• Member Since 23rd Jul, 2013
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Antikythera


Vessel of uncountably many passions. Non-binary. Math/physics student. Web dev. Mental health enthusiast. Pony sympathizer.


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Twilight Sparkle is a troubled pony who just wants to understand—magic, history, the Elements of Harmony, how other ponies work, and how to live a functional, fulfilling life like everypony else. She excels in everything she does, because all she does is read. Some things are just harder for some ponies. But when she sets her sights higher, toward exploring the obscure terrain of interpony relationships and navigating the circuitous history of the Elements, she learns more than any book she's read could tell her. The world has its secrets for a reason.

Inspired by fiction in the vein of, e.g., HPMOR, Worm, Luminosity, Ra, and To the Stars. I identify this story as a so-called "rational" fiction; for more information, feel free to check out the subreddit /r/rational, or read my comment on /r/mylittlepony explaining some details about my goals and values regarding the story. If you'd like to see non-chapter progress updates, you can follow my twitter, @aknifeallblade.

Chapters (21)
Comments ( 127 )

Overall it's seems pretty interesting so far. It's hard to know what's part of the AU tag and what isn't, or alternatively what's just misinformation from the book Twilight is reading. I'll just list the various thoughts I had throughout and preemptively assume most issues I noticed are due to either AU or misinformation:

The magic strength required to cast the sun-raising spell is a testament to the Princess' unparalleled ability

How does the cutiemark of Celestia play into this? My assumption would be that because it is her special talent it wouldn't require all that much power for her to raise the sun compared to a tribe of ponies who just use telekinesis.

The unicorns' spell contrasts with what Celestia now uses in that it was merely large-scale brute telekinesis, and as such they required line of sight with the clear sky

What does Celestia's spell do differently?

I Like your rendition of the three tribes and the whole balancing the weather vs sun bit.

The earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns flourished together for the first time under the Princesses' hooves. It was under their rule that Canterlot, beating heart of Equestria, was founded and constructed, along with almost all sizeable modern settlements.

I thought that the Castle of the Two Sisters/The Everfree Castle was the original capital up until Nightmare Moon?

One night, almost one thousand years ago, on the eve of the summer solstice, the sun simply failed to rise.

When the royal announcement finally came seven long days later

So how long was the Dark Solstice? Just one night or the entire week?

despite theories that she spent that time battling Luna, or that she was verbally trying to dissuade her, or that it simply took her that long to find the elements, there is no fact of the matter known to ponydom.

If Celestia beat NMM in the one night then I doubt there'd be theories that she spent the time looking for the Elements of Harmony, and if it took an entire week I have no clue how no pony would have noticed one of their rulers going crazy and recorded something about it. I suppose Celestia could have removed any recording of it but that's also difficult to imagine.

generosity, honesty, kindness, laughter, loyalty, peace, and an unknown seventh.

This seems like the most obvious AU change in the chapter so far. Seven elements of harmony means that one of the sisters wielded four of them during the battle with discord while the other only wielded three, sort of upsets the balance a little bit. Same with what I'm assuming is going to be the seven element bearers later on, with just six you had two of each of the ponies represented but with seven there'll be an odd one out.

It was Discord who both cleaved the pony tribes apart and "unstuck" the sun and moon from their natural cycle

This makes some sense at explaining why the moon and sun work the way they do, but it makes me wonder why there hasn't been some sort of large repercussion from it. If our sun and moon started randomly moving through the sky I'm pretty sure the whole planet would be lifeless.

And that's pretty much all my thoughts regarding the chapter :twilightsmile:, I'm interested in seeing more and how much this AU differs from the canon!

Yessss reductionist magic. The only part I didn't understand was this:

Since she can't abjure non-magical material

Since Celestia called it a "photocopying spell" (even though it's more like a photomimeograph), I suspect there's perhaps a better alternative already available.

know that value your -> know that I value your

6654145

The only part I didn't understand was this:

Since she can't abjure non-magical material

I think what it meant was that Twilight can't just dispel (abjure) regular matter (presumably, because conservation of energy), so she had to dispose of the excess ink by 'mundane' means.

