• Member Since 1st Jan, 2014
  • offline last seen Sep 12th, 2021



Magic and technology may have pierced the void and blazed a path between the realms, but that was the simple part. Adjusting to the changes that follow can be far more daunting.

Yet despite the complexities involved even in basic communication, Serendipity has found friends to talk to among humankind who can cheer her up when she's down. And occasionally inspire her to bursts of ingenuity unhindered by such trifles as foresight.

A trimmed-down version of this story placed in the 2019 Autumn Pony to Human TF contest, under the stopgap title A Minor Bout Of Lunacy.

Many thanks to Admiral Biscuit for prereading and editing, and to Syke Jr for helping with the short and long descriptions.

Chapters (2)
Comments ( 26 )

Reserved by author for bulletin use.

Reserved by author for bulletin use.

"A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic" Arthur C. Clarke
"Does that mean that a sufficiently advanced magic would be indistinguishable from technology?" Theodore Sturgeon
"A sufficiently advanced anything is indistinguishable from a rigged demonstration" Larry Niven
First is basis for the book Enchantress From The Stars (Engdahl)
Second for the book The Case Of The Toxic Spell Dump (Turtledove)

I was entertained with this. Took a bit at first to capture the lingo, bit that was half the fun.

Azahar burst out snickering. "Of Texas ? Really?" And held up her hands to ward off Serendipity's glare. "Sorry, not meaning to be rude or dismissive or anything. It's just that Texas is fine and all, but it's not really renowned for overwhelming beauty....(the)…. way a lot of other places are, and I kinda have to agree."

"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I would live in Hell and rent out Texas" Phil Sheridan

What’s a pepino??

It's a type of fruit.


More info to come in the story notes, but of primary note: it's intentionally a bit obscure (at least from a US perspective), and it's got what I'd call a fairly split reputation, with a few people who really love it and a whole lot more people who really don't care for it.

Says complete, reads story.
You wouldn't leave it there would you, I know theres more somewhere.

I rather enjoyed this take on the perceptual differences between worlds and how that affected their communication. Very neat. :twilightsmile:

I'd certainly like to do more, yeah – I could've easily written several times as much just from my original ideas if I didn't think Two Bit (the contest runner) would be dubious about letting me enter a story 20k words longer than the upper limit, and of course I've come up with more ideas since. Unfortunately, it probably won't be for at least a few months, since I've got other stuff I need to work on first. On the plus side, that means that if there's anything you think really demands a followup, I'll have plenty of time to figure out how to work it in.

Thanks! It's always struck me as odd that people barely ever seem to consider that sort of thing when writing transformation and/or post-contact stories, so it seemed like the obvious choice to focus on for my contest entry. I think I might have gone a bit too overboard on it, since I kind of accidentally completely skipped over all the "expected" transformation tropes, but at least I've got an in-universe explanation for that lined up for if/when I get to write more in this subsetting.

Author Interviewer

Pepinos are really gross, though. :C

Author Interviewer


Also, ooh! The Clockwork Tower? I can't remember what that's a reference to, but I recognize it and therefore have a positive outlook on this story. :D

That being said... That's it? She cast a spell without knowing the full ramifications and thus erased herself from existence? I mean, her choices are live as a human, not even a human version of herself, or become a pony again and a completely different person. This is why I never write a mental component to transformation spells. :|

I don't know any fans of pepino myself, but I have to deduce that they exist given that the grocery store near my family's house can justify keeping it in stock at $7 apiece.

The Clockwork Tower exercise is from Through the Well of Pirene, or at least that's where I know it from. Chapter 11, for the curious.

RE the spoiler text: Not really? But that seems like a fair takeaway from just what's currently present. Now that I don't have to worry about overshooting a contest wordcount limit anymore, I can actually elaborate on the consequences if/when I get the chance to continue/expand this story. In the interim, though, I will note that my intent had been that Serendipity is a human version of herself after she transforms herself, and that if she gets transformed into a unicorn again she'll be basically the same as she was originally except for the physical differences that result from not having a copy of her original form's data to work from; the mental differences are mainly in the mind/body interface, and don't affect the "her" part of her mind.

Author Interviewer

The price tag is just because they're 'tropical' and 'exotic'. :B They probably keep getting bought by curious white people (like me).

Ah, and of course! :D I knew it was a big fic I was thinking of.

re: the spoiler text, that definitely did not come through, though I'm willing to admit at least part of that might be bias on my account. :B

The bias possibility does sound nicely plausible, given that I remember you having mentioned your views on the subject in previous reviews, but considering that my other story suffered significantly from failing to explain things adequately, I think it's more plausible that it's mostly an issue with the text instead. At least here it seems more like a Fridge Logic -type thing than something necessary for the narrative, so one could call it an improvement, but there certainly exist more gains to be made.

