All Our Best

As should be obvious from 15 months without a feature, life has taken the Royal Canterlot Library curators in different directions. While there’s still plenty of awesome stories being written in the My Little Pony fandom, we’re no longer actively working to spotlight them, and it’s time to officially draw the project to a close.

Thank you for all of your support, suggestions, and comments over the years. We’re grateful to have been able to share seven years of exemplary stories with you, and give more insight into the minds behind them. In the spirit of the project, please keep reading and recommending fantastic fics to friends—the community is enriched when we all share what we love.

On that note, there are several reviewers out there who are still active, so if you’re wondering where to find more recommendations, consider following Louder Yay, TCC56, PaulAsaran, and of course our own Present Perfect.

We will keep our features up on as long as it is feasible, though if there’s a particular feature/interview you want to keep forever, this might be a good time to pull it up from our archives and save a copy.

All our best,
Present Perfect


MSPiper’s “Autumnfall Change”


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You might want to keep a whiteboard handy for today’s story.

autumnfall changeAutumnfall Change
[Sci-Fi][Slice of Life][Human] • 8,419 words

Magic and technology may have pierced the void and blazed a path between the realms, but that was the simple part. Adjusting to the changes that follow can be far more daunting.

Yet despite the complexities involved even in basic communication, Serendipity has found friends to talk to among humankind who can cheer her up when she’s down. And occasionally inspire her to bursts of ingenuity unhindered by such trifles as foresight.

FROM THE CURATORS: As Present Perfect said in his nomination, “we don’t get a lot of well-written, original science fiction that is under novel length,” and despite the magical subject matter, this work still manages to be fairly “hard” sci-fi.

“It presents a truly fascinating world,” FanOfMostEverything said, “and considers a question asked by few others who deal with human-pony relations: Equestria is a whole other universe. What does that entail?” This fascinating world enraptured RBDash47 as well. “I’m a sucker for harder sci-fi that drops you straight into the universe and doesn’t hold your hand when it comes to figuring out the lingo, cultural norms, historical events, and so on. It was a delight trying to piece together what came before the events of the story and figure out what things like ‘the Quench’ are.”

There was a lot of appreciation for the thoughtfulness paid to every aspect of the story’s world. Soge praised “the way that the author plays with the concept of different senses between both species, and how it impacts the way they see each other’s world”; Present Perfect was likewise impressed by the “strong focus on perception, the ways things like a color monitor would be useless to a species with different eye biology from ours.” RBDash47 noticed that thoughtfulness extended to the story’s formatting as well: “The choice to emphasize by underlining instead of italicizing struck me as a little odd, but then I realized it’s not odd at all: all of the ‘dialogue’ here is written, not spoken, and when writing things out we do indeed underline for emphasis…”

For all its charms, this piece might not be for everyone. AugieDog pointed out “this reads to me more as a headcanon dump than a story”; Soge suggested “it feels like the CliffsNotes to something much more interesting.” RBDash47 agreed — “this feels like an excerpt from a novel, not a standalone 8k shortfic” — and loved it anyway — “but what’s there makes me feel like I’m peering through the porthole of a spacecraft, drinking in what view I have and desperate for more.”

Read on for our author interview, in which MSPiper discusses memorable moments, transcendence, and sensorial realism.

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TCC56’s “Glow In The Dark, Shine In The Sun”


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A villain might just have a bright future in today’s story.

Glow In The Dark, Shine In The Sun
[Equestria Girls] [Drama] [Slice of Life] • 27,035 words

Despite all attempts, Cozy Glow still hasn’t been shown a path to friendship. No pony has been able to get through to her, and she’s only gotten worse with each attempt.

Reluctant to return the filly to stone again, Princess Twilight has one last option. One pony she hasn’t tried. Or in this case? One person.

Sunset Shimmer.

Can Sunset do what no pony has been able to?

