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PaulAsaran


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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Sep
5th
2019

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXIV · 8:44pm Sep 5th, 2019

For those of you wondering, I still have some Audience of One books available should anyone wish to buy them on the cheap rather than straight through Lulu.

So! Big improvements this week in terms of productivity. For the first time in what may be more than two months, I have gone a full week producing ~2k words a day. Progress is finally resuming at decent speeds with my primary story, the Bulletproof Heart sequel, while I’m also making good progress on my next short (by my measure of short) story. Really looking forward to getting this one out, and I may put out a call for pre-readers next week. Assuming I get through it that quickly, the length is a little nebulous right now.

I’m currently on a reading vacation, meaning I haven’t been doing any reading for this blog since Sunday, but I have been reading in general. Look to see me on Seaddle’s Angels this week. I’m also pre-reading JawJoe’s next big original fiction, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Science Fiction fans will like it, I’m sure.

Enough yapping. Here’s your weekly dose of reviews, you addicts, you.

Stories for This Week:

Geoverse Part One: To Friend Is Human by GeodesicDragon
Sparkle's Law by AestheticB
Care and Love, Always by Sage of the Leaf
Mother by chillbook1
Everypony Lives by Chinchillax
Defining Features by Ice Star
Rainbow's Horn by Cerulean Swirl
No Place Like Nowhere by CoffeeBean
Star Overhead by KorenCZ11
Misunderstandings by The Rogue Wolf

Total Word Count: 525,817

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 3
Pretty Good: 2
Worth It: 2
Needs Work: 3
None: 0


Alternate Title: Geodesic Dragon, Who has a Loving Family, Good Friends, and is Happy with His Job, Writes a Blatant Self-Insert in which He has a Crummy Family, No Friends, and Hates His Job

This story centers on Geo, AKA the author, who gets shot when he runs into an asshole and winds up in Equestria upon his death. He then falls in love with Twilight. No, that’s really it.

Obviously, this is a romance before anything else. I’d dare say it’s a romance and nothing else. It’s quite literally just Geo winding up in Equestria and falling in love with Twilight over three months. Which, in terms of time scale, is not unbelievable. Alas, the story Geodesic Dragon provides us with is, for lack of a better term, simplistic.

There is no overarching conflict to keep things interesting. Geo has no problems that preside over the story and threaten his relationship with Twilight or even his own mental wellbeing. There are no external threats, save for one that pops up at the very end because the author wanted a bittersweet ending. So all we see is Geo and Twilight being all sweet and perfect for one another. Which, even by romance standards, isn’t very interesting.

Geo tried to create a sense of drama and struggle, but clearly had no idea how to do so. The character’s biggest moment of personal struggle is when he bothers to inform Twilight that he once had a bad temper and that kept him from having friends. Which… is dumb, to be frank. Plenty of people have bad tempers and even anger management issues and still have friends. Worse, he treats it like it’s some life-altering, alienating, horrible experience. And it makes Twilight cry. Somehow. Apparently GeodesicDragon envisions a world where ponies are crybabies, because they tend to sob at the smallest things in this story. Then again, Geo isn’t much better, so maybe that just how the author thinks the world works. I might have taken it more seriously if Geo’s supposed personal issues had shown up more than once in the entire story, and then only as a plot device.

Then there’s this constant saccharine weave in which Twilight and Geo (and everypony else within range) wax on about how sweet and ideal and perfect the two of them are together. In fact, the whole story seems to run on this. Once again, with nothing there to separate the lovey dovey moments, I was left feeling like Scootaloo at a cuddle convention: just wishing it could be over.

Basically, GeodesicDragon lays it on too thick with this story and makes no attempt to enliven the experience by including alternative subject matter. Twilight and Geo are perfect for one another in every conceivable way, nopony has a problem with the relationship, they never get into an argument, there are no bad guys to fret over… there simply is no conflict. Unless you count a sugar overdose. What few attempts that are made are amateurish at best, efforts thrown in with no real attachment to the rest of the story or its themes and exist solely for the sake of an illusion of trauma. I might have cared about them had they actually been shown to have an affect on anything in the story, but they never do. Most of them are over and done with by the end of their respective chapters and often don’t take up more than a fifth of said chapter.

