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The original Sunburst!


Twilight Sparkle conducts an experiment and succeeds in obtaining an unusual flower with some intriguing properties.

What it could teach her, however, might prove to be more than she bargained for. She finds herself having to face surprising—and maybe frightening—new possibilities about the universe. How does it work? What is 'real', exactly? And why are these suddenly such uncomfortable and challenging questions for her?

Pre-reading and editing for this story was done by Grand Moff Pony, The Dobermans, SIGAWESOME, Reese, Georg, LCranston, and Equestria Daily pre-readers 63.546 and Slorg. Many thanks to all of them for helping this get where it is!

Now with an audio reading by TheDizzyDan!

Chapters (5)
Comments ( 76 )

Glad to see this posted, and to watch it evolve from that first draft. Great job here, Winston! :)

6491281 Thanks! The story owes a lot to your help through the whole process.

*mashes like button into dust*

Very nice. I feel honored to assist with the birth of this baby.

There are some things in the universe, most things in fact, we will never understand. Just like the machines of ever increasing accuracy Luna and Twi discussed, our minds aren't perfectly aligned with every tiny little piece of quark-sized information.

Yes, we might not understand why the flower seemingly absorbs all light to become a true black. But it will live and die just like everything else, and that is one thing we know for sure. There is nothing that has ever lived that hasn't or will not die. That is life. So whatever we know as true may as well be, as what would it matter to us if it wasn't? We would never know anyway.

We all have lives to live, and we don't have the time to waste our lives worrying over things that may never affect us. These pastries taste really good...

Great philosophical piece. Though, Twilight seems to have missed the point. She can now manifest into existence literally whatever she wants. Seems eerily similar to the effects of a certain forbidden tome...

A pony-ish take on one of the more interesting (to my mind) puzzles. Well done!

6492178 Twilight Sparkle has learned the secret syllable of royalty: CHIM. :rainbowlaugh:

"petals of purest, deepest imaginable black"
Was that meant to be "of the purest"?

Nice to see this here.

My thoughts on the core content haven't really changed, I think, since we talked about that earlier draft, but I think that this is a much better presentation. Somewhat blatantly didactic in tone, of course, but, well, it's that sort of story. :)

Then a wild Lauren Faust appeared and said
"Ay lmao u in mah dream."

Have you read 'Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy' by Stanislaw Lem? If not I strongly recommend to do so and then look into his nonfictional pieces like 'Summa Technologiae' It touches similar things, maybe you can retell the stories with ponies to greater effect.

But feelings don't work that way, do they?" Twilight asked. "Intellect can't just tell them not to choose, not to exist in one state or another.

Actually they can work like that, it's just rather unhealthy. Much like believing six impossible things before breakfast it's not impossible to chose to force to feel one way or another. It just takes staggering amounts of voluntary doublethink. :derpyderp1:

But back on topic, well, on the plus side for her mental health she managed to avoid questioning everypony else's existence as well as just the world. Just thinking that all beings live in a simulation is not as nearly as bad as thinking that you are the only real being in existence. :P

6495012 Thinking you're the only real person to exist in the universe is pretty scary! I've considered doing a story from a character with a perspective of solipsism, but it always comes to a very dark end in one way or another.

Nice story, and a nice way to see Twilight coping with the whole 'Are we real?' question that sometimes pops up. Also fun to see her subconscious trying to develop the electron cloud model of how atoms interact. (I figured it was atoms when the 'orbit' was described the way it was at first.)

I have to do a chem assignment but now have quantum physics on the mind. Also I wondered what would happen if dream-twilight and actual-twilight swapped places. Would the dream "host" simply transfer to dream-twilight and make dream-twilight into actual-twilight for all intensive purposes?

I also have a funny though on the practical applications of sleep-summoning as shown. She can quite literally dream up an army if needed.

I do hope the see some more of Sunburst soon, btw.

Clicked expecting some relation to the Magic: The Gathering card XD
Ended up being much better than that could ever be! Thanks ^^ Great job!

6496549 Ha! Yeah, I expected someone to make the M:TG comment a lot sooner. But you're right, it has nothing to do with the card.

And you're welcome. I really enjoyed writing this one.

Pre-reading and editing for this story was done by Grand Moff Pony, The Dobermans, SIGAWESOME, Reese, Georg, LCranston, and Equestria Daily pre-readers 63.546 and Slorg.

Does this mean that this story is on Equestria Daily?

6499596 No, actually, it wasn't posted there. I'm just crediting the pre-readers since they provided feedback that led to significant improvements being made.


Fair warning: Do not read this story while drunk and/or high.

