Make the choice to read today’s story, and you’ll be rewarded with an intriguing romp through Norse mythology.
Can’t Choose Your Family
[Crossover] [Slice of Life] • 3,937 words
It’s been five thousand years since the Summit of the Gods was last hosted in Equestria, and after dropping off Discord in Ponyville, Celestia returns to Canterlot Castle to meet with the entire Norse Pantheon. Before she can arrive, though, she’s stopped by a guard with a strange message, sent on the behalf of a mysterious figure from her past.
FROM THE CURATORS: This story’s cover art and description suggest the central family tie of the story — but it takes a deeper reading to realize just how cleverly the idea is constructed. “The story’s labeled ‘Crossover’ because it posits that Celestia and Luna are the daughters of Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse in Norse mythology — which means, of course, that their grandmother is Loki,” AugieDog said in his nomination. “It’s an idea that I just plain find appealing.” The rest of us were equally taken with those ideas. “The big draw here is the mythology, and what sells that is the solid characterization,” Horizon said.
Singled out for the greatest praise was the Norse deity who pays Celestia a visit. “There was clearly a lot of thought that went into Loki’s character, from ‘his’ flexible definition of gender to his unconventional sense of loyalty and understanding of betrayal,” Chris said. Present Perfect agreed: “The way Loki is written has a certain je ne sais quoi. There’s an equal measure of ‘otherworldly god’ and ‘concerned grandmother’ there, very difficult to pull off well.” But, as AugieDog noted, the Equestrian characters are given equally thoughtful depth. “The story is a very nice character study of Celestia,” he said, “focusing on the choices she’s made concerning Equestria, in light of the constant sideways glances she and Luna get from the other Aesir due to their heritage.”
And while there was plenty to impress us in the character work alone, this story was also full of little surprises to enrich our reading experience. “There’s a good deal in here that I’ve never seen before — most notably Discord’s relationship to Celestia,” Present Perfect said. Horizon agreed: “From how Discord fits into the picture to the identity of Celestia and Luna’s mothers, this is full of surprising ideas that click into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.” All told, as Present Perfect said, this is a story carried by the solid execution of its ideas: “Anyone interested in mythology weaving will no doubt enjoy the way in which the Norse mythos has been applied to Equestria.”
Read on for our author interview, in which CyborgSamurai discusses dangerous shoulds, replacement hips, and sociopathic shattered shapeshifters.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m a full-time student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I’m currently pursuing two undergraduate degrees — one in Business & Marketing Education, and one in Human Resource Development. I also have a third bachelor’s degree in Video Game Design & Development, which I got from an outside institution in 2009. I’m an avid PC gamer, an analytical introvert, a lover of traditional fantasy, and of course, a frequent horseword writer.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
I had both my hips replaced with titanium and ceramic implants at the age of 15. I had to relearn how to walk again using various things like crutches, canes, and whatnot, and I’ve always liked messing around with sticks and swinging them around. When I was doing PT I saw this stick swinging as a way to regain some of my mobility, and I started mimicking the movements I saw from movies like Lord of the Rings and games like Soul Calibur II. I liked doing it so much that I kinda became infamous for it at my school, and years later when I started being active online, the name CyborgSamurai felt like a good way of expressing who I am. I know it seems like it’s a generic, silly name, but in truth I think it describes me pretty well.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Purple Smart is best pony. This is not up for debate, your argument is invalid.
What’s your favorite episode?
Sonic Rainboom. It’s the one that really sucked me properly into the show, and it has a lot going for it in terms of story, music, worldbuilding, and character interaction.
What do you get from the show?
I really like the world that FiM is set in. Equestria is very much based in traditional mythology, which I’m a complete and total sucker for. Things like magic, dragons, the progression of the characters, all of it has been done really well, and I also like that the writers just haven’t left this world static like a lot of other series do. Time actually progresses in Equestria, we get to see the characters change and grow, and it gives the entire series that much more life. There’s also the overall morals of friendship and camaraderie, which I appreciate and think are good to be exposed to.
What do you want from life?
A steady career, good health, financial stability, and a moderate social life. That’s pretty much it!
Why do you write?
Writing is an outlet. I don’t have a lot of RL friends, I’m single, and most of the time I’m left to my own devices. I don’t really have a person or place to vent to, so I use writing as a way to express myself. The Internet’s anonymity helps remove any inhibitions I have about people judging me, so I just write about whatever silly random thing that comes to mind. Sometimes people even actually like the things I write!
