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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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  • Thursday
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXL

    I had an epiphany the other day. It was after sending a response to someone on Discord. Truth is, I don’t talk to people a whole lot. The vast majority of the time other people have to initiate contact with me. But this guy is the exception; we talk with great regularity. That’s not the epiphany. The epiphany is that we always talk about what he brings up. Rarely does the topic shift to

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    31 comments · 280 views
  • 1 week
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXXXIX

    Before anything else: yes, I live in Texas. Yes, things are kinda icky over here. To summarize:

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    59 comments · 494 views
  • 2 weeks
    2021 Plans

    Sorry, folks. Forgot to mention last week that there would be no reviews today. My bad.

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    18 comments · 264 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXXXVIII

    Darn it, 2021! You’re supposed to be better than your older sibling!

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    17 comments · 431 views
  • 4 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXXXVII

    Every Thursday morning the very first thing I do, before even my real job, is to pre-read the day’s reviews and write the intro. It usually takes a good hour, two if the reviews are long. It’s kinda relaxing, but it does eat up a surprising amount of my day.

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    17 comments · 431 views

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXVI · 4:55pm Sep 19th, 2019

Review time! And for once, I have nothing to talk about. No big reveals, no curious discussions of life’s secrets, no big news in relation to what I’m writing and when it’s coming out. Been a pretty dry week overall. Well, in terms of events. Weather’s been a whole different matter. And we’re not here to discuss the weather.

Post-Writing Pre-Post Edit: Does getting evacuated from my office and then getting stuck for 15 minutes in my car in floodwaters count as newsworthy? It was certainly exciting. No worries, I (and my car) are fine.

So let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Reviews.

Stories for This Week:

My Little Dashie by ROBCakeran53
Hatred by Azure Sandora
Oh, Helicity! by Featherprop
Something Like Laughter by Dubs Rewatcher
The Wrong Fork by PoweredByTea
No More Fun and Games by XenoPony
Back Off by Summer Dancer
The Princess's Choice by Monochromatic
The Savage Way by Horse Voice
Dear Someone, I Discord you so! by Lise

Total Word Count: 36,369

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 3
Worth It: 6
Needs Work: 0
None: 0

What’s more surprising: that I never read this until now or that I’ve never read ROBCakeran53 at all until now?

It continues to happen. There’s always that one classic of MLP:FiM fanfiction that, somehow, against all odds, I never read. So here we are, the story that introduced the entire concept of humans finding and raising pony foals. Or at least, I imagine it introduced the concept; I’m not going to explore the ~1,900 stories posted before it for evidence otherwise.

For those of you new to the fandom and/or living under a rock, My Little Dashie focuses on a depressed man with a crummy, boring life in a dying city who, entirely by accident, stumbles upon a cardboard box with a five-year-old Rainbow Dash inside. So he takes her in. Duh. What else would you do with an adorable cartoon filly? Give her to the authorities? Pfft, right. The story then explores, in a largely indirect manner, the next fifteen years as our unnamed protagonist literally raises Rainbow Dash to adulthood.

I can see why this has the fame it does. Despite its very indirect style and minimal dialogue use, it does a decent job of conveying a decade-and-a-half of parenthood. Perhaps not the best job — I firmly believe a more direct, personal writing style would have been an improvement, as well as fewer massive time skips — but ROBCakeran53 does well with what they chose to work with. The ending is surprisingly good at tugging on the heartstrings, for all the right reasons.

Two things stand out to me. The first is how the story, by ignoring everything past Season 2, manages to hold up even in modern times. There’s no clashing with current canon, which is remarkable. The closest it comes to making a mistake is the protagonist mentioning the show ended after eight seasons, and if that’s the worst we have to work with? It’s so rare to see a story of the relatively ancient past standing up to modern scrutiny, but this one pulls that off, and easily.

The second thing that stands out to me is that this story seems to be a giant metaphor for defeating depression. Maybe I’m looking too deeply into it, but the dichotomy of the opening and closing scenes and everything that happens in between just gives me that vibe. Intentional or not, it gave the story a bit more impact for me.

Classics are so for a reason, and I’d say this one deserves the title. There is no reason whatsoever not to read this. But then, given that ~529,000 people have viewed it, you probably already have.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


3,263 Words
By Azure Sandora

Celestia enjoys a typical day walking amongst the Canterlot streets with Princess Twilight. Well, ‘enjoyed’ is a strong word for it. Really, the only good part about it is Twilight. Everything else? 

