Monday, 31 August 2015

New story by me: The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking

Cover image for The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking
Hat adapted from this resource by ZuTheSkunk (CC by-sa 3.0)
Remember when I published To Be the Candle and said that I'd had a silly story in the works for a while? Well, this is that story. Partly inspired by a comment on a Fimfiction post, no less, and the first fic I've written in which Applejack is the main character. Celestia knows how I'm going to handle her voice if I ever do a reading of this story, but I'm not going to worry about that now.

The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking by Loganberry
Applejack and Twilight
Comedy/Slice of Life; 2k words; Aug 2015; Everyone
An existentialist fruit story. Starring Applejack. Of course.
After a hard day's work in the apple orchard, Applejack likes to relax with a good book. This time, she's ditched the adventure stories for something altogether more profound. It's a good job she has Twilight to talk to.

This is one of those fics that started out with me writing a silly paragraph and ended up turning into a published story. Sometimes those work (It Doesn't Matter Now followed that route) and sometimes they don't, but they're usually the stories I find the most fun to write. This one was partly inspired by this comment of JohnPerry's, so I suppose it has some marginal connection with It Doesn't Matter Now anyway. There's probably a nice philosophical point to be made there, but I'm too tired to think of one. Ask Applejack.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Project Horizons is complete

Somber's Fallout: Equestria side story Project Horizons has been completed after four years. I don't have a lot of interest in reading it myself even when it turns up in a sensible format on Fimfiction – 1.7 million words is ridiculous, and I'm told huge swathes of the story are miserably depressing anyway – but considering that this fic was already well under way when I joined the fandom in 2012, I think its completion deserves a mention.

Friday, 28 August 2015

And the winner is...

...The Immortal Game by AestheticB.

Yeah, I know I whinged a little about dark stories in my earlier post, so why am I choosing what seems to be the darkest on my shortlist? Partly because I've wondered about it for ages and never got round to reading it, and so this might actually get me to read the damn thing at last. Partly because it got a four-star review from Chris – that's all I know; I haven't read the review. And partly because it seems to promise plenty of Celestia, and if the show can't provide that then fanfic will have to do it!

I'll get started next week, all being well. Updates will generally be over on my Fimfiction blog rather than here, since more people read that and since Fimf's commenting setup is better.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

BronyScot moves to two days... sort of

Some (to me) surprising news from BronyScot: although originally announced as a one-day convention, it will now be spreading into Sunday, with the "Rock Nessie" concert being held that evening. They're doing this, they say, to allow more space for other events on the Saturday. Tickets for Rock Nessie cost £10 and are available from the BronyScot webstore.

This is an interesting move, but also a slightly risky one. I have faith in BronyScot's ability to pull off the organising side of things, but the change is likely to mess up some people's travel plans, and certainly their budgets. An extra night in a hotel, plus a little more food and local travel, could easily add £80 or so to the total cost. Given that there doesn't seem to be anything happening during Sunday daytime, that's a lot of extra money for people to find, especially for an otherwise inexpensive convention.

And, of course, anyone whose personal circumstances mean that they can only go for Saturday will now miss out on Rock Nessie altogether. I'm now almost thankful that I finally decided that I couldn't go, since I might have ended up in that boat. I wouldn't have been too happy about that, since the concert would have been a major part of the attraction for me.

BronyScot now runs on 21 and 22 November, so the announcement has been made a little under three months to go. It's probably made the change just soon enough for it not to cause really serious problems – another month might have been a very different story – so with luck the majority of attendees will be able to extend their stays should they wish.

Reading back over what I've written, it does seem a little negative. I don't mean it to be: I certainly don't wish any ill on BronyScot, which has impressed me since its founding with its level-headed approach and affordable pricing. I still expect the con to be a success, and I hope that it will be enough of one to continue (should its organisers wish) in future years. If so, I may even get there one day myself!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Lauren Faust will be attending Equestria LA!

