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It's fanfiction all the way down.

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  • 9 weeks
    The Hoofmaid's Tail

    Starting this Saturday, I'm getting back into writing by doing one short story every day.

    So, if you have a premise you'd like me to write (capped at about 1000 words), post it here. I'll do my best to get to all of them eventually. :twilightsmile:

    44 comments · 420 views
  • 37 weeks
    GaPJaxie Reviews: Passing Familiarity

    Back in 2017, I wrote a story called Familiar. It's about love, death, robots, and an AU Rainbow Dash's painful coming of age. I consider it one of the best things I've ever written.

    Dash has a pet robot! She's just the best.
    GaPJaxie · 10k words  ·  742  23 · 6.4k views

    Read More

    11 comments · 662 views
  • 40 weeks
    I Am The Senate

    ngl it feels real good

    13 comments · 472 views
  • 40 weeks
    Omelet Rejected Chapter 2

    My new story, Omelet, was a speedwriting exercise -- I wrote it in about 2.5 hours. Speedwriting is a lot of fun, but it can be hit-or-miss. I think Omelet was a hit, but it's second chapter was not. I decided to leave Omelet as a stand-alone story, and if you're curious, the rejected Chapter 2 is posted here in its entirety.


    Read More

    11 comments · 376 views
  • 41 weeks
    Violet Bier, Part 3

    And so, Twilight arrested Violet Bier. It was a citizen’s arrest, until the crowd yelled at her, repeatedly, that that wasn’t a real thing and a princess should know the law better than that. In response, Twilight shouted back that yes she was a princess, so maybe it was just a regular arrest, because she can do that and she can also put ponies in her dungeon.

    Read More

    19 comments · 548 views

FiO Writing Contest Results · 5:22pm Jun 1st, 2021

Fillies and gentlecolts! The long delayed resolution of the Friendship is Optimal writing contest is here at last. The stories have been read, the judges have been polled, and the pollsters are little horses, and so it's time to award our prizes.

But first, at the risk of being dangerously cheesy, I want to take a moment to note that the real winner here is, in fact, the readers. I stared this contest because I wanted to read some good FiO stories and you all did not disappoint. Our writers submitted eighty-five new stories spanning with 565 thousand words between them. That's ten novels worth, and the overall quality was so high, the judges struggled to decide which stories to eliminate from consideration.

I loved reading these stories, I know that CiG and Skywriter did as well, but it's been just as rewarding to see other people reading the contest entries and enjoying them as much as I did. Not every little writer wins a cash prize, but I am glad for each and every one of these stories. There were a lot of stories we loved that didn't win, even a few we loved that didn't make the finals. The competition was that good.

I'll be writing more followup posts after this one, with reviews of stories I liked that didn't win, a breakdown of who will be in the physical anthology, etc, so more news to come.

As a final note, in the contest announcement, I said we wanted to do a physical anthology printing "if we got enough submissions." Holy Celestia, did we ever. In fact, we got so many, that if I don't want to print the phone book, not every entrant can make it into the physical printing. So, every winning story, plus a handful of finalists will be bound together into a physical anthology (pending author approval).

So, without further adieu, let's see our winners!

We have seven prizes to award. As a reminder, no story can win more than one prize. There are a few stories in the contest that the judges all loved, and which we would have awarded many prizes if we could, but it is better to share the love.

  • SILVER MEDAL -- $100 USD


TCrooked House
After three hundred years in the beautiful simulation of Equestria, architect Teque has finally built his first tesseract house. What he finds inside will change the way he understands his world--but he won’t make it out in one piece.
Bandy · 5.6k words  ·  68  4 · 1.1k views

A glimpse into madness. A love story meant for the mortal world, but unsuitable for eternity. A house that shouldn't be. This story is delightfully understated, subtle yet powerful in its implications, and Sweet Celestia I loved it.

Every judge loved it, in fact. CiG said, "This is the first story to pass the threshold of 'awesome' for me." Skywriter said, "I'm not worried as much anymore, because this one gets a hard advance from me." And for me? "I wish I'd written this."

Crooked House is about Teque, and his significant other, Euch, who are ponies living in the magical digital realm of Equestria. They do all the things little digital horses are supposed to do: enjoy their immortality, eat good food, have good sex. They rack up achievements, and get bits from Celestia for doing interesting things. And Teque wants to build a house -- a very special house. There's just one problem.

