It’s an average day here at the Royal Canterlot Library, but today’s feature definitely isn’t an average story.
[Adventure] • 52,517 words
Wake up. Go to work. Save Ponyville from unimaginable horrors beyond time and space. Have lunch with your PFF.
Ditzy Doo lives in a different world than her fellow ponies. She sees things nopony else can see — like higher-dimensional spatial anomalies, fae creatures, and eldritch abominations. And she uses what she sees to solve problems that other ponies don’t even realize are problems.
But this time, Ditzy may have bitten off more than she can chew. Something very unfriendly is trying to enter Equestria through Ponyville’s Town Hall. An earth pony with an hourglass cutie mark has taken an unhelpful interest in Ditzy. The Princess’s personal student has grown suspicious. And, most irritating of all, her alarm clock radio is acting strangely.
Ditzy must race against the clock to save Ponyville — a clock that keeps playing the same song over, and over, and over …
FROM THE CURATORS: This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a story about the secret life of the pony we know as Derpy Hooves/Ditzy Doo, but Alarm Clock did so many things right it couldn’t help but stand out from the pack. “There’s the outlandish callouts to the show,” Present Perfect said. “There’s the ridiculously well-placed fandom tropes. (‘I emptied your fridge’ as a significant plot point? Inconceivable!) There’s a wonderful character in Derpy (an early standout moment was her fretting over being unable to handle power). There’s good use of time and dimensional travel, and the fact that never once did I feel lost in the story. It was exciting and funny in all the right ways.”
If those elements sound like familiar Derpy/Ditzy cliches, prepare to be surprised. “This upends half of Derpy fanon while justifying the other half,” Horizon said. “The whole first chapter is about giving her a reason to be in Fluttershy’s henhouse during the ‘Find a Pet’ song, and shortly thereafter is a chapter centered on foalsitting her friend’s daughter Dinky. Doctor Whooves plays a prominent role … as a foil. Nothing connects where you’d expect it to, but it all works.” Chris agreed: “Meta Four takes plenty of gentle passes at fandom standbys, but never in a lazy or immersion-breaking way.”
That’s all the more impressive given the wild ideas the story throws at us. “This is honest-to-goodness magical realism crossed with My Little Pony,” Horizon said. “It hedges its bets somewhat in the chapters where Ditzy is trying to bring normal ponies up to speed, but when she’s fortunetelling for the fia or moving her hoof fjothward, the story is gloriously unapologetic about its oddness.” That was aided by a fine touch with characterization and setting. “Everypony in here just feels right,” JohnPerry said. “For all the upending of fanon and interdimensional weirdness going on in here, this still manages to feel like Ponyville at the end of the day.”
Ultimately, though, Alarm Clock was just a joy to read. “This is the most fun I’ve had reading a fanfic in a while,” Chris said. “This story shows how you can write a clever story, an engrossing story, and even a dramatic story, all without taking yourself too seriously.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Meta Four discusses villain malapropisms, Gallifreyan baggage, and how to rescue a story from a two-year hiatus.