Overall? This was blatant wish fulfillment and I was bored. Which is saying something considering romance is a favorite subject of mine. A pity, I was really hoping for more, especially as this is apparently the first in a large series.

The good news is that GeodesicDragon has written over 110 stories (at the time this review was written), and this is their very first (two rewrites aside). That means the author has had six years to develop their craft, and I don’t give up on authors that easily. I will be reading another by GeodesicDragon eventually, something comparatively fresh, and we shall see if there is any improvement.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
"It's All Lies And Slander!"None


Alternative Title: Coffee is Life

Princess Celestia has decided to have the Summer Sun Celebration in Ponyville for the second year in a row, if only because she didn’t technically get to do it there the first time. Obviously, Twilight wants everything to go perfectly. And it will, because all of her friends are there to—what do you mean we’re out of coffee?

It is difficult to imagine that this is the same author who gave us the grimdark, overly-epic The Immortal Game, but here we are. This story is crazy, but in a way I can thoroughly appreciate. Fluttershy is missing, Rainbow Dash is getting into a fight with birds, the Apple Family just instigated a brutal and pulpy war with the Carrot Family, Rarity’s decorations can’t last more than a couple hours, Pinkie Pie has gone Noir Detective mode in search of Fluttershy, Celestia’s going to arrive in a few short hours and, most importantly, nopony in this town has any coffee!

It is, to say the least, a wild ride. I loved every minute of it. This is a silly story for silliness’s sake, and the only real mystery, aside from where the heck Fluttershy is, is what exactly is Sparkle’s Law. I’m betting it’s either “never say ‘Nothing is going to go wrong’”, or “always have a supply of coffee at hoof at any given moment in any given location for any given circumstance”. I believe both are equally valid in this case. Then again, it could just be a ponified Murphy’s Law.

If you want to spend some time being entertaining by the crazy antics of some crazy ponies, you can’t go wrong with this one. My only surprise is that just one pony in the whole story is remotely sane, that being Rarity… which makes me wonder if AetheticB just couldn’t think of something particularly insane for her to do. Which is fine, because the rest of the story is comedic gold.

I may have to explain my massive grin to my coworkers.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet? 

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
The Immortal GamePretty Good


Twilight Sparkle decides to visit the human world to witness it’s Christmas holiday, which occurs just before Hearth’s Warming. While there, she discovers that the human Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash are dating. Which is curious, because the pony Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash just starting dating a month ago.

This was… strange. It starts out with Twilight having a minor freakout because she sees all the coincidences between the worlds and has questions about the link. Supposedly, this story is turning into a question of fate and destiny and what we really have control over in life. Except none of the questions are answered, or even hypothesized about, beyond the initial questions, and they’re all but forgotten at the end, which is just… uh… Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash meeting Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash? Huh?

What is this story about, exactly? Is it about fate and destiny and the odd coincidences between worlds? If so, why is the topic essentially abandoned in the last two or three chapters? Is it about Fluttershy’s and Rainbow’s relationship? Then why is so much of it devoted to Twilight and her freakout and her questions that she makes out to be bigger than they are? If there’s some lesson being learned here, I’m not seeing it. The whole thing feels like little more than an excuse to get a pair of humans to meet their pony counterparts, with everything else just a bunch of reasons to make it so, to be forgotten as soon as their purpose has been fulfilled.

The challenge is made all the worse by Sage’s dense, complex, and perhaps overblown writing style. The author must have had a thesaurus open the entire time this story was being written, and I seriously doubt they bothered to make sure the words they were adding were appropriate for what they were replacing. It felt like Sage was making a desperate effort to sound highly intellectual and complex when all they’re really doing is making their story harder to read. What makes this even more blatant is how they struggle to understand certain grammar elements, particularly commas, which creates a continuous disconnect between the big words they’re claiming to know and the grammar they clearly don’t. Throw in a constant stream of quirky alternative titles for the Mane 7 (the Athlete, the Caretaker, the Rescuer, the Farm Girl, the Sibling Disciple, etc.) instead of, y’know, their names, and you get a story that is a chore to read.

