(Note: We’re looking to re-feature three of our spotlighted authors, in order to offer them spotlights on stories more representative of their writing! Our “Correct the Record” contest runs through Sunday, April 23. Weigh in with your votes and nominations on our FIMFiction thread. For a “ballot” with a compiled list of nominations and voting links, check this spreadsheet.)
The quality of today’s story is exemplary because today’s story is of exemplary quality because the quality of today’s story …
[Alternate Universe] [Dark] [Sad] • 15,000 words
My name is Starlight Glimmer, and I hate bad endings. It isn’t fair when some ponies win and others lose, purely by chance. If I had my way, every pony would be equal. Every pony would win. After all, the only other fair thing would be for us all to have a bad ending, and who would want that? This colorless world is bad enough already as it is.
So far, my record is flawless. Never once have I prematurely ended someone’s story, never once have I hurt someone more than they can bear. And every time I spare a life, make a new friend? I get stronger for it. Eventually, I’ll be so strong I can fix the entire world.
No matter what the world throws my way, I’m never going to give up.
FROM THE CURATORS: This unusual time-loop story was a medalist in FanOfMostEverything’s recent “Imposing Sovereigns” contest, so it was initially puzzling that the contest results post was so vague about its strengths … at least until we read it. “I can see why they had to hew and haw so much about what to say without spoilers,” Horizon said in his nomination. “The joy of this story is sitting back as you’re reading it, or after you’re done, and blinking as piece after piece falls together in your mind. The moment when this graduated from interesting read to nomination was when I looked at the impossibly bleak and somewhat overwrought Alternate Universe that the story had warned me about in its tags — and then realized exactly how seamlessly it linked to canon, on multiple levels, including some lovely and subtle statements about changelings.” And while those links became a subject of hot debate, we found there was plenty to enjoy regardless: “I didn’t catch the changeling angle at all, so I’m going to upvote in a fit of bewilderment,” Present Perfect said.
Among the (non-spoilery) exemplary qualities on display was the way it built up its central theme. “A little something like Starlight wondering for a moment where Twilight and the rest have gone would’ve been nice, but the still, gray air of self-contained isolation that permeates the piece is another thing that really grabbed me,” AugieDog said. And that went along with multiple levels of careful construction. “I could wish for tighter writing — but it weaves a story that’s entirely and perfectly and elegantly self-contained, and when you step out of the story you realize there’s also a greater elegance at play,” Horizon said.
It was that careful alignment of the story’s elements that let us glimpse the story’s true strengths. “The two Starlights we see are mirror images of each other, and the whole story is set up like two mirrors facing each other, infinitely reflecting themselves off into a fathomless distance,” AugieDog said. “I kept thinking of the line from near the end of Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead where, with the nooses around their necks, one turns to the other and says something like, ‘Next time, we’ll remember.'” And that was made even more impressive by the dark-horse quality of the contest placing. “This is a little gem of a story from an author with three stories and a dozen followers,” Horizon said. “I love the fact that contests can bring this sort of overlooked talent to our attention.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Czar_Yoshi discusses flag-raising, Undertale perfectionism, and the wearing of multiple ties.