Friday, 28 April 2017

Text Review Roundup: "A Flurry of Emotions"

Flurry Heart hides from Twilight
I have to admit to finding this particular shot adorable
Thank goodness it's a one-episode week this time! I suppose I'd better enjoy this relative peace, given what's coming up in the way of early Canadian releases. :P I can't find a review by Cuddlepug this time; there also isn't one by Thrond Media Pony Corner, or at least wasn't when I was writing this last night. On the plus side, the Super Mario blog has updated in time for TRR this week. (To bring you up to speed: they felt E01 was "incredible" but E02 was "meh".) Back to the Flurrysode!

ArthurCrane – mixed (has its moments and is quite cute, but "just doesn't have the same appeal" [as "Baby Cakes"])

Batbrony Reviews – extremely positive ("this episode was a blast ... immensely enjoyable")

Derpy News – fairly positive (graded B+; "good episode ... some issues")

Louder Yay – positive (three stars; "a solid-but-not-spectacular [episode]")

MLEEP Reviews – fairly positive (7.5/10; "managed to surprise me")

One Man's Pony Ramblings – fairly positive (fun fluff despite poor moral)

The Super Mario Brony Blog – very positive (four stars; "fantastic and memorable portrayals from Twilight and her niece")

Super Recaps – mixed ("plenty to like" but moral "depressingly simplistic and judgmental")

TheDragonWarlock – fairly positive (graded B; "good character developments for Twilight" but "minor annoyances")

Thursday, 27 April 2017

And so, the first Flashfic 150 comes to an end

Text Review Roundup will appear tomorrow.

It's certainly been quite the learning experience for me! At first I wasn't sure whether anyone would be interested, then I had to keep up with queries and suggestions during the event itself, and finally I got myself into a little bit of a pickle over feedback (tl;dr version: some people weren't expecting so much of it, while others couldn't get enough).

Despite these little wrinkles, though, there does seem to be enough interest in the concept for me to keep running with it. I'll probably tweak one or two things next time – such as allowing people to state on their entries whether or not they want feedback – but the general format will remain the same. The 150-word limit is certainly staying, as it's something a bit different.

The winner was Pascoite, who submitted this lovely Celestia piece and now gets the chance to choose the prompt for the May contest. I hope the experience I've gained over the last few weeks will allow me to improve the way I handle forthcoming events. And of course, if anyone's reading this and is thinking of having a go: you'd be very welcome to join us!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 154: Spotlight on The Immortal Game

Two wins out of two for Worcestershire at the start of the County Championship season. Joe Leach's ten wickets against Northants is good and it's bad. He's a great bowler and seems to be a good captain, but he's also going to be a target for the posher clubs soon. Still, promotion does seem a possibility this year.

Read it Later story count: 447 (+1)

Remember me saying that I never DNF a story? Well, here's the proof! I began reading The Immortal Game as part of my ill-fated liveblogging experiment a couple of years ago. It really nagged at me that I hadn't finished it, so I resolved to do so. And eventually I did. This is a review I should really have written a long time ago, especially as it's of a much longer fic than I usually read. (For those who care, my next 300k story will be Through the Well of Pirene, but don't expect a review of that for many months to come.)

The Immortal Game by AestheticB
Celestia, Luna, Mane Six and OCs
Adventure/Dark; 297k words; Oct 2011–Jan 2013; Mature (Gore)
Princess Luna leads the Elements of Harmony against the corrupted Twilight Sparkle
This is one of those "an old enemy has awaken" stories – although in this case, it isn't just the one. This means a good deal of fighting – and be warned, that M rating is there for a reason. There are a lot of detailed, graphic fight scenes. Actually rather too many, I think. Most of the canon characters are pretty solid for the time they were written, although the OCs are rather variable and I find one or two of the backstories hard to credit. Technically, it starts iffy and gets better, like Fallout: Equestria does, so it's worth pushing through. There are niggles, but by the end nothing deal-breaking. It goes on a bit for my liking, but manages a three-star rating for being grimdark without being gratuitous. ★★★

I'll talk a little bit more, which means spoilers, after the break.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Some news from UK PonyCon

UK PonyCon comms supremo daisyd has posted this update on the convention's forum. It's not the announcement of any specific details, but it is (to my eyes, anyway) a reassuring and sensible piece. One major change from last year is that the con has moved to the limited company setup that several other events use. That's a sign of UK PonyCon's success, so it's a good thing! There's also a very reasonable reminder that, just because UKPC might have got a venue very fast last year, that doesn't mean it's always going to be that way.