Then you have the quirks of the story itself. Twilight asks Fluttershy a question, and this makes someone very angry, but we don’t know who or why and it never comes up again. Fluttershy and Rainbow have never been to the human world or been ponies, and yet they instantly understand how to fly  in their completely different bodies and Rainbow can already do a Sonic Rainboom on command, because that’s how these things work. Twilight spends all this time fretting over the chance to experiment and study humans and ponies meeting one another face-to-face only to completely disappear at the exact moment such a thing is about to take place. Those are just the most obvious.

All in all, I came away from this story more frustrated and lost than anything else. Sage needs to put away the thesaurus, learn to say things in fewer words, and figure out how commas and periods work. Oh, and what line rules are for; I don’t know how many times they dropped one of these things in as if there’s about to be a scene change only to continue the exact same scene. The story has no apparent purpose, and if there is one it’s buried under the dense writing style. I’m not sure where this series is going and, honestly, I’m not sure I want to.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Mother

2,183 Words
By chillbook1

One day during lunch, filly Twilight decides to ask Celestia about mothers. Specifically, what they do when little fillies are at school.

There’s not much to say here. It’s filly Twilight being filly Twilight, which is always reason enough to read a story. But if you’re some freak who doesn’t think that’s good enough, it’s also a Mother’s Day story and a TwilightxCelestia Friendshipping tale, so maybe that’ll cement the deal?

Quick and cute. Helps to cure that filly Twilight itch.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Princess Twilight Sparkle, being at once a tyrant and a goody-four-hooves, has devised a means of preventing all creatures across the planet from dying. Immortality for all, whether they like it or not. And she spends every second of every day magically watching every creature across the whole of the world to make damn sure that nobody breaks the single most important rule of her world: no one may die. That’s right, death is outlawed.

I have to wonder how it is that Twilight and Discord managed to prevent the world from becoming covered inch-to-inch with still-living pony bodies. Although it does get suggested at one point that Discord is making new worlds, so I suppose there’s that.

This is, for all intents and purposes, Twilight having an overlong freakout and trying to control every little detail of every existing creature’s life. She is, simply put, the ultimate control freak. It’s rather scary, to be honest. Interestingly, I don’t find Care Free’s suicidal interests to be dark, not under this context, which is probably what made the author label the story as such in the first place. No, the only real darkness I see is Twilight and her absolute control over everything, life and death included. That’s some freaky shit, right there.

I can see why the story was such a hit when it first released. It invites the reader to question a lot of things and engage in philosophical debate. Popularity was inevitable. And it is indeed quite good for its intended purpose. Personally, I think I’d be okay with living… at least a very long time. If only for the sake of trying to get more stories down. But immortality? I’unno, I think I might be on Care Free’s side with that one.

If you’re one of those who somehow hasn’t read this, by all means do so. Assuming you’re interested in thinking about the results, that is.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Celestia and Luna pay a visit to their old home.

I am, at best, confused. By virtue of her behavior, Celestia seems to not care about her old home or, for that matter, her sibling. She orders her around, doesn’t act the least concerned when she is injured and behaving oddly, and dismisses her statements as if they insult her by being uttered at all. Then we have a Luna who meekly follows and obeys while lamenting that her life is not what she wanted it to be, only to come to this mystifying conclusion that Celestia agrees despite no prior indication of such whatsoever.

I… have no idea what’s going on here. Seriously, I don’t. What is Ice Star trying to say, other than what the description lays bare? Is this supposed to be some sort of indicator regarding the siblings and how they view one another? Am I supposed to see Celestia in a negative light, because the story certainly doesn’t paint her in a glowing image. Is Luna meant to also be poorly represented, seeing as she seems so submissive to Celestia’s unfeeling manner?

I come away with nothing but questions, and not the good ones. Perhaps this is one of those stories I’d have to read a few times to really grasp the intention. Maybe there’s some purpose behind Celestia’s cold nature. I just don’t know.

