• Member Since 16th May, 2013
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Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords and reviews. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXXX

    No reviews next week, folks. I’m on break.

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    6 comments · 276 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXXIX

    And so we enter 2022. Let us all hope it is saner than the last two years.

    In the past I’ve made note of my plans to go to the Life, the Universe, and Everything convention in Provo, Utah. I’d been looking forward to it for quite some time, even if I wasn’t sure just what I’d be able to get out of the event. At the very least I might finally get to meet a certain FiMFiction Norseman.

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    5 comments · 368 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXXVIII

    Happy New Years, folks! Still at my parents' place. Will be for the next few days. They tend to keep me busy. Or, rather, I tend to let them keep me busy. When I'm at my apartment it's all me all the time, but when I'm here I feel like my attention should be on them. I'm sure they appreciate it.

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    17 comments · 414 views
  • 4 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXXVII

    An early Merry Christmas to the lot of you!

    The other day a story I was tracking got completed at last, and that meant I finally got to add it to my list of Long Stories and put it under the appropriate schedule. After doing that, I realized that almost the entire year of 2022 has been booked with these things. I’ve got three slots left for stories over 70k. Three.

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    15 comments · 401 views

Paul's Thursday Reviews CIII · 10:13pm Feb 1st, 2018

There are few feelings quite so nice as that of success. And success is what I have, pulling off just over 62,000 words in January. It reminds me of why I like deadlines and pressure. When I see a due date coming and take a look at what's really needed to meet my goals, I tend to go into worker bee mode, and that's exactly what happened in the last three weeks. If I can do something like this on a monthly basis, releasing my big stories doesn't seem like such a big chore. As things stand I'm three weeks ahead of my intended release schedule and 13k words ahead of my old 1.5k/day wordcount goals. And now that I've hit my 2k/day optional goal (by cramming as many 3k-4k days as I could into the last few weeks), I can start February in a more relaxed state for writing.

Yes, Paul loves deadlines.

Meanwhile, I aim to get several chapters of Songbird edited this weekend. I've also started work on Chapter 2 of No Heroes: Life of Pie – the hiatus will finally be over! And... that's pretty much it for the moment. I aim to relax a little now that my daily writing requirements have gone down by roughly 1k words. Back to raiding tombs and shooting zombies every night. Looking forward to that!

But for now? Reviews.

Stories for This Week:

Sweet Apple Acres: A Love Story by theycallmejub
The Destruction of the Self by Cold in Gardez
Silent Night by Fabby
A Clear, Sweet Tone by AbsoluteAnonymous
Discord's Reformed Villains Anonymous by dungeonguy88
H'ven Sent by otherunicorn
Total Word Count: 302,100

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 0
Pretty Good: 2
Worth It: 4
Needs Work: 0
None: 0

Alternative Title: All Apples and No Play Make Jack A Dull Filly

This is one strange piece of literature. It is basically Applejack going on a year-long existential crises in which she forms one singular, crazy conclusion: “No more apples.” She then proceeds to announce this apparently enthralling revelation to the entire world.

As quirky as the story is, I found myself really enjoying it from beginning to end. Is the author attempting to convey a message? Did they just decide to throw a random idea out there to see if gullible self-styled intellectuals would attempt to analyze it as ‘deep literature’? I sure don’t know. I do know that watching Applejack go a bit nutty in a way that may or may not be entirely philosophical in nature was more fun than I would have expected. The story is strange in its own weird way.

While I can’t say that everyone will like this, I certainly did. I eagerly invite others to give it a try and see what they think. I’d give it a ‘Pretty Good’ rating, but my uncertainty as to how the story would be received by others holds me back.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Eyes Without a Face — WHYTRY?

Now here is a curious story, chosen by me because of my familiarity with the Writeoff Association. In The Destruction of the Self, we are introduced to three ponies living in a strange little town where every adult citizen changes lives every day. When the story starts it is easy to assume that this will be about life in Our Town (that would be Starlight Glimmer’s place, for those of you who don’t recall the name). Either it isn't that at all, or it's an attempt to show how such a society might be structured. An administrator decides what you will do today based upon their whims, giving no regard to your wants, talents or needs. And before you start thinking in conspiracies, know that the administrator changes daily too.

It’s an interesting situation. Even knowing that a society couldn’t actually function like this, it makes for a good thought experiment. Cold in Gardez strengthens the tale with a continuous sense of atmosphere, inviting us to at least try to see the world through the eyes of these poor, hurt ponies.

