Today’s story drives its characters to extremes.
Sleep While I Drive
[Dark] [Adventure] [Sad] [Sci-Fi] • 12,791 words
Celestia and Discord, as teens, flee their destroyed homeworld to a new world promised by a letter from Luna. But Discord can’t escape his nature, nor Celestia her memories. Being a chaos mage on a starliner is a death sentence, and yet, Discord has to keep using his mind-control powers to take Celestia’s emotions away, at her request, because otherwise she wants to die. And Gray Celestia, the discorded Celestia with no emotions but the drive to protect herself and Discord, will do anything that needs to be done to save them both.
FROM THE CURATORS: When a story tackles ambitious ideas, our commentary sometimes gets as wide-ranging as the fic itself. “This has got tragedy, mental illness, friendship and horrible things done in the name of survival, all in spades,” Present Perfect said in his nomination, and on its way to a rare unanimous approval, compliments like FanOfMostEverything’s stacked up: “Alara excels at building a universe and finding a place for everyone in it, especially Discord,” he said. “That skill is on full display here, blending ponies, sci-fi, and the interplay of harmony and chaos into a seamless whole. The actual story that takes place in this universe is a breathtaking one, tackling the themes of love, loss, survivor’s guilt, prejudice, duty, and more in an interstellar narrative arc that hurts to read in the best way.”
With so much worldbuilding for the story to do, it walked a fine line between competing extremes, both in tone and character. “The technobabble felt purposeful, and in its relatively short length it manages to build a whole universe, much darker than anything in MLP proper, but still remarkably faithful to the show — remarkable, considering Celestia’s actions throughout the story,” Soge said. AugieDog, meanwhile, remarked on the power of its theme: “The two characters are pretty much destroying themselves in order to save the other, not becoming whole together but becoming echoing, hollow shells,” he said. “It’s a story that could easily wear the ‘Tragedy’ tag if we didn’t know where things ultimately are heading, and maybe even then.”
Along the way, the story also offered some unique accomplishments. “I’m unable to think of the last time I read a story that successfully pulled off both an in medias res opening and a ‘fade to black’ ending,” AugieDog said. “Granted, it helps that we know who these characters are and what will eventually become of them, but to take a piece that doesn’t really begin and doesn’t really end and still make it into a story, that’s some writing right there.” It was a package that added up, as Soge said, to an impressive whole: “This is a fantastic fic, full of character, amazing worldbuilding, and a dramatic flair that gives the whole thing heft and purpose. I don’t think I’d heard of alarajrogers before, and what an introduction this was.”
Read on for our author interview, in which alarajrogers discusses deity elections, well-meaning extremists, and dining-room takeovers.