Kudos for diving deeper into the rabbit hole than any other pony author that I can recall — and deeper than most original-fiction authors, too. I wonder what other under-appreciated gems you've written?

Her only limit is her imagination, and she makes a black flower?

It just leaves the question... whose dream are we in?

Reminds me a bit of the ending of Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger
" I myself have no existence; I am but a dream—your dream, a creature of your imagination. In a moment you will have realized this, then you will banish me from your visions and I shall dissolve into the nothingness out of which you made me.

"In a little while you will be alone in shoreless space, to wander its limitless solitudes without friend or comrade forever—for you will remain a thought, the only existent thought, and by your nature inextinguishable, indestructible. But I, your poor servant, have revealed you to yourself and set you free. Dream other dreams, and better!"

"Well... there's issues like... what happens if they just turn off the machine?"

Twilight better hope that reality is part of an impersonal machine. It could be so much worse if there is a personality instead. What happens if said personality is cruel and sadistic and seeks to mess with reality for their amusement?
(That cartoon still bothers me to this day...)

Author Interviewer

I love the smell of nihilism rejection in the morning! >8V

6706144 Yeah, it made for a better story than having Twilight give up, have Rarity made her a funeral dress and black veil, turn goth, and wander around Ponyville chain-smoking and telling everypony how nothing is real and life is just empty suffering for no reason until you die. :rainbowlaugh:

Author Interviewer

Are you kidding, this is a perfect AU. Go crackfic and write the hell out of it! :V

6706350 I second this.

/and surprisingly don't feel bad about it at all. xD
//sorry, Rares! :raritydespair:

6761987 Thanks for the review! :twilightsmile:


No problem. It was a pleasure to read. A slightly difficult one to understand, but a magnificent piece.

I just noticed that Grand Moff Pony had a hand in this as well. Seems like you guys' group has some pretty good writers in it :twilightsmile:

6762468 Yep! I had all-around awesome team while I was working on this one.


Well, you earned a like, favorite, and a follow from me. Well done.

And the man built an orrery that might chart the atoms, and he declared, "What a marvelous machine, by which we might at last know the universe!"

Such were the words of a man simulated by means of an orrery meant to chart atoms, which was declared a marvelous machine by which men might at last know the universe.

She wondered why she hadn't thought to just cut off the flower in the first place instead of just crudely yanking up the whole plant.

Hindsight is 20/20, so they say. Is that going to be the theme?

"Spike, take a letter, please."
"Uhh... but... Princess Celestia's right here at the conference," he said. "Couldn't you just talk to her in person between events or something?"
"No..." Twilight shook her head. "I mean, a letter to Princess Luna."

We're reaching for something here, aren't we?

I see now. I'm getting all tingly.

This is, like, super deep. Some next-level comprehension required.

She saw, in the end, what actually matters. And that it is not the state of matter that matters, but what you do with it.

Ah! Now I'm starting to see what is going on here... I think.

Very well written, though there's a tad too much of Twilight speaking without breathing :twilightblush:

Ach, aye.

Such deep. Much thinks.

But seriously though, I enjoy this tale.

Damn. That was actually pretty thought provoking.

I've always thought stories with this subject matter to be fascinating, and this story was no exception. Not that it particularly matters, but the ultimate conclusion Twilight and Luna come to closely matches with my own thoughts on the matter. Reality is ultimately subjective, and can be as real as you want it to be. What does it matter if we're all a simulation or a dream of some cosmic being? If that is the case, it doesn't change anything. What is the point of being "real" when oneself and everything one knows is in itself virtual The world is still the same, and so are the people we love.

Thanks for the story. It was pretty deep, and will stick with me for a long time to come.

HiddenMaster out

So... what would Discord have to say about all of this? :derpytongue2:

6789177 He would make sure everyone has plenty of delicious chocolate milk and cotton candy, because why not? :derpytongue2:

6789259 :ajbemused: I am not amused, sir!

Hopefully the universe gets that dream exploit patched before someone tries to bring over an object with infinite mass or something. :twilightoops:

Very well done, Winston. I've used a modified form the simulation hypothesis in some of my stories (including one in the Friendship is Optimal universe). What I really like about your story is how Twilight reacted to her discovery, as well as how Luna responded to her questions. Both feel very true to how I see these characters, and their discourse is a great device to get the reader to confront the issue of reality. I'm really impressed. :twilightsmile:

PS - love the idea of the black-body lotus flower!

¡Ooh! ¡Physics meets magic! ¡This chapter earns a like, a follow, a track, and a favorite!


Or something with 0-size; in processing the object, the simulation would have to divide by 0"

¡Do not divide by 0! ¡You will kill us all!


Discord is Q and runs the simulation.

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