Today’s story is a smart take on punishment and forgiveness.
[Sad] [Slice of Life] • 3,010 words
Princess Luna created me in order to make sure she never would forget the pain she caused Equestria.
But this? This is not the way to accomplish my directive.
If only I could let her know…
FROM THE CURATORS: It’s no secret that we at the RCL are fans when fics take novel approaches to language — we’ve repeatedly featured poetry, for example — but even so, this story is a first for us: one which has major elements structured as programming code. “This fic hits a lot of good points for me, all centered in how it uses its premise: the Tantabus as a magical computer program,” Soge said in his nomination. That quickly drew praise from the rest of us, techies and non-techies alike. “The code gimmick was really solid,” Present Perfect said. “I mean, just the way it let Chinchillax world-build in single lines was pretty amazing. It’s easy to follow, and there are some interesting suggestions about the way spells and emotions interact in Equestria.”
What impressed us went beyond the unusual formatting, though — and into character drama and big ideas. “The first chapter here is a little weak, but the code gimmick maintained my interest, and the last two chapters do a nice job of shifting the focus to the Tantabus itself — what it is, what it wants, and what it’s being forced to do,” Chris said. Soge, too, appreciated the uses to which the code was put: “Chinchillax recontextualizes the Tantabus’ actions, casts its relationship with Luna in a new light, and even manages to hit some interesting sci-fi-inspired notes about an artificial intelligence that is aware of the mutability of its nature.” Chris commented on that as well: “I like how there’s an argument about AI development hiding in the wings of this story, and how the author never feels the need to draw it to the forefront.”
Ultimately, we decided, it was the emotional strength which turned this from a strong gimmick story into an exemplary one. “The story about forgiveness is the real draw, of course,” Present Perfect said, and Chris agreed: “This is ultimately a story about forgiveness and suffering, and Chinchillax never allows a clever writing trick or a bit of lore to get in the way of that.” As AugieDog said, much of that power came from the unexpectedly sympathetic look at its protagonist: “Well-rounded villains always see themselves as heroes … it’s nice to see the artificial intelligence here running amok for very good and very Pony reasons.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Chinchillax discusses flashlighting, fandom fandom, and literary sleep aids.