Today’s story might just prove to be magical reading.
I Have a Hat
[Alternate Universe] [Crossover] • 8,935 words
Upstart is excited. His mother has hired a unicorn for a party. It will be so delightful to see a unicorn performing magic. It’s sure to be fun for the whole household!
Of course, it’s just a little fun. She’s not really a unicorn. After all, unicorns don’t exist.
FROM THE CURATORS: “An Equestria where magic has ceased to be a factor in ponies’ lives is a fascinating AU right from the start,” AugieDog said, and all of us reading this Victorian-flavored tale — a pony take on G.K. Chesterton’s play Magic — found ourselves swept up in its enchantments. “This offers a thoughtful bit of commentary on the role of magic in our lives,” Chris said, “and its Equestrian mooring is a surprisingly necessary lens through which to see our own human mythologies.” As Present Perfect put it, “it turns out there’s nothing to make the reader tremble in awe at the knowledge magic exists quite like taking magic away in the first place.”
And while the power of that theme might have sealed this story’s feature, there was plenty more to like here — such as I Have a Hat‘s tonal balance and character work. “There’s a noble tragedy that suffuses the entire story, even as its surface content remains light and slice-of-life,” Chris said about the former, while AugieDog praised the latter: “The characters, all OCs, are fully-formed and well-detailed.” Horizon appreciated those both: “The subtle power plays among the various inhabitants of the house were just as fascinating as the bigger, flashier A-plot, and watching the visitors navigate those tensions really helped ground both halves of the story into a more unified whole.”
But our commentary kept turning back to this story’s well-realized setting, perched at a carefully calibrated distance between our lives and the show. “It was a brilliant choice, I think, to set this in a pseudo-Victorian era,” Horizon said. “I’m reminded of L.P. Hartley’s quote ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’ — both in the contrast between the setting’s past and present, and the contrast between the setting’s present day and our own.” Chris appreciated how that also contributed to the mood of the story: “The mix of 1800s-ish setting and moors with a somewhat more modern writing style gives the piece an appropriately uncertain, ethereal air.” But, like any good magician, most impressive of all was how seamless the presentation was. “Justifying an AU an like this is always a challenge,” Present Perfect said, “but this one rises to it effortlessly.”
Read on for our author interview, in which BillyColt discusses branding arcs, unplayed cards, and toyline invitations.