I still very much want to go to the convention again, having had such a wonderful time there in the past, but I'm happy to wait and see what gets announced before making any firmer plans than that. Whatever the case, I wish UK PonyCon 2017 every success. They've earned it.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Episode review: S7E03: "A Flurry of Emotions"

It's looking as though we're in for another example of the US not getting an episode first. The UK doesn't have the honour this time, though: episode five will be shown in Canada next Sunday, the day after E04 and six days before it airs south of the border. EqD is now reporting that the same thing will happen with E06. I haven't yet decided what to do about review scheduling here.

Flurry Heart levitating stuff at the hospital
"They'll be dancing on air when they meet you..."
Back to episode three now! I'll confess that I wasn't looking forward all that much to "A Flurry of Emotions". This was partly since I hadn't really warmed to Flurry herself and partly because I was fearful of a rehash of "Baby Cakes", one of my all-time least favourite episodes. We had new writers for this ep: Sammie Crowley and Whitney Wetta. They'd apparently worked together before on The Loud House, but that meant nothing to me. How did they do? Well...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

EFNW Scribblefest, plus some future plans

Okay, remember that nice surprise I mentioned a few days ago? The one that greeted me on the fifth anniversary of my Fimfiction membership? It was this: The Book of Ended Lives won the Rarity Prize in this year's Everfree Northwest Scribblefest contest. This has nothing to do with Rarity-themed content: TBoEL doesn't feature her at all. It's given for "elegance in writing". I was completely blindsided by this, especially as the way Scribblefest works you don't enter for a specific prize, but I'm sure as hay not going to complain about it!

So, what next for prize-winning author Loganberry? (Look, I'm human. I want to use that phrase once, at least!) I'm tempted to spruce up some of my older stories. They can't be republished as new fics, of course, and hardly anyone reads really old fics so it would mostly be for my own satisfaction. But that's okay. This doesn't mean I won't be publishing anything new. I still have quite a few ideas that I'd like to commit to virtual paper before I end my ponyfic career – and I don't plan on that happening for some considerable time to come. If we don't get a mid-season hiatus, though, I may not have that much time. We'll see.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Text Review Roundup: "Celestial Advice" and "All Bottled Up"

In the end there were 18 entries for the inaugural Flashfic 150 non-prize contest. I'm pretty satisfied with that, given that I had no idea whether I'd have any interest at all. Now I have to judge them! I'll announce the winner on Tuesday.

Starlight and Sunburst make a "Flurry" clock
This may be the most terrifying thing in either episode
It really has been a long time since I did a TRR post. The last one was for Legend of Everfree back in early November, so I hope I can remember how to do them! For those new to all this, my aim is to summarise the opinions of text-based reviewers other than those who write on Fimfiction. This is a smallish group and one that tends to get a bit sidelined, with Equestria Daily only really interested in video reviews and Fimfiction bloggers concentrating on other Fimf posts. If you know any other regular show reviewers, please do let me know!

I'm going to cover both opening episodes here, which isn't ideal but is really unavoidable given the calendar. If the reviewer covered both eps in one post, click on their name/title to go to their full review. If they split them, click on each episode's abbreviation instead. This is a rather ugly way of doing TRR, but unless there's another back-to-back airing like this it will be a one-off.

ArthurCrane – CA: broadly positive ("above average"); ABU: mixed (likes Starlight; doesn't like Trixie)

Batbrony Reviews – CA: positive ("important and needed [for Tia]"); ABU: very positive ("hilarious")

Cuddlepug – both episodes: negative (graded D; "little ... justification for why people should still be watching")

Derpy News – CA: extremely positive (graded A; "refreshing change of pace"); ABU: very positive (graded A; "another fun episode")

Louder Yay – CA: fairly positive (three stars; "a reasonable start"). ABU: a bit more positive ("top-end" three stars; "pretty funny")

MLEEP Reviews – CA: extremely positive (9.5/10; "truly radiant"); ABU: negative (5.5/10; "great on paper, shitty in execution")

One Man's Pony Ramblings – both episodes: rather negative ("45 minutes of blah" but points for Tia in CA, Trixie in ABU... and Carrot Top)

Super Recaps – CA: broadly positive ("perfectly fine"); ABU: broadly very positive (Star/Trix fantastic; Mane Six subplot blander)

TheDragonWarlock – CA: mixed (graded B-; "repetitive"); ABU: rather negative (graded C-; "pretty weak ... lousy song")

Thrond Media Pony Corner – CA: rather negative (50%; "lightweight" but credit for Tia); ABU: negative (38%; "obnoxious ... shortage of jokes" but moral and ending are good)

Friday, 21 April 2017

Episode review: S7E02: "All Bottled Up"

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of my Fimfiction account, and I got a rather pleasant surprise to mark the date. More on that in a couple of days, but my priority for now is getting last weekend's episode reviewing finished.

