Wanderer D 4,705 followers · 46 stories

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  • Saturday
    SA Reviews: Round 140

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    PaulAsaran sat in his office, Intern seated across from him. A stack of completed review papers lay between them on Paul’s desk. The two stared at the pile as though expecting it to get up and walk on its own at any moment.

    Given the things the two had already experienced working for the Angels, that possibility wasn’t being ruled out.

    “So… we going to just sit here and wait until it’s time to hand these in?”

    Paul flicked his gaze briefly from the reviews to Intern, then right back again. “If that’s what it takes.”

    Groaning and pinching his nose, Intern said, “You know, we could be doing anything else. Hang gliding, playing games, getting outside, explore the terminal. Not all review posts are eventful.”

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    6 comments · 690 views
  • 4 weeks
    SA Reviews Round 138

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    “Here’s the cafeteria, there’s the offices, down there’s the jet propulsion lab—”

    “Question!”

    Intern jerked from the sudden squeak coming from the light green pegasus pony standing next to him. “Yeah?”

    “Why do you have a jet propulsion lab?”

    Intern stared at the newest member of the Angels, Heartshine, as though unable to process the question. “Why wouldn’t we have a jet propulsion lab?”

    Heartshine giggled. “Good point. Carry on!”

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    12 comments · 1,813 views
  • 6 weeks
    Seattle's Angels Round 137

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    “Um… watcha doing?” asked Matthew. “And why am I tied to a chair?”

    Archonix looked at him and smiled. “Don’t you get it? It’s a conspiracy! All of it!”

    “Uhh… ok. Mind explaining?”

    “You don’t believe me do you?” Arch screamed at the ceiling. “They’ve already gotten to you! It’s too late, I’m the only one left.”

    “Yeah, ok…” Matthew looked around the room. “Mind having a breakdown later? We gotta get some reviews done…”

    ROUND 137

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    5 comments · 1,479 views
  • 8 weeks
    Seattle's Angels Round 136

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    Matthew poked his head into Cynewulf’s room. “Hey, you guys done yet? You and Corejo are late.”

    “Yeah, we know,” Cynewulf said over her shoulder. She and Corejo sat hunched over some metal contraption beside Cyne’s couch. Whatever it was, there was a “DANGER: FLAMMABLE” sign on it, and a pair of tubes ran to what looked like giant vacuum cleaners on their backs.

    “Wwwwhat are you guys doing?” Matt took a tentative step back.

    Cynewulf and Corejo gave him big grins and snapped down welding visors in unison.

    “Science!” they said.

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    8 comments · 1,671 views
  • 11 weeks
    Seattle's Angels Round 135

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    Ebon Quill, braving the outside of his normal atmospheric room, walked with a purpose through the compound halls, a manilla folder tucked under one arm. Deciding to write reviews early had been a brilliant idea; not only did he save time to get back to proper writing but it also cut down on how much time he had to deal with the other Angels. Now, all he had to do was find Intern, hand in his work, then retreat back to his wonderfully gloomy abode.

    His master plan neared fruition as he turned a corner and found his target. Intern stood in the middle of the hall, both arms raised up towards the ceiling. Ebon Quill strode up to him, eyeing his peculiar stance. “I know I’m going to regret asking this, but what are you doing?”

    “Waiting to ascend,” Intern answered, his gaze locked on the ceiling above.

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    4 comments · 1,708 views
  • 13 weeks
    SA Round 134

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    Matthew trotted around the compound, very very lost. He was looking for a specific room, Room 4476. There was no 4476. There was Room 4475, a stairway to Tartarus, and then Room 4477.

    This was an issue. Room 4476 was where he had to turn in reviews. Where if he didn’t… well, he didn’t even want to think about that outcome.

    It was at this moment that Cynewulf came around the corner. And when Matthew decided to stop poorly narrating everything, and swap into dialogue.


    “Hey, hey Cyne!” he shouted to her.

    “Yeah? What’s up?” she asked.

    “Any idea where Room 4476 is?”

    “Uhh… yeah. It’s eight floors down. Didn’t you pay attention to the directions?”

    “Well… no… but I thought I could just follow the numbering!” Matthew cried.

    “Well, you better get down there. And soon. Ferret looks about ready to start choppin’ heads.”