A solid story from an author reputed for solid stories. The only serious threat to this story, and one I admit I struggled with, is accepting its unusual premise from the start. Once you can get past that hurdle, it’s a great lesson in writing interesting material without ever upping the tempo.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
All the Mortal Remains — WHYRTY?
Babel — Pretty Good

Silent Night

2,891 Words
By Fabby
Recommended by Pascoite

This is why we don’t let little fillies and colts go into the Everfree Forest, kids.

In Silent Night we find that Apple Bloom is home alone, and for some reason the old Apple House is doing a lot of creaking. Creaking it only ever does when Bloom’s home alone…

I figured out what AB’s, er, ‘problem’ was around halfway through the story. But I’m left with a lot of questions. What’s with the full moon, and the orchard, and Granny Smith? Do these things have some kind of significance to what happened to Apple Bloom, or were they added just for some extra atmosphere? I have no idea, and I imagine neither will you. I might have been okay with these questions if the entire story had been one of uncertainties and unexplained phenomenon, but it’s not. The end of the story makes it abundantly clear: this is the cause of everything you see. I would therefore expect everything I see to have been linked to that cause.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this. Oh, no, it was atmospheric and made great strides towards building up suspense. Even if the end reeks of ‘one last scare’ nonsense, which makes the perfectly suitable conclusion worthless (as such things tend to do), I’d have to admit it’s a pretty effective story. Of course, the ending could have been a clue that the original ending was false, but I’m not really fond of those kind of conclusions. More a nuisance than anything else.

Okay, so I don’t like the traditional horror bait-n’-switch ending, especially since this one has no logical ties whatsoever to the cause of these events. Ignoring that, this is a decent story about a filly struggling to escape a threat she doesn’t know or understand. To be honest, about a third of the way through the story I found myself wondering if Apple Bloom hadn’t been sucked into Silent Ponyville. This is nothing at all so bloody and mind-warping, yet it’s a reasonable approximation of what a child might see in this situation.

All-in-all, a pleasing (in a dark sort of way) little horror. A bit confusing in some aspects, annoying in another, but not a bad go of it.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

This story, set in the same universe as Ambition but not directly related to it, gives rise to the idea that Sweetie Belle’s very first memory is of the lullaby Rarity sang to her when she was too young to even know what music was. That moment had a lasting, ongoing impact on the filly, in many ways shaping her very world. So when Rarity spends more than a year with barely any contact, practically ignoring Sweetie’s letters, it hurts her deeply.

This bit of sadfic has the unfortunate nature of leaving the reader with a sense of incompleteness. There’s no way to know for sure if Rarity and Sweetie ever reconciled into what they used to be, particularly since Sisterhooves Social hadn’t occurred by the time this was written. But that doesn’t make the story bad by any means. On the contrary, it is an emotional bit of sadfic about a little sister longing for the bond she used to share with her elder, and the hope that must be painstakingly maintained.

There’s also the ephemeral nature of the song’s presence in the story. It is repeated over and over again, and it’s difficult to tell whether Sweetie is actually hearing it or it is all in her head. Either way, the song hammers the point home, driving Sweetie’s hopes and longings from beginning to end.

If you’re the type who wants all the answers, avoid this at all costs. But if you’re okay with a story that leaves things up in the air and which focuses heavily on atmosphere and style, this is a good place to look. Not the best by this author, but certainly worth the time invested.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Home Grown — WHYRTY?
Pinkie Watches Paint Dry — WHYRTY?
The Little Pink Pony — WHYRTY?
Shipping Goggles — Pretty Good
Where You Can't Follow — Pretty Good

This story is set in dungeonguy88’s Advanced Lessons universe, but the only thing you really need to know about it is that Chrysalis and Celestia are dating, with the former now living in Canterlot. In it, Discord has floated the idea that he wants to host a support group for reformed villains, and it’s up to Celestia to convince Luna and Chrysalis to play along. Along the way we get a variety of cameos, including Twilight, Blueblood, the Smooze, Trixie, and even Sunset Shimmer.

Frankly? Chrysalis is the best part. I loved how she handled every scenario and reality-breaking turn of events with a manner either stoic, blasé, or disdainful, and always with some sharp-tongued witty counter to the proceedings. It seems she can weather any storm, and I am not complaining.

