• Member Since 16th May, 2013
  • offline last seen 4 hours ago

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!"

More Blog Posts463

  • Thursday
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXV

    Hello again, FIMFiction. I’ve had quite the lazy week, but it was on purpose. I was starting to feel the burnout after achieving ~2,000 words/day for most of July, so I figured it was about time. But now I think I’m ready to get back into it.

    Read More

    8 comments · 273 views
  • 2 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXIV

    My schedule has a problem. It’s one that’s been building up for a while now.

    Read More

    20 comments · 416 views
  • 3 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXIII

    I’ve decided that I’m going to take a minor vacation in August, if only so as to use up some of those vacation days from work before they’re gone in January. With this in mind, I figured I’d also not read anything over the course of those four days. Ah, but how to do that when they’re already on the schedule? I don’t want to push them back, it’s becoming more and more important to me to build a

    Read More

    5 comments · 367 views
  • 4 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXII

    Wow, last weekend was a busy one. Family gathering was relatively small this year, for obvious reasons. Although I must emphasize the “relative” part; usually when there’s a big holiday like the 4th, we end up with 20 people or more present. This weekend was “only” nine, including me, my parents, and my brother’s family of six. That’s right, six. That boy is a glutton for punishment, I swear to

    Read More

    8 comments · 395 views
  • 5 weeks
    Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXI

    My preliminary editing of the original fiction version of Guppy Love is all but finished! Soon I will have the entire story stored in GDocs and ready for prereading, which means it’s about time I started really looking for prereaders. I intend to ask the prereaders of the MLP version to come back to evaluate the changes, but I’d like to get a few others to offer a fresh perspective. I’m

    Read More

    16 comments · 379 views
Apr
30th
2020

Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIII · 8:23pm April 30th

I find myself making some progress with my writing again, and thank goodness for that. It’s not the kind of progress I’d like, but it rarely ever is.

For the last few weeks (read: all of April), I’ve largely taken a break from Bulletproof Heart: Famous Last Words to work on other projects. I think that break has gone on long enough, so I’ve resumed work. However, I’ve devised a new plan for the book going forward, and that means I’ll have to make some adjustments to previous chapters to account for it. I’m going back through every chapter to see what needs doing, and once I’ve done all that I’ll continue along with my plans. I should probably start looking into getting some cover art soon; I just hope the artist I want is still doing pony-related commissions, or commissions at all.

Anyay, if everything goes well then I’ll only need to write five more chapters. Those chapters will probably take a very long time to write, though. With luck I can have the story ready before the year’s out, but I still need to do alpha/beta reads and whatnot, so I’m not sure. This story has taken way longer than I originally hoped.

In the meantime, I’ve got another horror story in the works and about 80% completed, though I’ll probably call for pre-readers on it since I’m not sure it’s where it needs to be. Given the context, I think this is one that I need to get right. I’ve also resumed work on getting Guppy Love reformatted to original fiction. I’ve gotten very far in that regard, but I still need to add one or two scenes to get it to the size I want. I might also call for some pre-readers to help me smooth over the new stuff with the old.

Alright, enough of all that. Time for some reviews.

Stories for This Week:

Antipode of Light by wYvern
Asking a Favor by Tinybit92
Solace by ViThePony
A Little Push by LuminoZero
A Walk by the Hills by Spider8ite
Eeyup by Scootaloo96
Counting Crows by VashTheStampede
The Sword Coast by AdrianVesper
Into the Twily-verse by Raugos
Fixing Up Miss Smartypants by Arkensaw Pinkerton

Total Word Count: 247,965

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 2
Pretty Good: 1
Worth It: 6
Needs Work: 1
None: 0


Alternative Title: The Blob Does Equestria

Apple Bloom loses her way heading home from Zecora’s at the end of a hard day of Crusading. By luck, she stumbles upon a well. A well containing something.... black.

