Friday, 20 April 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Grannies Gone Wild"

I'm a day late with TRR this week, for no other reason than that I forgot about it. Sorry! Anyway, here we go again. I've dropped Michaelsety's review this week as, sadly, his non-native English has proved beyond me to interpret. On the plus side, I've added Batbrony back in – the formal reviews seem to have gone for good, sadly, but there's a hot take in the MLP Forums ep discussion thread that will do me.

Reaction to this episode was largely positive, with Cuddlepug a notable dissenter from the consensus.

Batbrony – generally positive ("a fun, solid, entertaining episode")

Cuddlepug – extremely negative (graded D-; "As episodes of Friendship is Magic go, "Grannies Gone Wild" is among the most pointless – and the most uncomfortable.")

Derpy News – fairly positive (graded B+; "just a funny episode and a breather one")

JDPrime22 – very positive (9/10; "The comedy was great, the writing was fun [...] Fantastic episode")

Louder Yay – positive (3/5; "superior filler [...] just Fun With Colourful Talking Ponies")

MLEEP Reviews – wildly positive (10/10; "an overall very entertaining and worthwhile episode")

Rainbine – mildly positive (6/10; "a very simple episode")

Rhythm Red – positive (8/10; "a fantastic lesson, and a creative storyline")

ShutterflyEQD – positive ("I really enjoyed each of [the Golden Horseshoe Gals'] personalities")

TheDragonWarlock – positive (graded B; "a fun episode all around ... Never listen to Applejack; ever.")

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 199: In the Valleys of the Land of Song

Title explanation: this song

The weather seems at long last to be taking a turn for the better. After what seems like an eternity of cold, grey murk, the sun has been seen this week – and by this time of year, with sunset not until after 8pm, when it does come out it can feel very warm even if the air temperature is still in the teens. However, this is not Weather Roundup, so let's move on.

Read it Later story count: 336 (-2)

Thanks in part to finally getting a new mobile with a screen big enough to read on without squinting, I've managed another five-fic week! If you're old enough, you may dimly recall a period when I did this all the time. Quite a mix of themes and characters this time, though one fic is there specifically because of one I reviewed last week. The five are:

Life Choices by UnlicensedBrony
Anytime by Super Trampoline
Words Unspoken by wille179
I Don't Hate Cutie Marks by Forces of Darkness
She Said No by Kodeake

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

Monday, 16 April 2018

Episode review: S8E05: "Grannies Gone Wild"

The four Golden Horseshoe Gals stand in a group listening to Goldie Delicious
Granny's mane looks really, really strange like that
Last week, we had an episode with a team-up I'd wanted for years but which clearly failed to be a classic, even if I did soften my initial dislike of it on repeat viewing. This time around we had "Grannies Gone Wild", a title I'm a little surprised Hasbro approved. This was a G. M. Berrow episode, which suggested something fairly light, and we had Granny Smith with her friends and a side order of AJ/Dash friction. Sounded like a recipe for fun. In the event...

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Group plug: "8-bit Ponies"

A couple of days ago, a Fimfiction member named palelordhiphis (who to my knowledge I'd never previously encountered) and I had a conversation in the Shameless Self-Promotion group. They'd posted some really nice Apple ][ pony graphics, and in another thread I'd posted a few of my BBC Micro song covers – including the one above. SweetAl Belle suggested a group for those who like 8-bit computers and ponies and palelordhiphis went right ahead and created one. And, well, here it is! You can find both the threads I've mentioned in it, but with luck there'll be more in the future.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Text Review Roundup: "Fake It 'Til You Make It"

I keep forgetting to mention this, but it pleased me greatly that Amy Keating Rogers opened a tweet recently with the words "Hey everypony!" Some people in the fandom get amazingly worked up about that sort of language being used among humans, but thanks to AKR's tweet I can now respond most eloquently: Hah!

Who knows whether Treehouse will mess up TRR once again? Until that happens, though, I'll carry on in my usual manner. No ArthurCrane once again, so I will now assume he's called a halt. Batbrony, on the other hoof, has mentioned that things are pretty hectic in his life right now, so I may check in on him again. One new reviewer: JDPrime22 from Fimfiction.

Reaction to this episode was distinctly mixed.

Cuddlepug – middling (graded B-; one of Cuddlepug's non-review reviews)

Derpy News – mixed (graded B-; "had the potential to be an A-episode, but it gets derailed by Fluttershy getting too much into [her] characters")

JDPrime22 – broadly positive (7/10; "we've already gone over similar lessons before for Fluttershy [but] still a good episode")

Louder Yay – mildly negative (2.5/5; "Superb VA work from Andrea Libman [but a m]issed opportunity for some rare extended [Fluttershy and Rarity] interaction")

Michaelsety – fairly positive (graded B; looks nice and background ponies are good, but the moral isn't clear)

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (9/10; "managed to do right what 'Putting Your Hoof Down' did wrong")

Rainbine – very positive (9/10; "genuinely funny [and the] moral [...] is very good")

Rhythm Red – mildly positive (7/10; "despite some of the episode being a little unrealistic, overall there were plenty of laughs")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("we get to see [Fluttershy's] confidence go just a little bit too far. Though, I sure am enjoying the new, confident, Fluttershy!")

TheDragonWarlock – mildly negative (graded C+; "has good ideas in it, but it's mired in all the massive plot holes and inconsistencies")

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 198: Meeting Mr Miandad

Title explanation: this song

I may not have enjoyed the most recent show episode as much as I'd have liked, but I am still very much on the ride as far as FiM as a whole is concerned. Some good people have decided recently to call it a day (Ceffyl Dwr, to take just one example) and I wish them the very best in their future writing endeavours.  But as for me? I'll still plug away with the ponyfic reviews, so here goes.

Read it Later story count: 338 (-6)

I've done a bit better this week than I did for the last PR a fortnight ago, and have finally got back up to five fics in a week again, so let's get cracking. Today for your delight and delectation, I have reviews of the following stories:

Please, Count to Five by Magello
The Sun is A Star by Night Doughnut
Berry Punch's House Can Talk by Glimglam
"We Never Had a Single Fight" by oh pony
Feeling That Way by Super Trampoline

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

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

We may be getting Treehoused again

Apparently, Treehouse (the channel that broadcasts FiM in Canada) is running on a two-episodes-per-weekend schedule again. If they keep on doing this, they'll overtake the US by the end of April. This doesn't really bother me – after all, it feels as though half the fandom has already seen every episode from six to 13 anyway thanks to the leaks – but it does mean I'll have to think about how I'm going to play this as far as Louder Yay is concerned.

My intention right now is to stick with the US schedule for episode reviews. Writing two a week would just tire me out. What happens to Text Review Roundup I have no idea – last time we had this situation I had to abandon it as it became unworkable, so be prepared for that to happen again. I quite enjoy doing TRR, though, and as far as I'm aware nobody else in the fandom does such a thing, so I'll keep it going if I can.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Episode review: S8E04: "Fake It 'Til You Make It"

Fluttershy and Rarity hugging, both smiling with closed eyes, in front of greenery
See this picture? This is what I wanted from this episode
Season 8's first two episodes had been reasonably entertaining without blowing me away, so I was anxious for something really great to assuage any worries that we might be in for another S6-style run of mehness. I was also nervouscited that "Fake It 'Til You Make It" would be a Fluttershy/Rarity episode – perhaps only the third the show has had after "Green Isn't Your Color" and "Filli Vanilli". The writer was Josh Hamilton, whose record with me has been mixed. How did he do? Past the break I'll give some brief thoughts.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Potential new blog subtitle!

