Monday, December 31, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 123: For Those We Left Behind

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I can't say I cared for the Timber Wolves in Spike at Your Service--I'm not enough of an artistic connoisseur to express what about their appearance sat so poorly with me, but they looked very... computer-generated.  I know the entire show is done in flash, but visually, they just didn't jive with the rest of what we've seen, I thought.

On the plus side, Rainbow Dash writing self-insert Wonderbolt fanfics is now canon, which is something that I've always privately supposed.

Below, my review of Drakmire's For Those We Left Behind.

Friday, December 28, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 122: My Little Denarians

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Er, oops.  Looks like I forgot to set this one to post!  Enjoy some reviewing, somewhat off the normal schedule.

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Hope everyone had a great Christmas!  Even those of you who don't celebrate it--no reason not to have a nice day anyway, right?  In pony-related news, my little sister got me the MLP season 1 set for my present, so now I'm finally going to get to see what Dash and company look like on a decent-sized screen.  Woo!

Below the break, my review of Chengar Qordath's My Little Denarians.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Wishes, and a Reading Recommendation

Happy holidays, everyone!  I love this time of year, because it means one very important thing to me: spending time with my family.  We're all together for a couple of weeks, and it's hard for me to overstate how important that is to me.  As Applejack so succinctly put it over the weekend, family, "if you think about it, is really the first group of friends you ever make."  I know I'm grateful to have my parents, and my little sister, in my life.

If you're willing to take a little bit of advice from a stranger on the internet, I have one suggestion to share: this holiday season, remember to tell your loved ones that, well, that you love them.  Even if it seems silly or corny, take the time to let them know.  Blame it on the eggnog later, if you must.  But say the words "I love you," out loud, to the people for whom you care the most.

They're words I don't say often enough; most people don't, I suspect.  And the funny thing is, I've never once regretted saying them.  Not once.

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Anyway, there's one more thing I wanted to share!  Over the weekend, I started reading Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making.  If you haven't heard of it before, it was published a bit over a year and a half ago, and I picked it up after my mom recommended it to me.  I'm a bit over a quarter of the way through, but I feel like I've made it far enough to say this: Fairyland is the best new-to-me book that I've read in years.  It's a delightful mix of parody and deconstruction, all mixed with the occasional dollop of eye-opening sincerity, and has some of the most whimsically engaging narration I've ever come across.  It's clever and delightful, and often thought provoking, and basically I can't toss enough superlatives at it.  I thought about throwing up a few choice quotes, but after going back over the first couple of chapters I realized I really could quote almost any paragraph, and it would showcase at least one thing I'm loving about this story.

If that sounds like your kind of book, I highly, highly recommend it.  And if you aren't sure if it's for you or not, you can read the first eight chapters on the author's site--they're definitely worth checking out if you're on the fence.

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Well, that's it for now.  Reviews return Friday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 121: Trains, Carriages and Airships

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

It's amazing how quickly someone (myself, for example) can go from being thrilled about work being canceled because of winter weather, to being stricken by the realization that that stupidly long driveway isn't going to shovel itself.  Oh well, the exercise is probably good for me anyway.

Below, my review of John Perry's Trains, Carriages and Airships.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Even Yet Still More Stories You Haven't Read (But Should Have)

It's been a while, hasn't it?  Honestly, I just kind of forgot to do one of these under-read short stories posts.  But now it's time!  As always, I'm not saying these are the best stories ever written--but they're a heck of a lot better than their fame and popularity would seem to indicate.  Below the break, as usual.

P.S.  Most of you probably already know about them, but if you're in the market for stories that need a little more attention, take a look at the Seattle's Angels group on FIMfiction.  Multiple brief reviews of three under-appreciated fanfics every week (or so)--good stuff.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Few Stray Thoughts from a Grumpy Purist Regarding Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: Part One

I've let slip a time or three in the past that J.R.R. Tolkien's works hold a very special place in my heart; while I'm not blind to the flaws which others rightly point out in his writings, that does nothing to diminish the seminal stature of LotR and The Hobbit in my mind.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I hurried out to see the long-delayed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as soon as it hit the big screen.  What did I think?  Click below the break to read some of my more rant-worthy thoughts.

Oh, and just so there's no unpleasant surprises: I'm not going to make any effort to avoid spoilers here.  The book has been out for nearly a century; there's a statute of limitations on this stuff, guys.  And if you don't want to know about the stuff they added that wasn't in the book... well, maybe this isn't the commentary for you.  Fair warning.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 120: Substitute Harmony

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Well, I saw The Hobbit, and I have lots and lots of opinions about it.  I'm thinking maybe I'll put that into a post for Monday, if for no other reason than because I wouldn't mind getting some of my thoughts off my chest.  For now though, it's time for another fanfic review!  Below the break, Blayze Kohime's Substitute Harmony.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Brief Schedule Update

Due to the time constraints imposed by both the midnight showing of The Hobbit and my continued employment, my review of Substitute Harmony won't be going up at midnight (US central) like normal.  Man, keeping a schedule would be a lot easier if I didn't have a job or any interests outside of ponyfiction.  Anyway, I expect it to be somewhere in the area of 18-24 hours "late," for any of you waiting on pins and needles.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Feeling of Air

Today we have a guest column, brought to you once more by Chicken Vortex. Normally, I'd use this space to tell you what it's about, but he and I had an interesting chat about it after he sent me the link--it turned out that I got something very different out of what he wrote than what he thought he put into it. So, I present it without comment so that you all can interpret its message you see fit; make of it what you will, but I suspect you'll find it worth reading in any event. Below the break, CV's story.

