Today’s story will offer a little “light” reading.
To Bring Light to Eternal Darkness
[Adventure] [Drama] • 34,992 words
In the days before Equestria was even a dream and mares are second-class citizens, a pony with a solar cutie mark, Sunny Daze, decides to help her brother become a mage. She doesn’t realize that she and the sun have an appointment with destiny.
FROM THE CURATORS: Sometimes, it’s impressive how much difference a change of scenery can make. “In many senses, this is something I read a dozen times before — young Celly is in a bad situation, then she learns how to raise the sun,” Soge said as we discussed this week’s feature. “But just by replacing the more typical western European fantasy background, with a modern Saudi/Wahhabi inspired one? Bam, so much potential is unlocked.” And what we found as we dug into our reading was a story which capitalized on that potential tremendously. “I was blown away by this story from the word go,” Present Perfect said. “This is a really powerful work, a must-read for everyone.” FanOfMostEverything’s nomination said the story stood out on numerous levels: “It’s not just the characters and world that feel real, but also the society. scifipony presents a strongly regimented culture that provides a fascinating case of an ‘It’s terrible, but it’s mine’-style mental dissonance that resonates throughout Celestia-to-be’s actions.”
We found ourselves repeatedly praising the exemplary handling and realism of the deeper themes the story built up around that society. “The writing is exceptional, the origin story and world-building are strong and unique, and most important, the message is never lost in minutiae,” Present Perfect said. “Many writers would, for instance, have told the story of Sunny Daze breaking out from her patriarchial oppression the moment she met a mare from Unicornia, which doesn’t suffer under the propoli and mare-cloaks. And while that story would have cathartic value, it would feel cheap because it would ignore the realities of growing up under a stringent society divided along gender lines.” Soge agreed: “I don’t feel bad in saying that most explicitly political fiction is garbage — it creates politically-themed obstacles for the characters, leaving them as just a backdrop to the message, and in the process manages to dehumanize all involved on the ‘other side’. ‘To Bring Light…’, instead, belongs to that rare breed that takes inspiration from real-world issues, but keeps the focus tight on the characters, leading to this lived-in world full of interesting scenarios, but without ever making the backdrop the most important thing in the story.”
And the characters were vivid enough to sustain that focus. “This also got major points from me for its strong portrayal of autism in Summer Daze, especially in the way his sister understands and dotes on him,” Present Perfect said. “She’s proud of him for being able to interact with others to the extent that he does, she gets his tics, and she doesn’t begrudge him being unable to express himself the way other ponies do.” That was merely one of the factors which added up to a top-tier story. “I could go on and on,” Soge said, “about how great the supporting cast is, how good an antagonist Umbra was, or the great world-building and magic system. This fic is a pure delight.”
Read on for our author interview, in which scifipony discusses good gibberish, hayburger messes, and bounty-hunting mothers.