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

Petriculture by Kwakerjak
Twilight and Pinkie Pie
Slice of Life; 7k words; Mar–Jul 2012; Everyone
Twilight tries to figure out how rock farming works.
Unsurprisingly, this fic by the author of the enjoyable Flash Fog (PR 62) has been thoroughly overtaken by canon now, especially regarding Pinkie's reluctance to discuss her family. Despite that, treated as an [AU] story (the first in a series), Petriculture still works very well. There's a nice bonus for those with a little knowledge of wider MLP, and the major twist is well handled – I certainly didn't see it coming. Suffers noticeably from LUS, but its good points easily outweigh its relatively few faults. ★★★★

Quizzical by JMac
Twilight, Luna, Diamond Tiara, CMC and OC
Comedy/Slice of Life; 27k words; Dec 2012; Everyone
Quizzical Greystone must make some friends
The first of a considerable number of stories by JMac featuring proto-Maud (in some ways) Quizzical. Like many [Co/Sl] stories, it's mostly not that funny, but it is pretty entertaining. It's very much character-based, so it's good that said characters are... well... in character. I do have a little trouble with Sweetie Belle's major development, though that might just be my S5-era hindsight talking. Twist's lisp is oddly inconsistent, and we get "Sweetie Bell" a couple of times, but otherwise there's not much to complain about technically. A bit telly, but that's not something I mind. Not quite a four, because the non-pony OC in some late-story drama doesn't quite click (I seem to be alone in this!), but a very solid three and well worth reading. ★★★

My Little Pony by CluelessBrony
Celestia and Mane Six
Comedy/Human/Random; 1k words; Jun 2013; Everyone
A brony gets sent to Equestria, but it isn't what he expected. He never thought the world of My Little Pony would be so literal.
A rather weird first-person Brony-in-Equestria story. On the plus side, it's not as cringe-inducing as most BiE fics. On the minus side, the running joke is poor, you can see the end coming and I didn't find it anywhere near as funny as most of the Fimf commenters did. Worth a skim if you're curious, but no more. ★★

TLTC by Astrarian
Applejack and Fluttershy
Slice of Life; 2k words; Nov 2015; Everyone
Applejack notices an out of place noise in the orchard, and finds Fluttershy there. The reason for Fluttershy's visit turns out to be one Applejack hadn't thought of.
This is a pretty new story (from an author whose follower count is barely into double figures) but, a couple of passing references apart, it could have been written long ago. It's a gentle, simple, fairly slow-paced piece of slice-of-lifery which doesn't give us any stunning insights into either character but does treat them with respect. I guessed the reveal almost from the start, and if you need intense thrills, wild twists or deep character development from your ponyfic, this may disappoint. For those, like me, who can sometimes simply enjoy spending a bit of quiet friendshipping time with characters we already know well, it's a pleasant enough read to earn a three. ★★★

To The Victor Go the Spoils by cogwheelbrain
Celestia, Luna, Twilight and Sweetie Belle
Comedy/Random; 2k words; Nov 2015; Teen
During Celestia's long life she mastered the art of war and crushed every opponent. But she knows that one day she will find somepony better than her. With Luna and Twilight calling for her blood, will today be that day? And at what cost?
It's obvious where this is going from the very start, so it's a relief that the author makes it explicit about halfway through. It's a mildly amusing story along familiar lines, though nothing you're likely to remember for all that long. Sweetie Belle's angle on things is easily the best bit. ★★

Pets With Pints by IndiBrony
Angel, Winona, Gummy, Tank and Others [Owlowiscious and Opalescence!]
Slice of Life; 6k words; Sep 2015; Teen
Foul-mouth pets gather at Berry's Bar for a drink and talk trash.
The description made it abundantly clear what I was in for here. Despite quite a few references (including one to an IDW comic arc) there's not a great deal of effort to make the setting feel like Equestria: a character drinking Stella is an early sign of this. There's some blatant tense shifting, extreme said-ism ("shared" and "scorned", to name but two examples) and "bits" (the currency) is inconsistently capitalised. I was all ready to one-star this fic, but I did eventually start to enjoy it just a little thanks to its sheer stupidity. Gummy, in full-on "Slice of Life" mode, is particular fun. So, two stars it is. ★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup, stories reviewed will include DawnFade's Pirates For A Day and KitsuneRisu's Do It Mattered If I Is?


  1. Hey. Caught wind of your review on my fic from Singularity Dream's Master List (

    Never expected anyone to actually review my stuff, but I thoroughly appreciate it. It's nice knowing there are more scrutinising reviews.

    Just wanted to say I appreciate the criticism. I try to keep tenses consistent, and honestly, for the 'said-isms', I didn't even know that was a thing.

    I've had no lessons in writing - ever - so a lot of tropes completely bypass me. I'm trying to improve on it, and I realised as soon as I read this that the fic I'm currently working on is exactly the same in that respect. I've just been through the whole thing removing as many instances of it as I could.

    I realise my writing isn't spectacular, but I appreciate all levels of feedback to help me improve my craft.


    1. Thanks very much for your comment! I'd better underline that I rate based on how much I like a fic, rather than trying to be totally impartial about quality, and I'm usually not a big fan of reading about foul-mouthed drunks even in non-pony stories, so I was inevitably a bit biased. But I wanted to be fair and I never review a story I haven't read all of.

      For "said-isms", it's generally a good idea to keep those words simple. If you read a professional novel, you'll see that many authors use "said" most of the time, with a sprinkling of standard speech-related words like "muttered", "asked" and so on. Readers will just skim over that word and it won't get in the way of the story being smoothly read, whereas something more unusual (like "scorned") will interrupt the flow.

      I'd definitely recommend getting someone else to take a look at your story before you publish it. It doesn't have to be a professional editor or anything, but a second pair of eyes can often spot things you might not notice yourself. I've made exactly the same mistake, so I'm speaking from experience! :P

      Again, thank you for commenting, and you're very welcome. I'm a writer myself, so I know what it's like to read a review of a story -- I hope that helps me to keep the comments I make in my own reviews fair and reasonable.

  2. Hello. Like IndiBrony above me, I also only realised you'd reviewed my story thanks to Singularity Dream's Master List. Came as a bit of a surprise to me that one of my stories would get reviewed in the first place - it's not like I get a lot of traffic to my ponyfic!

    I just wanted to stop by and thank you for the review and rating. I'm happy that you understood my intentions with the story - quiet friendshipping, nothing big or special. I'm also happy that you found it pleasant enough to read.

    Thanks again!

    1. You're also very welcome! The Master List really is a remarkable document, and a great achievement of SD's – I've found out about plenty of reviews of my own fics from that.

      I'm rather a fan of quiet friendshipping stories, so one like yours had a good chance of appealing. I enjoyed it, and will be keeping an eye on your writing. :)