• Member Since 17th Sep, 2014
  • offline last seen 7 hours ago

Orbiting Kettle


I've roasted a wealth of exotic things, All torn to ribbons at the hands of kings. Polished copper how I proudly shone, stealin' the fire of the blazing sun.

T
Source

The wilderness is a chaotic mess, dangerous and hostile, that can only be tamed with music. A colt and his family need to travel, but not everpony will arrive at the end of the journey.

Story written for The More Most Dangerous Game contest.

Featured on Equestria Daily.

Cover image by Razya

Chapters (1)
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Comments ( 51 )

Was this the prompt that was based off Fallout: Equestria?

5536848 Yes, but I wanted a wasteland that was dangerous without being a poisonous desert. I am rather partial to the concept of green hell typical from how sci-fi stories from the forties and before pictured Venus.

I am here from the IRC to tell you that this story is legit as all hell. It feels good. It's an interesting take on a setting. It reflects an aspect of Discord and Harmony that most people would not even think to explore, and for that, I thank you.

Recommending this to everyone all day tomorrow.

Oh, may need another editing pass. I found a few small grammar issues with commas and other punctuation being misplaced or missing entirely.

5538882 Well, thanks. About the edit pass, could be my problem with importing it from GDocs and fixing a few things after that. I will see to solve it.

Comment posted by Magello deleted Jan 23rd, 2015

I wrote a review of this story; it can be found here.

This story is some of the most intriguing fantasy I have ever read. This is fucking magnificent.

5541671
Ok, now I'm blushing like a little filly, and that isn't a beautiful sight, believe me :twilightblush:

5541723

Haha, you deserve it, dude. Reading this made me really want to do something in a similar style.

And hey! Cheers for the watch.

That was different. Good. Strange. It took a while to get into the style, but I'm glad I did. It was an interesting, horrifying look at what life under discord's reign might have been like. Perhaps even what it was like before Celestia and Luna. Horrifying and interesting all at the same time.

Bravo.

My words are failing me.

You knocked this one out of the park. The world feels... right, even though it's gone so horribly wrong. It feels real to the narrator, and immersive to the reader.

I loved the colt's sacrifice as well. The pony standing against the chaos is what matters, not his weapon. A simple and powerful idea.

This was a beautiful tale. The setting may not have been, but the storytelling certainly was.

What is it about the Fo:E prompt and beautiful fics about the redemptive power of music?

This is amazing and beautiful in rhythm. You could sing it. This fic has the official Velvet Remedy Treble Clef of Approval.

Holy hell, this was fantastic. I'd like to see more from you in the future.

What he said. Care to explain what's going on here? (please respond to me tomorrow)

5542543
Glad you liked it. At the end this was the synthesis of a few ideas that were whirring in my head in the last years, with the contest being a happy catalyst to finally put them on (metaphorically) paper.

5549099
Well, we all have a strong emotive reaction to music, and FO:E has been for me (and I suppose for a lot of other people) about hope. The other thing, at least for me, is that music is a mathematically very tight form of art, one where disharmony is something we immediately perceive and which often disturbs us, so it is the perfect contrast for the form of real random, non creative chaos. A wonderful book on this is "This is your brain on music" by Daniel J. Levitin.

5552236
My problem is that I'm somewhat slow and that I have a bigger project that I want to finish before i start publish it.

This reminded me so much of Alice in Wonderland; only with less whimsy and more the stuff of nightmares. I really, really liked it. Kudos.

5552273
Well, here's an explanation, I like to think the whole thing is a little bit more nuanced, but this are the focal points:

-After a war with Discord, at some point after his reformation, the ponies lost. The world fell to chaos, laws of physics not meaning much anymore.
-Music, being a mathematically very precise form of art, can be used by ponies to tame the chaos and bring some order back. Settlements form, where musicians hold the chaos, now called wilderness, back as the other ponies try to live in this little oases of calm.
-The first chair of the narrators village, in orchestras that is the role of the leading instrument, dies without a successor. The settlement of the narrator must be disbanded, as they can't hold the chaos back anymore, and so the story begins.
-During their journey the narrator and his parents are attacked by a group of ponies that have fallen to the chaos, embracing the violence and abandoning the harmony. This parade does horrible things to the parents, and is stopped in the last minute by a band of traveling and very powerful musicians.
-This band adopts the orphan colt, and take him with them to the great festival, an event organized by the last princess still surviving, Twilight Sparkle. This should be a kind of giant ritual that will maybe bring order back to Equestria with the help of the best musicians among ponykind.
-As they travel they find villages destroyed by the parades of ponies fallen to chaos, the colt sees the full extent of horror the wilderness brings.
-Arriving to Ponyville, the access point to the last part of the journey to the festival, they see that it is under siege by the chaotic masses, and will soon fall. The musicians start a spell that makes their performance more powerful, but evidently requires some sacrifice from them , explaining why they are maimed.
-The colt decides to help somehow, having witnessed what's out there, and feeling he has really no other talent to help, enters the ritual and sacrifices his sight, his future and his name.
-Decades after that he is still in Ponyville, gathering the stories of the ponies that will try to ascend the staircase and telling them to others.


Hope this helps.

Fascinating concept, brilliant imagery, but wordy, telly narration. Hard to avoid when you rely on nothing else. It's an interesting approach, but you could have done better by injecting more dialogue. Not whole conversations, just a few choice words, the kind Storyteller might vividly remember after all these years.

In the second half, you did that. It helped, but give each speaker (or actor, for the mutes) his own paragraph. Keeps things neat.

Few errors--your editor is doing his job--but it reads like narrative summary. You could have dramatized a few scenes, maybe doubled the length, and had a deeper, more powerful story. Fewer, stronger words would help too. Even Stephen King writes fluffy first drafts.

"Meanwhile Singer had started to trace strange symbols in the dirt." This could be rephrased: "Singer traced strange symbols in the dirt."

You have the makings of something great, like an uncut gem. It just needs refining.

I'm reminded of H.P. Lovecraft's The Music of Erich Zann more than anything by Lewis Carroll.

5565645
Thank you for the comment and for the time you took to point out the problems. I may rewrite it in the future, when I'm better and after I've finished my other current projects, and try to fix those issues.

I admit that I'm somewhat afraid of writing too long descriptions, padded with fluff, that break the flow of the story, but I hope that learning to balance this, avoiding a too dry narration, is something I will grok with a little more experience.

Bloody hellfire, am I glad Lambent sent me here. That was brilliant. Utterly brilliant.

It took a couple tries to get used to the writing style, but I'm glad that I kept trying. Good stuff.

5568080
Glad you liked it :twilightsmile:

5578259
I've heard the thing about the style a few times now. When you have some time, could you please explain to me what the could be problem? :twilightsheepish:

Well, I found this story after seeing Titanium Dragons review, and I enjoyed it a lot. Actually, I had my phone read it to me in my car... isn't living in the future great? :D

TD asked people to consider giving you a little feedback, so here's my $.02... hopefully you'll find it useful, or at least somewhat interesting.

Personally, I would have liked to see more attention directed at the wilderness. This is a story where the world itself almost counts as a character, and it would have been interesting to see that explored somewhat. i was able to pick up on the basic ideas clearly, so no worries there, but I was left wondering... how exactly does the music look interacting with the wilderness? How does the chaos appear and disappear? Besides glimpses of beauty, and the description of the parade, it's mostly glossed over. I think I'd have enjoyed learning a little more about it.

Also, the main character's sacrifice seemed slightly rushed. I didn't feel like he even knew exactly what he was agreeing to; just a few more words where he realizes what he's losing and why that's meaningful would have given it more impact for me.

I didn't have trouble with the writing style, although that may have been because I was listening; I've noticed that makes it easier for me to consume otherwise off-putting prose. I won't say anything specific about your style except that your sentences may tend towards long, but I did read the comments, and i'd like to add my own thoughts on the 'show/tell' thing. People throw these words around a lot, and they often say one is better than the other; I don't think that's usually useful advice, and taking it at face value can actually be damaging. i think showing and telling are BOTH necessary elements in a story, and vital tools for controlling the 'flow'. I won't claim I'm an expert or anything, but here's how I see it; telling, for me, is summarizing, while showing is describing in detail. The ideas of purple and beige prose need to be kept separate from this, because summaries can be just as flowery or flat as descriptions.

