Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 41: A Happy Medium

Some of you may have noticed that I experimented last week with posting Ponyfic Roundup 40 on my Fimfiction blog as well as here. I didn't exactly have a huge response, but I wasn't expecting one; I just wanted to see how practical it was. The biggest drawback is the lack of a scheduling feature, but otherwise it seems to work. However, those of you who've stuck with me on Louder Yay deserve more than just for me to shift over to Fimfiction lock, stock and barrel.

So: this week's PR will be on both sites, but it will not appear on Fimfiction until the weekend. In other words, you guys get to see it first; I intend to maintain this little "exclusivity period" in the future. And if I only have time to post in one place any week, it'll be here. Okay, back to the actual stories: this time I've been reading some mid-length fics, by which I mean between 10K and 70K words in length. I turned up some interesting tales, too, as the following will demonstrate...

Pick of the fics

Honey Pie by SPark
Pinkie Pie, Changeling and Mane Six
Romance/Sad/Adventure; 31K words; Apr 2014; Teen
A changeling, cut off from its hivemates after the failed Canterlot operation, forms an unlikely bond with a likewise broken Pinkie Pie. If (and it's quite a big if) you can swallow Pinkie's initial unhappiness, you'll find a well written story that combines the central unlikely pairing with some nice slice-of-life and quite an exciting climactic scene. The changeling character is well realised, pony characterisation is mostly satisfying (though one Mane Sixer is a bit one-dimensional) and the world-building is very good. There's a small amount of discussion of "bucking" (a ponyism I don't like) but nothing too explicit; Teen seems perfectly appropriate. A bonus Q&A section is interesting. A sequel exists, which I'll probably read at some point. ★★★★

Other stories

The 63rd Rune by Alexstrazsa
Mane Six, Celestia and Octavia
Comedy/Adventure; 36K words; Jul 2011; Everyone
Twilight's spell goes wrong and the Mane Six become stallions! Can they reverse the spell before its effects become permanent? A very old Rule 63 story, possibly one of the first of any consequence to use the now-standard Male Six names such as Dusk Shine. It's slightly better than the superficially similar On a Cross and Arrow (PR 37) as its tone is more consistent, though technically it's a bit rough, being in need of considerable proofreading for minor errors. Octavia's scenes feel like a tacked-on bit of fanservice, but it's refreshing to see her before she was largely confined to tiresome OctaScratch fics. As with many Comedy-tagged stories, it's not actually all that funny, but it's still a reasonable read. ★★★

The Darkest Storm by TheReaderAndWriter
OCs, Celestia, Mane Six, Spike and Luna
Sad/Dark/Comedy/Adventure; 49K words; Dec 2012; Teen
Ivanhoe Mane arrives in Ponyville and begins to settle down – but before long, terrible things are happening to the town's ponies and Ivanhoe himself is in mortal danger from a surprising quarter. This is quite easy to read and won't make your brain hurt working out what's going on, while there are one or two interesting twists later on. There's also a truly odd subplot with Derpy. The writing is disjointed, but not dreadful, though a few scenes are resolved amateurishly. The fic's biggest letdown is characterisation: at one point, Spike – Spike – decides, without great justification, not to trust what Celestia and Twilight have been saying and to go with Ivanhoe instead. (Much of Spike's dialogue is unconvincing even aside from this.) Still, any fic which informs us that Ivanhoe's pants "are pretty spacious for dancing" can't be all bad. ★★

A Door Jam by xjuggernaughtx
Pinkie Pie, Twilight, Applejack and Fluttershy
Comedy/Adventure; 11K words; Jun 2012; Everyone
Twilight and Applejack try to get Pinkie out of the Cakes' manes for a while, but Pinkie insists on staring at the bakery's back door. Twilight finds an unorthodox solution. This is an old-fashioned tale in the vein of S1 – and it's none the worse for that. Indeed, I got pretty strong echoes of "Feeling Pinkie Keen" in several departments. One or two things do feel slightly off, including a prominent pun that doesn't really work with standard pronunciation. However, the story makes up for this with really nice interaction between the characters – who, again, feel quite S1-y. If you're weary of clever-clever fics and just want to spend time with the ponies we've seen on screen, this is recommended. ★★★★

