Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 52: Special Edition

I am immensely amused that Holby City had a brief scene mentioning ponies and bronies. (There was a reference to a "rare Spanish Sonata Dusk" toy, though I've no idea whether such a thing exists.) If you can use the BBC iPlayer, the episode is up there until 14th May; the scene starts around 02:15.

Anyway, it's Ponyfic Roundup time! Yes, I'm back to doing this stuff. And I think it's time I reviewed a longer fic again. This one was recommended to me by a friend, and (being the out-of-touch person I am) I'd never heard of it until then. So, without further ado:

Mother of Invention by zaponator
Adventure; 157K words; Dec 2012–Jul 2014; Teen
Applejack awakes on a deserted beach, with no idea how she got there. Over the course of the story, we follow her explorations of her strange surroundings, and start to uncover some of the secrets of her unwanted new home. An interesting but odd story – in fact, it's more like several stories. The first quarter is very slow-paced, but things do eventually pick up a good deal. Then there's a major twist about three-quarters of the way through, about which I had very mixed feelings. Applejack's name is repeated too often and the song-title chapter names are mildly annoying, but this is well worth a look, and not only for AJ fans. ★★★

More detailed, and spoilery, comments past the break!

As I said above, one big problem with Mother of Invention is its near-glacial pace in the early stages. Okay, Applejack is methodical and (usually) patient, but the detailed descriptions of how she accomplishes basic survival tasks start to get dull after a bit. Much more interesting are the hints that the island is nearly, but not quite, devoid of life: the vague rustling we hear a lot, but also the terrifying screech from... something, and something that seems to be after AJ's hide.

I wasn't sure about this, even after the late revelation that it was actually the product of a "failed experiment" from the Icarus Project. To be honest, I found the sci-fi turn after AJ managed to open the journal to be less interesting than if there'd been a more show-like explanation. The initial discovery of the construction camp was effective and shocking, but the later journal entries in particular were really a bit too grimdark for my tastes, possibly even pushing the Teen rating.

And here's one reason the fic fell from a potential four-star rating to a three in that last bit: I really don't have much interest in SCP, and much of the sci-fi bit is bordering on a crossover with that, to the extent of borrowing some of its terminology. "The Scientist", which largely consists of a journal chronicling its author's promotion, but both physical and moral descent, went on considerably too long for my tastes. (Actually, the chapter lengths in this fic are all over the place.)

Then there's all the stuff about Twilight and the airship. Although we've had hints of that already by that point (with some minor but still irritating AppleDash), the chapter which concentrates on it feels more like a short story in its own right. The writing is pretty good throughout, other than too much use of Applejack's name and the occasional silly reference (Herman's Hermits?). And AJ's increasing survival skills are interesting to follow once the pace picks up as we get into the middle section.

Also, this fic contains perhaps the best AJ hat scene I've ever read. But then that's Mother of Invention all over: it's full of great bits, but they don't quite gel together into one great whole.


  1. That was a rather nice shout-out by the BBC that did not feel out of place or cringeworthy. Surprising that it mentioned Sonata Dusk, being a new character.

    1. That surprised me a little bit, too. Either someone knows their stuff, or they just did a quick skim of EqD. :P

  2. Mother of Invention is certainly a strange beast. It has a lot of great stuff, but it also tries to do way too many things at once.

    1. On the plus side, I can forgive a lot for a hat scene like that...

  3. Hold on, hold on. Can you have a round-up of one? Like, if you have one sheep in a field, can you round him up? Isn't this more of a spotlight?


    1. As of right now, the link doesn't work anyway, 'cause of Super Edgy DDOS Hackmeisterz, which means that for practical purposes this is a round-up of zero. So it's all a bit hypothetical. :P

      But since you ask: third corridor down, fourth door on the left, fifteenth stack, shelf JW5, third jar. The one with "Beware of the Leopard" on the label.