This is essentially a horror about Apple Bloom being pursued by The Blob. I specifically say ‘The Blob’ because this thing doesn’t strike me as The Smooze, but you might think differently. Regardless, I’d say wYvern did a decent job creating something somewhat frightening, even if we have no idea what this thing would have done had it gotten hold of Apple Bloom. The nebulous ending isn’t exactly reliable.

It was the ending that most bothered me about this story, and not in the way the author undoubtedly intended. It is, simply put, tropey. It’s that sort of bait-n-switch style that used to dominate horrors in the 80’s and 90’s, and even back then they made me roll my eyes. Think Freddy Kreuger snatching unsuspecting mothers through front door windows. I won’t deny there’s probably an audience for that kind of thing, but to me they always felt cheap, to say nothing for how they fail to provide any kind of finality to the story.

Still, I’d say this makes for some good ‘lite’ horror. If you’re looking for something a little less Stephen King and a little more R.L. Stine, this may do it for you.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Another DayPretty Good
Of Flies and SpidersPretty Good


Getting whacked by rainbow lasers tends to do a number on one’s clothes. While her attire didn’t get ripped off in a pervy fashion like so many unrealistically endowed Japanese magical schoolgirls, Sunset Shimmer’s beloved leather jacket did take quite the beating. She soon realizes that the only person she can turn to for help is someone who once considered her an enemy. Certain she’ll be turned away, Sunset bites down her pride and goes to beg for a favor she certainly doesn’t deserve.

Or, to summarize the summary: Rarity Best Human.

This is a brief tale in which our favorite fashionista in any world demonstrates her generosity and gives Sunset a few lessons in the meaning of friendship. It’s a realistic look at just how quick she is to forgive the past and a capable demonstration of her character.

The most curious part to me, however, is Sunset Shimmer. She’s remarkably contrite in this story, such that there’s literally no sign at all of her behavior in the original movie that this is supposedly set right after. I get that she’s reformed and even got Orbital Rainbow Cannoned in the face, but I still can’t help imagining she’d need to put effort into not falling back on old habits. Granted, her depiction here does reflect her demeanor in Rainbow Rocks, so there is precedent. I suppose your opinion of this will vary based on how you imagine Sunset’s reformation really went: instantaneous through magical harmony brainwashing or a gradual process enforced by a true desire to change.

Still, the story itself is good. It lacks any sort of major purpose, feeling more akin to the start of something than a true story unto itself, but given it’s the first in a trilogy I’m not opposed to that. Fans of either Rarity or SunShim will probably really enjoy this. As for the rest of you, your mileage may vary.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Oh no, he's cutePretty Good
Lunar MusingsNeeds Work


Solace

4,717 Words
By ViThePony

Feeling an intense discomfort in her castle, Twilight leaves in the middle of the night to visit the ruins of her old library. When Princess Luna arrives, she feels compelled to confess her guilt to her elder.

This didn’t go where I expected. At first glance, it seems like your typical “Goodbye, Golden Oaks” sadfic. Its beginnings have all the hallmarks of such a tale, with Twilight being uncomfortable in her own room and feeling like she doesn’t belong there. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, the story pivots such that it’s not about the old library at all. Instead, it ends up as a “power corrupts” tale.

It takes that concept surprisingly literally. Twilight, while fighting Tirek, has the power of all the alicorns at once. Apparently, just having that was enough to make her start thinking of aligning with the forces of evil and dethroning Celestia. So again, literally, power directly relates to evil. I don’t buy this. In fact, I consider it silly, derivative, and almost mockingly satirical. Coupled with having absolutely zero canon support, it ends up being a dud to me on multiple levels.

That being said, it at least gives this story an advantage in not being your run-of-the-mill “Ode to the Library”. It’s also competently written, capturing Twilight quite well and capably managing mood and atmosphere. In terms of the story’s writing and overall plot direction, it’s quite good. The underlying principal is unimaginative, if not humorously unrealistic, but ignoring that there’s nothing to complain about.

