• 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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  • Thursday
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXVI

    The coming months look to be busy. There’s the holidays coming up, of course, but more besides that. My aunt booked a beach house for a little over a week and has extended an invitation for everyone in the family to come by and visit, and since I live only two hours away from there I’d feel like a Bad Nephew™ if I didn’t go. Plus this is the same beach/beach house that at least partially inspired

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    12 comments · 266 views
  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXV

    Shrink Laureate’s got a brand new Gen 5 Bingo Contest started! To help stink up the pot (to use a little cajun parlance), PresentPerfect and I have offered our services to review the top five stories. Shrink Laureate is also calling for judges to help out, so head on over there for rules if you’re interested.

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    14 comments · 368 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXIV

    It’s been an uneventful week, outside of the gargantuan amount of paperwork. I kept looking for the part where they demanded my signature in my own blood atop a pentagram, but I guess the house I’m trying to buy isn’t extravagant enough for that.

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    9 comments · 368 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCLXIII

    Those of you who have followed me long enough are aware that I have an addiction to video games. I really do consider it an “addiction”, considering how easy it is for me to blow a weekend on gaming without realizing it. I’ve been trying to find some way to counteract that so that I can do more writing. Ironically, video games may have given me the answer.

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    6 comments · 405 views
  • 3 weeks
    Concepts & Creations: Distant Worlds

    Ah, I miss NCMares. I have Fluttercarrier framed on my wall.

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    8 comments · 241 views

Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVI · 8:41pm May 17th, 2018

A number of things to talk about. First, Estee’s got something to say. It’s a bit long, but I felt it was an important enough topic to share, having been there myself once or twice.

Second, PresentPerfect is starting a  week of Vs. reviews to celebrate his five year Reviewaversary (yeah, I totally stole that). If that’s not a milestone worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of milestones, yesterday was my own five year anniversary as a member of FIMFiction. Dang, five years. Seems like only yesterday I was throwing up No Heroes on DeviantArt and having people ask “Wut U got against fimfic, bro?” Now, 2.15 million horsewords later, here we are. And that doesn’t count the reviews, which I started officially in February 2015. According to Singularity Dream’s Master Review List, I’ve netted 714 reviews since then (not including this set). That’s a whole lotta stories.

I have no idea how long I’ll be doing this, but right now I see no end. Sometimes I wonder if I should limit how many stories are on my RiL, just so that when I do retire I can say “I never added a story I didn’t eventually read”, but I dunno, I’d have to leave a ton of interesting material out. Nah, keep on truckin’.

In more practical news, as of yesterday I finally completed the Alpha version of Bulletproof Heart. I am now closing my call for Betas and will be prepping my Discord server for potential commentary. I’ve also got to create a Kindle version, as my mother made me promise to send her a copy so she can find out what’s had me so excited in the last year. Once I have the copies ready, I’ll send the Beta version out to everyone, probably this coming weekend.

And after that? Map time! I also managed yesterday to finally get my Campaign Cartographer back, plus some bonus elements. This means that my little fantasy of creating a map of Bulletproof Heart’s Equestria can be a reality, and I have every intention of having a copy ready to go by release. And perhaps, should I have the time and inclination, I can make a version to go with my No Heroes, Fleur-verse, and Trixie vs. Equestria shared universe.

Alrighty, that’s enough of that. To the reviews!

Stories for This Week:

Life's a Joke, Here Comes The Punchline by Signas
The Turning of the Screwball - The Strange Case of Button Stitch by Warren Hutch
"What is harmony but the suppression of free will?" by a human
Twilight, Revised by Vimbert the Unimpressive
Transdimensional Zoology by AbsoluteAnonymous
Doing Well by Doing Good by Baal Bunny
Complex Apartments by Phaoray

Total Word Count: 71,851

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 3
Worth It: 3
Needs Work: 0
None: 0

Limelight is suffering from a serious case of stage fright as she prepares for her very first stint as a fashion model in Manehattan. With the encouragement of fellow models Firefly and Stiletto, she might even succeed. She has no idea that the mare she’s modeling for might be just a little crazy, and that this is seen as ‘normal’ on the Manehattan fashion scene.