I don't normally post about specific guests at non-UK pony conventions, since there are far too many of them to keep up with. Besides, it just depresses me. You guys over in Leftpondia get more and bigger cons, with more guests, at lower prices all the time. But this is a bit of a special case, because EQLA have announced a last-minute addition to their already stellar line-up of guests: a certain Lauren Faust.

Since it's only just over a week until the convention starts, this is a really late announcement. Faust hasn't attended a pony con since, I think, 2012, and it'll be very interesting to see what her programme is for this one. EQLA already had an amazing guest line-up (Amy Keating Rogers, M. A. Larson, Bonnie Zacherle, Tabitha St. Germain, John de Lancie... the list goes on) and this just makes it even more impressive.

Oh, and just to upset my compatriots even further: a three-day ticket to EQLA costs $60. That's £38. £38! For comparison, a weekend ticket to BUCK is £100, which converts to about $154. As I said at the start, if you're an MLP fan in the US – at least, if you're within any sort of reach of any of the large conventions – you really don't know you're born. :P

Ponyfic Roundup 71: Pony was a Warrior

Pascoite made this interesting post over on Chris's blog the other day. As with quite a few posts there, it's a bit over my head at times, but it's certainly worth a look. My reviews, for what it's worth, are unashamedly of the "Did Logan like this?" variety. I do try to say why I loved or loathed a fic, but detailed analysis is not really my thing. This week, there are five stories to consider:

The Midnight Run by midnightshadow
Through The Door by Regidar
Temporary Measures by ambion
Sunset Town by Art Inspired
Remembering by Yip

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Here's the liveblog shortlist

I had, if I'm honest, far more suggestions for this than I was expecting. Several dozen, actually. Thanks! That's pretty much made my mind up to go ahead with the liveblog. After a considerable amount of thought, I've narrowed the choice down to six stories. I'm sorry if a fic you particularly wanted to see me cover isn't on here, but that's not to say I'll never read it in a more conventional way. Who knows, I may even do another liveblog if this one works out.

The shortlist is:

A Bluebird's Song by Ardensfax
The Colour You Bleed by Kegisak
The Immortal Game by AestheticB
It Takes a Village by determamfidd
Project: Sunflower by Hoopy McGee
A Sweet Taste of Cake by The Descendant

You'll note the number of dark-tinged stories here. Come on, people, write some more long fics that aren't so bloody grim, will you? Anyway, I'll make my final decision later this week.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #33

Before the comic review, a fashionably late signal boost: go and have a look at Resolution, an Equestria Girls fic by xjuggernaughtx. It's not quite finished as I write this, but I did have a look at what is there and thought it was interesting. (It's on my RiL list, so will get a proper review... er... sometime.) Also, the author is a good guy and deserves more than 150 views on this fic. So shoo! I'll wait here until you get back.

Right? Right. The latest IDW comic, then.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic #32, subscription cover
Though I can't help thinking Flutters looks like a Muppet...
Last month, I reviewed comic #32. It wasn't very good, but I mostly bought it for the great cover. Same again this time? Well, nearly, yes. I really like Andy Price's subscription cover, so that's the one I picked up. The story itself is a bit of a mess, as you'd expect, though a more enjoyable mess than last month's issue. Tony Fleecs' art is decent, with one memorable page of Flutterbat by moonlight. Thom Zahler's story is meh: not the worst I've read by any means, but I can't help feeling that, for a B-movie comic, it's not B-movie enough. Heather Breckel's colours are fine as usual. Just scrapes a three, mainly for the art and the Twilight joke everyone's expected for years. ★★★

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Less than 50 days to go until UK PonyCon!

It's now just seven weeks until UK PonyCon 2015 (theme: Space) gets underway in Leicester. As this will be the only convention of any kind I'll be attending this year, I'm very much looking forward to it. Attendance is looking quite healthy, I have enough friends going to not feel terrified by the prospect and I know the city reasonably well. On top of that, the larger con area this year should mean more, well, space!

