Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 138: About Time Too!

If you get a chance to see The Entire Universe with Professor Brian Cox and Eric Idle, take it. It's brilliant. In the UK, it'll be on the BBC iPlayer. If you're elsewhere, I'm afraid you're on your own. Anyway, fanfic time.

Read it Later story count: 484 (-2)

Assuming all goes according to plan, I'll be away on holiday and with limited internet access when this goes up. To tide you over until I return to make inane comments once more, have this expanded selection of ten ponyfic reviews. These stories are all taken from my RiL list and are all fics that I considered for previous PRs but passed over for one reason or another. Now they get their chance – and some of them take it with all four hooves...

.out.of.character. by shortskirtsandexplosions
Date Helpers Time! by Mysterious Stranger
Yes, Apple Bloom, there *is* a Santa Hooves by Lucky Dreams
Indigo Hooves by xjuggernaughtx
Lust by Taialin

The Great Ponyville Snowball Fight by 8686
FlutterMac by roygbiv
Pegasus by Grand_Moff_Pony
Final Draft by Post Script
The Keepers of Discord by Hoopy McGee

★: 1 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 4 | ★★★★: 3 | ★★★★★: 1

.out.of.character. by shortskirtsandexplosions
Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, Lyra and Mane Six
Dark/Random/Tragedy; 21k words; Dec 2014; Mature (Gore)
Something isn't right in Ponyville. Rainbow Dash has to get away.
This starts in the middle of a sentence; it's meant to. We follow Rainbow through a Ponyville that has been warped and twisted, but not by Discord. The blame lies closer to home, so to speak. You're more likely to have an inkling of what's going on if you've been around the fandom a long time. I'm sure I missed some things: why deer? The worst of it is that you constantly think you know where it's going, and then it actually proves to be nastier than that. The fic does feature a few of my pet SS&E peeves, such as his weird usage of the word "seethed", but on the whole it's oddly yet effectively written and makes extremely uncomfortable reading. All its tags are merited, so be warned. ★★★

Date Helpers Time! by Mysterious Stranger
Twilight, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Spike and Angel
Comedy/Romance/Slice of Life; 2k words; Oct 2014; Everyone
Twilight and Fluttershy are having their first date and Pinkie Pie wants to make sure it goes perfect.
Time for something a bit less harrowing. I wasn't a fan of Love Letters (PR 101) but was still somewhat curious about this sequel. Unfortunately, it has much the same problems: awkward writing getting in the way of much actual chemistry between Twi and 'Shy, pervasive LUS and so on. Also a song that hyperlinks to the Adventure Time theme. It's nice to see Pinkie and Spike interacting, something they don't do enough in the show, but that's about all I can say for it. ★

Yes, Apple Bloom, there *is* a Santa Hooves by Lucky Dreams
CMC, Applejack, Twilight and OC
Slice of Life; 3k words (sort of); Jan 2013; Everyone
"Dear Santa Hooves. My name is Apple Bloom, and I don't want presents for Hearth's Warming this year. I just want my cutie mark..."
This is a festive ponyfic classic, but a tale I've never actually read until now. This author has a great record with kids' stories, and he nearly pulls this off, too. The first half of the fic is superb, with humour and feels mixing effortlessly and the presentation (you really do need to read the original scanned-in version) just about spot on. Unfortunately, a long letter marks the point at which it becomes a little less funny and a little less satisfying. It's a high three, but reading it at Christmas adds warmth, so add a temporary fourth star if you do! ★★★

Indigo Hooves by xjuggernaughtx
OCs
Dark/Romance; 4k words; Jun 2016; Teen
Gearshift was falling apart before he met Test Tube. He’d lost the only mare who’d ever mattered to him. Now, with the scientist’s help, Gearshift is about to find out just how hard it is to put some things back together again.
I had to review this one sooner or later, because it actually had its genesis in the comments for PR 87! You could consider those spoilery, though, so maybe leave them until after you've read the fic. It's a goodie, too, with a distinctly ominous air throughout – you suspect what might be going to happen, or at least I did, but not quite the way in which it pans out. It feels quite old-SF at times, though magic is the key factor here. I suppose you could consider this a very superior crackfic. ★★★★

Lust by Taialin
Rarity and Fluttershy
Romance; 32k words; May 2015; Mature (Sex)
Rarity and Fluttershy have found love in each other, and after a wonderful date, they're ready to consummate in the most intimate way. Or rather, one of them is.
The "Flarity" trilogy began with the E-rated Listen (PR 54) and continued with the T-rated Language (PR 81); this is the M-rated finale, and perhaps my most personal five-star rating ever. Without going further than I'd like to on a public blog, I can empathise to some extent with Rarity – chapter five in particular blew me away. If you can't, I wouldn't be surprised if you rated this a little lower. Rarity narrates, and the language she's given is remarkable, even when it's ugly. The sex scenes are well done, and I like the resolution: there's no cheap magic trickery here. Although the author suggests you can read Lust on its own, I really do think you need to have read the prequels to get the full effect. There's one passing mention of a non-pony in a context that really squicked me, but I liked everything else here so much that it gets a five anyway. ★★★★★

