Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 60: Coffee Time Ponies

Apologies for the lateness of the Friends Forever #17 (Twilight/Big Mac) comic review: my usual suppliers (Level Seven) were let down by their distributors, and my replacement source is also being slow. I will say now that I enjoyed the comic, though. Back to the world of ponyfic, and I'm back up to five reviews this week. Several of these stories have been sitting on my waiting list for ages, including one of The Descendant's best known works. In reading order as ever, I'm reviewing:

A Cup of Joe by The Descendant
Isn't it Great to be Different? by BronyDerp117
Fluttershy's Garden by SilentWanderer
Wonderbolt by WovenWord
By the Fireplace by Jingle

A Cup of Joe by The Descendant
Twilight, Spike, Celestia, Luna and OCs*
Sad/Slice of Life; 17K words; Nov 2011; Teen
* Oddly, this doesn't have a Joe character tag; I assume Fimfiction didn't offer one at the time of publication.
Pony Joe's life has a familiar routine to it these days – until an overheard remark awakens some discomfiting memories of his days as a Royal Guardspony. For such an old story, this stands up very well: it's genuinely affecting, bittersweet and thoughtful in a way most 2011 fics are not. The author's writing doesn't quite match up to some of his more recent efforts, with a noticeable number of small typos, but what we learn about Joe – and those close to him – is well worth discovering. ★★★★

Isn't it Great to be Different? by BronyDerp117
Derpy and OCs
Romance/Tragedy/Slice of Life; 9K words; Sep 2012; Everyone
Based, with Forest Rain's permission, on her well-known song, Great to be Different. That song is genuinely uplifting and life-affirming when sung in the right surroundings (eg a con karaoke session) but unfortunately this story doesn't quite match up. It turns the angst up to 11 for long stretches, and the prose is often purpler than a purply thing (you'll be heartily sick of the word "aureate" by the end). It sticks to the song's plotline well enough, but the less overwrought musical original is the better version. ★★

Fluttershy's Garden by SilentWanderer
Sad; 10K words; Nov 2013; Teen
Fluttershy tells of her sadness, what happened to her to cause it and how she now sees her friends. It's made clear fairly early on what's going on, but it still holds the interest as a character study from an unusual perspective. The Mane Six's dialogue seems a little off at times, and the staccato narration style takes some getting used to, but it does become really quite moving, though I'm not a big fan of the final scene. ★★★

Wonderbolt by WovenWord
Rainbow Dash and Twilight
Romance/Sad/Dark/Alternate Universe; 3K words; Sep 2012; Teen
In a diminished Equestria, Rainbow (who narrates) struggles to tell Twilight how she feels. I was really caught by the emotional intensity of this fic, and very much appreciated it. There's a lot of worldbuilding – I particularly like a little thing about pegasus feathers – but exactly what's happened to the world remains up in the air to the end. This made EqD, the PFV and the Royal Guard, so I can't be the only person who really likes it! ★★★★

By the Fireplace by Jingle
Rarity and Sweetie Belle
Slice of Life; 4K words; Jul 2014; Everyone
It's a snow day, so Sweetie Belle has to stay at home with Rarity. For the most part, a gentle, often sweet story about the sisters' relationship. A little incorrect dialogue punctuation, but the bulk of the fic is well worth reading for fans of these two ponies. Sadly, it's then let down by the ending: two major events are squashed into the last 500 words, which feels horribly rushed and badly out of kilter with the rest of the story. ★★


  1. It's weird to find people who haven't read A Cup of Joe. I guess as time goes on it'll get more and more common, but it's one of those stories that comes from around about the time I started – and my god, was it ever the bees knees at the time.

    Glad it still holds up, though. If there's one thing T.D. does well, it's authentic characters.

    1. I suppose the smaller pool of stories to choose from back then means that the really fine ones (and My Little Dashie...) ran around the fandom in a way that they don't to the same extent today. I'd like to think this one would have become well known even had it been published in 2015, though.