FROM THE CURATORS: Stories about late-season characters are relatively scarce.  Happily, though, there are still gems to be found — such as this examination of redemption.  “Reforming Cozy Glow is not a simple task, not least because the show refused to even give her much in the way of redeeming elements,” FanOfMostEverything noted in his nomination.  “Chrysalis had her children, Tirek had his brother, but Cozy just appears to be a young sociopath with no purpose beyond being a manipulative little hellion.”  So who better to redeem her than another former manipulator?  “The core idea here gave me one of those ‘of course!’ moments that only fanfiction can deliver,” AugieDog said, “but the story goes beyond that and executes the idea in a way that makes the Equestria Girls characters shine.”

The solidity of that execution led our praise.  “Sunset acting as a blend of friendship guru and parole officer works magnificently given her tactical similarities to Cozy in her own bad old days,” FanOfMostEverything said.  “Plus, Cozy’s journey in the human world feels natural and earned, with stumbling blocks and false starts that keep it all from feeling too ‘neat’.”  Present Perfect added: “Cozy herself is excellently written.  I was also pleased with Sunset’s portrayal, the bits of foreshadowing preceding the magical storm, and the shape which that storm takes.”  And there was plenty else to appreciate along the way, AugieDog said: “It’s maybe the third or fourth story I’ve come across on Fimfiction that makes good use of different-colored text.”  Its strengths made it a good starting point despite being tagged as a sequel, Present Perfect noted: “This isn’t a true sequel to Three Second Chances — it definitely stands on its own.”

That was bolstered by powerful character work.  “Each of Sunset’s friends is written with a mind toward different life experiences undercutting similarity to the pony characters,” Present Perfect said.  “We see this as Cozy Glow is continually tripped up by the actions of the ‘professors’ she otherwise knows to their cores.”  But far from being just a character piece, this also had some surprises in store.  “I quite liked the eventual revelation of the story’s antagonist, and the realizations that Cozy comes to during their confrontation really made the story for me,” AugieDog said.  “I also like how the story ends with us seeing just the beginning of a path forward for Cozy Glow.  As a plain ol’ piece of storytelling, this takes top marks.”

Read on for our author interview, in which TCC56 discusses antagonist chemistry, Beta Ray Bill, and 3 AM backstory.
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The Red Parade’s “never forever”


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Today’s story never says never.

never forever
[Sad] [Slice of Life] • 1,478 words

Lightning Dust will never be a Wonderbolt. When she left the Academy, she swore she’d never look back. When the Washouts disbanded, she swore she’d forget about them.

Yet after all these years, against all odds, she finds herself here. At a Wonderbolts show. Just on the wrong side of the glass.

FROM THE CURATORS: To those of us who obsess over our editing process, ‘speedwriting’ can be a dirty word — but as this Quills & Sofas first-place winner shows, sometimes that helps authors trim a story down to exactly what needs to be on the page. AugieDog’s nomination summed it up: “Essentially, Lightning Dust is sitting with her wife Fiddlesticks in a private box at a Wonderbolts show, and in the space of 1,478 words, the author gives us a pretty darn complete look at Dust’s post-‘Washouts’ life, both the good and the bad.” The floodgates of praise quickly opened up.  “This was subtly fantastic,” Present Perfect said, and Soge agreed: “A great find indeed.  At its heart it is a very simple story, but looks can be deceiving.”

What impressed us most was an exemplary economy of words.  “The author’s focus is so tightly held,” AugieDog said.  “There are half-sentences here that could be the short descriptions of much longer stories, but while I may have blinked at one or two of them, I never felt cheated that I wasn’t reading that story.”  Soge enjoyed reading between the lines: “It is one of those fics which manages to say much more than its word count would imply – the state of Lightning Dust’s situation, the bitterness that she managed to conquer, the happiness she eventually found.” And Present Perfect appreciated how it managed to play with expectations despite its length: “There are some signs ahead of the twist where you can see it coming, but the one-two punch in the middle that recontextualizes both the ‘Lightning Dust could never be a Wonderbolt’ mantra and why she’s at a Wonderbolts show in the first place was brilliant.”