YouTube screenshot by someone insisting that anyone who likes post-S5 ponies is "not actually a real fan"
Annoyingly, this wasn't around on 1st April. (Mind you, neither was I.) So I can't just change my blog subtitle to "Not actually a real fan" and see how long it takes anyone to notice. Considering how few people have ever remarked on the name of the blog or the reason why its title bar is that particular shade of yellow, it might have been a while...

Have some context, therefore – this is, of course, from YouTube. Please note that it is a fact that as well as not being a "true fan", I now hate Fluttershy. And Celestia. And Scootaloo. And the whole darn lot of 'em, apparently. I like post-S5 Pony, so I cannot be a real fan. Not sure what I've been doing for the past six years, but hey ho. Sorry about that. Look out on Wednesday for Ponyfic Roundup 198: I Hate The Show And The Characters And Basically Just Everything Edition.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

UK PonyCon venue and ticket prices announced!

This is the one I know a lot of fans in the UK have been waiting for ever since last year's UK PonyCon finished. Yes, we already had the dates (13/14 October) but the make-or-break detail for many people, in terms of whether they'll be able to go at all, is where the convention will be held. Well, wait no longer! As the official site now proclaims, UK PonyCon 2018 will be held at the...

Nottingham Conference Centre

This is associated with Nottingham Trent University, so in that sense it's a similar deal to last year's con at UWE in Bristol. A major difference, however, is that the NCC is in the city centre. Well, on the northern edge of it, anyway — it's about a 15-minute walk from the main railway station, and also within reach of a decent range of hotels.

As for tickets, they will go on sale at midday BST on Saturday 28 April, and full details are on the site. For convenience, though, I'll summarise here, especially as the pricing structure has changed a bit since 2017.

The key point is that a Standard Adult Weekend ticket will cost £35. This price has been held since last year, with the trade-off being that there will not be an Early Bird discount this time. I think that's a sensible and fair approach. As I said last year, UK PonyCon has a good reputation for offering reasonably-priced tickets, and it's pleasing to see that the convention is maintaining this in 2018.

The Supporter tier from last year will again be available, but this year it'll be sold as an upgrade rather than a separate ticket type, with a simple pricing setup: upgrading will cost a flat £10 per person. There is one exception, which I'm very pleased to see: upgrading a family ticket will be £20. Last year this cost £40, which I felt was a bit steep, so applause to UKPC for the change.

There'll also be a VIP tier, with various privileges such as early entry, which will carry a £35pp premium. These tickets sold out in the space of six hours last year, so get in quick if you want one! Perhaps unsurprisingly after last year's supplier problems, the included goodie bag does not include a plushie. Instead, you'll get an art print to go with your tote bag, T-shirt, VIP lanyard and badge.

As you'd expect, there will be reduced-price tickets for children (aged 4 to 12), as well as one-day tickets. New for 2018 is that Saturday-only tickets are slightly more expensive than Sunday-only ones, in view of the longer Saturday programme. For example, an Adult Saturday-only ticket will cost £23, whereas the Sunday equivalent will be £19. (Last year they were both £21.)

I'll write up another post in the near future with some more thoughts, for example on transport. But this will do for now. So, although you can't actually buy tickets for another three weeks, I'll end with a link to the place where you will be able to buy them when the time comes:

Friday, 6 April 2018

Text Review Roundup: "The Maud Couple"

Almost back on schedule now! Neither ArthurCrane nor Batbrony have resumed episode reviews, unfortunately. If they don't post reviews next week either, I'll assume they've called it a day. Feather Heart hasn't posted a review of episode 3, either. However, there's a detailed review from Analysis is Magic, and we still have a reasonable collection for those, like me, who don't want to sit through rambly videos and would rather read rambly posts in a quarter the time.

This episode was generally seen as being a bit less good than the premiere.

Analysis is Magic – rather negative ("Mud Briar just comes off as irritating to such a degree that Pinkie Pie’s dislike almost feels justified")

Cuddlepug – positive (graded B+; "explores jealousy in a suspenseful way the show hasn't covered before")

Derpy News – mixed (graded B-; "not a terrible episode, technically, but I don’t believe it will be in the top half of Season Eight")

Louder Yay – mildly positive (3/5; "a middle-ranking effort from Confalone")

Michaelsety – negative (graded D)

MLEEP Reviews – mixed (5.5/10; "hit and miss")

Rainbine – negative (4/10; "the worst Pinkie Pie episode I have seen so far")

Rhythm Red – quite positive (7.5/10; "pretty good, but it just didn’t pack the amount of comedy that I expected")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("a funny, fun, fun, Maud episode!")

TheDragonWarlock – mixed (graded B-; "I don't hate the episode, [but] it's certainly not that interesting")

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Episode review: S8E03: "The Maud Couple"

Mudbriar looks at his "vision board" which shows lots of indistinct lit rectangles. Mudbriar's eyes are closed
"Technically, Tales is G1, not G2, as you can see here"
Easter having got in the way, this review will necessarily be a rather short one. It's either that or not get it done at all. "The Maud Couple" was written by Nick Confalone, whose last outing for the show was "Rock Solid Friendship" just under a year ago. That was a Maud-and-Pinkie episode with Starlight as a supporting act, in which I found Pinkie pretty annoying at times. So, what would this year's Maudisode bring?

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Text Review Roundup: "School Daze"

I'll be away for a few days now, which means that my episode 3 review won't be up until late next week at the earliest. It also means that I won't be able to correct any mistakes I've made in this post, so please let me know in the comments if anything looks off and I'll fix it when I get back.

Some changes for Text Review Roundup this year. I've already mentioned the ending of The Super Mario Brony Blog, and it seems that Thrond Media Pony Corner may have gone the same way. On the other hoof, I welcome newcomers Feather Heart, Michaelsety and Rhythm Red. I can't remember whether I've featured ShutterflyEQD here before. Batbrony didn't get his review up in time, and I'm not sure whether ArthurCrane will continue for S8.

This season opener was generally received fairly well, though few people considered it a classic to match the likes of the S2 premiere. Over on Fimfiction, Present Perfect hated it, but Cuddlepug's review is about the most negative I can find away from Fimf.

Cuddlepug – rather negative (graded C; "somewhat unsatisfying")

Derpy News – very positive (graded A-; "the show has not run out of ideas")

Feather Heart – mixed ("[I love] the portrayal of Starlight [but the songs are] boring and forgettable")

Louder Yay – generally positive (3/5; "I seem to have done a fair amount of complaining here, but actually I quite enjoyed this premiere.")

Michaelsety – mixed (graded B-; "good morals [and] new friends are great [but] Twilight gave up so easily")

MLEEP Reviews – very positive (9/10; "another awesome start to [a] season")

Rainbine – positive (8/10; "I like [the Student Six] even though they don't have a whole lot of personality")

Rhythm Red – fairly positive (7/10; "Good songs, GREAT new characters, and an interesting new storyline, but overall, it's nothing all that special")

ShutterflyEQD – very positive ("I really enjoyed the direction they went with this 2-parter.")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B; "far from [...] bad[...], but it didn't need to have most of the characters being moronic.")

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 197: Baggy Green

There are clearly going to be a large number of fics (by 2018 standards) featuring the School of Friendship. I'll probably give it a while before I read any. I'd like to think some of them will be really good, though. We'll see. Also, I'll be away over Easter, so Text Review Roundup tomorrow will be the last post for a little while. I'll put up a review of episode 3 when I get back.