Trixie and a rather angry Starlight
Starlight doesn't half go through manestyles :P
It really doesn't seem like a week since my last episode review post, does it? ;) Anyway, Season Seven's episode two is not just a continuation of episode one, although it does share the same writers and some of the same central characters. As with the previous review, this one will be fairly short, though that's partly because I'm short of time before the next ep appears! Not that my reviews are generally vastly detailed anyway, of course. Past the break for the low-down.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Episode review: S7E01: "Celestial Advice"

Celestia laughing uproariously
"You think this makes it more likely I'll get a real episode? Oh, Twilight..."
And we are go with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season Seven! Okay, okay, I know we were go some time ago, but I can't help it if I've been on holiday. Never mind nuclear confrontations in Korea or snap general elections in the UK, this is the big one. Since for the first time the two episodes weren't (entirely) two parts of the same story, you'll get two shortish reviews: the first today and the second tomorrow. Text Review Roundup will be squashed in at the weekend if I can find the time! Having Lewis and Songco on the case was a promising sign, but come past the break for the actual review of the S7 premiere.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Italics and quotes and suchlike

New Pony episode today! Woooooooo!

Also, Equestria Daily briefly carried a story yesterday stating that clips from the forthcoming movie were shown at a coin in Thailand. The article quickly disappeared, though. Maybe the information was wrong, maybe the piece was incorrectly scheduled, maybe someone from Hasbro had a quiet word. If the screening did happen, I imagine we'll hear about it from an attendee soon enough.

This is one of those silly little posts that I couldn't find anywhere else to place, so you're getting it on its own. You may be surprised by the revelation that I have something approaching a personal style guide for Louder Yay. It's changed and evolved a little over the years, but at the moment this is what I try to do:

I italicise the show's name: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The same holds for its various abbreviations, such as FiM. There's a difference between "the Pony world", which refers to canon, the fandom, etc, and "the pony world", which is the one Fluttershy lives in.

Episode names get quotes: "Hurricane Fluttershy". Episode numbers are in the form S5E01. I tend to write out "Season Seven" or whatever in full the first time, but I'm not all that strict about it and I may not continue with that in the long term.

Names: I use Minuette and Bulk Biceps, not Colgate and Snowflake. On the other hoof, I use Carrot Top and Derpy. Bon Bon/Sweetie Drops is a special case, as the right name may depend on context. In fanfic reviews, I'll use the name the author uses, even if that is "Golden Harvest" or "Bright Eyes".

I treat fanfics as books, so their names are italicised: Where They Understand You. Chapters within those fics get quotes: "Fast Times at Cloudsdale High".

Major fandom events are generally given their official styles: BronyCon, BUCK, UK PonyCon. Otherwise, I follow the common British convention of capping up only the first letter if the abbreviated form is pronounced as a word: Lego, Nato, etc. That's why I write "Fimfiction" and not "FiMFiction". I abbreviate to "Fimf" fairly often simply because I do so in real life, too.

Other major websites: I've recently switched back to using a lower-case q in EqD. I should have done that earlier. UK of Equestria is UK of E, not UKoE. Chris's site is OMPR. This site is LY, though I don't exactly need to abbreviate it very often!

I never capitalise "brony" – I don't see any reason that the word should be treated as a proper noun. I don't use it all that often anyway, though I don't object to being classed as one. I rarely use the word "pegasister" at all, but I don't see anything wrong with it beyond silliness – and why is that a bad thing anyway?

I try to avoid using numeric dates, in order to avoid confusing American readers. If I forget, then I'll be using the European standard of DD/MM/(YY)YY. And I may be a non-believer, but I still use the AD/BC I grew up with rather than CE/BCE. In the usual British way, I'm semi-metricated: temperatures will be in Celsius, but human heights will be in feet.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The best official promo since the Hub days?

It's starting to look as though Hasbro High Command has decided that promotional activities need to be stepped up a gear or three. Perhaps the approach of the movie has something to do with that, but whatever the case: this is a wonderful official promo video, rapping Pinkie Pie and all. It's not spoilery either, so nobody needs to miss out on it. I'd love to see more promos along these lines as the season goes on.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 153: Coco Pommel Edition

There's nothing quite as guaranteed to make me feel intellectually inadequate as a Bad Horse blog post, even more so when I read the comments. They're good reading, but they do heat my brain up somewhat! This time I at least understand bits of his post, thanks to my long-standing interest in the Roman Empire and its decline (and, indeed, fall). If you don't already, give BH's long-form posts a look.