Monday, December 10, 2012

For a Change, Let's Talk About Actual Books (part 4)

I'm still worming my way through Substitute Harmony, so that must mean it's time for another filler post terribly interesting look at my non-pony literary habits.  As before, I've grabbed all the books I'm reading, piled them up next to the computer, and have written a little bit about each one.  Consider it a candid snapshot into what I read when I'm not reading ponyfiction, from highbrow to mainstream to guilty pleasure (though mostly from the middle group, this week).  Below the break, as always.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Story from Me


This is the story of a very ordinary pony's extraordinary day. Carrot Top and Derpy are good friends indeed, and sometimes friendship can lead to wonderful surprises. It can also lead to arguments, frustration, and general grumpiness, of course, and this story has all of those things as well. But mostly, this is a story about the day Carrot Top learned how to fly.


You may recall me mentioning the Hearth's Warming Care Package a while back; if not, it was a fanfic-writing event for which the goal was to write a story for Kiki, a seven year old girl who's fighting cancer and who likes MLP.  This was my entry.

I'll spare you the suspense: I came in sixth place, out of 25 stories submitted.  Not what I'd call a terrible result, considering the quality of the other top entrants.  You can check those out here, by the way.  And now that the contest is over, I've posted it for all the world to see.

So here it is: my go at writing an irreverently whimsical yet sincere bit of friendshipping suitable for all ages.  If that sounds like something up your alley, why not check it out?  And if you do decide to read, I'd love to hear your comments, either here or on FIMFic.  Feedback, whether positive, negative, or otherwise, is always appreciated.

Update:  Now on Equestria Daily!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 119: Hold the Line: Tales from Magic Kindergarten

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

You know, cleaning up spam comments is actually kind of fun, because they're always so positive.  "Wow!  This article was insightful and informative!  The internet needs more dedicated people like you!" began one particularly glowing one, before dropping a link for "FREE V1agrR_a."  Aw, spambot, you're too kind.

Below the break, my review of Wodashin's Hold the Line: Tales from Magic Kindergarten.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Episode Talk: S3E5, Magic Duel

Saturday's episode was perhaps the most anticipated of the season, assuming that we grant that "anticipated" covers both "eagerly awaited" and "morosely dreaded."  Did it live up (or down) to expectations?  My thoughts, after the break.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Let Me Show You a Barn

Hope everyone's ready for another guest post!  Today we have the inimitable The Descendant (T.D. if you prefer), one of the most prolific authors in the fandom, and author of three different stories which have been reviewed here (including one of my personal favorite fanfics, A Cup of Joe).  Go on down below the break to read what he has to say about that great bugaboo of amateur authors everywhere: show vs. tell.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 118: An Old Guardspony's Last Duty

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

It occurred to me when looking at a world map this morning that my baseline for determining whether a map is new or not is still the presence or absence of the USSR.  The USSR collapsed over 20 years ago.  It has literally been decades since I reevaluated the way I date maps.  I suppose looking for South Sudan would be one way, but not immediately checking how upper Asia's labeled just doesn't feel right.

Below the break, my review of BuffaloBrony's An Old Guardspony's Last Duty.

Monday, November 26, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 117: Naked Singularity

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

When it comes to TV shows, I actually don't really mind "Very Special Episodes" in principal.  Sure, there's plenty of bad ones, but there's nothing about tackling a social issue head-on and in a particularly blatant way which precludes quality writing/humor/etc.  What I don't like is being told one thing and then given another.  One Bad Apple was a heavy-handed piece of anti-bullying propaganda, and I resent being promised something else far more than the heavy-handedness itself would have bothered me.  Maybe that's petty of me, but I was irked.

I did dig the ersatz version of The A-Team's theme, though.

Below the break, my review of Cold in Gardez's Naked Singularity

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ignore Any Reports to the Contrary, This Post Always Had a Title. Also, Happy Thanksgiving! Also Also, Guest Post

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!  Yes, even those of you who don't live in countries where it's celebrated--may your Thursday have rocked hard.

I, of course, was doing a lot more turkey-eating and football-watching than fanfic-reading, so today we have another guest column!  Returning for his second guest post is Pascoite, author and reviewer of note.  Pop down below the break to see what he has to say about understanding and respecting the characters you write about, as well as a bit about the appeal of writing MLP fanfics specifically.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Reading as a Social Activity

If you're visiting a fanfiction review blog, the odds are you're something of a reader already.  So, here's something I've been turning over in my head for the last few days re. reading.  Below the break, as always.

Monday, November 19, 2012

6-Star Review Part 116: Tilt

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

A simple suggestion, if I may: I'd like to propose that, henceforth, any author who wants to write a second-person story be required to read this first.  I'd like to think it would result in far fewer trainwrecks cropping up on FIMfiction, but maybe I have too much faith in the ability of those authors to get the joke, or understand how it might apply to their own writing.

After the break, my review of the definitely-not-a-second-person-adventure, Passport-Clean's Tilt.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Making Mountains Out of Molehills

Yes, we have more guest posts today!  The latest installment of commentary is brought to you by Ezn, fanfic author and an occasional reviewer himself.  Also a hipster, I guess?  I was instructed to type that.  Anyway, click below the break to see what he has to say about originality in fanfiction, and extrapolation from canon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 115: Reading Rainbow

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

You know, e-ink screens are amazing.  I've had my e-reader for less than a year, but I honestly can't remember how I used to put up with reading so much off a computer screen before I got it.  So much easier on the eyes.

