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Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords, and reviews both independently and for Seattle's Angels. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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Paul's Thursday Reviews CV · 9:53pm Feb 15th, 2018

Lots of interesting stuff going on lately. GaPJaxie’s got a contest going in collaboration with the folks at the Writeoff, and I for one intend to compete with a story I’ve had on my mind for a few months now. But this serves to remind me that I’ve not yet released a story for February, and one of my goals since July has been to release a story every month. There are many reasons for this, one being that it keeps the creative juices flowing if I can deviate from my main projects every now and then. The original plan was to release Songbird this month, but it’s become clear that won’t be happening due to major revisions. (And for you Writeoff folks, no, I don’t count In Service to Her Highness, as it can’t be released on FIMFiction.)

After some consideration, I think I know what to do next. I’ve decided to write a sequel to one of my oldest stories, released waaay back in 2013. Granted, this means not many will care, but neither do I. It’s past due, and who knows? Maybe it’ll rekindle interest in the original. I’ll be writing my entry for the contest first, but then this short story will be my top priority. This puts Bulletproof Heart, Life of Pie, and Fortune on the backburner, but it shouldn’t be for more than a week, give or take a couple days.

Alright, that’s enough boring news. Reviews!

Stories for This Week:

Schrödinger's Pony by DemonBrightSpirit
Time by Regidar
The Longevity Theory by Venates
Seeking Beauty by Donnys Boy
Catching the Wind by D G D Davidson
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Sweetie Belle by Distaff Pope

Total Word Count: 270,628

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 2
Worth It: 1
Needs Work: 2
None: 0

Schrödinger's Pony

1,216 Words
DemonBrightSpirit failed to provide cover art.

In this curious and random little story, Applejack is walking home when she spots Pinkie sitting in a barrel observing… uh… something. When AJ pauses to say ‘hello’, Pinkie promptly disappears inside the barrel. And now AJ is stuck with a conundrum: is Pinkie still in the barrel, or not?

I am more amused than anything. Applejack goes through some philosophical ponderings revolving around whether or not Pinkie exists when Applejack can’t see her in the barrel, amongst other things. It’s as silly as it sounds. The best part is the end, when the pointlessness of the enterprise – both the real world one and AJ’s personal puzzling – is brought to the forefront.

Which, in fact, may be the whole point. I can’t help but think that this entire story is a metaphor for the generally unproductive nature of the discussion, right down to who the main character is and who snaps her out of it.

Is it a great story? Eh, your mileage may vary. I was entertained, but I can easily see others looking at this and thinking it’s dumb. I would argue that both views are legit.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Inferno — Worth It
The End of Immortality — Worth It
Descent Into Hell — Needs Work


4,327 Words
By Regidar

This did not go quite like I hoped. In Time, Twilight Sparkle has been obsessed with the titular concept ever since the events of It’s About Time. Finally deciding to get the bottom of the subject of time itself, she goes out to visit each of her friends and ask them for their perspectives.

If I had to describe this story in one word, I’d chose ‘predictable’. If I had to choose a second, it would be ‘formulaic’. The Mane 6 all respond to Twilight’s subject matter in ways easily expected. I think I was most bothered by how Twilight literally walks in, asks a question, gets a response, then leaves…. every single time. I get that she’s meeting all of them in a single afternoon, but few of her conversations with her friends flowed very well.

Overall, I came away from this with a ‘meh’ feeling. The story never really does anything. No hook, no attempts to enliven the discussion with debate, no apparent conflict. Things just happen, one at a time, until we get to a weird conclusion involving Celestia being a creepster and watching over Twilight while she sleeps. Or that’s the assumption, since we’ve not been given any indication otherwise.

This one did nothing for me. I was never really interested in what was happening or Twilight’s dilemma. It just… sort of… is.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
The Last Petals of Our Lives — Worth It

The Longevity Theory

7,207 Words
By Venates
Recommended by Pascoite

I may have to revise my presuppositions regarding journal-style stories. I’ve been coming across an unusually high number of good ones lately.

