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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!"

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.

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    7 comments · 200 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.

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    20 comments · 402 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

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    5 comments · 356 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

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    8 comments · 383 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

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    16 comments · 370 views
Jun
18th
2020

Paul's Thursday Reviews CCIX · 8:06pm June 18th

The past week has been one of highs and lows. The brief crash has led to me being two days behind on my reading schedule. The good news is that I’ve got a Vacation Week coming up in a couple weeks that I can use to easily make up the lost time. The bad news is that my current major reading project was scheduled to be finished the day before its review gets published, so I’ve no choice but to catch up with it in order to finish it in time. I’d have done that already, except that my dad’s getting surgery this week (nothing serious, no worries). As a result, he and Mom have come into town four out of the last six days, giving me precious little time to read and write.

And yet, somehow, miraculously, I have kept up with being two days behind schedule (on a Bibliophile Week, no less) and managed to maintain 2k words/day of writing so far this week. That may have something to do with my rekindled eagerness to work on the Guppy Love originalfication (totally a word now). I promised to spend the weekend with my parents in case they need any help with the start of Dad’s months-long recovery period though, so who knows if I’ll be able to keep it up.

In the meantime, that short story I was planning? It’s been put on the backburner. I got some feedback from a beta reader or two and the results were… unsatisfactory. And also unsurprising. I knew it wasn’t up to my usual quality, that’s why I was struggling for so long to write it. It’s become apparent that I was approaching much of it in the wrong way and a few scenes may need complete rewrites. But I’d been working on it for three months, and that’s way too long. So I’ve decided to push it back in my To Do list and let it stew for a bit. Hopefully when I come back to it in a few months I’ll be able to look at it from a fresh, superior perspective. In the meantime, Guppy Love and Bulletproof Heart: Famous Last Words are my top concerns, along with a one-shot I’ve been thinking about doing for a long while now. It’s a side story to a trilogy of mine that should answer a lot of questions people had.

Alright, enough of this. Time for some reviews.

Stories for This Week:

The Better Angel by ArguingPizza
Just Wanna Say... by Gpizano
Cheating on your Waifu by Czar_Yoshi
Sunset Sexytimes by shallow15
Trixie's Confession, Twilight's Shock by The Bricklayer
Tainted Love by WhiteRose
The Order of The Rainbow by TheEveryDaySparkle
The Importance of Proper Diplomacy when Engaging Rival Governments for the Purposes of an Official Treaty by Exilo
Faster by Einhander
Starlight Glimmer: Subject Stealing, Undeserving, Soon To Be Destroyed, Queen of MY Changelings by Dr Atlas

Total Word Count: 68,172

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 1
Pretty Good: 3
Worth It: 2
Needs Work: 4
None: 0


A griffon princling has committed the most heinous sin. Princess Luna has come to settle his debt.

This one goes dark, and I mean dark. Centered on Luna and Celestia, it focuses on the former’s vengeful madness in the face of loss and the latter’s total inability to stop her. It is similar to Consequences in that it involves a princess slaughtering a race (or, at the very least, a city), but this is an entirely different animal. The pain for each of the princesses is tangible.

My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I’ve always preferred the idea of Luna being the forceful one, the princess willing to meet violence with violence, the determined warrior to Celestia’s diplomat. In that aspect, I thoroughly approve of this depiction of her. But the sheer scale of her actions, the willingness to annihilate an entire metropolis for the sins of only a couple of its leaders?

And then there’s poor Celestia, who stands by knowing that the balance of power has shifted and she is powerless to prevent this slaughter. Even more troublesome is that, while she does make an attempt to talk Luna down, we see no indication that she feels any remorse for her sister’s actions. It is as though even she, despite knowing the inherent wrongness of these events, can’t bring herself to defend the griffons. And that is scary.

The story still suffers from some of the issues I had with Consequences. The perspective jumps around seemingly at random, and we’re never allowed the chance to get into a character’s head. But this time the author backs up the setting and atmosphere with a far greater use of Show, giving the story a much more significant punch. The fact that all of it centers around the tragic fate of a beloved character helps in no small way. I should add that not outright showing us what happened to that character was a very good decision on ArguingPizza’s part; our imaginations can conjure vastly more disturbing realities than any written description ever could.

