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Story Notes - For the Benefit of Yaks · 6:44pm Nov 10th, 2019

Admiral Biscuit does it all the time, so why shouldn’t I?  Unlike him, though, I’m not good at finding cute ponies to space things out with, so have a picture of the cover.  Again.

I pitched a couple of ideas to Rocket Lawn Chair, with ideas about as well thought out as the one pictured above.  After some back-and-forth, RLC settled on making this one happen and it’s exactly better than I could ever have done on my own.

The rest of these are going to be presented in no particular order.

Let’s start with the obvious.  I drew quite a bit of inspiration from the actual space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.  If that second acronym seems similar to the one you’ve seen in the story, that’s because the Labyrinthines are analogous to the Soviets.  At least, insofar as they can be in this setting. At first, I had only referred to them as “the minotaurs” in my infinite creativity, but that got really dry after the dozenth time, so I started fishing for a country name.  Akouma suggested “the great maze”, and I thought about it. “Maze” seemed like a better term for an individual city within the nation, though, and then I remembered what “USSR” stood for. From there, the leap to UMMR was small.

Now, the big divergence is that we have Equestria playing the role of the US… what does that make the yaks?  Probably something like a wrench in everyone’s plans.

Ever heard of Project Orion?  That’s how the yaks go to space.  From the beginning, I knew that the yaks wouldn’t have the patience for sustained thrust and they celebrate by stomping things.  Toss in some “what the hell, let’s say they’re unreasonably durable for something organic” and you get Kerbal-like yaks using a form of thrust that Jebidiah only wished were in the base game.  (He’ll probably love KSP 2 as much as I know I will.)

But not just everything survives a nuclear explosion.  Try as they might, they can’t make a rocket built out of yaks, either.  Therefore, material “science” is the next highest priority for them.

Before I cover this, please, you might want to admit that you came and read the story because it promised yaks making explosions.  That’s what Ifocused on delivering. Thus, the biggest potential plot-hole: Luna.

Before I started writing anything, I already knew what Luna would do for the epilogue.  The other princesses weren’t afterthoughts, I promise. I don’t know when, exactly – either after NMM turned on Celestia or after she came back, but part of Luna’s reformation includes following the rules when playing with celestial bodies.  Every other country is going to be nervous that Equestria controls the sun and the moon. I’d hardly be the first to point out that they wield the power to kill the planet from their bedroom. If Equestria relies on any other nation for anything, I’d bet that they have used everything they have available to keep Celestia and Luna from doing anything malicious with the celestial bodies.  Formal contracts are probably involved.

In short, Luna is bound to keep the moon on some sort of schedule within a limited margin of error, lest she be held accountable for breaking national trust.  Celestia and Luna stayed back while Twilight ran the show, which would be much more agreeable to the other nations.

Space is big, though, and those margins are plenty large enough to cause the Labyrinthines a lot of trouble.  Luna is, of course, going to find it insulting that they’d claim the moon because they “know” that she’s bound by these rules (without properly taking into account that they literally leave some wiggle room).

I really would have liked to dive into more of the behind-the-scenes, but I had a deadline and have yet to land on a writing style and process that doesn’t leave me second-guessing large portions of what I write.  I kept to what I knew I could deliver in time and deliver well, which also left me with a story that would need at least some mild restructuring to fit in more politics.

The acutely aware might note that I didn’t give nearly as much word-space to the Labyrinthines.  Same problem there.

Basically everything that happens is in one way or another inspired by technology that exists or an event that happened.

I’m sure at least a few people noticed exactly when the yaks discovered nuclear fuel.  I’m sure at least as many people figured out what the Philomena accident was based on.  Not all of the research brought up fun topics.

Wonderbolts are the first astronauts because they already go through mental and physical extensive training.  They’re at least halfway there, by the looks of the Dizzitron. Thank Faust that pegasi are more necessarily more durable and capable of flight than humans, else the Philomena incident would have been worse.

One of RLC’s original loose sketches featured what appeared to be a yak strapped to a rocket, and I figured I had to squeeze that moment in there somewhere.

Similarly, I heard that NASA is sending a cookie oven to the ISS.  A perfect fit for the snack-oriented yaks.

EQSA, pronounced “Exa” (credit to Bugsy for that.)  Originally, it was the more plain EQSP, standing in for “Equestrian Space Program”.

NASA’s motto is “For the benefit of all.”  That’d probably be the motto of the merged successor to the EQSA and Yak space program.  Until then, “For the benefit of yaks” is the mindset of what the yaks are doing.

This story is a greatly expanded version of Explode Twice, an entry in my anthology of semi-random-prompt stories, Unhinged.  For that, FoME made a couple of cards, one of which was this:

Void Smasher 4GU
Creature — Ox Warrior
Flying, trample Void Smasher can’t block creatures without flying. You may cast Void Smasher from exile.
”Must smash Eldrazi from orbit. Is only way to be sure.”

I decided to take this one more step and have something, like cabbage, smashed from orbit.  Or at least something that should have been smashed from orbit.

The griffons aren’t exactly unified or industrialized, but they do like money.  Cheap cabbage can be made a novelty with the right marketing. Loans (usually) mean interest (and lots of it).  If those Labyrinthines don’t pay it back in time, guess what the collateral will be?

Figures they would support the legitimacy of the Labyrinthines’ claim.  Ah, more political jokes that I didn’t have the time for.

I’ve already received some high praise for my writing in this story, such as this:

Great writing filled with a lot of exciting and evocative imagery.

This is it, everyone.  I can officially fake good writing well enough that people can’t tell the difference.

I say that almost seriously; I have always found descriptions and the like somewhat challenging, so in this case, I set up the scenes and pulled the narration out of the way quickly.  The rest, I figured, would be up to the readers’ imagination. Good writing is, apparently, as much about what you don’t say as it is about what you do.

The prompt for “The New” includes the wording “tell a story of the future rushing at your princess head on.”  FoME jokingly pointed at some of the yaks’ displeasure with his changes as the cost of adhering to the prompt.

I, personally, had figured that I’m writing a story where, instead, my princess is rushing at the future head-on.  Close enough, right? The yaks are in a funny position where they’re clearly very traditionalist, but I think proud enough to (mostly) drop that to stand together in defence of their reputation, self-perceived or otherwise.  Some of them are still going to complain, which is a heck of a lot better than you’d get from a bunch of humans.

Well, that’s about all I remember that I want to touch on for now.  Whether or not it does well in the contest, I am happy to have made something that people are enjoying as much as I am told.

Comments ( 8 )

Eldritch horrors from beyond time and space, cabbage...

Yeah, same difference. :derpytongue2:

Oh, crap; I forgot that I was gonna make that joke. Glad to have someone who'd know for sure independently confirm it, though. Thanks!

Thanks for the mention and for the behind-the-scenes look. I'm glad to have been a part of it.

The Yaks are as crasy as the English.

Orion is nukes.

But the British Astronautical Society Deadalus probe is effectivly half the National Ignition Facility, pointing upwards. :derpytongue2:

Project Daedalus One Way Space Probe

That is such an awesome picture.

It just makes you want to go and read the story, doesn't it? :derpytongue2:
(It really is and I'm very thankful for it)

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