As such, I’m willing to put this on the middle ground.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Soarin comes home to find his son miserable. It soon is discovered that his wife, Rainbow Dash, put a bit too much pressure on little Prism Bolt about learning how to fly. Now Rainbow is all worried about how to fix her relationship with Prism. Luckily, she knows somepony who can help.

Inspired by and set in the same AU as Kilala97’s stories, this is a simple tale in which Rainbow Dash invites her little sister to help Prism Bolt get over his fears. It’s a pleasant enough story, with a nice message and decent character work for everyone’s favorite MLP mascot. For fans of Rainbow Dash and Kilala97’s universe, it’ll probably be a treat.

The only catch is that the story is, as I said, simple. The narrative makes no effort beyond the bare bones of what it needs to do, and thus can’t garner any extra interest on its own. The plot is straightforward, with nothing in the way of surprises or rising action or a climax. To use one of my old phrases, everything ‘just happens’, and then the story is over.

I also didn’t appreciate the exposition-filled opener, which wastes the first thousand words on Soarin recounting to himself how he and Rainbow Dash got together. None of it has anything to do with the story on the whole. It could have been skipped entirely and the story would have lost nothing over it. If we really need to know the story of how they got together, it should have appeared as its own story, not slapped onto this one. I feel obligated to also point out that during the entire flashback LuminoZero couldn’t decide on whether to write in present or past tense, switching between the two seemingly at random.

In a nutshell, this is a decent but uncreative story that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Dash and Kilala97’s AU, but may fall flat for other readers. I’m willing to put it on the middle shelf, as there’s nothing overtly wrong with the story other than the early exposition dump.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Subconscious DesiresWorth It
The Longest DayNeeds Work


After Rarity proved Rainbow’s innocence to the Wonderbolts, Rainbow decides she needs to repay the favor. This in mind, she invites Rarity to go for a walk in the hills near Canterlot, a place that holds personal significance to the pegasus.

This had all the ingredients for a pleasant, if subtle, romance. Spider8ite clearly was aiming for that kind of thing, a story in which the romance is there but never outright stated or shown in any of the more overt ways. In that sense, the author achieved exactly what they were after.

Alas, there are issues, the most dominant being Spider8ite’s unwillingness to really explore the setting. Take this small example:

As she finished counting, Rainbow beat her hoof on the ground, making a huge group of fireflies rise out of the field and fly around illuminating the whole place.

This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful, impressive, romantic scenes in the whole story, which Rainbow has been building up for some time now. That one sentence? That is it. No further attempt is made to elaborate on this supposedly special moment. The entire story runs like this. The author clearly has no idea how to develop mood, scenery, and atmosphere. The end result is a lot of flat scenery that rushes by and has minimal impact on the reader. If you’re trying to evoke emotion from your reader, this is a perfect example of how not to do it. Add on a wide variety of typos, incorrect phrasing, and rushed dialogue, and you get something of a yawner.

Overall, Spider8ite has the right idea in terms of content, but their delivery is poor. It’s a shame, as this could have been literary candy for the shippers in the audience.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
MegalomaniacWorth It


Eeyup

1,880 Words
By Scootaloo96

Bic McIntosh wakes up after a crazy night of drinking to discover that everypony he knows has been transformed into a duplicate of himself.

An easy summary of this would be: a ridiculous concept played straight. The story doesn’t bother to be silly, it lets the idea speak for itself. Big Mac sees everypony is Big Mac and he reacts about as realistically as can be expected. The fact that he’s the only one who seems to notice or care is the icing on the cake.