Below the break, my review of Corejo's Reading Rainbow.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Episode Talk: S3E1-2, The Crystal Kingdom

Well, after another long hiatus, new pony episodes are finally here.  Just like last year, I'm going to dedicate a post to commenting on episodes that I found I had a lot to say about, while skipping over those which, for better or worse, stuck out less to me.  I don't think it will surprise anyone to know that I have opinions about the season three premier, in any case.  Click down below the break for my semi-sorted thoughts.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Hat, a Blog, a Golbat. Aha!

I hope you're all ready for a bit more guest column-ing before the weekend!  Today we have Chicken Vortex at the helm, author of (among other things) the previously-reviewed-on-this-blog Getting Lucky.  Also, in my humble opinion, one of the better writers out there when it comes to using humor and depreciation to make a point.  Also, just for kicks and giggles--I'm not the one who came up with that post title, after all.  Click below to see him exercise those talents while discussing that oft-asked question: "How do I come up with (good) ideas?"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 114: Postal Blues and Grey Feathers

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Another story with the sad tag!  I seem to be hitting a bunch of these, lately.  Oh well, it never rains but it pours...

Below, my review of The_EE's Postal Blues and Grey Feathers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Maybe a Ponyfiction Blog is an Odd Place to Make This Appeal, but Here Goes


If you're a US citizen over 18 years of age, please remember to vote today, if you haven't already.  Click here if you need help with registration, or to find your polling place.  Whatever your political leanings, please take the time to express them at the ballot box--call me naive if you must, but I strongly believe that the foundation of a participatory democracy is, well, participation.  So go participate!

Then sigh in relief, knowing it will be at least a few months before the 2014 midterm coverage kicks into high gear.  But today, do your part and vote!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Creativity from Constraints

Once more to the guest posts, dear friends!  Today's commentary features John Perry, author of too many popular works of ponyfiction to list here, including one (Rest Stop) which I've already reviewed on this blog, and another (Trains, Carriages, and Airships) which is upcoming.  Click below the break to read his thoughts on... well, it says it right there in the title, doesn't it?

Friday, November 2, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 113: Eternal

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

A sign of just how terrible my sense of humor is: I spent most of an afternoon recently idly trying to figure out how to make a workable joke with the punchline that in bizarro-universe England, all the subway signs would read "Lacuna Matata."

Take your time...

Okay, finished groaning?  Sometimes, there's a fine line between brilliance and stupidity when it comes to punnery.  Clearly, this was not one of those times.

Below the break, my review of Device Heretic's Eternal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Story of Your Life

What, you didn't think I'd finish Eternal that quickly, did you?  Hopefully I'll have a review ready by Friday, but luckily, I've still got guest columns to share!  Today's comes courtesy of Thanqol, an author whose stories I've reviewed on this blog more than once.  Also, an Australian; don't ask me why, but this blog seems to have attracted a fair number of Aussies, if the analytics tool is to be trusted.  Click below to see what he has to say about the roots of, and fundamental inspirations for, stories of all stripes.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Writer-centric Reviewing

It's once more time for a guest post, one which is sure to distract you for a couple more days while I finish reading Eternal delight and enthrall.  Today's installment comes courtesy of Pascoite: a talented author in his own right, and a regular fanfic reviewer/editor on Ponychan.  Click below the break to see what he has to say about the differences between writer-centric reviews (what he does over there) and reader-centric ones (what I do over here), and a little bit of literary self-analysis as well.

Friday, October 26, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 112: Allegrezza

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Story (review) time!  Below the break, Coffeegrunt's Allegrezza.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Intolerant of Tolerance

Time for another guest post!  This one is courtesy of Inquisitor M: author, reviewer, snarker, self-described "armchair psychologist," and all-around curmudgeon.  Click past the break to see him tackle one of the more grating subsets of the fandom: the folks who cry "love and tolerate" as though it were a mantra.  Below, British (i.e. wrong) spellings and controversial opinions abound!

Monday, October 22, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 111: Yours Truly

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Although I mostly restrict myself to fanfiction reviews around here, I'm going to branch out a bit and offer my review of Bud's Best brand Orange Dreamsicle Cookies: they taste exactly like dreamsicles, if dreamsicles were dry and crumbly instead of cold and creamy.  For a bargain bin find, they are definitely okay.

On second thought, maybe I'd better stick to what I know.  Below, my review of Thanqol's Yours Truly.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Perfectly Valid Comparisons

As I mentioned last week, real-life stuff is eating up more time these days than usual, which means that it's becoming hard for me to keep up a thrice-weekly posting schedule.  Luckily, the siren call of unpaid non-commercial essay writing is strong indeed, and I've managed to convince several of the better-known names in ponyfiction to contribute guest spots to take some of the pressure off.  First up by virtue of being the first to submit anything is Arcainum, author of the soon-to-be-reviewed-by-yours-truly Harpflank and Sweets, among other things.  Check out what he as to say concerning the roots of creative instinct, authors who deserve your attention, and a little bit about anime robots as well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 110: The Promises We Keep

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

This site is one year old today.

Yowza.