This was utterly predictable… but I was still amused. Signas doesn’t bother to make this over-the-top in its mannerisms, instead treating the entire scene with perfect seriousness as seen from a pony with a lot on the line. The fact that it devolves into a lone act of random violence, thereby teaching Limelight a valuable lesson regarding her career choice, is just the icing on the cake. I usually don’t care for stories of this type, but somehow the author found a way to keep me interested.

That being said, this is indeed a simple one-joke one shot. It has value in the moment, but little to keep it interesting once it is over. Which I suppose is fine, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Cause Worth Dying ForWorth It

I’ve got to admit, I was looking forward to this one. LUS The story, starring Rarity, involves her learning that the supplier of her sewing tools – buttons, threads, needles, scissors, and so on – is suffering from some peculiar issues. LUS Button Stitch is obsessive compulsive to the point that even Pre-Coronation Twilight would tell her to get a life. LUS But now she’s randomly turning into Screwball (Screw Ball?), a pony whose capacity for nonsense would and likely does make Discord proud. LUS

This story is fun in all the right ways. LUS The characters feel proper for the time of writing, that being between seasons 2 and 3. LUS The humor never stopped, and provided you can get into Warren Hutch’s style that’s by no means a bad thing. LUS The highlight of it all comes when Pinkie Pie and Screwball have their climactic showdown, which is about as nonsensical as you’d expect. LUS If I had to pin the format down, I’d say this was intended to echo the style of the show’s comedy, something that the author clearly has a solid grasp of. LUS

By the way, are you getting annoyed yet? LUS I don’t blame you. LUS But this is the one major flaw of the story, barring a few grammatical issues. LUS You see, Warren Hutch believes in LUS. LUS They see it as the right and proper way to do things. LUS So you can expect a constant barrage of white fashionistas, elegant unicorns, beige shopkeepers, blue-eyed party ponies, blonde farmers, rainbow-maned mares, butter-colored pegasi, and pretty much any other form of LUS you can imagine. LUS It takes place so often, I wouldn’t call it an exaggeration to say it occurs roughly every other sentence. LUS It’s about as annoying as me writing “LUS” at the end of every sentence in my reviews. LUS

But alas, Warren won’t change this. LUS I know from prior discussions that the generally accepted view of LUS is wrong in their eyes, and any suggestion there is a better method is, quote, “dismissive and condescending”. LUS So… yeah. LUS I suppose there’s something to be said about sticking to your guns. LUS But for those of you who find LUS annoying, and I know there are a lot of you, this will be a deal-breaker. LUS

But ignoring the LUS, this is a fun, entertaining, and solidly paced story. LUS It’s vastly better than anything I’ve read by this author so far. LUS If it weren’t for the stylistic issues, this would have landed in my favorites bookshelf easily. LUS As it is? LUS

Bookshelf LUS: Pretty Good! LUS

Previous stories reviewed for this author: LUS
Out of the Nest LUS — Worth It LUS
The White Mare LUS — Pretty Good LUS

In this little story, Celestia decides to make Starlight Glimmer her pupil after the disappearance of Sunset Shimmer. This story assumes this was the case all along, although to my knowledge there still exists no evidence for it. It comes down to Starlight asking the titular question and Celestia being unable to come up with an answer.

Which is obvious hogwash, as I am absolutely certain Celestia’s faced this kind of philosophical attack before. It’s not exactly a new idea.

But if you ignore that little hitch, you get a decent enough story where Celestia gradually comes to recognize that there is something wrong about her new student. Worse, everypony else in Canterlot figures this out long before she does. It ultimately becomes another case of Celestia failing her student and feeling the burn for it.