Along the way, the attention to detail also drew praise.  “It’s always a great sign when little elements like the chocolates serve double or even triple duty, showing us character while they set the scene and do solid worldbuilding by implication,” Horizon said.  Ultimately, that helped the story cohere into more than the sum of its parts.  “This is such a short story, but everything it does, it accomplishes in precisely the way it needed to to succeed,” Present Perfect said.  And, Soge added, “the ending is very effective, and elevates the whole thing.”

Read on for our author interview, in which The Red Parade discusses doubt, lower-case titles and background ponies.
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Freglz’s “Nothing Left to Lose”


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Don’t lose out on today’s story.

Nothing Left to Lose
[Drama] [Sad] • 6,367 words

Some things can’t be changed.

Starlight believes otherwise.

FROM THE CURATORS: One might be forgiven for thinking that after nine years of MLP (and fanfic), there’s nothing left to explore on such well-trodden ground as changeling redemption — but there are still stories on the topic which are worthy of turning heads.  “Though the show seems to have moved past it as a possibility, the question of whether and how Queen Chrysalis could be reformed alongside the other changelings still lingers in the fandom’s consciousness,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “In comes Freglz, with a solidly reasoned story that combines the finales of seasons 5 and 6 and isn’t afraid to let the question hang.”

And while the slow burn of the story caused some debate, ultimately this won us over with its quality.  “It could be streamlined a bit, but all in all I was impressed with the prose,” RBDash47 said. “It flowed well with decent rhythm, and I enjoyed the imagery.”  Even that languid writing had its defenders: “I actually appreciated the deliberate pacing,” FanOfMostEverything said.  “This is as much a therapy session as a diplomatic negotiation.”  And beyond that we found quality throughout the fic.  “There’s a lot to love here, such as the characterization and the subtle hints of world building, and the overall theme resonated well with me,” Soge said.

Indeed, the deft character work was our most common praise.  “Good character work swims this story to victory,” Present Perfect said, while RBDash47 added: “Where it really shines is the back-and-forth between the two speaking characters, the reformed and the yet-to-be. There’s real tension there, and I could really feel for Starlight.”  Ultimately, it was that delicate maneuvering which we found most exemplary about the story.  “Starlight’s walking a razor’s edge between Chrysalis lashing out and fleeing forever, and her need to pay it forward works fantastically as a motivation,” FanOfMostEverything said.  “Chrysalis is a highlight as well. The tension between her self-image of the sole provider to her children and the reality of her pride driving her from everything she’s ever known is what’s keeping Starlight’s tightrope taut.  And the open ending is the best way it could have gone; a being as set in her ways as Chrysalis will need some time to mull this over.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Freglz discusses rotten acorns, spoiled broth, and murderous fungus.
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Somber’s “Broken Record”


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Today’s story puts all the pieces together.

Broken Record
[Drama] [Slice of Life] • 7,970 words

There has never been an athlete like Rainbow Dash. The sprints. The marathons. The land speed record. She held them all.

Until she didn’t.

Until she had only one left… and met the pony that might take it from her…

FROM THE CURATORS: “We never featured Somber,” Soge pointed out in his nomination, “but that is understandable.” The author’s best-known works have already received 6-star status at Equestria Daily and been featured in our predecessor, the Pony Fiction Vault. With this story from late 2019, though, as Present Perfect replied to Soge’s nomination, “Oh boy did you find a good one.”

“This is a really layered story,” Present Perfect went on. “On the one hand, we’ve got this pulse-pounding, high-stakes tale of advancements in physical training leading to doping scandals, and the tribulations of those in authority trying to determine what counts as innovation and what counts as cheating… Then there’s the real story: Getting Old Sucks.”

AugieDog also commented on the Time Marches On aspect: “The story itself has exactly that same sort of unrelenting pace, too, the tick-tick-tick of Dash’s records falling leading straight to an actual ticking clock at the climax.” “The only race she can’t ever win,” Soge added. “That against time.” But AugieDog enjoyed that “in a story so very concerned with physical prowess, everything comes down to Dash sitting in a room alone with her thoughts — the one place Dash never wants to be — with a decision that only she can make.”