Again, this story is dark. Don’t go into it expecting anything different. It’s a solid piece of sadfic involving madness, vengeance, and what may be a permanent shift in Equestria’s balance of power. And also what might be genocide, depending upon things we aren’t privy to. If you can take all that, definitely give this a go, because it’s a powerful piece.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
ConsequencesNeeds Work


Alternative Title: Gpizano Explores the Dangerous World of Ship Denial

Applejack has been crushing on Rarity ever since high school, but she didn’t act on her feelings. Now the girls are all off doing their own things. Applejack, still feeling her crush, heads up to Manehattan to try and confess… only to find that Rarity has an entirely new life.

If I had to pin this down to any one word, it would be ‘disturbing’. This stems entirely from my adoration of Rarity and seeing her on a crash course for the gutter. Oh, Gpizano doesn’t describe it that way by any means, but I honestly don’t see any other way this could turn out for her. The sophisticated and high class creature we adore has sacrificed her standards here. If she can do it once, she can do it again. And again. And again. I’ve no doubt it’s only going to spiral out of control no matter what she says.

But this isn’t a story about Rarity. It’s a story about Applejack, and her realizing that she’s too late. Rarity has moved on and isn’t even aware of AJ’s interest. I love that Gpizano depicts her as trying to be strong rather than breaking down over the situation. It’s a very “Applejack” thing to do.

There are three problems. The first is that the author needs to refine their writing to be less telly. Take this small sample:

[...]said Rainbow Dash, the athlete picking up her carton of milk and taking a sip afterwards before smirking[...]

Why are we bothering with all these time references? Does the author think we somehow don’t know that the milk was drunk after the words were said but before the smirk? I mean, really? Gpizano also has trouble determining the verb tense to fit with the narration, switching between past and future (or “future of the past”, had to look that up) at times for no apparent reason. A proofreading job is definitely needed.

Second, the author focuses far too much on the introduction. The whole point of the story is Applejack finding out what Rarity is up to in hopes of confessing her crush. So why are we more than halfway through the story before getting to the entire reason it exists? The meeting between AJ and Rares should have been the central element of the story, not the logistics of getting to it.

Third, this feels incomplete. It’s one of those pieces that feels more like an introduction to something bigger. Specifically, it feels like the intro to a story where Applejack watches Rarity crash and burn and then helps her recover. Which, not gonna lie, could have been an awesome story arc. Instead it’s just… this. Being one who heavily favors ambition in authors, I must say I’m disappointed.

This isn’t a bad story. Not at all, it’s got a continuous underlying atmosphere of hope that fits with Applejack, an atmosphere that gets crushed near the end by a single sentence uttered by an unwitting Rarity. It also comes with an effective shock effect when we find out what Rarity’s really been up to. It’s not even the ‘what’ of it so much as of how it’s so far below Rarity’s standards. Honestly, despite her reassurances I can’t see this doing anything but harming her reputation. Significantly.

So it’s definitely a great concept with some significant implications. The story just isn’t… quite... there.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Spike adores the plushie Rarity gave him of herself last year. So when Rarity and Starlight combine forces to give him a Starlight plushie, he’s thrilled at the news! But maybe having more than one isn’t as good as he thought…

This is a story in which Spike almost learns a lesson about being loyal to only one ‘waifu’ through his plushies. It’s every bit as silly as it sounds. And yet, because Spike is still very much a child, it works really well. Of course, Spike’s maturity level seems to change at random from episode to episode and from fanfiction to fanfiction, so your interpretation may vary depending on your headcanon.

One might also look at it as a reflection of fans in general and the natural change of their perspective as they find themselves interested in more than one waifu, with the ending being the unrealistic conclusion a lot of them tend to make. After all, why limit ourselves to just one waifu?

An interesting and fun comedy/slice-of-life piece.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Sunset’s magic is going haywire again, allowing her to read minds without touching the people around her. Except now what she’s reading isn’t active thoughts but subconscious desires. Specifically, everyone’s subconscious sexual desires in relation to Sunset herself. She doesn’t know what’s going on, but she wants it to stop right now.