Then again, this is set prior to Luna becoming Nightmare Moon, and all of Ice Star’s other stories seem set on this idea that Celestia was a total bitch to her sister when they were (relatively) younger. That doesn’t clarify the author’s intentions at all, but it does at least give some precedence to the princesses’ out-of-character behavior.

I’ll put this on the middle ground, as it may be deeper and more complex than it seems. But really, I’m just confused.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
AutophobiaPretty Good
Tear the Sky AsunderPretty Good
All That LingersWorth It
BathophobiaWorth It
Stardust BridgeNeeds Work


When Rainbow Dash breaks her wing in yet another accident, she goes to Twilight for help. Twilight already promised Rainbow’s doctor that she wouldn’t let Rainbow do something like this again, so she decides to try and use magic to fix her friend. The solution she arrives at is a healing potion. But then a bit of silliness messes with said potion, and it has some very different effects.

I had hoped that this would be a story where Rainbow learns to appreciate magic and all Twilight and Rarity can do with it. And, to a degree, it does get there. But mostly it’s about Rainbow being pessimistic and depressed and, in her usual style, running away from her problems. Which is not so bad, I suppose, just not what I was hoping for.

My primary complaint about this one is that it takes an eternity to get anywhere. A great example is at the end when Twilight discovers another potion to help heal Rainbow. Cerulean Swirl (which is an excellent pony name, might I add) decides to provide us with the full list of ingredients and instructions. Which is fine. What isn’t fine is that they then proceed to write, in excruciating detail, the gathering of the ingredients and the brewing of the potion, which is about as exciting as going to the store for that bottle of mustard you forgot this morning.

Even worse, most of the ingredients are common items you can expect to find in any active household kitchen, like butter or flour. And we see Spike cooking all the time, so we know Twilight’s kitchen is pretty active. That being said, does Twilight do the intelligent thing and check her pantry for these ingredients first, because that would be smart? No? Hmm… Then does she go on a quick shopping run, which might be more expensive but will at least get the job done quickly?

No. She sends each of her friends (and Soarin and Scootaloo (but not Spike, who is always missing in this story at the strangest times)) into town to individually find one ingredient apiece. Why does she do this? Hell if I know. She just does, which of course makes the act of ingredient-gathering take all day long and a few thousand words that are about as exciting as… well, you get the idea. It may be one of the most boring climax scenes I have ever read, to say nothing of how it completely ignores basic logic.

And this is merely the highlight of an entire story of taking forever to explain something simple, often using nonstop Tell and not a drop of Show to be found. What could have been a 10,000-word story takes 30,000 and receives no advantage at all for it.

If you can get past this frustration, then the underlying story isn’t bad. It’s mostly Rainbow avoiding her coltfriend Soarin and Scootaloo out of fear that if they learn the truth they won’t like her anymore, and a few nonsensical shenanigans in which Rainbow looks for quick solutions to her problem. There are times when things get a little dumb, like Rainbow asking Fluttershy to take over weather duties for her, conveniently forgetting the vast number of far more qualified pegasi in Ponyville for the task (Twilight remembers, thankfully). It all culminates in Rainbow learning a worthwhile lesson, so it certainly has that going for it.

The story is simply far too long and wordy for its needs. If Cerulean Swirl can get past that and apply some real-world, common sense logic to the events, maybe we’ll have something truly worth while. But the length problem is definitely a problem, and it hinders the story a bit too much at the moment.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Princess Cadance and her sixteen-year-old daughter Flurry Heart wake up in the middle of a forest so dense it seems like nighttime eternal beneath its canopy. They have no idea how they got there or why. With no answers amongst themselves, their only choice is to explore and hope to find answers soon.

This was… unfocused, but curious. When the story starts, you think it’s about Flurry and Cadance (more the former than the latter). Then Shining Armor shows up, but he’s really more just ‘there’ than an active player in the ongoing events, such that I feel he could have been left out of it entirely and the story wouldn’t have lost anything. Then we meet the alicorn Wysoka, and suddenly she becomes the centerpiece of the story with Cadance all but forgotten. Then the story ends and it seems it really was meant to be all about Wysoka, but if so then why did the story spend so much time focusing on Flurry and her family from the beginning?