The story makes an attempt at being atmospheric and moody, and in that it generally succeeds. I could feel Celestia’s growing unease as the story developed, which is always a great sign. The only issue comes in the latter half when the author begins throwing in line breaks because… uh, just because? I didn’t get what they were doing and it hurt the immersion considerably trying to figure it out. It’s almost like there’s a one- or two-line aside that’s meant to be seen from Celestia’s current perspective rather than back when the story is taking place, but we have no way of knowing. All I do know is that, whatever is going on in those little jumpy bits, they could be removed entirely and the story wouldn’t have suffered. In fact, it probably would have been a big boon.

Not a bad attempt, with some legit creepiness being thrown around via atmosphere, but not quite there.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
There is no LunaNeeds Work

Well. That was… horrifying. Don’t let the happy lovey-dovey cover art fool you. This one’s brutal.

Imagine if, instead of letting Twilight grasp the Elements of Harmony, Nightmare Moon found a way to deal with her. “Oh, yes, it’s another ‘NMM wins’ scenario. Boo.” Normally, I might agree.

But this time it’s not that NMM wins, it’s how and the consequences thereafter. Basically, right before Twilight’s friends show up, NMM literally rewrites parts of her mind, turning into a submissive, obedient, happy-to-be-mind raped slave. But Twilight’s devotion to Celestia is so phenomenally strong that NMM has to take drastic action to keep the mind control working. Drastic actions which will gradually make Twilight more and more into a mere shell of what she once was.

I didn’t want to stop reading. Once the hideous reality of what NMM had done became clear to me, I was hooked. I had to know if Twilight would ever overcome this ultimate evil in action. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that a lot of shit has to be waded through before you get there, up to and including the murder of certain famous ponies we all know and love. I can’t help but think that cleverpun knew all along that this kind of shit is a trigger for me (I haven’t exactly been quiet about it).

I honestly don’t mind. It was horrifying in that way tragedy-seekers can’t get enough of, and I’m happy for that. Even if my heart feels like it’s been put through a meat grinder. The pacing is slow but steady, taking time to let you understand just how screwed up the situation is, but not lingering to the point of growing stale. The action, what little there is, is nice, and while the dialogue can get heavy at times it all feels appropriate for the circumstances. The author also shows a good grasp of cliffhangers and tension, occasionally pulling us along with false promises or short-lived moments of victory.

I am impressed, oh unimpressive one. This tore me to pieces, and it’s clear from its current rating ratio that the happy ending crusaders loath it. I don’t blame them. This is one of those stories where you need to be of a certain mindset to appreciate it. But if you are, then this is something worth falling into.

Just be ready for the pain.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Gotta admit, the premise alone is worth giving this one a look. The story, told mostly from the perspective of Opalescence, considers a world in which all the Mane 6’s pets are the ponies. It explores what this world might be like, and goes the extra mile to ensure each pony behaves in the manner of their respective animals. It’s more amusing than anything. Opalescence is particularly fun, her manner akin to a more ‘elite’ Trixie.

There’s a lot of potential in an AU of this sort. Alas, AbsoluteAnonymous just gives us the “five minutes through a porthole” look before wrapping things up with a little aside about parallel universes in black holes. Still, this was endearing for what little it gave.

Mayhap someone in the future will be inspired by this to make a proper story out of it.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Home GrownWHYRTY?
Pinkie Watches Paint DryWHYRTY?
The Little Pink PonyWHYRTY?
Shipping GogglesPretty Good
A Clear, Sweet ToneWorth It

Rarity considers a certain diamond the single most beautiful thing ever crafted. So when it goes missing and the owner declares whoever finds it can keep it, she does the only logical thing: don the Mare-Do-Well costume and go on a treasure hunt. Of course, she’s trying to do this before news spreads, which requires she be incognito, but Rainbow Dash is having none of that.