They say that practice makes perfect, and I certainly hope my reviews have improved over the last 365 days.  If nothing else, it continues to stun me that a blog primarily dedicated to reviewing MLP fanfics has proven so popular, garnering nearly 150,000 pageviews since it started.  So thanks to all of you for the encouragement, criticisms, and other commentary which you've provided over the past year.  It's been fun.

Now, on to year two!  Below, my review of Pascoite's The Promises We Keep.

Monday, October 15, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 109: Brotherly Bond

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I'm just gonna throw this out there, but steak and kidney pie is delicious.  Anyone who says otherwise is either lying, or has never had any.  True facts.

Below the break, my review of Crash Jet's Brotherly Bond.

Friday, October 12, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 108: It Takes a Village

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

All done!  Below, my review of determamfidd's It Takes a Village.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No Review Today

Up until this evening, I was hoping I'd be able to finish reading It Takes a Village and have a review ready for posting at the normal time, but no; I've still got two chapters to go.  Expect the review on Friday.

I should also probably mention now that, due to a family medical situation which is going to put me in the role of caregiver for a few weeks, I may have to do a few more "sorry for the delay" posts in the near future.  I'll try to keep to a schedule, and I'm working on some "filler" posts that are anything but, but consider this an apology in advance.  I'll do my best to continue to have something worth reading, discussing, and/or snarking about three times a week.

P.S.  Let me just clarify: my mom's having multiple ankle surgeries, so I'm going to be doing a fair bit of taking care of her (and the house) for a while.  Nobody's dead or dying or near-death or anything of the sort--in retrospect, the lack of detail makes that second paragraph seem more ominous than the situation really is.

Monday, October 8, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 107: Pony for Christmas

To read the story, click the image or follow this link


As much as I love Christmas, October is just too early to start thinking about it!  Oh well, nothing like a little out-of-season cheer to brighten the day, I suppose.  Below, my review of Pony for Christmas, by Brookwood Bronco.

Friday, October 5, 2012

For a Change, Let's Talk About Actual Books (part 3)

It's time once again to look at what non-pony reading I'm currently engaged in!  I really enjoy doing these posts; they always seem to inspire some interesting discussion, I often add a book or two to my "to-read" list after looking through other people's comments, and because a post like this is relatively quick and easy to put together, I'm left with more time to eat an entire bag of candy corn-flavored M&Ms while watching football start reading It Takes a Village so that I don't have to post an entire week of filler before I get to reviewing it be a productive member of society.  Look below to see a list of what I'm reading at the moment, what I think of it, and maybe to judge my taste in books while we're at it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 106: Interview With a Princess


To read the story, click the image or follow this link


Does anyone else find that their eyes hurt if they try to watch TV in the dark?  I've got a friend who will always insist on turning off all the lights and blocking up windows when he watches a movie; I guess it makes the picture seem brighter, but it just makes it incredibly unpleasant to watch for me.

Below, my review of Hoopy McGee's Interview With a Princess.

Monday, October 1, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 105: The Hiccups

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Although I'm not much of a baseball fan, I had the opportunity to go to an MLB game over the weekend.  It was a lot of fun; there's just something incredibly exciting about the way tens of thousands of people can hold their breath, waiting in complete silence as the crucial pitch is delivered, and then explode into a cacophony of cheers as the batter smacks the game-winning hit.

Below the break, my review of uSea's The Hiccups.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Believe It or Not, I Still Write Stuff Sometimes



A series of notes sent to a young changeling in the field by her superior, and a glimpse into the minds of a race whose views on friendship and love are at once totally alien and disturbingly easy to recognize in ourselves and those around us.



It's been a while since I wrote anything worth mentioning fanfiction-wise, but I've got a new story out, which I've linked to above.  I was a little hesitant to post about it here, as I don't particularly like excessive self-promotion (my own or other's).  But hey; what's the point of having a fanfic-centric blog if you aren't even going to mention your own fanfics?

Anyway, those of you wondering what my own writing looks like now have a chance to see for yourselves.  And in the unlikely event that anyone who frequents this site belongs to the "If you don't like it, let's see you write something better!" school of literary criticism, now's your chance to determine what stories I am or am not qualified to have an opinion about!

Okay, snarking aside, I hope you'll give this story a look if it tickles your interests.  And if you do decide to read it, I hope you'll enjoy.  Many thanks to Pascoite for his exhaustive editing/pre-reading/reviewing/whatever-the-fandom-is-calling-it-these-days, and to Nelvakre for letting me use the image above as cover art.  And if you want to comment on the story, feel free to do so here or on FIMFic; either way, I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 104: The Rummy Business of Old Blooey

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

As we start to get close to season three, I find myself wondering what effect the new episodes will have on fanfiction, numbers-wise (obviously, they'll have plenty of impact on the content of new fanfics).  Last year it seemed like there was something of a lull following the premiere of the new season, at least for a couple of weeks.  It'll be interesting to see if the same thing happens this time.

Below the break, my review of Cloud Wander's The Rummy Business of Old Blooey.

Monday, September 24, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 103: Forever!