Read it Later story count: 446 (-6)

I laugh in the face of the Evil Corporations who insist we call her "Miss Pommel". Ha! to you! Ha! I say! Coco she is and Coco she e'er shall remain. (Except in one of the stories I review here...) There aren't a huge number of Coco-tagged stories on Fimfiction, and there are even fewer that I actually wanted to read, but I did manage to find five that looked potentially appealing. This week's fics are:

Miss Pommel (or Current Resident) by MythrilMoth
Those Below the Hoof by playnwin
Sweetie's Manehattan Birthday by Czar_Yoshi
My Nightmarish Heroine by Quillamore
The Midsummer Theater Revival by plumander

★: 0 | ★★: 3 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Ship names

Occurred: Americans seem to be much more exercised by the Oxford comma than anyone from Actual Oxford would be. Remember that Oakhurst Dairy news story? Over here, it made the rounds for one day and then everyone forgot about it. Yet I'm still occasionally coming across Americans who bring it up. Nobody really cares about the Oxford comma over here: if you can answer the question "Is your meaning clear?" with "Yes" then that's good enough and consistency be damned. Just thought it was interesting.

Anyway, the other day, I reviewed a Rainbow Dash/Moondancer shipfic and assumed that this ship would be known as RainDancer. To my surprise, nobody else – at least on Fimfiction – seems to have used the term. If I really am the first and anyone wants to use the name, they're very welcome to it! Some ship names amuse me more than others. FlashLight and SunLight are among the established ones that I find fun, but there are a few others I can think of that I'd rather like someone to write simply because of the names. For example:

SunnyDelight (Sunny Rays/G1 Apple Delight)
DiamondDust (Double Diamond/Lightning Dust)
LunaSea (Luna/Sea Swirl)
FireGuard (Firefly/Royal Guard)
SherbetLemon (G1 Sherbet/Lemon Hearts)
SunShine (Sunset Shimmer/Twinkleshine)

I'm sure there are more, but that's as many as I can be bothered to think of. Annoyingly, I don't think there's a canon pony whose name ends in "leader", since CheerLeader would be close to unbeatable!

Monday, 10 April 2017

RCL "Correct the Record"

The Royal Canterlot Library is running an event from now until 23 April, and it asks the following question:
Which RCL-featured authors do you think should be refeatured, to showcase a story better representative of their strengths?
All you need to do is to choose an eligible author and pick another story of theirs you think would fit best. Note that any fic that's either been featured by the Pony Fiction Vault or gained the old 6-Star rating on Equestria Daily is barred from consideration. (And any that are already in the RCL. Duh. :P )

I'm not altogether keen on the voting method – upvotes on story posts in the nomination thread. That seems a little too open to abuse for comfort, and I'd also guess that stories nominated in the middle of the period will be at a disadvantage. It does have the merit of simplicity, but I still think I'd have preferred a method which did not allow people to see running vote totals. There's also the question – already acknowledged by the curators – of how the RCL should approach the issue of refeaturing in the future. Personally, I hope it's kept to a minimum; I may expand on that at a later date.

Despite those reservations, I may nominate something. I don't intend to name a story here, or indeed anywhere other than in the nomination thread: urging people to vote for a specific story while signal-boosting this event is expressly prohibited. Also, note that you're supposed to say why you think the story you're nominating is a better fit for that author than their existing entry. "X is a great writer and deserves another feature" isn't the idea at all.

End of waffle. The RCL "Correct the Record" thread is here.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Shameless self-promotion time!

Story cover showing a close-up of Pinkie Pie
Yes, that blue spot is supposed to be there :P
Look, it's my blog. That's what it's for. :D Anyway, It Doesn't Matter Now has been accepted by Equestria Daily – and here's the feature to prove it. Old story it may be (published October 2014) but I've always been pretty happy with it and it's been well received by most readers, so I'm very pleased to see it up on EqD. My inner Fluttershy is doing the "yay" thing right now.

I'd like to thank Pascoite for encouraging me to submit IDMN, Pascoite (again) and Ferret for pre-reading suggestions, and the people – who prefer to remain in the shadows – who gave me feedback both before and after the story's initial publication. Also, of course, to everyone who's taken the time to read the fic over the years, regardless of what you thought of it. You're all great.

Friday, 7 April 2017

First movie trailer released!