I'd guess that when people say your story is 'tell-y', what they mean is that you summarized pieces they'd have liked to see described in more detail, such as my own comments above. Summary moves the story along, glossing over detail, while telling tries to draw the reader more strongly by giving a clearer picture of what's happening. Both of these have places in a story, by highlighting what the author wants to showcase while shuffling past what's incidental to the theme. Perhaps some of your readers felt they would have been more engaged with the story if you'd given more engaging descriptions on some parts?

Note, this is just how I think about those words, and that's still murky at best. They're used very differently by lots of people, but perhaps you'll find my tools useful as a way to think about story structure. You're clearly no rank amateur, so please ignore this if it's useless.

I have one specific critique. When you said the artists were 'composing' the main character's parents, my brain immediately jumped to 'composing' in the musical sense, because music has such a strong and obvious place in this story. That was a little confusing.

Also, I'm not sure this story merits either the 'tragedy' or 'gore' tags. None of the descriptions seemed overly graphic for a 'dark' story, and the heroes seemed to succeed in what they were attempting. Yeah, there was sacrifice, but... they made it to the stair, and even (maybe?) saved Ponyville. The main character's parents died, but he himself admits that's mostly incidental.

Anyways, I enjoyed this, especially the 'lush' world. I set out with a similar idea for my own contest entry, (I'm sick to death of drab gray apocalypse) and when I realized you'd done something similar, I thought I'd give it a go despite the tags. Turns out that was a good idea. Excellent work, and keep writing!

...wow, that turned out long.

5621156
Thanks for the time you took for the comment. I really appreciate it and it is helping with my other projects, although I will probably repeat some errors often before I metabolize the correct way to do things.

Well, I found this story after seeing Titanium Dragons review, and I enjoyed it a lot. Actually, I had my phone read it to me in my car... isn't living in the future great? :D

Yay for the future, I find it exhilarating when people complain that they miss their jetpack while communicating with a handheld device that has more power than a 10 kg desktop computer 15 years ago, connected to a vast global knowledge network of mind boggling complexity.

Personally, I would have liked to see more attention directed at the wilderness. This is a story where the world itself almost counts as a character, and it would have been interesting to see that explored somewhat. i was able to pick up on the basic ideas clearly, so no worries there, but I was left wondering... how exactly does the music look interacting with the wilderness? How does the chaos appear and disappear? Besides glimpses of beauty, and the description of the parade, it's mostly glossed over. I think I'd have enjoyed learning a little more about it.

Because of the twofold trauma of having been submitted to some atrocious flowery prose in the past and years of writing dry technical documents and reports, I need to seriously recalibrate my descriptive writing. I often fear to overdo it. Still, here Saint Editor helped a lot, the first draft was even drier, and this is one of the things on which I try to work most, so there should be hope for the future.

Also, the main character's sacrifice seemed slightly rushed. I didn't feel like he even knew exactly what he was agreeing to; just a few more words where he realizes what he's losing and why that's meaningful would have given it more impact for me.

He really doesn't know what he agrees on when he jumps, but you are right, I should have lingered more on the consequences of it all, even when I wanted to give the impression that he downplayed it intentionally. You can’t see that there is something left out without any hints, and these are missing.

I didn't have trouble with the writing style, although that may have been because I was listening; I've noticed that makes it easier for me to consume otherwise off-putting prose. I won't say...
… been more engaged with the story if you'd given more engaging descriptions on some parts?
Note, this is just how I think about those words, and that's still murky at best. They're used very differently by lots of people, but perhaps you'll find my tools useful as a way to think about story structure. You're clearly no rank amateur, so please ignore this if it's useless.

I am an amateur, and this is far from useless. The thing is, I wanted to write it like it was a tale told over a mug of cider (to remain pony themed), so the offsetting tone came from this, which may explain why it sounded better as a reading from your phone. I think that this can generally be grouped with my other big problem, contextualization. I need to establish a context for the whole thing sooner, I need to hint at why the sacrifice and the death of the parents of the storyteller seem to be something emotionally distant for him, even if at the moment it was a defining experience. I also need to add a few more descriptions, so as to give the parts where he simply tells things more strength.

I have one specific critique. When you said the artists were 'composing' the main character's parents, my brain immediately jumped to 'composing' in the musical sense, because music has such a strong and obvious place in this story. That was a little confusing.

