Lost + Found Features: “Decisions” / “The Unicorn and the Crow”

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From time to time, despite our best efforts, we don’t have a feature ready to post come Friday—but that doesn’t mean we can’t recommend some reading material! We keep track of the stories which passed our approval process but whose authors have proven impossible to contact. We’d like to give these stories their time in the spotlight too, so read on for two RCL-approved tales for your reading pleasure.

decisionsDecisions
By hester1
[Sad][Slice of Life] • 2,818 words

A server waits on six ponies in a restaurant. The diners have drinking contests and discuss social responsibility. The clock ticks ever on and on.

FROM THE CURATORS: Everyone appreciated this story’s attention to detail and excellent use of “show-don’t-tell.” “The more I think about this one, as more pieces fall together inside my head, the more I appreciate the subtlety and power hidden inside what’s apparently a little Slice of Life piece about an evening in a restaurant,” said Horizon. “Piecing together the situation from the details draws you into the story, letting you explore a second layer to the conversation that works more richly as subtext than it would out in the open.”

RBDash47 seconded the nomination: “It’s definitely a fantastic example of show-don’t-tell, and it’s a bonus to me that it’s done in first person; using the waiter’s POV to bounce us between the three tables is a nice framing element.” Present Perfect called it “a masterwork in subtlety and how to tell a story with a scattered focus” and Soge said “it is in looking at how everything suddenly fits together that this becomes something special.” FanOfMostEverything applauded how the story asked “fascinating questions about responsibility and duty that settings other than Equestria can’t pull off nearly as effectively.”

the unicorn and the crowThe Unicorn and the Crow
By Foxmane Vulpequus
[Drama][Mystery] • 128,032 words

Madeleine Crumpet: A world-trotting jeweler with an eye for gems… and pleasant company. Of the stallion persuasion.

Rubyk of Trotheim: A cold noble of the forbidden Equestrian North.

What cause could bring these two unlikely figures together?

FROM THE CURATORS: In his nomination, Horizon felt this story was shockingly underappreciated; at the time, it hadn’t received enough votes to have its ratio displayed, “which is startling, because having read through it this is some pretty high-level stuff … it definitely deserves more attention than it’s getting.” He went on to compliment the story’s style, “languid and stately and modestly archaic … but that style works in synergy both with the fantastic character work and the foreign feel of the setting.” Chris agreed that “it’s not going to be for everyone, but I found it very effective for what it was. It’s the kind of prose that encourages slow reading, but doesn’t demand an unattainable attention to detail — perfect for reading by the fire while sipping at a glass of scotch. And the setting is clever and original, without abandoning the feeling of being an MLP fic.”

Present Perfect loved the character work: “few fanfic authors strive to be this deliberate with their words. By the second chapter (not part), I was hooked, and never failed to be impressed by a character.” Horizon felt the same way, and noted that “as the story goes on, Frost Pane begins stealing every scene she’s in, turning that larger-than-life bombast into a positive, and Madeleine’s inner narration is consistently engaging. The supporting cast is almost uniformly vibrant, and are written sharply enough that I found myself analyzing them in the same way the protagonists did.”

 

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Starscribe’s “The Last Pony on Earth”

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The last stop for today’s story is the RCL spotlight.

The Last Pony on Earth
[Adventure] [Mystery] [Human] • 102,429 words

Until yesterday, my life was no different than anybody’s. Go to work, pay the bills, sleep. Today, I woke up to a world without humans. The streets are empty, the power grid is running down, and not another soul is in sight. That might not be the worst thing, if I wasn’t also a pony.

Where is everyone? Why is this happening to me?

Will l stay sane long enough to starve?

FROM THE CURATORS: “I’m surprised to see Starscribe hasn’t been featured before,” FanOfMostEverything said at the start of this story’s nomination — launching one of the longest and most spirited debates we’ve ever had. High and low scores flew; all six curators wrote essays filled with praise and critique; and when the dust settled, Soge’s final vote pushed it over our feature threshold.  “I have many complaints,” he said, “but this fic gets a ton of things right — compelling OCs, well-crafted mysteries, a ton of humanity in its portrayals and the dilemmas of the characters, and plenty to enjoy. The Equestrian chapters in particular are deserving of special honors. There are many small, special things which make this fic, and it is thanks to the sum of it all that this story comes off as so strong.”

