Thursday, 31 March 2016

Episode review: S6E01&02: "The Crystalling"

Sunburst and Starlight Glimmer
"Is that your hat? The one with WIZZARD on it?"
After a rather shorter hiatus than many of us believed we'd be stuck with this time around, Season Six of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic got under way last Saturday. (As mentioned last week, this review is late as I've been away.) New showrunner Josh Haber, who wrote the S5 finale, was also responsible for the S6 opener. It's fair to say that it produced quite a few talking points, so come with me past the break for a bit more.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #26: Shining Armor and Blueblood

MLP Friends Forever comic #26 sub cover
The Sub cover is by Sara Richard. Of course I bought it!
Before I get on to the review, a PSA: I'll be away over the Easter break, so although I will (I hope) get to see the start of Season Six on time, the premiere review will be a few days late. So don't worry: it'll be late, yes, but it will be up before the following weekend!

Thanks to yet more messing about with release dates, the latest Friends Forever comic came out on the same day as main-series issue #40. And no, I still don't understand how something as dysfunctional as the comics industry stays in business. Bad news to start off with: it's only 20 pages. Why it's two short I don't know, but I hope that doesn't become the norm. Anyway, Jeremy Whitley, Tony Fleecs and Heather Breckel look a promising team and so it proves here. You really need to find Blueblood's character amusing to enjoy this comic, but if you do then you probably will. The story moves along at a good pace, the artwork is good and there's a nice little twist. (Also a potential loose end to be picked up by a longer arc sometime...) This was a really good read, and it rates a strong four. Easily recommended. ★★★★

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 100: End of a Century

On 26 March 2014, I posted the first Ponyfic Roundup. In the two years since then, a few things have been tweaked and I've probably become a little less generous with my ratings — but in essence PR remains what it always was. I'm not sure whether I'd have believed you if you'd told me in 2014 that I'd still be making these posts now, but I still enjoy reading ponyfic — I don't think I could continue if I didn't — and so PR isn't going anywhere any time soon. (There won't be one next week, though, because of the Easter holiday.)

Now, one of the things I've tried to avoid (though I didn't do too well in PR 1!) is only reviewing stories that are big enough and old enough to look after themselves. I do review those, but I also really want to give some exposure to fics that don't get noticed by the great and good of Fimfiction. With that in mind, Ponyfic Roundup 100 is devoted to overlooked stories. All six of the fics I look at here had under 100 views at the time I downloaded them. (They were all at least a month old, so none were chosen just because they were very new.) Was it a good idea? Well... probably not. Still:

Are you a Robot? by FIMScourge
Who Could Win A Rabbit by Honeycomb
Flutterball's Conquest by PlanetKiller
The Second Annual Cherry Hill Championship by Lore-Lei
Champion; Thy Name Is Angel by Black Hailstorm
Silver Star and the Temple of Crimson Forest by SilverStarApple

★: 2 | ★★: 4 | ★★★: 0 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #40

IDW My Little Pony comic issue #40 main cover
Brenda Hickey's main cover is itself a lot of fun
The latest My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic from IDW is something a bit different from the epic, multi-part adventures we've often associated with the main series. This time around, it's a one-shot in which Ted Anderson and Brenda Hickey combine to give us a sweet little tale of just how Twilight came to look after Spike in the first place. It's quite adorable, and the artwork is bright and colourful, too. In truth, this reads a bit more like a Friends Forever issue than something from the main series, but never mind. It's on the three-star/four-star boundary, but in the end I was sufficiently charmed by it to give it the higher rating. ★★★★

Sunday, 20 March 2016

UK PonyCon 2016 will be in Leeds

UK PonyCon revealed today the dates and venue of its 2016 iteration. The convention will be held over the weekend of 22-23 October at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds. Ticket details and prices have not been released yet, but will presumably be at some point in the next few weeks.

This is a slight surprise to me, as given that BUCK is in Manchester and BronyScot is in Edinburgh, I was expecting UK PonyCon to go for somewhere in the southern half of Britain. That said, Leeds was one northern city I did think was a possibility, so it is only a slight surprise.