The Longevity Theory stars a pony who, after her grandfather dies, begins pondering the nature of death and immortality. She soon develops a theory regarding why so many creatures throughout Equestrian history – Celestia, Luna, Tirek, Discord, etc. – can live forever. Perhaps without even realizing it, she sets in motion a steady chain of events in which her own theory is tested to its darkest extremes.

This story is slow to start, but as it finally gets into gear things escalate rapidly. I loved the pacing of the story, like a steam train gradually accelerating into oblivion. The story also has this peculiar distancing, which to me is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it lets us imagine the events in our minds, which can make our interpretations far more hideous than anything stated directly. At the same time, this mandatory distancing from the events for journal-style tales also means we aren’t allowed to witness anything firsthand, and that could be a problem for a lot of people. As much as I enjoyed the element introduced by the former, I am obligated to acknowledge the issues in the latter.

Ultimately, I must give this one a nod of approval. It’s dark, legitimately creepy, and just a bit disturbing. I’m looking forward to more from this author.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Pinkie Pie and the Quest for Missing Smiles — Pretty Good

I am pleasantly surprised. RariPie is not a ship that can be successful by concept alone.

Seeking Beauty, told entirely from Rarity’s perspective, is set two years after Rarity has moved to Canterlot in pursuit of her elite fashion career. She is now thoroughly established as Canterlot’s most esteemed and successful fashionista, and is convinced that she is happy with her life. Then a whirlwind of pink party pony gets thrust into her life, and Rarity realizes that while she might have been happy, she had been by no means satisfied.

The moment that sold this story for me came around the midpoint when the pair state what it is that makes them like one another. Rather than waxing poetic about mundane things that almost every story of this type does, Donnys Boy managed to sum up all of it in two sentence, one per pony, that struck me as the perfect perspective:

“Because you’re always trying to make ponies happy.”

“It’s because you look at the world and think it’s already beautiful just as it is.”

I was already enjoying the story at the time, but this? Weigh anchor, boys, this ship is setting sail. Admittedly, Pinkie’s response was much longer than that, but that one line about happiness summed it up nicely.

The story is a curiosity not because it takes two ponies supposedly incompatible with one another and ship them, but because it makes it work. I’ve seen these two shipped before, but there was always a niggling doubt in the story because I was having trouble buying the relationship as it was given. This story put that doubt aside and makes it seem easy. I am impressed.

A caveat of all this is that this is a romance, so the non-shippers (strange, quirky people that they are) may not enjoy this as much. It protects itself against their scorn, however, by managing to keep the story refreshingly realistic in tone. It’s not a constant barrage of romance, but instead dances around to other topics, from Rarity’s regular attempts to be ‘elite’ with Pinkie around to Pinkie’s continuous disinclination to be bothered by such things as the proper decorum. In other words, while everything circles around the romance, it doesn’t lean on romance as a crutch.

Which means the non-shippers out there may find themselves enjoying this after all.

All in all, I am very happy with this one. It was a treat to read from beginning to end, and I am grateful to SleepIsforTheWeak for recommending it to me. By all means, give this one a go.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
The Color of Dreams — WHYRTY?
Not Unless You Mean It — Pretty Good!

In this story, we find that Rainbow Dash and Big Mac have joined Princess Luna in an army set to attack a dragon king… for reasons. On the night before the big battle, Rainbow goes to see Big Mac, who apparently confessed his interest in her prior to the story. They have a tiny discussion that gives an indication of what makes Big Mac like her. Boom, story over.

Conceptually, I like what’s going on here. The problem is that the entire story is set in some AU that we don’t understand at all, not least because the story in which this AU is set has been abandoned, so odds are high nobody’s read it. Looking through this author’s story list, it seems they have made a career out of abandoning story ideas. Shame.

That being said, the scene itself is nice. It gives a clear image of Rainbow’s worries, Mac’s interests, and is decently romantic in nature. It’s just in a setting that nobody gets beyond the bare basics, so you have no choice but to rely on the moment. If you’re okay with that, then you may get something out of this.