And while all of us found things to complain about, an equally common theme was the ways in which gripping, unique storytelling overruled those to keep us invested regardless.  “If there’s a big thing right for me, it’s the use of layered media to tell the story,” Present Perfect said.  “We’re primarily in some excellent journal entries for the bulk of the fic, but along with images, these are supplemented by transcripts, interviews, and journal entries from another character, not to mention ARG-style codes for the faithful to solve. I’m really impressed with those codes, they were not easy to crack.  And this has the absolute best use of second-person I have ever seen in a story.”  Soge, too, offered a superlative: “The journal format is one of the best executions of this format I remember reading in Fimfic.”  And Horizon was broadly impressed: “The world around the protagonists was never less than vibrant, and every mystery the story brought up came to a satisfying resolution,” he said.  “Most importantly, I felt that on the whole my trust in the author was rewarded with genuinely cool and thoughtful twists.  The ultimate source of the ‘numbers station’ caught me off guard at least twice, and HPI walked a tricky tightrope between threat and resource which served the story very well.”

It’s worth noting that we found reading pace mattered.  “I’m not sure how it will read when it isn’t a daily serial,” FanOfMostEverything noted, and after some critical comments from speed-readers, Soge was grateful that he decided to slow down. “I decided to read this fic at most two chapters a day, so I could properly appreciate it in its original context,” he said.  “Doing so helped make the pacing more natural, and allowed some of the mysteries enough time to make me properly excited.”

And in the end, the fact that the story got us invested enough to react so strongly — both to our dislikes and our loves — was a mark of its effectiveness.  “I have to point out my favorite part of Last Pony: when Alex gets the full story of what happened,” Present Perfect said.  “This is a story celebrating humanity — something of an oddity, when it comes to fanfiction centered on human/pony interactions — and Alex is such a strong character, not to mention that excellent second-person writing, I couldn’t help but be angry, and absolutely loving that I was. It takes phenomenal effort to evoke feelings like that in a reader.  Compared to other survivalist fics, HiEs, and PoEs, this comes out positively on all points, and I’m glad to have read it.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Starscribe discusses outlined organizations, Olympians, and optimism.
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Tangerine Blast’s “Under Layers of Dirt and Worry”

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Today’s story worries.

LayersUnder Layers of Dirt and Worry
[Drama][Slice of Life] • 3,598 words

It had been a long day of saving the world, and the usually perky pony wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed.

Unfortunately, somepony’s waiting at Sugarcube Corner.

Pinkie was fine. She just needed to sleep.

FROM THE CURATORS: As FanOfMostEverything points out in this week’s nomination (and Tangerine Blast alludes to later on in her interview), every idea has been done before; it’s the execution that matters. “The hero’s family grappling with the fact that one they love is risking her life is hardly a new idea in fiction; it’s who’s involved that makes this one shine. After all, Pinkie Pie as the imperiled hero? Maud as the hand-wringing family staying up past midnight waiting for her to get home? Now we’re getting somewhere.” AugieDog chimed in to praise the juxtaposition of the premise and the setting too: “It’s one of my favorite sorts of story, actually, the sort that the late, great comic book writer Steve Gerber called the ‘what do you do the day after you save the universe?’ story. This expands on that idea to ask, ‘what do the people around you do the day after you save the universe?’ and that’s a very effective question to ask, especially in the My Little Pony universe.”

A large part of the success of this particular execution of this particular idea has to do with the author’s character work. “This is a striking, unique portrayal of Pinkie, Maud, and their relationship, with some very interesting ideas at play,” said Soge; “Maud is an extremely difficult character to write correctly, but I think this author has done just the thing, and found a unique role for her in doing so. Her frustration at her own inability to ‘properly’ comfort her sister is relatable,” said Present Perfect; “Not only is Maud a hard character to write well, but Pinkie is, too, and the two of them interacting just about creates a third character who is also difficult to write well. Add Mrs. Cake to the mix as the quiet voice of experience, and the story pretty much hits all the character bases that it’s aiming for,” said AugieDog.

But good character work is not enough, and the curators appreciated the story’s other strengths. Horizon pointed out that “this has some lovely and memorable details, like Pinkie falling asleep in the tub, and it’s centered around a compelling problem rarely covered.” Present Perfect also enjoyed that “the source of Maud’s worry is something that’s rarely tackled in either the show or fan fiction.” And FanOfMostEverything summed things up well when he said, “The layers of nuance at work, the sibling bonding, and the resolution make this a much deeper story than its length would indicate.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Tangerine Blast discusses being like Twilight, the slow percolation of inspiration, and fresh perspectives.