Irresponsible use of a thesaurus and falling to an almost “false friend”. Another thing to be fixed in a far future rewrite of the thing.

Also, I'm not sure this story merits either the 'tragedy' or 'gore' tags. None of the descriptions seemed overly graphic for a 'dark' story, and the heroes seemed to succeed in what they were attempting. Yeah, there was sacrifice, but... they made it to the stair, and even (maybe?) saved Ponyville. The main character's parents died, but he himself admits that's mostly incidental.

Tags are a fiddly thing (rating is even worse in my opinion), highly subjective I suspect, and I am not really sure if I used them correctly. I thought they were appropriate, coupled with the Teen rating, but that’s something i need to review. Wow, my “things to review” list is growing nicely...

Anyways, I enjoyed this, especially the 'lush' world. I set out with a similar idea for my own contest entry, (I'm sick to death of drab gray apocalypse) and when I realized you'd done something similar, I thought I'd give it a go despite the tags. Turns out that was a good idea. Excellent work, and keep writing!
...wow, that turned out long.

Glad you liked it, and thank you again for the time you took to write all this. As Said before, I really appreciate criticism, even better when long and articulated.

5621230 I know! We're *this* close to usable wireless power, too! CES was great this year.

Personally, I don't re-write. I feel i learn more by moving on to new projects and applying what I've learned. if you take another go at this story, I'll be interested, but if you don't... well, that's fine too.

Ah, amateur and 'rank' amateur. You've already moved past the point of falling into traps such as assuming the reader will like your favorite characters, or not differentiating between what you've intended to convey and what people see. What I mean to say is, you've clearly got experience telling stories, and that's more than enough to put you a cut above a 'n00b'. Learning to write is about creating a set of tools for creating a story, and you've clearly started your set; you've learned how to learn, but I've no idea how far along you are, or how we compare. i see the strengths in your story and want to appropriate them, and I hope to share a little of my own, but I'm guessing at what you'll find useful. I'm glad I hit.

Yeah, tags are subjective. If you still feel they were appropriate, that should be enough; the elements ARE there, they just didn't seem prominent to me, and I tend towards minimalism on my covers. They somewhat define the target audience along with the story, so if you want to attract people who like those tags, then I'd say keep them.

I'm on the opposite curve of the descriptive spectrum; if I'm not careful, my prose flowers, sends out runners, and puts down roots before eating the plot alive. (Recently with alliteration.) I've definitely gotten the 'purple prose' complaint on my writing, so I know what you mean about needing to calibrate. The best advice I've read on the matter is 'cherish every word', and I think that sums it up well. Good description should be freighted with a weight of meaning. For me, that's cutting fluff; for you, adding emotion.

Anyways, I'm happy to help, and I've toyed with the idea of being a pre-reader. It would be nice to talk about writing with people. If you want this sort of feedback on future work, don't hesitate to send something along. I can't promise to be what you need, (or available during the week) but I'll try to be thoughtful and articulate as long as you're not writing porn or horror.

And now, I really should be getting to bed. Have a good day!

You did a very good job of making a unique interpretation of the prompt and nailing the theme of hope that was so central to Fallout: Equestria. However, this story suffers a bit from lack of immersion. The amount of telling is not overbearing, and it does make some sense given that the story was written with a "old man sitting by the fire telling stories" tone, but it's still not ideal for creating a memorable reading experience. For example, you note that "[a]s they travel they find villages destroyed by the parades of ponies fallen to chaos, the colt sees the full extent of horror the wilderness brings," but the only pertinent section within the story is:

With each destroyed village, with each display of senseless violence, I felt a cold fury grow inside of me, fed by my own pain and the horrors the parades inflicted upon ponykind...

I think the story could have benefited from showing us a better picture of what the wilderness. The first parade, the one that killed his parents, is an example of one you did right. The descriptions of what happened to the narrator's parents is a bit sparse, but it's still gripping. It would have been really great to see more of that sprinkled throughout the story.

The story has a lot of potential. I think it mostly just needs to be lengthened, with less focus on summary and more on dramatization. It's a difficult balance to be sure, but I think you're close to the right spot.