Not a lot else to say at this point, other than that I'm a (very small-scale) con sponsor for the first time. My name will be emblazoned on the rosettes for Best Stall and, hilariously enough, Best Artwork (Adult). No, not that kind of adult. Young pony, this is not that kind of convention. It didn't cost much, was a nice way to show some support for the con and – let's face it – is the only way I'm ever going to be associated with an art contest winner! :P

Friday, 21 August 2015

What long fic should I liveblog?

(NB: "You shouldn't. It's a horrible idea" is probably the best answer, but I'm going to ignore it.)

Over on Fimfiction, Soap Box is just starting a liveblog of Past Sins, and I quite like the idea of doing something similar. The idea would be to read maybe two chapters a week (dependent on chapter length) and then post my thoughts as I went along. This would take place on my Fimfiction blog rather than here, partly since Fimf's comments support is so much better than Blogger's.

Required criteria:
  • Not Mature-rated
  • Complete
  • Readable as a standalone fic
  • Not a story I've already read (see below)
Desirable criteria:
  • 100,000 words or longer
  • Not a crossover
  • Not an Equestria Girls fic
  • Published on Fimfiction

 I'm persuadable on the "desirable" criteria in truly exceptional cases, though I wouldn't get your hopes up too far. The "required" ones are, well, required.

Long fics I've already read, and which are therefore ineligible for consideration: Anthropology, Austraeoh, Eljunbyro, Fallout: Equestria, Flash Fog, The Games We Play, Integration, It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door, The Life and Times of a Winning Pony, Mother of Invention, No, I Am Not A Brony, Get Me Outta Equestria!, Past Sins and Shipping and Handling. I'm currently reading The Luna Cypher, so that too is ineligible.

So... any suggestions, folks?

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 70: The Touchstones of Our Characters

My reviews are longer than they used to be, I note. I do want to keep them down to one paragraph, though, spotlights apart. Anyway, I managed to get six fics read this week, although that was only because one of them was absurdly short. I'm glad I did, since several were very good and the sixth story was... well, if you've already glanced at the list of titles below, you may have a fair idea of what's coming. Here's what I have for you today:

The Kindest Silence by horizon
Chess by KitsuneRisu
A Year's Harvest by Totally_Not_Furry
Honey Pie II: The Wrath of Chrysalis by SPark
Treehouse by PresentPerfect
Riverdream at Sunset: a Manuscript by GroaningGreyAgony

Monday, 17 August 2015

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #19: Rarity and the Cakes

MLP Friends Forever #19 subscription cover
Brenda Hickey's sub cover is rather fabulous
Finally I have a paper copy of this! In a contrast to last months's FlutterDash issue, this comic brings us a much more rarely seen team: that of Ponyville's finest designer and the owners of the town's bakery. Brenda Hickey rarely disappoints, and she does well here, though Rarity's faces do teeter on the edge of self-parody occasionally. Christina Rice's story is nicely paced and ponies are in character. Guest pony Touring Wind is nothing special, but she's okay. There's a funny G1 reference, and a blatant G3 one, but otherwise this is classic Friends Forever: relatively gentle, fairly low-stakes and quietly amusing rather than hilarious. The attractive artwork pushes it up into four-star territory. ★★★★

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 69: Without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all

First up, I had a message from someone (I didn't recognise the name) who thought I'd been harsh on Story Time with Whiteout (PR 61). As it's short, I read it again. They're right: it's not great, but it's not awful either, and the fic is hereby upgraded from one star to two.