How you react to this story will depend on your personal tastes. You might find it hilarious. You might just scratch your head at all the WTF-ery going on. You might want to see an explanation that will never come. You might be frustrated by that. Or you’ll just stare blankly and go “wut?” Because I can’t possibly gauge anyone’s reaction to this and it has no serious technical flaws I could point out, I think I’ll place it on the middle ground.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Sisters are AwfulPretty Good


Rainbow Dash has the perfect, most complex and time-intensive prank ever for her friend Rarity. Said prank involves spending two months building a Rarity-centric shrine room in her home and letting Rarity discover it. It doesn’t turn out as funny as she expected.

If you have a single Shipping bone in your body, you already knew where this was going from the cover art alone. The story does not disappoint in that regard. It’s basically Rainbow discovering that her two months of stalking Rarity for the purposes of a prank has awoken something legitimate within her, only not to realize this until the prank is already in motion.

I’m not sure how to feel about this. Is the concept better played straight or for humor? I was kinda hoping for the latter, despite the lack of a comedy tag, but VashTheStampede goes unabashedly for the former. Whether that was the better choice will likely depend upon your individual tastes.

I suppose my only major complaint is that the story is so… direct. It doesn’t bother beating around the bush or generating an awkward, romantic atmosphere. Rainbow plays prank, she doesn’t find it funny, she confesses. The end. VashTheStampede could have played things far more descriptively, given us a stronger sense of mood. There’s nothing in particular I can point out that’s wrong with the writing itself, I just wish it had more… spirit.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
It's Been a WhileNeeds Work


Twilight is an orphan who grew up in the great library fortress of Candlekeep under the parentage of Starswirl the Bearded. One day out of the blue, Starswirl tells her to pack her bags so they can go on an adventure. Soon Twilight’s world is turned upside down as a mysterious, powerful figure arrives with every intention of killing her.

This story is based thematically on the Baldur’s Gate series of video games, which are themselves set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons. Confused yet? Don’t worry. AdrianVesper made the wise decision of making this crossover purely thematic in nature, meaning you don’t have to know anything at all about the source material to get the story. You won’t be bombarded by a dozen characters and places with complicated backstories the author expects you to already know in detail.

The story revolves around Twilight’s struggle to overcome her killer’s instinct while searching the Sword Coast of Equestria for the mysterious Black Knight. You’re probably scoffing at the idea of geeky librarian Twilight having a “killer’s instinct”, but in this AU the problem is very real and she consistently fights against her darker nature. This is effectively explained and makes up the core of the plot.

Along the way she recruits the usual collection of mismatched heroes we know as the Mane 6. While predictable, it’s done in a way that’s unique enough to keep things interesting; Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash as fugitives from a draconian pegasus military state, Applejack the daughter of a dragonslayer, Pinkie Pie a cursed childhood friend to Twilight, Rarity a former clothier forced to resort to thievery to survive, and Spike a heavenly Familiar bonded to Twilight via a magical spell. Their roles are all well-considered and developed, and I have nothing but approval for each. That they are all instantly recognizable despite the complete overhaul of Equestria into a smattering of medieval city states is commendable. In fact, this is so well done that I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised or offended if there had been some reveal that the whole thing was literally an Ogres & Oubliettes session being viewed from the perspective of the players’ imaginations.

The story is built heavily on character growth. Most of the characters are shown to develop and face certain personal dilemmas and challenges. They don’t get this treatment equally; Rarity never faces anything that could be considered personal and Fluttershy, while regularly being the game changer in many of the fights and consistently improving her abilities, is largely just along for the ride. Even so, the inner conflicts we do see are more than enough to keep the story interesting from start to finish, with little opportunity for rest even when the characters are themselves resting. The author does a great job keeping the plot flowing.

The Sword Coast also features cameos from a wide range of MLP fan favorites, such as Lightning Dust and Trixie. That being said, viewers should beware, as AdrianVesper isn’t afraid to off several of our favorite ponies in this story; this thing is full of death, and a character being a fan favorite doesn’t make them immune.