5624187
Hmmmm, do you think a memoir style, in contrast to the informal storytelling, would help fixing the problems?

Anyway, I feel that I need to develop a few tools to improve this piece in a sensible way, so I will probably let this story rest for a bit.

5625086
A memoir would allow space for greater detail, and can better provide the tension that comes with removing the emotional distance of the events. I think it definitely could world, though the informal storytelling style also has its merits.

I think a memoir would be an easier way of addressing the story's faults, but I don't think the method of narration limits the story enough that it's a necessary change. As long as you can get the execution down, the story will work with whatever manner you choose to express it.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

My god, this is one of the most fantastic wastelands I've ever seen. Is this inspired by Paprika? I got major Paprika vibes from it, mostly the parade.

I looked back, to the the fire consuming what remained of my infancy, grateful for this last moments I shared with the two ponies I loved most.

You've got some other editing issues, and it seems to get worse as the story nears the ending. I'd be willing to go through this again and give you some detailed feedback, if you'd like.

5685564
Well, it really is a pastiche inspired by Paprika, the Wyld from the Exalted setting, a bit of Grant Morrison and a bit Alice in Wonderland (but, let's be honest, in our day and age very few fantasy stories don't take at least a bit inspiration from that).

As for the editing issues, I always appreciate help and feedback.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

5686001
Give me a week or so! I really like this and want to see it at its best. :)

5686815
No problem, and thanks again.

i'm glad you liked it despite the issues.:pinkiehappy:

Wow. This was great. The post-apocalyptic world you've built here is one of the most intriguing I've seen on this site.

Also, the Parade scenes reminded me of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury.

6006066
I admit that I miss this specific novel, something I must clearly correct sooner or later. I am glad you liked the story, it feels good to do something that entertains.

This is nice. Your parade scene, and Twilight's invitation, remind me of The Neverending Story-- one of my favorite books.

6197930
That is a wonderful compliment. Thank you:pinkiehappy:

I read this while listening to a collection of epic videogame music... and it was, well, epic.
The colourful and blooming language was needed, in my mind, to describe the wilderness in all its insanity. Keeping it vague in many aspects added to the effect. Hard hitting in its brevity despite the story format, expressive with language and with vivid imagery.
I can see why this is not everyone's cup of tea.
Well, it's mine though. Have a fav.

6470912
I'm very glad you liked it:raritywink:

I read it in translation, but anyway this is outstanding story

Great story! I loved the topic you chose and how yu wrote it, have a like! :twilightsmile:

7380433
Well, thank you. I'm really glad you appreciated it, and thanks for the like:pinkiehappy:

This story is really, really good. My only objetion would be that in my opinion neither the tags or the synopsis make this story justice, with is a jame cause I think a lot of people would enjoy this. Sorry I can't comment more now; but amazing story indeed!

7780527
Thank you. I kinda still feel the tags are appropriate, but maybe more for the things implied than those shown.

As for the synopsis, you are probably right, I should go back on that sooner or later.

Incredible stuff. My only regret is not reading it earlier. Thank you for it.

8156400
I'm glad you liked it. I admit that, even among my sparse production, I'm still quite attached to this story.

What they truly need is the Impossible One, a being on pure chaos and pure order in one. Only such a being can sweep away relentness savage chaos and impose the rule of Lulz upon the broken world!

And here I am.

(Discord soils himself in terror, as the Deux Ex Self-Insert, the Troll God, Alondro the Ever-RickRolling descends upon the world to a chorus of kazoos and Gilbert Godfried's heavenly singing voice)

:trollestia:

5621328 Eh, the amount of power loss from transmitting electricity through air is quite large. It's feasible from short distances, such as those pacemaker batteries. But the greater the distance, the more exponential the power loss.

Yes, you can transmit power across the country through the air. But you'd lose more than half of it. Air is a potent resistor. And if you use microwaves, well... first off you still lose a lot of power over long distances unless you use an exceedingly cohesive beam... kiss anything in the path of that beam goodbye.

9329381
No being with any amount of true order inside would tollerate kazoos. Makes me suspect that the title in your case may be fake.

Well, that and seeing how it seems somebody added it later with a sharpie, but mostly the first thing.

9329698 I'll have you know sharpies are a legitimate editing tool!

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