We hope our appreciation for today’s story colors your expectations.
Spectrum of Gray
[Romance] [Drama] • 17,470 words
Rainbow Dash and Applejack have cherished the years gone by at one another’s side, but beneath the wear of time, the fuel that is love can turn to ash and smother the flames they hold dear.
Beyond the smoke rising from the cinders, they face an uncertain future. Now, they must come to terms with the harsh truth that, sometimes, love alone isn’t enough to keep a marriage burning bright.
FROM THE CURATORS: There’s a classic proverb that you always find missing things in the last place you look. “I can’t believe we haven’t featured Novel-Idea before,” Present Perfect noted after a comment in our recommendation thread brought Spectrum of Gray to our attention. (It was also hard to believe we’d missed this story’s first-place finish in the “Second Chances” AppleDash contest — but as the proverb says, hindsight is 20/20.)
What earned it those accolades? As RBDash47 said in his nomination: “Spectrum won me over for two big reasons — its deft handling of four different character POVs all focused on the same problem, giving us a progression of different insights and perspectives; and the maturity of the problem the characters are dealing with, which is reinforced for me by the realism of not actually presenting the answer to the problem at hoof.” Horizon concurred — “It sets up a heck of a situation” — and Present Perfect noted the story’s breadth: “This handles so many issues with such a deft hand.”
It was not just Spectrum’s maturity but also its use of tension which drew our praise. “The thing that I like best about the story is that it takes place over such a brief period of time, like the whole story is an indrawn breath, suspended and not quite ready to exhale,” AugieDog said. “The problem’s been building and building and building, but this is the crisis point, the moment where everything pivots because the characters are finally ready for it to pivot.” That led to solid emotional engagement, RBDash47 said: “You’re left wondering how Dash and AJ will move forward, just as the characters in the story are wondering.”
Exemplary character work rounded out the story’s virtues. “The character voices are all strong, and Granny Smith is especially written well,” Present Perfect said. “This might also be the best future fic I’ve ever read, in terms of making the characters feel like themselves while still giving us the weight of time passed. It was fantastic on so many levels.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Novel-Idea discusses musical suckers, squee notes, and fandom concussions.