• Published 31st Dec 2011
  • 38,568 Views, 399 Comments

The Star In Yellow - Blueshift



Twilight finds a book that drives you mad if you read it

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Author's Notes

This is probably the story of mine which most needs author notes appended to the end by way of "what were you thinking of Blueshift?" so here we go!


There are some obvious influences, and less obvious ones. The story as a whole is based on the 19th century book 'The King In Yellow' by Robert Chambers. This is generally referred to as a proto-Lovecraftian tale, and inspired a lot of the later Lovecraft mythos. That's not to say this is a horror story of course, far from it! It is very much 'The King In Yellow' though a pony filter, meaning it's much more lighter. I can't help but think I disappointed some people by not making the story horror, but then I don't feel that outright horror has much place in Pony.

The King In Yellow is actually a quite odd book, and I'd urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to do so. It's not an outright horror as we know it - there are no monsters, exploding heads, gore, any of that. Instead the horror comes from the fear of the unknown and strange unsettling events that are designed to unnerve the reader. Part of The King In Yellow revolves around a book that drives you mad if you read it, and it is that at the most basic level that I homaged for this story, though there's also an attempt to replicate the 'unsettling' atmosphere, albeit in a different manner to the original.

The other big inspiration is of course, Yellowstar. This story is about fanfiction, our reactions to it and more importantly, where the drive to write it comes from. Not in a snide, mocking way, or a gushing hugbox way, but a genuine attempt to explore how we respond to the world and other fictional works through writing. As such I really wanted to use an actual 'original character' and thankfully Mast88 was kind enough to both allow me to use her, and happy for me to use her in the way I had planned.

As a story about fiction, it was really an attempt at exploring our relationship with fanfiction, something that really interests me. It could almost have the alternate title of "How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Mary-Sue". What drives us to write? What is the real role of the author and the reader? Is the act of writing one of catharsis or creation, intellectual or emotional? Are we trying to explain reality or bridge the gap between our expectations and reality? And of course in the end, Twilight deals with the events of the story by writing her own fan fiction. You are completely free to ignore all this though, I do like to have lots of themes floating in the background, but they're not integral to enjoying the story, which is a narrative of its own.

Yellowstar is a strange case in herself. She was created by Mast88 (check out his Deviantart page here: http://mast88.deviantart.com/ ) and soon became infamous for a series of comics written in broken English in which Yellowstar wanders about Ponyville being the most blatant Mary-Sue possible. She teaches Rainbow Dash how to fly, she lectures Fluttershy on how to look after animals, she flabbergasts Rarity with how stylish she is, and so on. Oh yes, also she's the seventh Element of Harmony (solidarity). This should sound awful, but at the same time it's very charming and a lot of artists have picked up the baton and drawn a lot of fantastic art about her. In my mind, she's pretty much the ambassador for Mary-Sues, though of course in this story her origin is far different.

Yellowstar in this story IS fanfiction. She is a Mary-Sue who is trying to break into the 'real' world, the world of the show. She can't, of course. Despite all her good intentions, the Mary-Sue can't exist side by side with reality since it would tear down the narrative framework. The tragedy is that she wants to be real without wanting the baggage of reality that comes with such a feat, and so instead reinterpret reality as dragging Equestria into the equivalent of a children's storybook. Interestingly enough, that sort of simplistic, conflict-free environment was pretty much what G3 was. Is it dramatically better? No. Is it morally better? I'm actually not sure.

I actually found myself liking Yellowstar the more I wrote the story. In the early conception stages she was going to be more obviously a villain - some malevolent force that attempts to trick Twilight or destroy the world though her general Mary-Sueness. But that's the easy way out. No-one is ever really motivated by just being evil; Yellowstar genuinely wanted to help others and felt trapped by her fictional existence. The results of her actions would have been bad, but she was in no way 'evil'. There's a bit of a bait and switch here for the audience too - by the conventions of the genre, the reader is sure that the book is evil (we are even told this explicitly by one of the characters) and so Yellowstar must be evil and must be trying to trick Twilight. Only she's not. I like to think that there is added value in being able to go back over the story and read it again once you know what it is about and gaining a completely different appreciation of events.

While it wasn't a huge inspiration, I always had in mind a poem by Lucy Clifford from the cult 1882 book 'Anyhow Stories.' This is a really weird children’s book with some of the most unsettling stories written for children you'll ever read. The whole text is here: http://www.archive.org/details/anyhowstoriesmor00clifiala

In the poem 'The Paper Ship', the writer sails away to sea in a paper ship and comes to a strange land made out of card and paint and meets the dolls that live there:

"What shall we do to be real?" they cried,
"What shall we do to be real?
We none of us feel, though we look so nice,
And talk of the vague ideal."
And all of them seemed to know so much,
But none of them laughed or sang;
And none of the fires had ever a blaze,
And none of the bells e'er rang.