Like Mending Glass by Eyeswirl the Weirded
Blueblood, Luna, Vinyl Scratch and Others
Comedy/Adventure; 68K words; Apr 2014; Teen
Prince Blueblood is... well, he's Prince Blueblood. Luna, unsurprisingly, is unimpressed by this fact and decides to do something about it. Various adventures ensue, some of them deliberate. I like the way Blueblood is portrayed here, and I often felt quite sympathetic towards him. (Often, not always!) A large cast of supporting characters, some good subplots (plus a couple that fall flat) and generally serviceable writing help things along, though the odd verbal tic does eventually become irritating. A fairly satisfying ending, too. Not one of the great Blueblood fics, but a solid second-ranker. ★★★

The Wonderful Life of Berry Punch by Dusk-Spark
Berry Punch, Cheerilee, Colgate, Noteworthy and Others
Romance/Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 19K words; Oct 2013; Teen
Berry Punch, her twin sister Cheerilee and her daughter Pinchy prepare for Nightmare Night. This is a very odd story: not bad exactly, but it sprawls all over the place, wandering about as though it had joined Berry in a drinking session. There's plenty of broad comedy here (often alcohol-based, naturally), with a scattergun aim that sometimes hits the mark and sometimes... well, doesn't. Every so often, though, there are more reflective scenes; these can be effective partly because they're unexpected. A host of minor technical problems, but nothing unbearable. Might have rated three stars with tighter editing – but wouldn't have given the same reading experience. ★★

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A strange little stat on comics sales

The first half of the recent "The Good, the Bad and the Ponies" comic arc sold over 26,000 copies, making it the most successful My Little Pony comic to appear for many months. The second half of that same arc sold a mere 17,000 copies, making it the least successful main-series issue ever. Admittedly Christmas may have interfered a bit, but one moral you could draw would be: don't mess up a potentially brilliant arc by including a Twilight characterisation beyond all bounds of stupidity.

In happier comics news, we have confirmation that April will be Villains Month for Pony, with IDW releasing a comic on all five Wednesdays. The villains included will be Sombra, Tirek, the Sirens, Chrysalis and Nightmare Moon, so not a bad little collection! I'll certainly be getting hold of these, and I just hope the creative teams can do justice to this wonderful concept.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 40: Quick Laughs

Ponyfic Roundup returns with another collection of ponyfics to... er, round up. Okay, that's not a very dramatic beginning, is it? Still. This time I looked for Comedy-tagged stories with under 2,000 words. Other than one I'd reviewed before (Return of Evil Belle - The Eviling; PR 19) these were the six highest-rated such fics on Fimfiction at the time I searched. I got a moderately good return out of them, though it wasn't an entirely smooth ride...

Pick of the fics

Martial Bliss by Skywriter
Shining Armor and OC
Comedy/Random; 2K words; Nov 2012; Everyone
Captain Shining Armor is accosted in a bar by a grizzled old soldier who wants to teach him a lesson. That lesson will end up saving the world. This is a crackfic, but it's an extremely funny and well-written crackfic. Unlike many other Comedy-tagged fics out there, this one truly made me laugh, not just smile gently. It's not absolutely perfect – there's a pun I suspect the author found much funnier than I did – but this is so darn enjoyable that it gets full marks anyway. ★★★★★

Other stories

The Battle of Fort Book by PinkamenaPiePrincess
Twilight, Cadance and Shining Armor
Comedy/Slice of Life; 1K words; Aug 2012; Everyone
General Twilight, with the help of Captain Smartypants and Private Cadence, defends the mighty Fort Book against the evil Captain Shining Armor. An absolutely adorable tale of Twilight's fillyhood, told from her perspective. It's possible to nit-pick here and there, but in the end any cynicism I might have had was worn down by just how charming this story is. It's a great shame the author is no longer active. ★★★★