This was both exactly and nothing at all like what I expected. In order for them to figure out the nature of Sunset’s problem, her friends let her take a look into their individual sexual fantasies. Given how this looks, I thought it would all be a lot of funny ‘WTF?’ moments relating to each of the mane 6 having some weird, if not outright random and nonsensical fantasy. Which, in the case of Pinkie Pie, was absolutely the case (because what else do you expect from her?). I did not anticipate legitimately sexual activities.

Which, in hindsight, was pretty dumb of me.

Still, there’s nothing that amuses me quite like sexual humor, and this does fit the bill. It just felt less like a comedy centered on sex and more like an exploration of what shallow15 imagines each of the girls would be interested in sexually. I suppose I’m okay with that. The only major catch is the bonus scenes, where the author reveals to us the sexual fantasies of the girls that weren’t shown in the main story. This part failed for me, because without the overarching narrative — that is to say, without the added element of Sunset learning about those fantasies and reacting to them — they become nothing but pointless titillation. I get that shallow15 wanted to get every girl in there, but for the sake of the story I don’t think this was the right way to do it.

A little bit graphic, but not pornographic. Weird, but I wasn’t expecting otherwise. Not as funny as I hoped, but still funny in its own way. If all that sounds interesting to you, by all means give it a go.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Trixie has an MO: come to Ponyville, cause some chaos, leave. So when Trixie ends up staying in Ponyville for a while after making friends with Starlight Glimmer, Twilight is… bothered. Trixie’s never stuck around before, and she doesn’t know what to make of it. So, at Starlight’s suggestion, she decides to go ask Trixie what the deal is.

Twilight opened the door to her personal quarters in the castle and trotted downstairs where to her surprise Starlight was already down there as well.

Here’s your sign.

This story is simple in all the wrong ways. It blazes through its own premise and casts its characters in nonsensical ways. This is especially notable with Trixie, who is mercurial at best. One second she’s annoyed at Twilight’s very presence, the next she’s happily admitting her crush on Twilight, the third she’s sobbing and claiming to be heartbroken, all without Twilight having to do anything. Uh, why is Trixie upset? She didn’t even give Twilight a chance to react!

Couple that with the struggling writing style as demonstrated in the above quote. The Bricklayer needs to learn how to slow down and parse out their information, set a mood, or even just provide a proper setting.

This was rushed, poorly written, and not well thought out. A shame, I was looking forward to it. Oh well, maybe next time, author. I’ll be looking for more recent material to see if there’s been any improvement. As I do.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Tainted Love

1,890 Words
By WhiteRose

Thorax and Starlight spot none other than Chrysalis. It’s Hearts and Hooves day, she’s disguised, and she’s… just… sitting. In the park. Staring at couples. Starlight would love an explanation for this.

This is a story with a premise that surprises me. Basically, it uses the Love Poison story from the episode Hearts and Hooves Day as the origin of Queen Chrysalis. It’s such an obvious, easy, facepalming ‘why didn’t I think of this?’ idea that I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve seen it in a story. I grant kudos to WhiteRose for that all by itself.

Unfortunately, that’s all the praise I have to offer. The story is telly, painfully direct, and fails to take into account its own setting and information. For example, Thorax informs Starlight that every year on Hearts and Hooves Day Chrysalis would call all her changelings together to tell them a story. So why does he act like he has no idea what’s going on with the entire Hearts and Hooves Day concept if the story she has told him annually all his life is the origin of the holiday?

Then we get to the tale itself, which is told in exactly the same style as the rest of the story. WhiteRose, Chrysalis is speaking this story, not writing it. You have her tell the story as if she’s putting it down on paper, not standing before a crowd of ponies relating it orally. Bear in mind the context of what’s going on and write appropriately.

Alas, this did nothing for me beyond the interesting premise. With a little development and some polishing, maybe, but as is?

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Rainbow Dash is a princess.

Nope. Really. That’s it.

