I was a little surprised at how high I kept pushing it against my "classics". What tipped my scales ultimately was, on a re-reading, how little here I look back on and cringe — it's got all the big beats and fantastic twists of my top tier without the little microabrasions that only I seem to see. And there are a few passages, like the phone call, that still get me reliably tearing up on a re-read.

3. (⬆+5) Thou Goddess

I think this was dragged down in the public rankings a bit by its poetic focus, the vast vocabulary its prose requires, and the understanding of poetic form that drives the subtext of a lot of Scansion's conversations. One of these years I'll lay that all out in "The Annotated Goddess" (in which everyone will learn why the extra two-syllable line in the reply to the butterfly cinquain completely alters the meaning of the response). But until then, this will remain a gorgeous and haunting story which I'm glad that many readers love as rabidly as I do.

4. (⬆+6) The 18th Brewmare of Bluey Napoleon

What the story description says: This is about Prince Blueblood being Prince Blueblood, and igniting some sort of sexual revolt or something.
What the story description doesn't say: This is footnote-laden satire whose targets range from the French Revolution to the application of useful idiots to bureaucratic paralysis, connecting the dots of a ton of early MLP canon and sketching out a unique Blueblood family tree. Along the way it casually delivers that one pun and a level of comedy I rarely match — not to mention a bizarre digression into genuine pathos which I would argue is central to what makes the story work. Some of the footnotes belabor the humor, and if I were to rewrite it I could sand a few edges down, but I remain solidly thrilled with how this came out — and perversely proud of it being unanimously rejected by The Royal Guard.

5. (=) The Iridescent Iron Rat

Alright, I think I've gotten a fair amount of brag out of my system. :rainbowwild: I did want to talk about why I liked my top stories, but I'm not here to spend hours saying "this is good because". Accordingly, not much to say but to agree with reader rankings. This one still feels solid as an adventure and I still love the original worldbuilding I did to wrap this around the Stainless Steel Rat core.

6. (⬆+9) Quiet Boy and Moon Horse

Part of my (admittedly small) problem with this is that I've always inwardly compared it to Thou Goddess. It still turned out top-tier — which is great, for such a personal piece — but I just can't re-read it without mentally weighing the two, and I'd probably have edged it several places higher up without that.

7. (⬆+4) The Lotus Eaters

This is the point at which I start refiling stories from "Horizon top-tier" into "Horizon-strong". It does a lot in a low wordcount — though the Whooves chapter was rather self-indulgent — and really capitalized on the No Regrets core idea without the weirdness of swinging in with that core idea out of nowhere. The Whooves and Trixie self-indulgence, though, nudged it down my rankings a bit.

8. (⬆+12) Melt

As the green number says, another one I think is severely underrated, and for a predictable reason: poetry. I don't think in hindsight that this takes full advantage of the TS Eliot framework, but I still love the Polaris mash-up, and those understated lines about Sombra enslaving the Crystal Empire are still among my best.

9. (⬇-8) Fugue State

My first "overrated"! (gasp) Although it's less a "this is a bad story" (my problem isn't posting crap, it's not posting my giant backlog of serviceable-to-great stuff!) and more "dang it, I've written so much good stuff that this just kept slipping down the list." Fugue was an early story, and today I find the first chapter overwritten. But once past that, this still fires on all cylinders, and I love it even more for having inspired 4th District Court and the Versebreakers anthology.

10. (⬆+6) Social Lubricant [nsfw!]

Even by my standards, this is a cracky crack crackfic: the Mane Six get inebriated and cussy at a drunken slumber party, and sex talk (and shenanigans) ensue. Despite that, it packs in a huge amount of character and heart, and I'd have top-tiered it if not for just how badly it has to bend the core "these six ponies are good friends" canon to stir up its particular brand of wrongness. Spot it that and this has a close place to my heart.

11. (⬇-2) Hard Reset 2: Reset Harder

There are parts of HR2 that I would, in isolation, push to the top three of this list. (Chapter 4, and the "Among Monsters" arc, might not make first place, but they'd go down fighting.) There are also parts of HR2 that I actively cringe at (derailing for two chapters to basically talk about dimensional physics). It's earned a high ranking on the whole, but I can't but help be aware of its flaws.

12. (⬆+2) Hearth Swarming Eve

Speaking of flaws! This is another top-tier story … except for the ending. I totally broke the moral. Celestia's sending exactly the wrong message. I've been meaning to post a revision of it for years — and I've got one written, but my editor ripped the most recent version apart, and I have to take a final pass to incorporate that before closing out this tense espionage thriller the way it should always have been, at which point this will jump up several places.