Rather intriguing to read a Twilight who is a little less neurotypical than presented in canon. (Although even there, it often seems as if she's consciously simulating social thoughts and mindsets rather than having them naturally.)

That was really good! I actually can't think of any critical remarks to give. The conversation that spanned much of chapter 2 was incredibly well written and paced. If you don't mind, I'd like to add this story to the LessWrong group on FiMFiction.

Loving the story so far. Only discrepancy I noticed was that photocopies don't exist in Equestria with its fantastical/medieval setting - The word 'photocopy' shouldn't exist, it's related only to printers from our human world.

Blegh, I'm so bad at explaining stuff. You get what I mean, heh.

Carries just one gem on her pony -> pony oughta be body. You don't say carries one gem on his human, or man, or woman, or whatever.

The part where it talks about her incinerating rabid timberwolves - in the original canon setting, timberwolves seem to appear only in the Everfree forest, which only Ponyville is near. Now, timberwolves are generic evil 'bad guys,' and in that context it makes sense for Twilight to be imagining about incinerating them, but they're not a menace across Equestria (and would thus be less well known). Rational!Twilight would have come across them in her studies, but they wouldn't have a huge impact on what she would pick for a generic bad guy to kill. Equivalent to a human saying he'd be a hero and kill Africanized honey bees instead of the prevalent threats to regular people, i.e. ISIS or something like that. She hasn't lived in Ponyville yet, she definitely hasn't been in the Everfree yet, so she shouldn't really be thinking about them at all until they're brought to her attention (later in the story)- to her, they're creatures she has read about but never seen, and no one in Ponyville is dumb enough to go near the Everfree before canon!Twilight shows up, so there shouldn't be many awful stories about timberwolves either.

What is an MR frequency spectrum?

Aww. At this point Twilight ought to say something to cheer AJ up a little, but finding the appropriate words... would be difficult for me, at least.

Poor Applejack. :applejackconfused:

revels in catching such a tiny piece of body language.

Oh my god, Twilight is autistic! This is confirmed 50x better than any other pilot rehash.

6667455 I'd imagine "magical radiation", like IR (infared radiation)

"Inspired by fiction in the vein of, e.g., HPMOR, Worm, Luminosity, and Ra."

Worldy, actual quote: "I like all those things!" *insta-follow*

:twilightsmile:

6667455
re: pony, I imagine "on her person" was what was meant.

6673019
According to Friendship Games, magic is an electromagnetic radiation. But I... don't think anyone sensible needs to consider Friendship Games super-hard canon. :rainbowwild:

Seems to be more about irrationality than the opposite, but it's interesting and well-written.

So Twilight and Celestia have a Pearl/Rose relationship?

6681774

Um, debilitating social disorders make you non-rationalist? It's a real challenge to work around, and a very good conflict. That's not even to say that this is rationalist, but it is at least rational.

6683683 Believe me, I understand quite well. What about the second part, though?

6697676

Characteristics of Rational Fiction:

Nothing happens solely because 'the plot requires it'. If characters do (or don't do) something, there must be a plausible reason.

Any factions are defined and driven into conflict by their beliefs and values, not just by being "good" or "evil".

The characters solve problems through the intelligent application of their knowledge and resources.

The rules of the fictional world are sane and consistent.

In Rationalist Fiction:
As well as the above,

The main character uses (or tries to use) rationalist and scientific methods to demystify seemingly mysterious phenomena.

The story shows rationalist techniques, which can be applied by readers.

The story is like a puzzle; readers can reach the same solution as the characters by using the information provided earlier in the story.

Rational fiction optimizes for realistic characters and consistent settings. Rationalist fiction contains rationalists, epistemic or instrumental or both, that have knowledge or practice of human cognitive techniques that allow you to figure things out and make good decisions particularly well. The definitions are fuzzy, but that's the distinction.