We have our first official look at the My Little Pony: The Movie style in motion! It's very much a teaser trailer, and it really doesn't spoil much if anything: there's no indication of the film's plot, there are no appearances by the major new characters we've been told about. There are very brief non-speaking appearances by a couple of ponies I don't recognise, but there's no indication as to who they might be. Unless you're a total and utter spoiler-phobe, you can probably get away with watching this one. Still, I've made sure that I used the video with a totally non-spoilery preview image!

Unfortunately, the look of the trailer isn't quite what it should be, with Rainbow Dash especially looking rather odd around the eyes. As art director Rebecca Dart explains, an error was made with rendering: "they didn't convert the 16 bit images to 8 bit properly and it crushed all the shadows". She is not at all happy with what happened, saying that she "never would have approved this". On the plus side, we now know that the finished article will be better. Since Ms Dart was also art director on Season Five of the show, she has reassuring form when it comes to Pony.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 152: The Native Hue of Resolution

Read it Later story count: 452 (-6)

Time for another bunch of stories featuring ponies. Yes, I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but I'm afraid I'm not going to budge where that's concerned. If you want to read about a cute family of aardvarks who accidentally discover something nasty in the termite mound then you're just going to have to do so elsewhere. There's a colourful theme to this week's titles:

The Star in Yellow by Blueshift
Pink Pegasus by AnnonyMouse
White Day by allykitty
What Happened to the Orange Frog? by LordSmokedMeatsandFishes
Blue by Pastel Pony

★: 1 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Plans for the Easter period

Well, it looks as though one of my concerns about Flashfic 150 – that nobody would take any notice – has been laid to rest. 47 members at the last count and the inaugural contest has five entries already, which is nice given that there's over a fortnight to go. Naturally, there'll be no comments from me indicating any preference until I actually announce the results later in the month.

On to the main business of the day. I'll be away for a week or so over Easter (Thursday to Wednesday) and I will have only very limited internet access while I'm on holiday. That means there'll be a few departures from the normal Louder Yay schedule.

This week, things on the blog will continue as usual, with Ponyfic Roundup appearing tomorrow (5th) as you'd expect. I do have an EqD submission I want to get on with this week, but you shouldn't notice any difference from my usual approach to Louder Yay itself. Yes, that means Logan making up any old rubbish as he goes along. Hey, it's done the trick for me for four and a half years now!

Next week, there will be a Ponyfic Roundup as usual on the Wednesday (12th), but that will be the last new material to appear here for a little while – unless by some miracle I manage to schedule a post or two. I'll try to remember, but if everything goes quiet it doesn't mean that I've decided that Pony is not worth the candle and decided to take up the contrabassoon instead. Well, not necessarily.

After Easter, the most noticeable change will be that the S7 premiere review will be late. (Bolded because otherwise someone's bound to ask!) I'll get home on Wednesday (19th) and I very much intend to have the review up before episode three appears the following weekend. There will also be no Ponyfic Roundup that week as I just won't have time to fit one in.

Things should return to normal by the time episode 3 appears. At least, to whatever passes for normal in these parts. And PR that week will – I hope – be a Spotlight edition, focusing on a story I hope finally to have read by then.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #52

None of the covers really jumped out at me this time
The Shadow Lock (he does seem to have a two-word name) arc continues, and it does so in a pretty similar vein to the way it began. Our antagonist is taking forever and a day to get round to explaining himself, but by the end it does seem as though we're on the verge of an important reveal. I do want to give a special nod to Tony Fleecs this time: there are some dramatically drawn panels in here. The page design is nicely varied, too. There's a "cement horseshoes" joke that I'm not entirely sure is appropriate, but for the most part this is a case of "if you liked the last issue, this is more of the same". It therefore gets the same star rating! ★★★

Sunday, 2 April 2017

"Imposing Sovereigns" competition results

Yeah, I know I never got round to mentioning FanOfMostEverything's "Imposing Sovereigns" competition here. My bad, though at least it's not as if it really needed more of a signal boost, considering how it caught people's attention anyway. And no, I didn't enter: I'm terrible at having ideas for these things at the right time, and I didn't. I have been keeping an eye on it, though, and FOME has now announced the winners!

I haven't actually read any of these stories yet, but there are six stories mentioned on the page I just linked to, so they'll make a nice Ponyfic Roundup post at some point in the not too distant future. Something that delights me is that three of the six authors are relatively little known, with fewer than 50 followers at the time of writing. Indeed, the writer who came second has twelve followers and only joined Fimfiction in August 2016.