This was a fun little romp that gives us some of Rarity’s high and low points in succinct fashion. I found it quite enjoyable for its apt portrayal of both characters. Rarity’s regular tangents regarding fashion and the poor choices of others in regards to decorum work well with Rainbow’s tendency to jump into every little adventure hooves first. It all culminates in a nice lesson for our favorite fashion horse.

If I had to complain about anything, it’s that the whole thing seems… rushed. Which is understandable given that it was likely written with a wordcount limitation in place. I feel as though a few more details and some more bonding elements between our two protagonists would have sealed the lesson better. Ah, well, you can’t have everything in situations like these.

Not amazing, but certainly entertaining for what it is. If you find show-accurate Rarity and Rainbow interaction to be entertaining, that is.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:

Another one I was really looking forward to. I’m starting to think I’ve got a ‘thing’ for Fluttershipping.

Anywho, this one runs on the premise that, by some trick of fate, Fluttershy got herself an apartment right across the hall from Sunset Shimmer. Being the quiet type often leads to being the observant type, and so Fluttershy gets a front row seat to the steady changes that come over Sunset in the two years leading up to the events of Equestria Girls. During that time, in her own little way, Fluttershy manages to endear herself to Sunset, even if that fails to make her immune to the villains’ machinations.

This is an aptly named story, as it reveals some complex emotions in two girls who struggle to understand one another. Fluttershy recognizing a girl who needs help and doing everything she can to do so, even if she knows the girl is ‘bad’, and Sunset desperately trying to justify actions that she knows will hurt the only person who seems to care about her. It’s a lovely, bittersweet little dance that I enjoyed watching from beginning to end.

There’s really nothing wrong with the story on the whole. It’s well-written, interesting, and strangely believable. That said, it doesn’t bring with it the whimsical or intense nature that some of the other stories in the contest had, so I can see why it didn’t make the final cut. Don’t let that distract from the fact that this is still a pleasant little gem of a story that I highly recommend. This one absolutely deserves its honorable mention.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Trixie in the Gryphon EmpirePretty Good

Stories for Next Week:
The Tale of the Three Alicorn Sisters by Autumn Wind
Just Buck Already by Sidral Mundet
Concerning Growing Up by Sunset-Chan
Lonely Mountains by TadStone
My Wings Will Keep You Safe by Astral Phoenix
The Sun is Hiding by AbsoluteAnonymous
A Dragon's Age by BlazzingInferno
Cold Light by Scramblers and Shadows

Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CXI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXV
You Are Here
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXXI

Comments ( 17 )

AugieDog/Baal Bunny is often underappreciated as an author. Glad to see his stories getting some more attention.

Author Interviewer

Uh, so, did anyone else look at that AbsAnon story and notice her last seen date was April 18th? c.c As in almost exactly on month ago this year? :O


Everytime someone reviews that story it's a gutpunch. The bastard teased a potential for a happy ending so many times...

He's one of the reasons I am vocal about proper tagging. Screw your surprise ending. Tag your shit.

Ah, Vimbert. He was a good friend, but he rarely pokes around here anymore. He sold me on the idea of corrupt Twilight, and I spent the better part of two years writing a story to try doing it justice. The thing is that Vimbert loved desolate endings, and he felt like authors could never really follow through on them. And that was the one thing I couldn't do. I tried, but it felt tacked on. So I went with the good ending. I hadn't heard from Vimbert in over a year by the time I finally finished editing, and he was gracious enough to come back and read it. And as expected, he would have preferred a darker ending, but he said it probably had the ending it needed. Without him, I wouldn't have written it, and I'm glad he enjoyed it. And good to see his defining story continuing to get some love.

Finally, someone got the correct Cold Light...

...only slightly biased, of course

Alas, I have only read three stories in total by him, but they were all pretty good. Of course, having two pen names means I'm tracking him two different ways, which also means I'll be reading his stories at twice the rate I do others. The caveat: the two names don't support one another in my author scoring system. But then, if he could hit top ranking with both names...

