Today’s story is some killer noir.
The Murder of Elrod Jameson
[Dark] [Mystery] [Sci-Fi] [Human] • 234,343 words
[Note: This story contains scenes of blood and gore, sexuality, and a depiction of rape.]
Elrod Jameson: a resident of SteelPoint Level Six, Bridgeport, Connecticut. A minor, pointless, and irrelevant man… who witnessed something he was not supposed to.
Narrowly avoiding his own murder, he desperately searches for help. When no living being will help him, he turns to the next best thing: a pony.
FROM THE CURATORS: This week’s feature — and its content warnings — might seem a little unusual for a My Little Pony fanfiction site. And indeed it is, in Horizon’s words, “a shining example of how to write ponyfic that strays nearly as far from the show as possible while the MLP content remains front and center.” But for those willing to stray from the light-hearted tone of the show, Elrod offers a unique journey. “The author has very carefully constructed this bizarre world of sci-fi trappings, mutant humans and world-ruling corporations so that by the end, if ponies don’t make sense for the world, they at least make sense for the story,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “What lies within this twisting labyrinth is lush, depressing scenery; a twisting mystery involving genetics, corporate protection and a worldwide bounty; and plenty of surprises.”
Indeed, the novel quickly inspired comparisons outside of our equine niche. “In the cadence of its writing it reminds me of some of the best classic sci-fi,” Horizon said, while AugieDog adding: “It reminds me of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon novels or Jeff Noon’s Vurt series in a lot of ways.” However, Present Perfect said, it’s got plenty to offer to pony fans: “You could not sand the edges off this and rebrand it as something original. It deserves to be evaluated as fanfiction.” That wasn’t a unanimous opinion — with AugieDog noting, “I’ll disagree with Pres and say that this could be turned into a non-Pony novel pretty easily” — but our consensus was, as Horizon put it, “it deserves special mention for the subtle, logical, compelling way that it works in its pony content.”
The strengths of the story were enough to send it to a feature despite curator reservations. “Not gonna lie, after reading chapter 16’s explicit on-screen rape, I put this one down for a week,” Horizon said. “But there is more than enough here to justify sitting through that (and the book’s ongoing need for editing). Elrod‘s at its best assembling its vision of a noir, dystopian future world. This also does an excellent job with the pacing of its mysteries and world reveals … the overall picture fit together extremely satisfyingly.” And the story won over some doubters. “If I’d just run across this on my own, I would’ve quit before the end of the first chapter,” AugieDog said. “But by the last line of that first chapter, I was completely and totally hooked. ‘Cause this is an incredible example of just plain ol’ storytelling. A lot of it comes from the author’s deft use of hard-boiled detective tropes, and there’s a real narrative voice here once things start firing on all cylinders.”
And that wasn’t all. “The characters are doubtless the strongest part,” Present Perfect said to quick agreement. “Elrod is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, and figuring him out was really rewarding. Twilight has a great deal of depth to her; important, since she’s actually the main character. There’s the other Twilight — it makes sense in context — who on her introduction is a breath of fresh air, and whose arc provides a lighter counterpoint to the grim and gritty main story.” Horizon agreed: “Morgana (Twilight) and Elrod are largely overshadowed in their own story by a vibrant supporting cast, and the book wisely realizes this and rolls with it. You could remove the entirety of Book 3 — the other Twilight’s arc — without impacting the A plot in the slightest, but if you did, you’d rip out the beating heart of the story.”
Ultimately, that added up to a package that was more than the sum of its parts. “This is what I would call a hidden gem,” Present Perfect said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Unwhole Hole has come up with, because the expansiveness of this world is in many ways astounding.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Unwhole Hole discusses mocking bridges, furniture stains, and aquarium power trips.