13. (⬇-1) No Regrets

See notes on #7. I'm aware that there's a minority of readers who consider this stronger than Lotus Eaters; I'm not among them. In isolation of its central concept, this is a fantastically strong story, but it also doesn't work without its central concept, and there's just a bit too much whiplash for me to feel like this is my best.

14. (⬆+5) Drunk CelestAI Is In Your Bed [nsfw!]

I was pretty convinced when I posted this that it was in the "oh gods why, horizon" tier and that nobody but me would appreciate its unique blend of Friendship Is Optimal, stupid memefic, and self-indulgent clop. With the benefit of hindsight, I am happy to report that not only was I wrong, but that this holds up surprisingly well. It's like an Iron Chef dish where you just go "Screw it, I'm making a cinnamon squid-meat fruit pastry dessert!" because you're just grabbing the closest ingredients at hand and there's no earthly way they should work together but there's actually a weird sort of complementarity that surprises everyone.

15. (⬆+9) This Is Not An Adventure Clyde …etc.

So if the last paragraph made you curious, but you also have no interest in reading clop, this is the story to read — it's underrated for almost exactly the same reasons. Adventure Clyde is a protopony350 memeplex, and I got salty that two different Adventure Clyde fanfics were rejected by the FIMFic mods as "not pony enough", so I wrote this entirely to get an Adventure Clyde story onto the site. It turned into a sprawling deconstruction with a lot of comedy I still love in hindsight, even if a lot of it is Twin Peaks-level batshit insane to people who can't tell Adventure Clyde from a restraining order (and a lot of it is batshit insane period). If this list was just about how close stories are to my heart rather than how good I think they are, it would easily be top five.

16. (⬇-13) The Dragon's Riddle

Wait what, horizon? One of your most critically acclaimed stories scoring beneath something you just described as batshit insane? What gives?

I don't hate this story, honest! I just feel like it's one of the thinnest things I've published. It's hard to get a lot of quality and memorability into 1000 words when most of my stories are 5-10 times this length! What's here is good, it's just that primarily this does a single thing really well and then stops, and when you compare it against the rest of the list, "does a single thing well" feels pretty hollow.

17. (⬆+6) One Knight Stand [nsfw!]

This is another story that is close to my heart, if not necessarily objectively great. It's just that it's so experimental. I wrote this as a first-person-told-as-second-person narrative trick, and while that experiment felt like a success, the form also kind of constrained my ability to make this shine in the ways I usually do. I still really enjoy the worldbuilding and characterization I snuck in around the edges — again, it's a matter of "against competition like the rest of the list, 'enjoyable' is a tough sell".

18. (⬇-5) Three Letters

I still like the framing here. But yet another "does a single thing well" story, and we're into the "does a single thing well" tier. This is also a little more first-drafty than usual — rather than taking into account Writeoff feedback (most of the stories I post started there), I missed the round's entry deadline and so I expanded it and posted it straight to FIMFiction.

19. (⬇-15) If You Can't Beat 'Em…

We're nearly to the end of the list, and I think this is the first one that I might argue was actually overrated. It's short and silly, and while those are both good things for stories to be (especially when accumulating upvotes), I don't think this shows off many of my talents other than my sense of comedic escalation (and that one great jump-cut section). I just feel like, by and large, my other comedies are so much better.

20. (⬇-3) Daring Do and the Curse of Ahuizotl

Does a single thing well. Or, depending on whether you missed the subtle cues in the ending line, not necessarily even well. It still drives me a little crazy that I couldn't find a balance of subtlety that didn't leave a large chunk of the audience missing the point until they read spoilers in comments. :P

21. (⬇-14) BBBCF

I kind of like this, relative to its position in my ranking, but the story's comment-section detractors are right: this is a somewhat-fragmentary headcanon dump. It's great headcanon, mind, but it doesn't hold up as a reading experience for me quite as well as the top half of the list.

22. (⬇-16) Princess Luna Picks Up Hitchhikers

This is probably going to be one of the most surprising rankings of the list. And I still hold a special place in my heart for the story! It just … feels like it hasn't aged well. Chapter 1 still is largely beautiful, and I think this nails the transition from comedy to drama pretty well — which is, let's be clear, no small feat — but re-reading it today, I just don't feel any of the humor of Chapter 2, and that's a pretty big flaw for a story that's only got three chapters posted. In the weird and distant hypothetical future where I'm actually updating this again, I think it'll resettle much higher on the list — especially if I can ninja-edit to tighten the central stretch.

