‘Tis the season for holiday stress — and for the RCL to be pushing through almost 700,000 words of longfics in our reading queue. That dual crunch has slowed us down, and we’re currently working with our pending featured authors on their interviews. But don’t worry — we’ve got you covered!
We keep track of stories which have passed through our approval process, but whose authors were unresponsive to us despite repeated effort. We’d like to see these great stories get their time in the spotlight too, so we’re presenting a pair of RCL-approved tales for your reading pleasure.
By Pen Mightier
[Adventure] [Comedy] • 7,484 words
‘Let’s Pretend’ is my favourite game. Someponies play it for fun. Someponies play it for life. When four little fillies and their trusty companion go on an epic adventure through black liquorice jungles and dark chocolate swamps to uncover the Lost City of El Chimichanga and the endless fountain of chocolate within, they find that some games can be played for Love.
FROM THE CURATORS: This story was easy to sum up — “The Pie sisters play make-believe, as narrated by Boulder,” Present Perfect said — and just as easy for us to appreciate. “It’s a story that exemplifies the best kind of sweethearted goofiness, and builds up its characters so well (though no-stakes shenanigans, no less) that the climax of the piece made me want to cheer for Maud,” Chris said in his nomination. AugieDog’s praise was multilayered: “Kids being kids is always a good basis for storytelling since it lets an author play around with levels of fantasy and reality,” he said. “Add to that the way each Pie sister comes through with a distinct individual voice, and then give us Boulder as a completely believable narrator at no extra charge? I was right on board.”
We hardly needed to be sold on it beyond that, but the character work was also an exemplary match for the quality of the rest of the story. “This is a marvelous Maud Pie piece, as it ends up being her coming-of-age by the end,” Present Perfect said. “Between irascible Marble, irrepressible Pinkie, and disconsolate Limestone, Maud sticks out like a sore rock. She’s incapable of approaching the world on anything but a flat, rational level, and this holds her back from bonding with her sisters, as well as stepping to the fore when she’s most needed.” And the craft also shone through in general. “The descriptions are a perfect match for the tone, vacillating with the mood of the moment but holding an internal consistency that makes the whole story feel cohesive,” Chris said. “In all, this was a real pleasure to read.”
By Slavoj Zizek
[Dark] • 1,187 words
Applejack tells you her only secret.
It is about a hole.
The breathing, living hole in her face.
FROM THE CURATORS: This is certainly a piece that lives up to its title. “It hits me right in the Kafka bone, as nice a piece of surrealism as I’ve read in quite some time,” AugieDog said in his nomination. And that wasn’t the only hitting the story did — as we saw in PresentPerfect’s only response being “Jesus,” and a vote toward a feature. Former curator JohnPerry was similarly struck: “I can honestly say that it’s been a very long time since a piece of ponyfic has evoked such a visceral reaction from me,” he said. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to curl into a ball on the floor and remain there for a while.”
But we’re about literary merit, not shock value, and what sealed the deal on the feature was the use to which this story put its strong imagery. “I was pleased to find it one of the relatively small number of fics to use a direct address to the reader to good effect,” Chris said, while JohnPerry complimented it on its tone: “It’s got that dream-like mixture of surreal and horrifyingly vivid.” And Chris further appreciated the character work. “I think it’s a story that fits Applejack to a tee; it’s not exactly a stretch to read her as a character who both fears and loathes as weakness the thought of exposing herself meaningfully to others,” he said. “The idea of this being her internalization of her own guilt over the death of her parents feels real.”