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    4 comments · 1,631 views
  • 15 weeks
    SA Round 133

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    The sound of Intern’s dragging feet echoed in the empty hallways of the Seattle’s Angels campus. Why PaulAsaran asked for his office to be in the most remote part of the compound was anyone’s guess. After nearly an hour of scouring rooms, he finally came upon one that looked promising, if only because of the glow under the door. He would finally get the help he needed. Reviewing for SA two sessions in a row was nothing short of brutal, but Red had been positive Paul could back him up.

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    6 comments · 1,742 views
  • 17 weeks
    SA Reviews #132

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    The Seattle’s Angels found themselves crowded in a classroom, each sitting at a desk with a pencil and notebook set on top. At the head of the class, standing on top of a teacher’s desk with a ruler in paw, was Ferret.

    Matthew looked around, then raised his hand. “Didn’t we do this plot thread a few weeks ago?”

    Ferret’s stare bored into him, making him shrink back. “This is different. It seems that even after years of experience, some of you are still getting reviews in late. A week late!”

    “I don’t think I’ve ever been late,” Intern piped in.

    Ferret stomped on a switch. A wooden hammer fell on Intern’s head. He slumped over his desk, a red welt forming where the hammer had landed.

    “Anyone else have something cute they want to say?” Ferret gazed over the crowd as if daring anyone to talk back.

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    5 comments · 1,797 views
  • 19 weeks
    SA Reviews #131

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    Paul’s eye twitched. If someone looked close enough, they might have seen the tension in his hands, like he was preparing to strangle said someone. “What do you mean, late?”

    Cyne merely shrugged, not taking her eyes off the TV. To her, it was just another day.

    Little did she know that Paul was descending into his own personal hell, memories of snapping elementary teachers and the eyes of dozens of fellow, on time students boring into his increasingly warm face. “We can’t be late.”

    “Sure we can. It’s called the passage of time. People get busy, y’know?”

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    5 comments · 2,124 views
  • 22 weeks
    SA Reviews #130

    Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


    “It wasn’t until this moment that Intern realized just how large the Seattle’s Angels compound was. Entire days could be lost trying to familiarize oneself with just a single wing, let alone the months it would take to explore the whole building. But as Celestia as his witness, he was determined to do it or so help him!”

    “Intern, you’re monologuing again,” said a voice from above. “And you’re doing it in third person.”

    Snapping his mouth shut, Intern looked up to see Red perched on top of a protruding branch from the wall. He nibbled on a nut as he regarded the befuddled temp-reviewer. “Is this what you’ve been doing all month? Getting lost and talking to yourself?”

    “No,” Intern said, arms folded across his chest. “I’ve been very productive this entire time.”

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    6 comments · 2,322 views
Nov
3rd
2018

Story Reviews » SA Reviews: Round 139 · 5:45pm November 3rd

Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.


Cyne swallowed nervously as the nurse talked on.


She hated needles, but it was just one of the many hoops one jumped through in staying healthy. Besides, the place felt so calm, and finding a clinic in the non-euclidian sacred geometry of the vast SA compound had been so difficult and taken so long--

Wait.


How had she found this place? Where was this? When did she arrive?


Before any questions or further insight into the baffling nature of the endless labyrinths the Seattle’s Angel’s inhabit could be answered, Chris burst through the wall.


“Come with me if you want to live!” he bellowed at a sputtering Cyne.


“Wait, what?”


“Don’t you know what happens when you forget??” He threw her a laptop--an entire laptop, already on Google docs--and she failed to catch. He just shrugged around the nurses, who hadn’t seemed to notice him yet, and pulled another out from behind his back.


“What??”


“Don’t worry about it, this place just spawns them. Now hurry! You’re already behind!! We have reviews to do!”

ROUND 139


Madame Fluttershy and her assistant Twilight Sparkle aren't the first ponies to journey around the Equestrian multiverse's ring of worlds on a daring wager.
But they might be the last.


Horizon’s 2016 fanfic challenge based on the video game 80 Days (itself based, obviously, on Verne’s famous novel) produced ton of great crossover fiction, and stories from that event have been featured here, by the Royal Canterlot Library, have made their way to Equestria Daily, and have collectively ended up pretty much everywhere good ponyfiction can.  And this entry is certainly “good ponyfiction.”

