They say you always go back to the classics — and today’s story digs back all the way to Equestrian antiquity.
Friendship is Physics
[Slice of Life] • 3,143 words
Star Swirl the Bearded, exiled by Princess Platinum and worried for his continued survival, sends a letter to Clover the Clever briefly detailing his views on ponykind’s origins, the nature of the physical world, and the future of his species.
FROM THE CURATORS: Many authors have speculated about Equestria’s origins, physics, and mythology, but this story takes an unusual approach: it offers us theories that are deliberately wrong. “The show has kind of given us the impression that Starswirl nudged about the edges of the whole ‘friendship is magic’ thing but never quite got there, and this does a really nice job of bringing that idea to life,” AugieDog said. Chris agreed: “Friendship is Physics wowed me with its grasp on how the passage of time can make once-progressive theories seem embarrassingly backwards.”
One thing which caught our attention was the fragmentary presentation of the material. “Like Lost Cities, this is an archaeological dig where we glimpse a culture from its few surviving artifacts,” Horizon said. “It feels very much like a piece of Equestria’s historical record, though I’m not sure it’s a story, per se.” Friendship Is Physics earned easy praise regardless. “Story or not, I love this,” Present Perfect said. “It’s a fantastic example of in-universe writing. The various myths alluded to feel like serious world-building, for all that Star Swirl’s conclusions are ultimately wrong.”
Right or wrong, the theories in this story are fascinating. “I love that this is, in its own way, something of a Grand Unified Theory of Friendship,” Horizon said. But more than that, Chris noted, the ideas are rooted in Earth’s own ancient history. “Star Swirl’s theorizing borrows much of its tone and design from the Greek philosophers,” he said. “Much as we might look back on Aristotle’s theories today, I can easily imagine Twilight reading a copy of this letter, torn between respect for the first pony to try and form a universal theory of friendship, and cringing at the casual racism or seeming acceptance of grossly inhumane experiments which underpin his writing.”
And that, as Present Perfect summarized, is what made this story so exceptional: “Taking the track of having someone like Star Swirl be cognizant of the world, trying to figure it out, and ultimately come up with a clever yet incorrect idea, is just amazing.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Violet CLM discusses lexicalized appellations, swerving lightning, and the irony of intelligent design.