Edging on the ‘immortality sucks’ trope, this story reveals a deep depression and loathing in Celestia that is centered on her desire to be a ‘normal’ pony again. It suffers from some repetition and stylistic missteps (“continued to resume our walk”?), but otherwise is a straightforward look at the darkness lying just beneath her pearlescent skin. I found it curious that she’s managed to hold onto this mask of serenity and calm for a thousand years when she has such blatant tells that Twilight can see through so easily. You’ll never convince me that she’s the only one.

This was decent, but suffers by having a common premise with nothing particularly original to bring to the table. Even so, I want to read the sequel, if only because I want to see if Azure does anything different there. Now if only Azure would finish it...

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Using the same setting as Featherprop’s unexpectedly stellar The Last Link, this story begins with pencil pusher and administrator Espresso walking through the halls of the Trottinger Flight Center. She notices something odd going on in the ‘pilot’s lownge’ and sees a golden opportunity to catch her co-worker, pilot Featherprop, doing something indecent on company property. Or at least, she hopes so.

This is a silly story about two co-workers who have a running game of pranks and one-upmanship on one another, one seeking to capitalize on a presumed chance for such and the other trying to avoid said chance. Featherprop plays this one straight, yet somehow manages to keep things amusing by making things everything we do and don’t expect. If only our friendly young pilot knew just how close he came to being Espresso’s whipping boy for the next few months.

I thoroughly enjoy Featherprop’s work. It’s a shame the author hasn’t produced anything at all since 2014. I’ve got one more story to read by this one and that’s it, which is a crying shame. As for this one, read it if you like to see wicked opportunities foiled by dumb luck and co-workers planning evil, evil traps for one another. It’s more of a mild comedy than anything, so the folks looking for gut-busting hilarity may be disappointed, but those seeking a relaxing read based a bit more in reality, this should do you fine.

And while you’re at it, take a look at The Last Link. It’s really good.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
The Last LinkWHYRTY?

Alternative Title: Princess Luna Drops the Ball

Deep in the Whitetail Woods, Trixie hides in her wagon. For the last ten years, she has tried to convince herself that she is Great and Powerful. Then, just a few weeks ago, a monster named Tirek showed her just how much of a lie that was. So now, in a desperate bid to reclaim her self-confidence, she lives alone. Alone with her nightmares, her memories, and her weakness.

This is an atmospheric piece in which Trixie struggles against the post-traumatic stress of having her magic and self-confidence violently ripped from her. Tirek’s attack opened far more wounds for her than it did for most, leaving her vulnerable and pathetic and flailing for some means of fixing herself, all while adamantly refusing to go to the one pony she knows can help.

An experiment on the author’s part, Something Like Laughter uses intense visuals and descriptors to attack us with all five senses, creating a visceral and powerful show of a mare on her last legs. I’ve seen a lot of Miserable Trixie in the last few years, and this ranks very high for its ability to effectively put her mindset and trauma into perspective. And despite all the fear and insanity, the ending manages to turn it all around.

I am most pleased with this. It’s an exceptional piece of descriptive fiction, fantastic and horrible yet relatable and comforting in the same scope.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Dinky vs. the MoonWorth It

Rarity has been invited to attend a formal dinner with Princess Celestia and, being the social climber she is, wasn’t about to say no. Left to her own devices however, she takes the time to study Celestia herself. By seeing the tiniest of tells, and performing a minor experiment, she realizes that everypony is just pretending to know what they are doing. Even those considered the very definition of social class and sophistication.

This was intriguing. It is a look into culinary etiquette and, more specifically, how silly and pointless it all is. By extension, it could be said to encompass all social requirements of society, particularly higher society, and the nonsensical rules we apply to ourselves in the name of having a superior public image. When it comes down to it, a fork is a fork is a fork, and the world won’t end because you used the one intended for salads to eat your cabbage.

But then there is that subtle clue. Rarity has just tricked Celestia into using the wrong fork for the current meal, but by extension she too is using the wrong fork. By everything stated above, this shouldn’t matter. And yet Rarity considers this a punishment, if a minor one. And why would she do this except that she still cares, even after acknowledging the underlying silliness of it all? As much as we know these social concepts are, practically speaking, pointless, we still hold ourselves to them. Why? Because of a perceived cost in not doing so, of course.