The Eagle Has Landed by Cyanblackstone
Luna and Others
Comedy/Random/Adventure/Human; 2K words; Jan 2014; Everyone
Written as a one-shot, though sequels have since appeared, this is the story of what happened when Neil Armstrong reached the Moon... and found a large blue alicorn already there. This is okay and decently written, though beyond the comedic setup I didn't actually find it all that funny. There just isn't very much to it, even for a story of this length. A notch above many Human stories, at least. ★★

Luna makes toast. [sic] by Overlord-Flinx
Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 1K words; Jun 2013; Everyone
The Princess of the Night, irritated at being left a sandwich in the fridge by Celestia, resolves to show that she can make a better snack. This was a bit of a "meh" story for me: I don't find the whole "Luna attempts mundane task" thing terribly interesting in itself, and that's pretty much this entire story. (I was actually surprised it wasn't even older.) That said, it didn't do much wrong, other than the very awkwardly-written limerick. ★★

Pinkie Pie's Last Nightmare Night by Admiral Biscuit
Pinkie Pie, Twilight and Rainbow Dash
Comedy/Slice of Life; 1K words; Oct 2014; Teen
Pinkie Pie's latest Nightmare Night prank goes a little bit over the top... I really don't have a great deal to say about this one. It's solidly written and gently amusing; if that's what you're looking for in a ponyfic, you could do an awful lot worse. Don't expect miracles here and you'll probably enjoy yourself. ★★★

Sometimes a Popsicle Is Just a Popsicle by Lurks-no-More
Celestia and Luna
Comedy; 2K words; Aug 2012; Everyone
Princess Celestia receives a batch of popsicles (ice lollies to you and me) with flavours inspired by the Mane Six. She's not altogether pleased with the idea... but then she tastes them. The author clearly put a lot of thought into the flavours, which are cleverly designed. Funnier at the beginning than later on, with an ending that's decent but unspectacular. Pushes its Everyone rating a little on occasion, but still fun and quite original. ★★★

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

More thoughts on this year's Britcons

Although I'm sure it's in the back of all our minds, BUCK 2016 can be put to one side as far as this post is concerned. I'm just going to give my current feelings with regard to the four My Little Pony conventions that have been announced for the UK during this year. As usual, please remember that I have absolutely no official links with any of them, other than that I may attend one or more over the months. So...

UK PonyCon
If I only attend one pony convention in 2015, then it will probably be this one. We have an advantage in this community over others (furry, for example) in that all our cons are all-ages affairs – but UK PonyCon is the event where that means the most. Unlike the brony-centric cons, it's not a case of 90% 16-25-year-olds, and the wider spread appeals a lot. I also like the lower-key, more informal approach compared with the likes of BUCK – and, yes, the lower ticket prices!

This may have pushed itself into second place in my possibles list. Being in Manchester city centre helps, as does the fact that guests have been announced who actually mean something: Glaze, for example. It's probably going to be the most expensive of the four: the £60 Standard ticket includes a Friday-night concert, but just being cheaper than BUCK (or ConFuzzled) isn't in itself good enough. I also have some concerns about GBBC being run effectively by one person, however sincere that one person may be.

If it weren't so damn far to Edinburgh, this would be in second place – but it is, so it isn't. Scores points for being run by a limited company, having handled itself very well last year and being willing to engage with its fellow con organisers. (They liaised with UK PonyCon to ensure no repeat of last year's clash of dates.) Ticket prices will probably be reasonable, but I've seen slightly too many potential attendees for comfort talk about how much of each evening they're going to spend drinking, and that doesn't attract me at all.

Unfortunately, this has to go at the bottom of the list, simply because there are still far too many uncertainties for it to go anywhere else. The guests announced so far largely consist of relatively low-profile YouTubers; there's nobody who a casual fan would have heard of. For £50, I think they need more than that. Southport is an okay host town, but it's not as good as an actual city and a little close to Manchester for comfort. Finally, there are still too many uncertainties about MLC's organisation and funding.

Friday, 16 January 2015

On orthography

Just a little thought that crosses my mind from time to time: it's odd how, in a few circumstances, we (meaning fanfic writers) tend to ignore what you might call the official standards. For example, read any G. M. Berrow book and you'll see words like "Pegasus" capitalised. Every time. Do you do that in your own stories? No, thought not. Neither do I, because I think it looks silly and distracting, and generally speaking I feel that writing shouldn't get in the way of the actual story.

