Pony Stories 268

10 Nov

Uh oh, the buffer is almost gone! Back to the short stories real quick to build up the backlog again! Anyway, wanted to signal boost a post over on FimFiction. Seems the Royal Guard recommendation group is having some trouble. See Prak’s post about it here. I certainly don’t have the qualifications to join, or the mental energy to commit to something on a regular basis that involves other people, but at least I can spread the word for anyone that didn’t see it over there.

In somewhat more trivial news, I turned off my adblock for the FimFicion site and holy crud those ads are distracting and annoying. I’m real tempted to turn the adblock right back on. Also, it’s impossible to actually get rid of the ‘please turn off your adblock’ notices by turning off adblock. I disabled my three layers of adblock/scriptblock/cookieblock addons and the notification stuck around until I clicked the ‘hide this message’ toggle on the site. Annoying.

  • Flash Fog by Kwakerjak
  • Body And Mind by Starman Ghost
  • The Thessalonica Legacy by Dashukta

Flash Fog by Kwakerjak

Been waiting on this one for a while. It got completed a week or so ago (from this being typed up) and so I’ve spend the last couple of days reading it. Not a very easy read, but it didn’t feel like it dragged either. Just kind of a slow read was all. No action scenes or dramatic reveals to keep the pace up. Basically a disaster movie situation without any of the fast-paced exciting bits. I ended up liking it a lot despite the slowness. A good amount of fun worldbuilding. My favorite was the ideas that there is a special suit for Pegasi to travel through fog. Because clouds are solid objects they either would run into or just break apart. So a Pegasus trying to fly into a fog bank is like trying to fly through a building. Especially the ultra-dense fog in this story. Was a nice little touch.

Likewise, I felt that the author did a very good job writing Fluttershy. She was just the right amount of shy/uncertain without going too far. In fact all the characters are written fairly accurate to themselves. I don’t think there was a single moment I felt was out of character, or too much in-character, for pretty much everypony. Lastly, I liked how the romance sub-plot was handled. Another instance where the author used restraint in that it only was used as a little spice for the story instead of an entire sub-story itself beside the main one. Pushing the actual asking Fluttershy out question to the very end was a very good descision in my opinion. Plus, how Applejack deals with the romantic comedy shenanigans was a joy to watch. Oh, and I really enjoyed how Bon-Bon and Lyra were both obsessed about humans, but in diametrically opposed ways.

Body And Mind by Starman Ghost

Yet another Changeling story. One more in the sub-sub-genre of Changelings and ponies learning to co-exist with each other. It was a bit simplistic, but the writing was nice and clean. No worldbuilding but I ended up enjoying it anyway.

The Thessalonica Legacy by Dashukta

This was a crossover of a simple nature. Humans from another universe find themselves in Equestria by accident. Which isn’t bad, but is a little limited for my tastes. Though I like the reverse (ponies showing up elsewhere) more for some reason. I think it’s because things are blended together a bit more that way. Whereas humans are just kinda in Equestria and don’t really bring any of their stuff with them, metaphorically speaking. That aside, this was a fairly good story. Nothing major, but it flowed well. I just wish things had been a bit wider in scope. I was kind of hoping that it would be closer to a space opera type story. Instead it was just some humans show up, humans and ponies interact, humans leave. Which is simplifying the story a lot, but basically that’s what happens.

It’s a bit heavy in exposition in places. Obviously written so that someone unfamiliar with MLP can catch up with things. Now that I think about it, this could be a battletech crossover with ponies in it. It left a lot of the battletech stuff unexplained but did exposition a lot of basic pony stuff. Maybe it was just uneven in what it explained. So, decent writing but I felt it was bland. It wasn’t slice of life, but nothing really changed between the beginning and end either. Some excitement, but right back to the same status quo when the story ended. On the other hand, between reading it and typing this blogpost up I had forgotten I liked it enough to put it in my almost-favorite bookshelf.


Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Books 2014, Ponies, Reviews


12 responses to “Pony Stories 268

  1. Viking ZX

    November 10, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I can’t say I’m surprised about TRG group. They kind of did it to themselves, so I don’t really find anything to be broken up about over it. When the group first started up they claimed they welcomed feedback on ways to improve … but then immediately begin ignoring all the criticism against them.

    My experience with TRG was summed up with one of their readers telling me “if it doesn’t perfectly conform to Chicago 15th edition, then we don’t want it.” The context was a disagreement over a particular type of sentence structure. Despite assurances from Google, multiple language sites, multiple direct quotes from different NYT bestsellers, and even me checking with a professional editor (for published works) to show that it was a rare but valid structure, reader laid down the “if I can’t find it, then it’s not Chicago 15th, and if it’s not Chicago 15th, we don’t want it.”

    I told them that this was their choice, politely declined to continue the pursuit further (I know a brick wall when I see it, plus, it is not worth my time) and so I would no longer bother to send them anything. I did however, expect that such ridiculously purist and anal attitudes would eventually kill the group. I went back to writing, and haven’t looked at anything of theirs since.

    This news comes with zero surprise to me. It was inevitable.