A story that says a lot in a very short time. Not bad, author. Not bad at all. Those of you seeking a little something to think about, though perhaps none-too seriously, will enjoy this one.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Something is wrong with Pinkie. She’s been reclusive lately, and vastly overeating even by her standards. The problem is obvious, she knows exactly what it is. Her parties got too wild, her interests matured, and now she’s stuck with a full stomach (in more ways than one) and realizing that her days of fun and games are over. It might be easier if she knew who the father was…

This is a story in which unexpectedly pregnant Pinkie Pie ponders where her life is going. Her alter ego Pinkamena has a few things to say about it, none of them nice. The story is, ultimately, a clash of conscience and responsibility.

The idea here is not bad. It shows a serious side of Pinkie, the side that is aware of the responsibilities of her actions and is just as scared and uncertain as anyone might be in this situation. Honestly, it’s not at all how I’d imagine she’d react to this, but there’s no reason not to believe this possibility. No, the only point that really bugged me was Pinkamena.

Where did she come from? Is she a delusion brought on by a cake overload? A figment of Pinkie’s imagination brought forth by the stress? She’s definitely not been there all along, because the story makes it clear that this is the first time Pinkie’s encountered her. I’m not saying that an explanation is needed, per se. It’s just that Pinkamena herself is such a common, widely recognizable trope that I’m not sure this was an appropriate use for her. Pinkie could have had all these doubts and fears without Pinkamena popping up.

But I consider that subjective. I imagine a lot of people will be thrilled at Pinkamena being used here. As such, I’m not going to let it affect my grade much. What does affect my grade is the writing, which suffers from a few slip ups. They might be typos or they may be legit mistakes on the author’s part. Either way, they’re a little too common for comfort.

Not a bad story, but neither does it amaze. Read it for your Pinkamena or Sad Pinkie fix, or if you like to see characters overcoming their own fears and insecurities.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

Back Off

1,855 Words
By Summer Dancer

Soarin’s got a ‘thing’ for the Wonderbolts’ newest recruit, and thus far he hasn't seen anything resembling competition in that regard. So imagine his surprise when Rainbow shows up at the academy with this total creep. Watching Zephyr Breeze flirt with the obviously disgusted mare tells Soarin he’d best get involved. For her sake, of course.

This didn’t go where I anticipated, but I still enjoyed it. Zephyr, polarizing as he is, is always a hoot to watch for me, although I’m waiting for some background sign that he’s found himself in prison for sexual harassment. At any rate, this story is, for all intents and purposes, “what happened while Zephyr was at the Academy with Rainbow Dash”. Which… is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Needless to say, Zephyr gets what’s coming to him.

If you want to get a tiny bit of background with Zephyr and Rainbow, want to see Soarin assert his position in regards to Rainbow (without being a testosterone-controlled dick about it), or just want more Zephyr being Zephyr, here’s your story.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

While I wait the everlasting eternity it will take Monochromatic to complete The Enchanted Kingdom, I figure I should explore some of her other bits of (inevitably RariTwi) awesomeness. In this story, we find ourselves in an AU where Rarity is the daughter of the king of… Unicornia? Equestria? It’s not really clear, except that she’s the daughter of a king, so she’s a princess, and that’s good enough for now, I suppose. Anyway, dear old dad has decided it is time for his daughter to pick out the soldier who will be her personal, lifelong bodyguard.

She can’t stand this. She’s supposed to just pick, on a whim, some muscle-bound meathead for no reason other than ‘he’s strong’? Not if she has anything to say about it! She needs somepony strong, yes, but also somepony she can get along with. And none of these grunts seem at all appropriate for protecting a lady… Wait, is that one reading a book?

Altogether now: 3, 2, 1, d’awww! I enjoyed this every bit as much as I hoped I would. Much of the story centers on Rarity talking to Twilight as she reads, blissfully unaware that she is discussing literature and ignoring her duties right in front of her princess. Rarity is as entertained as I am by Twilight’s eggheaded bibliophilia. Yeah, this ends exactly where you expect it to.

To be fair, I do see some distinct issues with the story, most notably the antics Twilight pulls without bothering to look at who she’s talking to. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who, upon being spoken to, won’t immediately look up from what they are doing to see who they are talking to. It’s a blatantly forced move on Mono’s part. Still, I’m willing to go easy on the story for that since it allows Rarity to watch her be adorkable for such a long time.

