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

Swan Lake by 314
Scootaloo, Rainbow Dash, Luna and CMC
Slice of Life; 8k words; Nov–Dec 2014; Everyone
After running across the Crusaders in Manehattan, Rainbow finds out a little secret Scootaloo had been keeping from her.
Told in the first person by Rainbow Dash (her voice can be a problem: how often does she use a word like "unbeknownst"?), this fic follows the story as she uncovers Scootaloo's secret life as... a famous ballet dancer. There's a slight undertone of Author Voice telling us that ballet is really cool, guys, but for the most part the story works fairly well. I like the clever explanation for why Scoots can't fly, and there are some cute scenes. On the downside, it all feels a bit pedestrian, and I'm not really convinced the big secret could have remained so for this long. Just about manages a three, mostly for the wings thing. ★★★

Lost Cities by Cold in Gardez
Celestia and OCs [well, sort of]
Slice of Life; 10k words; May 2013–Oct 2014; Everyone
North of Canterlot, in the far marches of the Equestrian lands near the border with the Griffon tribes, there is a mountain that flies.
Logan continues his "Fics I'm Reading Months After Everyone Else" series. This is CiG's RCL entry, which must have been a damnably hard decision. It doesn't have dialogue, characters or action (in the conventional sense), but instead shows us the "lost cities" of the title and something of how they became that way. And my goodness does it succeed. This is a triumph. (Though I reckon it's really Adventure rather than Slice of Life.) The author has opened up the concept for others to use, and I must admit I'd like to try it myself someday, though I suspect I'd find it very hard. Lost Cities is that rarest of ponyfic creatures: a great piece of imaginative writing that takes on something entirely new and succeeds. I greatly regret not having read this sooner, and if you haven't then you should go and do so before reading the rest of this PR. Shoo! ★★★★★

Echoplex by thewoollymammoth
Fluttershy and Discord
Sad/Slice of Life; 3k words; Jun 2013; Everyone
"How do I know you're real, Fluttershy?"
That question is posed by Discord, having a sort of existential crisis by proxy. It's rather nice, and certainly one of the better fics featuring these two characters from the period after "Keep Calm and Flutter On" brought Discord back as a recurring character. It's quite telly, but you all know by now that I'm okay with that. Perhaps not quite as intriguing an exploration of its concept as it might have been, but any story that doesn't make a total mess of Discord is doing something right. ★★★

Insomnia by Pale Horse
Celestia, Twilight and Luna
Slice of Life; 3k words; Feb–Mar 2014; Everyone
Finding herself unable to sleep, Princess Celestia occupies her mind by penning a letter to Twilight Sparkle. But for a weary princess, the mind has a tendency to wander...
I'm always up for an interesting Celestia fic, and this is one. The epistolatory format is tricky to get right, but Pale Horse makes a good job of it, even if I don't entirely buy some of the (in-story) crossings-out and consistently capitalising "Doctor" is... odd. I did wonder for a while whether this really sounded like Celestia, but I decided I could mostly accept it as a very tired princess – the reason for that "mostly" being that she seems to get weirdly formal when exhausted. Still, Celie fans should give it a chance. ★★★

The Wrong Fork by PoweredByTea
Rarity and Celestia
Slice of Life; 1k words; Jan 2013; Everyone
During a lull in the conversation at an upper class charity dinner, Rarity takes a moment to contemplate some commonly held assumptions made of Princess Celestia. Specifically, her table manners.
Here we have another RCL-inducted story, a very nicely observed piece in which Rarity muses on— well, theoretically dining etiquette, but actually Celestia and her own worldview. It feels longer than it is, but in this case that's a good thing: almost every line has its own significance. This isn't my favourite of PBT's fics (that's Height; PR 6), but it's absolutely worth the few minutes it will take to read it twice. ★★★★

Sombra's Advisor by Supahsnail
Sombra, OC and Other
Comedy/Random; 1k words; Nov 2012; Everyone
King Sombra may be powerful, but he isn't very bright.
Written shortly after the S3 premiere, this fic sees the titular advisor (Shale) putting up with Sombra's inflated sense of self-worth. It seems to be set not long before "The Crystal Empire", and has fun pointing out the flaws in Sombra's choice of hiding place for the Crystal Heart. The trouble is that it doesn't really gel: it's not much more than a sequence of silly jokes and jabs, and as such I didn't find it terribly memorable. ★★


  1. I thought Celestia's voice in Insomnia was just so odd. It's not a matter of her needing a slightly less formal voice because she's sleepy and talking to a close friend. It's that she never speaks like that on the she. It just felt so off to me. Distractingly so. The writing and imagery in the story were decent, but I couldn't get past the feeling that this just wasn't Celestia.

    1. In retrospect, it's a bit strange that I was okay with it, since I'm usually irritated by Celestia feeling off in fics. But hey, I'm odd. Maybe I was sleepy at the time, too!

  2. I think I need to read "Lost Cities"...those chapter titles sound really interesting! :D