From a personal point of view, unfortunately this is likely to make it a fairly expensive convention to attend. Train tickets will cost considerably more and Leeds city centre has a reputation (which on a quick search seems justified) as an expensive place for hotel rooms. Commuting in from Wakefield/Bradford is a possibility, though.

It is in fact possible to do a day trip to Leeds — it's about three hours each way, which would give almost a full day at the con — but that would only be realistic for the Saturday, given the absence of Sunday morning trains. I'd very much like to stay for the weekend, of course.

Still, from a general point of view I think Leeds is a solid choice of host city. Very well connected by rail and road, and reasonably accessible from most parts of the UK. It's also a place I haven't been to in many, many years, so it might be quite fun to see how the city has changed since the 1990s!

Two minutes of pony (well, nearly) in the latest S6 teaser clip

As before you're getting this text link because the thumbnail could (at least by picky people) be considered mildly spoilery — it gives away the location of the premiere, for one thing. Not that much actual new stuff is revealed in the video, but it does at least semi-confirm that one character will be along for the ride, as well as apparently showing another step up in animation quality. All in all, it's not a bad way to get us more interested in the upcoming season.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 99: You and I in a Little Toy Shop

I'd hoped to enter the latest Writeoff MLP minific contest, but didn't because the chosen prompt ("It's Your Funeral") was the one I least wanted, for a variety of reasons. It's a shame, as half the Writeoffs are now non-pony anyway so pony minific contests don't come around that often. I've entered a small flashfic contest elsewhere instead. What I'd really like, though, is a contest specifically for stories between 1,000 and 2,000 words — a length neither Writeoff format allows — since that's something I enjoy both reading and writing.

Anyway, this is the final two-digit Ponyfic Roundup ever, at least unless I switch to hex. This week there are seven stories under review, to wit:

Going Home by GrassAndClouds2
Help! I'm Trapped in a Shipping Card Game! by Belgerum
Rough in the Diamond by Sharp Spark
Where Did Daddy Go? by UniqueSKD
The Wrong Side of Tomorrow by Pascoite
Hatred would be better... by Gabriel LaVedier
Apple Surprise by Derpator

★: 1 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

No more M. A. Larson to blame!

M. A. Larson confirms that he won't be back for S6
What I really want to write here is spoilery, argh!
I expect this is old news to many by now — but I hadn't realised, until seeing this tweet by the man himself, that M. A. Larson will not be writing any episodes in Season Six. One by one, the S1 veterans leave the stage, and this particular departure may be the most keenly felt of all. Still, what a way to go out — with what I consider the best episode in S5, and one of the all-time classics in "Amending Fences". Thank you, Mr Larson. You've done yourself, us and the show proud.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

New music: "Red Fire" (Reverbrony ft. BriLizyT)

I haven't made the posts as I'd been expecting to about music from Horse Music Herald. That's partly because the site seems to be reflecting the popular image of the fandom in being more interested in loud stuff I have no idea about (breakcore?) than genres I actually like. Give me some good pop, rock or orchestral tracks and I'll be there! Still, I did find this on YouTube itself — it reminds me slightly of Equestrian Lord's "Dragon's Greed" from three years ago. "Red Fire" is a bit harder than I tend to like, but the singer has such a powerful voice that I thought I'd give it a plug here. It's about a character who gets a crush on Celestia after seeing her raising the sun, which is a bit weird, but hey.

Friday, 11 March 2016

New story by me: Like a Flower to the World (Slice of Life; Pinkie Pie/OC)

Cover art adapted from Daisy Flowers Background from

I'm apparently supposed to write ponyfic from time to time, rather than just reading and reviewing it, so here's my latest effort. As usual from me, it's a short one-shot without gore, sex or interest world-shaking events. Details:

Like a Flower to the World by Loganberry
Pinkie Pie and OC
Slice of Life; 1k words; Mar 2016; Everyone
Newcomer Verdant Plateau is happy enough eating daisies. Pinkie Pie has other ideas.
Those of you who read my rather unsuccessful Writeoff minific for the "Things Left Unsaid" round will recognise this story immediately. It's obviously been expanded a fair bit, but substantial parts of it remain much as they were. It's all very slice-of-lifey, so probably of most interest to those who just want a fairly gentle read about Pinkie being Pinkie-ish without always being hyper.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 98: Walking in Memphis

