Today’s story doesn’t play around when it comes to adorable-yet-poignant pony portrayals.
[Slice of Life] • 3,045 words
When trying to focus on her studies, Sunset Shimmer is stuck watching an annoying little filly who just won’t let her study.
FROM THE CURATORS: “This is a short, sweet, and magnificently characterized glimpse of Twilight’s formative years, back when Sunset Shimmer was still in Celestia’s good graces and accidentally influencing her successor,” FanOfMostEverything said in his nomination. And while you might look at the “Everyone” age rating and hnnng-inducing cover art and assume that “short and sweet” is the entirety of the story, there’s far more to it than that. “The layers are what really impress here,” Present Perfect said. “You have the very clear comparison being made between Sunset and Twilight, without it ever being stated outright. Then there are the machinations going on in the background, that are a bit more subtle but nevertheless present. And Sunset being mean to foals is its own reward.”
What sent the fic over the top in our voting was the care with which it walked that tightrope and brought its show backstory to life. “It’s always lovely when an author knows how to take a bit of headcanon and turn it into an actual story,” AugieDog said. “Too often, writers will just have the characters state the idea without going through the process necessary to truly shape it into a narrative.” But those characters came in for their share of praise, too. “Twilight feels like herself, not just some generic cute filly doing generic cute filly things,” FanOfMostEverything said. “All of Sunset’s layers are in full force, from the noble person she’ll become to the massive jerk that’s years away from getting knocked down a peg. And the ways Sunset unwittingly molds Twilight’s young mind are brilliant and somewhat tragic by turns.”
And yet, for all its drama, we still found the story melting our hearts. “The whole thing wraps up into a perfect little slice of life-from-the-past,” Present Perfect said, and AugieDog was equally effusive: “This story is just sharp all the way around.” All in all, not only was it a story exemplary on multiple levels, it was also an economical one. “It is one of those stories that manage to do a lot with very little,” Soge said, “interlocking some powerful pre-canon character interactions, a bit of worldbuilding, as well as highlighting very well the differences — and similarities — between Sunset then, and Twilight later. That it manages so much in just 3k words is nothing short of impressive.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Summer Dancer discusses teen definition, ponk bias, and post-bandage sarcasm.