But to me, it feels too much like a deleted scene from a chapter of a story I’m not privy to. It was alright, I suppose, but until D G D Davidson learns to finish what they start, this will remain in the idle curiosities section. I suppose that’s alright; I get the impression the artist wasn’t exactly going for something big with this one.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
To My Princess, on the Day of My Departure — Pretty Good!

Alternative Title: Sweetie Belle Discovers the Path of Deceit, Loathing, and Selfishness

At some point waaay back when, a certain individual requested a review of Your Own Worst Enemy. It turned out pretty good, but after I reviewed it that same individual apologized because, somehow, they had requested that when they meant to request this. So here I am, many months later, finally reading the original. And I must say: I wish I’d read this one first.

In this tale, Sweetie learns that Princess Luna is starting up a new school in Ponyville, one that is meant to provide a quality, rounded education to all children regardless of race or background. Since school is ‘so much fun’, she promptly convinces the unenthusiastic Scootaloo and Apple Bloom to join her. But the truth is a bit deeper: Sweetie has come to recognize that they’re all growing up. And when they do, they might not hang out anymore. Fearing being abandoned by her friends, she promptly does everything she can to keep them with her for as long as possible.

This is a sad and, at times, gripping story about the gradual corruption of a teenage pony with a gripping fear of being abandoned, a fear with roots in familial ignorance. Combined with her less-than-intelligent decision making methods, that leads to Sweetie succumbing to some terrible ideas, which in turn makes Sweetie out to be a wicked, wicked little filly. Her fall is disturbing in its believability and emotional in its failings. It’s especially painful to watch as Sweetie’s manipulations ultimately bring an end to the CMC.

Not everything here is bad. We get to watch Diamond Tiara miraculously switch sides to become one of the voices of reason. Scootaloo discovers her calling and becomes fully devoted to the Element of Loyalty. And of course, watching the Rarijack at play is immensely entertaining. As serious and sad as the story is, it has its lighter, happy moments. It even ends on a positive note, giving us hope that things will eventually turn out for the better.

And I have to emphasize that you really should read this if you have any intention of reading Your Own Worst Enemy. I thought I was fine without while reading that one, but now I see exactly how much I missed and… no. Missing this is a disservice to the other one. In many ways, this really should have a ‘Part I’ label in there somewhere, because the two stories work best as a whole. In a rare instance, I’m starting to think they should have been combined into a single story instead of published separately.

Ultimately, The Unbearable Lightness of Being Sweetie Belle is a painful read, a chronicling of the ethical fall of one of a morally ‘good’ character into something cold and cruel and foul. If that’s not your cup of tea, I encourage you to read it anyway. Some good things take a lot of muck to reach. I thoroughly approve of what the Pope did with this little series, and have every intention of reading the side stories related to it.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Your Own Worst Enemy — WHYRTY?

Stories for Next Week:

Help by Daemon of Decay
The Jet Powered Pegasus by billymorph
Självdestruktivitetens Emissarie by the parasprite
Whom the Princesses Would Destroy... by GhostOfHeraclitus
Dappled Shores by MaxKodan

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Comments ( 8 )

Twice now I've gotten some good feedback from you! I'm flattered! :twilightsmile:

I wrote that story like five years ago when I was fifteen, my apologies
I hope you understand why I will be unlikely to revisit it and why it was so awful

You'll get more reviews in time, but I think that's the last one requested/recommended to me, so it may be a while. I'll be looking forward to it, regardless.

And so I am reminded that I am one of FIMFiction's weary old men. :raritycry:

4797812 Hey, you and me both buddy. I just got my first grandson.

(And for you Writeoff folks, no, I don’t countIn Service to Her Highness, as it can’t be released on FIMFiction.)

But Paauuuullllll.... with just a few revisions you could make it be pone......

True, but I don't want to turn everything I write into ponefic. Someday I might want to release such things as, I dunno, a short story collection or something.

Or I'm just lazy and don't wanna do it.

OMG a review set completely dedicated to me! Why, Paul, you shouldn't ha--oh. You didn't. It's the 105th review set. Right.

Um, The Longevity Theory looks interesting. Pretty cool.

Congratulations! :pinkiehappy:

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