We hope you plan to pick up today’s story.
[Comedy] [Sad] [Slice of Life] [Alternate Universe] • 4,092 words
Years have passed since the Crystal War ended. Twilight Sparkle visits an old haunt to spend some time catching up with her friends. Then comes the question of who picks up the tab.
FROM THE CURATORS: When most stories on a topic crank their drama up to 11, finding fics with the confidence to take a more nuanced approach can be like stumbling across an oasis in a desert. “After ‘The Cutie Re-Mark’,” FanOfMostEverything said in his nomination, “stories set after the war with Sombra have become something of a subgenre, most of them little more than vehicles for PTSD angst or Rainbow Dash wing amputation drama. The Tab is not one of those stories. It seeks to capture the full spectrum of the veteran’s potential experience in readjusting to peacetime conditions.” As this story sped toward a feature, Soge agreed: “If there is one big thing right this fic does, it is its distinct portrayal of how trauma affects different people differently.”
There was so much to like, though, that we all cited different elements as our favorites. “Its greatest strength shines in folding the exposition that any AU has to churn out into fantastic character interaction between the Canterlot friends,” FanOfMostEverything said. “The subtext here is rich and plentiful, from Twilight keeping metric time to Twinkleshine’s nickname to a single sentence that says volumes about Rainbow Dash’s status in this timeline.” (Soge agreed: “That it speaks so much of its world building — rarely directly alluding to it — is phenomenal.”) Present Perfect appreciated the characters: “They are all distinctly themselves … Twilight especially comes off as ‘Twilight, after serving in a war’.” And Horizon liked its framing: “It’s a story about good (and authentic) ponies being good (and authentic) to each other,” he said. “And that’s its power: showing us the beating heart of its characters, affected by their experiences but not defined by them.”
In the end, it was simply exemplary execution which carried the fic. “There’s not really anything surprising about it, but it does a damned fine job portraying post-war life,” Present Perfect said. The surprise, Soge said, came in the emotions that it prompted: “It is a powerful and emotional story, with sublime characterization, and a real humanity and care for the characters involved. The actual ‘tab’ scene got me all teary-eyed.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Antiquarian discusses surrounding heroes, sacred stupidity, and the heroism of everyday life.