• Member Since 14th Jul, 2012
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Nothing special here, move along, nothing to see, just ignore the lump under the sheet and the red stuff...


Once upon a time, there was a beautiful Princess who sacrificed herself to save all of Equestria from a terrible fate. Now it is time for those who were saved by her actions to repay that debt, and bring back the Sun. If they can.

Cover art by GroaningGreyAgony
Audiobook reading by the incredible Illya Leonov
Winner of second place in the Through Fire writeoff

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 55 )
Georg #1 · Jul 28th, 2019 · · 1 ·

First comment for the author. Publishing this before getting set to head cross-country to Bronycon 2019, which involves just about as much heat.

The Golden Apples of the Sun is from "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by W.B. Yates in 1899 (No, I wasn't around to read the original. Shut up.)

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

No, I’m not quite sure what he meant either. I guess I don’t have the heart of a poet. (although I do have an empty jar on my desk in case I find one)

This brings us to the Ray Bradbury story Golden Apples of the Sun (text at the link), which was published ten years before I was born, so chill. I read it a few times while growing up, and like the 'feel' of it, so when I fell in with you lot of scroungy creatures, I had the idea in the back of my head to do something like it. The Writeoff entry over here is what happened after that final poke pushed me off the ledge.

Now although I love Bradbury, and the story is inspired by him, I did not and probably could not follow his style. Something in the back of my head (probably too many years in science classes) refuses to squarely believe a robot hand with a cup scooping up a bit of the sun's surface, and the dialogue in the story keeps jarring me out of that happy fog of belief. Oh, I'll still read them until the covers fall off. I just can't write that way. (Which is fine, because I write like Georg)

Enjoy! And don't forget to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. It's hot out there.

I've always loved the optimism and minimalism of Bradbury-era short science fiction stories. Great job on this one, really enjoyed it.
It's been a long time since I read any of them. I think I'll go have a dig in my bookcase :twilightsheepish:

This is spectacular and moving. Bravo, good sir.

The Prometheus, that is a quite fitting name for a vessel to undertake such a mission.

I find I cannot conjure up the words that adequately express my awe of this story. Another masterpiece from the master. :yay:

Okay, crying over here. That was wonderful. And I'm a sucker for everyone coming together to do the impossible and risking everything for the chance to do the right thing.

Reminds me of a few other stories with a similar premise:

  • Sundiver, by David Brin — mysteries, murder, and frostbite aboard a deep sun probe!
  • “An Affirming Flame,” S01E02 of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda — Pinkie clearly helped the crew of the Eureka Maru grapple the Andromeda Ascendant and tow it away from the event horizon of a black hole!
  • Sunshine (2007), a film by Danny Boyle — strangelets are killing the sun, so humanity throws a Hail Mary in the form of a stellar bomb with the mass of Manhattan to reignite it! The first one they sent disappeared, crew and all, though…
  • And as proof that life does imitate art at times, I present Project Azorian, or, “How the CIA used Howard Hughes as a front to build a huge sea-going crane ship and a large mechanical claw to remotely grapple and then raise (at least a good-sized chunk of) the K-129 — a Soviet ballistic missile submarine that sank in the Pacific Ocean where the water was three miles deep — without anyone noticing paying attention.”

Bradbury wasn't an SF writer who occasionally drifted into fantasy, he was a fantasy writer who committed SF.

A lovely tribute to a poetic classic of a tale, and to the various races of Equestria. May they soar higher than Changeling Space Programs. :pinkiehappy:

Double +1 just for the reference to Bradbury, and for an excellent Pony take on the original!

Prometheus gave fire to Man and suffered a eternity of torment for the act. It is only right that fire be brought to the Heavens again in thanks.

Ohhh.... this was touching.

Stop touching me Georg!

Hmm, while the premise is mechanically decent, the story in itself is a bit too minimalist for my taste, along with there being simultaneously too much and not enough prose. I honestly feel like the story of how and why this happened would be more interesting, though that could potentially be me just needing more context.

