Today’s story will offer you exactly what you want to read in a horror fic.
Unicorns Are Magical
[Dark] [Alternate Universe] [Sad] [Tragedy] • 3,899 words
“Unicorns are wonderful!”
“Unicorns are fantastic!”
“Unicorns are marvelous!”
“Unicorns are glamorous!”
“Unicorns are enchanting!”
“Unicorns are terrific!”
They also like to twist words. What would happen if you asked what they really are, without the wordplay?
Unicorns provoke wonder. They create fantasies. They cause marvels. They project glamour. They weave enchantment. But most importantly, they spawn terror.
For you see, nopony said that unicorns were good.
FROM THE CURATORS: It’s an excellent sign for a fanfic’s quality when it gets lodged in your brain and refuses to leave. “This fic is positively insidious,” Soge said. “It has been two weeks between when I read it and when I managed to sit down to write this, and the otherworldliness of Twilight’s actions and how wrong everything feels simply hasn’t left me.” Chris, who nominated it over a year after first reading it, felt similarly: “I think there’s a lot to appreciate about the way this piece creates and maintains a particular, darkly enjoyable tone,” he said. “It’s a pitch-perfect take on the alien other-ness which defines the Fair Folk in our own world’s mythology, and the MLP setting draws out that other-ness well, with its familiar-but-equine trappings.”
A major contributor to the story’s excellence was its fine detail work. “‘The earth pony sighed’, in the context of the opening scene of this story, is one of those rare single lines that shakes me to the core,” Present Perfect said, while Soge praised the subtlety of its construction: “It is one of those stories that builds a lot of atmosphere not in what is says, but in the things it omits: Wings, horns, weather control, Cutie Marks, and even empathy.” That construction was thoughtful as well, creating impact even from its structure, as Chris noted: “The reverse-chronological order of the five characters’ scenes is used to good effect.”
But an unexpected strength was its work with familiar characters despite the massive departures of its alternate-universe setup. “The author has boiled the main six down to their most basic traits, removing many things that the reader might have imagined would be important to their character and being,” Present Perfect said. “In doing so, they walk a fine line between familiar and alien, and twist that to ensure that the events happening in the story keep the reader guessing.” As disorienting as that sometimes was, it was ultimately the source of the fic’s staying power, Chris said: “There may not be a clear line between some of the main six’s lives and motivations in this fic and in the show (that is, not one that can be directly extrapolated from the AU’s premise that unicorns are essentially malicious fey), but the larger themes of the story circle that idea so smoothly that I can’t help but be impressed by the way the story grounds ‘Twilight Sparkle’ in such an unfamiliar creature.”
Read on for our author interview, in which wille179 discusses robot puns, smile-ripping, and tea pettiness.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m a 21-year-old computer science major at Georgia Tech. I write in my spare time, and I’m currently working on a novel entitled Guts & Glory.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
It’s not the most interesting story. Wille179 came from when I was originally setting up my email account. It was just after seeing the movie Wall-E, and I was making a pun with my name, Will. Thus, will.e. Gmail said that that name was already taken, and recommended the 179 bit, which I took. That name, with or without the period, ended up becoming my handle in a lot of places.
Who’s your favorite pony?
What’s your favorite episode?
I have absolutely no idea. Probably anything with Chrysalis in it.
What do you get from the show?
I used to enjoy it just for the sake of it, not really getting anything but entertainment from it. Personally, I like the fandom content even more than the actual show.
What do you want from life?
Career-wise, I want to score a job with Google — that would be my dream job — but any software or game development would be fun. As for more personal goals, I want to get my book published once it’s finished.
Why do you write?
Because video games get boring to me after a while, but stories never do. I often daydream, and sometimes I come up with interesting stories that are worth putting on paper.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Write more. Then write even more. And when you’re not writing, read. It’s all practice.
What inspired “Unicorns are Magical”?
The Fair Folk. Fairies. No, I don’t mean things like Tinkerbell, but the monstrous fae from European mythology — which includes the original changelings.
Why tell the story in reverse chronological order?
Two reasons: one, time is often portrayed as not moving the same for the Fair Folk (faster/slower/backwards), and two, fairies are petty. Even the slightest insult is enough to set them off, and I wanted to show that pettiness by showing the “punishment” Fairy-Twilight enacted on Fluttershy for the crime of not having tea.
Was it hard coming up with traditional “bad fairy” outcomes that fit each of the main characters so well?
Not really. It was a matter of twisting their desires, dreams, or personalities against themselves. Rainbow Dash had nobody left to be loyal to save for herself, and when she failed at even that, Fairy-Twilight turned it against her. Rarity clung onto her own sister, but it left her open to being exploited. Pinkie Pie was hurt by the loss of her friends; the need to smile made her vulnerable. Applejack was too honest, and trusted the honesty of her senses too much. Fluttershy’s kindness and naivete made her vulnerable to someone cruel and deceptive.
Talk a little about writing [Dark] stories in a Pony context.
First, strip away the cartoonishness from the world. Make it easy for people to get hurt, make it hard for them to recover, let bad things happen when it’s inconvenient, and let people die. Add a dash of realism and nihilism, and stir. Then find ways to subvert expectations in the worst possible ways.
Of course, then you have to keep it from getting so dark that people get used to it being dark. That wasn’t really a concern for this story in particular, thanks to its short length, but it’s something to keep in mind. If you can give your reader a chance to smile, you can rip that smile away later.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think anyone who can write a quality fanfic that gets people’s attention is good enough to write a novel of their own. Even if they never get it published, every fanfiction writer should attempt to write a novel at some point in their life.