Wednesday, 30 December 2015

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

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

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

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Fanfic reading: To Be the Candle

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

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

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

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

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

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Comic mini-review: MLP Holiday Special 2015

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

Saturday, 19 December 2015

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

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

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

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

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

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

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

Monday, 14 December 2015

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

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

Saturday, 12 December 2015

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

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

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 85: You Can Go Your Own Way

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

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

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Logan Reviews: My Little Pony Season 5

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

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

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A Worthy Attribute?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

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

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

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

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

UK of Equestria's overall S5 ranking list

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

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

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

1. Amending Fences
2. Crusaders of the Lost Mark

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

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

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

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

Monday, 30 November 2015

Episode review: S5E25&26: "The Cutie Re-Mark"

Alt!Rainbow Dash with Pinkamena and Maud
Insert the usual "you know, for kids" joke here
And so, the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ride comes to an end for another season. With rumours that the hiatus before S6 may be the longest yet, it was particularly important that S5 signed off with something memorable. Interestingly, this season's finale was not written by Meghan McCarthy; instead, Josh Haber took the reins for only the second time this season, the first being "Bloom & Gloom". The hype for this one was off the scale, so could the episode live up to those expectations?

Friday, 27 November 2015

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #36

IDW MLP:FiM comic issue 36, standard cover
Andy Price did the standard cover this time
Guess what? IDW's schedule is still a mess. How do comics companies get away with this? In some sectors of periodical publishing, you'd go bust if you were this poor at maintaining a reliable schedule. Right now, ComicList reckons that Art is Magic is already out (but Amazon have told pre-orderers that it'll be mid-December) and Art Gallery II has no firm release date at all. Sorry, IDW, but this is just not good enough.

End of rant. Here we are with the third part of the Siege of the Crystal Empire arc. I enjoyed the previous issue, which (perhaps generously) scraped a four-star rating, but this one knocks it into a cocked hat. This is definitely the best – and darkest – instalment so far, and a good deal of that is down to Chrysalis. I do hope she's never reformed; she's a truly evil villain, and that's great. There are some striking and disturbing panels in this issue, not least a "mind's eye" flashback and a reveal of one character's true form. I have to say I'm not sure how Whitley can tie everything together in #37 without rushing things, but I'll reserve judgement there. For now, I'll take this: it's a really satisfying read. This one gets an easy four. ★★★★

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 83: Mr Flibble's Very Cross

BronyScot 2015 seems to have gone very well, which is good to hear. It's a shame it's such a pain to get to Edinburgh from here, or I'd have been tempted to have gone. Well done to the BS crew (who, I suspect, don't actually use that name!). Anyway, another eight fics this week, which isn't bad going by my standards. Don't expect me necessarily to keep up this rate of reading, especially since I've been reading some slightly longer stories of late. Still, here are today's candidates:

Twilight's List by kits
Let Me Tell You About the Hole in My Face by Slavoj Zizek
Madmax x Pacce by roygbiv
A Real Baked Bad by Propellerface

Cancelled by Lucky Roll
The Truth Hurts by Metool Bard
Bloody 'Ell by TaviTwoHooves
Rainbow Rocks by Twinkletail

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Most of A Pony Kind of Christmas is now on Hasbro Studio Shorts

( Text link )

This is a little unexpected – I would have found it much less so had Hasbro done this after Christmas, but who knows what goes on in the minds of big corporations? Anyway, the Hasbro Studio Shorts YouTube channel has uploaded most of the songs from the recent A Pony Kind of Christmas album. All official and above board, yay! These are the tracks now available free:

"Days Gone By", "Jingle Bells", "Deck the Halls", "Jolly Ol' Saint Nick", "Last Year I Got Coal for Christmas", "Silent Night", "The Heart Carol" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".

That means the songs you'll still need to buy the album to hear are the opening track (also called "A Pony Kind of Christmas") and Pinkie Pie's version of "Twelve Days of Christmas".

I'm very pleased to see the full version of "The Heart Carol". I've liked the short version in the S2 episode for years, and it's great that we now have the full thing. "Days Gone By", an AJ adaptation of "Auld Lang Syne", is also very nice. However, the track I'm embedding at the top of this post is "Silent Night", simply because getting a full Fluttershy solo song is a) fairly rare and b) brilliant.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Episode review: S5E24: "The Mane Attraction"

Pinkie Pie explains straws to Svengallop
There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright
With this final episode before the season five finale, it's time to say goodbye to one of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's original writing team. After five seasons, Amy Keating Rogers is leaving for pastures new at Disney. and this is her very last episode. From the preview, it looked like being an Applejack ep, which seemed fitting as the first episode she wrote solo was "Applebuck Season". Late-season episodes are often less than stellar, but would this one buck that trend? After the break for more!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #35

Sara Richard's cover art is always striking
IDW are all over the place with their release dates at the moment: the Art Gallery II has been delayed until early December, while the Art is Magic book now has no definite release date at all, perhaps to avoid a clash with The Art of Equestria. Still, as I'm also all over the place with my comic review dates, I suppose I can cut them a bit of slack this one time! It wasn't all my fault, though, as a comic ordered from an eBay seller failed to arrive. Happily, a replacement ordered from Albion Toys instead came quickly. So...