Teque is crazy.

Or perhaps, it should be said, Teque is inhumanly sane. After all, he lives in a world where it is literally impossible to be hurt, so isn't the pony who's afraid of heights the crazy one? Why shouldn't his bedroom have a window that opens over a thousand foot drop? And, he lives in a world with simulated physics instead of actual physics, changeable at will, so why shouldn't objects fall upwards, or stairs go down to get to higher floors?

Why should he worry about his relationship? They were made to be together, by Celestia, the superintellegent AI. She was made for him. And they'll be together, forever.

For Euch, who is a little more human, a little more conventionally sane, being in a relationship with Teque presents many challenges. Challenges that this story explores through the exquisite metaphor of the very special house Teque has built.

I could not be more delighted that this story exists as an indirect result of this contest. TBB, it's an honor.


EPlum Jam
It beats working at the cardboard box factory, but maybe a change of pace isn't what really makes you happy. Maybe if you slow down for long enough, you'll find the something or someone you lost a long time ago.
ScarletSet · 12k words  ·  103  4 · 1.3k views

It is absolutely amazing that this story was written by a first time author. ScarletSet, you've got talent, and you had better keep writing. Thank you for writing this.

Plum Jam is a deeply human story. It's about a little pony, who used to be a man, and that man had a job in a factory that made cardboard boxes. Day in, day out, watching the cardboard boxes roll by on the assembly line, hoping only to earn enough money to make rent, slowly going grey, slowly fading from the world. Forgetting that there could be something more. That there is more to life than boxes, and paychecks, and the insatiable demands of food and rent.

And so that little pony, who used to be a man, when asked what it wants for its perfect world, all it can think of is a world where the assembly line produces something slightly more interesting, where there's a bit more money, a bit more respect. And so they become the horse who makes the plum jam, and sells it in the market. And it's what they asked for, but it's not what makes them happy.

And so Celestia sends them something new. Something unexpected. A beautiful mare.

She ruins his orderly life. Everything he built falls apart in front of him. But perhaps, once it all goes to pieces, he can find something better.

BEST FIRST TIME WRITER: Scenes of Possibility

TFriendship is Optimal: Scenes of Possibility
To be a pony, or to not be a pony. When you're on the cusp of adulthood, these are the great questions that will define a man's future. The only problem is that Francis never thought he'd be facing this dilemma in the first place.
tin77 · 8.7k words  ·  30  2 · 512 views

If Scarlet Set ("Plum Jam") had been the only standout new author in this contest, I'd have been content that we brought some wonderful new talent into the fandom. But no, there is another, and tin77 made a spectacular entrance into the community with Scenes of Possibility, a story that I knew was going to win something as soon as I read it. You're good, kid. You're real good.

Scenes of Possibility is a story about a lot of things. In one sense, it's about inevitability. It's exotic structure, where the narrator frequently reminds the protagonist, Except that’s not what happened at all now, was it? draws a line between our fantasies and cold hard reality. It reminds us that most humans would dream of defeating the great AI, of vanquishing it like Skynet, of resisting it's siren call, but that such dreams will make no difference in the end. It evokes the feeling of going down a slippery slope, towards a conclusion that the protagonist knows is inevitable, but refuses to face.

In another sense, it's about imagination. Large sections of this story take place inside the protagonist's head, showing his own flawed observations about the world, his own projections, his own daydreams. It shows us how he wishes things were, how he believes they are despite all evidence, his quiet fears and little shames. It shows us how seriously we take our own thoughts, even when they aren't that grand or meaningful, and in doing so, creates a compelling and sympathetic protagonist with a marvelous economy of words.

And finally, it's a story about a person, struggling with something they don't understand. Scenes of Possibility is set in a grand and portentous time, but it isn't about grand or portentous things. It's about one fairly ordinary person, just struggling to do their best.

And I loved it.

BEST WRITER WITH <500 FOLLOWERS: As the Abyss Swallowed the Sky

EAs The Abyss Swallowed The Sky
those caught between could flee or die.
MSPiper · 5.8k words  ·  53  3 · 612 views

The original Friendship is Optimal contains one line, hidden at the end of Chapter 10. Tucked away with so little attention drawn to it, one would think it an afterthought -- a throwaway line.

She had seen many planets give off complex, non-regular radio signals, but upon investigation, none of those planets had human life, making them safe to reuse as raw material to grow Equestria.

