• Member Since 16th May, 2013
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PaulAsaran


Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords and reviews. New reviews posted every other Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

Sequels1

Comments ( 31 )

Ha, we commission the same guy.

That Viwrastupr is a damn good artist. Expensive, but good.

PaulAsaran
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This one only cost me $15. Had I not gone for the sketch option it would have been $10.

6037397 U wot, mate?!

Jeeze, mine usually cost around $100+ and I'm Canadian so it's a quarter more than that.

PaulAsaran
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I went really low quality here, but for the cover art for Reddux the Tyrant and The Gentle Nights: Audience of One I payed in the $100+ range for each. If you check his DeviantArt page now you'll find that his prices vary significantly depending upon the kind of art and quality you're after.

It can't be a total loss... I had feels for Iron Will of all characters. That has to amount to something.

So I can definitely see what you mean about this not being good as it could be. The prose is a little on the rough side.

That being said, Minotaur with a warhammer is always fun no matter what genre it's in. Although, "Iron Willy" sounds like a male pornstar name.

The thing that I've really like about the 'Them-Verse' is that you consistently pair the oddest sets of characters imaginable, to great effect, and I felt that holds true here as well. Scootaloo and Iron Will make a very odd but functional team. Though my favorite continues to beEntertain Them. Octavia's Ass for the Win!

PaulAsaran
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I suppose it does indeed. I honestly didn't think I'd done enough work on this to make the emotion connect with anyone. so thanks, that makes me feel a bit better.

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Odd character sets make things interesting, but I can't take credit this time; the Iron Will/Scootaloo pairing was all RainbowBob's idea. And yeah, _Entertain Them_ is definitely one of ym favorites, although _Guide Them_ is also pretty high up there.

Scoots finally flys. I don't care if you don't conside this a good story. I enjoyed it. And we know because of other stories that Cloudsdale has fallen. But will Scootaloo meet up with another survivor? And from the description Them are rotting away, the survivors just have to outlast them.

I think that this is probaby my favorite yet.
Not because it's necessarily the best. The Babs story takes that spot (it's been a while since I read these, so titles escape me). No, it's because after so much pain and grimdark, there's finally a spot of satisfying hope. Even in light of what happens in Cloudsdale, in light of the hell Equestria's become, ponies still live.

Even if everything ends in blood and tears, she's fighting. The life she'll continue to lead before her doom is a life she's spending not dying now.

And I feel so goddamned satisfied.

I'm lovin' these Them-Verse fics.

But as much as I can appreciate the entirely grim-dark stories, ending and all.

I loved this ending. It was odd. I was reading it with little emotion, regardless of being captivated.

Then Iron Will said his final line. Just... Damn. I don't care if it was flawed. That was really powerful.

I really liked this story, for some reason. A lot more than Octavia going crazy, that's for sure. Overall, this story reminds me a lot of little excerpts from the story World War Z.

I want to read this but can't because I know there's no chance its ending even having a hint of closure.

PaulAsaran
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I will only note that I wrote this story partially in response to a criticism from a reviewer about all the Them stories ending in similar ways.

6873169 Different ending=/= Happy

PaulAsaran
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True, although happy =/= closure.

Not saying this one gives closure, though.

6873323 But with a happy ending, it's happy. There's something to smile about. Be it hope, peace, or just simple happiness, it's called "happy" for a reason. And to me that's closure.

PaulAsaran
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Geez, you're like my mom: "All stories must have a happy ending or they are not good stories." That's not the definition of closure by any stretch, but I'll leave you to it. It's a real shame, since you're closing yourself off to a wide range of great tales.

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It's a real shame, since you're closing yourself off to a wide range of great tales.

I'm perfectly fine with that. Also, definition of closure:

a sense of resolution or conclusion at the end of an artistic work

The closure we're talking about is this. It's a sense. A feeling. It's subjective.

When a book I'm reading ends happily—or even openly—I feel calm, finalized and resolved, ergo it's closure.

Think my definition is unreliable? Here's Merriam-Webster's take on it:

: a feeling that something has been completed or that a problem has been solved


3

: a feeling that a bad experience (such as a divorce or the death of a family member) has ended and that you can start to live again in a calm and normal way

PaulAsaran
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Okay, okay, no need to go into debate mode, "must defend my position" on me. I'll even concede your preferred definition as it suits your argument. I'm just saying that your stance on what makes a good story doesn't make sense to me, that's all.

Not every story needs a happy ending. I don't have any problems with downer endings at all, but I think that this is my favorite of the 'Them-verse' stories because of some of how it wraps up. Just like the others (especially the Coco and Babs one) this makes great use of the oddball duos in a serious situation, something that I really like to see in ponyfic (and outside of it too).

All the characters in these stories have been set up to have varying degrees of how 'well off' they are in this grim new world. But, out of four stories, three have endings that could be broadly grouped as explicitly being downer endings (Spitfire's story was different, but I'm grouping it here for simplicity's sake). Spitefire's story had a pretty daring give-up-hope ending, but part of that was lost because of the sheer tragedy of the others. And yes, that's part of the setting - it's a grim, gritty, gory one.