Back to the usual fare of shorter fics this week. Although things are still fairly busy in the real world, they've at least settled down enough for me to get some ponyfic time. I managed to get through five fics, and I think there's a reasonable variety in here. The stories you'll find reviewed past the break are:

Dust by Pearple Prose
Derplicity by Skywriter
Apples Don't Fall Far from the Tree by BronyDad
Shine by The Descendant
Pony Poets by teamidris

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Comic reviews may be delayed

IDW have yet again made a hash of their shipping to the UK, and judging by what retailers are saying, we may not get either Friends Forever #19 or main series #33 until the 19th. I have bought FF #19 digitally from Comixology, so I may review that -- but I like being able to review physical comics, so that I can make inane comments about the dullness of the adverts in the back. =:P

Sunday, 9 August 2015

BronyBeeb presents: "Apples to the Core"

One of the ponyish things I do that isn't fanfic-related is converting My Little Pony songs to the BBC Micro, my favourite early-1980s 8-bit computer. It's awkward at times – the Beeb doesn't have the sound capabilities of the Commodore 64 or Game Boy, so there's a lot of compromising involved. It's fun when it works, though. This is my latest effort: "Apples to the Core". A little faster than the original (again, hardware restrictions) but otherwise not bad. Enjoy!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

My Little Collection exhibition

Plenty of you over there in Americaland will be off to BronyCon this weekend. I still have to wait more than two months for my own pony convention fix, but a week or so ago I did have a rather nice day out with a friend. We went to the My Little Collection exhibition at Dudley Museum and Art Gallery. This is a massive collection of pony stuff (well over 2,000 ponies) that's all the property of one ultra-dedicated collector... who, rather handily, just happens to work for the local museums service herself!

No photos of my own (galleries don't tend to like it), but there are quite a few on the official Facebook account. As you can see, most of the displays are of old-gen things, about which I'm not all that knowledgeable. (I did, however, manage to correctly identify both the original My Pretty Pony toys, as well as a set of the Europe-only My Little Pony Tales ponies on roller-skates.) There is plenty of G4 in there – how does a complete set of Build-a-Bear plushies and a complete set of Funko vinyls sound? – it's just overwhelmed by the older stuff!

If you live within reach of Dudley, I do recommend a visit between now and the exhibition closing at the end of October. Admission is free, and it's open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday. (Closed August Bank Holiday.) It's not an all-day thing, but spending an hour in there isn't at all difficult. I know, because we did!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 68: My Fine Four-Fetlocked Friend

Today's spotlight falls on a fic that I've known about for a very long time – as, I suspect, has just about everyone in the fandom – but which I just hadn't got round to reading until now. Part of that was because the prospect of reading 361,000 words about Cloud Kicker's sex life didn't appeal all that much. When I finally did read it, though, I discovered that it's rather more complicated than that...

The Life and Times of a Winning Pony by Chengar Qordath
Cloud Kicker, Derpy, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Others
Romance/Comedy/Slice of Life; 361k words; May 2012–Mar 2014; Teen
Cloud Kicker has a wild life, and Blossomforth gets dragged along for the ride.
This fic, narrated by CK herself, more or less created her fanon reputation. and it's not at all what I was expecting. The genre tags – and, indeed, the opening chapters – make it appear as though you're in for a knockabout comedy full of innuendo-laden gags. The jokes are present and correct, but this is really a relationship drama, with a side order of adventure thrown in.* A little tedious in the middle, but nevertheless it has parts which pack a real emotional punch. Notable for making Derpy a major character and not focusing on her clumsiness. A top-end three, just kept from a four by several stylistic annoyances, including pervasive use of the word "plot". ★★★

* This fic's appeal to casual browsers is harmed by knighty's stubborn (and wrong) insistence that [Slice of Life] and [Adventure] can't apply to the same story. Using both tags would have been appropriate here.

If you don't mind spoilers, come past the break for more!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Ten weeks to UK PonyCon

UK PonyCon 2015 is approaching now at a rate of knots, and I can't help being relieved that I already have my weekend pass and hotel booking sorted out. Early signs are that the convention will have a pretty healthy attendance, which I'm glad of: it deserves plenty of support. And this year I don't plan on aborting halfway because of illness! (Okay, I didn't plan for that to happen in 2014, either...) Since BUCK may be beyond me in 2016 thanks to hugely higher costs than a smaller con like this, I intend to make the most of my trip to Leicester!

Also, I had Jaffa Cake flavoured ice cream today. So there.