In summation, it felt to me like CoffeeBean couldn’t decide who the main character of the story was, or the dominant theme. I suspect the author was just running with whatever idea came next rather than having a set ‘this is what the story will be’ from the very beginning.

This isn’t helped by a steady stream of errors in the writing. Sometimes sentences would be written in a lengthy, confusing format that would force me to stop and re-read it to make sure I got all the information. Chapter four has this massive ~700 word paragraph that is just a wall of text, uncomfortable to look at or read. CoffeeBean switches between using numbers (2, 3, 4) and writing them out (two, three, four), often times within the same sentence.

Also, CoffeeBean had no idea what semicolons are for.

Then there’s the characterization, which isn’t much to write about. Cadance and Shining were plain, with nothing to differentiate them from each other aside from gender. So when CoffeeBean writes dialogue in the form of talking heads (as they did repeatedly), sometimes it becomes impossible to tell who is saying which line. They had no quirks, no identifying traits, no individuality. They just were. Fortunately, Flurry and especially Wysoka managed to avoid this problem.

Then there were the occasions when characters spoke Polish to one another. Rather than doing the sensible thing and just let the reader know “Hey, these lines are in Polish, but I’m writing them in English so you can understand”, CoffeeBean instead writes out the entire dialogue in Polish and then translates it immediately below in English:

"Wiem ... Próbowałem zrobić to ponownie, a ja powiedziałem, że nie."
(I know... I tried to do it again, and I said I wouldn't.)
She finally spoke, shutting her eyes as she coughed, a few drops of blood leaving her lips and landing to the wooden floor.

This was a terrible decision. It consistently ruins the flow of the story, to say nothing for how it gets grammar wrong with the transition from narration to dialogue and vice-versa. We don’t need to see entire lines of dialogue in the other language when we’re in the perspective of the character speaking the language. This is at its worst in the epilogue, when entire paragraphs run like this.

Come to think of it, CoffeeBean had no idea how to transition between narrative and dialogue. That shows up from the very beginning:

"Honey... where are we? I... I can't remember anything." Mumbled Cadance as Flurry's embrace was released.

Like so many stories, No Place Like Nowhere is an interesting premise with a rough delivery. In their defense, CoffeeBean’s writing is quite good, aside from some consistent issues that run throughout. The great news is that this is one of CoffeeBean’s older stories and, having read something much more recent, I know they’ve dealt with a lot of the issues over time. But it can still be frustrating to read, especially with Cadance and Shining being generally uninteresting as characters and the story’s inability to decide who/what it is about.

It’s made even worse by how we never learn why the Crystal Empire’s Royal Family got put in this scenario in the first place. You read that right, the entire story runs on the question of “why is this happening?” and then drops it in the most unsatisfying way imaginable. Even if a story is a sadfic, I expect to get a sense of finality or that something is concluded, but this doesn’t even offer that. It ends on a whimper, with no questions answered and no sense of anything whatsoever being resolved. Which, needless to say, if frustrating and disappointing. I love a good sadfic now and then, but even those have some rules to follow.

I had really been hoping for more with this one. The description had me thinking it would be more about the relationship between Flurry and Cadance, which has all sorts of potential thanks to uncommonly used characters in a potentially desperate scenario, and instead we get… something else entirely. Maybe if CoffeeBean wrote this at the skill level they’re at today and gave the story better direction, but as it is?

Bookshelf: Worth It (barely)

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Sol PointPretty Good


Star Overhead

155,344 Words
By KorenCZ11
Requested by KorenCZ11

Alternative Title: KorenCZ11 Schools You on How to Write a Crossover

Twilight Sparkle lives in the boring town of Underhoof. Underhoof never changes. She’s got her grabby best friend Pinkie, a boring life, a boring father… really, her whole life is just boring. Except the grabby best friend. Not sure what to do about her. But then she sees a shooting star and makes a silly wish.

The next thing she knows, a giant white unicorn mare on a flying motorcycle falls from the sky to smash her over the head with a guitar. Things only get crazier from there.