Worm in particular is a rational non-rationalist fic. (I believe experimentalism is a necessary but insufficent condition for rationality)

6698467 No, I meant the second part of my original question: does Twilight derive all her self-esteem from Celestia's approval and does she subsume her sense of self in complete abnegation to a being she puts in a pedestal, who seems to care for her but doesn't appear to know how to get her to stop acting so selfishly selfless?

6698750

...Oh. In that case, yes, that sounds pretty accurate.

That's the case in canon as well, to some extent. It's part of Twilight's character.

CCC

This has been a very interesting retelling of the premiere so far. However, I must admit to some trepidation regarding the next chapter; adding a new character into the Mane Six's dynamic is going to be very, very tricky...

The fringes of Twilight's vision begin to fray.

:fluttershysad:

But t's not a miss, so it's a hit.

Twilight should reconsider her policy on false positives.

As usual, there as probably a smarter way.

Fluttershy's wide smile strikes Twilight as one of the purest things she's ever seen. She needs to leave.

So, when Fluttershy's her typical shy self, Twilight is drawn to her as a psychological puzzle to fix. And then when she expresses normal social behavior, Twilight is scared off.

This is going to be an... interesting relationship, to say the least.

Not an attractive beginning, I'm afraid. We don't have any characters or action to draw us into the story, but just an infodump. If I hadn't read your Reddit post talking about this story, I'd probably have closed the tab after the first paragraph or two. If you must deliver all this history near the beginning, I'd recommend interspersing it with something else, like Twilight and Spike researching, or (even better) delivering it just-in-time over the next several chapters.

But, let's see how the next chapters are...

Good example of the sort of interspersing of story and infodump I was talking about, though this time it's Twilight's musings.

6667426 "Photocopy" translates as "light-copy." Maybe here in Equestria, it refers to the light beams that accompany magic spells?

(Though I agree they'd probably use another word.)

6668332 And even more difficult for Twilight, no doubt.

Hm, I think I may have spotted a (hopefully minor; it certainly looks like it could be) contradiction here, I'm afraid. In this chapter, Twilight's topaz amulet appears as a necklace; however, in Chapter 4, it was said that she only had one gem on her, a topaz set into a bangle on one of her forehooves.

"on Fluttershy face"
"Fluttershy's"

Ah, and so it is that I reach the end of this. For now. Looks like probably rather a lot more to go, though, if nothing diverts it. :)
So, upvote, favourite, and [checks author profile for any reasons not to] sure, a follow. Interesting work you're doing here.

6667426 photocopy means light copy, it originates in the method of using backlighting to transcribe maps.

6667455 "I carry a knife on my person at all times" it's more of an English expression.

I'm loving the idea of a rationalist twilight. this is going to be fun!:twilightsmile:

6788004

Thank you for both of your corrections! Glad you've enjoyed it so far. =]

6718965

You're absolutely right, it's very tricky, and I have my own trepidation. However, there are some pretty good reasons for doing so that will (hopefully) become (eventually) apparent. His introduction is up now; I hope it's up to snuff!

6803246
Hm. For some reason, FIMFiction neglected to notify me of either the new chapter or your reply to my comment; I'm glad I checked manually.

Anyway, regarding this chapter, I don't think that Tinder Heart has been horribly bungled already or anything, but it also seems to me too early to make much more of a judgement than that; there's just so little data to work with. I am interested to see how it will turn out, though, and curious about why you're adding them (and the new Element).
I'm also wondering if Derpy will end up one of the Bearers, and, if so, who'll she'll displace.

6804554

I'm also wondering if Derpy will end up one of the Bearers, and, if so, who'll she'll displace.

Probably Pinkie, going by the impressions so far.

6811345
Ah, hm, yes, that seems quite a reasonable hypothesis; thanks.

Very interesting chapter. Waiting for more :)

6745652 This isn't really an infodump per se, though, so much as a fake infodump. We already know all of the "information" we're being given, so the whole point is the subtext behind it, relating to Twilight's character, the differences between this AU and canon, Twilight's relationship with her friends, et cetera. Really, we're getting a pretty good economy of characterization, here.

The panic attack was very well rendered!