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Crossovers with television or video games tend to go over my head, but crossovers with books... that's more in line with my interests.  So its nice to see that it's time for a Dresden Files crossover!  My review of Chengar Qordath's Forever!, after the break.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Even Yet More Stories You Haven't Read (But Should Have)

After making an open request for links to severely underrated fanfics last week, I got plenty of responses--enough that I was able to put together this post and still have plenty of excellent little-known leftovers, even after ruling out several stories which were too well-known (sorry, Centerpiece of My Collection), too long for me to read in a reasonable amount of time (sorry, Stories of a Warden), or in one case, which were in fact Chronicles of Narnia fanfics (sorry, South).  That, and turning away a few which weren't actually all that wonderful--I don't particularly enjoy playing gatekeeper, but ultimately I'm the one making the recommendation.  Still, I couldn't have done this without all of you who sent in stories.

Speaking of, I'm not sure whether etiquette dictates that I should or shouldn't credit the people who pointed me towards the stories I'm linking to here.  Since several people specifically asked not to be identified, and since for several more I have no name or handle, but only an e-mail address, I'm going to leave the recommenders unattributed--for now.  If you suggested one of the stories here and would like some recognition, just let me know and I'll credit you appropriately.

So now, on to the stories!  As always, they aren't necessarily the absolute best things ever written.  What they are are short stories which are much, much better than their meager number of readers would seem to indicate, spanning multiple styles and/or genres.  Check them out below the break.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 102: Sparkle's Law

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I'll be honest: up here, I got nothin'.  Below the break, my review of AestheticB's Sparkle's Law.

Friday, September 14, 2012

An Experiment in Crowdsourcing

One of the most popular things I do on this blog is "Stories You Haven't Read (But Should Have)."  Which is nice, because it's also something which I really enjoy doing; bringing attention to fanfics that don't get enough attention.  There's only one problem: little-known fanfics are, by definition, little-known.  The odds of me having read a wonderful story that hasn't gotten the wide acclaim it deserves are pretty minuscule, after all.

So, I'm going to try enlisting some help.  If you know of a fanfic that unjustly missed its fifteen minutes of fame, I'd like you to tell me!  In a week or so, I'll do a SYHR(BSH) post, and I'm hoping that the collective readership of this blog will be able to point me towards a few gems that would otherwise never have made it onto my radar.

Here's the rules:

1.     E-mail a link to the story to me.  You can feel free to discuss your favorite underrated story in the comments as well, but if you want me to read it and post about it, send me an e-mail.  I don't care where the story is hosted, as long as you can link to it.

2.     The point of this exercise is to find little-known stories, so the front page of EqD and the FIMFiction feature bar probably aren't great places to look.

3.     Sending me a link is not a guarantee that I'll feature that story.  Obviously if I think the fanfic you sent me is terrible, I'll exclude it.  But if (and based on past experience, I fully expect this to be the case) I get far more recommendations than I can possibly read, let alone post, without dedicating my every waking hour to ponyfiction, then a lot of good stories might end up left out in the cold.  But fret not!  I'll hold onto those e-mails, and continue to use them in future SYHR(BSH)s.

4.     Short stories only, please.  I'm not going to put an arbitrary word count on it, but use common sense.  Yes, I realize there are little-known gems with six-figure word counts, but for practical purposes I'm going to have to restrict this to smaller works.

5.     If you know of more than one story that is desperately in need of attention, go ahead and tell me.  But please don't send twenty or thirty links; I am but one man, after all.

And that's it!  Hopefully this goes well--finding a wonderful story you'd never even heard of is one of life's great pleasures, if you ask me, whether it's fanfic or not.  I can be e-mailed here; thank you in advance!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 101: Rest Stop

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

In a shameless bout of self-promotion, I'd like to mention that my CYOA, The Purloined Pony, was featured in one of EqD's semi-regular Blast from the Past posts.  Anyway, it made me feel good to know that someone remembered it, and liked it well enough to get it into that collection (along with the excellent if incomplete Fair Feather Friends, the maddeningly inconsistent and incomplete Memories of Days Long Past, and a story I haven't read).

On a semi-related note, it's a shame to see the state that EqD's comment section is in.  Once they moved over to IntenseDebate, I stopped commenting on that site altogether (I wasn't prepared to make a new online account just so I could comment on a pony blog), and haven't really looked down there since.  If the comments on that post are any indication though... it's not youtube, but it's not all that far off, either.

Below the break, my review John Perry's Rest Stop.

Monday, September 10, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 100: 6 Angry Mares

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I have been looking at that cover image for more than a minute, trying to figure out Dash's legs.

Also, review #100!  Woo!  Let's celebrate by, um... staring silently at our computer monitors as we read on.  Below, my review of Jelly's 6 Angry Mares.

Friday, September 7, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 99: The Best Night Ever

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

For some reason, I found it remarkably depressing when I went to the grocery store and they already had a full Halloween display.  I think it's because I've got a September birthday, and the proper order of events is birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  My holiday schedule is being infringed upon!

Below the break, my review of Capn Chryssalid's The Best Night Ever.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unpleasant Truths

I'm writing this about two and a half hours before it's scheduled to go up; I had a different post ready to go, but I'm bumping it to Friday because I'm still feeling frustrated from, well, the subject of this rant.  Go ahead and look below the break for some musings about music, fanfiction, and what the two have in common.

Monday, September 3, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 98: The Contest

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Rather than go on vacation or have a picnic, which I understand are the normal things to do over Labor Day weekend, I decided to scrape and re-caulk the exterior base of my parent's house.  In retrospect, a picnic probably would have been slightly more enjoyable.  Also, I can't get this gunk off my fingers.

Below, my review of Cold in Gardez's The Contest.

