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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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Jan
2nd
2020

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXIX · 8:21pm January 2nd

Aaand it’s 2020 already. My goodness, how time flies.

2019 was a strange year for me. Strange in that, according to my wordcount spreadsheet, I produced over 500,000 words for the year. And yet it doesn’t feel like it, because I only released three stories, and the last four months were unusually lazy on my part. The reason is obvious: a good third of that (at least) is for Bulletproof Heart: Famous Last Words. There were also three or four short stories I started that never got to publication because I kept being disappointed in them and stopping midway. Then there are the few original fiction stories I started that added to the wordcount. And let’s not forget editing, which does add to the wordcount some.

So on FIMFiction proper, it looks like and feels like I haven’t done much. But here in Real World Land, I’ve actually done quite a bit. Suddenly I don’t feel so lazy.

And hey, those three stories I did release? They all went over well. Two of them got featured and the other, while not garnering much attention, was nicely received by those who did view it.

Honestly? I haven’t done diddly squat in regards to writing horsewords these last two weeks. I’m on a vacation, and I took that concept to heart. I even turned off notifications on my phone so I wouldn’t be bothered by people on Discord (oh, finally got Discord on my phone. Yay?) and such. The only thing I’ve kept track of is my reading for reviews. I go back to proper productivity next week.

Speaking of, I’ve decided to get off my proverbial butt and go back to my ‘three stories at a time’ rule, with the caveat that the third story will always be a short one. I don’t know if I’ll keep it up for long, as I’m still pretty eager to get BH: FLW out, but I’m hoping this will let me work on that while also getting an original fiction version of Guppy Love set up while also letting me release certain one shots I’ve been longing to do for Luna knows how long.

Alright, that’s enough of that. Let’s get 2020’s first review blog rolling, shall we?

Stories for This Week:

You and Her by fourths
Trust Me by Casca
Don't Boop the Pony by little big pony
Actual Pony Sex by Scootareader
Cold by 314
Beware the Great White by kaminakat
Rocketmare by Rust
Hunter and Prey by Beware The Carpenter
Sweet Carrots by Epic Yarn
Odrsjot by Imploding Colon

Total Word Count: 397,891

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 2
Pretty Good: 5
Worth It: 3
Needs Work: 0
None: 0


You and Her

7,323 Words
By fourths

Fancy Pants wants to let Rarity stay in his and Fleur’s home for a couple weeks. It would be convenient. He can introduce her to other important ponies, help her spread her business beyond Ponyville. That’s all. But Fleur knows her husband better than he thinks. She doesn’t know Rarity, not really, but she can see those bright blue eyes and those luxurious curves. He thinks she doesn’t know. She’ll let him think that. No matter how much it hurts on the inside.

Told entirely from Fleur’s perspective, this is the story of a wife who sits back and watches her husband’s adultery, never letting him in on the storm raging within her. It’s a painful, heart wrenching tale. At first, I wondered if it wasn’t just paranoia making things appear as they are not. These kinds of things happen. But the evidence mounts, and when Fleur’s worst fears are confirmed, it’s like a stab to the chest.

That’s what makes this story so good; the way fourths effectively puts us in Fleur’s place, makes us feel as she does, and instills us with all her pain and fear and longing. It’s certainly a sad story, but it is undeniably well-written. Then there’s that second shoe dropping. Which, if you pay attention, you’ll see coming. But even then, and for all its softness, it’s a powerful moment that repaints the entire story.

And then there’s Rarity, who… let’s just say her final moment in the story is a shining one. Even while being in Fleur’s headspace, I don’t envy the situation Rarity finds herself in. One must wonder, for all the pain Fleur is going through, how she must feel being caught in this awful situation. But then there’s Fancy, and you want to look at him as the villain of the piece… but again, there’s that other shoe that got dropped. I have to wonder if these events, or something resembling them, would have happened regardless.