This is the second comic in the four-issue Siege of the Crystal Empire arc that began moderately promisingly last month. This month's issue is also pretty good, I'm pleased to say. The first few pages deal with Sombra's origins, but thankfully it's not just a straight reprinting of his Fiendship story. Sombra and Chrysalis make a genuinely worrisome team-up, though I really can't believe the likes of Iron Will or Lightning Dust would go along with truly evil plans. Radiant Hope plays a significant role and is... naive, to say the least. Still, it's a solid issue with good artwork, and a fine full-page scene featuring Twilight just nudges this one into four-star territory. ★★★★

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 82: Everything has a meaning, if only we could read it

I watched "Bats!" last night. Then I went back and listened to the song again. Yes, for fun. I'd watch this episode over the one that precedes it ("Power Ponies") any day of the week. I mention this because it's only fair to warn my readers that I may have a very strange sense of what does and what does not constitute a good story. :P Eight fics under consideration today, so let's get a move on:

Griffon it Another Try by Winston
The Next Edward VIII by Gabriel LaVedier
The Only One in Color by RazgrizS57
The New Crop by xjuggernaughtx

Orange Crystals by dramatic_spoon
Mud, Sweat, and Tears by Hyperexponential
The Language of Stars by ObabScribbler
The Cancellation of Prince Blueblood by Georg

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The My Little Pony Movie is coming! (In two years' time...)

The big news today is the official confirmation from Hasbro that the less than imaginatively named The My Little Pony Movie will be released on 3 November 2017. Just under two years to go, then. My personal view, and I'm not alone in this, is that it will mark the end of Friendship is Magic as we know it today. There may well be a G4.5 rather than Hasbro making a clean break to a full G5, but I suspect the film will be an effective finale to the series as a whole.

If the rumours that the S5-S6 hiatus will be a year long prove to be true, then I believe S6 will be the final season of FiM proper. If it were a full, 26-episode season starting this time next year, then it would finish in the spring of 2017. That would leave just the right amount of time for hype to build for the movie. Of course, we know there will be a fourth Equestria Girls film at some point, and there's been some suggestion that we might get some official shorts during the hiatus.

But still. Let's hope that The My Little Pony Movie's content is more imaginative than its title, and that if it does prove to be the end of FiM, it provides it with a fitting send-off.

Update 15 Feb 2017: Of course, we now know that the release date will be different, that the S5-S6 hiatus was shorter than a year, and that S6 was not the final season. I've not changed any of the above, though I have altered the tag to fit with the confirmed title of My Little Pony: The Movie.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Episode review: S5E23: "The Hooffields and the McColts"

Fluttershy says goodbye to her furry friends
Look, this is my blog. I can put a picture of Fluttershy here because I want to.
(Posting slightly early because Blogger doesn't want to let me schedule this.)

Only two more regular episodes remain in S5 before the finale, so inevitably the thoughts of the My Little Pony fandom are starting to turn in that direction now. Still, I was pleased when it was announced that this one had been written by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songko, the team behind the excellent "Rarity Investigates!" and the also enjoyable "Castle Sweet Castle". Two episodes: two four-star ratings. Could they make it a hat-trick? Let's see!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #22: Pinkie Pie and Celestia

Amy Mebberson did the main cover once again
Well now, there's an interesting team-up for the My Little Pony side series. This comic was written by the Rice-Fosgitt-Breckel team who last got together for the excellent Fluttershy/Rainbow Dash FF, so I was hopeful of something special again. I didn't quite get that, as this is more of a simple "ponies doing cute and fun things" issue, but it's pleasant enough reading and Fosgitt's illustrative style continues to be attractive. Pinkie's baking scenes are a lot of fun, and as ever she manages to conjure up some bizarre creations. One or two insights into Celestia's feelings about Luna, though I do wonder whether they might have got a little past the reconciliation stage by now. Still, worth a look. ★★★

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 81: Based on a Novel by a Man Named Lear

There are various new tags available on Fimfiction. Some authors are going back and changing their stories' tags as a result. I may or may not, but probably not. And if you think I'm going back through 400 reviews and changing them all to match, you're mad. :P Also, go and buy The Art of Equestria, assuming you haven't done so already. Full review coming at some point, but it's warmly recommended.

Another productive week for me in the ponyfic-reading stakes! Eight more stories under review this time out, with a pretty wide selection of genres and focus characters. I'm pleased to say that several of them turned out to be very enjoyable reads, too. I even managed to find an interesting fic from an author who is almost entirely unknown, something which is fairly rare but always satisfying. Stories reviewed:

It's Always Sunny in Fillydelphia by Bobcat
Language by Taialin
After Care by Ebon Mane
Shut Up by UnlicensedBrony

Of choosing and stones. by chil304
Racist Barn by Ponydora Prancypants
Filth by TheCheshireCat
The Big Butterfly Brouhaha by adcoon

Monday, 9 November 2015

Episode review: S5E22: "What About Discord?"

Fluttershy is an orange
I can't help thinking of "Too Many Pinkie Pies" here...
I've been reading InquisitorM's long and interesting Fimfiction blog post on Fluttershy's psychological makeup, and I recommend you do the same. It reminds me that I've wanted to do my own post about how I see (and indeed write) Fluttershy for ages and ages now, but been too lazy to make it happen. I'll probably get it done eventually, but don't hold your breath.

All right, episode review time. This week's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was written by Neal Dusedau, which did leave me a little apprehensive, since he was responsible for the teleplay of the pretty uninspired "Princess Spike". Still, plenty of writers have written a clunker and then a great episode, so let's see whether "What About Discord?" can live up to its promising title – and a brief preview clip that promised a lot of fun.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Film review: Friendship Games

Let's Go, Wondercolts!
Gee, I wonder who the final six contestants might be...?
It seems a while ago now – because it is! – but a few weeks back, I went with some of the other Worcester meet regulars to the Vue cinema in the city centre to watch Friendship Games. We'd all thought for a while that we weren't going to get a big-screen release, seeing as this third Equestria Games instalment was a direct-to-TV movie, but happily we were wrong. Kudos to Vue for reducing their usual (high) prices for this film, too. Attendance wasn't bad, a mix of bronies and familes. Anyway, on to the review! This is a short one, since otherwise I'm never going to get it done.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Fimfiction rules

There has, finally, been a Fimfiction site post about the recent changes to its rules. This should have happened immediately the changes were announced, but better late than never, I suppose. One bit of the rules that caught my eye (and I don't seem to be alone in that) was this:
Sharing access to unpublished stories or chapters is only allowed for the purpose of help with editing or other stages of the writing process.
In response to horizon's bringing this up, Xaquseg (one of the site admins) had this to say:
It's fine if the people in question are helping with the writing process, such as acting as additional prereaders, or commenting on an incomplete idea.
That's... interesting. It means, for example, that authors can't offer sight of their unpublished stories as Patreon rewards – unless, as ocalhoun appreciated, said supporters "act as additional prereaders".