Friday, August 31, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 97: Mines of Dragon Mountain

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Below the break, my review of Mines of Dragon Mountain, by Hephestus.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Even More Stories You Haven't Read (But Should Have)

And now, the third entry in my so-infrequent-and-irregular-it-practically-redefines-sporadic series!  As always, I'll be highlighting three short pony stories that aren't particularly well-known.  I don't claim that any of them are the best thing ever written, but I think they each merit more attention than they've gotten to date.  Look below to see what underrated writing I've managed to dig up:

Monday, August 27, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 96: Derpy's Bebop

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

It occurred to me the other day, as I was going through the comments on the "A Pair of Questions" post, that I've developed some remarkably specific mental images of many of the regular posters here.  I have a tendency to do that: assigning made-up faces to people whom I've never met.  Is that just a personal idiosyncrasy, or does everyone do that?  Either way, it helps me to have a face, even if it's just an imaginary one, to associate with those whom I interact with.

Below the break, my review of TrelaTyraelis' Derpy's Bebop.

Friday, August 24, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 95: The Silent Shore

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I just re-upped with the league I've played fantasy football with for the last three years.  My combined record over those three years?  12-30, and you can probably guess how many playoff appearances that's gotten me. Much more than the lottery, I think this game is a tax on those of us who are bad at math.

Below, my review of The Descendant's The Silent Shore.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Pair of Questions

You've probably noticed by now that this isn't a story review.  August is a busy month for me, and I spent the weekend on a mini-vacation, so I'm playing catchup on several fronts.  Point is, I haven't written a new review yet.  I'll plan to have it out Friday, for any of you sitting on pins and needles.

In the interim, I figured this might be a good time to ask you, the regular and semi-regular patrons of my little corner of the internet, a couple of questions:

1) Is there anything about the site you'd like me to change/do differently that would make it more accessible or useful?  Bear in mind that I have little free time and less computer savvy.

2)  Is there anything substantive you'd want me to change about my regular content?  Stuff you want to see more or less of, things you want me to focus more or less on, etc.

You all are pretty good about leaving feedback on my reviews when I screw up (which I greatly appreciate, by the way), whether it's spelling errors or more egregious stuff, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask if there's anything else that would make the posts more useful and/or entertaining.

No promises I'll be willing or able to make any given proposed change, of course.  I do this for fun, and while I don't consider that an excuse for poor quality, it means there are some significant practical limits to the amount of time I can actually spend on creating new material for the site; writing three reviews or columns a week is pretty much my upper limit (and as cases like today attest, it's sometimes more than I can manage).  But if there's something you can think of that I could be doing better, consider this my request for your opinion.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Mere" Fanfiction

I've often repeated that I see no reason why I, as a reader, shouldn't hold fanfiction to the same standards as original fiction.  But the fact is, most people do evaluate pony stories (or any derivative stories, for that matter) much differently than they would commercial fiction.  Why is this, and are these differing expectations fair to both author and reader?  My thoughts, below.

Friday, August 17, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 94: The Birds and the Bees

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Anyone who's under 18 and/or not a US citizen can go ahead and skip down to the review now.

Everyone else still with me?  Okay, here's the deal: elections are less than three months away, and depending on what state you live in and your voting history (if any), you may need to get registered pretty soon if you want to vote in November.  I have said before, and I will reiterate now, that I have no desire to discuss politics on a pony fanfic blog (I assume few if any of you do, either).  However, taking the time to register, and then to cast an informed ballot, is an apolitical decision.  It's a civic duty, and at the risk of sounding hopelessly idealistic, it's the cornerstone of our democracy.  If you need help figuring out how to get registered, this nonpartisan, government-run site can help.  Please, do your part, and make your voice heard.

Okay, with that public service message out of the way, let's move on to my review of theworstwriter's The Birds and the Bees, after the break.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 93: The Pony Poetry Series

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

The Tim Burton Batman was on the other day, and I ended up watching it while doing some reading.  You know, I'd forgotten how much I liked that movie.  The Nolan movies may have been deeper, grittier, and less hampered by silly-looking special effects, but Jack Nicholson is just plain fun to watch.  Also, the old Batmobile may be less "realistic" than the Bat-tank, but it's much cooler-looking.

Below, my review of Aquarian Poet's The Pony Poetry Series.

Monday, August 13, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 92: Ponies Play D&D

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Funny story: my parents actually met playing D&D (well, it was AD&D at the time, and even that was brand-spankin'-new): Dad played a variety of different classes and races, while Mom mostly stuck to half-orc fighters.  So I grew up on what's these days often referred to as 1e, and have intermittently DMed it ever since, in addition to playing a variety of pen-and-paper RPGs.  Maybe it's just the nostalgia goggles talking, but for my money none of the newer versions, or various iterations, can hold a candle to the set so Gygaxian, it was actually written by Gary Gygax.

Though to be fair, the table for weapon bonuses and penalties vs. various ACs was always kind of ridiculous.

Anyway, my review of Ponies Play D&D, by Lucres, after the break.

Friday, August 10, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 91: Moonbeam

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I've always had a pretty decent vocabulary, and I've never been afraid to use it (even when I didn't know how to pronounce the word in question).  So lately, my friends have started singing this song from a beer commercial at me every time I say anything that involves stringing more than three syllables together.  I want to be annoyed, but honestly it's pretty catchy.