This is a story that is as complicated as it is direct. Different readers will, I think, interpret it in different ways. Regardless of who reads it in what way, it’s a strong piece that deserves all the attention it has garnered.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Trust Me

4,097 Words
By Casca

Celestia doesn’t trust Luna in any way, and therefore has told her nothing about any contingency plans for the recent threats that have been bombarding Equestria in the last few years, assuming she even has any. So when Starlight Glimmer steals Starswirl’s time travel spell and Luna realizes her intentions, the furious younger sister storms into a meeting with Celestia demanding to know why she’s sitting on her rump doing nothing while this unprecedented threat continues unabated. And Celestia has the gall to tell Luna to trust her. Not this time. Luna will see Celestia do something instead of just relying on Twilight Sparkle, and this time she won’t take no for an answer.

To be fair, that’s probably not how Casca would choose to summarize this story. In my defense, you can’t write about Celestia literally lying to her sister’s face like a condescending, arrogant… well, big sister… and not expect certain connections to be made.

This story is quite damning of Celestia on the whole, even if I doubt that was the author’s intention. The good news is that Celestia has contingencies in place in case Twilight fails, and while we only see a tiny fraction of one, it seems like she knows what she is doing. The damning part is how she not only keeps Luna out of the loop entirely but, when confronted about the issue created via Luna’s resulting ignorance, has the audacity to make up bullshit, try to disengage from the topic entirely, dismiss Luna’s legitimate concerns as childishness, and then even feign hurt that Luna doesn’t trust her. Luna’s right, she is cruel, and it’s good she saw past Celestia’s conceited display.

Celestia’s conclusions and methods regarding Equestria’s future aren’t wrong, not necessarily. But her approach for dealing with Luna’s is all kinds of wrong. I don’t blame Luna one bit for being pissed.

Yet, again, I don’t think Casca intended the story to be interpreted this way. I imagine Casca thinks everything Celestia is doing is reasonable, especially considering how the story ends. I suppose it’ll be up to everyone reading the story to make their own conclusions.

As to the quality of the story itself, it’s quite good. It’s strongly written all-around, from Luna’s furious entrance and Celestia’s endless snark and cool to both siblings’ self-righteous superiority. I see no reason not to recommend it, although readers must be aware that truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
ScaldWHYRTY?
NighthoodWorth It
The Confessions of Clyde Pie, Prince of RockNeeds Work


All Jerry wanted after a bad work week was to go home and marathon some Spanish soap operas. This is all made a bit more difficult when his drunk brother ends up on his front porch claiming that the Earth is under attack by aliens. Jerry’s dealt with his drunk brother before, he can deal with him again. Or he would if a certain purple alicorn didn’t suddenly appear and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, drunk as he may be, his brother wasn’t lying. At least not about the alien bit.

This was highly entertaining. It starts off slow and builds up to its point, and that works wonderfully. I’m particularly amused by Tom’s conspiracy theories and the cultural implications of boops to the snoot. The latter of which is, of course, the whole point of the story. I can only assume the planet will soon be overrun by our fuzzy, adorable new… *ahem* overlords.

If you’re looking for a fun read, by all means jump on this.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Child's PonderingsNeeds Work


When observing the show, one might notice that ponies in Equestria don’t seem to have any genitalia. This brings up an obvious question: how do the ponies reproduce? Scootareader decided to address this topic via example, using Rainbow Dash and Big McIntosh as the lucky (and entirely unaware) couple. Turns out that the theory put forth is… let’s say ‘unconventional.’

Rainbow Dash and the Apple kids need to have a talk with their parents about keeping them so totally unaware of how pony reproduction works. Heck, even Pinkie Pie understands it, which is saying something. Anyway, this is a story that aims to show us one theory for how ponies go about making baby ponies. It’s nowhere near as sexual as you’re probably hoping (you perv). I don’t know what made Scootareader think of things in this particular way, but it does lead to a lot of questions. Like monogamy, for example, and siblings. In fact, this brings up significant questions regarding the paternal parentage of a certain pink pony, without suggesting her mother was doing anything inappropriate. If that confuses you, you’re already seeing my point; this idea Scootareader has brings up a lot of “WUT?”