Nudge nudge, know what I mean, say no more. :P

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 80: Spotlight on Friendship is Optimal

Hmm, I think I'll start giving a little teaser each week about something I'll be reviewing the following week. See the end of this post for the first one! Anyway, it's been several months since I did a spotlight edition of PR, so let's do something about that now. Friendship is Optimal is just coming up to its third birthday, and I've known about it for most of that time, yet tended to shy away because of its unappealing (to me) tag combination and summary. Persuaded at last to give it a shot, it turned out to be worth the effort.

Friendship is Optimal by Iceman
Celestia [sort of] and OCs
Alternate Universe/Human; 39k words; Nov 2012; Teen
Hasbro just released the official My Little Pony MMO, with an A.I. Princess Celestia to run it.
That short description is unpromising, suggesting a story full of poor quality wish fulfilment. In fact, once you get past the "look how much I know about games" first chapter, it's mostly fascinating. More hard(ish) SF than actual ponyfic in some ways, Friendship is Optimal retains just enough plausibility and connection with our own world to be unnerving. "Celestia" herself is by far the most interesting character, with the humans generally a little less compelling, but it remains very readable throughout. ★★★★

More detailed discussion on this story can be found beyond the break, though be aware that this will contain significant spoilers.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #21: Spike and Zecora

Amy Mebberson's main cover is sneeze-inducing in itself!
I know, I know, this is horribly late! But happily, it's a comic that I quite enjoyed. Although you couldn't really claim that Ted Anderson and Agnes Garbowska had produced a classic here, it's still an enjoyable read. The plot, in which most of Ponyville goes down with an unpleasant illness, is fairly thin and mostly an excuse for throwing these two together, but it bounces along pleasantly. There are some fun touches – look carefully at Spike's genetics chart! Noteworthy is that Garbowska's style, which I'm not always a great fan of, seems to suit Spike in particular rather well. Reading this comic makes a nice way of spending a few minutes. ★★★

Monday, 2 November 2015

Episode review: S5E21: "Scare Master"

Pinkie and Fluttershy with goodie bag
"Pinkie, when you said it was 'full of Fluttershy goodness'..."
With a title like that, there's only one pony that Natasha Levinger's episode could possibly focus on. Fluttershy eps have a bit of a mixed reputation, with some of them (eg "Hurricane Fluttershy") being brilliant but some (eg "Putting Your Hoof Down") being rather less so. On top of that, this is the episode that was released in error six weeks ago, so many people will have seen it long since. Thankfully, nothing seriously spoilery for intervening episodes happened – though it could have been very different! Let's see how this one went...

Saturday, 31 October 2015

New(ish) music: "Peace At Last" by Arvianth (feat. M-G UniNew)

I don't cover music very much in this blog, which is actually something I'd like to change a little bit. Music has always been a major part of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, both the show and its fandom. It's probably harder now than it was four years ago for a new song to become well known across the fandom, at least unless it's by an already-superfamous artist like Aviators or BlackGryph0n. There's still some fine music out there, though, including this instrumental by Arvianth (feat. M-G UniNew), released in late September. The piece was inspired by the closing scene of "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", with Luna at last able to sleep peacefully.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 79: Following the River of Fics Downstream

A slightly longer edition of Ponyfic Roundup than sometimes today, since for a change I've actually managed to get through more than five stories. There are eight this time – count 'em, eight! And not a single MarbleMac shipfic amongst them! As usual, they're all pretty short, but I hope there'll be a reasonable variety for you guys. Here are the fics I'm covering in this edition:

Scar Tissue by RadiantBeam
But it was for Equestria Darling! by CristalGalaxy
Featured on 08/31/1014! by alexmagnet
Kindred Spirits by Majin Syeekoh

Lunch by Titanium Dragon
Let Your Sprits Fly by Manaphy
Darkly, Through Dreams of Home by Chuckfinley
The Day the Reading Died by DrakeyC

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Friendship Games on the big screen

As many of you will already know, Vue Cinemas here in the UK are showing Friendship Games throughout half-term week, ie from now until next Sunday. Prices seem to be around the £5 mark, quite cheap for a cinema ticket these days. I went to see it with my local meetup group in Worcester last Saturday, and there should be a full review in the moderately near future. Suffice it to say for now that I think it benefits from the big-screen treatment, though I still feel that it falls short of Rainbow Rocks.

Also, if you take along the voucher from your confirmation email, you can get a coupon for £5 off Equestria Girls toys at Smyths. (Minimum purchase £15.) I didn't bother as I don't collect those, but if you do it's worth having.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Episode review: S5E20: "Hearthbreakers"

Limestone complains about the state of the Rock Farm
"Pinkie! Are you telling me you forgot the rock cakes?"
It's episode review time again, and as it's late October we naturally have... a Christmassy episode. Well, of course. I can only guess that season five's original broadcast schedule would have had this ep airing in December, but that the mid-season hiatus messed up those plans. Anyway, this one was written by Nick Confalone, whose only previous My Little Pony episode was the okay-I-guess "Party Pooped". Second time round, how did he do? Read on!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Well, this won't do

DemonAngel13 said in one of her blind commentaries that there needed to be an episode starring Coco Pommel and Maud Pie. I agree with her, but as this seems unlikely to happen soon, I went off to Fimfiction to look for a story that had both character tags.