And people walked and talked of life,
And all of them looked so grave;
Yet none of them ever had life, my dear,
Or ever a soul to save.

Not sure about you, but I get the chills.

Another big influence that crept in is Grant Morrison's Animal Man comics. For those of you who aren't huge nerds, in the 80s Grant Morrison wrote a comic for DC about the obscure 60s hero Animal Man. It starts out bizarre and gets even more and more stranger as Animal Man slowly discovers that he is a fictional character, and that the job of the author is not to make a character happy, but have bad things happen to them for the amusement of the reader. It ends with Animal Man confronting Morrison, who apologies for not being a better writer and being unable to find a way around pandering to the baser instincts of humanity with shocks and violence. It's amazing and I urge you to pick up the trades today!

Finally the songs by Pink Floyd 'Two Suns In The Sunset' and 'The Gunner's Dream' factored heavily in the writing!

Why does the story end like it does? A few people have mentioned that they felt the ending was strange. That's very, very deliberate on my part. That was the plan from the beginning, and if you go back to chapter 1, you'll find plenty of clues there. The true victory is that Yellowstar spends the tale attempting one way to break free from her narrative and become 'real' and eventually does so by prematurely ending the story of which she is the main character, causing the entire narrative to break. There's no final confrontation and the main 'finale' takes place unseen, relayed as a story within a story. It's supposed to be unsatisfying, in a strange satisfying way - there's a lack of catharsis, a gap which has to be filled by the act of writing. The ending with Twilight caps this off, saying 'yes, I know, now what?' I'm very interested in stories where there is an uncomfortable disconnect between the reader and the text at some point. Sometimes it works, sometimes people don't like it, but it is always on purpose.

Of course, if the authorial voice has no control over the interpretation of the story, does that change the ending where so much of the explanation of what has happened hinges on the correct authorial interpretation by the writer of the book? (In my mind, for the record, what is said is what has happened).

I'm sorry if I've waffled on a bit, but this is a story I really enjoyed writing, and it fills me with delight whenever I see any feedback on it, so please let me know what you think if you've not already!


Lastly, let's have some art!

"The Star In Yellow" by CSIMadmax

http://ponibooru.413chan.net/post/view/141264


"Yellowstar Is Best Pony" by C-Puff

http://c-puff.deviantart.com/art/Yellowstar-is-Best-Pony-285935739


"Goodbye, Twilight Sparkle" by me!

http://blueshift2k5.deviantart.com/art/Goodbye-Twilight-Sparkle-278379793

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Comments ( 169 )

I totally expected the Necronomicon.

103392 You think we'd be mad if you uploaded a 15k word chapter? Clearly you haven't seen how many people read Background Pony. 30k words in a single chapter... :rainbowderp:

I love how you make stories about ruining Twilight's life with Mary Sues.

896479

Well it was breaking my computer at the time :fluttercry: I see a chapter on a screen as needing to be read in one sitting, since you can't bookmark it midway.

That's more influences on a single piece of literature than I'd expect. And it's good to hear more on what you were thinking with Yellowstar, I certainly found her to be a more interesting character, despite being the model of a totally not interesting character, if that makes any sense.

I, for one, have to say that I love the ending, enjoy the concept thoroughly, and think that the line between horror and unsettling was well tread in this case. Additionally, if you ever decide to write another story in this tone, I will give you as many thumbs up as I can.

I picked up on the ending's point immediately. I'm analytical like that. I think I even mentioned it in the EqD note I wrote on it months ago.

It was quite clear that Yellowstar had broken from her mold and acted in a selfless manner to save Twilight rather than let her die trying to save the book. Thus, she achieved a manner of 'realness' before her destruction.

I was actually quite satisfied with it. The only surprise to me was that Celestia wrote the story. Until I realized that that was the only way her saving the book for all those years made any sense. She was personally connected to it; she felt guilty for creating the magical entity Yellowstar and yet couldn't bring herself to destroy her own creation. So she sealed it and hoped nopony would get their hooves on it.