Moving more carefully now, she took out her lucky bit and inserted it into the slot of the controls. There could be only one attempt at this prize, and the claw descended into the swirling plasma below with inevitable steadiness.

Of course she would insist on making it a crane game.

Hooray for mythology and references! :yay:

Hmm. I wonder if I can recreate this in Kerbal Space Program. It'll be pretty hard: changing the apsides to go that close to Kerbol will require a lot of energy, though thankfully I won't have to deal with solar activity or vengeful deities.

The Kraken might get me, though.

Go beyond, yes?

Damn you and you army of onion cutting ninjas :raritycry:

But seriously, gorgeous writing here. Right in the feels :pinkiehappy:

I like this story very much, but now want to know the forstory (?). What happened?

The Golden Apples of the Sun is one of my all-time favorite Bradbury stories, so I love what you have done here, complete with all the Equestrian flavor. Well done!


Why didn't they name it pre-launch?

A ship that stole fire from the gods. Definitely appropriate. Lovely job, Georg, and congrats in the placement in the contest!

Moving more carefully now, she took out her lucky bit and inserted it into the slot of the controls.

The engineers had balked at the idea of a coin-operated anything on the ship, but she had insisted.

In all seriousness, magnificent work. Suitably epic in scope for such a mission. Thank you for it.

Because they couldn't agree on one before the launch.

Strangely poetic and beautiful.

At first I thought the name would be _Apollo_, for moving the Sun back into its proper place, but the Greek myth you chose works too.

I remain in awe of authors who write stories like this for simple reasons.

Im simple, and like to try and work out how to do it with what I know.

I know water remains solid at solar surface temperatures if compressed to several million bar.

The biggest chunk of ice designed by man was the Habbakuk.

The NIF pulse fusion reactor can be made workable using a million Toyota laser sparkplugs.

MITs Optical Lattice can be used to duplicate EE Doc Smiths Wall Shield.

High frequency energy injection into plasmas have been used to clean wonds by cooling the plasma to 35 Celcius.

Plus many other demonstrated technologies.


Wheres the story in that. :pinkiesad2:

Noone likes just being given the answers. So what if its someones Cutie Mark?

They did what they could, with what they were given. And Succeeded.:rainbowdetermined2:

Moving more carefully now, she took out her lucky bit and inserted it into the slot of the controls. There could be only one attempt at this prize, and the claw descended into the swirling plasma below with inevitable steadiness.


Of course she would insist on making it a crane game.

Okay, get ready to match our velocities with the retro thrusters and get ready to party!

Specialist Pie! It's not possible!

No... It's necessary.

Yeah, while it's fine, I would appreciate a bit more backstory as well.

Abstract and thrilling. Nicely done

Very nicely done. I liked the concept of how Celestia was so beloved that her subjects would not abandon her if there was any chance of rescuing her.

A lot happened in just over 2000 words. This is how you short story people.


I like this story very much, but now want to know the forstory (?). What happened?

Everypony loves summer. Foals have more time to play, farmers have more time to work, and few things are as relaxing as sipping a cool, refreshing beverage on a pleasant summer's evening. Heat waves, however, are another thing entirely: it is too hot to play or work, and when the longer days have finally ceded to evening the air remains too uncomfortable for sleep.

On the first day, there were idle complaints. On the second, there was serious grumbling. On the third, accusations began. At first the weather ponies were blamed for providing no clouds, but they said they could not: Cloudsdale had no water. The town that was supposed to have provided it was blamed, but they had none to give: there was a drought. The farmers were at fault, they used too much! No, the pegasi were: they brought us no rain! Don't start that again, they yelled, we can't give you rain without water! By the fifth day, discord (the noun, not the draconequus) was thick throughout Equestria.

On the sixth day, somepony looked up.