The story is tagged as a comedy, and for good reason. It certainly has its humorous moments. Heck, it’s probable Scootareader intended the whole story to be one giant joke, and I wouldn’t fault them that. But take a moment to take this idea seriously, and you come up with something that might leave you thinking for a long while.

Alternatively, you might just find it disturbing. Which is also a perfectly valid reaction.

At any rate, I got a lot out of this, for a range of reasons that probably weren’t intended on the author’s part.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
And I Will Love You...WHYRTY?
A Hearth's Warming AloneWorth It
From the Eternal Love of a SisterWorth It


Cold

4,300 Words
By 314

Fluttershy decides to head to Applejack’s to give her her Hearth’s Warming present early, only to be caught in a freezing blizzard that unexpectedly strikes out of the Everfree Forest. She nearly succumbs to the harsh weather, but luckily for her a certain sturdy earth pony was out and about in the cold at the right time.

This story is a great example of why I like to give writers second chances. It is a huge improvement over the last story I read by 314. Gone is the exorbitant extrapolation of events, the rushed dialogue, the barrenness of atmosphere. This story takes its time and doesn’t spoon-feed us what’s going on and why. Better yet, it shows us the relationship between Fluttershy and Applejack without once bothering to clarify it with Tell. Very well done, author.

That being said, I find it curious that a key topic – that Fluttershy just came to within a hair’s breadth of dying – somehow never comes up. It’s almost like the near-death experience is forgotten by the pair as soon as it has passed, which strikes me as very odd indeed.

There’s also the caveat that this is clearly a slice-of-life romance. If you’re looking for any drama or anything resembling a climax, you won’t get it. The audience may be a bit niche.

Yet, in terms of writing quality, this is still a huge improvement for the author, and that’s always a delight to witness.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Swan LakeNeeds Work


And as the two ponies drifted into a cozy afternoon nap, the only unusual thing they could ever imagine was not being together.

Spoken like a true acolyte of the OTP. I nod my head in hearty approval.

This is nothing more than a bout of silliness enacted by Rarity against her not-so hapless marefriend. To be honest, I don’t see Rarity doing this, or at the very least not being the one to initiate it. But it’s a minor complaint. The story is not meant to be taken seriously, and so I shall not do so.

If you want to watch Rarity and AJ being goofy and sweet with one another, here’s your 1,000-word fix.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Rocketmare

1,877 Words
By Rust

A pony named Stella launches on a solo flight into space. But this isn’t your average flight.

This easily qualifies as the best I’ve read by this author. It’s like night and day. Here Rust manages to create a heavy hitting piece that pulls on the heartstrings and delivers the feels in a realistic fashion within less than 2,000 words. Using an original character, at that. Most impressive, author.

I don’t want to spoil too much. In general, you know the story already. But there’s a second half to the story that really changes things and makes this so much more than what you already know. Where the story really excels is in Rust’s ability to create fully realized voices and personalities using nothing more than dialogue through a radio, accentuated with a thick atmosphere and the gradually developed awareness of background and purpose. It’s a perfectly brewed mixture that potential writers could learn from.

It’s not often that short stories deserve my highest rating, but I think Rust earned it with this one.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Sweet CelestiaWorth It
Pest ControlNeeds Work


Holy cow, but this one does a 180.

From the name, the description, and the image, it’s obvious what this story is about: Ahuizotl’s not a monster after all and actually cares for Daring Do.

From the name, the description, and the image, you have absolutely no idea what this story is about.

Both those statements are perfectly accurate. Confused yet?