This story is woefully direct. Indeed, I’d say it approaches its topic in the completely wrong way. Literally, it’s Rainbow Dash sitting on a cloud and reciting her history to herself because… uh… because. She’s not talking to anyone but herself. She’s speaking in a way that is decidedly not Rainbow Dash, and while there is an in-story excuse for it, said excuse makes no sense whatsoever.

And then this is all supposed to be some big secret. Why? From who? No reason is given, it just is. So apparently Celestia, Luna, and Rainbow are deceitful liars who don’t trust the most trustworthy ponies in Equestria, ponies who in Rainbow’s case are supposed to be friends and confidants. Oh, and the Wonderbolts are a sham organization.

What TheEveryDaySparkle wants to do here has potential. It’s not a bad idea. Unoriginal, but not bad at all. Yet you can’t have Rainbow sit on a cloud, become a completely different character in an instant, and just start telling us “this is true.” It’s not believable, it’s not a compelling narrative, and it’s not interesting. Heck, you can’t even call this a ‘story’.

You want to get this right, author? Make it a story. Give us a conflict, a theme, a reason to care. And above all else, don’t replace Rainbow Dash with someone else using the same name. In the meantime?

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!


Princess Twilight goes on her very first diplomatic mission, accompanying Celestia to the Griffon Kingdom. Equestria and the griffons went to war over a thousand years ago, and though Equestria officially won the war relations never improved beyond a tense willingness to leave one another be. Twilight wants to change this. To do so, she’ll have to acclimate to the culture and discover the truth behind King Gilford’s distrust.

This is a powerful story covering a lot of bases. It has worldbuilding for the griffon kingdom and their relations with ponies. We get to learn just how different Equestrian and Griffon cultures really are, and how complicated relations can be. Watching Twilight over-analyze every word and twitch was fascinating and something I like to see in stories with an edge of politics.

Twilight’s anxieties towards griffons is a curious blend. Sometimes she seems downright terrified of being among the meat-eating savages. At others she is absolutely thrilled to learn more about these potential new friends. I admit, I was a little flummoxed by the former, but then everyone anticipates visiting different worlds in different ways.

It reminds me of my family. When my sister moved to Japan, we of course had to visit sometimes. My mother went often, unaware of and largely uninterested in cultural idiosyncrasies. No insult towards her intended, but she’s a very direct and simple woman who would rather do things her way, and to heck with what a bunch of Japanese people on their own soil think about it. Needless to say, it can be quite embarrassing. For myself, I was endlessly excited and fascinated, more curious to learn and adapt to how they did things in Japan. I’m a very ‘go with the flow’ kind of person. My father… he wouldn’t visit. For over a decade, he refused. He had some deep, powerful anxiety about how he’d be treated, what they’d think of him, how he might offend by his very presence. It wasn’t until my niece was born that Dad finally bit the bullet and went, and he has since gotten over all his anxieties, but it wasn’t an easy thing for him.

In this story, Twilight feels like a mix of myself and my father, sometimes eager and sometimes terrified. It’s a curious observation, and I’m not sure if I should be critical that she has such mixed emotions or pleased that her reaction is so complex. I find myself leaning to the latter, as it feels very ‘Twilight’ either way: always on the edge of an epic freakout yet always so excited to learn new things and be helpful. Point is, when reading this story I feel it’s important to remember that different people react to alien cultures in entirely unique ways.

Regardless, Twilight certainly shines as a character in this story, from her stumbles to her successes. The end result is a fascinating piece about forgiveness and guilt and mistakes. I have nothing but praise for this.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Prince Blueblood vs. the WorldWHYRTY?


Faster

17,493 Words
By Einhander
Requested by Explodingkitten55

They say that age is just a number. For Rainbow Dash, age is the coming of failure. She’s by no means ‘old’, but she is getting older, and her body is getting slower. She has one last opportunity to join the Wonderbolts. After that, her dreams end. But she’s not getting faster. She never will.

Unless she gets some help.