It's just that variation would have been nicer. I wouldn't even call this ending inherently hopeful, since Scootaloo still has to live another day, and after that. There's a weight to surviving this world that can take so much from these characters just by living in it. That's why mixed endings for some more of the stories would have been great. Slight hope here, X turns against all hope, Y escapes this situation but with a great loss, Z perishes and all is lost for them, etc. Sad and less-sad fates would just balance each other out well. After all, what would be so harrowing about this world if everyone just succumbs and there's no one left to be haunted by this?

Even some cliffhanger elements to the endings would have been fine.

My other qualms with this have to do with other elements of the setting. Don't get me wrong, these were a nice read, but I just feel like more could have been done with some things? Things like using more elements of the magical setting and pony universe to weave a little more of a unique feel to what is otherwise solid, intriguing horror. Another thing would be how these stories don't reference the others all that much. Slim connections and simply taking place in the same setting just don't seem to work all that well. Adding stronger mystery elements and continuity clues would be great and really give the satisfaction of drawing connections. That brings me to my last point.

For a cool horror AU and a story with an established continuity, there's just very little being answered. We see what happens to a good deal of the characters, but there's so much unanswered where various clues could have been. In 'Feed' how does Rainbow's condition impact Scoots here? Scoots has been through loss, yes, but it's really nothing that's more personal so much as a general grief. Coco and Babs, despite being the best equipped to survive (even if it was just one of them, since Coco certainly felt like she'd survive) and just... fail anyway? Some of these characters, especially with the cult being included and lead by Blueblood, who would likely have information on the other royals (perhaps denouncing them in his ravings? giving hints about what happened?). A lot of the endings just feel weak, in one way or another, and moreso with how the stories don't really compliment one another. The lack of exploration just didn't feel that fun on otherwise intriguing stories.

PaulAsaran
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I hear you, on all counts. RainbowBob wanted to maintain that mystery and lack of connection largely forever, and since this was his AU I went along with it. That changed by this point. Becoming Them was originally Bob's story, but he abandoned it 1/3 through when he left the fandom. The ending provided here is not the one he wanted, but since he gave me leave to do whatever I want with the Them-verse, I elected to go the (somewhat) happier route.

The future stories I have in mind – but admittedly may never get to – include the origin story, a Blueblood-centric story that greatly clarifies certain elements of the spread, and maybe a conclusion (I'm divided on the nature of said conclusion, but it would explain what really happened to the princesses). I've also seriously considered a 'Scootaloo meets Spitfire' sequel story.

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Those all sound like fantastic ideas, and I'd be fine withe either one if they come around.

Still, this is by no means a bad 'verse. I'd certainly feel it's one that can be easily recommended to people.

PaulAsaran
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Glad for that, at the very least!

Comment posted by PacifistDoodl3r deleted Aug 14th, 2022

I really enjoyed the story and I can even say that the "Them" AU is one of my favorite.However, I'm kinda disappointed that certain elements aren't explored, such as:what happened to the other crusaders?What happened to Scoots and RD after RD was bitten?I know she became a zombie, but how did Scootaloo react when she saw her slowly succumb?
Also, I noticed that you said there will be an ending, but "Guide them" is still the last story.So is the ending story abandoned?

PaulAsaran
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A lot of those topics probably won't be addressed, and I can neither confirm nor deny that any further stories will come up. However, in the spirit of honesty: I did recently decide to try writing another story for this series. I haven't gotten very far in it, but the possibility is there. No guarantees on how long it may take though, as it's not exactly a top priority.

11131761
Really liked the series hopefully we get a “after them” and see other fates

11131761
Ohh maybe a prequel too “feed them‘’ with twilights pov showing how it all went wrong, sounds like pinkie was the first of the group to fall, I know bob posted feed them but ya two work shopped the series so i feel like if anyone could continue this it would probably be you

This one was my favorite, it had something of a happy ending, even if one of the main characters died. In a way the best ending for anyone still alive would be death, since i doubt even the princesses could do something about the infection. But for scootaloo, she kinda fulfilled her dream of learning to fly, and iron will got closure in his death(not a happy ending but still one of the better ones).

this is definitely not one of my better works

I can kinda see where you're coming from, but I'd hardly call this bad.
I'm not sure how to pinpoint what's the issue here. The pacing felt fine. Scoots and Iron Will make continuous progress, but once I finished and thought about what they actually accomplished, it's kind of odd it took ten thousand words to get there.
However, the story really does a good job at selling Scoots and Iron Will's inner turmoil. They both feel so done with everything and keep going mostly out of inertia. Like they have to, even though neither knows why, and you really made that come through.
I also really liked Scoot's change of outlook near the end. Granted, I would've liked the scene where she finally flies to have been better built up. Yeah, we know she can't fly, but I feel the moment could've had more impact had there been more scenes of her failing to fly and that costing them greatly. I don't know, losing supplies, or causing either of them to get injured.
Nevertheless, while this may not be the best entry in this series, it's certainly a very enjoyable one, and I'm glad I read it.

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