Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 41: A Happy Medium

Some of you may have noticed that I experimented last week with posting Ponyfic Roundup 40 on my Fimfiction blog as well as here. I didn't exactly have a huge response, but I wasn't expecting one; I just wanted to see how practical it was. The biggest drawback is the lack of a scheduling feature, but otherwise it seems to work. However, those of you who've stuck with me on Louder Yay deserve more than just for me to shift over to Fimfiction lock, stock and barrel.

So: this week's PR will be on both sites, but it will not appear on Fimfiction until the weekend. In other words, you guys get to see it first; I intend to maintain this little "exclusivity period" in the future. And if I only have time to post in one place any week, it'll be here. Okay, back to the actual stories: this time I've been reading some mid-length fics, by which I mean between 10K and 70K words in length. I turned up some interesting tales, too, as the following will demonstrate...

Pick of the fics

Honey Pie by SPark
Pinkie Pie, Changeling and Mane Six
Romance/Sad/Adventure; 31K words; Apr 2014; Teen
A changeling, cut off from its hivemates after the failed Canterlot operation, forms an unlikely bond with a likewise broken Pinkie Pie. If (and it's quite a big if) you can swallow Pinkie's initial unhappiness, you'll find a well written story that combines the central unlikely pairing with some nice slice-of-life and quite an exciting climactic scene. The changeling character is well realised, pony characterisation is mostly satisfying (though one Mane Sixer is a bit one-dimensional) and the world-building is very good. There's a small amount of discussion of "bucking" (a ponyism I don't like) but nothing too explicit; Teen seems perfectly appropriate. A bonus Q&A section is interesting. A sequel exists, which I'll probably read at some point. ★★★★

Other stories

The 63rd Rune by Alexstrazsa
Mane Six, Celestia and Octavia
Comedy/Adventure; 36K words; Jul 2011; Everyone
Twilight's spell goes wrong and the Mane Six become stallions! Can they reverse the spell before its effects become permanent? A very old Rule 63 story, possibly one of the first of any consequence to use the now-standard Male Six names such as Dusk Shine. It's slightly better than the superficially similar On a Cross and Arrow (PR 37) as its tone is more consistent, though technically it's a bit rough, being in need of considerable proofreading for minor errors. Octavia's scenes feel like a tacked-on bit of fanservice, but it's refreshing to see her before she was largely confined to tiresome OctaScratch fics. As with many Comedy-tagged stories, it's not actually all that funny, but it's still a reasonable read. ★★★

The Darkest Storm by TheReaderAndWriter
OCs, Celestia, Mane Six, Spike and Luna
Sad/Dark/Comedy/Adventure; 49K words; Dec 2012; Teen
Ivanhoe Mane arrives in Ponyville and begins to settle down – but before long, terrible things are happening to the town's ponies and Ivanhoe himself is in mortal danger from a surprising quarter. This is quite easy to read and won't make your brain hurt working out what's going on, while there are one or two interesting twists later on. There's also a truly odd subplot with Derpy. The writing is disjointed, but not dreadful, though a few scenes are resolved amateurishly. The fic's biggest letdown is characterisation: at one point, Spike – Spike – decides, without great justification, not to trust what Celestia and Twilight have been saying and to go with Ivanhoe instead. (Much of Spike's dialogue is unconvincing even aside from this.) Still, any fic which informs us that Ivanhoe's pants "are pretty spacious for dancing" can't be all bad. ★★

A Door Jam by xjuggernaughtx
Pinkie Pie, Twilight, Applejack and Fluttershy
Comedy/Adventure; 11K words; Jun 2012; Everyone
Twilight and Applejack try to get Pinkie out of the Cakes' manes for a while, but Pinkie insists on staring at the bakery's back door. Twilight finds an unorthodox solution. This is an old-fashioned tale in the vein of S1 – and it's none the worse for that. Indeed, I got pretty strong echoes of "Feeling Pinkie Keen" in several departments. One or two things do feel slightly off, including a prominent pun that doesn't really work with standard pronunciation. However, the story makes up for this with really nice interaction between the characters – who, again, feel quite S1-y. If you're weary of clever-clever fics and just want to spend time with the ponies we've seen on screen, this is recommended. ★★★★

Like Mending Glass by Eyeswirl the Weirded
Blueblood, Luna, Vinyl Scratch and Others
Comedy/Adventure; 68K words; Apr 2014; Teen
Prince Blueblood is... well, he's Prince Blueblood. Luna, unsurprisingly, is unimpressed by this fact and decides to do something about it. Various adventures ensue, some of them deliberate. I like the way Blueblood is portrayed here, and I often felt quite sympathetic towards him. (Often, not always!) A large cast of supporting characters, some good subplots (plus a couple that fall flat) and generally serviceable writing help things along, though the odd verbal tic does eventually become irritating. A fairly satisfying ending, too. Not one of the great Blueblood fics, but a solid second-ranker. ★★★

The Wonderful Life of Berry Punch by Dusk-Spark
Berry Punch, Cheerilee, Colgate, Noteworthy and Others
Romance/Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 19K words; Oct 2013; Teen
Berry Punch, her twin sister Cheerilee and her daughter Pinchy prepare for Nightmare Night. This is a very odd story: not bad exactly, but it sprawls all over the place, wandering about as though it had joined Berry in a drinking session. There's plenty of broad comedy here (often alcohol-based, naturally), with a scattergun aim that sometimes hits the mark and sometimes... well, doesn't. Every so often, though, there are more reflective scenes; these can be effective partly because they're unexpected. A host of minor technical problems, but nothing unbearable. Might have rated three stars with tighter editing – but wouldn't have given the same reading experience. ★★


  1. "Eyeswirl the Weirded"

    And this person wins for best handle ever.

    1. It is good, though it wasn't the reason I chose that fic. Okay, it was the reason I chose that fic.

  2. Glad you liked A Door Jam. I did go back and forth on that final pun for some time. I originally thought it was brilliant, but stumbled upon something at the same time that had the "official" pronunciation, with the longer first vowel sound. I was going to discard it, but I literally couldn't find a single person that pronounced the word that way. I quizzed everyone I knew for a week or two, and everyone said it in the way that worked with the joke. I figured that was good enough, but I do see where people that said it properly would be unaccepting of it as a working pun.

    1. I think there may be a local/regional element at play here. My part of the world (Worcestershire) has the wyvern as one of its symbols, and for years there was a local radio station called Radio Wyvern. So most of us in these parts hear the term fairly frequently, and always pronounced "Why-vern". It's possible that the nearby River Wye (also pronounced "Why") has an influence, too.

      That pun didn't affect the star rating, incidentally: it was a very solid four regardless. :)

  3. Well, it makes me happy that you liked it. That one is my favorite story. It's not my best or funniest or anything, but it was my first, and I have a soft spot for it.

    1. Oh, I certainly liked it a lot. I'd have been very happy to have had something that good as my first story. I'll be reading more stories by you eventually, but as always don't hold your breath!


    2. xjuggernaughtx29 January 2015 at 18:46

      It didn't start off quite that way. What you read is two years worth of education and polish. The original version can still be read here:

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