This tiny story outlines an idea regarding the origins of Daring Do and Ahuizotl. It’s not obvious. Rather, it interprets Daring as an unrepentantly selfish individual, while also indicating the mare responsible for her success. In many ways, this is a story about that mysterious mare.

The end result exists in complete defiance of everything we know about a certain character, which means it can only exist as an AU. Which, to their credit, Beware the Carpenter acknowledges in full. If you can get past the blatant OOC nature of the “villain”, you end up with a setup for what could be a very interesting AU. And I know this author has the creative chops to pull off a plotline for it (though the literary chops remain in question). I would love to see this idea expanded into something larger.

For a very unexpected premise that still perfectly fits the advertising in unexpected ways, I am pleased. This easily qualifies as the best thing I’ve read by this author.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Spitfire's Pet UnicornWorth It
Storm Of SecretsNeeds Work


Sweet Carrots

12,246 Words
By Epic Yarn
Requested by Epic Yarn

It took a lot of convincing from her best friend Pear Butter, but Chiffon Swirl has entered the annual Ponyville Baking Competition. The competition is in three parts, the first being to swap recipes from an anonymous rival contestant and try to improve upon it. Except she got carrot cake, of all things. Who the heck likes carrot cake? Carrot Cake, or Carrot Sticks as he’s commonly known, certainly does. But he’s not in the contest to win. He’s only in it because Chiffon Swirl is, and if they’re competitors then maybe, just maybe, she’ll finally notice he exists.

I have a few things I really enjoy. For one, I enjoy reading stories about food. Coming from two families of self-taught chefs, cuisine has always been a pleasant aspect of my life. This story might not get experimental with the whole “Equestrian Culinary Culture” that I like to see explored, but it still has a heavy focus on food, so it grabs my attention for that alone.

A second thing I like to see is Cake family history, particularly stories about how Carrot and Cup Cake got together. Well aware of the terrible pun, those two are just too sweet to ignore, and they make for the nicest little stories together.

So this already has my attention from the word “go”. As an added bonus, it’s set before Pear Butter and Bright Mac’s relationship has become common knowledge among their friends. The story gives plenty of little winks at the audience, a series of “yeah, you all know what’s really going on here” moments involving those two. The romantics among us can do nothing but squee and grin from ear to ear.

The story regularly alternates between the perspectives of Carrot Cake and Chiffon Swirl as they prepare for the baking contest. In Chiffon’s case, it’s all about a desire to win and be recognized, with a lot of encouragement from Pear Butter to help her get over her insecurities as she struggles with a simple carrot cake recipe. On Carrot Cake’s side, he’s struggling to recreate Chiffon’s audacious, complex super-cake that requires a lot more than his meagre experience can allow. He’s got to get it right, though, or else how is he supposed to impress Chiffon? Luckily, he’s got his Prench-immigrant mother to help him out, even if she seems to disapprove of his ce petit problème bleu.

I love how Epic Yarn depicts Carrot Cake’s family as not only coming from Prance, but also being descended from famous chefs. Makes you wonder how the heck his mother ended up in Equestria married to a carrot farmer. There’s also the suggestion the Carrot Cake and Carrot Top (I still prefer Golden Harvest) are siblings, and I can’t believe I’ve never thought of or heard of that idea before.

All in all, this is a cute little story about a mare working hard to get recognized for her talents and a colt working hard to get recognized by her. It comes with a bit of canonically unexplored family history, held together by a clear knowledge of baking, garnished with a few cheeky elbow nudges to the audience, and supported by a hearty dollop of charm. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Odrsjot

357,354 Words
By Imploding Colon
Sequel to Innavedr

Imploding Colon’s endless epic continues as Rainbow Dash, together with her new friends, resumes her flight east across Ledomare and Xona, doing their best to avoid the war waging below. The story begins with things looking up for our intrepid voyagers. But if you’ve read this far into the series, you’ll know that nothing ever stays happy in an Austraeoh story.

