Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Ponyfic Roundup 240: Newcomers Edition

This week's PR is a special edition: every one of these stories was published by an author who began life on Fimfiction on or after 1 January 2017. They're a mixture of fics their authors asked me to review, fics I had recommended to me and fics I found myself that seemed interesting. I specified that stories should be complete and no more than 20,000 words long, but otherwise there were few restrictions. 

Read it Later story count: 268 (-2)

Since I expect to have a few people reading today who aren't regulars around here, I think I should underline that my ratings are based on how much I, personally, enjoyed a fic. A five doesn't mean everyone will love it, and a one doesn't mean everyone will hate it. Also, as ever, if you enjoy writing ponyfic then that's reason enough to do it – but I won't sugar-coat these reviews. Here are the six stories I've read for today:

Every Day is Sun-Day by Silent Whisper
Joy and Reflection by Halira
The Minds' Insanity by Silence_EXE
Muted Wubs by pabrony83
Terror of the Flutterbat by Discord The Narrator
A Week in the Winter Storm by Samuel-Neocros

★: 2 | ★★: 3 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0
Note: I use a skewed rating system. A fic I find average scores two stars.

Every Day is Sun-Day by Silent Whisper
Pinkie Pie, Celestia and Twilight
Romance/Sad/Slice of Life; 3k words; Feb 2018; Everyone
Some things can't wait forever to be said. Pinkie Pie knows this, but it doesn't make it any easier to admit her feelings.
Pinkie tells this story herself, and it's clear from the off that she's struggling to maintain a bouncy, happy facade. The first half of this really did grab me, and I was really quite impressed with the balance of Pinkie's voice – which is, after all, vital for a first-person fic. After a while Twilight comes into the action, and I felt the section after that seemed a bit by-the-numbers. However, the final scene plants a doubt in your mind... and one which is underlined by the hyperlinked information in the end Author's Note. I'm not a fan of using external links in this way as it's not really fair on those who read offline, so that left a slightly bad taste. However, the story as a whole is interesting and left me questioning Celestia's judgement. As such, a solid three-star rating and worth a look. ★★★

Joy and Reflection by Halira
Pinkie Pie
Sad/Slice of Life; 2k words; Feb 2017; Everyone
Over a thousand years in the future Pinkie Pie reflects on the changes that have occured and what never changes
This author joined Fimfiction back in 2014, but this is their first published story, making them eligible for today's special. It's another Pinkie fic, but this time she's one of literally dozens of alicorns – we're not told who, though a few are obvious and the setup involving the Mirror Pool allows another guess. I can believe this Pinkie, who alone of all the alicorns never forgets. We get some nice world-building that shows Equestria as an evolving place: even Ponyville, as such, is no more. There's also a sentiment about joy that I suspect Autumn Breeze would nod along to. There are three real downsides: a little too much exposition early on, a somewhat underwhelming ending and a fourth-wall scene that seems to have dropped in from a very different type of fic. A couple of other things, such as the use of "plot", also make this a story that feels like it comes from another era, but those are minor. A high two. ★★

The Minds' Insanity by Silence_EXE
Dark/Horror/Sad/Alternate Universe; 2k words; Sep 2018; Teen (Death)
A glimpse into the mind of a madman. And a tortured past.
Another first-person story, this is the sad tale of, well, a madman in an alternate, more technological Equestria. He had a pretty unpleasant childhood and a less than loving family, which had the cliché detectors beeping, but his life takes a turn for the better when he meets a very familiar pony. Their contrasting characters make for some interesting speculation, and this was the aspect I found most involving. Then... well, spoilers, but the ending didn't exactly leave me stunned by its orignality. A Fimfiction commenter mentioned Luna Game (wow, that's going back a bit!) so if you're a creepypasta fan then this may be for you. I'm not, though, and this just didn't do anything special or startling enough to overcome my general dislike of grimdark. ★