“A poignant and captivating tale,” Soge concluded, while Present Perfect called it “a hard-hitting look at Rainbow Dash struggling with the aging process” with AugieDog commending the story’s final scene for “perfectly winding things down and sending Dash off onto the next stage of her life.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Somber discusses general outrage, warping characters, and just writing the damned thing.
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jakkid166’s “Detective jakkid166 in everything”


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Missing out on today’s story would be a crime.

Detective jakkid166 in everything
[Comedy] [Human] • 15,616 words

“Every pony thing evre made would be better if it had me in it.”
– me

I, Detective jakkid166, will be prepared to make every pony fanficion, video, and game better by me being in it. All you favorite pony content, except it has ME! And even I could be in some episodes of the show except cause the charaters are idiot I’m good at my job.

The ultimate Detective jakkid166 adventures collection, as he goes into EVERYTHING to make it good.

FROM THE CURATORS: “Wait, come back! I’m serious!” Soge said in his nomination.  “Writing good trollfic is hard … the best trolls imbue their bad grammar, random typos, and nonsensical plot with purpose. And jakkid’s fics are resounding successes in this regard, showing that he is fully willing and able to twist everything you take for granted in a story in order to extract as much humor as possible.”

This spurred a debate over whether trollfics were in our mission statement to spotlight the fandom’s best stories, and amid that debate, one thing quickly became clear: there indeed is quality here.  “OK, so this is… umm… it’s, uhh… it’s featurable, lemme say right off the top,” AugieDog said.  “Because this story is nuts — absolutely, gloriously, exhaustingly nuts.”  Indeed, jakkid166 went on to win rare unanimous approval.  “He’s just got a phenomenal way to make the reader constantly second-guess themselves,” Present Perfect said. “He lulls you into a sense that everything you think you know about writing and the English language might actually be wrong.”

That authorial skill came out in sharp comedy and frantic wordplay.  “Despite its deliberately broken language, it’s quotable as hell,” Horizon said. “Every paragraph drips with surprising punchlines and glorious turns of phrase.”  Soge agreed: “It is impossible to finish this without having one (or several) favorite sentences.”  And while many of jakkid166’s stories offered that same hilarity, this fic in particular was elevated by its structure.  “Jakkid grows on you. Like a fungus,” FanOfMostEverything said.  “Having him intrude on classic tales (and Flash games, and episodes…) elevates his usual blend of impossible awesomeness and incomprehensibility by giving him a plot he has to at least acknowledge.”

Several of us similarly appreciated the parody of fandom classics on display.  “This fic’s vignette style worked just perfect for me,” Soge said, and Present Perfect agreed: “I found this a hilarious sendup of numerous fanfics, a la Starlight Fixes Everything, just with jakkid166’s own personal brand of insanity.”  And ultimately, it was adding that to the exemplary-yet-broken writing which won us over.  “The fic not only offers a hilarious takedown of some fandom sacred cows, it’s almost embarrassingly witty and creative,” Horizon said. “That it does so via its insane internal logic is a sign of how much thought went into its construction. It’s the fanfiction equivalent of a classic Looney Tunes cartoon inventing its own physics.”

Read on for our author interview, in which jakkid166 discusses prison breaks, methlessness, and unsalted soup.
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Mannulus’ “Sassy Saddles Meets Sasquatch”


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Today’s story is a rare find.

Sassy Saddles Meets Sasquatch
[Comedy] [Random] • 5,886 words

The legend is known throughout Equestria, but there are few who believe. Those who claim to have seen the beast are dismissed as crackpots and madponies. Those who bring evidence before the world are dismissed as histrionic deceivers. There are those who have seen, however — those who know — and they will forever cry out their warning from the back seats of filthy, old train cars, even to those who dismiss them, who revile them, who ignore their warnings unto their own mortal peril.