AdrianVesper doesn’t neglect worldbuilding, either. Which is good, because new worlds are nothing without that. We learn the history of the world, including the story of Celestia, Luna, and Discord, the war against an “ancient evil” that isn’t Grogar, some of the culture of different areas, and the ongoing political conflicts. None of these are described in great detail. Instead, we are told enough to get the idea and make the right connections so that the story can move forward. This was great for keeping things interesting without hindering the plot, showing just the right balance between the two.

Overall, I am most pleased with this. It further backs my belief that thematic crossovers are the best kinds. The story is excellently paced, possesses strong characters from beginning to end, and never stops being interesting. I only wish the author had finished the sequel.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
PictureframeWorth It


When Twilight and Starlight decide to try using interdimensional rifts as part of a lesson in school, they inadvertently bring a Twilight Sparkle from an alternate dimension into the School of Friendship. No big deal, just chat with her a bit and send her right back. Or that’s what they thought; now dimensional rifts are opening one after the other, each depositing a different Twilight Sparkle into Equestria.

This is a feghoot, which means it exists purely for the pun at the end. But Sweet Luna, that’s a long and winding setup for a pun! The pun is exceptionally, disastrously cringeworthy, which I guess is good? Depends upon your perspective, I suppose. But the thing is, the setup is a ton of fun. More fun than the entire reason the story supposedly exists. Seeing Raugos’ interpretation of all the various kinds of Twilights is highly entertaining.

If you can’t get enough Twilight in your life, this will be the story for you. Read it, enjoy the silliness, and try not to cringe too much at the terrible concluding pun.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
InitiationPretty Good
WithdrawalPretty Good


It’s hard to summarize this story as anything but romantic chaos. A romanticane. A shipnado. Any other weird Pinkiesque term you can come up with. Trying to articulate the events of this story without spoiling half of it is… tricky. What I can say is that assorted characters like assorted other characters who believe they’re being targeted for romance by other characters and work to make those ships a reality unawares that they’re unintentionally sabotaging all the other ships in the process while the ones after them are getting frustrated by the complete lack of progress and… and… yeah. Romanticane.

I have to say that I am impressed by how Arkensaw Pinkerton threw all these different plot threads around like a child in a toy store only to end it all with everything landing exactly where it needs to. It takes some real work to make that many plot threads tie together neatly, but as far as I can tell Pinkerton pulled it off. Anyone who has ever tried something similar will know how hard it is to pull off believably, and I’d argue it’s the primary thing that makes this story so enjoyable.

Okay, yes, there’s also the shipping. I won’t be saying who gets shipped in this story, as the chaos around it is half the fun. Point is, shippers will love this, probably even if their preferred ships don’t sail in it (Luna knows mine didn’t). But it’s the rollercoaster of shipping situations and the chaos around them that sells it for me.

Just about the only thing in the entire story that surprised me was Trixie, whom Pinkerton put on display as a largely reprehensible individual perfectly happy to hurt ponies for no reason other than that she can. I’ll grant this was written back in 2012, but damn, Pinkerton really had a negative view of Best Showpony.

And yet there’s another important element to recognize, and that is Pinkerton’s character awareness. He might have missed Trixie, but we didn’t know much about her back then so it can be mostly forgiven. When it comes to the Mane 6 though, everything is spot-on. I was especially impressed with their Fluttershy, who fit so well that she could easily be seen as show-accurate even by today’s standards. Whether it be luck or a keen awareness of her personality, it’s great to see.

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It’s funny, it’s shippy, and it’s a complex plot dance the likes of which I think most authors would struggle with. It relies heavily on coincidental shenanigans not atypical of the romance genre, but it handles so much all at once in a perfect storm that is a lot of fun to behold.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Three MagicsPretty Good


Stories for Next Week:

Split Hares by Palm Palette
Crystalline: Her Destiny by Ice Star
AJ, Rarity, and Fluttershy Complain About Their Minimal Role in the Movie by CartsBeforeHorses
Friends Forever by Abbi-Arson
Star-Crossed by Rocket Lawn Chair
Meet Skater Boo by Dirty Bit
I Don't Know If I'm Real... by North
Amidst The Falling Leaves by Tramper
Apples Of Inspiration, And Their Effects On Time And Relative Dimensions In Space by JMac
What is Right by bathroomstahl


Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXCIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CC
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCII
You Are Here
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCV
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCVIII

Report PaulAsaran · 428 views ·
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Comments ( 10 )

So many good stories. So much sunshine and good weather outside.
Solution? Tablet! Woot!