Below, my review of Laurence Brown's Moonbeam.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For a Change, Let's Talk About Actual Books (part 2)

I'll be honest: between my sister visiting this week, and August already being a relatively busy month for me, I haven't made the time to finish reading Moonbeam yet.  I'll have it done by Friday, but until then, how about some delicious filler?  Way back in the misty reaches of, er, May, I listed the books I was reading at the time, and talked briefly about each.  That seemed to spark some interesting discussion, so I'm going to go ahead and do the same thing again.  Below, I'll put the title and author of each book, what my opinion is of it to this point, and a recommendation based on that incomplete reading.

Monday, August 6, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 90: A Cup of Joe

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

I've seen the image used here as cover art literally dozens of times prior to writing this review, but I only just now noticed Derpy in the background.  Huh.

Below the break, my review of The Descendant's A Cup of Joe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 89: Progress

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Okay, back and full of commentary!  Andrew Joshua Talon's Progress, reviewed below the break.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Little Sister's In Town, and She's More Important Than Timely Posts

Nothing personal, but blog vs. family is hardly a fair fight.

Anyway, I've finished Progress, but haven't had time to write a post up for it yet.  And in just a minute, I'm going to be leaving to hang out with my sister, and probably won't be back until late.  I'll write it up then, but expect it to be at least an hour or three later than usual.

In the meantime, you might want to consider taking a look at Inquisitor M's recently-published story, Shades of Grey.  I first encountered the author more than seven months ago, when he asked if I'd be willing to lend him a hand with a fanfic he'd begun writing.  It was clear from the start that he had an interesting idea, but there was a lot of work to be done to turn it into an interesting story.  However, Mr. M put in a huge amount of time and effort to produce a 130,000-word adventure which also manages to be one of the most detailed character studies of Rarity that I've ever seen.  And I can tell you all from personal experience that the quality of his prose and editing have vastly improved since he first contacted me.  I'm never sure how to word that sort of thing so that it doesn't come off as a left-handed complement, but nevermind that; the point is that he's been consistently willing to put in the time and effort needed to improve, and I think that shows in the finished product.

You can read it on FIMFiction here, or on Gdocs (the suggested format) here.  And if that doesn't tide you over until I post the Progress review, you're on your own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 88: Raiders of the Cutie Mark

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Not being a farmer, I don't usually pay too much mind to ruminations about drought or excessive rain (farmers, for those of you who don't know any, will complain about either with equal gusto  And if conditions are somehow perfect, they will switch to dourly commenting on how low crop prices are sure to be with everyone's else's fields coming in so well.  There is no pleasing these people).  However, the lack of water seems to be affecting the quality of this year's sweet corn, and as far as I'm concerned grilled sweet corn is one of life's simple pleasures.  This is no good.

Below the break, my review of DJLowrider's Raiders of the Cutie Mark.

Monday, July 30, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 87: The Worst Bakers in Equestria

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

What better way to follow up a gore/horror set like the Silent Ponyville stories than with a series tagged random/comedy?  Below the break, my review of Bob from Bottles' The Worst Bakers in Equestria.

Friday, July 27, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 86: Silent Ponyville

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Given that the adult pony fandom is primarily an internet-based phenomenon, I suppose it's not surprising that video game crossovers are so common within the fanfic community.  And wouldn't you know, here's one of them!  Or rather, a whole bunch of them.  My review of Jake Heritagu's Silent Ponyville et al, after the break.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fanfiction as a Coping Mechanism

A few thoughts on... well, it's all there in the title.  Just a heads up, this post is pretty depressing.  Everything is below the break, as usual.

Monday, July 23, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 85: My Little Dashie

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Thomas Voeckler won the polka-dot jersey!  If you aren't a cycling fan, take my word for it that that's a good thing.  Also, be sure not to ask regular commenter and guest blogger Mystic about Cadel Evans; probably kind of a sore subject.

On a related note, Blogger has a tool which tracks referrals from Google.  It seems that this site has gotten several hits in the last week from people searching for "Thomas Voeckler Fanfiction."  Just a heads-up: if anyone writes a high-quality Voeckler/MLP crossover fanfic and sends it to me, I'm gonna post it.  Clearly, there's a demand for this, and I for one embrace the coming glut of pro cycling/pony hybrids.

Anyway, my review of ROBCakeran53's My Little Dashie, below the break.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Trawling FIMFic: Seeking Out Diamonds in the Rough

Today, I'm going to do something a little different.  Normally I focus on highly-regarded stories--6-star stuff.  What I'd like to try now instead is to walk you all through one of my occasional forays through the most recently posted stories on FIMFiction.net, as I seek out the next great good fanfic for my own edification.  What I'm going to do is give each story's title and synopsis (treat [sic] appearing after most of them as a given, BTW), whether or not I'm going to read them (and if not, why), and if I did read, what I thought of them.  Consider this a glimpse into my fanfic-reading-for-pleasure habits; a look at how I pick out stories I do or don't want to read absent any expectations or recommendations.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 84: Moonspire Run


To read the story, click the image or follow this link

TitanRising's fic,
Moonspire Run, gets a review
Below the page break.