But I also think it's pushing it to say, as the Twilight's Library guys do (or did), that capitalising pony race names is wrong; fan preference cannot invalidate canon. Given that capitalisation is clearly Hasbro's preferred house style, I don't see how it can be wrong. If you go down that road, you end up clinging to the notion that "alicorn" (or "Alicorn" :P ) can't possibly refer to a winged unicorn. Similarly, the spelling "griffon" has been canon since S1E05, yet only a minority of fanfic writers use it, with most preferring "gryphon" or "griffin".

What happens, though, if a spelling is quite well established and is then overtaken by canon? "Manehatten" is one example: I never quite understood that one anyway, given that "Manhatten" doesn't exist, but still. And, of course, there's the Princess of Love herself: even Hasbro used "Cadence" on a number of occasions before settling down with "Cadance". My preference is for the newer A-spelling in both cases, but I can't say that it distracts me enough to worry about in a fic.

As for me? I use Manehattan, Cadance, griffon and indeed alicorn. In other words, I try to cleave as closely as possible to Hasbro house style in my writing. The one really major exception is those pesky pony race names: I just can't bring myself to capitalise them. (I wonder occasionally what would happen if Cheerilee, say, explicitly said in a show episode that they should be capitalised!) But then I also insist on pretending that there's no such pony as Sweetie Drops, so what do I know?

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 39: Mixed Bag

Although some of my Ponyfic Roundups (Ponyfic Roundsup? Ponyfics Roundup? Poniesfic Roundup?) are going to follow a particular theme from now on, by no means all of them will – and today's post is one of the exceptions. This is a good, old-fashioned miscellany of fics I thought looked interesting at the time. I'm pleased to say that several of them still look interesting after I've read the things! Also, the star rating system seems to be working well, so it's most definitely here to stay. Right...

Pick of the fics

Into the Everfree by Obselescence
Fluttershy and Angel
Sad; 5K words; Aug 2012; Everyone
Fluttershy pursues Angel into the Everfree Forest, where the bunny has gone after a fight with the pegasus. I'm always pleased to see fics that treat Everfree seriously. The style is interesting: it's very plain and straightforward, reminiscent in places of the better class of children's story. I think it works here, demonstrating that atmosphere doesn't require flowery language. Not sure I entirely like all the little flashbacks, but otherwise this is very good. ★★★★

Other stories

A Foggy Memory by Treble Tech
Twilight and OCs
Adventure; 8K words; Feb 2014; Everyone
Most of Ponyville's inhabitants have fallen into a bizarre trance; Twilight heads off to Canterlot to consult Celestia, but she encounters another entity first. An interesting, atmospheric mystery that just about succeeds in skating over the thin ice of logic in terms of what's happening. Unfortunately, the ending is a bit on the unsatisfying side; it could have been a four-star fic with a better one. ★★★

Generosity: The Mugger by ThatGirl2147
Rarity and Others
Sad; 1K words; May 2012; Everyone
Rarity, walking through one of Ponyville's dark back alleys (?) is accosted by a mugger. She attempts to use her charm to tease out his story. This fic, though not terrible, never really managed to convince me, in terms of either Rarity or her assailant. It's also not particularly well written ("'Two weeks ago,' informed he") and the ending is both hurried and clich├ęd. ★★

My Little Assistant by Larathin
Twilight and Spike
Slice of Life; 2K words; Jun 2012; Everyone
Spike becomes increasingly irritated with the way Twilight is (to him) interfering in his life. One of its key plot points has been overtaken by canon since it was written, but if you can deal with that then this is a pretty solid tale. There's a lovely last line... which unfortunately is followed by an unnecessary extra scene. It also has what I find a very intrusive reference to another fantasy universe. Even so, worth a look. ★★★

nimbus' story [sic] by kingcranberry
Rainbow Dash and Other
Comedy/Random; 1K words; Jun 2014; Everyone
The cloud on which Rainbow Dash is sleeping develops sentience and decides it doesn't like being used as a pillow. When I saw that synopsis, I knew I had to read this. Sadly, it's not very good. Even for a fic in this category, it's all over the place. Lots of little errors (getting a Mane pony's name wrong is the offence), some events that make very little sense even by Random standards and a bizarre ending that doesn't resolve much at all.