Fascinating stuff, thinking deeply about what an entity from another universe would really entail, from processing colors and sound to how equine biology incorporates magic on even the most fundamental levels. (Though the fact that Serendipity couldn't pin down Twilight's identity from horn and wings makes me wonder if one or both are entirely magical constructs.) The implied Mane Six alicorns are a lovely touch as well.

All told, great job in offering a snapshot of post-first contact awkwardness as both sides try to make diplomacy work regardless. Thank you for a great read.

I'm glad to see that the wait was apparently worth it!

(Though the fact that Serendipity couldn't pin down Twilight's identity from horn and wings makes me wonder if one or both are entirely magical constructs.)

I figure either it implies something deep and significant about the nature of ascension in this setting, or Twilight's bags were in the way and obscured her flanks. Take your pick. :raritywink:

On a more fishing-for-critique note, did you read the version of this story that went up against yours in the contest? And if so, did you spot anything significant in the comparison that you think I should take note of? In particular, I'm not wholly sure whether all of the readded material actually strengthens the story or if some would've been better left out again – I've already cut some stuff from my original draft (8750 words), but I haven't really gotten enough feedback yet to be certain I didn't miss any.

There's a lot I like about this, but this feels like I read a scene from the middle of a longer story without reading what lead up to it: I got enough context clues to understand the jist, but I couldn't really understand it well enough to enjoy it as much as I could have. I usually don't like exposition dumps, but some set up at the beginning would have gotten rid of the constant "what am I missing" sensation I felt, and made this more fun to read.

Fair enough – in a sense that's what this story is, since I had to leave out a lot of possible material to just barely squeeze in under the wordcount limit of the contest I originally wrote it for. I tried to make sure everything important I could think of was at least hinted at in the text, but as mentioned in an earlier comment, figuring out all the exposition the story needs and then how to work it into the narrative naturally is something I still need more practice at (doubtless not helped by the fact that I like stories that toss the reader in the deep end right from the start and expect them to figure things out on their own). Ideally I'd like to be able to write stories like this so they also have a surface-level reading that's accessible to everyone, but at least for the near future I expect I'll have to pick between either figuring out how to do exposition dumps in a minimally-obnoxious manner or just accepting that they'll take a bit of a readership hit.

Out of curiosity, is there anything in particular that you wish you'd had some elaboration on before reading? I expect that if/when I expand on this it'll probably be in the form of continuing from where things currently leave off, but it's at least conceivable that I might think of a way to prepend some material that covers whatever you felt was missing. Or even add it to the description, if it's condensable enough.

Site Blogger

For what it's worth, I would absolutely love to see more of this -- either this story expanded into something more full-length, or more "episodes" set in this continuity, both before and after. Fascinating worldbuilding.

That is the intent! One of the various reasons the story notes blog post mentioned in the author's note has been taking so absurdly long is that every time I try to write it I inevitably end up sidetracking myself into working on the planned story continuation instead, and another is that I've been attempting to complete one of my previously-planned stories in this setting in time for use as an entry in the Depth in Innocence contest. Not sure I'll be able to pull off the latter, since it was already a bit of a longshot before my keyboard broke on me this morning (and I really hope I can get a replacement soon – even just typing a comment like this using the onscreen keyboard is kind of a pain), but if not at least the story's that much closer to being ready to eventually publish.

A very different, and very enjoyable, take on the Ponies on Earth theme! I second everyone who has said they want more of this. :twilightsmile:

Also -- Can't help but wonder if the time she'll spend as a human will help Serendipity get past her aetheric block once she's a unicorn again?

Azahar burst out snickering. "Of Texas ? Really?" And held up her hands to ward off Serendipity's glare. "Sorry, not meaning to be rude or dismissive or anything. It's just that Texas is fine and all, but it's not really renowned for overwhelming beauty way a lot of other places are, and I kinda have to agree."

As a native Texan, I’m inclined to agree.

That was...huh. Interesting way to worldbuild and expose. Vaguely reminds me of Estee’s work. Looking forward to more.

I have no idea what’s going on. Sorry o just stopped reading half way though the first chapter

This is an excellent read, and a touch of scifi that the pony fandom hasn't seen for a long time. I'm a fan of the drop-in style that doesn't explain terms that the characters already knowb, leaving room for the reader to question and discover through context. Whether it continues or not, thank you for sharing your work with everyone. <3

Login or register to comment