The story runs in a curiously balanced manner compared to its predecessors. All the greatest action happens largely in the middle of the story, rather than the beginning or end. The first 50k-100k words is largely setup and building towards the epic confrontation, and the last 100k is gradually building down and recovering from said confrontation. It works surprisingly well, allowing us to grasp the effects of everything that’s happened and get ready for the next—

Oh, shit. There’s a climax after all. And wow, what a climax it is.

This could easily be considered the conclusion of an overall plot arc that began with Eljunbyro. You might think of it as the Ledomaritan Arc or the Bellesmith Arc. I for one would refer to it as the Shell Arc. The Prime Enforcer takes center stage as a true monster in this one, bringing about a ferocious finale fueled on remorse, revenge, and pure madness. Truly, this is a villain to remember.

In the meantime, we’ve got chaos-cursed elder dragons, religious fanatics, bloody trench warfare, fierce airship battles, and Rainbow Dash being her usual near-indestructible superhero self. We find new friends… and lose a few, too. Characters continue to grow and change as events get more and more chaotic and desperate.

Then there’s the surprise villain, whom I honestly never saw coming. It was an awesome reveal at an awesome moment promising ominous things in the future of this series, and I couldn’t have been any happier… although I do question if this villain is who we think or some alternative who happens to be in contact with who we think. They never specify a name, but at the same time they know things. Lots of mystery here, and I’m looking forward to more.

There’s only one problem: I wonder if there’s any point in continuing. I took a look at the other stories in the series and note that the latest one, Ofolrodi, hasn’t been updated in a year-and-a-half as of this writing. Does Imploding Colon have any intention of finishing? Do I really want to go through another 2.5 million words of this when there may not be any reward at the end?

I aim to read Urohingr. But I’ll be watching Ofolrodi. If it hasn’t updated by the time I get to Urohingr, I’ll probably stop.

As for you guys, if you have managed to read through all the stories prior to this one, there’s no reason not to read Odrsjot. In fact, it would be good to do so as it seems to me as the end of a story arc within the series and thus might be considered a good stopping point. Just go in expecting more of the same over-the-top action, superb villainy, and steady character growth the series has given you so far.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
AustraeohWHYRTY?
EljunbyroPretty Good
InnavedrPretty Good


Stories for Next Week:

Archmage by Loyal
Left Behind by Shrink Laureate
The Text Argues With the Text by David Silver
Princess Luna and the Cotton Candy Sugar Rush by TheSlorg
Flutterschmooze by Opium4TmassS
If Great Things To Small Ones Could Compare by Cynewulf
An Offer She Can't Excuse by psychicscubadiver
You Can Lead a Horse to Logic by FanOfMostEverything
Obiter Dicta by GhostOfHeraclitus
Claw and Ordure by AugieDog


Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CLXXXVIII
You Are Here
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXC
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCIV

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Comments ( 7 )

It seems like Austraeoh has gone the way of End of Ponies, sadly. Skirts mostly writes other stuff and has posted a couple blogs on the topic of basically performance anxiety and people being mean

I just read that Daring Do/Ahuizotl one, I'm not at all convinced about it :twilightoops:

But it's lovely to see Epic Yarn here :twilightsmile:

Are those Austraeoh stories all named after Swedish onomatopoeia?

Thanks for the review! I’m so glad you liked it and thought it was cute!

For the record, I do have a story bouncing around in my head on how Carrot Cake’s mom and dad met and how his very Prance-ian mom came to live in Ponyville. I swear I’ll sit down and write it out one day.

Thanks for the read and the review! :pinkiehappy:

5179412
Swedish? I have no idea. But it wouldn't surprise me, considering how much onomatopoeia is in the stories in the first place. It's one of the things I like least about SS&E's writing style.

Rocketmare: Agreed.
You and Her: Agreed.
I don't know if I've ever favorited 2 stories in a single day before. Thanks.

5182901
You are very welcome.

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