Princess Rainbow Dash by Blueshift
Rainbow Dash, Twilight, Rarity and Celestia
Comedy; 2K words; Jun 2014; Everyone
Rainbow Dash awakes to discover that she is an alicorn! How will she deal with her new-found status – and what will Twilight's reaction be? Pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a short Blueshift comedy: a healthy dose of "Buh?" is to be expected. Not perhaps one of his best doses of silliness, and not a terribly original premise, but still a good deal of fun if you need a quick pick-me-up. ★★★

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Comic review: MLP Friends Forever #13: Rarity and Babs Seed

MLP:FF 13 main cover
Rarity looks like she's just stepped off an actual carousel
It's comic time again! Now that I've caught up a little, I'm actually reviewing an issue which came out less than a week ago. This is what I try to do all the time, honest! It just doesn't always work out that way. Anyway, this time there's one of the slightly more unusual team-ups: Rarity and Babs Seed. (And yes, I'm with those who'd like to see Babs in the show again at some point.) Jeremy Whitley's last Pony writing gig was on the solid main-series issue #24, while Agnes Gabowska last appeared as the artist for the reasonable Fluttershy/Iron Will FF. Off we go.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Fanfic Flashback 1: The 20 Percent Solution

Before I begin, I'll just mention that my reading of It Doesn't Matter Now has been completed, and can be found right here on YouTube. Okay... this is the first in a hugely self-indulgent occasional series in which I plan to look back over my past ponyfics and see what I think of them now. The very first one I wrote was a 100-word song parody (Friendly Ponyville Fluttershy) but what I'm dealing with here is the first full-length ponyfic I ever published:

Title pic for "The 20 Percent Solution" by Loganberry
Look, it's pink; what more do you want from my editing?
The 20 Percent Solution by Loganberry
Mane Six and Spike
Comedy/Slice of Life; 4K words; May 2012; Everyone
Rainbow Dash is unimpressed when her nap is interrupted by Pinkie Pie -- but becomes rather more intrigued when she's told that Pinkie has cooked up Equestria's first energy drink especially for her. Pinkie seems awfully protective of her new creation, however...

You can tell how old this story is by the fact that it starts with the title and author's name in the text; yep, this was actually first published on Ye Olde Google Docs, though it no longer exists in that form. It's not up to the standards I'd want to write to now, though I don't think it's that bad for a first effort. I still find it quite funny and, though it's basically a shaggy pony story, I think it's a bit more than just a one-joke piece. I'm still fairly content with the characterisation and dialogue, too.

Problems? First, the pacing: Twilight gets lumbered with some frankly rather tedious exposition, while a sub-scene in which Rainbow visits Zecora's (off-screen) is much too short. Second, I oh-so-obviously wanted to give everypony a part; I think it would have been a better story had I taken several of them out. Cutting the cast down to Rainbow, Pinkie, Twilight and one other (either Applejack or Fluttershy; sorry, Rarity!) might well have worked better.

Amusingly, The 20 Percent Solution remains to this day my longest completed work of pony prose. One disappointment: nobody has ever picked up on the title of Twilight's book, or at least if they have then they haven't told me anything about it. Still, considering that I'd only been in the fandom for about a month when I wrote this, I think I could have made a worse stab at it.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue #26

MLP:FiM comic #26 Cover A
It should have featured The Mailmare With No Name
Yes, I know, I'm so late with this one that another MLP comic is already out. I'll try to catch up, honest! Anyway, this comic is the concluding part of the two-issue arc that began with last month's flawed outing. Before reading, my guess was that it would give us a rather convoluted way out of the Twilight Problem™, that the artwork would be great and that I'd be giving it a slightly better score than issue #25 but not a fantastic one. Actually, since I'm using star ratings now, I can't give it the same rating as last month's effort! Not much to say this time, so here goes:

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 38: I Like What You Like

Fimfiction's recently instituted "Also Liked" tab gave me the idea for this week's PR: I found all six fics via those tabs. I've mentioned above each one which of my stories it was listed with. I excluded stories that were a) also by me; b) ones I'd read before; c) incomplete or d) very long. I've also read no more than one fic by each author. Has it worked? Well, it's certainly been interesting, though I haven't turned up anything unmissable. Note that I am now using star ratings: one is poor; five is outstanding.