With the exception of one by Sir Hat that's both cancelled and M-rated, there isn't one. I am most upset, to the extent that I may even have to write such a thing myself. Though I probably won't, because, you know, laziness.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 78: Post-Convention Edition

Be honest: you knew this title was coming, didn't you? Anyway, before I begin: since Titanium Dragon dug his claws into We Who with Songs Beguile, I've had more upvotes (across my stories) than I have for ages. I already knew a TD NR was a badge of honour, but even so! :P As far as Ponyfic Roundup is concerned, it's a fairly short one this week as I haven't been in the best of health. Still, some interesting stories to look at. They are:

An Unepic Pony War in the Non-Distant Future by anowack
Shutdown by Cupcakes
Ice by alarajrogers
Ponies Debate Gun Control by PresentPerfect
Things Better Left Unseen by Take

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

UK PonyCon makes the mainstream media (again)

This happened in 2013, with a decent Daily Mail article and an iffy Guardian one (yes, it really was that way round), and it's happened again this year. For some reason, the only place I can find the article right now is here on, but it's not paywalled, so it's there if you want to have a look at it for yourself.

It's a reasonable article, though it calls the convention "UK Pony Con" and I can't help noticing that the title bar refers to "grown men" even though the headline says "grown ups". There's also heavy emphasis on bronies, even though UK PonyCon is an all-gens, all-fans convention rather than a brony event as such. No, I'm not in it – but several people I know are. :P

Monday, 19 October 2015

Episode review: S5E19: "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows"

Pinkie literally breaks
There: proof that ponies really are marshmallows
After last week's episode brought one of the longest arcs in the history of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to a close, we were all expecting something a bit more straightforward this time round. Well, as straightforward as you can get when Pinkie Pie is at its centre! This was the first episode to be written by G. M. Berrow (credited as Gillian M. Berrow, but I'm using the old tag for convenience). While her Pinkie chapter book isn't one of my favourites in that series, I was eager to see what she could do with a cartoon script.

Friday, 16 October 2015

UK PonyCon 2015 report: Sunday

The King's Hall early on Sunday
A quiet King's Hall early on Sunday morning. Idris in orange!
After a generally good night's sleep (despite a couple of students being annoyingly noisy far below), it was a slightly more leisurely start on the Sunday, thanks to not having to arrive early for registration. Admittedly this had been accomplished smoothly, but simply being able to wander in with con badge ready around neck once proceedings began at 10 o'clock was very nice. Leicester station was packed with people heading to the later Argentina v Namibia Rugby World Cup match, but I had no trouble getting to the Mercure.

I was very pleased to find Idris early on, and we had a short but pleasant chat before I wandered off to do a little early shopping. Despite being sorely tempted, I didn't buy Kuuru Pop's Filly Fluttershy plushie, as I felt one was enough! Instead, I picked up a couple more prints and a few badges. Back in the main hall, Idris and his remarkable cosplay made for quite an attraction, and our little group ended up hosting an impromptu fanfic-and-welding mini-panel. (No, really.)

Thursday, 15 October 2015

UK PonyCon 2015 report: Friday/Saturday

UK PonyCon 2015 merch haul
The obligatory "What I bought at the convention" photo
I'm feeling a little under the weather at the moment, but this year I left the con crud until I'd got home! As I've mentioned briefly in other posts recently, UK PonyCon 2015 made for an extremely enjoyable weekend. It was by far the largest in the con's history, selling out for the first time with a total attendance of around 600. Unfortunately this did mean that the planned on-the-day sales had to be cancelled very close to the event, which caused some people to be disappointed. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2016 con was advance-only.

For the first time in its 12-year history, UK PonyCon 2015 was held in the same venue as the previous year's event: the Mercure "The Grand" Hotel on the edge of Leicester city centre. We won't be back there next year, partly for reasons I'll get to in the next post, but in purely geographical terms it was a winner: close to both Leicester station and The Last Plantagenet, a Wetherspoons which was welcoming despite our con clashing with the Rugby World Cup! Mentions of "the pub" refer to this place.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Episode review: S5E18: "Crusaders of the Lost Mark"

CMC flanks with cutie marks
The cutie marks we wondered if we would ever see
Apologies for the lateness of this review, but trying to post about an episode from my phone in the middle of a convention would not have been a great idea. Especially this episode. It was an excellent con anyway, but this was the icing on the cake. I know there are those (including a significant number in the fanfic community) who were underwhelmed. Well, sorry, guys, but I'm not going to join you for this one. I'll go with my fellow con-goers, who were overwhelmingly thrilled. An emotional rather than a rational response? Absolutely, and proud of it!

As you will have realised by now, this review isn't quite following the usual pattern. There seems no point in avoiding spoilers four days on, hence my choice of opening screenshot. Still, I'd better use a break anyway to keep things reasonably tidy – so follow me past it to see me gush embarrassingly about how much I loved this, Amy Keating Rogers' penultimate My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode – which went out five years to the day after the very first ep of FiM did.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Back from UK PonyCon!

I loved it, too. Absolutely loved it. This is my fourth MLP convention (two BUCKs and two of these) and this, I think, was my favourite of the lot. I'll do a report post here in due course, but I'm too tired at the moment. There'll also be an episode review, of course – unsurprisingly, it was quite a topic of conversation on the Sunday of the con! Comic reviews will have to wait their turn, but they'll be here eventually. However, there will not be a Ponyfic Roundup this Wednesday, as I've had very little spare time to read. PR will return on the 21st, all being well.

Friday, 9 October 2015

And I'm off to UK PonyCon!