“The sasquatch is real!” they will cry forevermore, even as nopony believes.

But from this day forward, Sassy Saddles will believe.

FROM THE CURATORS: While many of our features trend toward the emotionally weighty, sometimes you just want a good laugh as a palate cleanser.  And this one was quite a find.  “I’ve not read a comedy like this in quite some time,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “The jokes are lightning-fast and begin as soon as the story does. This is nothing but wacky pony hijinks and cutting dialogue.”  AugieDog quickly agreed while assigning it a top score: “Oh, my goodness, yes.” And Soge was similarly delighted: “I was in the mood for comedy, and this delivers in spades.  Whenever a joke fails to land, it is quickly followed up by ten more that do.”

However, what AugieDog found most impressive was the balancing act the story required.  “Real, honest-to-goodness goofiness, I continue to hold, is about the hardest sort of writing to do well,” he said.  “You need a story that can hold up as an actual story while being bent out of shape and knocked askew from every possible direction. The characters have to do things that make sense in context even though they’re completely absurd. And the dialogue has to sparkle with wit one sentence, stumble into stupidity the next.  This story delivers on all possible fronts, from how foundational Sassy’s sassiness is to her entire self-image to the footnote in the middle of the saga of the two rat kings.”

That was enriched by consistent writing, Present Perfect said: “Sassy Saddles is hilariously stubborn in her dedication to sass, in the same way the story is hilariously dedicated to its own ridiculous premise.”  And, as Soge said, that made it a solid choice: “Coupled with the pitch-perfect absurd logic with which the story operates, and a colorful cast of supporting characters, it makes for a sure-fire nomination.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Mannulus discusses brony rarity, Rarity beatdowns, and big-box luthiers.
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SheetGhost’s “Moonlight Vigil”



Take a closer look into tonight’s story.

Moonlight Vigil
[Tragedy] • 3,755 words

Bitter from her defeat and exile, the Mare in the Moon watches Equestria move on without her.

FROM THE CURATORS: Some of My Little Pony’s central tales, such as Luna’s banishment and return, inspire an endless variety of reinterpretations.  And it’s fanfics like this week’s which make it rewarding to keep returning to that well.  “I’ve seen a lot of different takes on what exactly it was like to be imprisoned in the moon by the Elements, but nothing quite like this,” RBDash47 said.  “I love the idea of the Mare in the Moon as a Sauronesque eye, inspecting Equestria during the full moon, marking its changes. That’s worth the price of admission alone for me. But then the author uses this conceit to tell a wonderful story with a perfectly unreliable narrator about how Equestria and Celestia responded to Nightmare Moon’s banishment.”

That combination was bolstered by vivid and compelling writing.  “It’s full of atmosphere and emotion,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “The Mare in the Moon is clearly unhinged, her desires changing at the drop of a hat. It also approaches her imprisonment from numerous angles, not just her own perspective — we get the thoughts and actions of Equestrians, her former knights, and of course her sister.”  A strong emotional focus contributed to the story’s power, AugieDog said.  “The whole piece just overflows with Nightmare Moon’s paranoia — it reminds me of Twenty-Eight Boulders, where Chrysalis is convinced that everything around her is spying on her. But when we cut at the end to the POV of the ponies back on Equestria, it shifts the whole story’s perspective in such a fine way by showing us exactly how unreliable a narrator Nightmare Moon has been.”

And ultimately, what sealed the feature was how evocative the details were, from start to finish.  “What hits me is how perfectly the core image of the candle reflects and encapsulates the themes of the story,” Horizon said, while Present Perfect said: “Watching Luna misinterpret Celestia’s actions was maybe the saddest part of this.”  And those included links to the show, AugieDog noted: “I love how it gives us the historical event that could’ve inspired the Nightmare Night traditions we see in ‘Luna Eclipsed,’ especially the whole thing about Nightmare Moon wanting to gobble ponies up.”