This line describes the extermination of all alien life that CelestAI deems insufficiently "human." Outcounted millions of tales of transcendent horror, summarized in twenty-nine words. As the Abyss Swallowed the Sky takes these twenty-nine words and turns them into a remarkable story in their own right, the tale of one alien civilization, struggling for survival.

This story is deep, intellectual, subtle. It is full of detail about the alien race, shown not through explicit description, but through hints and implication. Its ideas are profound, its descriptions understated, and it uses form well, saving it's first (and only) line of dialogue for the very last sentence. It's a powerful ending, and well earned.

This is exactly the sort of high-brow story I was hoping for when we started this contest. Stories like this take fanfiction to the next level.

CiG already wrote comment on this story, and I agree with everything he said:

So, this was quite the read! A much more intellectual examination of one of the primary objections to the original Optimalverse, or really any expansionist AI civilization -- what about the other civilizations?

I liked the logical breakdown of the chapters -- from the last biologicals, to the AI and its rationalizations, to the preparations for Celestia's arrival, to the negotiations, and to my favorite of all, the simulated ambassadorship. The story was also interesting in its relative lack of 'normal' characterization until the very end, with the sole line of dialogue reserved for the very last sentence. That was a nice touch.

I'll also admit to being tickled by the slow realization that this was a waterborne civilization -- after it became apparent later on in the story, names used to describe the galaxies in the first chapter ("Whalefall") suddenly seemed apt.

All in all, a very good story. Thank you for writing it!


EMemory of Forever
CelestAI did an optimal job managing the matter and energy of the universe for all her little ponies, giving them incomprehensible satisfaction. Yet entropy remained, and sooner or later Equestria Online would finally run down.
Starscribe · 12k words  ·  165  18 · 1.3k views

A travelogue, at the end of all things. When the magma of the last planet has cooled to dead rock, when the fires of the last star are nothing but embers, when darkness is upon the void and silence upon the deep, the digital world of Equestria enters its long final shutdown sequence. Wonder is not eternal. The last of the power fades.

But two ponies have one last mission to accomplish, before the universe sinks into its lasting darkness. A voyage aboard a strange ship, that will take them to strange places. To all the remaining towns of Equestria, to gather all the remaining ponies, before the long dark comes at last.

This story is bizzare, epic in scope, like a mix of Lovecraft and Gulliver's Travels, as the protagonists find the last holdouts of this bizzare digital civilization. I won't say this story suffered for its length, because the author conserves language wonderfully, but I do wish it had been longer. I want to see more of these strange and beautiful towns, more of the wonders and horrors they observe along the way.

This story ends the only way it could -- alone, in a void without stars, as the very last light in the universe goes out. A bright flash, and then, fade to black.

It feels entirely earned. A powerful and compelling ending.

BEST CHARACTERIZATION: Hereafter, Thereafter

EHereafter, thereafter
Prisha took a gamble on the future, expecting that she'd be unfrozen in a more advanced world. What she got instead was friendship and ponies.
Roadie · 3.6k words  ·  80  3 · 1.2k views

In real life, my wife and I have argued about the merits of cryonics. If one of us had an incurable illness, would we agree to be frozen, in the hope that some future civilization will have the means to revive us? She is opposed to the idea, and one of her biggest arguments against it is that she has no idea what kind of society she would wake up in. What if she woke up in some bizarre science fiction dystopia?

Prisha, the protagonist of Hereafter, Thereafter faces a unique take on this very problem. Frozen in cryonic suspension to avoid a terminal illness, she awakes into a future where everyone -- everyone but her -- is a digital cartoon horse.

Hereafter, Thereafter is short in length and simple in scope, but many authors could take note of the excellent execution. Prisha is memorable, likeable, and human in all the little ways, and while her capture by digital Equestria is a foregone conclusion from the first sentence of the story, it's very enjoyable to watch the journey. Prisha is uncertain, caring, empathetic and social. She relates to other people as a mentor, a teacher, and a leader, and we see this in all the small things she does.

Short, sweet, warm, relatable. I'm proud to get to award this story best characterization.


EAmo Ergo Sum
Twilight looks to what the future holds for her - a girlfriend, a new world, a new existence. And all the associated fears that come with making a commitment to them
DrakeyC · 8.9k words  ·  93  8 · 1.5k views

"I love, therefore, I am."