Read it Later story count: 344 (+2)

A mighty three fics under review this time, thanks to my ongoing dental/medical/similar work. This should finally die down after Easter, so if I'm really lucky I may even be able to get back to somewhere near the five fics a week I used to expect to manage. Anyway, here are the three I have read:

Severe Weather Appreciation Week by Cold in Gardez
Hosting Mr. ████████ by Rinnaul
Party Rock by Casca

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

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

The Super Mario Brony Blog ended and deleted by owner

Notice saying that the SMBB has been removed.
That's all, folks!
Well, that's rather disappointing. The Super Mario Brony Blog, which was a regular in Text Review Roundup (hence my using that tag on this post) is no more. Apparently its owner has decided to move into vlogging instead. A great shame that they also felt it necessary to nuke the archives rather than simply leaving them up with a goodbye post, but what's done is done.

As far as TRR is concerned, please do let me know about any other text-based episode reviewers. They really need to be people who aim to review every ep, not just those they're especially happy/excited/angry about. TRR will continue for as long as there are text-based reviews. Okay, maybe not if I end up being the only person who writes the darn things. :P

Monday, 26 March 2018

Episode review: S8E01&E02: "School Daze"

Twilight stands in a spotlight, accompanied by Spike and with the EEA staff looking down on her
The Mare Who bucked convention and didn't play by the rules
After what's actually been a fairly short inter-season break, we're back with new episodes of Friendship is Magic. All the previews, the leaks and the 12 million animatics Discovery Family released ahead of time certainly got people talking, though there were mixed views as to how the season premiere itself would be received. There was a heavyweight writing partnership to start us off: Michael Vogel and Nicole Dubuc. My thoughts are after the break, as ever, but first:

Please do not mention anything from the S8 leaks in your comments. I don't want to be spoiled on future episodes! This applies all season. Thanks!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Quick update

I had a dental crown fitted today. The NHS being what it is, it's a metal one. Not even gold these days! Some sort of something-chromium alloy, I think. Still, I'm not too bothered. It's a back tooth, so you can't even see it unless I open my mouth wide. Also, metal crowns are strong and so this takes away some of my fear that I'll break the thing. Today's final fitting was simple – I didn't even need anaesthetic – and I am now one crown heavier and £244.30 lighter. :P

All the above has nothing to do with the MLP fandom, but I thought I should write about it sometime, since it explains why I've had little time for this place for a few days – and also since from tomorrow onwards things may become rather busier! What does have to do with the fandom is that I intend to continue posting episode reviews, and if international scheduling doesn't mess us all about too much, I'll also bring back Text Review Roundup, which I rather like doing.

Writing update: The Danger Within has also suffered a bit due to my other escapades, but I'm making sure I do something with it every day, so expect chapter 5 by the end of this month. I also put in a non-competing piece for this month's Flashfic 150. The feedback I've had so far tells me two things: the bad one is that avoiding being too obvious can go too far the other way, and the good one is that I can get characterisation right sometimes.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 196: Seaweed, Moss or Kelp

I'll never really understand the obsession with St Patrick's Day among people with absolutely no link to Ireland. It's a break from Lent, but how many people observe that in 2018 anyway? It's not just an American thing, either. I mean, I have Welsh ancestry (and so support Wales at rugby union), but nobody organises massive street parties for St David's Day and GOG doesn't put on St David's Day sales with cartoons of leeks. It's odd. Also, I don't like Guinness. :P

Read it Later story count: 342 (-2)

At long last, I'm actually reviewing a story I've wanted to read for ages! Since it has a short prequel, I'm also reviewing that. Four stories this week, and there would have been five had I not spent a fair amount of time shovelling snow. It's the second half of March; can we stop this, Nature? Thanks. Anyway, here are the four stories that did get read:

To My Princess, on the Day of Her Departure by D G D Davidson
Love on the Reef by D G D Davidson
Watch! Watch! by horizon
Fluttershy Hugs a Chicken by Elusive Phoenix

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

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Griffish Isles: tickets now on sale; Elley-Ray announced

Two significant pieces of news from the Griffish Isles convention. First, tickets are now on sale. The pop-up that appears when you click the green "TICKETS" link suggests that Sponsor tickets will be withdrawn from sale on 5 May, a fortnight before the convention, whereas the standard-tier Pony and Foal tickets will remain available until 18 May, the day before the con begins.

Also, the con has announced a show guest! This is Elley-Ray, the voice of Mistmane, as she announced on her own Twitter. Quite a coup for a brand new convention outside North America to get a show guest, so colour me impressed.

Monday, 19 March 2018

PMV: The Journey Thus Far

 ( Text link )

I saw this on EqD earlier and liked it so much that I wanted to feature it here. This PMV by Cole Donnerstag is an eight-minute celebration of the first seven seasons of Friendship is Magic, and one that very firmly places our equine friends in the role of heroes. You couldn't watch this and think they were just any old ponies. It's an old-fashioned PMV in its lack of flashy effects, but I think that makes it stronger. There are no S8 spoilers, so if you've seen to the end of S7 you'll be good to go. Donnerstag is not well known (only 40 subscribers at the time of writing) but that may now change.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

I Aten't Dead

The lack of updates doesn't mean anything terrible. I've just had a great deal to do lately. I spent nearly all of Friday and Saturday at the local steam railway's spring gala, for a start. (Well, I say "spring", and on Friday it did feel that way, but it snowed quite a bit yesterday.) I'll be back to posting Pony soon, and I certainly intend to resume episode reviews when the time comes.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

UK PonyCon 2018 dates announced!

It's all systems go! UK PonyCon has officially confirmed that the 2018 iteration of the convention will be held on the weekend of...

13 and 14 October

This is earlier in the month than in 2017, but only by just over a week. Interestingly, that means the event isn't coinciding with the school half-term holiday this time, at least not in most of the UK. (There are exceptions.)

On the page I linked to at the top, con comms lead Irish O'Conner also states that the venue (a crucial factor for many) should be confirmed in the next couple of weeks and that ticket sales are planned for April.

So, just under seven months to go. Things have suddenly jumped closer!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 195: Chris edition

UK PonyCon will be 13/14 October. More on that in the next day or two.

I don't think I've ever done an edition of PR with all the stories reviewed being by the same author, but there's a first time for everything. In tribute to the contribution the recently-retired-from-OMPR Chris has made to the world of ponyfic, I'm looking at five of his works today. I was a little constrained in my choice as I've previously covered several of his 15 stories (and the minific anthology Bantam Tales isn't eligible anyway), but I managed to find five that looked interesting.

Read it Later story count: 344 (+3)

I know it looks a little bit silly to put "by Chris" on the end of every title line, but if I don't do that then I'm almost certain to mess up the formatting (more than I usually do) when I go back to my more usual mixed bag next week! Also, Chris seems to like starting his story titles with the word "The".

Letters from a Senior to a Junior Changeling by Chris
The Showmare's Tale by Chris
The Sweetest Water by Chris
The Fall of Discord by Chris
The Purloined Pony by Chris

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

Monday, 12 March 2018

Griffish Isles announces ticket details

The new Griffish Isles convention in Manchester announced its ticket arrangements yesterday, via Facebook and Twitter. There's also a summary page on the Eventbrite website. Here's a rundown:

Standard: £27.00 (£24.50 + £2.50 booking fee)
Sponsor: £50.18 (£46.00 + £4.18 booking fee)
Foals (under 12): Up to two free with each paying adult

A few thoughts: the Standard ticket is about what I expected it to be, and although it is a few pounds more than the basic one-day ticket for either BronyScot (£19.99) or UK PonyCon (£21) were last year it doesn't seem excessive, especially given the dual venues. Obviously, what you get for your money will be key, but right now there's not really anything to go on as regards events, guests, etc. If and when anything big is announced, I'll post about it here.

As for the Sponsor ticket, the fact that with the payment processor's – frankly rather hefty – booking fee it creeps over the £50 mark is a real shame. A total price of £49 would have looked so much more attractive. With this ticket, you get a T-shirt (always nice) and front-row seats (not really a huge deal at smaller cons). I'm not sure those are worth £23.18, so it's probably best to see Sponsor tier as including an expression of support for the convention, like UKPC's Supporter tickets.