As for the majority of the story, it’s nothing but silliness for silliness’s sake. I suppose I’m alright with that, having written one or two in my time. If you’re interested in reading something just for the sake of amusement, this isn’t a bad place to look.

On the other hand, someone really needs to explain to dungeonguy88 how dialogue punctuation works. I don’t think there was a single sentence in which the dialogue was separated from its introductory narrative by a comma. I don’t know how the author missed this most basic of grammatical rules in English class, but miss it they did, and it’s an eyesore from beginning to end.

Ultimately, Discord’s Reformed Villains Anonymous is something to read should you want to have a little smile at the expense of Equestria’s royals. It lacks in staying power and the grammar is frustrating, but if you can get past that then there’s no reason not to take a look.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Very Merry Chrysalis — Pretty Good
Advanced Lessons — Worth It

H'ven Sent

274,489 Words
By otherunicorn
Completed Story

This story is set in a peculiar alternate universe in which all of known ponykind lives in a city called H’ven that is itself trapped in a sphere. None know what is beyond the sphere – indeed, they are taught that nothing exists beyond it at all. In this world we meet Aneki, a structural engineer with a love of freerunning. Because of her unusual and dangerous hobby, she is often (and happy to be) assigned the more dangerous and distant jobs, which mostly involve checking the structural elements below the city of H’ven for faults. During one such excursion, she ends up falling through a collapsed piece of structure and nearly dies.

Then she wakes up to discover she’s been turned into a cyborg. Things get crazy from there.

It’s hard to describe a lot of things in this story without spoiling much of it, but I can say it is a fascinating and imaginative piece of literature. Aneki’s journey of discovery, her rapid growth, and her successes are always interesting. She finds love, makes friends, deals with enemies, and also becomes a very big gun (that’s not a figurative statement). Along the way the author shows off some resourcefulness in how things are handled, ranging from curiously productive uses of time travel to creative ammunition development.

The thing that gets me is the pacing. Now, for 274k+ words, it might seem odd for me to call the story fast. But it really is. We go from totally clueless to being a superweapon to learning the mysteries of H'ven to trying to adapt to the new reality with incredible speed. This is made all the more iffy by Aneki’s unfailing capacity to react to even the most life-altering changes with a reaction of “alright, what’s next?” This problem largely stems from the author’s unwillingness to give us anything in regards to her ongoing emotional state. We’re expected to just understand based on the events, which tends to work more against the story than for it in this case. Frankly, I’d have been more impressed if otherunicorn had split this into three books and taken the time required to really investigate, study, and reveal the events in a gradual, emotional manner.

But don’t think I’m not impressed.

It’s original. It’s fun. It’s inventive and exciting and full of endearing characters. It blends technology and magic in believable ways. It combines dark elements with fantasy and science fiction, and does it well. It’s a very different breed of FIMfic, and I approve wholeheartedly. If I regret anything about this, it’s that I see no side stories or sequels in the works. And it needs them. Badly.

The pacing hinders the story a bit, but that’s the only issue I’ve got. By all means, give this one a go. It might have taken forever to get this far, but you’ll cover a lot of ground.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Stories for Next Week:

Reach by ToixStory
Kilowatt Hour Builds an Industrial-Sized Pet Hairdryer by Pegasus Rescue Brigade
Feeling That Way and Anytime by Super Trampoline
I'll Love You Forever by The Wizard of Words
A Ruler's Regret Never Fades by Chapter 13

Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews XCVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews XCVIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews #100!
Paul's Thursday Reviews CI
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CIV
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CVIII

Comments ( 7 )

I'm a big fan of H'ven Sent, but I do agree that there are pacing and character issues, especially in the latter half. Still, I'd recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in Sci-Fi, as I haven't read any other stories quite like it, even in the world of literature at large.

I tried to avoid the endless introspection and emotional self abuse of stories like Project Horizons. And then there is the fact that my own attitude is not unlike Aneki's. I tend not to get emotionally involved in life. A happy balance is yet to be found!
- Author of H'ven Sent.

Author Interviewer

Oh man, Reach. :D I hope you see in that what I did.

I already know you weren’t super impressed with them, but I’m greatly looking forward to your reviews of Feeling That Way and Anytime next week!

pulling off just over 62,000 words in January

...I hate you.

Would it help if I mentioned I had to sacrifice a lot of other things I love doing to attain that?

hmmmm. Depends on what you sacrificed. Starlight Glimmer merchandise? Acceptable.

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