There’s also this weird idea that, with just one encounter that lasted maybe ten minutes if we stretch it, Rarity is already crushing on Twilight. She moves fast, doesn’t she? Too fast. Not buying it. I think the story would have been far greater served if it had remained a friendship and left the inevitable crushing bit out until a later entry.

No matter. I am still thoroughly entertained. Feel free to read this if you feel like exploring more of Mono’s writing while also waiting for The Enchanted Kingdom’s next update. I will most definitely be exploring more of this AU.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
The Enchanted LibraryWHYRTY?

Caramel is onboard a ship created by both humans and ponies on its maiden voyage. We all know what happens on maiden voyages, right? After the ship sinks, Caramel finds himself on a small, uninhabited island with only a human for company. Caramel can eat some seaweed and the like, and there’s a source of fresh water, but the human is going to have to catch his own food. It doesn’t go well, and soon Caramel begins to wonder: just what will this human resort to if things get too desperate?

This one uses a gradual buildup to get to its point, providing hints from the very beginning about where it’s going but not bothering to ratchet up the alarm until it’s practically over. The best part about it is that we see everything from Caramel’s perspective, so it all looks bad. But then the ending comes, and you have to wonder if it all was as bad as it seemed. No answer is forthcoming, which in this case was absolutely the right move. It calls into question the nature of ponies themselves and their willingness to trust in others. Really, are they any better than we are, as so many have suggested before?

A solid story all around, as one can expect from this author.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Biblical MonstersWHYRTY?
Wild FireWHYRTY?
Celestia Hates Us AllPretty Good

Lise (formerly Lise Eclaire, I have no idea what for the change) once wrote a story in which Discord receives a letter from somepony. The letter makes very clear that this somepony is crushing hard on him and is not happy that he seems to either not care or not have noticed. Discord, either having no idea who this is from or feigning ignorance because Discord, decides to write back. But since he doesn’t (?) know who it’s from, how can he send a letter? Oh, that’s actually quite easy: he just sends the same letter to every single resident in all of Ponyville all at the same time!

But what can you expect from Discord?

Simply put, Discord’s response is silly in the extreme. He drops what may be clues to suggest he knows who it is he’s really dealing with, but the question is whether he does know or if he’s just spouting random facts he happens to know about different citizens. You know, shoot enough darts and you’ll eventually hit a target? Personally, I think he is indeed aware and just wants to have fun with the entire concept, because what’s Discord without a little (or a lot) fun?

This just keeps getting more and more entertaining. I’m looking forward to the sequel, just to see all the reaction letters he receives. The only serious catch in this is that it does somewhat require you read the prior story. Plus it really does seem extraordinarily random, which can be either a big plus or minus depending upon your tastes. Either way, I am entertained.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
I Drain Fillyfoolery?!Pretty Good
The Love Life of a Secret MurdererPretty Good
Dear Discord, I hate you so much!Worth It
Dear Princess Twilight, my name is Spider Web, and I am a changeling...Worth It

Stories for Next Week:
Language Barrier by Aquaman
The One That Stayed Behind by Harmony Pie
Royal Review by KnightMysterio
Twilight is Annoyed by Protopony350
Baby Pictures by QueenMoriarty
Line Up! by Maddiepink5
Rarity Gets Drunk and Talks to an Apple by Paulicus
Clover Honey by AugieDog
One Last Time by Jhoira
Brittle by Rambling Writer

Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXI
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Comments ( 19 )

Did someone say the Weather?


This reference makes more sense if you’ve listened to “welcome to Night Vale”. If you haven’t, why haven’t you? It’s pretty great, at least listen to two or three episodes to get an idea of what it’s all about

Dear readers, I’m afraid I have no indie music to offer you for this broadcast, as the musical artists we selected have all eaten wheat and wheat by-products. They had to be rounded up by the Sheriff’s Secret Police and permanently incarcerated. I only wish the Sheriff’s Secret Police had reacted before the artists got hold of our station intern, Curtis. To the family and friends of Curtis the Intern: he was a good intern, and he will be missed.

You haven’t reviewed “My Little Dashie?” I’m slightly surprised by this. I wonder if you have reviewed Rainbow Factory or some of the other wildly popular fanfics. If you have reviewed Rainbow Factory or Cupcakes please show me where! I am curious to know what your thoughts about them were.