Tickets will be going on sale at 8pm on 19th March, exactly two months before con date. As with the other British MLP conventions, tickets must be purchased in advance; there will be no on-the-door sales.

As for me? Because of the short notice period, it's already too late for me to stay over, but a day trip might be possible. I'll probably wait to see what events are happening, which vendors are going, etc. If tickets sell out before I feel I have enough details to make a sensible decision, then that will be on me.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

CobaltSky is back

I know blind reactors have a decidedly mixed reputation in this fandom, but I happen to like a few of them, so I was very pleased yesterday to discover that CobaltSky was uploading reactions again. It seems he's been through a lot in the last few months (he gives a brief summary at the start of his S7E11 video) but his style seems almost unchanged from how it was when he last uploaded. He's going to have a tough job finishing his S7 reactions before S8 starts, but that doesn't really matter. I'm just glad he's okay and uploading again.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Reviewers still standing?

With the sad retirement of Chris from the ponyfic-reviewing scene, I took to wondering who was left who still published regular written reviews. I emphasise "written" because, like several other people I know, I'm not a huge fan of video reviews. They just take too long to get through; it's the same reason I don't tend to bother much with video reviews of episodes. There are only a few I can think of who still post more than once in a blue moon, and I'll list them below to help anyone reading who doesn't already know about them.

A few criteria: they must post reviews, not merely recommendations – if they only post about stories they like, they don't qualify. Nor do curated collections such as Equestria Daily, the Royal Canterlot Library and Seattle's Angels, again because you'll never find negative reviews there. (The RCL does note judges' reservations, but that's not enough.) People like Soge and JohnPerry who used to publish reviews but no longer do so don't count because if they did I'd have to include Chris, which would rather defeat the object! Finally, review groups don't count. So, we're left with:

PresentPerfect – no space in his Fimfiction username. Has posted over four thousand reviews, mostly in the single-paragraph format I use here, though I suspect him of actually thinking them out, which is an alien concept to me. Posts irregularly but very frequently. There's also the occasional much longer "vs." review, such as this one of Subjunctive. Reviews several things I generally don't, notably minifics and trollfics. Five-point rating system for general reviews: Highly Recommended, Recommended, Conditionally Recommended, Vaguely Recommended, Not Recommended. The "vs." reviews get a numerical score out of five.

City of Doors – aka Singularity Dream, creator of the indispensible Big Master Review List. The second most prolific reviewer, with almost 3,000 to his name. Again, short reviews for the most part, occasionally just a single line summarising his personal impressions. Even those can contain some striking insights, though. Review numbering and frequency can be rather inconsistent. No formal rating system.

PaulAsaran – another spaceless guy. Publishes a review post most Thursdays and now has over 700. Reviews are fairly detailed, consisting of several paragraphs, though still considerably shorter than Chris's detailed reviews were. Includes cover art, which is space-consuming but nice to look at, and occasional details about who recommended the story to him or requested its review. Five-point rating system based on bookshelves: Why Haven't You Read These Yet?, Pretty Good, Worth It, Needs Work and None.

That's about it, I think, other than that ridiculous buffoon Logan on Louder Yay. We did see the first Rinnaul reviews blog since 2015 the other day, but for now that's a one-off. Gosh, there really aren't a lot of us left, are there? If I've missed any out who fit all the criteria I outlined above then I'd be delighted to know about them. I did skim through the BMRL, but I could easily have missed someone with under 100 reviews, as such people don't get their own column in the spreadsheet.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 194: Thaw: The Green World

Update: after I wrote this (scheduled) post but before it appeared, Chris announced that "One Man's Pony Ramblings is closing its doors." I don't think it's my place to try to summarise his explanation, so please go over there to read that. All I'll say right here is that I wish Chris the very best and that every single time I've had any contact with him, he's been a complete pleasure to talk to. OMPR has been undoubtedly the best of all ponyfic blogs, and I'm glad its archives will remain to prove that.

Chris's excellent One Man's Pony Ramblings blog hasn't updated for over a month now. I hope that this is simply due to more important things taking priority and that he'll be able to resume posting there at some point. Regardless, if OMPR has somehow passed you by over the years then please do go and browse through its archives. There's plenty of fine stuff in there, including not only Chris's extremely interesting reviews but also some high-quality comment discussions.

Read it Later story count: 341 (-4)

Yet another three-fic week, which really does irritate me. Had the snow relented before the weekend, there'd certainly have been one or two more. I now have some (scheduled) dental appointments coming up, so how much I read over the next couple of weeks will depend on how those go! Still, I did manage to read the story I trailed last week, so there's that. Today's trio:

The Web Untangled by Impossible Numbers
Peachy Pie's Very Special Somepony by VitalSpark
No hard feelings by SeptimusMagistos

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

Monday, 5 March 2018

Pony Music Library 51: "Spirit of Fire"

It's long past time we had another PML entry, so let's get right to it!

What? "Spirit of Fire"

Who? PsychGoth (ft. Nowacking and Mysterious Bronie)

Which? Original song

When? July 2013

Why? I'm rather fond of Eighties-style music, so this song attracted my attention right from the start. The impressive line-up of performers didn't hurt, either. It's very much in the vein of Europop from that decade, so it may not win over those who don't already enjoy the genre. However, for those who are taken by it, this has a wonderful drive and energy that fits Spitfire's character perfectly and gives us a nice look at how she grew into the powerful mare she later became. Great guitar solo, too!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

HAHcon 2018 today!

A quick reminder that the online-only Horses at Home Convention, otherwise known as HAHcon, takes place today. There hasn't been a lot of noise about this (EqD's news post today is the first there since January) but I think it's such a good concept that it deserves a plug. There's a disappointing lack of writing-focused events this year, but otherwise there's a pretty good range of panels and suchlike. Visit the HAHcon homepage for a full schedule.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Writing, present and future

It's been really weird weather around these parts. Very fine powder snow, blowing around in the wind, is not what Britain usually gets. Nor are ice days in March. I'm quite glad that winter is finally going to start relaxing its grip by the end of the weekend. We've had quite a cold and snowy winter by our standards this time, and I am most definitely ready for spring now.

On the writing front, I did (just) manage to get chapter 4 of The Danger Within out by the end of February. It's a different experience writing this way, and not one I'd want to make a rule, but it has its moments. Not least that it's also firing up the ol' ideas'n'motivation generator again. While I don't think I'm going to get anything done for EFNW now, I do think I'll have another one-shot out fairly soon.

Also, some conversation with friends has revived my interest in writing a bit more about the burden of Fluttershy's commitment to kindness. Yes, Estee did something very good with this concept a long time ago with Five Hundred Little Murders, but I have a different story I want to tell. Fluttershy's small scene in The Book of Ended Lives is something of a starting point for what I have in mind now.

Finally, I might give a Flashfic 150 prompt a go in the next few months. The rules do allow me to submit a piece – as the person who wrote them, I made sure that they did! – though naturally I wouldn't be eligible to win. I'm very rusty with that format of ponyfic, so I'd probably struggle a bit, but when I've written flashfic in the past I've found it quite enjoyable. I'll see what I can do on that score.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 193: She's Got More Bottle than United Dairies

An apology first of all: I will not be reviewing horizon's Watch! Watch! as promised last week. At least, not yet. That's because I've since discovered that an epilogue will be added once the contest it was written for has finished. As long as that's not too long, I'll wait for that to happen before posting my review.