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Antiquarian’s “The Tab”

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We hope you plan to pick up today’s story.

The Tab
[Comedy] [Sad] [Slice of Life] [Alternate Universe] • 4,092 words

Years have passed since the Crystal War ended. Twilight Sparkle visits an old haunt to spend some time catching up with her friends. Then comes the question of who picks up the tab.

FROM THE CURATORS: When most stories on a topic crank their drama up to 11, finding fics with the confidence to take a more nuanced approach can be like stumbling across an oasis in a desert.  “After ‘The Cutie Re-Mark’,” FanOfMostEverything said in his nomination, “stories set after the war with Sombra have become something of a subgenre, most of them little more than vehicles for PTSD angst or Rainbow Dash wing amputation drama. The Tab is not one of those stories. It seeks to capture the full spectrum of the veteran’s potential experience in readjusting to peacetime conditions.”  As this story sped toward a feature, Soge agreed: “If there is one big thing right this fic does, it is its distinct portrayal of how trauma affects different people differently.”

There was so much to like, though, that we all cited different elements as our favorites.  “Its greatest strength shines in folding the exposition that any AU has to churn out into fantastic character interaction between the Canterlot friends,” FanOfMostEverything said.  “The subtext here is rich and plentiful, from Twilight keeping metric time to Twinkleshine’s nickname to a single sentence that says volumes about Rainbow Dash’s status in this timeline.”  (Soge agreed: “That it speaks so much of its world building — rarely directly alluding to it — is phenomenal.”) Present Perfect appreciated the characters: “They are all distinctly themselves … Twilight especially comes off as ‘Twilight, after serving in a war’.”  And Horizon liked its framing: “It’s a story about good (and authentic) ponies being good (and authentic) to each other,” he said.  “And that’s its power: showing us the beating heart of its characters, affected by their experiences but not defined by them.”

In the end, it was simply exemplary execution which carried the fic.  “There’s not really anything surprising about it, but it does a damned fine job portraying post-war life,” Present Perfect said.  The surprise, Soge said, came in the emotions that it prompted: “It is a powerful and emotional story, with sublime characterization, and a real humanity and care for the characters involved.  The actual ‘tab’ scene got me all teary-eyed.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Antiquarian discusses surrounding heroes, sacred stupidity, and the heroism of everyday life.
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alt-tap’s “An Ordinary Day”

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Today’s story is no ordinary tale.

An Ordinary Day
[Slice of Life] • 5,436 words

Fluttershy lives a happy life. Every day is special. All of her friends are lovely ponies.

Today is a day just like any other; she wakes in the morning, does her chores, sees her friends, takes a nap and sees more of her friends before an evening of relaxation.

Just an ordinary, wonderful day.

FROM THE CURATORS: One interesting aspect of fanfiction is that — much more than published fiction — it’s a living medium, with stories changing over time.  And sometimes, you stumble across the sort of story that makes you thrilled you gave it a second look.  “Once upon a time, I read and reviewed this for Scribblefest 2016,” Horizon said in his nomination.  “I was blown away by the gorgeous and literary prose, at turns intimate and philosophical, and the incidental worldbuilding; I wasn’t so impressed by the many textual errors. However, I am thrilled to say that the story has since been polished to a fine shine.”  That sentiment was widely shared, with reactions like FanOfMostEverything’s: “Gorgeous is right. I’ve never seen a take on Fluttershy quite like this one.”

Almost every aspect of that take came in for praise — sometimes all at once.  “This has absolutely everything I look for in a Fluttershy story,” AugieDog said while assigning it a top score.  “A gentle pace, beautiful language, understated humor, semi-requited love, quiet insight, a tender sort of melancholy, and kindness infusing it from beginning to end.”  But while the story as a whole drew widespread raves, it was the story’s unusual focus which often got singled out for praise.  As FanOfMostEverything noted: “There’s a fascinatingly animistic aspect to the perspective here, where even the cottage’s squeaky floorboards deserve Fluttershy’s consideration just as much as any of her other friends.”

Amid all of that, the story did exactly what its description promised: simply showed us a day in Fluttershy’s life.  And yet its depth made it so much more.  “It’s got very much an ‘infinite space in a nutshell’ feel to it,” AugieDog said, “showing us the whole world of Equestria by focusing on these very specific images, these very specific moments, so small as to almost be non-events, in Fluttershy’s life.”  Ultimately, what impressed us most was the way it captivated us with those non-events.  “The prose is lush and engrossing, definitely the big thing right, and the author has a knack for writing single sentences that powerfully encapsulate a character,” Present Perfect said.  “This proves that you can write a story about nothing in particular without it being dull.”