Later this morning, I'll be setting off for the wilds of Leicestershire. I have to leave early because the 40 miles from Birmingham to Leicester will take me nearly an hour, which is ridiculous. What is this, CrossCountry Trains, 1850? The other legs will be much faster, but I also need to stop off at Birmingham New Street to have something to eat. As you can tell, my con break is getting off to a truly fascinating start. :D

And yes, I have a Travel Fluttershy with me. (Okay, it's a blind bag figure, but that sounds less interesting.)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 77: Pre-Convention Edition

As those who are bored enough to read my Fimfiction blog may already know, We Who with Songs Beguile was reviewed by Titanium Dragon yesterday. He wasn't desperately impressed, and since he was reading it from the Royal Guard queue, that's one other thing I no longer need worry about. A rather more public rejection than last time, I suppose. Still, I'm well aware of how prestigious the "Not Recommended by Titanium Dragon Club" is, so I shall revel in my new-found membership thereof! :P

Anyway, with UK PonyCon bearing down on me like a beary-downy thing, I'm not sure whether there'll even be a Ponyfic Roundup next Wednesday. However, there certainly is one this Wednesday, so here goes.

Silence by Eskerata
To Be A Mule by archonix
The Beginning of Scootaloo by Stasiarose
Home by RBDash47
Pink Royal Blood by Ponyess

Monday, 5 October 2015

UK PonyCon tickets are SOLD OUT

For what the organisers say is the first time in the convention's 12-year existence, UK PonyCon has completely sold out. Usually, they sell tickets on the door – but not this year. Unfortunately, if you don't have a ticket already, you won't be able to attend. If you're in the area, by all means drop into The Last Plantagenet (the Wetherspoons pub just down the road) and say hello anyway, as it'll be full of pony people at lunchtime, but I do understand that it won't be at all the same.

I don't know what the venue's capacity is, but we (just about) fitted 350+ people in last year, and I know that there's more space available this time. I'd guess that a sell-out means at least 500 people, therefore. That would make this by far the largest UK PonyCon ever, and (because of the BUCK hiatus) also the biggest MLP event in Britain during 2015. If you are going, I'll see you next weekend!

Episode review: S5E17: "Brotherhooves Social"

Apple Bloom and 'Orchard Blossom' sing a duet
"Do you know the way to Amareillo?"
It looks as though a fourth Equestria Girls film is on its way. Hardly surprising, since we know the pony movie is scheduled for 2017, meaning there's a film-shaped gap in 2016. Well, there was. Personally, I thought the third film was weaker than Rainbow Rocks, so I hope this one can pick up the pace again.

Anyway, back to the main series. This week we have "Brotherhooves Social", an episode written by Dave Polsky, who last graced the Pony screens with the distinctly moderate "Appleoosa's Most Wanted". After the break, we'll see how he did.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Con-related slowdown approaching

It's now only just over a week until UK PonyCon 2015. I'll be away from Friday morning to Monday teatime, and will only have internet access via my phone for the duration, so this blog probably won't be updated during the convention. The review of that Saturday's episode will therefore be delayed a few days. As I need to get things ready, I won't be doing much between now and then, either – although there will be a Ponyfic Roundup of some sort on Wednesday. Naturally, after I've got home, I'll do a con report, though probably not straight away.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 76: Copper Bottom Tympani in Horse Platoons

First: go and watch the reboot of Danger Mouse. If you're in the UK, it's on the BBC iPlayer, but I expect it can be obtained in other ways. It's great fun. Also, yes, I've seen the leak of the synopsis list for the rest of S5. I won't spoil anything here, but they're only what we'd have seen on Zap2it or something anyway; it's not as if they give away the entire stories. Okay, back to ponyfic. Six short stories for consideration this time round:

Swan Lake by 314
Lost Cities by Cold in Gardez
Echoplex by thewoollymammoth
Insomnia by Pale Horse
The Wrong Fork by PoweredByTea
Sombra's Advisor by Supahsnail

Monday, 28 September 2015

Episode review: S5E16: "Made in Manehattan"

Coco Pommel gets emotional
"At last you notice me again... and you let those humans take all the attention?"
I was a bit preoccupied last night watching Equestria Girls: Friendship Games – a review will follow at some point, but it looks as though it's going to get a cinema release in the UK next month. If so, I'd like to follow the pattern for the first two films and write my review only after that. Sneak peek: it was better than the first film but not as good as Rainbow Rocks. Mind you, the 287 ad breaks probably didn't help.

For that reason, this review will be a bit shorter than usual, and much of it will be simply a light reworking of the one I posted over on Fimfiction earlier.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Fluttershy episodes: the best and the worst

Settle back, everyone, for this is a post made simply so that I have an excuse for talking about how brilliant Fluttershy is. Not that I need one, of course, since everyone knows that she's completely... hmm. "Fluttershy" is probably the only acceptable adjective here. The question of "What is a Fluttershy episode?" is one that I have answered with the same simplicity: it's one that I consider to be a Fluttershy episode. Here we go, then:

Three Good Episodes for Fluttershy

3. A Bird in the Hoof
If you think this is a controversial choice, thank your lucky stars that I didn't choose "Bats!" instead. :P But this episode makes the list because Charlotte Fullerton does something that far too many Fluttershy writers don't: she concentrates on facets of 'Shy's character other than her shyness. The whole mess is set up by her impulsiveness in taking Philomena, while we later see her depth of animal caretaking knowledge, her almost limitless patience and – yes! – her calmness under pressure. (Specifically, when the Royal Guards come calling.)

2. Filli Vanilli
My top two are very, very close, and on some days I might even put this episode ahead. Forget Pinkie Pie being irritating for a bit and think about the ending. If you can't feel happy at the sheer joyfulness experienced by Fluttershy, singing on stage in her Ponytones sweater, then you surely have no soul. There wasn't a single time in this ep that I thought, "That's not right for Fluttershy" – and that counts for a great deal.