Read it Later story count: 345 (nc)

Because of that, as well as the fact that it keeps snowing in spite of being almost March, I only have three stories today. I hope that this doesn't presage a return to skinny PRs, but I'd better make no promises. Here's this week's little bunch:

Beautiful Rain by argonaut
Showdown at the Card Table by Bronyxy
Heart is Where the Home is by Skywriter

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

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Plugging Flashfic 150

Real Life refuses to let up, so I haven't got much to post right now. Therefore, I'll take the opportunity to plug my little monthly writing contest, Flashfic 150. As its name implies, this is an event which requires you to write (up to) 150 words inspired by a prompt selected by the previous month's winner. There are no prizes, a deliberate decision that I'd hold to even if I were rolling in bits, but you are likely to get a much better benefit, which is to get a little feedback on your piece from some of the others.

The "judging" consists of me deciding which entry I like best! In other words, pleasse don't go expecting Ms Harshwhinny levels of professionalism here. Not from me, at any rate – the actual submissions have contained some little gems. The next contest starts on 1st March and will use the prompt "What You Leave Behind", chosen by last month's winner Ceffyl Dwr. If you're interested in trying your hoof at this, head over to the forum on the Flashfic group and watch for the relevant thread to go up on Thursday. Thanks!

Friday, 23 February 2018

Special review: Equestria Girls "Forgotten Friendship"

Wallflower Blush looking discontent
"It's my green hair, isn't it? Come on, Rarity, admit it."
It's been a while since I've written a full-length review for anything Equestria Girls, but it's time to change all that. Nick Confalone's "Forgotten Friendship" special, the same length as a double episode of FiM, seemed worth writing something about. Unlike a lot of the fandom, I hadn't read the novelisation (which came out first, but was written after this). I had been spoiled on one or two details, however. After the cut, with spoilers aplenty, I'll say what I thought.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 192: Crimson Sun on Traffic Lights

I happened to be at the Reviewer's Cafe group page when it was open for submissions, so I chucked We Who with Songs Beguile in to see what would happen. It got rejected with a score of 5/10: "There’s nothing that sticks with you, nothing that makes you think, no new perspective on the world of My Little Pony. For those reasons, I am rejecting this fic." The story is supposed to meander, because that's what Mazarine does, but it is a bit of a one-trick pony: if his grumpiness and skewed perspective on ponykind don't grab the reader, not much else will. Ah well. Here's the full review.

Read it Later story count: 345 (-8)

My RiL list is under 350 stories for the first time in... a long time. Probably several years. Considering it made it up to 499 at one point, I'm quite pleased. I do get the occasional person asking me to review their fic, but not many; it's not just because there are better reviewers out there, but probably also because I don't review on Fimfiction itself. I don't mind, though, as "I might review your story, but it'd be in about 2021" might not go down too well. :P Also, six stories for review today!

Diary of a Pliant Tyrant by xjuggernaughtx
A Tail by MyNameHere
A Requiem for Lost Libraries by Mitch H
The Cadance Conundrum by Super Trampoline
The Cup Cake Killer by Saddlesoap Opera
The Very Literal Rise and Fall of Pinkie Pie by 4EverfreeBrony

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

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

"Pony Girl" starring Fluttershy and Fluttershy

Tridashie's "Pony Girl" video has become a modern fandom classic, with over seven million views since it was released in April 2017. Now, Pinkie Rose has made a cover with the adorability factor taken up as high as it will go and then some. Rainbow Dash's role has been taken by Fluttershy, and Twilight's by... er... Fluttershy. It's a lot of fun, and with one exception ("'Shy" would have been better than "F. S.") the reworked lyrics are pretty decent as well. Give it a look!

And yes, I am posting this as my "Forgotten Friendship" review will be a few days yet. But what the hay!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Reading of The Book of Ended Lives by The Feral Brony

The Feral Brony (obligatory disclosure: a friend of mine) has been kind enough to record a reading of my story The Book of Ended Lives. Thankfully, his Applejack voice is a great deal less silly than mine, which contributes to his reading being much better than one by me would ever be. He also gives some of his thoughts about it after the reading, and these are quite embarrassingly positive. As many of you will know, this is my personal favourite of the ponyfics I've written, but not everyone likes it, so I'm glad that Feral does!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Hype, hype, hype! S8 trailer out and S9 confirmed

Yes, I have seen the EqG special "Forgotten Friendship", and a review of that will be up in the near future. Back to FiM for today, though.

It's New York Toy Fair time, and as usual that means a flood of My Little Pony news from Hasbro. I'm not going to rehash everything that Equestria Daily has been posting, but as far as Friendship is Magic itself is concerned, there are two big things. The first is an official S8 trailer, and one that hasn't instantly been withdrawn like the last one was. ;) As the thumbnail isn't spoilery, it's embedded above – but the video itself is packed with spoilers, so be warned! They are not the same scenes we saw in that previous release; some stuff is brand new.

The second piece of news is that S9 has been confirmed! We don't know when it will be shown, how many episodes it will have, whether it will be the final season – or indeed anything much. Except the basic fact that there will be another season after the one we're about to have. So lots more Pony to come. Am I hyped for this? Yes. Might it be a total disaster? Yes. Am I still hyped, knowing that? Yes. I think that covers it!

Also, new "season 9" tag. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Hour-long FiM special coming next winter!

This tweet from the hugely well-informed Sebastiàn Cordova (aka @Chevistian1) got my interest last night! It seems that after the regular S8 is done, there'll be a Holiday Special entitled "The Best Gift Ever". Yes, interestingly familiar episode name, isn't it? I wonder if there'll be a callback, perhaps involving Blueblood finally getting another speaking part and making a total idiot of himself again. I'd enjoy that. I do wonder how a festive ep can surpass "A Hearth's Warming Tail", though.

On a more general note, my reaction to the totally unexpected news confirmed how much I really do still like FiM. I was very, very happy at the thought of more – I assume it will be 44 minutes of actual Pony, with the rest ad breaks – before S9 happens. (If it happens. I know the indications are that it will, but it's a long way off yet.) One thing does come to mind: will the special have an episode number? This matters, as if we do reach S9, the answer to that question will determine which is episode 200.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Stats time again! The creeping advance of M-rated fic

The enhanced search now available on Fimfiction has finally allowed me to confine results to any range of dates I pick, rather than being stuck with the highly limited options previously available. One thing that occurred to me to try recently was to see what sort of fics were popular as Fimfiction evolved. The first thing I checked was how many of the top ten most viewed fics were Mature-rated:

2011: 4
2012: 4
2013: 2
2014: 6
2015: 7
2016: 9
2017: 9

Some thoughts on this past the break.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 191: We've got spooks and ghouls and freaks and fools

Actually, that's a lie. We haven't. But we – or rather I – have got some more ponyfic to review for you. I need it to take the bad taste away that I got when I discovered quite by chance that someone had written a Sweet Apple Massacre side-story – in mid-2017. I had hoped that... thing had been forgotten forever by now. No such luck. Anyway:

Read it Later story count: 353 (-6)

And now we're back in the magical land of Equestria. A reminder that my star rating system is deliberately skewed: a two-star fic can be one I found perfectly okay reading, and a three-star fic is one I felt was above average. This is to allow me to give the stories I find truly excellent or even exceptional more of an edge in the rankings. Here's today's collection:

Toot your own horn by Hoopy McGee
Stronghearted in the Desert by The Legend of Derpy
Maidens Day by bookplayer
The Thief and the Princess by Muramasa
Harmony by Allykitty

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

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Sparkle Nights convention apparently cancelled

In the UK convention roundup I posted about a month ago, I covered four cons. Three of them – UK PonyCon, BronyScot and newcomer Griffish Isles – have either posted updates since then or (in the case of BronyScot) still have their 2017 websites up. I'll obviously post more about those if there's anything important to report, but nothing's really changed since the UKPC theme announcement.