Read on for our author interview, in which alt-tap discusses drunken Bs, buttery heads, and adventure couscous.
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Muramasa’s “The Thief and the Princess”

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Don’t let today’s story slip past you unnoticed.

thief and princessThe Thief and the Princess
[Slice of Life][Thriller] • 3,252 words

In the dead of night, a thief breaks into the royal palace in Canterlot to steal Celestia’s crown. She successfully sneaks through the palace and enters the room where this prize possession is kept, with not a soul the wiser.

Well, save for a certain Princess.

FROM THE CURATORS: “Amazing characterization,” said Soge in his nomination. “It certainly impressed me … casting Twilight in a typical Celestia role, and allowing her to shine in comparison to her mentor by having her take a decidedly Twilight approach to conflict solving.” The other curators echoed his impressions. “The author said they were trying to give Twilight a more mature, serene portrayal and I think they nailed it,” RBDash47 said, and AugieDog chimed in that he’s “always glad to see Twilight acting in her capacity as princess.”

The first character named in the title also drew praise. “A very compelling portrayal of its titular thief, of her craft and her approach to problem solving,” said Soge. “I also love Cerise’s motivation,” Present Perfect agreed. “She wants to become a legend, a fairy tale, if only she can just pull off this heist, the theft of something so precious, most ponies don’t know it exists.” AugieDog appreciated the author “letting us get to know Cerise first, then slipping us over to see how Twilight deals with the situation Cerise has created.”

But there’s more here than deft character work. “What gets me about this one is the atmosphere. It’s extremely well detailed, and palpably tense,” Present Perfect said. “It manages to weave throughout the narrative the tried-and-true ponyfic theme of destiny, and how it can be challenged and re-interpreted,” said Soge. RBDash47 loved “the idea of ‘whatever you are, be a good one’ subverted by an (apparently) negative destiny.” Present Perfect summed things up nicely: “As short as this is, there’s a lot packed into it.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Muramasa discusses cursed blades, constructive criticism, and illegal cutie marks.

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Cherax’s “Sundowner Season”

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It’s always a good season to read today’s story.

Sundowner Season
[Drama] [Sad] • 21,493 words

With a heavy heart and an empty journal, Rarity heads north.

FROM THE CURATORS: “Cherax is more well known as a musician,” Soge said in his nomination, “but in Sundowner Season she shows quite the writing chops. In it we follow Rarity, taking a long trip to the farthest reaches of Equestria, with a purpose in mind which only becomes clearer to the reader — and to her — as we reach the end of the trip.”  Along the way, there was plenty to like.  “I loved the atmosphere and the sundowners themselves,” RBDash47 said, with AugieDog adding: “Rarity’s voice in the journal sections and in the third-person POV parts is simply phenomenal.  She changes during the course of the story, but she’s always recognizably herself.”  And while the story also accumulated some critiques during our voting process, we collectively found it winning us over.  “It starts at such a slow burn that I had to begin the story four different times before I made it past Canterlot,” Horizon said.  “And yet I was won over by how artfully everything was done … I came away impressed.”

The digressions during that lengthy unfolding were polarizing, but there was one thing on which we were unanimous: the exemplary touch provided by the story’s many well-chosen details.  “I liked how Rarity kept traveling to progressively smaller and more remote settlements as her ability to deny the reason behind her journey dwindled,” FanOfMostEverything noted, while RBDash47 said: “I also got a kick out of the formatting choice of setting flashbacks off by right-aligning them; I feel like it was a nice way of accentuating the ‘back and forth’ of Rarity’s inner turmoil.”  Although a few details were unintentionally personally disorienting: “Why am I in this story?” Present Perfect asked.

And what tipped the vote was the story’s lush, deliberate pacing.  “The big thing right for me was the slow drip-drip-drip of revealing exactly why Rarity was feeling what she was feeling and why she was going on this journey to begin with,” RBDash47 said.  Horizon summed it up similarly: “It was that slow rolling reveal most driving my vote; it worked well in concert with the story’s pacing and the gentle leavening of the distractions,” he said.  “This is a tightly controlled story which asks the reader to follow along exactly in its footsteps, but I found it repaid that investment of trust.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Cherax discusses interstate buses, snow biomes, and pastel distances.
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Summer Dancer’s “Sandbox”

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Today’s story doesn’t play around when it comes to adorable-yet-poignant pony portrayals.

