I do believe that The Goodfic Bin review group is going to push the Big Master Review List over 12,000 reviews. It is also looking like the group itself is going to be one of the bigger review sources if it keeps going like it is. Almost at 200 reviews and I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten through half of them yet.
- Dirty Prancing by PresentPerfect
- Completely Safe in the Reference Section by Cold in Gardez
- The Study of a Winning Pony by Ponibius
Hee. I wondered how this would end, and it wrapped up in a terrible but perfect fashion. Also, Alicorn Prince of the Dance? Hee. Very much a niche story, but if the description catches your eye you will probably get some enjoyment out of it.
Fun story. The amusing bits make the ideological bits go more smoothly, though they are such a central part of the story you certainly won’t forget they are there. For the specific situation in the story, that book should not be in a general purpose public library. For the wider subject, my position is that destroying information is bad. Burning or banning books in its most extreme forms is not a good thing. Yet I’m also a fan of restricting dangerous information. I’m reminded of another ponyfic where Twilight Sparkle is allowed access to the ultra restricted wing of the private library where Celestia keeps all the really horrible stuff because even though the authors were terrible ponies and the subjects were things like torture and racism, there was still valuable knowledge. Yet Celestia wasn’t about to let just anyone access to it. To reference another idea logic argument in a story costume, A change in three parts, I thought that the compromise Twilight offered the magic scientist there was just about perfect. Restrict but not suppress the existence of the information or destroy it. Yes it can be tricky figuring out who gets to decide what the restrictions are, but as long as the process is open and the steps to access the information is clear, it is a manageable problem. On an even more big picture perspective, I tend to have trouble with any philosophy that depends on all people being rational all the time. One, people are not rational all the time, and two even my casual knowledge of brain chemistry and psychology has more or less removed my belief in free will, so anything that depends on the ability to make calm rational choices is on shaky footing in my opinion.
But seriously Twilight, books of dark magic should at least be somewhere behind a locked door that a patron needs to ask a librarian’s permission to enter.
Not quite as good as the original Winning Pony story (hereinafter referred to as Life And Times for clarity). Or as enjoyable as the Sunset Shimmer side stories set in the same version of Equestria. I still wanted to know how things wrapped up so it was a decent enough story. I think comparison to the original is the best way to go. Given that this story overlaps that one quite a bit it’s not entirely a bad idea. If you liked the drama and interpersonal stuff in Life And Times, then The Study (this story) has more of what you like. It, however, does not have pretty much anything else. One of the reasons I enjoyed Winning Pony was that it had a good amount of worldbuilding, both historical and cultural and weather-pony related stuff. It also had the coverage of the wedding and changelings, which as I mention every time the story comes up is my gold standard for how fan fiction should deal with covering events of the show. The Study skips over every event of the show it touches on, except one or two places where it deals with before and after (but not during) some events. Such as it deals with Spike having to give up Peewee the phoenix chick. Now that I think about it there is a tiny bit of worldbuilding involving powerful unicorns. Like the idea that for Unicorns of Twilight’s power level (or slightly lower given she’s the top of the scale) it is actually illegal to get drunk. That was a pretty cool tidbit that was slipped in very naturally. Like it isn’t outright said exactly, just mentioned that there are rules for powerful unicorns and it isn’t a good idea for Twilight to get drunk. A bit more about Twilight teaching Dinky because a Unicorn learning magic isn’t just a skill thing, but a safety thing. Like learning magic isn’t just a matter of learning spells but magic surges or what-have-you could actually be really dangerous to the young foal.
It also kind of sidelines the rest of the mane six. Pinkie Pie gets a decent turn as a secondary or tertiary character, Rainbow Dash is pretty noticeable, Fluttershy is sort of there and gets some good scenes. So I guess it didn’t do quite as bad as I thought. Applejack gets more or less ignored, but that’s Applejack’s life really. The focus was laser beam tight on Twilight though so it really did feel like her friends were kinda brushed to the edges. The other bit that frustrated me is… well, don’t want to give spoilers. Lets just say that Twilight has many life-altering revelations that kind of pile on top of each other. To a somewhat absurd degree. One would have been fine. Two would have been okay. This story, however, goes into the 3-4+ territory with the reveals/revelations and I was feeling a bit of fatigue. Including one that was teased and telegraphed but only confirmed fairly late.
Neurotic Twilight Sparkle is pretty much the flavor we get for the entire story. We only get a few peeks at her other facets here and there. I liked the bits where Twilight and Blossomforth bond over weather equipment and general nerd-stuff, but the first time it happens is used as a setup for semi-comedic destruction of Twilight’s basement and the other ends up being a scene cut-away right before they actually talk about the weather-nerd stuff. A bit more time with competent Twilight, or even noblility Twilight, would have helped. So I guess my main complaint is that even though I did enjoy it for the most part I found the story somewhat one-note and monotonous. Oh, and several well done but somewhat blatant references to real world stuff. There is a conversation about Daring Do books that references several movies and video games back to back. The scene in Twilight’s basement (before and during explosion) has fairly direct Dresden Files reference in the conjured spirit of air and knowledge.
So yeah, decent enough if you don’t mind the interpersonal drama genre of slice-of-life stories. Oh, and don’t mind Cloud Kicker complimenting Twilight’s butt and Twilight awkwardly complimenting Cloud Kicker’s butt back. That exchange happens like four or five times in the story. At least once almost word for word. I really, really would have liked the compliments to be about some other part. Manes get talked about every now and then, but pretty much the butt is what gets noticed and complimented on. The story would have been much stronger if the author had come up with some pony-central bits for that. Like wings or horn or neck or something like that. What we get is hair and butts.
Okay, minor spoiler past this point.
I do think that Twilight hooking up with Cloud Kicker as friends with benefits near the end was a poor choice on the author’s part. It was fairly organic and natural, not forced at all, except for that main character interacting with Cloud Kicker ending up as friends with benefits has kind of a narrative certainty. I mean at that point Cloud Kicker’s love life was fairly complicated in the original story and I’m not sure it would be good to toss another pony into it, even if it’s just a light friendly fooling around kind of physical relationship. Anyway, would have been stronger if Twilight had done a date or two and then drifted to somepony else. Given the rest of the mane six were already in relationships it would have to be somepony else, but even that would have made it stronger since it would be Twilight reaching out of her tight circle of friends.