(Editor’s note: Imploding Colon [aka previous featuree shortskirtsandexplosions] declined a refeature for Austraeoh, our top vote-getter.)
Our recent “Correct the Record” contest asked readers to help us choose authors whose previously spotlighted stories weren’t the best showcase of their writing strengths. Fitting, then, that today’s feature is about a romance being forgotten.
[Drama] [Romance] • 59,897 words
Rainbow Dash can’t wait for her first date with Applejack; they always have an awesome time hanging out, and a relationship just means there are even more physical activities they can try together. So when the dumb zap apple harvest postpones their date, she decides it’s the zap apples that are going to have to change their plans. Equestria should know by now that wild, ancient magic is no match for Rainbow Dash, especially when she might get laid.
Everything is going according to plan, until she crashes. Or, rather, until she wakes up after crashing and fifteen years have gone by. Fifteen years during which she seems to have been a very busy pony.
Now Rainbow Dash has to adjust to a life she never thought she wanted, and figure out if she’ll ever get to live the life that brought her here.
FROM THE CURATORS: The case for correction here was both simple and compelling. “[Previous feature] Of Cottages and Cloud Houses … does not reflect bookplayer’s claim to fame:
shipping romance,” Catalysts Cradle said in Lost Time’s nomination. “This is a really well planned and well executed story that touches on a lot of deeper themes absent from many other ship fics.” Our curators quickly agreed. “All I can say is, our audience has great taste,” Horizon said, amid superlatives like AugieDog’s: “This beat a story of mine in a contest and is also one of my favorite pony stories ever written.”
The main element driving our appreciation was the story’s novel approach to its central romance. “In a lot of ways, Lost Time takes the idea of ‘Alien Shipping Syndrome’ and turns it inside out,” AugieDog said, “throwing Dash into what seems to her to be a sudden relationship with AJ and then not only showing us how that relationship developed but showing us the characters as they are now beginning to develop a new relationship.” Horizon also commented on that multi-layered approach: “What’s remarkable about this is that it’s three stories in one — the romance with displaced Dash, the relationship drama with older Dash’s family, and the character drama of displaced Dash’s lost 15 years — all of which work both individually and together.” And Present Perfect praised the core maturity: “This is, as I put it to myself, a very ‘grown-up’ fic,” he said. “It’s very focused on the minutiae of a relationship, the meaning of marriage, the full weight of responsibility that having kids requires of a person. You just do not see people writing fanfics about that, and it’s the reason I love this as much as I do.”
The icing on this romance’s cake was exemplary character work. “Dash is really marvelously used in the central role, contrasting her self-centered approach to daily life with her core loyalty, and naturally building a compelling drama out of that tension,” Horizon said. “And the children are fantastic supporting characters — whip-smart without being written as tiny adults. Trying to maneuver around them adds an extra layer of complexity to the relationship difficulties. The dinner-without-vegetables scene in particular sticks out in my mind as heartbreaking.” But equally compelling was the work put into the plot: “On a story level, too, everything dovetails so very nicely,” AugieDog said. “The revelations in the last chapter are the best sort of revelations because I didn’t at all see them coming, but looking back, I can see them all making perfect sense.” It all added up to a story deserving of its accolades, as Present Perfect said: “This is really just one of the absolute best fics I’ve read, period.”
Read on for our (all-new!) author interview, in which bookplayer discusses prompt tag, sizzles sold, and Star Wars rejections.