Sandbox
[Slice of Life] • 3,045 words

When trying to focus on her studies, Sunset Shimmer is stuck watching an annoying little filly who just won’t let her study.

FROM THE CURATORS: “This is a short, sweet, and magnificently characterized glimpse of Twilight’s formative years, back when Sunset Shimmer was still in Celestia’s good graces and accidentally influencing her successor,” FanOfMostEverything said in his nomination.  And while you might look at the “Everyone” age rating and hnnng-inducing cover art and assume that “short and sweet” is the entirety of the story, there’s far more to it than that.  “The layers are what really impress here,” Present Perfect said.  “You have the very clear comparison being made between Sunset and Twilight, without it ever being stated outright.  Then there are the machinations going on in the background, that are a bit more subtle but nevertheless present.  And Sunset being mean to foals is its own reward.”

What sent the fic over the top in our voting was the care with which it walked that tightrope and brought its show backstory to life.  “It’s always lovely when an author knows how to take a bit of headcanon and turn it into an actual story,” AugieDog said.  “Too often, writers will just have the characters state the idea without going through the process necessary to truly shape it into a narrative.”  But those characters came in for their share of praise, too.  “Twilight feels like herself, not just some generic cute filly doing generic cute filly things,” FanOfMostEverything said.  “All of Sunset’s layers are in full force, from the noble person she’ll become to the massive jerk that’s years away from getting knocked down a peg. And the ways Sunset unwittingly molds Twilight’s young mind are brilliant and somewhat tragic by turns.”

And yet, for all its drama, we still found the story melting our hearts.  “The whole thing wraps up into a perfect little slice of life-from-the-past,” Present Perfect said, and AugieDog was equally effusive: “This story is just sharp all the way around.”  All in all, not only was it a story exemplary on multiple levels, it was also an economical one.  “It is one of those stories that manage to do a lot with very little,” Soge said, “interlocking some powerful pre-canon character interactions, a bit of worldbuilding, as well as highlighting very well the differences — and similarities — between Sunset then, and Twilight later.  That it manages so much in just 3k words is nothing short of impressive.”

Read on for our author interview, in which Summer Dancer discusses teen definition, ponk bias, and post-bandage sarcasm.
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Lost + Found Features: “Conversations with Eternity” / “Chuckling Over My Cheery-O’s”

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Occasionally, exemplary stories earn our approval for a feature — but the author opts out of our interview, or we’re unable to complete the interview process despite repeated effort.  We’d like to see these great stories get their time in the spotlight too, so today we’re presenting a pair of RCL-approved tales for your reading pleasure.

 

Conversations with Eternity
By Sunchaser
[Adventure] [Alternate Universe] • 6,078 words

Far off to the west of Equestria lay The Eternal Lands, an immense expanse of desert that holds at its heart a precious jewel: the city of Gallopfree, sprung up around a peculiar bit of water known as the Well of Eternity.

Prodded by a little whimsical intuition, Princess Luna finds herself walking those winding streets of her ancient past, and holding conference with the enigmatic Steward of the Well…

FROM THE CURATORS: Some premises — such as modern Luna coming to grips with her past — have been covered so thoroughly that it’s difficult to make a story about them stand out. This, however, turned our heads with its rich and rewarding details.  “The prose is marvelous, dense yet economical,” Present Perfect said.  “The actual conversation, pep talk if you will, is fantastic, putting this leaps and bounds ahead of numerous other ‘Luna dealing with having been Nightmare Moon’ stories.”  Former curator Chris’ nomination lauded the care which went into its construction: “The fic shows us her emotional reactions, leaving us to place their sources for ourselves.  A quick, inattentive reading here might result in the reader thinking Luna’s actions are abrupt and unbelievable, but in fact those actions are hints that paint a much larger picture of both her, and the world at large.”  It quickly qualified for a feature amid reactions like AugieDog’s: “It’s always nice to see visions of Celestia and Luna’s lives before they came to Equestria, and this one’s very nicely realized.”

It wasn’t just the character work singled out for praise.  “Sunchaser does a commendable job with the setting, too,” Chris said, prompting Present Perfect to agree: “Gallopfree is rendered in full detail, not just in terms of imagery, but also history.”  And the themes added a great deal of power, too: “I quite like the idea that breaking just allows for a stronger reassembly,” AugieDog said.  “It give the last line all kinds of weight.”