However, the fourth possible UK convention, Sparkle Nights, seems to have bitten the dust, despite having announced a venue and produced an eye-catching website. I haven't been able to find any hard information, but the convention's site and social media accounts all seem to have been deactivated. At the very least, it doesn't look as though anything's going to happen in May as previously announced – if at all.

Assuming I'm right, this is the second full-scale MLP con in the UK that I know that hasn't made it to opening day. The first was My Little Convention in 2015, which never really convinced as having a stable setup and which may have done everyone a favour by cancelling. With Sparkle Nights, the people involved were at least names I'd heard of, but as we see that doesn't guarantee success.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Movie Blu-ray/DVD out today! At last...

Cover of the UK/Ireland edition of the MLP movie disc
It's really rare to have two formats of disc in the same pack these days
After what seems like an age, My Little Pony: The Movie finally becomes officially available for home viewing today. Americans have had it for ages, of course, so what the point was in delaying its UK release until now is anyone's guess. Answers on a postcard. Anyway, it's £12.99 at Amazon and the same price at HMV. At the time of writing I hadn't seen it in a physical shop, so I don't know how prices there will compare.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Fanfic Reading: Clouded Minds

 ( Text link )

I haven't done a ponyfic reading for a year and a half, but someone asked me a while ago to provide an audio version of my old story Clouded Minds. This was published nearly five years ago and has its share of flaws, but to this day I like the underlying concept. It does end a little more abruptly than I originally intended, thanks partly to personal circumstances (unrelated to the fic itself) making me disinclined to work on it further. However, I now quite like that suddenness, so it's staying. Here's the summary for those who don't know the story:

Clouded Minds by Loganberry
Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash
Sad/Slice of Life; 2k words; Apr 2013; Everyone
Rainbow Dash finally comes clean to Fluttershy on the secret of why she feels such a responsibility to her fellow pegasus. It's not simple friendship; it's not plain loyalty. It's something altogether more shadowy.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Season 8 is coming in March!

As revealed by the latest Discovery Family press release, the S8 premiere will be shown on 24th March. I know the various leaks have meant that many people will already have seen (incomplete) episodes, but I have stayed away from those. I hope not too many people online will be jerks and spoil the rest of us. We'll see, I suppose.

I do know a few things, and if you read the DF release (as reproduced on this EqD page) you'll discover quite a lot more. In fact, I'd recommend against looking at it if you're trying to avoid spoilers, as among other things it mentions new and returning characters, the premiere's synopsis and some of the locations that we'll be visiting.

One non-spoilery piece of information is that there will be seven songs this season. As was promised, that's an increase on last season's five – but it's still well down on previous seasons, though if you ignore their musical episodes the number is reasonably comparable. Let's hope they're good songs, anyway. Roll on March!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 190: A Sunday Joint of Bread and Honey

Before I forget, there's been a retrospective upgrade. I re-read Bachiavellian's Shoots and Roots (reviewed in PR 142), which got "a high-end four" at the time. Second time through, I loved it even more. As such, it is hereby upgraded to five-star status!

Read it Later story count: 359 (-14)

I've decided to note when stories have any of the new warning tags. I'll do this in the same way I do it when the [Gore] or [Sex] tag is used, by mentioning the relevant tag(s) in brackets after the relevant fic's rating. Anyway, here's today's selection – at last, I'm back to five! – and it's not been a bad reading experience at all:

Kaleidoscope by TheVulpineHero1
The Art and Science of Letter Writing by Pascoite
You Can Count On Me by Honeycomb
All Of Us Together, Together As One by MythrilMoth
Dance Dance Dance by Ceffyl Dwr

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

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Worcester Ponymeets (repost)

Reposting as I accidentally put this up on the same day as the UK PonyCon theme announcement yesterday.

Just to be crystal (pony) clear here: I'm talking about the Worcester in England!

Who are you?
We are... um, the group of MLP fans who have been meeting up regularly in Worcester since 2013. We don't actually have a snappy name; it's part of our charm. Our meet leader is Pigasus, and while he's in attendance his word is law. When he isn't, it's actually me. Yes, really. There are usually 5–8 of us at a meet.

Where do you meet?
Caffè Bolero, an excellent independent place in the city centre. (Google Map.) This is five minutes' walk from Worcester Foregate Street station and also a short walk from various city centre car parks. We meet, as any self-respecting bronies should, in the basement – down the stairs to your right as you enter.

What days do you meet?
We try to keep up a regular schedule of twice-monthly meets, on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. The schedule can change to fit around holidays and other special events like conventions, but this is not common.

What times do you meet?
Our meets start at 1pm and run through until about 5pm, though the end time is a little variable. You're welcome to come for just part of the meet if you like.

What do you do?
We sit around and chat! Unlike some brony meetups, in Worcester ponies are still the main topic of conversation at pretty much every meet. We do talk about other things sometimes, but talk nearly always drifts back to MLP before long, especially when there's something big to talk about. We also play a simple card game using a pony-themed standard deck. It's very easy to learn and very silly.

We're not really into the CCG, since it does tend to divide meets – not the best idea for a smallish gathering. We don't go for mass shop walkabouts either, but of course if anyone would like to explore Worcester's (frankly quite limited) retail options then that's fine and someone will be happy to come with you, I'm sure. Oh, and I'm afraid watching episodes isn't something we can offer, as we don't have a private space to do that.

How much does it cost?
The meet itself costs nothing. However, as we're in a café, we do ask you to buy some food and/or drink.

Talking of which...?
There's the usual range of coffee, soft and (a few) alcoholic drinks, cakes and Mediterranean-style snacks and light meals. Yes, both cider (if you're old enough) and muffins are available! Prices are very reasonable: a coffee and a muffin will easily produce change from a fiver.

Who can come?
Anyone! Well, okay, we do have one significant restriction, which is that if you're under 16 we do ask you to bring an adult with you. The basement is only accessible by stairs, as is the case in many of Worcester's old buildings. Meeting upstairs isn't really an option as there's generally far less space.

Can I bring my plushie/pony shirt/sketchbook?
Yes, as long as it won't get in the way of other customers. (So no NSFW shirt designs, please.) The staff at Bolero are very good to us and are tolerant of tables with plushies dotted around.

Anything else I should know?
Because of the venue we use, as well as the wishes of our regulars, we are a fairly strictly SFW meet – this includes asking attendees not to swear beyond the language used in the show. For mainly historical reasons, we also prefer to avoid shipping talk.

Also, if you don't know Worcester very well, feel free to ask one of us to meet you at Foregate Street station. There's usually someone around earlier who can do that.

Monday, 5 February 2018

UK PonyCon 2018 announces convention theme

As mentioned on the official forum, UK PonyCon's 15th iteration will be a Crystal Celebration! The crystal theme, described as "dazzling and magnificent", will doubtless please the Rarity fans out there – but there's plenty more that can be done to fit with it. I look forward very much to discovering what will be done with it – and, I hope, attending!

So, that's the first of the "biggies" announced, which is exciting! The others are dates, ticket details and location – and the last of those may be the most eagerly awaited. Last year, the committee weren't ready to announce that until April, though, so don't assume we'll get an announcement on that score for a while yet.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

My Little Karaoke

I don't think I've ever done a post specifically about My Little Karaoke, so here's a quick one. For the six people in the fandom who don't know, this is a ponified version of the Singstar clone UltraStar Deluxe. It comes with pretty much every official song (newer ones are usually made available fairly quickly) and a whole bunch of community tracks as well. Even if you haven't played it yourself, you've almost certainly seen it at a convention or in a video... like the one embedded above. ;)

If you enjoy singing pony songs, as an awful lot of us do, MLK is enormous fun. It can be a tiny bit fiddly in places (to delete a playlist, you first have to open it!) but the basics are simple enough. The program is free and is available on the official site for Windows, macOS and Linux. It's a pretty chunky download, though, so a decently fast internet connection is advisable – though the game itself is fully offline unless you use the basic online leaderboard system.