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Don’t get obsessed with comparing yourself to other authors. You aren’t them, and they aren’t you. Everyone has a different mindset, different set of life circumstances, different motivations, different everything. It’s okay to want to do better, but if you start finding yourself using the word SHOULD (I SHOULD be able to write more, I SHOULD be able to do better, etc) then you need to stop right there. ‘Should’ can be a very dangerous word when used in this context, and all you’re going to wind up doing is making yourself feel like crap.
Why Norse mythology?
Discord always struck me as someone who would fit in well in the Norse mythos. The parallels to trickery and deception are extremely similar to Loki, and add to the fact Loki’s a shapeshifter whose been known for sleeping around, well … it seemed plausible that Discord could be related to him/her. Heck, the entire world of Equestria wasn’t all that hard to fit into Norse mythology, and it makes me wonder why more writers haven’t tried to do more things in that vein.
How do you handle writing a mythological figure like Loki during a time when he’s best known as a comic book character to mainstream audiences?
I knew about the depiction of Loki in the Marvel universe and how his story goes there, but that wasn’t really the direction I wanted to go. For starters, Loki isn’t male, nor is he/she female. Shapeshifters are almost always genderless, and while they may tend towards the forms of one sex, it’s extremely rare to have one associate themselves with one or the other. Second, the lore of Loki is extremely rich and complex in Norse mythology, and while there’s a good bit of depth as well thanks to Marvel, I don’t find it as interesting as the old tales. There’s some CRAZY stuff that happens in ancient mythos that serves for great inspiration, and I’ve always liked drawing from sources like that rather than pop-culture stuff.
In CCYF, I pictured Loki as a self-centered god with their own agenda, and while they may not have been evil initially (more of like a Cheshire Cat style character), a series of events made him/her turn bitter and resentful. In this case, that event was when Odin refused to give Svadilfari immortality, and his subsequent death flat-out shattered Loki. He/She went from playful, annoying trickster to megalomaniacal sociopath, and he/she swore vengeance on not just Odin, but all of Asgard and anyone else that stood in their way.
Of course, we see in Loki’s interactions with Celestia that he/she hasn’t completely given in to the dark side, but that faint glimmer of light is holding on by a thread, at best. All it might take is for Celestia to finally refuse an audience with Loki, and then any chance of redemption is lost forever. Does Celestia know that? Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard to say. We see that she has her reasons for doing what she does, but are those the only reasons? Loki might be brought out of the darkness if the right chain of events were to occur, but the chances of such a thing occurring? Pretty slim. Perhaps if one of her family members were to “accept” his/her invitation of helping to conspire against the Pantheon, and in the time spent with them, Loki finally saw the error of his/her ways …
Originally, I was inspired to write CCYF by Keep Calm and Flutter On. The story was going to take place in Asgard with Discord on trial in front of the entire Norse Pantheon. Odin would free him from stone and say some stuff, then call forth Celestia and Luna as witnesses to give testament. Loki would show up, say/do some stuff, and Odin would eventually decide to put Discord on probation. However, as I was brainstorming for this idea, it seemed more and more likely that this had the chance of making the story longer than I wanted it to be, so instead I tweaked it into the version that’s up on Fimfic. I’m happy with how it turned out overall, although if I could change anything, I’d put in a flashback of some sort that delves into the interaction between Svadilfari and Loki.
In the first comment for this story, you mention Luna and Celestia being half-sisters. Does this change their history from what we know of it?
Not really. The only reason I made it like that was to more closely follow what happens in Norse mythology. Skinfaxi (shining mane) and Hrimfaxi (frost mane) are the steeds of Dagr (day) and Nótt (night), and I saw them as the perfect parents for Celestia and Luna. In addition, Frey (God of the Sun) and Freya (Goddess of Seduction) didn’t have named steeds that I could find, and based off their domains, I thought they would be good fits to be partnered with Tia and Lulu.
Do you have any advice for crossing My Little Pony over with mythology?
Find a common ground between MLP and the mythology in question. Start making ties where you can and explanations for how things could have happened, and the longer you do it, the more it’ll start to come naturally to you. Personally, I think doing this kind of thing is really fun, and I have a tendency to get sucked in and take things a little overboard, which is why I often have to limit myself. It was actually pretty hard to just leave CCYF as a one-shot, heh …
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m happy that CCYF was well received, and that people seem to still appreciate it three years later. It’s doubtful we’ll ever see anything like the Norse Pantheon ever show up proper in FiM, but if it were, I think that it would be a pretty good fit with what’s already been established.