23. (⬇-5) The Kindest Silence

This is another of the few later stories that I posted without first running through a Writeoff polishing cycle — it was submitted to a contest here on FIMFic. I feel like, despite some great ideas, a lot of its rough edges are showing. I tend to do a lot of tonal juggling in stories to begin with, and this felt like it crossed the line in some places into whiplash; the word limit and the "rewrite an episode" contest constraints, too, forced me to make choices which weakened the final product more than I'd have liked.

24. (⬆+2) "Special" Delivery

If you go back and look at the Writeoff comments from the round I entered with this, you'll see me saying about halfway through the writing period that my story was complete crap but I didn't have enough time to scrap it and start over, so I was going to submit junk and wash out in prelims. (I did, and it wasn't even close.) The thing is, this didn't end up a total wreck — it picked up its comedy with some solid scenes in the middle and managed to roll up (lololololol) a more or less complete story arc. But, well, the core of the humor here is "drugs are funny lol". I literally posted it on 4/20. This is about as close as I get to trolling with a story that I actually wrote, in earnest, intending to be enjoyable.

25. (=) Report 34

This is … a hard one to score. It's not even a bad story! It's just a very specific story.

It was written as a kink commission. I doubled down on that kink. It apparently worked very well at what it was intended to do, but it left most readers scratching their heads. And, well, it's not a kink I actually share. Not that that makes it a bad thing — it just means that when I re-read it myself, what I see is a bunch of interesting ideas wrapped around a somewhat bewildering core. I'm really happy that the commissioner enjoyed it so much, and I'm not ashamed of the story, but if a reader stumbles across it without actually sharing in the kink that it's indulging, I'd rather have them read basically anything else of mine.

26. (⬇-4) You Are What You Wheat

Okay. First of all, I only wrote about 30-40% of this story, and I am not trying to slam my co-authors — this ranking is only a judgment of my own contributions.

That said, my contributions are pretty incoherent. This was speed-written toward the perpetually moving target of "make what everyone else is adding make sense", and it more or less worked, kind of? (With my posting standards, "more or less worked, kind of?" is basement-quality.) I do like some of the jokes in it, and I'll just end there to damn it with faint praise.

Frankly, it's a miracle that (given its freewheeling threadfic origins) this turned out readable in the first place. I posted it for fun, not quality. (And I'm glad I did, because I think part of being in a fanfic community should be giving yourself permission to bend your standards once in a while for the purposes of play.)

27. (=) My Harshwhinnial

Surprise! We were actually counting from worst to first!

What, you thought I would end on anything other than my magnum opus? :trollestia:

So, if you've gotten this far … what shocked you about this list? What stories do you think are in my blind spots, either better than I give them credit for or less strong than I seem to think?

(And post your own if you like this meme!)

Comments ( 37 )

Seriously though, Chapter 12 of My Harshwhinnial remains a thing of beauty.

BTW, if you want a deeper compare-and-contrast between my rankings and readers', sneak a peek at my story tracking spreadsheet. I've got upvotes/downvotes/views/ratios/features/etc tracked there, so it's much easier to (say) reorder them by view-to-upvote ratio and see how that differs from viewing them by FIMFiction's idea of "rating".

Obviously I need to read a bunch of your stuff I never got around to reading! Alas, my read later list is a bit out of control at the moment. It goes through cycles. Sometimes I get it pared down, sometimes it just grows. Currently, Administrative Angel is on it because I dropped it there when it first came out, so, uh... yeah. I'll get to it someday, I'm sure!

26. (⬇-4) You Are What You Wheat

I am offend!

Naw, I kid. This is an interesting meme. Think I like it.

I'm still waiting for TEFL though. :trixieshiftright:

Huh, this is indeed an interesting idea. I might have to try it myself someday. Alas, I've not read enough of your stories to be able to make an overarching judgement call on your choice of self-rankings.


 sneak a peek at my story tracking spreadsheet

Oh holy Sun and Moon, I'm glad I'm not the only person who does this!

I will give this whole thing more thought when I am slightly less drunk.

20. (⬇-3) Daring Do and the Curse of Ahuizotl

Ignore the missing-the-point-ers, I love this fic. There's nothing wrong with a story that requires a little attention to appreciate. I especially like that, while it requires attention, it isn't at all inaccessible--it's not a story you need to be clever to appreciate, just one you need to engage with.

This is fun. I should think about doing it, though I don't know that I have enough to say about my own stories that isn't just "UUUUUGH it seemed like a good idea at the time but now UUUUUUGH."