In brief? My Little Karaoke is fantastic. Get it now!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Can anyone source this quote?

The other day, I was having one of my periodic bouts of reading around Fimfiction blogs. I like doing that from time to time, as I sometimes find some interesting stuff that way. Admittedly I also find some very boring posts – but hey, you're reading Louder Yay, so you should be used to that sort of thing.

This time, I was reading a blog by someone who I'll leave unnamed. That's partly because it's not relevant to my question, but also because they'd been involved in a nasty argument in a Fimfiction group and because context suggested they'd been through a very rough time in their personal life. Not things I want to get involved in.

It was a long blog about writing, and part of it was taken up by the author rejecting the existence of writer's block as a real condition. That's not the point I want to discuss here, though. This is the quote in question, which was attributed to Terry Pratchett:
There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write.
Now, I've had spent a fair amount of time Googling, both standard search and Books, and I've discovered two things. One, this line is quoted in many places. Two, it's quoted by people who don't provide any kind of source for it. This happens a lot on the internet especially – just the other week, a quote went the rounds on Twitter, also attributed to Pterry:
Satire is meant to ridicule power. If you are laughing at people who are hurting, it's not satire, it's bullying.
That one was investigated by a number of people and they could find no evidence that Pratchett had ever said it – yet it will probably now stick in many people's minds as "that cool Terry Pratchett quote about satire" or something. As with so much else, it makes me grateful that way back in middle school we had a timetabled class called "Study Skills" which covered checking sources. (This was in pre-internet days, I should say.)

So, back to the writer's block quote. As I said a minute ago, I'm not actually interested right now in whether people agree with it or not. However, is anyone reading this able to provide an actual source for Pratchett having said it – or, just as good, hard evidence that he didn't? Thanks!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

EFNW Scribblefest is back

I saw last night via this Fimfiction site post that Everfree Northwest's popular "Scribblefest" fanfic contest is back, with the prompt "Family Trees: Roots, Branches, and Leaves". That announcement brought home to me a bit that the story I entered with in 2017, The Book of Ended Lives, remains the last completed ponyfic I've published. Even though I've been writing The Danger Within, I'd still like to have something finished to look at in my story list.

The question is whether I can think of something that fits the prompt. Knowing me, I'll probably get an idea two days after the closing date (3rd March). The required story length – between 2,000 and 6,000 words – appeals to me, though. As mentioned at the start of yesterday's post, I have a lot going on outside the fandom, so I may simply not have time to enter the EFNW contest. I do intend to review all the category winners regardless, as doing that was fun last year.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 189: Off to See the World

An early warning that my review (and everything else) schedule for the next fortnight may be messed up even more than usual. Thanks for this go to my three significant medical appointments in the space of a week, one of which may need a follow-up in fairly short order. Anyway:

Read it Later story count: 373 (-2)

Four fics this week. There would have been five, but one story got deleted. I should probably think of something diverting to say in this space, but I'm not actually going to do so. I mean, most people would probably find my G3 wall clock more interesting than my vague ramblings. (I do indeed have a G3 wall clock. It features Royal Bouquet – and is pink, yes.) Never mind, I seem to have used up enough space now, so let's get going:

Diary of a Silent Tyrant by xjuggernaughtx
Derpy's Rainy Day by dragonpony111
Running Late in Manehatten by Autumnschild
Fluttershy is best pony by Super Trampoline

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

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

More details released about Griffish Isles

I gave a brief mention to the new Griffish Isles convention a couple of weeks ago when I posted a roundup of UK cons planned for 2018. At the time very little information was available and so some of what I said was guesswork. However, the convention's official website has recently been considerably expanded, so it seems reasonable to revisit the subject now.

The con's date remains set for Saturday 19th May. In the middle of Everfree Northwest, though I rather doubt anyone will manage to attend both!

The venues have now been announced as the St Thomas Centre (M12 6FZ) and the upstairs function room at Powerleague Football (M12 4JD). These are both about 12 minutes' walk from Manchester Piccadilly station, and they're about six minutes' walk from each other. This is very good news for potential attendees: proximity to a mainline rail station is a major plus for a convention.

The reason for the split venues is interesting. The St Thomas Centre will be used during the daytime for various talks, activities and games, and is also where vendors will be. This venue will be alcohol-free, not something I've seen at a UK-based pony convention before. The Powerleague function room will be used in the late afternoon and evening, and will be a chilled social and musical space which will have alcohol (cider!) on sale. There is a downside to this, though, which I'll get to in the tickets section below.

The staff page ("Organisers") has been updated and now features five people, with potted biographies of each one. I don't know them all, but I do know some of them and they're names that reassure me. This is all looking very promising.

The mascot has been unveiled – and as you might expect, she's a griffon! Her name is Bobbie and as you might also expect with a name like that, there's a touch of the friendly police officer about her. She was drawn by StormBlaze, an excellent artist who is well known and respected in the British fandom.

The one crucial piece of information that we don't yet know is the price of tickets, though the site does say that these are expected to be released in about a month. Hopefully prices will be announced before the actual release, to avoid too much of a scramble. There will be two tiers, the higher of which will include a T-shirt.

A major difference from UK PonyCon is that only adults will be able to stay for the whole event. Powerleague's licence conditions mean that under-18s will have to leave by 8pm, while "Foal" tickets (available to kids with an adult) will be valid only until 4pm. This is a shame, albeit an understandable one in the circumstances.

You can never tell until a convention actually happens how successful it will be,  but so far Griffish Isles seems to be on course. Here's hoping it turns out that way!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Horses! At Home! Coming to a screen near you on 3rd March!

For those wondering: yes, I do have views on a certain topic that is everywhere in the fandom at the moment. I may write something about it here, but that's by no means certain.

On a much happier note, HAHCon (the Horses At Home convention) is indeed returning this year! EqD has reported that panel applications are now open. This virtual convention was a success last time, with an absolutely hilarious turkey call contest being my personal highlight. No, I didn't enter, but if you want to experience it see this YouTube video.

This year's HAHCon will be on 3rd March. I did have a secret hankering for it to expand to two days after the success of the last convention, but realistically that would be a great deal more work. Probably better to have a great one-day con than spread themselves too thin and end up with a mediocre two-day con. Maybe one day, though...

I really like what HAHCon are doing, and I wonder how many other fandoms have something like it. True, nothing can quite match the experience of being at a Pony convention in person – but for those many people who for whatever reason aren't able to attend one, HAHCon gives them the chance to get some of the flavour.

This is exactly the sort of good, generous and fun thing that I like to see in the fandom, and so I'm happy to wish HAHCon great success this year.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Looking ahead to Ponyfic Roundup 200

It's not all that long until I'll be publishing Ponyfic Roundup 200. Insert my usual expressions of amazement that I've kept the feature going this long – without, I have to say, ever feeling that the well of fics to pick from was running dry. I'm now just beginning to think about how I might mark the occasion. For reference, this is what I did for previous milestones:

PR 50: nine newly-approved stories. Only a few of their authors – notably RarityEQM – appear still to be active on the site.

PR 100: six stories that were at least a month old but had under 100 views. None rated above two stars and two have since been deleted.

PR 150: eight stories, one published in each year from 2010 to 2017. This was fun, and I found a five-star story: A Hoof-ful of Dust's When the Levee Breaks.