Still... she could have at least put a warning on it! Lie a bit and make it even worse that it really is. You know, "WARNING! This book contain a magical entity that will SUCK OUT YOUR INNARDS AND TURN YOU INTO A BONE AND SKIN MARIONETTE WITH WHICH IT WILL MURDER ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!! DO NOT READ!!!" :trollestia:

Truly one of the most thought-provoking stories I have ever read, even outwith MLP. I can't add much more to what has already been said, nor can I improve particularly on my comment for the last chapter.

But I will say this: Congratulations. Have an internet, on me. :eeyup:

A pony fic based on the King in Yellow? :pinkiegasp:

Great, now I have to read it. :facehoof:

>A few people have mentioned that they felt the ending was strange
>Blueshift

They must be new here. :pinkiecrazy:



Anyway, to this day this one still is my favorite story from yours, and one I recommend to people whenever I can...

This and that Starswirl one... I wonder what happened with that...

I wish more authors did these author's notes. Very informative! Thanks!!

And done, not a bad read at all, I commend you for not giving in and allowing her to be real anyway, there have only been a couple stories where that has worked. :twilightsmile:

It's always nice to see what what going through an authors head in writing a peace, especially on that's not really strait forward, like this one.

1060939

Ah Fear Her. That was... sure something :twilightoops:

This is everything I want out of a story. Fanfiction or no. Initially the plot seemed simple and steadily gained complexity. It continued to grow and even threw in a twist, and as it finally died the plot threw a n ambiguously moral bone to the reader. That was good and all but what really gave the story the meat to chew on was this little bit at the end.

The authors note are what separate a fanfic from a short story. The background to the story that you never notice until someone blatantly tells you, and then *BAM* the story looks completely different. Thank you for being a writer and not simply another author. :heart:

1065180

Aw shucks, thanks :twilightblush:

Congratulations! You and your story forced me to finally get an account. LONG before I finished my first story, so feel special about that. I couldn't NOT comment on this. I thought it was really creative, all your work is pretty creative mind you, but this one was different.


It's not perfect, certain things broke my immersion quite roughly. I didn't buy Twilight blatantly disregarding the care and maintenance of books, for example. The prose needs to be tightened up. And I know for a fact, that you are British (or Australian), because Anglicisms kept popping up where they don't normally belong. These, of course, are not deal-breaking flaws.


Which is good, because I wanted to read more and more. I absolutely loved the rest of it, the atmosphere was wonderful. I had no idea what kind of story this was, I didn't read the hook, I read this purely because it was written by you and had neat art. So when I realized Twi was getting too involved with the book I was really intrigued. Then Yellowstar showed up in her house and I was all "okay, this is cool."


I think that another really cool part was how dreamlike it was in certain spots, and I kinda wish you had kept that as a more central tone of the story, but that's just my preference talking.


What really gets me, looking back on it, was how caught up in Yellowstar and her book I got. I became upset when I was ripped away from the descriptions of what was within its pages and I felt a sense of warmth and comfort that I wanted more of when Twilight held her as she cried. That's a thing I wanted to see much more of, which is brilliant because it put me in Twilight's position without me even noticing it.


This was a wonderful Idea that I happily found by complete accident, and I thank you thoroughly for sharing it with us all.

1090636

Thanks for the comments, I hope you enjoy your stay at fimfic! Really glad you dug this story so much!

I do not apologise for using Britishisms, being British. Though people do tell me that they think of my characters all speaking in British accents, pip pip.

1090701

You certainly don't need to apologize old bean.

You know, I read this story (as I usually do) on my ebook reader on a train. And it was missing the Author's Notes. But before I even read them, I wondered. Man, I thought, it looks like Blueshift is writing a... a satire (well, not exactly a satire, but for the lack of the better word...) on fanfiction. I mean look at this. Rainbow Dash writing her poor self-insert story and starting it with a bucking weather report? :rainbowlaugh: Of all the mistakes an author can make... :pinkiehappy: Plus the obvious Mary Sue character of Yellowstar. Plus all those carefully thrown remarks about stories, writers (yes, you are all evil and heartless! :pinkiecrazy:) and story characters. Can you imagine how surprised I was when I read through your author's notes only to find that I actually, for the most part, correctly understood the story behind the story? :pinkiegasp:

But enough about me, let's talk about the story itself. :pinkiehappy: Because, and I have to make it clear, even if it was a story about fanfiction, containing all those meta references and what-not, it also told a pretty interesting tale. I very much enjoyed the climate of the story. It was dense and a little unnerving, but let's all remember that the thing happened in peaceful and magical kingdom of pastel ponies. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you captured the perfect balance between unnerving and pony. Not too little (of either), not too much, just right. Though, I have to admit, the feeling was stronger at the beginning of the story. But it may be an obvious thing to say, because as the story progresses the mystery is revealed and there is nothing left to be feared of. :pinkiecrazy:

I would like to say that the characterization was spot-on, but there was one thing that bugged me: I don't believe Twilight would treat books with such disrespect. True, she may scribble on the edges from time to time, but I would never imagine her banging the book against the wall only because it was not something she had ordered Spike to fetch. :pinkiesad2: Rainbow Dash, on the other hand/hoof/claw/whatever, was her 100% canon brash self. :rainbowkiss:

I also have to congratulate you on the Saddle Stitch OC. He may have been just an old grumpy blame-shifter and womanizer (mareanizer? :trixieshiftright:), but his personality was clear, distinct, well-defined and, above all, laughable. Truly a job well done.

Let me just also say that I have read quite a few of those gosh-awful meta stories, but none of them were as interesting, as enjoyable, as thought-out, as well-written, as deep, and as meaningful as yours. Marvelous work!

And finally a question, if I may: that Sweetie Belle stashing letters in Twilight's chimney and Rainbow Dash burning books again... Are those cameos with your other stories or are those references to something else entirely (which I'm just too daft to understand :derpytongue2:)? They certainly seem too precise to be just some randomly tossed in bits.

EDIT: Also, before I forget, this single line made my day:

"You've been reading other books behind my back!"

:rainbowlaugh:

This is an extremely clever fic, from the multiple layers of metafiction right down to the in-plain-sight Celestia twist (and the nastier-for-not-knowing bit about the Schmooze) and the sudden, abrupt breaking of the established narrative. More than that, it's also bloody funny - and creepy, and sad, and all in the same fic and sometimes the same scene.

I actually had read the original Yellowstar comic a long time ago. Ironically enjoying all its flaws. The same way one enjoys... I don't know, reading Spiderses (even if all the flaws in that one are intentional :derpytongue2:).
Despite that, hiding under all that cynical vision of mine, I was able to notice theses glimpses of naïveté that honestly creating a Mary Sue character requires, and, if just for some brief instants, I thought the whole thing was somehow... cute... Just like Twilight did here.
Now, this story of yours has amplified that feeling one million times. You are making me to like all the Mary Sues ever created and I don't even think it's a bad thing! :twilightoops:
Add to that the multiples readings this fic has, the twist (simple and yet I didn't see it coming), the mixture between comical, eerie, sad and... even more things... and this fiction has become one of my all time favourites.
Thanks a lot for writing it!:twilightsmile:

1551387

Hurray, thanks! :twilightblush:

This was an awesome fanfiction and I loved reading it. :pinkiehappy:

I think that Yellowstar is absolutely the best pony.

This was an amazing story! So creepy... I love the accidental menace "The Star in Yellow" posed, rather than any sort of truly evil force.

this is so dark I love it :pinkiehappy:

Dunno if you've seen "Spike at Your Service" yet, but apparently, though trying not to spoil, your characterization of Rainbow Dash has just gone canon. :rainbowlaugh:

1875755

Mr Skywriter! I am humbled that you've read my story let alone remembered it!

Haha yes, I did see that, but it's such an obvious joke!

1875799
Dude, you're Blueshift. Memorable is what you do. However, on review, it looks like I have somehow neglected to even upthumb this; perhaps I read a Google Docs version or something? Anyway, rectifying.

On top of the other stuff, us blue pegasus ficcers have to stick together. Ain't easy writing with your mouth, amirite?

This was one of the most thrilling stories I have ever read. It gave me the same feeling that I get when playing through Half-Life, and things are just a little to quiet.

1876456 thanks for pointing me to this story. I found it through this post.

Thanks.

Ivo

Well, that was a very awesome story!

I really enjoyed the overall Dark/Sad feeling, not knowing till the end if Yellowstar in fact just wanted to be free to make the world a better place. But when I recognized that she is a Mary Sue-ish version of Celestia I knew this was true. Granted I wasn´t sure there till her confession, only guessed it since the appearance of Silver Crescent as an alicorn herself. I thought 'two alicorn-sisters contending like that, haven´t you seen this somewhere else?'
In the end, it was all the time so obviously, thinking only of the names Yellowstar (sun) and Silver Crescent (moon). Though, I think you did a good job to distract the reader from that obviousness with your OCs, especially Saddle Stich who always was emphasizing how dangerous the book is. Also were the occasional comedy-scenes very well-placed to give some relief of the overall setting with them, though not disturbing it.

