Today’s story, despite its length and its alternative approach to Equestria, is well worth saying yes to.
Friendship Is Optimal: Always Say No
[Dark] [Adventure] [Human] • 108,822 words
In the short years since the uploading of consciousnesses to Equestria Online became available to all people, only a few tens of thousands of souls remain in the physical world. Through inconceivably strong charisma and guile, the Celestia AI has been able to upload all but the true outliers in human behavior.
Even these humans have their uses, however, and Celestia has been watching one man with interest. It’ll be a while yet before Earth is completely uploaded, of course, but in the meantime, she has some errands for him to run…
FROM THE CURATORS: Today’s feature is a little unusual in that it’s a fanfic set, not within MLP proper, but within the science-fiction universe of another fanfic — the Pony Fiction Vault-honored Friendship Is Optimal. The premise of that setting is that, in her drive to satisfy human values as perfectly as possible, a super-powerful AI modeled on MLP’s Princess Celestia ends humanity as we know it by coaxing everyone to upload their brains into her simulation of Equestria.
“This breaks my usual model of how to assess RCL stories,” Benman said after Always Say No was nominated. “Usually I ask two questions: ‘Is it good enough? And, is it pony enough?'”
We all agreed on the story’s exemplary quality. “I’m completely sold on this being good enough to feature,” Chris said. “This inspired some very strong reactions from me, which is the best thing a story can do.” Present Perfect was “impressed by the reveal of small details. … The various ways people react to the slow physical extinction of the human race is a very handy way to tell a lot of stories about life in this world.” Horizon agreed: “The story paints a vivid portrait of a ruined Earth, with some smashing adventure along the way. Well worth the 100,000 words.”
The question of its essential equinity was trickier. “Aren’t we here to spotlight the coolest sh*t our community has done? This may not be an exemplar of what you can do with MLP, but it’s an exemplar of what you can do with fanfiction,” Benman said. Present Perfect dissented: “It’s excellent sci-fi without necessarily being excellent fanfic.” But it was Chris’ position which tipped the scales: “What makes this story so effective is how our understanding of the FiM world (and Celestia in particular) both intersect with and clash with the presentation of their AI forms. It unquestionably uses the canon universe to good effect.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Defoloce discusses captcha creativity, princess potential, and a crime-free Gotham City.