This, people, is how you do crossovers. I haven’t seen FLCL since it first aired in 2000, but in no time I was remembering and getting it and being impressed. Koren does a number of things right, including making this into a purely thematic crossover. The ideas are there, the roles exist, and plenty of references are made, but in the end Koren made this into 100% his own story. It’s enough to be familiar and bring back the nostalgia but also original enough to feel fresh, like you’re living everything for the first time, because in terms of context you really are.

The story centers on Twilight having to deal with the Motor Mare, Celestia, who has suddenly crashed into her life and is making things weird. Such weirdness evolves over time to include her many new friends, ranging from Rarity trying to figure out why her parents divorced, Pinkie Pie suffering from suicidal depression, Fluttershy being a total pervert, Applejack living with her grandfather instead of grandmother, and Rainbow Dash living with her only father. Oh, and they’re all around 13 or so. Then the normal things happen, like motorcycles that drive themselves, shadow monsters that burst out of Twilight’s skull, epic battles waged with magical guitars, and outright demonic possession. You know, what we expect from FIMFiction. Or a FLCL episode, I suppose.

Needless to say, it’s a fun ride. It also displays how well Koren knows the show. Aside from the steady stream of references, it catches what I recall being the essence of FLCL. I didn’t realize it until much later, but I’ve come to believe that FLCL’s theming is centered around the changes, confusion, and seeming craziness that comes with puberty. Koren captures that aspect very well, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

If you haven’t seen FLCL—which is perfectly understandable considering its age—then you should still seriously consider this story. You might not see the references like I did, but I must emphasize that it is a thematic crossover only: you won’t see random characters from the show making any appearances and you don’t need to know anything whatsoever about FLCL to get into the story itself. However, it should be emphasized that to a casual observer FLCL can seem downright nutso, so you do have to go in expecting things to get weird. I wouldn’t consider it over the top, but it does consist of Celestia as a binge-drinking, guitar-wielding, foul-mouthed biker.

Which is more important than you know. In this world, all the characters are still our characters. Twilight is still a rude nerd, Fluttershy’s still dreadfully shy, Rarity’s still a bit of a primadonna, Pinkie is still crazy. They are our ponies (and yes,they are ponies, though it can be easy to forget that sometimes with this story). But their histories have been completely rewritten. Nothing they do is OOC given the context of this new world, but you have to acknowledge that they are in a new world, and different circumstances dictate different behavior at times. If you can’t accept that, you’ll have a hard time getting through this. Heck, the regular stream of cussing might be enough to do you in (these 13-year-olds all got foul mouths).

But that’s also where this story shines. Koren kept the characters as we know them but also kept in mind the new world and how it changes them, and ever change is appropriate. Koren’s awareness of the characters and their steady growth as individuals and as friends makes the forefront of this story, and does it wonderfully.

This story was wonderful, from its ever-growing characters, its sense of mood and setting, and its constant awareness of both source materials. If you know FLCL, it’s a crime not to read this. If you’re not aware of FLCL, you should read this anyway, because it is a treat. I loved every moment, and I really want to see FLCL again after this. It deserves way more attention than it has garnered.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
AND THEN!Pretty Good
The Story of a Forgotten PrincePretty Good
Honesty is a VirtueNeeds Work


Misunderstandings

228,245 Words
By The Rogue Wolf
Recommended by Titanium Dragon

And so we arrive at the last item in my discontinued Recommendations list, which sat waiting in my Long-Term Schedule for an eternity. In this story we meet Peter Collins, a law student and competitive marksman who gets sent to Equestria by a magic storm. But this isn't one of those stories where the human immediately adapts to his environs and becomes best pals with all the technicolor ponies, oh no. He can’t speak the language, he’s running scared, and he’s had the misfortune of running into what may be the single worst pony that could have crossed his path in all of Equestria. But Princess Twilight Sparkle knows something has happened and something has come to her world, and she’ll stop at nothing to find and befriend it.

This was an interesting twist to the ever-common human in Equestria trope. It takes a thoroughly realistic look at all things HiE and attaches a few curious ideas. One such idea is Peter being thoroughly immune to magic. This isn’t a new idea, not really, but the way the author plays this out certainly is, leading to some seriously negative consequences for Peter himself.