    • Pascoite Fics

      November 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      I appreciate that you may have had a frustrating experience with them, but that’s hardly the reason they’re having trouble. They’re getting submissions still, but lack the manpower to go through them in a timely manner. Interest has been steady, at least from my perspective. When they first started up, a feature would get me about 50 views, and that’s still the case.

      • Viking ZX

        November 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

        If everyone at a company but the few leaders jump ship, there’s probably a good reason.

        Also, I don’t find TRG’s numbers particularly impressive. For a group that was publicly touted and promoted by the adims of the site and has posts which automatically find their way into every member of FimFic’s feeds even if you aren’t a group member, they have (checking) membership of under a thousand followers. Getting 50 views from something that every member of Fimfic is shown by default doesn’t imply that their group is held in much esteem. Crud, a single ref on a fic-ref site will generate with a few hundred members will generate more hits than that.

        I don’t have the stats (nor am I going to dig them up), but it would be interesting to see how many of those new submissions are “churn” compared to how many are authors coming back once more after a rejection/acceptance.

        Look, TRG tried to act big, but they had problems from the start (for example, making one of their first public rules “Absolutely NO links in a story, ever, these will be rejected immediately,” while then promoting several stories that were group members favorites which featured lots of links). I can’t say at all that them having trouble of any kind surprises me at the least.

      • Pascoite Fics

        November 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm

        That’s not what I said at all. I said the number of views I got has been constant. Whether people cared about it at the beginning or not is one thing, but whatever that level is, it’s remained constant. You’re also presuming a lot about why the number of reviewers has declined. If you have inside information that it happened because those people grew disillusioned with how the group was operating, then please present it. Otherwise, there’s no reason to refute Prak’s assessment that they simply couldn’t keep up the workload or attract enough new reviewers to offset those losses. Which, by the way, is entirely consistent with the anecdotal evidence I *have* heard from its membership. Yeah, they talked big, and they ran into a lot of predictable problems, but your assertion that they were somehow doomed because of their adherence to a particular style guide is ludicrous. They simply created a process bigger than they could sustain.

    • Griffin

      November 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with them. I would’ve asked for a different reader in the group to look over the story myself, but I understand not wanting to keep banging against an apparent brick wall.

      • Viking ZX

        November 10, 2014 at 2:15 pm

        Given who it was with and their position in the group, it was a case of “this goes straight to the top,” which meant it truly would have been a waste of my time to continue to debate the issue. Instead I bid them good day and went back to work. The inevitable result would speak for itself, I figured.

    • inquisitormence

      November 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      I’ve had a few similar, though less extreme, experiences with them, but always it was solved by going on the attack. I don’t tolerate inane pedantry and I let them know it. So far all my stories (that I submitted] made it in bar ‘Movements, which the pre-readers clearly didn’t understand from the get-go.

      Yeah, they’re picky as all hell, but I’m pickier, and frankly, smarter.

      • Griffin

        November 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm

        Wait, Movements of Fire and Shadow didn’t make it? The story of yours that I like the best? Weird.

      • inquisitormence

        November 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm

        “The problem was with the central character, Artemis. While she’s an interesting character in her own right, she isn’t the focus of the story, which ultimately turns out to be about the relationship between Luna and Octavia. Their story is mostly delivered through the filter of Artemis’ perspective, which dilutes the experience and keeps the reader from really understanding the central conflict.” –TRG pre-reader

      • Griffin

        November 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm

        Huh. I suppose that’s one way to look at it. I mean, it was the most understandable ponyfic you’ve written. At least for me.

  2. xjuggernaughtx

    November 10, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Poor Prak. He really does seem like he’s been working hard to keep that ship from sinking, but I think it’s probably a lost cause. It’s one of those things that’s almost impossible to keep going without paying people. After a while, volunteers get burned out, and they are trying for a crazy level of feedback for each author. It’s just not a workable system.

    I tried to warn them at the beginning that they were going to get more and more focused on anal retentive grammar nazi-ing and hyper critical about how a story MUST be structured if they travelled down the road they’d set for themselves. It was exactly what pissed people off about EQD, but they basically set same system up, only with more layers. I admire what they’re trying to do, but I think they went about it the wrong way. People are much more interested in reading an INTERESTING story than a technically perfect one. That’s what I thought the group was going to shoot for, but it didn’t really work out that way. Probably because it’s much more difficult to justify passing or failing based off of the pre-readers impression of the story. Concrete grammar issues or deviation from what is seen as a typical three-act kind of story is much easier to use as a measure.

    But I hope they do turn it around, and I hope that they loosen up a bit. There are only a handful of authors that can write to the specification that The Royal Guard has set up. I think people are going to get tired of reading those same authors over and over. I mean, it’s good for me and all, but I do seem to see a lot of familiar names in those posts.

    • Griffin

      November 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      That makes sense. I mean I thought about trying to join up, at least enough to look at the reader submission form. Which is when I found out that I can’t actually qualify to join them even if I wanted. I’m hardly the most rigorous reader, but I like to think I have some idea of how to make a good story.

      I really have no opinion about that specific group one way or another. I just like to support people who try to do signal boosts for what they they are good stories. Does sound like TRG is trying to measure it a little too precisely.


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