Fluttershy now knows she's no longer the most socially anxious pony in town. :rainbowlaugh:

Oh, neat effect. Though at first I thought that something had gone wrong in the page loading. :)

""It's only been about thirty minutes, Twi." Twi? ...Oh. Don't worry. The sun hasn't even set yet.""
There appears to be either a missing or extra quotation mark in there.

"xanthous"
Ooh, new word!
Hm, and not one in my go-to computerized dictionary, even; I had to go to Google. :)

I'd agree that you pulled the chapter off well.

6814287

Thanks for catching that! And, I admit that I learned the word 'xanthous' from Dark Souls (Xanthous King Jeremiah).

6814557
You're welcome.

Ooh, neat. :D
Though also very dense-looking. I'm not sure I'd be quite as enthused as Twilight to make the whole thing leisure reading. :)

Hm. Now I'm wondering if it's actually possible to conjure a true ideal gas. I'm guessing probably not, but it's an interesting idea. And some of my old professors joked about the stores selling the massless strings, frictionless pulleys, and the like used in examples... :)

Hm, horn physiology is an open problem? Interesting. Very interesting. What aspect(s) of it, I wonder? And "Materialism & the Physicality of Magic" makes me curious.

...As is the entirety of non-unicorn magic, it appears. :D

So, yeah, in short, a nice interlude, I think.

CCC

6803255

You're off to a good start; now let's see whether you can keep it up.

You definitely need a few more paragraph breaks.

Also:

This was one of many stressors and sources of contention among the tribes which ultimately attracted the attention of the Wendigos.

Windigos are the MLP monster that freeze everything into permanent winter. Wendigos are basically Algonquin zombies: humanoid demons driven by an unyielding hunger for flesh. Both are associated with winter and noncooperation: Wendigos at least partially functioned as a taboo-monster about cannibalism and greed in harsh winters, when one person might survive at the cost of group unity by stealing from (or even eating) another person.
6745647
Not quite seconding this comment, but it would have been much, much better if you'd opened with Twilight Sparkle reading, and interspersed the book's text with her thoughts about it.

As it is, we spent an entire first chapter getting Expo-Speak dumped on us by a potentially Unreliable Narrator, before receiving one actual sentence about the mainmane character.

Finally! The night shall last forever! :yay:

"shame is lain before"
"laid"?

"My name is Laissez-Mare."
...
[obligatory groan]
:)

but I can't rest just write off the rest of my responsibilities

I have diagnosed mental dis—

More than one?

Am excite / for the ruler of the night.

She's entertaining threads of cosmic synchronicity and fate, threads she knows will embarrass her if pulled. Real life isn't a story; not every rising action has a climax.

I really feel like she should show more emotion when worrying about whether it's her destiny to save the world or whether the book is just pap.

6655252 The one in the first few episodes was clearly a nerdy, bookish girl who didn't know how to be social.

And then the executives decided to make her a Princess of Friendship.

While you are there, I humbly request you spend some time meeting the locals. Ponyville is very different from Canterlot, but it is full of brilliant, shining ponies nonetheless. It would delight me to no end if you were to befriend some of them.

Nice job on the change to this dialogue here. It's now far less obviously a hook.

"where Appleloosa"
"where Appleloosa is"?
Also, given that this appears to be taking place a significant amount of time in the past, would Appleloosa actually exist yet?

"brushes his main out of his eyes"
"mane"

"She'd think I were, like, obsessed with her or something."
Grammatically, I think that that "were" ought to be "was", but, given that this is dialogue, it could be Twilight misspeaking.

"the only living pony I even sort of get along with..."
Well, that says all sorts of happy things about her family life...
And I'm suspecting that "living" might be an important qualifier there.

Oh, my, a different cutie mark! That I had not been expecting.
Hm. I'm not sure I'm visualizing it properly, nor am I sure what the "darker thing" might be... Perhaps we'll get more details later.

Ah, and indeed we do.

Ah, and a picture!
Interesting... My visualization was indeed off, though closer than it might have been. I wonder what the mark means?

I continue to be glad I found this story. :)

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