Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 88: Where We're Going, We Don't Need Words

All being well, I'll be on holiday when this post goes up, so don't be too annoyed if I seem to ignore your comments – it's just that it's a pain using this site on a phone. I'll try to remember to respond to any that need responding to when I get back in the New Year. There are five fics in my sights this time around, and they are:

I Think I Died Today by eLLen
Six To Eight Weeks Dungeon by ocalhoun
Blank Book by Regidar
Harissa by Orbiting Kettle
The Sidewalks of Noo Yoke by scoots2

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Fanfic reading: To Be the Candle

I think it's probably about time I did another reading of one of my stories. For a change, I haven't chosen to do a fic that's been particularly successful. In fact, To Be the Candle has by some distance the lowest view count of all 20 of my published stories – a mere 140 when I last looked. This is a [Dark] story, told from the point of view of OC Silver Buck. The reading lasts a little over ten minutes.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 87: Kindness Shared Will Unite Us Through Each Day

Not a lot to say about the stories I'm reviewing here this time around, other than that the fics I've read include a couple based on the alternative timelines we saw in the S5 finale, and that they vary considerably in age, subject matter and style. I hope you enjoy these reviews, and I wish a very happy and merry Hearth's Warming to you all. :) This week's batch runs to five stories, and they are as follows:

Rainbow Dash: Equestrian Hero by Hopeful_Ink_Hoof
I Was Nothing by ROBCakeran53
You Lose Some, You Winsome by Arwhale
Fluttershy's Tail Extension by The Usurper
A Draconequus' Guide to Immortality by ArgonMatrix

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Comic mini-review: MLP Holiday Special 2015

MLP Holiday Special 2015 comic cover
Nice to see Spike get a cover spot for a change
Come on, IDW, can't you call this a Hearth's Warming Special? That minor gripe out of the way, what we have here is not the all-Katie Cook comic that previews suggested, but something more akin to an anthology. The linking factor is that they're all Christmassy tales told by a snowbound Twilight and Spike. Cook does draw part of the comic, but other tales are illustrated by Andy Price, Agnes Garbowska and Brenda Hickey. The best is probably the story featuring Rainbow Dash as a reindeer – she really does look adorable like that. Definitely a comic of warm fuzziness rather than epic adventure, but none the worse for it. Nice going, guys. ★★★★

Saturday, 19 December 2015

New story by me: Shining Armor's Amour's Armour

"Shining Armor's Amour's Armour" cover pic
Cover art: Last Stand [Speedart] by Mithrandir730. CC by-nc-sa 3.0
I was hoping to get one more story out before the end of the year, and I've just about managed it. This is in fact my 20th Fimfiction publication, though that number is somewhat misleading as two of my "stories" are actually anthologies. This one was suggested by a silly exchange in a thread on someone's blog (which I now can't find), and for some ridiculous reason I actually went ahead and wrote it.

Shining Armor's Amour's Armour by Loganberry
Cadance, Shining Armor, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Pipsqueak
Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 2k words; Dec 2015; Teen
The Crystal Empire's Royal Couple are popular, successful and happy in their marriage. As if that wasn't irritating enough, they're also very good with words. The problem is, one of the words they'll need today is "Armageddon". Well, more or less.
This is where I'd usually ramble on a bit about what the story was about. There isn't a great deal of point this time, as it's not really about anything. At least, not unless you consider an excuse for some really terrible puns to qualify in itself. The [Teen] rating is conservative, by the way, and is only there at all because of some rather tame nudge-wink dialogue between Cady and Shiny.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 86: Today I Planned a Roundup and It's Just For You

This is the penultimate PR before Christmas, but don't expect anything too seasonal next week. I did briefly entertain the idea of making it a Hearth's Warming Special edition, but my various health woes stymied me a bit. This week, I bring you six tales, several of them by writers with considerable reputations in the fandom. I'll tell you now that one of them gets a five – though to find out which that is, you'll need to read on.

NIGEB by Aquaman
Excessive Worry by Piquo Pie
Big Mac Reads Something Purple by Bad Horse
The Savage Way by Horse Voice
Sweetie Belle's White Knight by danceswithknives
Scamming and Selling by Gleaming

Monday, 14 December 2015

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #23: Fluttershy and Applejack

MLP Friends Forever comic issue #23 main cover
Amy Mebberson's cover is suitably cute, too
We're back to Friends Forever territory now, with this issue teaming up two of the Mane Six. There's not a huge amount to say about this one, but that's not necessarily a criticism. It's what you'd hope for from a Friends Forever comic, with some cute artwork by Tony Fleecs, some heart-warming friendship moments with AJ and 'Shy and a mildly silly storyline that doesn't tax your brain too much. There's the odd small reference and cameo, but nothing all that startling. The pigasus herself is really rather adorable, too. A nice, relaxing read. ★★★

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Book review: The Art of Equestria (Mary Jane Begin)

The Art of Equestria front cover
I suppose a Twilight-themed cover was kind of inevitable
Mary Jane Begin has been best known in the My Little Pony fandom for her Under the Sparkling Sea, a large-format picture book containing a fairly simple text but truly beautiful artwork. A second book in similar vein is due next year, but before that she's brought us The Art of Equestria. This is a substantial tome which can be obtained for £13.71 from The Book Depository, a nice discount from its £18.99 RRP. But is it worth the price? Follow me past the break to find out!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 85: You Can Go Your Own Way

Would you believe it's a week since the last Ponyfic Roundup? Okay, you probably would. I'm still not in the best of shape health-wise, so it could be a little while before I get things entirely back on track here. Nevertheless, my little backlog of already-read fics allows me to present reviews of the two stories I promised you last time, plus three more. As they say on a certain TV channel of our acquaintance: let's go!

