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cleversuggestion


E

Twilight Sparkle learned how to be a unicorn at Celestia's knee, and few know more about her than magic. She learned how to be a pony from her five PFFs, and they count her as one of their most treasured friends. Now, Celestia wants her to learn the science of living deliberately, which will take all of the skills and resources she's accumulated so far.

A note on tags: FIMFiction considers 'Adventure' and 'Slice of Life' to be opposed tags, but I wish I could have both. A mighty river is fed by many streams. (Maybe I should just alternate each week.)

Chapters (15)
Comments ( 43 )

I look forward to seeing where this goes. I hope we get to see how that secret society reacts in the days after their meeting, once the events they were then in the dark about come to light.

Is Night Light the name of Twilight's dad? I know I've read fanon that gives him that name. Veeery interesting series of events in the making, if that's so.

2096163
Thanks! I look forward to showing you where it goes. Night Light is the fanon name for Twilight's dad, which fit beautifully and so I decided to adopt it.

"They had briefly experimented with putting shelves on the doors, but that had ended poorly."

It works for my family. We have a book closet where all the walls and the door are lined with books. The door admittedly can't hold nearly as much as the walls, but it's still quite a few.

Also, you misspelled "ran" as "rand".

2097588

Fixed, thanks!

Night Light, unfortunately, is not that good of a mechanical engineer- he managed to realize that they'd need to be more like buckets than shelves, and used a wire frame so you can still read the titles, but he didn't calculate how much load the various pieces could bear. After a door got thoughtlessly slammed (by SOMEPONY who will not be named) one of the shelves broke, and the books all tumbled onto the ground, BENDING THE PAGES of several cherished friends. The rest of the shelves were removed as a preventative measure, but that was years ago. For a while, they were desperate enough for space that they'd probably consider some better-designed ones, but now that both of their children have moved out they've got two (mostly) empty rooms that need to be refilled.

I am afraid that I might have missed some important detail because of the time-skips.

If I understand correctly, this is what has happened.
Luna is still planning a coup. Celestia is trianing Twilight for some unknown trial with her studies. A mysterious group of ponies, all of whom serve Nightmare Moon, is trying to recruit Twilight's dad into their ranks.

still evil Luna. Won't be coming back to this fic

2131893 Thankfully, we've introduced all of the threads we need for quite some time. I'll see what I can do to make the time-skips less jarring.

Luna certainly has a lot of resentment, and Celestia certainly has something in mind. The mystery about the third issue hasn't been resolved yet, but note that chapter 4 happened 27 years before Twilight moved to Ponyville.

I'm guessing White lightning is not the stallion she was standing on in Games Ponies Play. Is he her uncle or something?

images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130210094937/mlp/images/1/12/Rainbow_Dash_with_a_relative_S03E12.png

I get that a lot of this was probably written before that episode aired, but is it really integrable to the plot?

2138330 The implications of looking more like your uncle than your father aren't very appropriate for Saturday mornings, hence why I went with older brother. (Normally, I would just alter the story to fit with canon for small changes like that, but I didn't for a reason that I think is worthwhile once you see it.)

As for integral to the plot... I'm not sure. I think Dash would consider it an important formative experience for her, and that telling it adds more than it subtracts; but I don't know if this is the right place to put it.

Luna, having memories throwing permissions errors, referring to her internal clock, AND being tired, sleepy and so very flesh-and-blood at the same time... awesomeness!!!
(new favorite chapter :))

Very glad:

To see another update here. Here's to more and more!

Mike

I'm now platonically in love with your description of Twilight's family and their home. :twilightsheepish:

Looks like Night Light just joined the Canterlotian Illuminati!

I was expecting this to be boring.
Key word being was.
I sometimes despair of meeting someone like that in Real Life...
2097588 Also, you misspelled "ran" as "rand".
AYN RAND AND NEVER LOOKED BACK!

Well, that was short!

I'm guessing the spy was Celly herself, shapeshifted?

Anyway, cool chapter. They seem to be in for one rude awakening.