You and I have very similar tastes in your ponyfic, and Pony Island actually inspired one of my own poetry messes, even if they aren't very alike. :twilightsheepish:

IAm jlad U sav'd teh BESTT! 4LAST!!! !!1!

lUTHor is a p.gewd at wordS Abut hores!

I've been slacking on keeping up with some of your recent work, but Pony Island was and remains some S-class really good shit. So I can completely agree with this ranking.

I think there's not too much that's surprising there, the biggest for me probably just how highly ranked "Administrative Angel" was. It is very good, but I wouldn't have placed it as one of the very best of horizon. I can absolutely get behind "Last Dreams" and "My Harshwhinnial" as co-magnum opi.*

On the whole, though, I think my general ordering is pretty correlated with yours. Of the 7 fics of yours I've favorited (out of 84 favs total), 4 are in your top 5 + My Harshwhinnial (obviously that one's been on the favorites list forever!), and 5 are in top 10 + MH. "Quiet Boy and Moon Horse" is in my "Consider for Favorites" folder. The other two in favorites come in at 11 and 13, though especially with "Hard Reset 2" I suspect I wouldn't have favorited it if it were released after the advent of tracking as a separate thing--though it's easily enjoyable enough that I don't feel any particular need to remove it.

The two I haven't read are ranked 17 and 22, and the ones I didn't upvote didn't break your top 20.

*I think MH was also the first really good trollfic I'd ever read.

Don't make me luge at you.

This is a cool idea!
I haven’t read everything you’ve written (and reading this list alone makes me want to remedy that), but the ordering of what I have read makes sense to me. Pony Island is something truly special, a reader-confounding mystery the likes of which I haven’t experienced in years, and that’s still my opinion after spending literal weeks rereading each and every poem in effort to extract their secrets :rainbowkiss:

uR NOtt mY moM< MOOom!

Err... actually I should probably stop now, probably already belabored this thread too much.


You should see me and Majin Seekyo go at it in PresentPerfect review blogs. That's where the the title for Horsedong Shimmer originated.

I put it back, jeez, is this what you wanted to see?

And yeah, I do see those, and enjoy them; but this is also horizon's space, not mine (or PP's).

This is a great "DVD extra," but I disagree with the idea that a story "doing a single thing well" is necessarily a detriment. I submit that some stories require it to keep the theme clear to the readers. Trying to do more things at once would have made, for example, The Dragon's Riddle or Three Letters lose the focus that made them effective in their own ways.


I agree, and I'll add that there's something to be said for stories that hinge upon twists at the end. Hell, some people get horse-famous doing that. :trixieshiftright:

There are also parts of HR2 that I actively cringe at (derailing for two chapters to basically talk about dimensional physics)

I didn't mind this :coolphoto:

I would rank the ones I've read as follows (separated into faves, likes, none):
Thou Goddess
The Iridescent Iron Rat
No Regrets
Administrative Angel
The Last Dreams of Pony Island
The Lotus Eaters
Hearth Swarming Eve
Three Letters
Drunk CelestAI Is In Your Bed
Fugue State
Quiet Boy and Moon Horse
Special Delivery
The Dragon's Riddle
Social Lubricant

So I didn't really "get" Quiet Boy, but didn't have any problems with No Regrets. I added 16th Brewmare and Melted to my Read It Later since you say that they are good :twilightsmile:

Author Interviewer

Oh good, maybe this will kickstart the meme again. :D

How'd you get those cool blue vertical bars? :O

Fuck. This idea is self-serving and painful and I have no self-esteem. Now I have to do it too. :raritydespair:

Pony Island was ruined for me by the contest, unfortunately. :fluttershysad:

I'm guessing it was quote+header.


So should I do two, one for my Augie stories and one for my Baal stories, or one combining them all?

So many choices!


Well, combining them does also tell us how you rank within each, so why not?

4679878 4679797
The little blue bars are part of the standard site "header" formatting. This is the actual code for the story lines:

[h3]1. [color=#2caf26](⬆+20)[/color] [url=https://www.fimfiction.net/story/288890/the-last-dreams-of-pony-island]The Last Dreams Of Pony Island[/url][/h3]

(The up and down arrows are just emojis, from the symbols section of the smiley-face dropdown menu.)

Site Blogger

I really wish this had been a thing when I was running the Vault. It would have been so helpful.

...I need to read Pony Island.

I also agree with everything 4679718 said. You're the best, HV.

Author Interviewer


so you just do this and it works?

Aw yeah. :D Time to start making quotes actually readable.