Muted Wubs by pabrony83
Fluttershy, Mane Seven, Vinyl Scratch, Octavia, OCs
Romance/Dark/Slice of Life/Alternate Universe/Equestria Girls; 10k words; Jul 2018; Teen (Sex, Gore)
After a traumatic event rocks her life, can Fluttershy recover?
The long description to this multi-tagged Equestria Girls fic mentions that it's "Fluttershy's recovery arc from" a story I haven't read – though it's not strictly a sequel and I'm reviewing it as a standalone. There are actually two traumatic events, though one takes place before the story opens and the second is related to that – in this particular AU, fairly believably. I quite like the sometimes difficult relations 'Shy has with her friends, especially Rainbow, and the end of the fic sees Flutters make a very noble gesture. However, some of Flutters' vocabulary just doesn't sound like her ("Stow it"?). The second half of the story is largely about a developing love between Fluttershy and... well, spoilers, but it's fairly obvious. I wasn't really convinced by this part, as things seem to proceed very conveniently (for the story) without that much organic growth in the relationship. That, and my unfamiliarity with the specific world in which this is set, are why this gets a two. ★★

Terror of the Flutterbat by Discord The Narrator
Fluttershy, Mane Seven and Sunset Shimmer [tagged separately; not sure why]
Comedy/Horror; 5k words; Feb–Mar 2018; Everyone
Flutterbat attacks Canterlot High. What will her friends do?
The short description tells you most of what's here: moving Flutterbat into the Equestria Girls universe is an interesting idea. The tension is gradually ratcheted up in a fairly effective way, and I like the chapter names that proceed from "Calm" to "Fear" and upwards from there. Although this isn't a "found footage" story, there's heavy use of not-totally-reliable video cameras, which adds more tension. What lets this fic down is the actual writing. There's a good deal of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome and some clunky phrasing: "Fluttershy is a vampire!!" The party girl shouted. The characters don't always sound quite like themselves (Rainbow says "I guess this is my end" at one point) and the whole thing badly needs proofreading. Two stars, but a similar story told more smoothly might have scored a bit higher. ★★

A Week in the Winter Storm by Samuel-Neocros
Rainbow Dash and OC
Romance/Slice of Life; 2k words; Nov 2017; Everyone
A snow storm hit, and it won't calm down fully until the end of the week. Oh well, at least Samneo and Rainbow Dash have the entire week to themselves, inside Neo's cabin!
This is an unashamed self-insert shipfic, yet it still gave me something quite unusual. Normally, when I see song lyrics in a fic, my heart sinks. This time, the awkwardness of the lyrics is an in-universe plot point. Good stuff! I also enjoyed a physical ability that Samneo, a water dragon, has. However, the main problem here is that most readers will find it hard to empathise with him. They won't know anything about him, and there's precisely no explanation of why he and Dash are sharing this cabin. Their relationship also progresses terribly fast: near the beginning "they weren’t at that level in their relationship" yet not long after they're sharing a passionate kiss. Add to that an overlong description of Samneo early on, including a reference that assumes familiarity with another popular franchise, and this is hard to recommend to anyone not already familiar with the OC. ★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: stories reviewed will include Quillian Inkheart's The Life of a Quill: The Taste of Cold Steel.


  1. The Sun-day one was weird for me. The character work was good, but there's really nothing to bolster me into buying the shipping angle. We just have to accept they're in love, since it's never demonstrated, particularly from Celestia's side. And while it's clear through the whole thing that something's not right with the situation, we never find out what. Maybe some people figured it out, but that seems like an awful stretch, and all the comments about it were people who didn't figure out what was going on until they read the author's note. To me, if you have to read the author's note to understand a story, they're doing it wrong.

    1. I didn't mind the shipping aspect: I'm often okay with it when the relationship is a fact from the start, as opposed to having to be built up during the story.

      The three I gave is based on the uncertainty of the ending. I liked it even before I read the A/N. That said, your point seems a perfectly reasonable one, and the story might even have been a four with just a little more of a hint as to what was going on.

    2. I don't necessarily mind a story that begins after the relationship is in full swing, but then the task is still to demonstrate the two are in love. I haven't the foggiest idea what Celestia sees in Pinkie here. Aside from getting confections from her, it's unclear that she has any feelings for Pinkie beyond what she'd have for a good friend. And for me, the story wouldn't lose any power if this situation were about friends rather than lovers. So it never felt to me like there even was a relationship or that it was necessary for there to be one for the plot to work.