On the seventh day a sweaty mob arrived at Night Court, dripping on the too-warm stones as they made their case to Princess Luna. She heard them, then, without comment, gestured them out. Advisors were consulted. Laws and decrees examined. Historical texts pored over. There were no historical precedents for such a case, save one.

Luna considered the pleas of the mob, and the words of the advisors, both for and against. There were many possible things for her to say, but in the end, she spoke from her heart.

"Payback's a bitch, sister."

And Celestia was gone.

I just wanted to add, in addition to my other comment, that by far my favorite part of this was that the entire mission hinged on a pony whose special talent... is claw machines.

I was laughing about that hours later. Like, "PEOPLE THINK YOUR TALENT IS USELESS? WELL GUESS WHAT YOU JUST USED IT TO SAVE THE PRINCESS OF THE SUN WHO IS LAUGHING NOW" Beautiful. I need a description of this heroic pony so I can properly visualize her in all her underrated talent cutie mark glory.

I vaguely remember reading that Ray Bradbury story as a teenager and finding it quite gripping and atmospheric, but at the same time thinking: What is this? This makes no sense! This isn't proper science!
You have beautifully recreated the scene with ponies.

I take no responsibility for what comes out of my mind when distressingly sleep-deprived. I'm just as much a victim as you.

Realistically the claw would've let go halfway up, and everycreature would be sweating and holding the ship together for another twenty minutes while the mission specialist kept feeding in tokens.

9758813 Well, How Many Princesses Does It Take shows what happens when the bulb burns out. I should write something where...

Luna looked up at the inert dark orb floating over the horizon, then over at her sister. "Well??"

Celestia let out a long breath. "The pilot light went out again. We should have bought the extended warranty."

"Or bought an electric one," chided Luna. "And I thought I was behind the times. And hurry back!" she called out as Celestia flapped up into the sky with a wooden match clutched in her teeth. "I swear, if you bake in there like a sauna too long, I'm going to made a giant golden ship and drag you back!"

Luna watched until her sister vanished into the sky, and her irritated expression slowly transitioned into one of contemplation. "Hmmm... It would teach her a lesson. And I've always wanted to fly a ship."

Naw naw, she is clearly the pony equivalent of that dude who made the news like a year ago because he is so good at claw machines he can empty the things out.

Why didn't they make the hull out of the 'enchanted steel from Tartarus' that they used for the chain, or whatever they used for the claw? Why not use magic to grab Celestia instead of a claw on a chain being buffeted about by solar material, since Shining Armor's magic worked in that environment?

Goddamit quit making me cry!

9765954 Hi, I'm Georg. You must not know me very well. :pinkiehappy:
9759895 The fun thing is I couldn't do it *without* ponies. Almost literally no other developed world would work for this angle.

While you may have been gearing towards Bradbury, both the style and the repetition of a golden ship made the connection more with Cordwainer Smith… "Golden the ship was – Oh! Oh! Oh!"

I would love to see some ponified Cordwainer Smith so much, but I don't think anyone can do it right. I know that I sure as heck couldn't, which is why I haven't even tried... but oh Celestia, how tempting the idea is. The Pony Who Bought Old Canterlot?

9767940 9789987 I so want to see more stories in Cordwainer Smith's style, too! I have seen him ponified once, in a short vignette which invites a longer story we'll probably never get: "Voyage of the Harmony".

Thank you for bringing that to my attention! :yay:

This was lovely! A short story the likes of which we might find in old sci-fi magazines. Optimistic and dramatic, with a neat little choice not to name anyone and leave it to us to know who they are.

Stories of Celestia making great sacrifice have my attention (having written like 6 of them myself >_>), but for there to be a happy ending after such a sacrifice, returned with love from those she saved, made for a beautiful story. Thank you for writing.:twilightsmile:

That’s one small step for a pony, one giant leap for friendship.

Really cool, self-contained sci-fi adventure! Love how much character development and world building you managed to do in such a short word count.

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