I don´t really think there is something missing at the end. Regarding that Celestia had written the book, there is no gap in what would have happened in the book´s end. Interesting was the fact that Yellowstar in the end saved Twilight instead of herself. Maybe it was her urge to still be the best pony and be the martyr of her own story, or it was an altruistic act that showed some maturity of her in the end.
But one thing I didn´t get:
What happened to Celestia´s and Luna´s father?
I mean: The book describes her feelings. Relating to that, her father left them because she wasn´t able to revive her mother. But I can´t imagine it, a father leaving his children because they couldn´t save their mother from death. I don´t doubt that he simply left them, but I am asking myself about his REAL motivation to do so. I mean, Celestia and Luna were all that was left to him. If he really loved their mother, why would he leave the children of his love?
Or died he too or even killed himself and he leaving them is just a metaphor for 'he´s gone' like 'he died'. It wouldn´t surprise me after she wrote that her mother was 'sleeping' instead of 'she died'.
Maybe I just missed something and have to read the passage again, but for now, I am a little bit confused.

Nonetheless it is a great story and going to my top favorites!
Thank you for this awesome piece of art!

1891180

Thanks, it's always great to read comments like that!

With regards to Celestia's father, he's killed by the Smooze (chapter 2) though this is coloured in the book by Celestia pinning the guilt for this on herself.

Ivo

1892213
Ah, I see.
Didn´t know what that Smooze was in the first place, but after some research I think I understand now.

Thank you.:twilightsmile:

1892843

I like to use G1 concepts as 'pre-history', it just feels right to me. I did write a story about the Smooze too, which is here: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/32513/home-is-where-the-harp-is

If it's so horrible, why not destroy it? I'm sure that books can burn...

2073623

That would be murder :twilightoops:

Nicely done. I actually read this one the deviant art page (I was linked to it from the writing fanfiction article that went up on Fimfic today). It took me until the second appearance of Silver Cresant I twigged.

Not sure I'd warrent the dark tag personally (given the sort of stories that usually get that tag), but I guess better to be safe than sorry (and it is an older fic at that!)

And the humour was laugh-out-loud in places, which is always good.

Maybe because they were mentioned the the aforementioned fanficition writing articel, but I couldn't help feel that the book could have been an SCP from the SCP wiki... it's that sort of level of creepy in concept.

Thank you so much...

You made me understand the King in Yellow reference in Alicorn Day :facehoof:

2050384 He wrote another story that`s just about the smooze.

I like that Celestia wrote the book, it was an okay ending, but I want Yellow Star to be real. I want Twilight to be crazy. I want a sick, twisted ending where they don`t succeed and Yellow Star meets herself or her creator, Princess Celestia and something happens that`s dark. Never end stories like this on a happy note. Yeah me for wanting an evil ending! I`m such a weirdo!

This was .. pretty creepy actually, I think you achecieved the feeling you're describing in the notes with me at least.

While reading this story, I was theoretizing myself what this book might be, and which purpose it's meant to serve. Following Twilight reading the book, from where Yellowstar .. was born? And actually giving the character life, was an interesting premise.

I was kinda hoping for a positive ending for Yellowstar, she just wanted everything to be good. And, with the ending of this fic, I'm glad. That, in my opinion, was a great ending.

So, summarizing, this was a great read; Liked and faved!
Thanks for writing it and putting it up for everyone to enjoy!
:twilightsmile:
M

2624694:rainbowhuh: you are really weird.
:unsuresweetie: Although, it would be interesting but:ajbemused: I digress, it just won't work.

3103551 I am not a normal person. :pinkiecrazy: Kidding, I'm not mentally ill, just seriously freakin' weird. :pinkiehappy:

3103971 Understandable, but that idea might be something for your story.:raritywink:

I never would imagine of who Yellow star actually represented in the story. My mouth dropped!:pinkiegasp:

This is just one of those rare occasions that a good idea can be found in fan fiction. I could imagine a writer writing an original story like this.

I just finished ordering "The King in Yellow" on amazon right now.

If it inspired something this good, it has to be great.

Well, that was very meta. And very, very nice :p I did have trouble accepting the unsubtelty of the "background" characters at first, but as soon as I understood that you were taking refuge in audacity and just following the rule of funny with them, I didn't mind at all anymore. I call that the Doctor Who Effect.

So, hey, great story! You surprised me.

Ah, that was really good. Like, REALLY good. Saddle Stitch was probably the most fun OC I've seen, mostly though the excellent method with which he was written. And the ending, jeez, I should have seen that coming... but it rocked. :pinkiehappy:

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