Oh, this is awesome!

Sunshine, Moonlight, Boogie

Nothing wrong with looking like an uncle. Sometimes genes skip generations or do tricky stuff. No reason to be suspicious.

VERY NICE EXPOSITION. I ENVY YOU!

... Ah, gay disappointment.:pinkiesad2:

I'm sorry, Velvet.

2482898 Thanks for all the comments, and I'm glad you're liking it!

I have just read all the chapters so far, and I believe that this is a hidden gem. Too many rationality fics focus on the glorification of rationality and the things it can do, or the discussion about immortality, and too few are about people (or ponies) actually learning how to be rational and living deliberately. This is one of those few, and I'd like to see it continued.

If you have problems, and need an editor to help with the weaving of the plot (Grammar is not my speciality, as English is my second language), then I would be willing to help.

“Is it from the princess?” Twilight asked excitedly
Is this a trick question?

He saw Twilight's furrowed brow and sped to the kitchen, starting a pot of tea. He had gotten enough practice at reading Twilight that he could often tell requests were coming before Twilight thought to make them. Whenever Twilight wanted to digest something big, she would sit at her desk, either slowly sipping tea and staring at nothing in particular as she thought or scribbling hurriedly as she made list after list

I see you are another member of the Tea Conspiracy.

the new request for Twilight was something he knew she would take a little too seriously. Maybe more than a little.
As the kettle boiled and Spike thought about it some more, the request worried him a little. When the Princess had told Twilight in an offhand way to make some friends in Ponyville, Twilight rediscovered the Elements of Harmony and saved Equestria from eternal night. ... Here was another special request for Twilight, and Spike feared it would be necessary sooner rather than later.
Spike is simultaneously worrying that she will take this too seriously, and that she had better take it very seriously.

would learn everything there is to know
was to know, I think.

and impress the Princess. The Princess would be so impressed,
Word repetition like this is usually used to indicate that the speaker is stupid.

Spike worked so hard to be her number one assistant, and she felt positively blessed to have him as a friend. And, right after she thought it, she decided she ought to say it.
Only say this ( in addition to showing her doing it after) if you're going to use it to make a point about the importance of acting on your beliefs, telling people what you think, or something like that.

(She wouldn't dream of plagiarizing the book for her friendship reports, but once she realized the importance of friendship she wanted to devour everything she could about it.)
Goes without saying.

In less than two years, she had almost worn out her copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence Ponies” by Dale Carneighee by reading it again every month. He had stressed repeatedly the power of compliments, a lesson Twilight tried to work into her life whenever she could. It amazed her sometimes the power of happiness to create more happiness- truly, this was deep magic.
And here's the point. This should go right after the sentence that it is commenting on.

Epistemology and Decision-Making Under Uncertainty
-Books on philosophy.
You'd think so, wouldn't you... Well, there goes a few potentially productive years of Twilight's life.

Nice chapter. Nitpick: A cellar has only one entrance. If it has two, it's almost certainly a basement.

Paired with his swift intellect, that approach rapidly gave him a reputation for sharpness, which he took a bit more pride in than he would care to admit.
Very telly; superseded by next paragraph. Could omit.

Professors at the University of Canterlot soon grew to recognize the blue unicorn who would ask insightful questions which required awkward answers.
Professors often recognize such students as "troublemakers".

The moment that entrenched his reputation, though, was when he presented a counterexample to a theorem after five minutes of thought, while still a sophomore.
A proper theorem has no possible counterexamples. Might call it a theory or (if mathematical) conjecture. I suggest expanding this with details, and eliminating all the previous sentences saying the same thing.

The next day, he was approached by a light grey unicorn stallion with a dark red mane and the sort of body Night Light had only seen on overly fashionable mares who introduced himself as Velvet Rope, which was both his name and cutie mark.
Confusing cute-mark name. Together with confusingly-vague reference to fashionable mares (skinny? feminine? garish?), suggests someone in entertainment, not math for politics.

Griffon and Foal
An inherently creepy name, since Gryphon's don't have foals and are carnivorous.

