Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 70: The Touchstones of Our Characters

My reviews are longer than they used to be, I note. I do want to keep them down to one paragraph, though, spotlights apart. Anyway, I managed to get six fics read this week, although that was only because one of them was absurdly short. I'm glad I did, since several were very good and the sixth story was... well, if you've already glanced at the list of titles below, you may have a fair idea of what's coming. Here's what I have for you today:

The Kindest Silence by horizon
Chess by KitsuneRisu
A Year's Harvest by Totally_Not_Furry
Honey Pie II: The Wrath of Chrysalis by SPark
Treehouse by PresentPerfect
Riverdream at Sunset: a Manuscript by GroaningGreyAgony

The Kindest Silence by horizon
Mane Six, Sunset Shimmer, Scootaloo and Spike
Alternate Universe; 7K words; Jul 2015; Everyone
What if Rainbow Dash never existed to shape six lives with her Sonic Rainboom?
The runner-up in the "Switcheroo" contest is good reading. It's hardly the first story to explore what might have happened in the absence of the rainboom, but it's one of the better ones. Some imaginative scenes, including a clever subversion in Cloudsdale. As the title suggests, Fluttershy is to the fore, while Sunset gets a nice role. A small amount of upside-down text confused my e-reader, but didn't cause any real problems. A tad wordy at times, but if (like me) you don't mind that, give this a look. The ending is fun, too. ★★★★

Chess by KitsuneRisu
Twilight and Celestia
Comedy/Slice of Life; 6K words; Dec 2013; Everyone
Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle have a game of chess. But as their minds wander, they find that the game is much broader than they thought.
We eavesdrop on Celestia's and (pre-ascension) Twilight's internal monologues during the titular game. This one left me conflicted: there are some very amusing touches and the structure really does work – much better than I'd expected, to be honest. My problem is with the characterisation: Tia's voice frequently feels slightly off and Twilight's attitude towards the princess is weirdly bitter. It feels like we're in the aftermath of quite a serious argument, but there's nary a hint as to what that was. This irritates me enough that I can only give this a moderate recommendation. ★★★

A Year's Harvest by Totally_Not_Furry
Fluttershy and OC [actually Other]
Romance; 1K words; Nov 2011; Everyone
I was challenged to write a cute short story, so this is the cutest thing I could come up with. [yep, that's the short description]
At barely 500 words, this doesn't really have time to do more than be an inoffensive piece of fluff. On those terms, this E-rated Fluttershy/Bloomberg shipfic succeeds. It's reasonably cute and I only noticed one typo. It just doesn't do anything more; I'm already struggling to remember anything much about it. ★★

Honey Pie II: The Wrath of Chrysalis by SPark
Pinkie Pie, Chrysalis and Changelings
Adventure; 24K words; Apr–May 2014; Teen (Sex)
Pinkie Pie and Sweetcake should be living happily ever after, despite the fact that some ponies in Ponyville aren't entirely pleased to have a changeling around. But it turns out that angry townsponies are going to be the least of their problems
I enjoyed the first Honey Pie story (PR 41), so had high hopes for its sequel – which, for once, is shorter than its predecessor. Happily, those hopes were realised. This is another very enjoyable look at pony-changeling relations (literally, in the case of Pinkie and Sweetcake) with a well-done Chrysalis and some very interesting worldbuilding regarding changelings themselves. An in-story Beatles reference is absolutely ridiculous, but hey, I laughed. A shame there have been no further stories in this series. NB: The (Sex) tag is probably necessary, but it only applies to small sections; this certainly isn't clop. ★★★★

Treehouse by PresentPerfect
Apple Bloom
Romance/Sad; 2K words; May 2013; Everyone
She stumbles into the Whitetail Woods one last time, to finish what she'd started so many years before...
This is inspired by a song, but as I don't know or care about the song in question, I'm ignoring that here. So: remember TheJediMasterEd's Beneath your feet, What Treasures (PR 51)? This is in a similar vein: on the surface, it's just about Apple Bloom making something – but the important stuff is happening under that surface. That gives it depth and texture, and I love the way that the truth of what's actually happened comes out. Feels are obviously intended, and feels are had. The near-complete (and deliberate: see the A/N) avoidance of "be" verbs goes a bit far, though, and it's a bit too wedded to "show, don't tell" for my personal taste. A three/four boundary fic, nudged above the line by that wonderful reveal. ★★★★

Riverdream at Sunset: a Manuscript by GroaningGreyAgony
Celestia, OCs and Others
Crossover/Adventure/Human; 8K words; Nov 2014; Everyone
Lord Dunsany has a curious adventure in the Lands of Dream, in a realm where beasts can talk and the sun rides low in the sky.
Take a highly unpromising combination of genre tags, season with a flowery Victorian writing style and bake base it on the works of someone I've never read. What's that a recipe for? In this case, enchantment. A quite ludicrous amount of worldbuilding, OCs I really want to know more about, an excellent Celestia origin story and even something for G1 fans in amongst the Greekish mythologising. (Also a few other references I don't get, but never mind.) This story is in the Royal Canterlot Library, and so it ought to be. The only Human-tagged story I've read that can hold a candle to this is (the very different) In the Place the Wild Horses Sleep (PR 20), which may be my favourite ponyfic ever. Wonderful and wondrous, Riverdream should be read by everyone. ★★★★★


  1. :D

    Also, I'm glad you enjoyed Riverdream!

    1. I kept putting Riverdream off because of its tags. Everyone was raving about it, but I still hung back for ages. Silly me.