The one about Pinkie Pie and Pinkamena: No More Fun and Games, will be added to my “read it later.” I do rather enjoy the Pinkamena concept (I’m sure that’s obvious,) but it would bother me as well when not knowing the origin of where she came from. If she just popped out of no where one day, yeah, I’d be a little suspicious too. I really like to dive deep in my stories with Pinkamena and explain as to what she is, so that would be hard for me to get past. I might not enjoy the fanfic because I don’t seem to agree with Pinkamena being a bullying mindset anymore, but I’ll sample it regardless. :pinkiehappy:

Quite a collection there. I read MLD about halfway into the fandom, and was determined not to like it. And then I did. Heck, they're all pretty good this week.

Night Vale fan. Niiiiice.

lol at me being worried when you were much nicer to that story than I myself am towards it.

The original three bodyguard AU stories (and by which I mean, the two that I begrudgingly tolerate and the third that hasn't been deleted only because people asked me not to) definitely show their age and my inexperience at AUs -- especially with how, as you point out, Rarity just??? crushes on her??? just like that??? and Twilight??? thinks its totally okay to be reading in the middle of training??? oh my GOD PAST ME, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, SO BLINDED BY YOUR NEED FOR CUTE FLUFF YOU FORGOT TO MAKE THEM ACT LIKE REAL PEOPLE...PONIES

There's a year long gap between the original three and the next BG!AU story (Sleeping Arrangements), in which time I had started writing TEL, and you can absolutely see the difference--especially in Twilight's characterization.

Anyway, I'm glad you thought it was worth it! Even though I see their flaws now, these stories are literally the reason I stayed in the fanfiction scene after my first fic, so if it wasn't for them, I probably wouldn't still be here

Author Interviewer

Ah yeah, The Last Link was pretty good, as I recall. :)

I'm the horrible person who didn't really like My Little Dashie. :pinkiecrazy: Though I did enjoy The Wrong Fork and The Savage Way quite a bit, so it's not all bad!

I don't remember reading any of next week's batch.

The Wrong Fork is a classic. Like you said, it manages to put a lot into a small space. It's not off-puttingly deep or ponderous, but still gives the reader something to ruminate on.

I wrote my own review of The Savage Way, and it was quite bad. The characters are completely lacking in defining characteristics, and the plot's direction is visible from space. What you referred to as "hints" are more like signposts, clad in flashing lights and neon paint. I'll admit that I did not pick up on the "ponies can't trust others" theme that you pointed out. And admittedly, I'm heavily biased against Human in Equestria stories.

"Something Like Laughter" is the only one of this batch I've read, and it's rather good. I had the pleasure of approving it for EqD.

Aw shucks, thank you! :twilightsmile:

The closest it comes to making a mistake is the protagonist mentioning the show ended after eight seasons

I remember, when this story first appeared, making a point of remembering this detail in case ROB's wild guess turned out to be right. He was only one season off, so... not bad, ROB, not bad at all. :moustache:

btw, “The Titan’s Orb?” yea, it’s loosely based on this as My Little Dashie is referenced in that story, :D

I have read both Rainbow Factory and Cupcakes, but that was back before I did reviews. I have no idea where to find the latter since it was never formally released on FIMFiction (that I am aware of). I went ahead and threw the former on my RiL, but I’m not going to give it any special treatment as I recall not having a particularly high opinion of it. I generally don’t for those kinds of stories.

Known about it for years, but didn’t bother to really listen until I needed something to listen to on the drive to Bronycon this year. Still only about 70 episodes in, but I can say I’m officially hooked.

Yes... I have noticed.
*Deletes Annihilation Gen-1 2.0*

I used to be someone who loved dark things, but I guess that was because I was an edgy thirteen-year-old. Still have some of that nature in me, but I'm working on the actual story and not the gore nowadays. Keyword... trying. :rainbowlaugh:

Great reviews though, I always love reading them!

I’m sorry to have to burden your heart like this, Mono.... but now that I’m in the Bodyguard AU they’re all going to be fasttracked in my schedule due to my “prequels/sequels get special treatment” rule. :raritywink: I’ve only read one so far and I’m already disappointed that The Weary Travellers of Caelum is incomplete. But hey, it’ll be months before I get to it, so maybe progress will have been made by then?

The plot was indeed visible from space. You go in knowing where it’s going, and the author made zero attempt to hide the fact. You don’t go into a Jurassic Park movie and end up surprised there are dinosaurs eating people. I think, given what the story was inevitably going to be about, the author did a good job.

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