Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 221: The Trail of the Lonesome Pone

Title explanation: 1913 song, later featured by Laurel & Hardy in Way Out West

Read it Later story count: 298 (nc)

The previous prohibition on using [Adventure] and [Slice of Life] genre tags on the same story doesn't seem to be coming back. Good. It was pretty pointless. The first fic today is by an author who would have qualified for my planned Newcomers Edition, but I simply didn't want to wait that long to read their fic. Let's see whether that decision paid off, and indeed what I thought of this week's other stories. Today's slate is:

My Little Student by Lets Do This
...But the Kitchen Sink by Dubs Rewatcher
One Head of Cattle by Trick Question
The Jet Powered Pegasus by billymorph

★: 0 | ★★: 0 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

My Little Student by Lets Do This
Twilight, Celestia, Cadance and Spike
Adventure/Comedy/Slice of Life; 19k words; Jun 2018; Everyone
What happened between Twilight's entrance exam and her entrance to the School proper? How Twilight met Celestia, Cadance, and Spike, and got started on the road to becoming the Element of Magic.
An author who joined Fimfiction in 2018! Always good to see. They've written several more fics since, but this was their debut, and it's well worth reading. The author wrote this after seeing the first couple of seasons, and it harks back to the sort of stories we used to get back then, with Equestria seeming a simpler and (mostly) gentler place than perhaps it does for today's fans. It concentrates on the relationship between filly Twilight and Princess Celestia, and it captures this well. It's also nicely aware of its time period: Tia is worried about the "Shepherd Stars" aiding in Luna's escape from the Moon, and we also get some background for Twilight's flashback about Cadance in the S2 finale. The way Twi teams up with Spike works pretty well, too. It has a few irritations that speak of an author new to ponyfic, notably an unnecessary description of filly Twilight's appearance early on and an equally unnecessary "no infringement intended" disclaimer at the end. I'm also not a fan of the admittedly small amount of coloured text (doesn't work on a monochrome e-reader!) but YMMV on that one. Cadance lacks a little of the character depth she gets later on in the show, as you'd expect from an author who hadn't seen that far, but on the whole this is a delightful read, full of magic and wonder and Twilight's joy at learning. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author. ★★★★

...But the Kitchen Sink by Dubs Rewatcher
Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Mrs Cake and Other
Romance/Random; 7k words; Apr 2012; Teen
Rainbow Dash falls in love with a kitchen sink.
I tend to be iffy about stories written to send up aspects of the Old Fandom, so I approached this fic satirising bronies' willingness to ship Dash with everyone with a little trepidation. I read it years and years ago, but I'd forgotten the details of how it went. Happily, I ended up having plenty of fun, as the story is not simply that short description repeated for seven thousand words. The concept is played largely straight, which was definitely the right decision, and there's some fine dialogue – one brief exchange between Rainbow and Pinkie Pie is utterly perfect. Mind you, Pinkie's character is strongly early-series, which may put off some readers, some wingboner stuff feels tired and there's a sprinkling of LUS. Still, it makes up for that with a hilarious ending. High in the three-star bracket, even today. ★★★

One Head of Cattle by Trick Question
Twilight, Applejack and Other
Dark/Slice of Life; 1k words; Nov 2015; Everyone
Twilight Sparkle meets a cannulated cow with a different perspective on life.
Back in the show's early days, both cattle and sheep could talk. That was largely forgotten in canon thereafter, but not by Trick Question. Her fic is certainly one of the more original I've come across lately. Mootilda, the cow in question, is a simple creature but also one with an outlook that is in some ways very alien. Around the edges, there's some nice stuff with Applejack showing her detailed knowledge of farming – though she doesn't know the one thing Twilight discovers. It's a little short to ask the profound questions about ponies' relationship with sapient livestock that perhaps it could have done, but it's still a thought-provoking look at a side of Equestrian farming you'll never see in the show. ★★★

The Jet Powered Pegasus by billymorph
Scootaloo, Spitfire and Rainbow Dash
Adventure/Drama/Thriller; 8k words; Nov 2015; Teen
Anything can fly with jet-engines, even Scootaloo. But with her debts mounting, and the rules changing on her, winning the Hearthwarming Derby is Scootaloo's only chance to keep her wings.
This Royal Guard-featured fic features (an adult) Scootaloo using mechanical means to try to win a race. You'll need to enjoy detailed descriptions of sky-racing, as that takes up a substantial portion of the story. I do, but even I found my attention wandering occasionally, and I didn't really understand why "Engine Zero", which comes up a lot, wasn't "Engine One". (Maybe some real-world terminology, but if so I don't know it.) There's some interesting world-building regarding pegasus magic, and the pace is kept up nicely. Scoot has a grudge with Spitfire, for reasons explained in the story, which adds an extra dimension. I almost stopped reading when I reached what I thought was the end a few pages early, which would have made this an entirely different story. Despite my enjoyment of racing fiction, I don't like this quite as much as Titanium Dragon did, because I fret that Scoot's character doesn't really develop much by the end. It also feels slightly odd to read after "The Washouts", as that makes one or two small things here irreconcilable with canon. Still, it's a solid read with lots going on, so a high three it is. ★★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: stories reviewed should include chrumsum's Chuckling Over My Cheery-O's and Cillerenda's I Didn't Sign Up For This.


  1. >I don't like this quite as much as Titanium Dragon did

    Nobody likes billymorph stories as much as TittyDrag.