The Great Ponyville Snowball Fight by 8686
Mane Six
Comedy/Slice of Life; 11k words; Jul 2014; Everyone
Applejack's Army battles Rainbow's Rebels for control of Ponyville
Despite being published in the middle of summer, this very entertaining comedy has a nice sense of winter silliness about it. It's a tad slow off the mark, but once it finds its rhythm it's enormous fun. It's quite show-style, in the sense that the backdrop really couldn't believably happen in our world but absolutely can in Ponyville. It actually feels older than it is, to the extent that Princess Twilight seems almost out of place here at first. Talking of princesses, Celestia and Luna get to play as well, and Luna in particular – despite her few lines – is fantastic. Add in a gentle Derpy subplot and a (slightly clunky) AppleDash joke. For the most part this is great. Read it while it's still winter for maximum effect. ★★★★

FlutterMac by roygbiv
Fluttershy, Big Mac, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, OC, Winona and CMC
Romance/Slice of Life; 4k words; Jul 2011; Everyone
When the whole brony thing started, few shippers wanted to ship Fluttershy & Big Mac. I'd like to think this fic changed that...
The presence of seven character tags and a wall-eyed mare named "Bright Eyes" is unsurprising when you realise this is story no. 314 on Fimfiction. These days, it's of interest largely for its historical value. The end is probably the best part and is fairly touching in its way, even if it inevitably feels hackneyed to today's readers. Characterisation is a bit wonky even for an old fic: Fluttershy giving a puppy as a present? There's also a lot of LUS. Still, it does predict both Twilight's ascension and the CMC getting their marks! ★★

Pegasus by Grand_Moff_Pony
Rainbow Dash
Equestria Girls/Slice of Life; 3k words; Mar 2016; Everyone
We rely on planes to take us places, but what if they didn't exist? More importantly, what if we didn't need them? What would it be like to fly on our own? (An EFNW contest entry)
A little after the events of the first EqG film, human!Rainbow Dash boards a plane and thinks about what it would be to be her equine counterpart. This is lovely, thoughtful stuff, though the conversation she has with her neighbour is slightly less interesting and is largely a frame on which Rainbow's inner thoughts hang. This TRG-inducted fic is recommended mostly to people who enjoy reading about the introspective, slightly less direct side of Dash. I'm one of them, hence the rating. ★★★★

Final Draft by Post Script
OC, Fluttershy and Other
Sad; 2k words; Dec 2013; Everyone
When an author moves on from a character, what happens to the character left behind?
A fantastic idea that doesn't quite come off in the execution. The narrator is teenage author xXImmortalCloudXx's first OC Nightshade, who is (inevitably) an overpowered alicorn. Cloud has now matured as a writer and has begun to use a less OP OC; we listen to Nightshade's feelings about this change. I was enthralled by the early pages, but the story never really comes to a satisfying conclusion and instead peters out into a rather clich├ęd final scene. Not quite a wasted premise, but an unfulfilled one. ★★★

The Keepers of Discord by Hoopy McGee
Discord, OCs and Celestia
Alternate Universe/Sad/Slice of Life; 11k words; Nov–Dec 2012; Teen
Being a statue can drive you mad, yes?
A highly regarded author, but one whose work I've apparently never reviewed before. On this evidence, I regret that. This Pony Fiction Vault tale is a pre-reformation Discord story, but once you embrace that it's a nice one, with the draconequus changing and – it seems to me – maturing in a quiet, understated yet believable way. For Discord, that's quite something! The various OCs are well handled, enough that I wish I knew more about their own lives. I'm not sure Discord's voice is always quite spot on, and Celestia (who stays in the background for most of the story) seems a tad reckless in her handling of such a dangerous being. I was also mildly disappointed to find the short second chapter and epilogue. They're certainly not bad, but I think the story is stronger if left at the end of chapter one. That would have been a four-star fic; as it is, it's a very high three. ★★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: Spotlight on Wellspring's Ptolemy – which has been on my RiL list for three years!

6 comments:

  1. I read through the story titles featured in every PR on the rare chance that I've read one of them. 'Lust' is one of them, although not sure I got round to finishing it. Sounds like it's worth giving the series another visit.

    Snowball fights with Luna sounds fun too :D. Enjoy your holiday!

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  2. It's nice to have someone else question that Discord voicing in The Keepers of Discord. It's a fine story, but I really can't get immersed in it because Discord just doesn't sound like himself. It's not terrible, but it's distracting to me. I like the OCs, but Discord just doesn't do it for me in that tale.

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    1. Discord is a horribly difficult character to get right, it seems. I've never quite dared try myself!

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  3. It is among the highest praise I could ever receive that I see a five star review from you, Logan, especially on what I consider to be my magnum opus of shipping. And it's perhaps even higher that this serves as validation for me from a third source that as I write more, I am, in fact, getting better.

    Unfortunately, Lust has had be fall into a sort of "Season Finale Syndrome"; I'm having problems developing a sequel because I set a high bar for myself. I'm working on one—as I have been for the last, geez, year and a half, I guess—but it's difficult since I need to build on the past but not be eaten up by its shadow.

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    1. You're very welcome! Even aside from my personal reasons for identifying with aspects of it, I think it was easily the best of the trilogy -- and neither of the other parts were bad.

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