Hooray, more distractions from my own writing progress!

Progress on expanding Guppy Love is exciting news :pinkiehappy:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

I want someone to write a story called "Shipnado" now. XD

I think I remember reading a little of The Sword Coast when it first came out, but epic fantasy adventure is just not something I enjoy much in ponyfic. Of course I read Raugos's story, since I helped judge that contest, and it was a good 'un.

"Solace" was a weird bird for me.I agree with you on the plot direction, and one of my cohorts who read it had the same opinion, but for some different reasons. I did take issue with the writing itself, as I found it way unbalanced on the tell side, but maybe it's been revised since then. The author was using a different name at the time. Speaking of Raugos, my aforementioned cohort noted that this is basically the same plot as Raugos's "Withdrawal," except Raugos gives way more justification as to why Twilight gets this way.

I'm pretty sure my story is just a ponified version of some 80s or 90s horror short story I read when I was a teen. It was the first fanfic I wrote, and it was the first idea that came to me after I knew I wanted to start writing. Cheers for the review and the kind words, Paul.

The pun is exceptionally, disastrously cringeworthy, which I guess is good? But the thing is, the setup is a ton of fun. More fun than the entire reason the story supposedly exists.

Like most ideas, it sounded better in my head. The longer I went on writing, the more I realised that there was no way it was going to live up to everything that came before it. :twilightoops:

Seeing Raugos’ interpretation of all the various kinds of Twilights is highly entertaining.

It was a lot of fun to write, too.

Heck, it was kind of an outlet for a pet peeve of mine: too many AU stories of Twilight (species, gender and career swaps, in particular) focus too much on the setup and not enough on the fun stuff - character interactions!

I've lost count of the number of AU Twilight fics I've dropped because they spent thousands of words treading through familiar episodes, showcasing only mundane differences in the sequence of events.

And Rule 63 Twilight is particularly prone to being little more than an excuse for a harem fic. I mean, no judgement on those who like it (going by the upvotes, there's clearly an audience for it), but there's more you can do with R63 than just sex and romance, you know? And there are just so many of them. :rainbowderp:

Actually, looking back, I kinda fell into the R63 trope myself. It was initially going to show most of the girls swooning at male Twilight, and Twilight being bummed that he was getting everyone's attention. Luckily, I had some last-minute inspiration and changed it so that he'd settled down with Starlight and gotten embroiled in her Equality cult, so that it was a little more interesting than "Oh my gosh, Twilight with a Y chromosome is totally hot". :twilightsheepish:

5253903 ye gads, how many AU fics have I written now that cover the first two episodes, two? Four? I'm afraid to go back and count. Yeah, it's tempting to start there, and I practically had to when I wrote my 1940 fic. But you still get some of the biggest bangs out of that series of events.

Despite her bloody leg, Monster stood proudly in the middle of the swirling stone fragments, her eyes white with power and her horn glowing as bright as the sun. Nightmare Moon stumbled backwards, trying to shade her eyes as the scarred unicorn spoke.

“My name,” she said, lifting her head and horn proudly while rainbow light filled the room, “is Twilight Sparkle. And you will not harm my friends!”

5253622
I was thinking similarly when I re-read this blog in the editing phase. Whoever wins, Cadance goes home happy.

5253637
That's true, it's definitely the same concept as Withdrawal, but far more concise and with less justification.

Login or register to comment
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!