Yeah, and it's mildly annoying. SleepIsforTheWeak went and requested practically the entire library of AbsAnon, and they're not even around to appreciate it.

I wholeheartedly disagree, but I don't have a leg to stand on. Frequent complaining about the ending of Frequency led to me tagging it, even though that tag flies in the face of the entire purpose of the story. I've often considered taking the tag down now that the story's lost its mass attention.

And besides, being able to keep us in a state of mental suspension by not clarifying where things are going is an awesome method for keeping readers interested. It works on me, and I appreciate that.

But then, I actually don't mind that punch to the feels.

There's not much good going with the bad ending if the story warrants a good one, but that's not always an easy call to make. I for one like that there are stories with bad endings, if only because they keep things from being predictable all the time.

You mean there's an incorrect Cold Light? *Does quick search* Huh, I didn't even notice that other one. But it's interesting you say "finally" when the other one has less than 1k views compared to this one's 3.3k. Seems like most people are getting the "right" one.

You mentioned cartography? I would love to see some maps for your various stories if you do make them, they are always interesting.

I've never managed to make a full, completed map before, at least not with a proper program. This will be a first for me.

If I can figure out how it works, that is. :twilightblush:

Greek tragedies had the courtesy to identify themselves as such. I wouldn't have minded the story as much as I did if I had known going in that we were dealing with a 'Rocks fall, everybody dies' scenario. He originally tagged it dark romance, and only begrudgingly tagged it tragedy after springing the downer ending on everyone.

Yeah, I did something similar, and I still regret throwing the tag on there.

Okay, I can make room for the fact that his story is clearly 100% tragedy, where as mine makes a point of declaring itself not a tragedy in spite of the ending, so there is a difference. But I'm still in favor of keeping audiences in suspense regarding how the ending will go. This is one of the main reasons I typically don't even bother to glance at the tags before jumping into a story I've scheduled (although I do check them when I actually schedule stories, since I'll forget by the time I get to reading them).

I actually just looked over your ending. You're correct, tragedy doesn't fit the tone. Sad would be a much better fit.

Glad you think so! Now if I could just convince all those naysayers who flooded the story with downvotes...

I've just seen, or at least remember, a lot more reviews of the other one.
Though I could always be wrong. It's not like my memory is reliable at all.

Edits: the other one was featured by the SA and RCL, and to my knowledge, this one has only been done by me and the PCaRG.


The next time you and I get teamed up for SA, I think we can both agree on at least one story that needs to go up.

Twilight, Revised addresses a topic that I have a very personal relationship with. Losing control of my own mind is one of deepest personal fears. It's a very classical, primal fear. Mind control and mind rape also carries connotations and overtones of violation and power. It makes for incredibly disgusting villains and dangerous stakes.

Twilight, Revised was one of the first actual stories I read on this site. It showed me that the fandom could create works with literary and artistic merit, to contrast all the clickbait and porn (and pornographic clickbait). I recommend it because it treats the idea of mind rape with gravity. It is depressing because it does so successfully. Like you said, it is not for everyone. But that is a sign of how well it is written, not a failing.

It took me two entire days of mulling it over, but I think I finally remembered what on earth I was trying to do with those line breaks.

I'm pretty sure I was trying to quickly alternate between when Celestia first met Starlight and when she was confronting her in the present. So there's no flashforwards, only flashbacks.

It's obviously counterintuitive if even I'm having trouble figuring it out. But since the story is three years old, and I've forgotten a lot of what I was going for when I wrote it, I'm not sure it'd be a good idea for me to revise it now.

I'm kind of surprised anyone picked it up for a review at this point, to be honest—I'd actually forgotten I'd written the thing until I saw your comment in my notifications :p

This is well overdue, but I'm little more than a ghost for these horses. Thanks for the review.

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