Pirates For A Day by DawnFade
Do It Mattered If I Is? by KitsuneRisu
2 + 2 = Fish by FlanChan
Tea & Crumpets by iluvponies35
Fact or Fanfiction by Tumbleweed

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Logan Reviews: My Little Pony Season 5

It was always going to happen sooner or later. This is a spoken review of S5 of MLP:FiM, lasting a smidgen over 13 minutes. It's not intended as a deeply considered analysis of every last detail of the season, but rather as a more general overview of the aspects that most affected my feelings about it. And yes, you get my favourite and least favourite episodes into the bargain.

It's possible that I may do more of these on occasion in the future, although I intend to keep most of my reviews in written form. A lot will depend on how this one is received. Don't expect me to go shelling out the best part of £100 for a posh microphone, though. Ain't gonna happen!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A Worthy Attribute?

Although I didn't mention it at the time of publication, I tried an experiment with my most recent published story. I took a deliberate stylistic decision with The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking that I hadn't taken with any of my other ponyfics. Nobody has remarked on it, so I'll discuss it briefly in today's post. Here's an example:
“You sound just like Twilight,” Applejack muttered.
Notice anything? Maybe not – but this is actually the first story I've written where I've deliberately consistently used that particular format of dialogue attributions. If you read the fic, you'll see that I put the character's name before the verb every time. You won't find a "muttered Applejack" or similar anywhere in the text. (Well, unless I've overlooked one!)

My story has been well received, in truth better than I thought it would be (+32/-0 as I type), and though I don't think my stylistic choice is a particularly significant reason for that, I do wonder whether it was a factor in my readers finding that the story read reasonably smoothly. What follows is, of course, pure speculation, but pure speculation is fun.

Let's look at some highly regarded ponyfics. First up, Cold in Gardez's Naked Singularity. Aha! This is consistent on "Twilight said". Let's try The Descendant's A Cup of Joe. This one's different: it's "said Joe" all the way. What about Skywriter's Derplicity? Again, "said Chrysalis". And Integration by Raugos? That one is nearly consistent on "said Caramel".

Okay. Now, let's try some professionally written stuff. Examining a few novels on my shelves: in Watership Down, Richard Adams is very consistent on "said Hazel". Terry Pratchett's The Truth follows the same course. Grant Naylor's Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers doesn't use tags that much anyway, but is inconsistent when it does, as is Lindsey Davis in Two for the Lions.

So, from this small and statistically enormously dodgy sample, the only writer of the eight who consistently uses the "Applejack muttered" format is Cold in Gardez. I therefore conclude that a contributory factor to The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking's success is that people reading it are subconsciously reminded of CiG, and thus a tiny bit of that far better writer's lustre rubs off on what I've written. QED. :P

The moral of the story seems clear: if you want your ponyfic to get a good reception, you should write like Cold in Gardez. Of course, if you can write that well, you probably don't need any advice from me!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 84: In the Place Where There Is No Darkness

Well, that was quite a season finale! I expect it to produce a lot of fanfic during the long hiatus that lies ahead. As for me: I haven't been well lately, but I have managed to keep up with my reading. I don't think a six-fic week is too bad a result in the circumstances. There are a couple of old favourites here, as well as some lesser-known fics from considerably more recent times. Will my persistence in searching for another of the elusive five-star-worthy stories be rewarded? Read on and find out!

Petriculture by Kwakerjak
Quizzical by JMac
My Little Pony by CluelessBrony
TLTC by Astrarian
To The Victor Go the Spoils by cogwheelbrain
Pets With Pints by IndiBrony

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

UK of Equestria's overall S5 ranking list

Quick note: my health is not great at the moment, so don't be too startled if this blog doesn't quite keep to its usual schedule. I have this week's Ponyfic Roundup already written and scheduled, so you'll get that anyway, as well as a couple of stories I've held back for the following week. Don't necessarily expect much else, though. Right; onward!
Over on the UK of Equestria forums, we asked people to rank Season Five's episodes from 1-24 (counting double episodes as one). After 17 people had responded, I collated the responses and worked out a mean score. Below you can see the results.

The tiers work like this: any episode with an average rating of fifth or above gets five stars. Then down to 10th, four stars; down to 15th, three; down to 20th, two; and those episodes ranked below 20th on average suffered the dreaded one-star rating.

Just for fun, I also worked out the standard deviation, to see which episodes were the most and least controversial. The lowest SD was for "Amending Fences", which everyone had in their top nine. The highest was for "Tanks for the Memories", which garnered rankings ranging from second to dead last.

1. Amending Fences
2. Crusaders of the Lost Mark

3. Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?
4. Slice of Life
5. The Cutie Re-Mark
6. The Mane Attraction

7. Rarity Investigates!
8. The Cutie Map
9. Bloom & Gloom
10. Hearthbreakers
11. Castle Sweet Castle
12. The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone
13. Scare Master
14. The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows
15. Make New Friends But Keep Discord
16. Brotherhooves Social
17. Tanks for the Memories

18. Party Pooped
19. Canterlot Boutique
20. Made in Manehattan
21. The Hooffields and McColts

22. What About Discord?
23. Appleoosa’s Most Wanted
24. Princess Spike