Throw in an unexpected villain you’ll love to hate, sympathetic friends and… er… acquaintances of Peter, and a budding romance with not a pony, but a griffon (and not the one you’re probably thinking of). Stir in some frustrating cultural differences leading to massive mistakes on all sides, a powerful group of xenophobic ponies, and a foreign power very interested in getting hold of the new technology Peter accidentally brought with him and presumably knows well.

The end result is a steady stream of surprises, chases, fights, politics, and one poor human just trying not to die. We even get a video game-stylized adventure in a dream world (complete with Princess Luna having way more fun with a shotgun than she probably should). Whatever the chapter, there’s always something interesting going on, and The Rogue Wolf does a great job keeping the pacing up and making the ongoing events fun. And if ever it seems like things are happening for no reason, give it time and it’ll start to make sense.

I had a few issues. For one, the aforementioned video gamey pair of chapters felt like it went on for too long and could have been handled in a less gimmicky manner. There’s also the subtle Dues ex Faust at the end, or the at times blatant incompetence of the Royal Guard despite frequent demonstrations otherwise. So yeah, the story is certainly not perfect.

But the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. Peter Collins is an interesting character who in turn meets and befriends interesting characters, including but certainly not limited to the Mane 6. It’s a fun adventure and a desperate battle for survival coupled with minor worldbuilding, political intrigue, subdued romance, and constant, steady character growth. I am glad Titanium Dragon recommended this one to me, as it certainly deserves the attention.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Stories for Next Week:
Under the Mistletoe by bathroomstahl
Do That Again by Bad Horse
Princess Celestia is Just Riddled with Bullets by Protopony350
Undead and Unconcerned by Banjo64
Just A Pony by Godzillawolf
Mr. Brightside by A Hoof-ful of Dust
Going Up by Chris
Surrender by Habanc
Black Magic Mare, Roaming Queen by Meta Four
Apropos of the Sinners by SpitFlame


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Comments ( 18 )

Oh, wow. I remember reading all of AestheticB's stuff, like... years ago (The Immortal Game might've been the first or second long pony story I ever read to completion, and one of the more memorable). Cool to see it still getting praise. I don't find myself coming back to Sparkle's Law quite the way I do with that author's other comedic story, but I remember adoring it. The coffee bits were utterly fantastic :rainbowlaugh:

For the first time in what may be more than two months, I have gone a full week producing ~2k words a day.

I am envious. ALL of my time lately has been spent with getting Jungle through the editing process, and my writing has been almost nonexistant. I am looking forward to being back where you are and being able to write in the coming weeks, rather than edit all day every day.

EDIT: I know you just came out of one of those same edit binges, so you get it.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Yaknow, it doesn't count if I take a story off my RIL only to add the next one in line onto it. :P

Look to see me on Seaddle’s Angels this week.

So, uh, nitpick, but it is actually “Seattle’s” like the city ;P

In actually related stuff, that’s a nice number of WHYRTY! Star Overhead looks pretty sweet, I might just have to add that to my reading list! Out of curiosity, any idea why the cover art for it doesn’t match?

Though I will say I don’t remember No Place Like Nowhere having that many problems, quite likely it’s because you’ve read it recently while I’ve had time to forget the stuff you pointed out. Eh, memory is a fickle thing. Worth It is still a pretty good rating.

Only one of these I've read is "To Friend is Human," and I remember absolutely nothing about it.

I'm surprised you haven't read anything by chillbook1 before. He's pretty good. And it's interesting to see such a high recommendation for KorenCZ11. I haven't read this one, but I have read 2 or 3 of his others, and they were all weighed down by serious editing issues.

5116656
:eeyup: Star Overhead was actually printed and sold at Bronycon this year, so it in particular was edited to hell and back. I don't know what all of mine you've read aside from forgotten prince, but I've changed the way I write since then. It has been two years since I wrote that particular story, after all.

Also, thanks again for the review. Star Overhead is effectively my pride and joy, and I think it's gonna be a long long time before I can ever write something that has the same soul that this story has.