EDIT: Shit, this is some of the stuff knighty showed me but never showed me how to do. D: brb, changing RCL crosspost autoformatter

Reading this makes me realize how few of your stories I've read in actuality. 12/27 is a shame given how many of them I've enjoyed.

The only major divergence I notice is you putting Fugue State at 9th while I would place it somewhere in the top three (alongside Last Dreams and Thou Goddess) having read 6 of your top 9. God I love that story; it's still IMO one of the best stories in the Vault.

Also, I that noticed that the entries for Dream a Little Dream of Me are no longer accessible (not just unlisted: even through hyperlinks it just results in a 404). I'm guessing that it's a relatively recent site-wide change to unpublished stories, since even with the no-sharing rule they used to still be accessible, but is there any place where we could access it? Skywriter's ending is amazing, but I still adore Monarch Dodora's entry, as well as "The old stallion calls me" (though I forgot who wrote it!). I suppose I could maybe find it in an archive, but it's a bit of a shame that others won't get to read some of the excellent entries for that contest (even if it was already difficult to find before).


(Spoilered for off-topic.) Lil' ol' me? Naaah. :scootangel:

I've read all but one of these stories down to "No Regrets", and only one and a half stories after that, so my guessing-from-the-description agrees with your ratings pretty well.

I would probably rate Quiet Boy higher, but I'm also more disturbed by it. It's very hard for me to read a story without making judgements of right and wrong as I go along, just so I know what to hope for. This story seems to (accidentally?) deconstruct right-and-wrong morality. We could say that Quiet Boy has "done the right thing" in the end, but he ended up in a good place by unintentionally starting down a very risky path. Conventional morality doesn't know what to do with actions we initiate without intent or understanding, nor with weighing risk versus outcome. Nor is it simple to judge whether there is virtue in living in reality rather than the Matrix. So during much of the story, I didn't know what to hope for. It gave me tension at those points from my discomfort with not knowing what's right rather than from wondering what will happen next.

I look forward to the revised version of Hearth Swarming Eve going live.

Also The Case of the Cowled Changelings.

How would you say You Remind Me Of You stacks up in this ranking? That was the one which really blew me away :raritystarry:

Thank you!

Honestly, though, probably around the mid-teens. Which is not to say that it's a bad story — any story that strikes a chord that deeply is doing something right! — just that on balance I can look back at the ones in my top tiers, enjoy them more myself, and see fewer flaws (speaking as the one who knows how impossibly high the story inside my head was aiming).

Just to fully update the list: Let's put YRMOY after #16; Paint It Black after #24; Queen of Clubs … oh, geez, idk, after #13?; and Watch! Watch! a very comfortable #3.

4885560 This I can understand, and you did mention that that story had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the world, word by word, which I guess is going to affect how you see it, too? Can I ask what areas you feel it could have delivered better, from what you had in mind? All I can say is that that implies the 15 stories above it must be quite something indeed.

You were kind enough to critique one of my stories once, saying there was a lot of redundancy in the prose. I appreciated it at the time, but didn’t quite understand it or what I could do about it going forwards. And then I read You Remind Me Of You and it really hit home. And did again just now, reading Administrative Angel: you manage to fit so much into a comparatively small word count, and it doesn’t feel rushed in pacing or like it’s glossing over important details. It’s witchcraft, I’m fairly sure :rainbowdetermined2:


Can I ask what areas you feel it could have delivered better, from what you had in mind?

In terms of overall structure, the pacing is kind of lopsided and there are some awkward transitions. The ending in particular is abrupt and hovering near the edge of unearned. It definitely would have benefited from more exploration of Sweetie's character and feelings; right now she feels like a third wheel to the relationship, which isn't entirely wrong, but underplays the significance of her role.

That said, when I re-read it, it held together better than I was expecting. Not enough to move it up in the rankings — as I said, it's got strong competition — but enough to make me feel better about it in hindsight.

I appreciated it at the time, but didn’t quite understand it or what I could do about it going forwards. And then I read You Remind Me Of You and it really hit home.

Glad I could serve as a positive example! :twilightblush:

If it's witchcraft, it's witchcraft that can be learned — and to do so, I would highly recommend starting by writing poetry! That's not the primary lesson poetry teaches (that would be listening to the rhythm of your words, becoming more aware of their flow), but as you're trying to condense huge concepts down into tightly constrained lines, you have to really stop and think about the most economical way to get your point across. And then, because that doesn't fit with the rhyme scheme, you have to think about a different way to do it, and again until you manage to cram it in. You exercise your prose condensation muscles a LOT.

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