He had walked this path- past willows and ferns- more times than he could count, and his hooves knew the way without his mind having to take the reins. Velvet- he already thought of him as a good enough friend to abbreviate his name- had suggested some rather interesting political ideas. He had been unable- or perhaps just reluctant- to elaborate on them,
6 dashes in three sentences! Em dashes are less confusing.

and so Night Light could not be sure which of the holes he saw were empty patches of sky and which hid stars he could not yet see.
I love this line.

“Well,” Night Light said, “that also means it must also be only unicorns there.”

Velvet paused, then deliberately said “Yes.”
Is the extra white space for emphasis? Is this foreshadowing?

This is a powerful chapter, much stronger than the ones before. I wish you could somehow lead the story with it, or something equally compelling.

3169947 Thanks for the comments! :D Some responses:

Is this a trick question?

I wasn't intending it to be. I'm leaving open the ability of Spike to receive letters from other sources (even if Princess Celestia is the only one that can send them to Spike, there may be others that send letters to Twilight through the PC-Spike system). As well, in my mind, Twilight is allergic to ambiguity and would ask that question, even if every previous letter Spike has received was from the Princess.

Word repetition like this is usually used to indicate that the speaker is stupid.

I was hoping for the circling daydream effect, where Twilight keeps thinking about something because it's fun for her to think about it. Considering revising it.

Nice chapter. Nitpick: A cellar has only one entrance. If it has two, it's almost certainly a basement.

From what I can see, a cellar is a subclass of basements, distinguished primarily by functionality and connotationally by temperature. I'm not seeing anything about the number of doors except for that old houses in the US primarily had one external cellar door.

A proper theorem has no possible counterexamples.

The professor was mistaken about the propriety of the theorem, and statements rarely come helpfully labeled as "believed true and actually true" and "believed true but actually false."

An inherently creepy name, since Gryphon's don't have foals and are carnivorous.

It's a reference to the Eagle and Child, which also strikes me as a pretty creepy name. (This reminds me, actually, I was going to put a lot of the references into the author's notes, but never got around to it. Not sure if I should now.)

6 dashes in three sentences! Em dashes are less confusing.

Those should be em dashes; fixing now.

I love this line.

:D

Is the extra white space for emphasis? Is this foreshadowing?

Yes, for the second question, at least. I'm honestly not sure if that whitespace there was deliberate or accidential, but I think at present I like it more than I dislike it.

White Lightning
Heavily-loaded association with alcoholism.

It was the highlight of Rainbow's week, time for just her and her father to delight in each other's company and the joy of being alive.
Paragraph began in lightning's point of view, but ended in rainbows point of view.

“No,” she replied, trying to match his deep voice with her high one. “Rematch?”
He smiled, a deep smile that she rarely saw but that always filled her up from the base of her hooves to the tips of her wings. “Always,” he said, and they were off again.
Nice. See, this is so much better than the telly stuff in the early chapters!

and with that, Dash's hopes were dashed
hah-hah, but you switched to Dash's POV for that joke.

"Isn't that obvious? Right ideas and true beliefs win. If Snips says I'll fly faster painted red, and Snails says I won't, then time me flying with and without red paint. You can race any conflicting ideas, and one of them should win."
Does not sound like Dash, esp. the last sentence.

“Exactly! I mean, did the princess ask you to learn about decision-making, or learn decision-making?
Nice.

If you want to do something as well as it can be done, you need to be really precise about what it is you’re trying to do, so that you can focus on doing what you want most.”
Does not sound like Dash.

Rainbow went quiet, thinking about some distant memory, but Twilight was too focused on the question to notice.
Now you're in Rainbow's POV and Twilight's POV in the same sentence.

He saw the glass of brandy held idly in his hoof and drank deep, reflecting that some tools create their own purposes.
Nice.

Chapters 1,2, & 4 aren't as vivid as the others. You might want to punch them up a bit.