To summarize the summary: Rainbow Dash makes a deal with the devil. Oh, well, the character isn’t identified as ‘evil’ by any means. Maybe more… chaotic neutral? Maybe. Regardless, we watch as Rainbow decides she thinks she knows what she wants, only to realize that the sacrifice for getting it is far more than she could have imagined. The story is, unquestionably, a tragedy about getting exactly what you ask for.

Yes, I do mean tragedy. Happy Ending Crusaders, turn away.

I enjoyed this. It’s a grim tale with strong characters and a good, if common, moral. Coupled with a hint of worldbuilding and taking the time to ensure we all know exactly what Rainbow is going through, I approve of its pacing and direction. If I had to complain about anything, it would be that the narrative doesn’t always fully support the dialogue, although it’s usually not necessary here. We get the mood plenty in most scenes.

Oh, and the fact that Einhander went and quit writing the sequel. That was a story I would have loved to read. If only I hadn’t done something similar, then I could throw stones without being a hypocrite.

Still, I’m glad this one was requested. If you’re interested in a tragedy involving Rainbow Dash’s obsession with being the fastest pony alive, here’s your fix.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Baking is War, SisterPretty Good


It’s been a year since the Love Bomb™ sent Chrysalis flying, and she’s spent all that time trying to reunite with her changelings. At last, she arrives, only to discover that her children have chosen someone else to rule them. Or rather, somepony. To Chrysalis, there’s only one solution to this dilemma.

This is a story that can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be serious or silly, but sticks mostly to silly. Subjects range from changelings playing poker to Starlight trying to convince Twilight to make peace with changelings to Chrysalis confronting both of them over their plans for her children. If that first one seems completely unrelated to the first two, you’re not wrong, and I have no idea why it exists.

Honestly, I liked this less than the original. Not sure why, the first was far more random, which is the thing that usually kills it for me. Compared to that, this thing is a shining beacon of logic. It just didn’t strike me as amusing. It also suffered from Dr Atlas’s typical writing struggles, with missing words, incorrect words, homophones, or sentences that aren’t actually sentences.

So, yeah. This one did nothing for me. But as we all know by now, I tend to be in the minority with these things, so by all means give it a go if you’re interested.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
"I want to be a mother...NOW!"Worth It
"I want to be an uncle...THAT'S AN ORDER, PRIVATE!"Worth It
Starlight Glimmer: New Queen of The ChangelingsWorth It
"I want to be an aunt...Pretty please."Needs Work


Stories for Next Week:

Keeping It Simple by Ivory Piano
Everfreely by WishyWish
The Face I'll Wear by Carapace
Where Are You, Twilight? by B_25
Follow You Down by Erina Tail Yellow
Moondancing by Creativa-Artly01
Cross my Heart and Hope to Fly by Tayman
The Most Magical Night of My Life by anonpencil
Celestia Privatizes the Sun by Fiddlebottoms
Fit for a Princess by bookplayer


Recent Review Map:

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
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Paul's Thursday Reviews CCX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CCXIV

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Comments ( 7 )

Yeeeeeah, that was from my early years, when I was still trying to figure everything out especially romance. Espically romance. I just look back and cringe at that one.

You hadn't heard of Chrysalis as the princess that fell victim to the love poison before? That was a fan theory that circulated almost immediately after her first episode.

Thanks for reviewing Faster! Glad you liked it! :pinkiehappy:

5287984
Well, we all start somewhere. Like I said, I'll be checking more recent work. I'm very familiar with the whole 'practice makes perfect' thing.

5288058
Well, I joined in after Season 3, and didn't get 'really' involved in the fandom until well after that. By then it was probably old news and I just never encountered it.

Thanks for the review. Yeah, it's not as funny as it could have been, but people seemed to like it.

As for the bonus chapters, this was written for a contest and I ran up against a deadline. It felt like the story was getting redundant, so I pretty much finished it off where it was and posted it. People kept asking for the other "missing" segments, so once the contest was over and the winners announced I went back and did the other three.

It's definitely not my best work, but for what it is, I think it's pretty good.

>Faster

Hoooo boy, that was a long time ago. I remember reading that and it's unfinished sequel years ago. It's been so long that I completely forgot it was unfinished and my brain just logged it as "complete".

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