5116673
I totally relate to your last sentence, about reaching some sort of plateau of inspiration and soulful beauty and feeling like you won't be able to surpass yourself. My latest story that I'm writing is very dear to me, and while I have stories planned after it, I feel like none of them will hit the same mark that I've managed just now.

But that's no excuse. Remember that a good writer should be like fine wine: get better with age.

5116681
I think my issue might be a bit different than yours. Star Overhead is a thematic piece about growing up, but at the same time, it's everything I ever thought about growing up. With it behind me, I feel almost like I have nothing left to say on the subject of my own teen years. It wasn't just the characters in the story that got past themselves, it was a whole lot of my own stuff being put to rest too.

It's not so much that this is the best thing I'll ever write, but it's more like; this is where I spent all my experience points from my teen years. Now I'm back to gaining the points again before I can spend them on something that encapsulates a picture of myself at a later point. The epilogue is called and named after the song, Beautiful Picture, because that's what Star Overhead is to me. A snapshot in time that I look back on fondly.

5116691
Well, perhaps if you reinterpret the past one day, you'll be able to write anew from a whole different angle.

Thanks for the review! I'm honestly surprised that this piece would get featured in one considering what it is. (That and since it was originally a flashback in a cut from a larger story, so it's not my best in terms of stand alone material and all.)

It was really just meant to be about emotional isolation among family and how "homecomings" can mean incredibly different things to others after the journey, just seen through the eyes of a very conflicted Luna (whose still a pretty biased narrator with Celestia not getting to share any thoughts in the narrative.)

5116599
I reviewed The Immortal Game back in April 2016, and only now am I finally getting to my second AestheticB story. Let this be an indicator of how long it takes me to go through my RiL, even on a regular schedule. :fluttercry:

5116622
Yes, I know exactly what you mean. The editing process is just terrible. What I didn't expect, though, was how hard it would be to recover my writing momentum when it was over. All my struggles in the last few months, and I do mean all of them, stem solely from me trying to regain my writer's mojo after the editing process was finally finished.

5116624
True, the net loss is zero. But in the case of sequels, it's either accept that net-zero loss or not read the sequel for potentially years (see here for my meaning). I'll take that net-zero hit if it means I can read a sequel in time to retain what the original was about in the first place.

As for reading stories by the same author, I've created a backlog list for them. Well, specifically, a backlog list of the authors themselves. I pull from it once a week for my RiL, but that's still an on-average buildup of nine authors a week. :fluttercry:

My RiL is going down. Slowly, but it's happening.

5116633
The cover art doesn't match because Koren changed cover art right before Bronycon (if you buy the book, the current art is what you'd get). I intentionally sought out the old cover art on his DA account for use here, mostly because I like it a lot more (sorry, Koren).

Also, I know it's Seattle's Angels. I keep getting the spelling wrong, though. My hands don't always listen to what my brain is telling them.

5116656
If you remember nothing about it, that probably says a lot on its own.

I'm sure there are a lot of great authors I've not read on FIMFiction. I doubt I'll ever be able to find them all.

Star Overhead definitely earned its rating, at least to me. But also recall that I know the source material, so that may have biased me at least a little.

5116741
I read one story by you, so now I'm gradually going through your library, as I'm wont to do. If there's anything you absolutely don't want reviewed, let me know and I'll get to them first. :trollestia:

5116878
To be fair, both are on the book, but the new one is definitely more indicative of the story. Yes, Twilight under the star (which was originally based on the final scene of chapter 7 before that was even written so it's no longer even in the story) is probably a better cover. Celestia jeering you with her bass over her shoulder though? That is what you should be prepared for because you'll be getting a whole lot of it.
5116633
Please do, it is my favorite thing I've written thus far. Not that a glowing review like this doesn't boost my own confidence in it anyways. As said above, the cover here was what it was uploaded with, and the cover there now is what it was printed with, and both are on the physical book.

5116880
Everything I've posted is up for a reason! I just have a few pieces I'm always surprised would get attention. Smaller low-key oneshots tend to be among those.

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