1. Hurricane Fluttershy
I know, I know, the most predictable choice ever. I haven't really stopped raving about this Cindy Morrow episode since it first went out. It's probably not quite as much of an achievement as "Filli Vanilli", but it's the episode that I enjoy most – and as with my Ponyfic Roundup ratings, that's what counts here. There is no better exploration in the entire series of the fascinating friendship between 'Shy and Rainbow Dash.

And now for the bit you've all been waiting for:

Three Bad Episodes for Fluttershy

3. Putting Your Hoof Down
Who are you, and what have you done with the Charlotte Fullerton who wrote "A Bird in the Hoof"? More to the point, what have you done with Ponyville? Angel is written horribly, going beyond his usual grumpiness and into the realms of actual domestic violence. Fluttershy doesn't seem to know how to cope with anything, and it shows. I would actually like to see another episode with her interacting with Iron Will (yes, I know the comics have done it), just so the damage from this could be repaired. Thank goodness "Hurricane Fluttershy" was on the horizon by this point.

2. MMMystery on the Friendship Express
The recent "Rarity Investigates" shows how a Pony detective story can work. This episode shows how it can fall flat on its face – and its ludicrous characterisation of Fluttershy is among its worst features. With everything we know of her up to this point, it makes no sense whatsoever for her to have: a) taken a bite of the cake and b) used a disguise that requires her to shovel coal and that very clearly shows her mane. Gah.

1. Magic Duel
Larson! Popular writer he may be, but he's made a bit of a mess of Fluttershy on several occasions. Think of "Ponyville Confidential" and the floods of tears over those tail extensions. "Magic Duel" is the one that really annoys me, though, all the more so because so many people love it because OhmigoshTrixie! The scene in the library, Rainbow Dash totally ignoring her, that bunny costume, the general cowardliness... I don't like this ep all that much anyway, but Fluttershy's scenes make it that much the worse.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Fanfic reading: Ever Let the Fancy Roam

It's been quite a long time since I've done a reading of any of my fanfics, and as I had an idle few minutes the other day I thought I might as well. I chose to do Ever Let the Fancy Roam, my Slice of Life story about Fancy Pants and his butler preparing for a small dinner party. This fic has the unusual (for me) distinction of actually having won a writing contest where I wasn't the only entrant – the "Making the Most of the Mundane" competition that the Characters that Need More Stories group ran a while back.

On another writing-related note, The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking has broken the 200-view barrier. Hardly a startling achievement in three and a bit weeks, but it's more than Ever Let the Fancy Roam has managed in seven months... :P

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 75: Three-quarters of a Century!

Yeah, I've seen the EQD mascots. One particular irritation, which I may post about at some point if I can be bothered, but it's been quite a busy week for me (the steam trains were great, by the way) so I'll move on for now. I've managed to get in a reasonable amount of reading, so here we go with another Ponyfic Roundup. PR 75! Sooner or later I'll have to start thinking about what to do for PR 100, which should arrive sometime in the spring, but that's a good way off yet. Instead, here's the usual assortment of stories:

Would It Matter If I Was? by GaPJaxie
Yes, It Matters by RealityCheck
Resolution by xjuggernaughtx
Another Dragon's Quest by draconmannvlvs
Nothing. by Fonypan
Twilight Sparkle Makes a Cup of Tea by GhostOfHeraclitus

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #34

My Little Pony comic #34 cover A
Andy Price's main cover is really very nicely done
After several generally rather disappointing main-series stories in IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series, this month we get the start of "Siege of the Crystal Empire", the first four-part outing since the controversial "Reflections" arc. Notably, this one is drawn by Andy Price but not written by long-time collaborator Katie Cook; Jeremy Whitley does the honours. Heather Breckel is the colourist. I think it's a definite improvement, too: although not perfect (one pony says "my hand slipped", a shoddy error) there's a lot of actual intrigue going on by the end.

Price's artwork looks good for the most part, as does Breckel's colour work, while Whitley's writing certainly seems rather stronger than Cook's was, slightly uncertain opening scene aside. The question of why certain characters would team up will need to be addressed, so I can't be more than "cautiously optimistic" right now, but here's hoping. Probably the most enjoyable main-series comic since issue #24 – it's a three-star issue, but a top-end three and at last I can recommend a main-series comic again! ★★★

Monday, 21 September 2015

Episode review: S5E15: "Rarity Investigates!"

Noir Rarity lounges on the couch
"A lot depends on who's in the saddle."
Fresh from last week's Rarity episode, this week we have... a Rarity episode! And its writing credits bothered me a bit when I first saw them, as there are two writers – Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco – with a story by four people – Lewis, Songco, Meghan McCarthy and M. A. Larson. Can this end well? There's only one way to find out, and that's to follow me past the break for the usual spoiler-filled waffle about "Rarity Investigates!" in all its glory... or otherwise.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Curses, foiled... well, not again, since this was the first time. But still foiled!

I'm off to spend most of the next two days doing steam trainy things (here), so the episode review may be a little bit late this weekend. Though as it's always late, I don't expect you'll notice any difference. Yay for procrastination! :D Anyway, I do have a little bit of news, though it's probably of interest to no one but me. This is my blog, though, so you can lump it. :P

It Doesn't Matter Now has been rejected by The Royal Guard. In all honesty, I'd almost forgotten that I'd submitted it at all! The TRG prereaders felt that my fic "lacked substance", that Pinkie was inconsistently written and that there wasn't enough buildup to the ending. Oh, and they didn't like that 50-word-plus long opening sentence: it was considered to be "clumsy" and overlong. This was the first fic I'd ever submitted to TRG, so I didn't know what their replies looked like. Answer: a standard template with some story-specific comments added in. Seems pretty sensible.