With the announcement that Season Six of FiM will begin on 26 March, it's a nice coincidence that Ponyfic Roundup 100 will appear a few days earlier. If you're one of the few people who read all the way down these posts, you'll notice a small change I've made to the format right at the end. The reviews themselves, though, are as they were last week. This time around, I have six stories on the chopping block, and here they are:

The Liar by ChoppersTopHat
The Right Thing by Psya315
My Personal Hell - Mischief Patchwork by EyesoreForTheBlind
Hooves of Clay by iisaw
Can We Be Friends Again? by Just A Random Pegasus
A Little Prank. by RainbowDashX12345

★: 2 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 7 March 2016

Another S6 trailer released

As the hype builds for Season Six of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (hey, I have to use the whole name occasionally!), Discovery Family have put out another trailer for the new season. It doesn't seem to contain anything we didn't already know (with the possible exception of one bit featuring Spike), but the presentation is nice. It's all rather Game of Thrones, and is probably the most interesting promo DF have yet put out for the show. Admittedly their promotion of it last year was dreadful, so it's a low bar to clear, but never mind!

(Note: The video is the YouTube re-upload by BroniesDE. The official version that Yahoo put out earlier is, ridiculously, geo-locked. Okay, it's now up on the official MLP account, so I'm switching to that. Still juddery, though!)

BronyScot 2016 venue and dates announced

BronyScot has announced that this year's iteration of the convention will be held over the weekend of 19-20 November at the Glasgow Hilton Grosvenor Hotel. As was the case in 2015, the main convention day will be the Saturday, while the music event — "Rock Nessie" — will be held at an as-yet-unrevealed "proper gig venue" in the city on the Sunday. Tickets will be made available sometime next month — I wouldn't be surprised if that were code for "just after BUCK finishes".

As those who've read my ramblings over the last couple of years will know, I've been impressed by the way BronyScot has been run. As can be seen from its admirably clear and open 2015 Financial Statement, the con operates on a budget that probably wouldn't pay for an hour of BUCK, yet succeeds by recognising what it is — and what it isn't. For several reasons, I doubt I'll be able to attend BronyScot 2016 myself, but I do wish it another successful year.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Season 6 begins on Easter Saturday!

That's 26 March, folks — just three weeks from now! Discovery Family have put out a teaser trailer for the premiere: it goes without saying that you should avoid it if you don't want to be spoiled. Some interesting stuff in there, though. I have a feeling that this season may end up destroying even more headcanon than previous ones. :P

Not-actually-new music: "Octavia's Lullaby" by Eccentrifuge

I know I've been bigging up Horse Music Herald recently, and I'm most definitely still following them — but I didn't find this particular track there. Actually, it was mentioned in the depths of an EQD comment section about something else entirely — but, having heard it, I couldn't really pass it by. It's an old song now (uploaded June 2012), but it holds up extremely well. A beautifully gentle and melodic antidote to the thiscore/thatstep/t'otherhouse stuff this fandom does so often. Note that the artist is now known as "LookOutLondon" on YouTube.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 97: The Icaranian Sun Salutation

I was going to write about international cricket here, what with the World Twenty20 coming up, but events have conspired against me. My very silly story Shining Armor's Amour's Armour has been given a Seattle's Angels feature, with Cerulean Voice describing it as a "ridiculous gem". (I can't think of a greater compliment.) This has bumped it more than 100 extra views, which makes a big difference to a writer like me. Mind you, I'm now being pestered to do a reading of it, and that's going to be a nightmare to get right!

Back to the usual stuff, and I have no fewer than seven fics to review this week — with several real crackers among them. The stories are:

The Rose by Bradel
Nineteen Neighty-Four by Blueshift
Souvenir by TinCan
The Mating Habits of Equus Pegasus by Juntao112
The Confessions of Clyde Pie, Prince of Rock by Casca
In the Lissome Light by Frickadilly
Infernal Machines by Skywriter

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 3 | ★★★★★: 1