The winner was someone who is well known – but Aragon's story seems to have picked up almost universal praise. It's also Comedy/Adventure, one of my favourite genre combos, so I'm looking forward to it a lot. Even if it is the longest of all six mentioned fics at over 18,000 words, you annoying author, you. :P

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Bits and pieces

There's wall-to-wall Brexit over here at the moment, and even as a politics junkie it's getting a bit much for me. (For the record, I voted Remain and would do so again, but you can't win 'em all.) So it's time for some ponies.

The first – and hopefully not last! – Flashfic 150 contest is now open. Anyone with a Fimfiction account is welcome to join in before the contest (which, again, has no prize) closes in three weeks' time. Yes, that is a very relaxed schedule. This is deliberate. This month's prompt is "Getting Warmer".

Stable-Tec Studios have officially cancelled their Fallout: Equestria animation. I can't in all honesty say I'm surprised. From the outside, animation seems to me to be about the most demanding of all the various types of fandom project, and this particular one was huge. As of now, the SFM (which doesn't interest me) and radio play (which might) are still live. As of now.

Friends Forever #38 – the last in the series, focusing on Celestia and Luna – has been delayed. It should have appeared last Wednesday, but ComicList now has it as the dreaded "TBD". I am not pleased about this, and I will be even more not-pleased if the issue is cancelled. I was annoyed enough about Art Gallery II.

Also in comics, Bleeding Cool's Lauren Sisselman liked the "Deviations" issue, awarding it 8/10. I'm not entirely sure I agree with her suggestion that it would be a fun issue for non-regulars, though.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Flashfic 150 gets under way tomorrow

I really wasn't sure when I announced Flashfic 150 what sort of a response I'd get. I did wonder, in the back of my mind, whether 2017 might be too late in the day for something like this to work. Frankly, it wouldn't altogether have shocked me if I'd had three people join the group and then none of them actually write anything. The second part is still possible, but as I type membership stands at 41, a figure I'm pretty satisfied with.

We've had a practice thread going for a little while, but the first actual contest will start tomorrow. I have a prompt in mind, but since the "prize" is choosing the following month's prompt I have no idea what will appear in the future. I'd like nothing so much as if someone with no record on Fimfiction had a go at Flashfic 150, got the taste for writing ponyfic, and then started putting out stories of their own. That really would be wonderful.

Tomorrow, I'll update the group front page and start the April contest thread. I'm actually looking forward to this tremendously. With a little trepidation, since I'm bound to have overlooked something important, but looking forward to it nevertheless.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

New keyboard!

Overhead view of Cherry Stream 3.0 keyboard
Yes, it's wired. I prefer that for simplicity's sake
A couple of months ago, I upgraded from a truly dire keyboard to a Microsoft Wired 600 – here's my post about it. That keyboard still works pretty well and I'm certainly not throwing it out, but it's now become my reserve unit. That's because I've decided to go up another notch and move to a Cherry Stream 3.0, which currently retails at around £20 from Amazon UK.

The Cherry uses scissor switches, which is the technology that laptop keyboards use, and indeed typing on it does feel rather like typing on a good quality laptop – something like a Thinkpad. It's pretty slim, which does take a bit of getting used to, but it's also quite heavy – around 900 grams – thanks to a slice of metal in the base which gives the keyboard a nice, sturdy feel.

In use, it's nice and quiet (which I prefer) and easy to type fast and accurately on. "Fast" here is a relative term: I'm not a touch typist, and I'd find it hard to keep up more than 50 words per minute for any length of time. The keyboard has the usual 105-key UK layout, and it's large enough that I don't find myself pressing down two keys at once. I haven't bothered with the multimedia keys.

So far, I'm very pleased, and my hands have remained comfortable after typing some fairly long documents. My one slight concern is longevity: a minority of German-language reviews I've read have suggested that the laser-etched keytops aren't as long-lasting as they really ought to be. But right now, I'd say this was a good buy, and a noticeable step up from High Street keyboards.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 151: Ooh, I Could Crush a Grape

I stumbled across an odd conversation on Twitter the other day: two non-native English speakers were discussing English usage, and one stated that British English speakers usually made a distinction between "toward" (used adverbially) and "towards" (used adjectivally). This is not the case, at least not in anything resembling the real world. Both forms are correct in BrEng, but in practice we use "towards" most of the time. Thrilling, eh?

Read it Later story count: 458 (-8)

It's mixed bag time again this week, and all the five stories are short as I haven't had a great deal of spare time. Yes, I am aware that I don't have to post a PR every single Wednesday! I just like to if I possibly can. A bit of a mixed experience for me this week, but with luck some of you will have your interest piqued by something you read here. To the starting blocks!