With one tiny exception (pointing me at Overly Extensive Editors, which is intended for 4k-word-plus fics) I've no problem with any of the feedback, as it was pleasant, helpful and constructive. I won't be changing this fic, though: I don't want to make it more substantial, for one thing. It might be a more accomplished story if I did that, but it wouldn't be the story I wanted to tell. It got into the RCL in the form it is now (admittedly to my very considerable surprise) and has been very well received overall, so it's staying as it is. First sentence most definitely included. :P

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #20: Discord and Luna

MLP Friends Forever comic #20, main cover
Amy Mebberson's main cover promises a little more than the issue delivers
With a pairing like that, this month's IDW comic was one of the most eagerly awaited in ages. The established team of Jeremy Whitley, Brenda Hickey and Heather Breckel maje a reasonable job of it, though it isn't the classic I'd been hoping for. There's not much wrong with the artwork, and the colours are lovely and vibrant. The writing, though, is variable. Luna is generally written pretty well – especially when she's being sarcastic. Discord, on the other hand, seems a bit off, with his usual easy style made to feel a little awkward. Also, there are heaps of references, some I don't get (those talking hands?) though I do question dressing Apple Bloom as Inara. Not quite the classic I'd hoped for, but a fun read and pretty enjoyable. ★★★

Monday, 14 September 2015

Episode review: S5E14: "Canterlot Boutique"

Rarity gets angry with Sassy Saddles
Applejack (and the Mane Six out of shot) know it's time to run
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is back on our screens at last! It's only been a few months, but it's sometimes felt like a lot longer. We kick off S5 part two with a Rarity episode, and those are rarely terrible. The fact that the writer for this ep was Amy Keating Rogers also helped to make me more optimistic towards it, as I've generally liked her episodes. After the break, there'll be the usual spoiler-filled review of how good I thought it actually was.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

One month until UK PonyCon!

Okay, actually just under a month, but never mind. I have the ticket, I have the hotel booking, I have... well, okay, I don't have the train tickets yet, as I'm buying them on the day, but I do know where I'm going! (Leicester. Big place to the east of Birmingham. Where Thomas Cook ran his first excursion from. All that stuff.)

As usual with these things, I'm galloping around in small circles trying to get things ready while I can still convince myself that it's not actually "last minute" yet. Admittedly not being staff, panellist, performer or cosplayer helps there, but you'd be amazed how tricky it can be working out which pony shirts to take. (Okay, you probably wouldn't.)

Attendance last year was (from memory) in the high 300s, and I think most people expect that figure to be exceeded this time round. It's by a long way the biggest pony event in Britain during 2015 (thanks to BUCK taking the year off) so there'll be quite a few complete con newcomers there – though I hope that, having experienced it, they'll be back next year!

Although nothing's been said, and for all I know it may not even have been decided, I get the feeling that UK PonyCon will be back to its traditional peripatetic ways next year. The venue hotel in Leicester hasn't covered itself with glory in one or two respects (double-bookings, mainly) and besides, it's nice to allow people in different parts of the UK to visit easily. That means it may be harder for me to reach in 2016, which in turn means that I need to make sure I make the most of next month's event!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

This is where actually researching for a fic gets me...

Email from Amazon about Nietzsche
The small print on these things now says, "We hope you enjoyed receiving this message."
In the course of doing my (fairly minimal) research for The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking, I had a poke around Amazon's selection of existentialism-related literature. It seems that the site now believes that I have developed a deep interest in profound questions of existence. In reality, of course, I was just looking to see if I could find inspiration for horse puns.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 73: The Lonely C and the Sky

I realised, after reading three stories this week, that their authors' names all began with C – so I sought out three more fics which also fitted the bill. (Gah, AmEng influence is so strong on the net these days that I'm starting to pause when writing "fitted" in that context. Grr.) I'm not sure it made any significant difference to the overall quality, since all these fics were already on my RiL list – but it gave me something to write here, and that's the main thing.

Applejack Anonymous by Clavier
Fluttershy Sits Down With Lyra For a Day by Church
Wyrmlysan by Chris
But I Don't Want To Not Die by Cerulean Fantasy
What We Wanted to Do by Cold in Gardez
A Night In The Life of the Imaginitive Gamer by CogWing

Monday, 7 September 2015

The Lauren Faust and M. A. Larson Show at EQLA

I find it somehow amusing that the way this blog handles tags means that Mitch is listed as "ma larson". Anyway, I can't find a video of this big Equestria LA event – though with luck one will surface – so here's the Equestria Daily report. Quite a lot of information from Lauren Faust that I didn't know, though I don't know how much of that is genuinely "first time in public" stuff and how much is just things everyone in the fandom except me has known since 2012. Still, it's not absurdly long and is worth a read. Don't expect a big "All the reasons I left the show" reveal, but there are a couple more pieces added to the jigsaw.

In other news, my liveblog of AestheticB's The Immortal Game has an entry for the first two chapters. Naturally, it's packed with spoilers.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

BronyBeeb presents "Make a Wish (Extended Version)"

Time for another BBC Micro rendition of a My Little Pony song. This isn't actually the one I was expecting to release next – that honour goes to a much older number, one which I now expect to reveal next month – but there is a reason for it. Simply put, 10 October, which just happens to be the first day of UK PonyCon, will also be the fifth birthday of Friendship is Magic. So what better song to mark the occasion than one actually about a birthday?