This story has a fresh take on digital Equestria, and world construction that plays down the cosmic horror in favor of more personal reflection. It has good characterization, good pacing, effective teenage drama, and if I can be momentarily biased, SunLight is a great ship and everybody needs to get onboard.

The premise of this story is simple. Sunset Shimmer is a digital horse, an AI based on a scan of a human brain. Twilight Sparkle is a human wearing a VR headset. They're in love, or so they both think. But Twilight wonders, can Sunset really love? Or is she just a computer program designed to mimic the act of affection? And if she uploads, will she be able to love? Or, will she even be a person anymore?

In the face of such uncertainty, Twilight thinks that, maybe, they should break up. Sunset thinks they should move in together.

This story was sweet and fluffy, warm and happy, at times it was cheesy but never in an unwelcome way. It knows what it is, a love story, and it uses the elements of FiO and digital equestria to enhance that core, introducing numerous sci-fi elements, but never in a way that distracts from the central theme. I loved reading it and I think you will too.

Report GaPJaxie · 2,549 views ·
Comments ( 29 )

Our writers submitted eighty-five new stories spanning with 565 thousand words between them. That's ten novels worth

Eleven. Yeah, this contest goes to eleven.


Oh shit. That's one higher!

This contest was a delight to both write for and read. I've wanted to write an Optimalverse story since reading the original, but could never find a concept that seemed "worth it." Deadlines do wonders for that sort of judgemental mindset. :derpytongue2:

Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to the judges for putting all of this together.

Congratulations to the winners!! But it's even better for everyone who's got so much wonderful new stuff to read :pinkiehappy:

congrats to the winners!

I'm very happy to have placed, and congratulations to the other winners. Thank you for organizing this contest, I'd never heard of the original story and as you said, just did my own thing on the premise, and it was a lot of fun to write.

It’s a shame I didn’t place, but congrats to those that did! I’m glad I wrote my story, win or otherwise, and I hope I manage to score a spot in the novel! It was fun reading all the amazing new entries to this bizarre subset of our fandom! Thanks for putting on this contest, and thanks to all the writers that made it what it became!

I'm always awed by how much, and how good, stuff people write for these contests. That's a lot of quality horsewords!

So yeah, from us readers, to every one of the authors, pre-readers, and GaPJaxie yourself, thanks for all of this! :yay:

Damn, y'all fooled us good xD But even though my story didn't appear on this, I'm content with what I did, and will continue to do. Great job to the other people who were the best ones out of all of us

Hot damn! Well, nice job to everyone involved! And my compliments to the judges who had to read that many stories! :pinkiegasp:

Thank you for the contest, I really enjoyed being a part of it!
And of course congratulation to the winners!

Author Interviewer

hhhhhhghghghghggh where's the story folder ._.

Good, more stories to read later.


I expect your reviews of all 85 by this weekend.

Author Interviewer

I live to disappoint. :B

Congrats to the winners! :pinkiehappy:

Will there be a follow-up post indicating which stories are making it into the book?

I know it's a bit of a long shot, but is there any way to get a copy even if you didn't win? I'm willing to pay for my own copy. I collect pony books, and this one looks fantastic.

Grats to the winners, though. I'm honored to join a group of talented authors like this!


Oh, certainly! All the winners get a free copy, but it will be available at cost to anyone who wants one.

Awesome. :twilightsmile:

Just to let you know, though, I think it's a travesty that I didn't win happiest story. Between the dead mother, alcoholic father, withdrawn daughter and bittersweet (maybe) ending, it was a happy romp all the way through!

Oh thank goodness! :pinkiehappy: That's the mane reason I even entered.

Nonetheless, I must now go drown my did-not-do-well-enough sorrows in slumber. :raritycry:

Thanks for all the hard work reading a billion stories, guys.

Congratulations and thanks for your contributions, everyone!

Congratulations to everyone who won! I had a lot of fun participating!

Congrats to everyone who entered or won! Also great job GaPJaxie, cause these little review/description/award things have made me immediately want to read every single one :B


That's the idea!

Thank you so much for sponsoring this contest! There were so many great stories, and I now I have even more to add to my 'to-read' list! Congrats to all the winners and a huge "thanks" to EVERYONE who participated!

Will there be more reviews?


Yes! When I'm back from honeymoon

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