Conscientious Objector by Inspector Brown
An Apple Comes Our of the Cellar by Seether00
Final Say by Glen Gorewood
Just Give Me a Reason by SleepIsForTheWeak
The Path I Tread by Smaug the golden

★: 1 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 1

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Fimfiction story rankings

After reading PresentPerfect's Fimfiction post, I wandered off to my own story list to see if there were any round numbers in their current rankings. Answer: no. But then I thought I'd see how my various fics compared to each other. Unsurprisingly, I have nothing in the top thousand and nothing right down the bottom. But for my 23 completed stories (the other two are anthologies), this is how they shape up.

I'm well aware that the Fimfiction rating algorithm is far from being a properly reliable measure of stories' relative quality. I'm also well aware that taking any of this stuff too seriously is a bad idea. Rest assured that I'm not! So take my mini-analyses with plenty of salt. Here we go:

1st: It Doesn't Matter Now (3,237). No surprise there, given that it's my RCL entry.
2nd: Shining Armor's Amour's Armour (7,326). Really? Really? Dearie dearie me.
3rd: We Who with Songs Beguile (11,341). This one makes a bit more sense, frankly.
4th: The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking (12,619). I'm actually rather happy with that!
5th: Where They Understand You (16,166). This was a pleasant surprise as well.

6th: For an Angel to Pass (17,117). I think this one is a little overrated.
7th: Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard (21,047). Huzzah! :D
8th: Like a Flower to the World (23,817). Not critically acclaimed, but fairly popular.
9th: This Fragment of Life (27,861). Shows the power of utter idiocy, I suppose.
10th: One Hell of a Party (28,107). Seems about right, considering.

11th=: To Be the Candle (28,877). I wish this was a couple of places higher.
11th=: Ever Let the Fancy Roam (28,877). This too. Yes, the same rating as TBtC!
13th: Kicking Back (29,563). A really silly story. Fairly placed, I think.
14th: The Light that Ignites in the Dark (30,328). I have affection for it. but fair.
15th: The Book of Ended Lives (32,091). I did think this fic would do better.

16th: By the Seashore (37,160). My lowest fic to get an R from PP. :P
17th: More than Alive (39,043). Not too bad for such a niche-appeal story!
18th: Clouded Minds (44,786). A concept I still like, despite the iffy writing.
19th: So Many Different Ways to Prey (49,395). Newborn Cuties crossover in top 50k!
20th: The 20 Percent Solution (55,122). My first ponyfic, and you can tell.

21st: Ra Ra Raspberry (55,766). Joke relies on knowledge of a specific song.
22nd: The Ballad of Wyvern's Rock (82,333). Mediocre epic poetry, so fine.
23rd: Sunset's Sales Snag (85,308). Boo! This is not that bad a silly fic!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Playing Tails of Equestria

Tails of Equestria book, showing front cover with adventuring ponies
Sadly the art inside is just stock vectors and show screenshots
On Saturday, I went to the twice-monthly Worcester meet. Patrick had brought along his copy of the newish Tails of Equestria RPG, and four of us (three players and Patrick as GM) created characters and started out on the sample adventure in the book. Apparently character creation was supposed to take about half an hour. This is where anyone who's ever played an RPG does the hollow laughter thing. (But not the hollow voice thing. "Plugh" doesn't work here!)

My character, Ripple, has a special talent for finding water but a "quirk" of short-sightedness. This means that in the wilds, I may well find water by falling into it! I'm a unicorn, and so my Mind attribute is slightly enhanced; the other two are Body and Charm. Earth ponies get a slight Body advantage; pegasi don't get a Charm advantage but of course they can fly. And no, you are absolutely not allowed to play an alicorn character!

Anyway, I won't spoil the adventure's plot in case any of you might play it sometime, but it's fair to say it was far more fun than I was expecting – even if I did roll 1 suspiciously often when trying to achieve some useful task. Admittedly much of the amusement was provided by our earth pony character, whose main trait was a feeling that every problem could be solved by kicking it. We also had a pegasus in the party, so we hoped the balance would work.

As I write this, we're about halfway through the adventure after an hour or so's play, and we're intending to complete it at the next meet in a fortnight. I'm not sure I'd want to play ToE at every meet – there are almost too many gaming meets already – but I think I'd be up for occasional sessions in the future, as Patrick suggested. At any rate, if you can find the set for a reasonable price, and as long as you have a few like-minded friends, I think I'd recommend it. :)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Five years in the fandom, part 2: looking ahead

Yes, I know about the Brony Dance Party situation. Can't think of anything much to say about it now, though, so I'll wait to see what transpires. On to the promised forward-looking and generally quite optimistic post. :)

Not so long ago, I made this post which mentioned some of the things that I'd experienced during my five years in the My Little Pony fandom. In today's post, I'm going to look into my Mystical Orb of Fate's Destiny and talk about where I see the fandom going from here. I'll be concentrating on stuff that affects me, so there won't be a lot about gaming or plushie making.