I'd certainly like to do another themed edition, but I'm fairly open-minded as to what theme that should be. Even with my usual red lines (no foalcon ever, no unfinished stories, etc) there's a lot to choose from. What it won't be is a bunch of long fics, as I simply don't have the time for that.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 188: Pigs in Blankets

I still can't believe that Sainsbury's has been selling off festive-branded pigs in blankets flavour Pringles for 20p per 200g can. A quite ridiculous bargain. (If you're American, note that what we call "pigs in blankets" are a slightly different snack from what they are Stateside. Over here, they're chipolatas wrapped in bacon – no dough involved.)

Read it Later story count: 375 (+3)

As well as getting back into writing ponyfic, I feel as though I will soon finally be managing to get a little more time to actually read the stuff. I'm still not keeping up with other blogs/reviewers as much as I'd like, which is to say more than minimally, but that's also on my to-do list. Here's what I've been reading this week:

Uncertainty by MadMaxtheBlack
Tarnish by KitsuneRisu
A Birthday to Remember by ishu
Covet by cydoniia

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

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

What Logan is reading away from the world of colourful ponies

Time for a little non-Pony post. After years and years of being told I should read it, I've finally started on The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. In translation, I'm afraid! I've got through the first four so far (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula) and it's not a bad read. It's not quite the non-stop gossipfest some people make it out to be, as there's a lot of stuff about military campaigns and family backgrounds in there. Still, it does have plenty of entertaining/horrifying parts, so I'll keep going.

I'm also having another go at Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss. This is an oldish-school (1960) science fiction novel which appeals to me, partly because it's shorter than the bloated novels that blight the shelves these days. Also, though, because I like the setup: in the far future on a huge spacecraft, tribes roam the corridors looking for the mythical Forwards. (This isn't a very accurate summary, but it's good enough.) So far it's very readable, which isn't always the case for old-fashioned SF.

Finally, there's another SF novel. The Ennead. Yes, spelt like that. This is a young-adult book by Jan Mark; I'm not sure how well known she is outside the UK, but there was a time when she was everywhere in school libraries. She won the Carnegie Medal, the premier British prize for children's fiction, twice and was runner-up once, though not for The Ennead. This is set on a dying planet where refugees from Earth have settled. Only just started, so can't say much about it yet.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

It feels so good to be writing regularly again

It really is working. Chapter 2 of The Danger Within was published yesterday, making this only the second time on Fimfiction (after Where They Understand You) that I've managed a multi-chapter prose piece. As I've said before, the way I'm writing it and the speed I'm publishing at mean it's not going to be any kind of masterpiece, but the simple fact of being able to get at least some words down every day is reward enough for me. If readers enjoy it, and so far at least a few seem to have done, then that's a bonus.

I do, as it happens, have a one-shot taking shape in my mind, and The Danger Within is making it more likely that said one-shot will actually appear eventually. This is a story inspired by "A Health of Information", in particular the part of it dealing with how swamp fever works. I originally wanted to call it Fever Dreams, but as The Descendant has an anthology with that title I'm now using the working title All Set About with Fever-trees, from Kipling's The Elephant's Child. It may well be called something else again by the time it's actually published.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Where it all began

I can't remember how I found it, but someone has a Google album of the 1981 Hasbro Toy Fair catalogue. About two-thirds of the way through, under Hasbro's "Romper Room" brand and just after "MacBath the Silly Sea Slurpent" (I want one!), is a certain My Pretty Pony. The opening words of the description are interesting: "My Pretty Pony is every little girl's dream come true." So even if Bonnie Zacherle didn't mean for the toys she designed to be gender-targeted, Hasbro was on that case right from the start.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Since someone asked..., I don't review all the ponyfic I read. Most, but not all. Every so often, I like just to enjoy reading something. This often happens when the author is someone I know personally, as I tend to find it awkward to review those pieces unless said author has specifically asked me to. After all, if I read such a fic and think it's terrible, I wouldn't enjoy saying so. (I never do, but especially so where the author is a friend.)

The other stories I read but don't review are those which are ongoing. I tend to keep quiet about them as when (if) they are complete I sometimes want to write a review after all. However, one in this category that I will mention is xjuggernaughtx's Cheerilee's Thousand. It's wonderful fun and definitely recommended, but its format (and the demands on its author's time) mean it may never be "finished" as such.

I'm actually just about to start another story that I won't be reviewing, at least not for the foreseeable future: PresentPerfect's The Princess's Captain, described as a "slow-burn romance" featuring Tempest Shadow and Twilight, with considerable emphasis on the "slow-burn" bit. This is being written in serial format, as a series of separate stories, so I may even be able to keep up with it. The setup appeals to me, anyway.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 187: Go with the Wyvern

The Danger Within has had a reasonable reception so far, though as I expected the fast pace of release has meant a few rough patches. It's got me writing again, though, so it's doing its job. Chapter 2 should be out within a week.

Read it Later story count: 372 (-6)

I don't think this week's title is Googleable, so I'll mention that "Go with the Wyvern" was the slogan used by the now-defunct Midland Red West bus company that operated in Worcestershire in the 1980s and '90s. (Yes, that was part of the inspiration for The Ballad of Wyverns' Rock.) Anyway, here's today's small collection of stories under review:

The Concerns of Butterflies by Jaisen
The Time Twilight Pranked Celestia by Skijarama
Wormy by Fluttrick
My Queen by Bootsy Slickmane

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

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Viking ZX's article on "The Indie Hypocrisy"

I was alerted on Present Perfect's Fimfiction blog to this fascinating op-ed article by Viking ZX (known as Max on that site) entitled "The Indie Hypocrisy". It's well worth the read, as are the comments on his Fimf post plugging it. Yes, that's right: a Fimfiction comments thread contains considerably more signal than noise. It does happen occasionally!

The gist of this article is that there's an odd disconnect between the general feeling that indie games, indie movies and so on are great, and the general feeling that indie books are bad. Viking ZX even gives an example where indie books were slagged off in a thread devoted to praising indie games, and reasonably enough feels irritated by the inconsistency.

Various people in the comments (there and on Fimf) who know much more about this than I do have made some fine points, for example the general lack of trustworthy curation for indie books – but one that struck me particularly is one that most certainly applies to fanfic as well. Many people, including me, have made it before in various situations, but it bears repeating:

Assessing writing is time-consuming.

Glance at a picture and you can generally tell within a few seconds whether it's any good and, more to the point, whether you like it. Listen to a song and you probably won't have to wait much longer to form an opinion. But writing isn't like that. A few stories are so good they grab you immediately and never let go. A larger chunk are so bad you know after a paragraph that they're rubbish. But there's a huge slice in the middle where you'll need to spend, at the very least, ten or fifteen minutes seeing how things go.

There is a flip side to this, as ocalhoun mentions in the Fimf comments: writing has a really low barrier to entry. If you can string a few words together, you can publish a story. You're not going to be able to create and publish an indie game unless you have some idea of the fundamentals of programming and design. As such, it's much easier for rubbish to get published in writing. By fanfiction standards, Fimfiction's "write 1,000 words vaguely on-topic and in coherent English" is quite a high barrier, by virtue of being a barrier at all.

Several commenters express sadness that in the Big Wide World of Original Fiction there's nothing really like Fimfiction's community. If you're a voracious reader of ponyfic, how do you decide what to read out of the 100,000-plus fics on the site? In most cases, recommendations will be part of the mix. On the whole, these work fairly well – if a fic is plugged by several people, not all close friends of the author, that's usually a good sign. You might not like the story, but it's rarely objectively bad.

A number of the people commenting on Viking ZX's piece are Proper Writers, in that they write (or seriously want to write) original fiction and sell it to people who have never seen a pastel pony in their lives. But even from my point of view as someone without such ambitions who is comfortable in the easy world of Equestria, I still found it thought-provoking. There is a difference between how indie games and indie books are treated: to what extent does there need to be?