I’d describe it almost as a mood piece; 80 Worlds wastes no words explaining or justifying its AU, instead throwing you right into a small moment in the interplanar travels of a Twilight and Fluttershy who are not quite are own, but who are entirely familiar nevertheless.  This snapshot, though, is pregnant with hints of the broader worlds, and of the state of decline in which the multiverse finds itself. Big things, those, but they never overwhelm the small package which the author sets out for us: a glimpse of two ponies navigating the juncture from points P to Q on their long trip from A to Z.

The world—and FiMFiction—is full of tales that trip all over themselves trying to explain every little detail of their cosmology, or on the other end, which are altogether incomprehensible because the author didn’t bother to tell the reader some important bits of information.  Here we have a fic that gives the reader everything they need to understand the moment at hand, and just a few tantalizing hints of how much lies beyond the scope of that moment. It’s a story that feels far larger than it is, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Firstly: if you haven’t read the entries to Horizon’s 80 days contest, then I highly recommend it. That contest bore fruit in a remarkable way.


This story is one of the more straightforward ones… at first. It doesn’t spend time setting up its world or its aims. It jumps right in. But very quickly we find the division of the narrative into almost frenetic sections. We get less of a complete narrative and more of a broken image of many worlds, told in snapshots. We get glimpses of worlds beyond the one we find ourselves in throwaway lines and in asides. The story itself almost feels like a kind of scavenger hunt.


On the day of Equestria's first Winter Wrap-Up, the pegasus once known as Private Pansy – now promoted to Captain Pansy – leaves the celebrations early to face her former commander. Who is now in prison.


Dialogue fics are tough.  I’m not talking about all-dialogue experimental fiction (though that’s tough to do well, too), but stories which consist mostly or entirely of two ponies talking to each other.  There just isn’t much that happens, you know?

Which is what makes a story like Spring Is Born.  It reminds you that just the act of talking is something, and that it can be a something as engrossing as any battle scene or travelogue.

In this story, Impossible Numbers does an excellent job of getting inside Pansy’s head, a year removed from the events we saw in that Hearth’s Warming play so many seasons ago.  She’s stronger, more assertive, and more willing to be honest with herself… but she is still the same Pansy who cringed her way to Equestria alongside Commander Hurricane, make no mistake.  This story is a wonderful example of how to show character growth without just writing a different character altogether: every breath of this story is distinctly Pansy, yet it’s an older, wiser Pansy.  As for her opposite? Hurricane is the flip side of that coin, showing us someone who hasn’t changed (at least, in a few fundamental ways), even as the world around her has moved on.  It makes for a vibrant contrast, and their dialogue is genuinely fraught at times.

So give this one a try.  Yes, it’s “just” two ponies talking, but it’s so much more than that, too.

Conversation moves dialectically. That’s the secret to it, to both being good at it aloud and writing it in fiction. Thesis is established, antithesis is set up against it, and then synthesis as the two struggle. This story really shows that well, and its worth reading for that alone.

Beyond this, the insight into characters and their motivations is very fun. It’s always nice to see someone really dig into not just a character’s emotional state, but their deeper motivations.


After a particularly trying episode of dealing with her cat, Rarity decides to go to Fluttershy for some much-needed relaxation. There, she's introduced to a secret of Fluttershy's that nopony yet has understood.


I have a soft spot for slice-of-life stories.  There’s something to be said for a story that is, through to its very core, simple and unassuming, while at the same time evincing its quality with every sentence.

Listen is a story in which little of import happens.  I could sum it up as “Rarity goes to talk to Fluttershy about Opal, gets an impromptu lesson in meditation, and learns to use a little quiet awareness to solve her problem,” and truthfully say that I’ve left little enough out in terms of event.  But this isn’t a story about events; it’s a story about Rarity and Fluttershy, and this story shines in the thousand little details.  The way Taialin uses first-person perspective to show us just how cluttered Rarity’s thoughts are from the start, the tone of her mental conversations with herself… everything about the construction supports the author’s characterization, and helps to make the whole piece feel vibrantly alive.

I’d be remiss not to mention that this is the first of three stories which move in an increasingly shippy direction.  And if you enjoy this story, you’d be well advised to check them out, too. But if you’re not the shipping type, don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this fic: even as a standalone piece of SoL, Listen is well worth your time.

The advantage of writing slice of life is that you are freed of the need for urgency, making any urgent things you write in that vein twice as potentially compelling. There’s a softer kind of urgency here created by Rarity’s lack of understanding.