(Yes, I did a haiku joke.  Sorry, I couldn't think of anything interesting to say)

Monday, July 16, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 83: Solar Flare

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Well, that was fun.  Indulging in a bit of creative writing always seems to put me in a good mood.  I think I'll try to leave a little more time for it from here on out (plus, I'm less than halfway finished drafting the story I was working on, and I'd hate to let it whither now that I've put in a good start on it).  But for the moment, I'm ready to get back to reviewing.  Which is good, because I enjoy that too!  Below the break, my review of Dragryphon's Solar Flare.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What I'm Doing Right Now Instead of Writing a Review

Yesterday, I tried to sit down and start reading Solar Flare, but I couldn't seem to get myself to focus.  I don't want to half-ass a story that I review (and I assume you all don't want me to, either), so I got up and did a few chores to let my head get itself on straight.  When I came back, I tried again, but still just didn't want to read it.  So I went for a bike ride, tuckered myself out, and after coming home... I still couldn't get myself interested in starting this story.  So, the obvious things having been attempted, I had me a good think and tried to figure out why I was feeling so apathetic.

Was I burned out on ponyfiction?  No, that wasn't it--it was reading critically and reviewing that I didn't feel like doing, specifically.  Was writing review after review becoming monotonous?  Not really; I always seem to find at least one or two different (i.e. not what was in the review previous) things to talk about for every story.  Then what?

Finally I realized: I wanted to do a little writing of my own.

Despite the fact that I haven't "published" any new fanfics in months, I do still write pony fiction from time to time.  I just tend to place it behind these reviews on the list of pony-related things to do.  And normally, that's fine; I like reading and reviewing stories (why else would I do it?), and frankly, I'm probably more skilled at that than I am as an author.  But I like to write too, and I haven't been doing very much of it lately.  In fact, I haven't done any creative writing at all since I got back from vacation.

Well, now's the time to fix that.  I had an idea that I sketched out shortly before I left on vacation, and it's been niggling at me for more than a month now.  So by cracky, I'm going to take a stab at writing it now, and not wait until some nebulous "later."  I've got a few completely free days right now in which to pound out some words, and that's exactly what I intend to do.  And once I've done that, then I think I'll be able to go get some reviewing done without wishing I was doing something else.

So.  Review Monday.  But for now, I write.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thomas Voeckler is Best Pony

source: sportlive.co

That is all.

6-Star Reviews Part 82: On a Cross and Arrow

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

While I have no intention of injecting politics into this blog (that goes for the comments too, please), I have to ask: who thought it would be a good idea to name Mitt Romney's former private equity firm Bain Capital?  I mean, I suppose it was probably someone's name, but did nobody ever say, "Hey guys, 'bane' has some kinda sinister connotations, maybe we should call our company something that doesn't suggest we're a merciless enactor of wanton destruction?"  It just seems to me like the equivalent of calling your restaurant "Nausea."

Anyway, Conner Cogwork's On a Cross and Arrow, after the break.

Monday, July 9, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 81: Utter Madness/Happy/Burlap

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

What the heck is that brown... thing in the picture supposed to be?  A potato?  A walnut?  A morbidly obese pine cone?  Maybe it's a fossilized dinosaur egg or the decapitated head of a dirt golem.  I have no idea, but it's weirding me out.

Lawnpygmys' Utter Madness, Happy, and Burlap, after the break.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: Bronies: For the Love of Ponies

(For the publisher's page/purchasing information, click here)

Well, here we are: the much-discussed Bronies: For the Love of Ponies is available for purchase, and Kazka Press offered me a reviewer's copy so that I could write it up.  I know there are a lot of people greeting this with extreme skepticism, and I don't blame them; can a short story anthology centered around "guys who love horses/ponies/an unnamed children's pony show" really be any good?  And after the theme was changed from "guys who love My Little Pony" to something more copyright-friendly, is there anything here of interest to the self-described MLP fan?  Well, I've read the stories, and I'm prepared to offer my opinions on the matter.  My thoughts, after the break.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 80: Fallout: Equestria

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Happy 4th of July to all!  Even those of you who aren't Americans should feel free to have a nice day--go on, you have my blessing.   I'm back home, having spent the last two weeks working my way through one of the fandom's most substantial works to date: Kkat's Fallout: Equestria.  I'll warn you in advance, this review runs pretty long, but if you aren't afraid of the wordcount (and if you are, maybe a 600,000 word fanfic isn't what you're looking for anyway), check below the break to see my thoughts.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Drak's Post Thing

I'm probably home by now, but as of post time I've also probably only been home for an hour or two tops, so we have one more guest post before I'm back (for real) on Wednesday.  Taking the reigns for me one last time is Drakmire, a fanfic writer who's currently one of EqD's pre-readers.  And as it turns out, his post deals mostly with that latter capacity; below the break, he sheds some light on the pre-reading process, both its theory and practice.

Also, I think we can all agree that he picked the best name for his post.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Review: Background Pony (C.1)

(Background Pony can be read here) 

[Now, a story review by Inquisitor M!  You may recognize him from his regular comments on this blog.  I'd say more, but 1. He doesn't have any published stories (yet) which I can link you to, and 2. He wrote his own bit to go above the page break.  So without further adieu, I cede the stage to him.  -Chris]

By Order of the Inquisition:

A Chapter 1 Review of Background Pony

Well the Chris is away, so I get to post stuff to his blog. I had a few ideas, but with the number of short stories that have come up lately, one thing stuck out that I wanted to talk about: the beginning. Rather than have me wax lyrical about what I think makes a good opening to a story, I would like to do a review of the first chapter of Background Pony, by short skirts and explosions, and see if my comments can spark some discussion.