 

Chuckling Over My Cheery-O’s
By chrumsum

[Comedy] • 4,419 words

Pinkie Pie’s simple morning ritual threatens to shatter her very perception of reality, life, and choice in breakfast cereal.

FROM THE CURATORS: It’s very rare for love-it-or-hate-it stories to make it through our voting process — so when they do, it’s a sign that they get the most crucial things right.  “This story contains everything anyone could ever want from a ‘Pinkie has an existential crisis’ fic and even more,” AugieDog said in his nomination.  “Unlike any other Pinkie Angst story I can think of, this one pulls other ponies into the miasma, and seeing Rainbow Dash succumb to the atmosphere of uncertain dread that Pinkie is exuding is a pleasure in and of itself.”  The entire cast was repeatedly complimented: “Something about the characters kind of hearkens back to the ‘good old days’ of the early seasons for me,” RBDash47 said, while FanOfMostEverything quipped: “It’s delightful seeing Pinkie spiral deep into her own navel, or possibly the aftertaste-ridden grainy ring of a Cheery-o … there’s excellent use of every character involved, and a great way to come up for breath at the end.”

What divided us was the contrast between tone and content.  “It is incredibly overwritten, to the point of being distracting,” Soge said, spurring several spirited defenses such as Horizon’s: “To me that artificial melodrama enhances the absurdity, giving it the edge it needs to be genuinely funny.”  RBDash47 agreed: “A couple lines, like ‘Tears blossomed along her cheeks. “It’s only as evil as we are,” she whispered’, made me laugh out loud.”  In the end, it was that comedy which put it over the top: “This was a great little romp,” Horizon said, “too over-the-top to take seriously and yet too serious to feel unmoored.”

[Note: Present Perfect recused himself from nomination and voting for this story.]

Read more features right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

ChibiRenamon’s “Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard”

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It wasn’t hard to let today’s story conquer our hearts.

Conquering is Easy, Being Conquered is Hard
[Romance] [Comedy] [Drama] [Alternate Universe] • 26,653 words

Rarity’s quest for love led her from Tartarus to Canterlot. Now, wielding powers beyond comprehension, she rules over Equestria.

Now, if only she could understand how Fluttershy’s little cult had gained thousands of members virtually overnight, or why the cult’s second-in-command, Twilight Sparkle, always seems to be one step ahead of her…

FROM THE CURATORS: Writing a story that solidly paints a single theme or tone is difficult enough — and when you’re trying to mix such disparate elements as humor, romance, character drama, and the epic clash of a tyrant with an apocalyptic doom cult, it takes a steadier than usual hand.  “This story’s simultaneously dark and high-spirited wackiness is very much a Big Thing Right in my mind,” AugieDog said in his nomination, and the fic quickly earned a feature amid comments like Horizon’s: “I’ve got a special place in my heart for stories which sell an audacious premise, and this squarely scratches that itch.”

One thing on which we all agreed was how elegantly the story’s depiction of its familiar-yet-altered ponies grounded that audacity.  “It transcends its crackfic-competition origins for me through the characters and through the comedy,” AugieDog said.  “Shining Armor is a high point, still Captain of the Royal Guard, as is Kibitz, Celestia’s old secretary, who Rarity has kept on since he actually knows how the government works.”  Horizon added: “A lot of thought clearly went into not only how the circumstances of the unusual AU would have changed all the characters, but also how they would go about pursing their interests.”  And RBDash47 chimed in: “I have to second my appreciation for the character work here. Every single one is on point, with a unique, developed voice that fits them perfectly. I don’t think I’d need any dialogue tags at any given time to know who was speaking, and I enjoyed every interaction.”

We found that sharp character work augmented by on-point humor.  “The first chapter, especially, is a triumph of absurdity, aware of this fact, and delights in nothing more than reveling in its own whimsy,” Present Perfect said.  And exemplary exposition work rounded the story out: “I was delighted by how effortlessly and subtly the author wove the explanations of the AU’s differences into the story,” RBDash47 said.  “I never felt confused or like I didn’t know what was going on, even with some fairly big changes to the timeline.”  It all added up to a truly head-turning package.  “It helped that the comedy was smart and endlessly quotable, but more importantly, the story kept surprising and delighting me at every turn with its central battle(s) of wits,” Horizon said.  “I don’t often follow an author on the strength of a single story, but here, that decision was a no-brainer.”

Read on for our author interview, in which ChibiRenamon discusses elliptical planning, regular flossing, and clawing … couches.
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