Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Ponyfic Roundup no. 3

It's Wednesday, so it's time for Ponyfic Roundup! Actually, I'm not going to promise to post these things on a strict schedule, since life does have a habit of getting in the way. But since I'm able to do so this time, I thought I might as well. You've probably got the idea by now: these are potted reviews of stories I've read on FIMFiction. As with the previous two Roundups, I've selected five stories to write about.

Almost Beautiful by Donnys Boy
Twilight and Rarity
Romance/Slice of Life; 5,663 words; May 2013; Everyone
Someone recommended this nicely crafted shipfic to me, and I'm glad they did so. Twilight/Rarity isn't one of the most common pairings (yes, yes, I know I've just written for it myself!) but Donnys Boy makes a very good job of this. It's slightly wordy, but I think that's fine for a Twi-centric story. There's the very occasional word choice that feels slightly awkward, and a mildly fudged analogy near the end... but the story itself lives up to its title. 8/10
Fluttershy is Free by Jordan179
Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and [can't say; major spoiler!]
Slice of Life; 10,464 words; Jan 2014; Teen
Jordan179 (who, full disclosure, I know very slightly) has constructed a detailed chronology of FiM within which he's written several fics. This is the story of what happened when Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy went to see the butterfly migration referenced in "Dragon Quest". Dash is about to discover something deeply startling about her close friend. Excellently written and explores a truly fascinating theory I haven't seen suggested by anyone else. A story where "mature themes" is actually an accurate term. 9/10

For Those We Left Behind by Drakmire
Sad/Slice of Life; 5,514 words; Jun 2012; Everyone 
A real tear-jerker for some readers: I didn't go quite that far, but I was certainly moved. Twilight receives word of the death of her mother and travels to Canterlot to try to piece together more about a mare she never really knew. There's a wonderfully written conversation at one point which perfectly captures the curiously strained, brittle feel of a post-bereavement conversation. Canon has rendered this Alternate Universe since it was written, but don't reject it on that score. 8/10

To Make a Spark by Chris
Adventure; 4,298 words; Oct 2013; Everyone
This is the story of Cadance's ascension to alicornhood: it accepts the lore introduced in Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell that Cadance began life as a pegasus. From there, Chris weaves a lyrical, slightly mystical story (appropriate for the future ruler of the Crystal Empire, I suppose) that feels almost like a fairytale in places. I thought the ending was slightly less strong than the superb middle, but it's recommended, and not just to Cadance fans. 8/10

What Happened? by CrystalFeather
Mane Six and OC
Tragedy/Sad/Dark; 1,725 words; Oct 2013; Everyone
Fluttershy is rescued from a prison by her friends, but she has lost something terribly important to her. In this first-person narrative, we see how this loss affects her. This is one of those fics where a potentially very interesting idea suffers from an undeveloped and rather rushed story. (The grammar etc is decent, though.) None of the three chapters are over 1,000 words, which gives it a disjointed feel. There are also problems with the setup, especially concerning how Fluttershy was captured in the first place. 4/10


  1. I haven't read Fluttershy Is Free yet, but it did link me to an unofficial prequel, Fluttershy's Night Out, which is so tragic yet horribly plausible. And unless more is revealed about Fluttershy's backstory as to why she's so shy I won't be able to erase that possibility from my headcanon... at least she's got true friends now.

    1. As it happens, I've read Fluttershy's Night Out too. And "horribly plausible" is, if I recall, the exact phrase which came to my mind. It won't be going into my headcanon, largely because I can't deal with it being there. But several people have suggested that Fluttershy's extreme shyness and timidity (at the start of the series, at least) stemmed from her being traumatised at some point. It works, much as I hate to admit it.

    2. I've written three stories so far in my "Flutterarc" -- Dragonshyness ("Dragonshy" mostly from Fluttershy's POV), A Robust Solution (the unauthorized sequel to Bad Horse's Fluttershy's Night Out) and Fluttershy Is Free. I wrote A Robust Solution in part because Fluttershy's situation at the (original) end of Fluttershy's Night Out saddened me and in part because it's obvious that canon-Fluttershy begins to recover from her trauma, and I wanted to show some of how and why this happened.

    3. The other two are on my RiL list, so I do intend to get round to them, though I need to re-read Fluttershy's Night Out to refresh my memory first. It's just a long RiL list! (Over 250 stories right now, though yours are about halfway up the list.)

  2. Ooh, and one of my stories made it into the mix! The ending seems to have been love-it-or... well, nobody's told me they HATE it, but you're not the only one who's mentioned that it felt weak or incomplete compared to the rest of the story.

    I don't know if you read my blog post about this story (It's under "I AM A FISH"), but this story was written on commission, and the commissioner wanted me to write a story that epitomized what a "Chris" story is. I wanted the story to have a definite conclusion, but still leave an unspoken final scene (or more) in the reader's mind; while that's obviously not the appropriate choice for every story, I enjoy those kinds of endings because they make a work feel expansive, and part of a larger world. Also, as a reader I love the feeling of coming to the end of a story and being satisfied with the conclusion, but still full of energy that suddenly has no release.

    Well, that's what I was aiming for anyway; how close I got to that mark is another matter. In any case, thanks for the review, and I'm glad you enjoyed!

    1. Apologies for the late reply, but thanks very much for that comment; most interesting. I try to review stories from all over the place (occasionally I choose FimFiction numbers entirely at random) but the description of yours caught my eye. I see your point about endings, and in some cases I like those too. I didn't think your story's ending was bad, just not quite as excellent as the middle -- which on its own was 9/10 stuff.