Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Ponyfic Roundup 36: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

For the Hearth's Warming Eve edition of Ponyfic Roundup, I thought I'd do something different, so this time I'm looking at six stories written by other reviewers! The six were chosen as all having published at least 100 reviews, as entered in Griffin's Big Master Review List. I chose one fic from each person, deciding simply on the basis of what looked interesting. If I've ended up selecting a story you'd rather everyone had forgotten about, then I can only apologise! Anyway...

Pick of the fics

Every Mare Needs Her Stallion by InquisitorM
Fluttershy and Rarity
Sad/Slice of Life; 8K words; Feb 2014; Everyone
Fluttershy, having lost her cool (off-screen) earlier, turns up at Rarity's... but she's far from the embarrassed mare Rarity expected. A really interesting story that challenges its reader, though it's one I'm far from sure I've entirely got to grips with myself. There are undercurrents galore, and the ponies frequently behave slightly unexpectedly – Fluttershy especially – though the writing is such that this simply makes their characterisation feel more believable. You can't skim any of this: a phrase as simple as "second most beautiful" can, in context, make the reader's eyes fly open. The story's basic agenda is fairly obvious by the end, but I still can't shake the feeling that I've missed something somewhere. It's an impressive piece of writing, but my enjoyment suffered very slightly simply because it was so demanding. 8.5/10

Other stories

Going Up by Chris
Derpy and Carrot Top
Slice of Life; 5K words; Dec 2012; Everyone
This is yer actual children's story, which is a rare thing indeed and reminds me of the amazing In the Place the Wild Horses Sleep (PR 20). It's not quite that good, but this is nevertheless a charming little tale of the friendship between the two principals, who make an odd couple in the best sense. Carrot Top is unhappy at being earthbound; Derpy wants to cheer up her friend. The way she does so is clever, original and entirely logical; I loved that. You do occasionally notice Chris's teacherly voice coming through ("which I shall attempt to describe") but it doesn't really harm the story. Really nice portrayals of Derpy are few and far between, but this is undoubtedly one of them. 8/10

Laugh, Laugh by PresentPerfect
Pinkie Pie
Sad/Slice of Life; 1K words; Sep 2014; Everyone
Pinkie's inspiration has always been the great clown Ponyacci; now she's heard from him again, but it's not what she'd expected at all. Drawing heavily on the backstory from Pinkie's IDW micro-series comic (to the extent that I'd recommend reading that first) this was actually written for another reason. Read the Author's Note, but not until after you've read the story. Pinkie's narrative voice initially doesn't quite seem right, but read carefully and you'll find the reason for that. One slight mis-step (the "-thingy" stuff just doesn't work) but otherwise a pretty satisfying story all round. 7.5/10

Ponies of Faith by JohnPerry
Mane Six
Comedy; 1K words; Jan 2012; Everyone
Twilight is accosted in the street by a "researcher" from the Church of Magictology. Later, she discusses belief with her friends. This is pretty much the opposite of InquisitorM's story, in that it's absolutely not meant to be a difficult read. It's short, it's silly and it gave me a laugh or two, especially in the early scenes. On the flip side, I didn't like the real-world intrusions: there's one particular reference that I don't think any writer has avoided making cringeworthy, while the punchline it all leads up to probably just doesn't work very well on my side of the Atlantic. I suspect some people would find this hysterically funny; I just shrugged and moved on. 5.5/10

The Potion by Prak
Twilight and Zecora
Sad/Dark; 3K words; Dec 2013; Teen
Twilight has a great idea: ask Zecora to help mass-produce the past-seeing potion from "Princess Twilight Sparkle". Zecora gives Twi a glimpse of the future instead. Prak is one of the surprisingly few authors to have nailed Zecora's dialogue: it's possible to make her rhymes too good, but this fic avoids that trap. On the minus side, I did think elements of the future scenario were a tad overdone, and an apparent strange gap in Celestia's knowledge near the end was a bit hard to swallow. 7/10

Sol Invictus by Soge
Human; 3K words; Dec 2013; Everyone
Neither of Soge's published stories use my preferred tags (the other is Alternate Universe) so I chose this one at random. A pilgrim tells the tale of his annual journey with others to the otherworld where Sol Invictus dwells. It's obvious from the start that this means Celestia, but it's still a solid read, especially if you have a sprinkling of third-century Roman history. (It's not often I say that about a ponyfic!) There are a few irritating errors ("an unicorn") and one strangely repeated phrase, but nothing too bad. For those of us who like Celestia, this is a decent choice, albeit more oral history than actual story. 7/10


  1. Have you seen the live reading that Andrea Libman did of the Ponyacci comic (along with Michelle Creber as Apple Bloom/Twilight and BlackGryph0n as Ponyacci?)

    1. Yep. :) I'd forgotten about it, though, so thanks for the reminder!

  2. Very glad you enjoyed. It's always amused me, the reaction readers have to Derpy's solution--when I wrote the story, I didn't realize that so many people would find what she did so clever! Just goes to show she's more clever than me, I guess.

    1. I really didn't see it coming, and yet it's just so perfect. Plus the fact that I really don't like seeing Derpy written as stupid, so this was particularly welcome.

  3. Hey, thanks to the review, I have been going through your stuff and only saw this now! Sol Invictus could certainly do with some proofreading (it got none other than a couple of passes from me), but yeah, I agree with what you say.

    By the way, I had quite a hard time getting it published to fimfiction. The approver seemed convinced there were no ponies in the story, only humans, and it took quite a bit of back-and-forth to convince him otherwise.