Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 231: Swords of a Thousand Men

I'm still easing into 2019, but I'm pleased to say that Ponyfic Roundup is present and correct for the first Wednesday of the month. I had a pretty decent festive period on the whole, which included lots of food and some pleasant company. What the new year may hold for Louder Yay I don't know, but it's certainly going to hold something!

Read it Later story count: 285 (-7)

L@@K! R@R3! Genuine Five-story week! Yes, everypony, the impossible dream has come true. For the first time in almost four months, I have five fics to talk to you about today. I am actually unreasonably pleased with myself on that score. Not counting any chickens just yet, but I hope this will return to being the norm here on PR. Here's this week's collection:

My Father Used to Say by nightwalker
Sex and Porch Beer by Vivid Syntax
Dash - like the punctuation? by EverfreePony
The Great and Powerful Fluttershy by Bookish Delight
Dim Sun by RainbowBob

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

My Father Used to Say by nightwalker
Gilda and OC
Comedy/Slice of Life/Alternate Universe; 5k words; Aug 2014; Teen
Gilda's father taught her many lessons about life and dealing with the ponies therein. Her return to Appleloosa after a day of flight is the last way she expected to need to apply some of them.
This was an entry for EqD's "Outside Insight" contest, and apparently just missed making the (semi-)final. It's told from the perspective of a Gilda who's found casual work as an enforcer in an Appleloosan bar. Despite those tags, it's not especially funny, so it's best read as Slice of Life. You get some nice world-building, plus a pretty interesting look at Gilda's thoughts – so long as you can accept her internal voice as being quite different from the one she speaks out loud with. Most importantly, it doesn't just read like a pony's voice. The fic hasn't aged all that badly, despite Gilda's reappearance in canon; I think the [AU]-ness is the reason. ★★★

Sex and Porch Beer by Vivid Syntax
Dark/Slice of Life; 4k words; May 2018; Mature (Sex, Suicide/Self-Harm, Profanity)
Comet Flare and Iron Forge share everything – their friendship, their experiences, and yes, their bodies. Even among close friends, though, there are some topics that feel impossible to discuss. Based on personal experience.
I was a bit wary of this one given that last sentence of the description. After all, the general reader doesn't know anything about most authors personally. I did occasionally wonder how closely Comet was based on the author and whether it should matter (probably not). However, the fic overcomes that potential obstacle and proves a fine entry in the quite rare M/M Mature-but-not-actually-clop category. The Mature tag is warranted, but starting the story after sex means that it's not actually explicit in that sense. The warning tags inevitably give away something of what's coming in terms of the "some topics" but I think that's unavoidable, and there's a big twist that I didn't see coming but which fits very well. One irritation: there's an important part of the story where we keep being told so many minutes have passed, and perhaps that scene is a little over-telly as a result. Still, a mature (in both senses) fic about a difficult topic that I feel handles it sensitively while still being a story and not merely an authorial mouthpiece. ★★★★

Dash - like the punctuation? by EverfreePony
Rainbow Dash, Derpy and Other
Comedy/Drama/Slice of Life; 4k words; May 2017; Everyone
Rainbow Dash's name has far different meaning to it. One that might be enough for the filly to despise a part of herself... and books.
Yes, that is a hyphen in its title, not a dash! Although incompatible with canon since "Parental Glideance" and so better treated as [AU] now, this story provides a background for Rainbow's fillyhood that I've never seen anywhere else. In this world, the Dash family are among Cloudsdale's literati, and her dad in particular is keen to get her reading as much as possible as she returns to school. That's a great setup, but the actual story that proceeds from it is rather thin, being not much more than Rainbow being teased by Hoops and co for not being cool, and as a result deciding that reading isn't cool either (her canon stance until "Read It and Weep"). She also meets Ditzy, though that scene seems a bit inconsequential. A number of ponified book titles, though they're often clunky (eg The Strange Case of Dr Pinkie and Miss Maud). A two-star fic nearly boosted to three by its setup, but it just doesn't do enough thereafter. ★★

The Great and Powerful Fluttershy by Bookish Delight
Fluttershy and Trixie
Slice of Life/Equestria Girls; 3k words; May 2018; Everyone
Trixie needs a new pet. Fluttershy works at the local pet shop. This has about a 50/50 chance of working out.
If I rated on title alone, this would be an automatic five-star fic! Fluttershy has taken on the job in question to "help [her] people skills", but Trixie is a rather more demanding customer than most. This is a two-handed character piece, and as usual from Bookish Delight the dialogue is very nice. It does get a little Voice of the Author at times, especially when Trixie is speaking, but on the plus side there's a real hit in the feels from something Fluttershy talks about. We also get an apparent origin story for the human-world version of... well, you'll see. A very solid three-star fic that might shade into the fours for those who like EqG Trixie more than me. ★★★

Dim Sun by RainbowBob
Celestia and OC
Slice of Life; 2k words; Jul 2015; Teen
Celestia sits at a bar and drinks, stuck in a new routine, dreading the morning sun.
Tia is angsty and, as this is clearly set before S1, Luna (albeit never named) is clearly a big part of the reason. It makes a change to see the Princess of the Sun knocking back the whiskey, but it does seem rather out of character for her. Celestia's dialogue patterns aren't much like what we get in the show, either. I do like that she puts ice in her drink, though: I suspect she does that precisely to annoy the Canterlot snob set. I like the bartender OC, who by the end I wanted to know more about. The fic is rather nicely written, but the seemingly out-of-character Celestia stopped me enjoying it as much as I'd have liked. ★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: stories reviewed should include TheSillyDuck's A Sparkle of Hope.