In other news, I am grinning stupidly because someone has apparently got to Louder Yay by searching for "Noseybonk fanfic". I've never written any, but... well, if you don't know who Noseybonk is, have a look here on creator Adrian Hedley's YouTube channel. You won't regret it. (Well, you might, but by then it'll be too late...)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 72: Where Your Fears and Horrors Come True

I've managed to get through eight fics this week, which is nice as it's got my Read it Later list down to under 430 for the first time in quite a while. Sorry, City of Doors guy! Among today's tales are one of the fandom's most (in)famous old fics and the sequel to a longer story I really liked a few months ago. As usual, I've tried to ensure that a reasonable variety of stories is covered. The fics under review this time are:

Just Like Old Times by DustyPwny
How can I trust you anymore? by callypony
Never a Wonderbolt by SkyeSilverwing
Friends With Discounts by Hyzaku

Rainbow Factory by AuroraDawn
Understanding Eternity by Angel
Neither Brass nor Bold by JohnPerry
The Luna Cypher by iisaw

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Pony convention ticket prices around the world

It's often been said – by me, among others – that we in the UK face massively higher costs for going to My Little Pony conventions than fans in other countries where cons are held. Is it true, though? I did a little research on the matter and discovered that it's true to an extent – but not for all the events held over here.

The graph below shows the cost of a standard adult weekend ticket (in pounds) for a number of pony conventions around the world, using 2015 prices if I could find them or 2016 ones if they were already available. For cons with variable pricing according to when you book, I chose the non-discounted advance option.

Comparative price graph showing the cost of admission to each con
Red = UK, Blue = North America, Green = Europe, Purple = Other
BUCK is by far the most expensive pony convention in the world, and not just when compared with North American events. Another UK con, GBBC, comes in second. However, the other two British conventions, UK PonyCon and BronyScot, are much cheaper and nestle comfortably in with the bulk of the international pack.

On the plus side, the embracing of FiM by the all-gens UK PonyCon and the arrival of BronyScot last year mean that it's not a case of having to pay £100 for a ticket if you want to go to a British convention at all. These events are valuable features on the con landscape, and having that choice is a fine thing.

Please don't use this graph simply to have a go at BUCK. Yes, their tickets are extremely expensive by global standards, there's no denying that. But bear in mind that their running costs are stupidly high and that they simply couldn't make the sums add up with £40 tickets. Our big-event economy is, frankly, broken. :(

Monday, 31 August 2015

New story by me: The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking

Cover image for The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking
Hat adapted from this resource by ZuTheSkunk (CC by-sa 3.0)
Remember when I published To Be the Candle and said that I'd had a silly story in the works for a while? Well, this is that story. Partly inspired by a comment on a Fimfiction post, no less, and the first fic I've written in which Applejack is the main character. Celestia knows how I'm going to handle her voice if I ever do a reading of this story, but I'm not going to worry about that now.

The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking by Loganberry
Applejack and Twilight
Comedy/Slice of Life; 2k words; Aug 2015; Everyone
An existentialist fruit story. Starring Applejack. Of course.
After a hard day's work in the apple orchard, Applejack likes to relax with a good book. This time, she's ditched the adventure stories for something altogether more profound. It's a good job she has Twilight to talk to.

This is one of those fics that started out with me writing a silly paragraph and ended up turning into a published story. Sometimes those work (It Doesn't Matter Now followed that route) and sometimes they don't, but they're usually the stories I find the most fun to write. This one was partly inspired by this comment of JohnPerry's, so I suppose it has some marginal connection with It Doesn't Matter Now anyway. There's probably a nice philosophical point to be made there, but I'm too tired to think of one. Ask Applejack.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Project Horizons is complete

Somber's Fallout: Equestria side story Project Horizons has been completed after four years. I don't have a lot of interest in reading it myself even when it turns up in a sensible format on Fimfiction – 1.7 million words is ridiculous, and I'm told huge swathes of the story are miserably depressing anyway – but considering that this fic was already well under way when I joined the fandom in 2012, I think its completion deserves a mention.

Friday, 28 August 2015

And the winner is...

...The Immortal Game by AestheticB.

Yeah, I know I whinged a little about dark stories in my earlier post, so why am I choosing what seems to be the darkest on my shortlist? Partly because I've wondered about it for ages and never got round to reading it, and so this might actually get me to read the damn thing at last. Partly because it got a four-star review from Chris – that's all I know; I haven't read the review. And partly because it seems to promise plenty of Celestia, and if the show can't provide that then fanfic will have to do it!

I'll get started next week, all being well. Updates will generally be over on my Fimfiction blog rather than here, since more people read that and since Fimf's commenting setup is better.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

BronyScot moves to two days... sort of

Some (to me) surprising news from BronyScot: although originally announced as a one-day convention, it will now be spreading into Sunday, with the "Rock Nessie" concert being held that evening. They're doing this, they say, to allow more space for other events on the Saturday. Tickets for Rock Nessie cost £10 and are available from the BronyScot webstore.

This is an interesting move, but also a slightly risky one. I have faith in BronyScot's ability to pull off the organising side of things, but the change is likely to mess up some people's travel plans, and certainly their budgets. An extra night in a hotel, plus a little more food and local travel, could easily add £80 or so to the total cost. Given that there doesn't seem to be anything happening during Sunday daytime, that's a lot of extra money for people to find, especially for an otherwise inexpensive convention.

And, of course, anyone whose personal circumstances mean that they can only go for Saturday will now miss out on Rock Nessie altogether. I'm now almost thankful that I finally decided that I couldn't go, since I might have ended up in that boat. I wouldn't have been too happy about that, since the concert would have been a major part of the attraction for me.

BronyScot now runs on 21 and 22 November, so the announcement has been made a little under three months to go. It's probably made the change just soon enough for it not to cause really serious problems – another month might have been a very different story – so with luck the majority of attendees will be able to extend their stays should they wish.

Reading back over what I've written, it does seem a little negative. I don't mean it to be: I certainly don't wish any ill on BronyScot, which has impressed me since its founding with its level-headed approach and affordable pricing. I still expect the con to be a success, and I hope that it will be enough of one to continue (should its organisers wish) in future years. If so, I may even get there one day myself!