We know Fluttershy by now, and we’ve seen her grow a lot. But a character built around the idea of “soft with hidden iron” has enough depth that you can honestly milk it forever. We like seeing people in fiction who can retain what makes them great while still improving. We love seeing how it happens, and this fic is a pretty decent example of what happens when you cater to that.


The end has come for Ponyville.
Octavia, frankly, could not care less.


Here’s a thousand-word jokefic.  Those sometimes get a bad rap, because people have read too many that aren’t actually funny.  Well, here’s one that is! Now, let’s take a moment to talk about why.

In my opinion, what makes this so effortlessly funny is that its central joke spins several different ways.  A pony being totally blase about imminent doom? Inherently funny. The metahumor aspect, where the story pokes fun at how often Ponyville’s been threatened with disaster?  Makes the story more than one-dimensional. The specific choice of Octavia and Vinyl as main characters, playing into their fandom types by presenting Octavia as calm and cool to Vinyl’s spazz, while simultaneously playing against type by having Vinyl be the one interested in enforcing conventional wisdom?  Brilliant. It’s worth noting, we’re still talking about one joke, conceptually: what makes it shine is that that one joke works, no matter what angle you come at it from.

And I appreciate that the punchline is also just plain good advice.  Stay safe, kiddos!

I’m usually not big on the whole thousand word jokefic thing, but every now and then there’s one that I can’t help but chuckle over. Conceptually, there’s just something perversely beautiful about the whole “lulling the reader in just to pie them in the face” approach to writing. It’s absurd in the way that existentialists used it, a thing without purpose or greater telos. That’s why I keep reading these: one day someone will figure out how best to utilize the absurdity of it.


Hours later, sitting on an impossible bridge over a rather odd stream flowing through the Fic-Dungeons, Cyne finally asked a question that had been on her mind.


“You think we’ll ever get out of this place? Like, were we ever? Or have we just always been here and our memories are at fault.”


Chris shrugged and passed her the gyro they’d purchased from the stand that had randomly generated elsewhere in the compound. The little food stands never seemed to have anyone there. They just had food waiting, fresh and warm, and just the thing you would order.


“I’m not sure it even matters. Not until someone finds out for sure. Either way, so long as we’re here, we’re here. Linked to our endless task and stuff. And it’s not so bad, y’know?


Feel free to visit our group for more information and events, and to offer some recommendations for future rounds. See you all next time!

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Comments ( 8 )

The 80 Days contest was indeed awesome, and produced a bunch of excellent stories. Turns out I had read this one back then, but I had then entirely forgotten about it! Being reacquainted with it was a pleasure, so thank you, SA!

Good to see you reviewing stories again, Chris!

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

At this point, anything by Impossible Numbers is gonna be a good time. :) He's one of the best writers on this site.

Man, such great memories. The 80 Days challenge produced such fantastic stories — and Haze is already a massively underrated writer. I thoroughly approve of this feature.

If you weren’t following me at the time of the challenge, I reviewed all the stories posted for it (spread across two blog posts), and there are some other gems also worth reading there!

DannyJ #5 · 1 week ago · · ·

I know it's not the return of OMPR, but I still find it heartening to see you still reviewing things from time to time, Chris.

Thank you so much for the reviews of As Winter Dies. After the initial buzz, I tend to forget about fics like that, so it's always welcome to see people enjoy and appreciate them long after publication.

It's one of my principles of writing that the inner psychology and social dynamics of characters together make up the heart and soul of a fic and its world, be it a grand adventurous tale or "just" two ponies talking.

Plus, the history of the Founders in the aftermath of Hearth's Warming is, frankly, a reliable source of fascination to me. I'd like to write more about them... once I get about a dozen other ideas out of the way, of course. :twilightsheepish:

Also, I second 4964110; it's good to see you back in action, Chris. Thanks again, to you and to Cynewulf for the kind words. :twilightsmile:

4962776

Oh, it's very sweet of you to say so, and I'm flattered, but I wouldn't go that far. Writing-wise, I've tripped up plenty of times in the past. If nothing else, it's only to be expected on a(n ongoing) learning curve.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

4964352
In the past, perhaps. I'll even agree with you. But wherever you started from, you've improved your craft admirably. :)

4962716
4964110
4964352

Aw, it's nice just to still be around occasionally, and these SA guys aren't so bad once you get used to their many idiosyncrasies and occasional homicidal tendencies. And on a completely unrelated note, you're very welcome, Numbers!

And now, back to my endless task.

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