He had shown up early, unable to contain his excitement.
The beginning of this flashback was in past tense, and then switched to past perfect for a continuation at a later point in time. This is opposite the usual way of doing it. I think you should just drop all the past perfect tense, and not invoke flashback mode at all.

I'm imagining a story in which Night Light comes to oppose the Lunar Society, but instead of doing so himself, tries to train his daughter to be clever enough to catch him and expose the society.

The sun was at (π/2, 5π/3), the moon had just become visible from the surface, and from triangulation of various signals she was confident she was in Canterlot, and from visual inspection she was in a comfortable bed in a marble room with dim light emanating from magical sconces set low on the walls.
Split into 2 sentences, or lose one "and". Preferably split.

Two vespertilian guards
Correct, but a word that nobody knows. Eh, okay. But where have these ponies been for the past thousand years? This always bothers me. I would rather defy canon than imply that some race of ponies has been social outcasts for the past thousand years against their will. Or according to their will, which may be even worse.

Luna had never seen him this anxious before.
How could Luna have even seen him before at all? She's just regaining consciousness.

“I have no idea what to do. Our invasion was welcomed, our every plan foiled and now we are stationed at the very heart of our enemy's-”
This whole scene makes little sense unless both ponies in it are over 1000 years old.

3170893 Thanks for the additional comments! :D

Paragraph began in lightning's point of view, but ended in rainbows point of view.

Hmm. I had intended that to be Rainbow's point of view; I could make that more obvious by replacing it with: "Saturday was her father's day off from his duties as a Royal Guard, and so that was the day White Lightning would take Rainbow Dash to the local racetrack."

(In general, I care less about PoV than other things, and so as you've noticed will break it to make a joke or share information I think ought to get shared. I get the impression that breaking it is better than passing up on the opportunity or spending the time twisting it to fit PoV, but could be convinced otherwise.)

The beginning of this flashback was in past tense, and then switched to past perfect for a continuation at a later point in time. This is opposite the usual way of doing it. I think you should just drop all the past perfect tense, and not invoke flashback mode at all.

My intention there was to have the reader show up to a bored/anxious Night Light waiting at the door, rather than have them show up with Night Light and then see him grow bored. I'm not sure it makes a significant difference, and if it seems grammatically odd I could change it.

Chapters 1,2, & 4 aren't as vivid as the others. You might want to punch them up a bit.

Agreed that this goal is worth thinking about. Not sure how to taskify it. What's the next small action for punching up a chapter? (Putting my boxing gloves on? :P)

But where have these ponies been for the past thousand years? This always bothers me. I would rather defy canon than imply that some race of ponies has been social outcasts for the past thousand years against their will.

I've got an answer for this that I think makes some sense, but I suspect it's better to reveal it when it's plot appropriate than do an exposition dump.

This whole scene makes little sense unless both ponies in it are over 1000 years old.

Fellwing isn't that old, but his story is part of the aforementioned exposition dump being worked into the story when appropriate.

One of the troubles I'm having with the Luna chapters is that Luna is basically running on untrustworthy hardware. It's easy to convey that by being mysterious / confusing, but unfortunately that requires being confusing! I hope it's helping that Luna generally notices when she's behaving oddly, even if she doesn't know how to fix it yet.

Found this linked from a rational website; put on my Read It Later list. My only comment before reading: from Feeling Pinkie Keen, and her approach to spell analysis in Magical Mystery Cure (ie, try it and see how it fails), it's obvious Twilight was (from S1 to S3) more of a magical engineer than a magical scientist.

Nice to see this picking up again, and I'll be very interested in just where you're going with all this.

This story is a true joy to read. It needs more likes! :pinkiehappy: :twilightsmile:

I'm a little surprised that books in Equestria would have leather covers. Also, Twilight's question to herself is amazing.

>her earrings were a large ruby shaped like Mars and a massive cloudy jade shaped like Venus

Presumably making this Equestria far more of an Earth-analogue than usually depicted.

A toast in memory of this story - it was looking so very much fun, too.

Had she tipped her hand too far?

Hoof :twilightsmile:

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