Pick of the fics

Also liked: This Fragment of Life
Hysteria by AlwaysDressesInStyle
Blueblood and Others
Comedy/Adventure; 5K words; Feb 2014; Everyone
Wysteria forms a band with Razzaroo and co, but an unguarded remark in front of Minty leads to the overthrow of the government. As these character names (and the author's) suggest, this is a fic that places G3 ponies in the G4 universe. It's worth reading even if (like me) you're not overly familiar with G3, though older-gen fans will doubtless get more out of it. I didn't really see the point of the very short last paragraph, but otherwise this is good fun all round. And yes, there are socks. Add a star if the very thought makes you squee. ★★★

Other stories

Also liked: It Doesn't Matter Now
Keeping the Keep by Smoker
OC and Mane Six
Comedy/Slice of Life; 9K words; Sep 2014; Teen
The story of a Royal Guard assigned to guard Princess Twilight's new castle. This is a very uneven fic: it's often entertaining and has some good lines ("Still, 'peaceful' is quite good friends with 'boring'") but also contains some irritations, such as a mid-fic YouTube link, then an A/N a few paras later telling the reader to stop the music! Characterisation is variable: it's never terrible, but often feels slightly off, while the ending is rushed. Featured by Twilight's Library, so some obviously like it more than me. Could probably have been a three-star fic with a bit of editing. ★★

Also liked: By the Seashore
Many Moons Ago by GrapeVino
Celestia and Luna
Sad/Slice of Life; 8K words; Oct 2013; Everyone
The first Summer Sun Celebration since Luna's return is imminent, but the princess has disappeared; Celestia seeks her out and discovers that Luna has something to say. This is quite readable, particularly while Luna tells her story and in the satisfying final scene. The prose is a little rough in places (this was GrapeVino's first and only ponyfic) but it's not terrible. Worth a look if you like stories with this setup. ★★★

Also liked: One Hell of a Party
The Shovel Store by Tennis Match Fan
Rainbow Dash, Lightning Dust, Twilight and OCs
Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 1K words; Jul 2014; Everyone
Rainbow and two OCs have (unexplained) grudges against other ponies, so set up a shovel store. They use its products to smash said other ponies over the head. You know, as ponies do... not very well written, doesn't explain its setup, has Rainbow Dash acting weirdly OOC and at one point uses the word "plot-convenient" in-story. I'd be inclined to skip this one.

Also liked: We Who with Songs Beguile
Something Magical by Dark Avenger
Cranky and OC
Slice of Life; 6K words; Aug 2014; Everyone
A much older Cranky, no longer in Ponyville, is writing his memoirs and discusses things with his griffon companion/nurse/friend. One of the non-finalists from the EQD "Outside Insight" contest, but I wouldn't have been shocked if it had made that round. Cranky's voice seems off at first, but it does work in time. I wasn't entirely convinced that even a griffon like Liz wouldn't be aware of the Mane Six's exploits, though. A slightly downbeat ending, but the last line is perfect. ★★★

Also liked: The Light that Ignites in the Dark
Spirit of Generosity by Flint Sparks
Rarity, Mane Six and Spike
Slice of Life; 6K words; Dec 2013; Everyone
A Hearth's Warming tale in which Rarity finds herself forced to confront the nature of what generosity actually means. A great concept for a story and the first few pages are in good, readable prose... but then, for in-fic reasons, it spends several thousand words in verse. The whole thing, not just the dialogue. The trouble is that many of Flint's rhymes are forced and carry the scent of thesaurus abuse. ("[Spike] gave a shy wave, almost depraved" is typical.) It ended up a chore to read, feeling much longer than its 6,000 words; I even toyed with DNF-ing it. This story made Twilight's Library and has a +42/-1 thumbscore, but I'm afraid I'll be playing Scrooge here.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The long and the short of it