Read on for our author interview, in which SheetGhost discusses tough love, Greek traditions, and burner accounts.
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Unwhole Hole’s “The Murder of Elrod Jameson”


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Today’s story is some killer noir.

The Murder of Elrod Jameson
[Dark] [Mystery] [Sci-Fi] [Human] • 234,343 words

[Note: This story contains scenes of blood and gore, sexuality, and a depiction of rape.]

Elrod Jameson: a resident of SteelPoint Level Six, Bridgeport, Connecticut. A minor, pointless, and irrelevant man… who witnessed something he was not supposed to.

Narrowly avoiding his own murder, he desperately searches for help. When no living being will help him, he turns to the next best thing: a pony.

FROM THE CURATORS: This week’s feature — and its content warnings — might seem a little unusual for a My Little Pony fanfiction site.  And indeed it is, in Horizon’s words, “a shining example of how to write ponyfic that strays nearly as far from the show as possible while the MLP content remains front and center.”  But for those willing to stray from the light-hearted tone of the show, Elrod offers a unique journey.  “The author has very carefully constructed this bizarre world of sci-fi trappings, mutant humans and world-ruling corporations so that by the end, if ponies don’t make sense for the world, they at least make sense for the story,” Present Perfect said in his nomination.  “What lies within this twisting labyrinth is lush, depressing scenery; a twisting mystery involving genetics, corporate protection and a worldwide bounty; and plenty of surprises.”

Indeed, the novel quickly inspired comparisons outside of our equine niche.  “In the cadence of its writing it reminds me of some of the best classic sci-fi,” Horizon said, while AugieDog adding: “It reminds me of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon novels or Jeff Noon’s Vurt series in a lot of ways.”  However, Present Perfect said, it’s got plenty to offer to pony fans: “You could not sand the edges off this and rebrand it as something original.  It deserves to be evaluated as fanfiction.”  That wasn’t a unanimous opinion — with AugieDog noting, “I’ll disagree with Pres and say that this could be turned into a non-Pony novel pretty easily” — but our consensus was, as Horizon put it, “it deserves special mention for the subtle, logical, compelling way that it works in its pony content.”

The strengths of the story were enough to send it to a feature despite curator reservations.  “Not gonna lie, after reading chapter 16’s explicit on-screen rape, I put this one down for a week,” Horizon said.  “But there is more than enough here to justify sitting through that (and the book’s ongoing need for editing). Elrod‘s at its best assembling its vision of a noir, dystopian future world.  This also does an excellent job with the pacing of its mysteries and world reveals … the overall picture fit together extremely satisfyingly.”  And the story won over some doubters.  “If I’d just run across this on my own, I would’ve quit before the end of the first chapter,” AugieDog said.  “But by the last line of that first chapter, I was completely and totally hooked. ‘Cause this is an incredible example of just plain ol’ storytelling. A lot of it comes from the author’s deft use of hard-boiled detective tropes, and there’s a real narrative voice here once things start firing on all cylinders.”

And that wasn’t all.  “The characters are doubtless the strongest part,” Present Perfect said to quick agreement.  “Elrod is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, and figuring him out was really rewarding. Twilight has a great deal of depth to her; important, since she’s actually the main character. There’s the other Twilight — it makes sense in context — who on her introduction is a breath of fresh air, and whose arc provides a lighter counterpoint to the grim and gritty main story.”  Horizon agreed: “Morgana (Twilight) and Elrod are largely overshadowed in their own story by a vibrant supporting cast, and the book wisely realizes this and rolls with it. You could remove the entirety of Book 3 — the other Twilight’s arc — without impacting the A plot in the slightest, but if you did, you’d rip out the beating heart of the story.”

Ultimately, that added up to a package that was more than the sum of its parts.  “This is what I would call a hidden gem,” Present Perfect said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Unwhole Hole has come up with, because the expansiveness of this world is in many ways astounding.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Unwhole Hole discusses mocking bridges, furniture stains, and aquarium power trips.
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