Pointless factoid of the day: according to the list of ponyfics, a story called Tales of the Winter Magic Academy has 179,999 words. Given that it hasn't been updated in years and only even seems to exist online in about two places (barring a few even more incomplete versions) I fear that it will be stuck forever at this slightly irritating level. :P I suppose its companion piece would be Through the Eyes of Another Pony (listed as 310,001 words) although a rewritten version of that does seem to be in progress still, albeit glacially slowly. And no, I haven't read either one!

All this serves as introduction to the fact that, as you'll know if you follow Ponyfic Roundup, my preference is generally for shorter works: the considerable majority of the stories I review are under the 10K-word mark. Part of that is simple practicality: I can't read five or six long stories in a week. Part of it is that a lot of old and overlooked fics are short, and I like to give some of them a moment in the sun. But partly it's that I like short stories. I write them for that reason, too. The art of telling an interesting tale in a couple of thousand words is, I think, sometimes undervalued.

It is of course true that I've read some long ponyfics in my time, most notably the behemoth that is Fallout: Equestria, which weighs in at 620,000 words, famously more than War and Peace. Calibre tells me, though, that I've only read five other fics with word counts in six figures: Austraeoh; It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door; The Games We Play; Shipping and Handling and Integration. (You could make a case for the Hard Reset trilogy being one story, in which case that would join this select group.) That's not a huge number for an avid reader closing in on three years in the fandom.

I may try to read a few more longer stories in 2015: among those on my Read it Later list are Anthropology; The Immortal Game; Mother of Invention; Flash Fog... and Past Sins. Yes. There's always Past Sins. All of those are over the 100K-word mark, so I may not get through the whole lot of them this year, but I'll see how things go. And of course there are plenty of stories in the intermediate-length category to consider, too: some of those have been in RiL-limbo for months, come to that. Maybe I'll do a PR at some point focusing on those mid-length tales.

What I think is unlikely is for me to move away from reviewing mainly short fics. I enjoy it, it means there's a lot of variety, I can get through several in a week and the really bad ones don't become a terrible slog. I haven't DNF'd a single PR story yet, though one of these days I expect it will happen. As ever, I'm open to recommendations: most of you know the sort of things I prefer (and if you don't, here's a summary) but there aren't many things I'll rule out entirely. In the meantime, I need to finish writing up the PR I have planned for tomorrow!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Comic review: Equestria Girls Holiday Special 2014

Equestria Girls Holiday Special 2014 cover
Even Reformed!Sunset seems to need a semi-evil grin
Okay, it's time once again for me to start talking about My Little Pony comics! Rather ironically, my review of the Equestria Girls Holiday Special has been delayed by my holidays, but hey ho. This is a Ted Anderson/Tony Fleecs collaboration; Heather Breckel did do the colours, but she's not credited on the cover for some reason. It's a bit longer (48pp) and more expensive (I paid £5.99) than the usual comics, and has an actual spine rather than staples, The cover design is about as generic as it gets, so let's move on to the spoiler-filled meat of this review.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Coming in 2015...

  • More readings. I've been slacking a bit with these, but I'll try to pick up the pace again. It Doesn't Matter Now is likely to be the first one I do.
  • Even more ponyfic reviews! Remember that I'll be using the star ratings from now on.
  • More writing. I'll finally finish Where They Understand You, maybe get a darkfic written and possibly even try something centring on a background pony. 
  • This is far from decided, but I've been thinking for quite a while about doing a little series of posts about how I see each character. My Fluttershy, My Twilight,  etc.
  • Reviews of comics, books and other such things. I'm behind on them as it is, with G. M. Berrow's Fluttershy book imminent. 
  • The occasional rant about something in the fandom. 
  • Rambling about conventions, especially the few I may actually have a chance of attending. 
  • And, of course, Season 5! The plan right now is to do roughly what I did for S4 and review each episode shortly after broadcast. I'll probably adopt star ratings for these, too.