You may have noticed that I've added the "uk-specific" tag this time round. That's because there are several areas where the American experience is not fully shared by those of us on this side of the Atlantic. Conventions being the obvious example, but there are several more that I'll touch on. Not in huge detail, as I don't want to drag on, but as always comments are welcome!

More past the break; this one will be longer than last week's. It remains spoiler-free, however!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sex ratios in Equestria

Scootaloo beat that damn Harshwhinny mare (22-18) in #MareMadness. There is justice in this world! :D

As reported on this Equestria Daily page, a guy named Thomas has looked at every pony seen in the show and classified them by age, sex and tribe. There seem to be a couple of errors in his summaries (eg rounding 461:428 to 2:1), but I'm going to assume that the underlying data is accurate. Here is the measure that stood out to me most:

Female:male ratio by tribe
Earth: 461:428 = 1.08:1
Pegasus: 186:120 = 1.55:1
Unicorn: 199:115 = 1.73:1

I haven't done any proper statistical analysis (who do you think I am, Bad Horse?) but the gap between the number for earth ponies and that for the other two tribes really stands out. We think of Equestria as female-dominated, and indeed it is – all the more so if you look at which ponies hold positions of real power. But for earth ponies, it's not far off equality in the population as a whole.

Any in-universe ideas as to why this might be the case?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Another little movie merch titbit

I suppose this counts as a spoiler within the meaning of the Act. It's just a toy reveal, but it does have the movie branding. So...

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Quick thoughts on the S7E03 and S7E04 synopses

This is a fairly short post, but I'm adding the break because spoilers. As I've said before, I don't really consider synopses to be spoilers, but over a month out is a different proposition from a few days beforehand. So, break added! To pad this intro out a bit, I'll mention that "chatted up" in BrEng almost always means something like "hit on". It's a nice source of low-level amusement for we UK-based readers. :P

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 150: Friendship Through the Ages

Grumble. EQD did a Starlight Glimmer Day on Monday, and pretty much every form of art was represented... except writing. Unless I overlooked something (perfectly possible) there wasn't a single story in any of the day's posts. Comics, pictures, animations, discussions, you name it – but no GlimFics. Surely someone wrote something for the occasion? As I said, grumble.

Away from my whinging, there's a double landmark on this blog today! Not only is this the 150th edition of Ponyfic Roundup, but it's also very nearly the feature's third birthday. PR 1 was published on 26 March 2014.

Read it Later story count: 466 (-12)

I considered a few ways to mark PR 150, but in the end I opted for an idea originally suggested by Chris: to review a story from each year of the fandom. Since I'm counting the two part-years at either end, that means a hefty eight fics under review today. I chose them simply because they looked interesting. I know, right? It'll never catch on.

2010: Pinkie Pie and Applejack's Cooking Hour by Jimbo
2011: Off the Edge of the Map by Daetrin
2012: I Am Chaos by Feather Sigil
2013: Little Lies by totallynotabrony
2014: When the Levee Breaks by A Hoof-ful of Dust
2015: Ciphers by Grand Moff Pony
2016: Midnight Special by NorthCrusader
2017: Slouching Towards Canterlot by EbonQuill

★: 1 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 2 | ★★★★★: 1

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Five years in the fandom, part 1: looking back

Five years ago this month, I did a "What pony are you?" meme. And yes, I came out as Fluttershy. Just after that, I finally succumbed to the pressure from various friends to watch the show. I zapped through the two seasons we then had available, and "A Canterlot Wedding" was the first episode for which I could read the hype as it was happening. I seem to remember some people being concerned that a wedding-based episode would see a reversion to G3 cutesiness. Heh.

In April 2012, I joined Fimfiction. It had been around for a while by then, but was still getting up to speed. Indeed, I started writing my first story (what would become The 20 Percent Solution) in GDocs. Fimf quickly took over, though. And the following month, I signed up on UK of Equestria. These were both good decisions, since the two sites have been at the core of my Pony fandom life ever since. This blog followed in December 2012.

More of this unfocused jabbering past the break! This time, it's not spoilery!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Another S7 clip

This news splurge is not helpful timing on the part of Discovery Family. I'm spending most of today and tomorrow at the Severn Valley Railway's Spring Steam Gala, so I don't have that much time to devote to ponies. Still... this second trailer is a bit more conventional in format than the first one, and has been given a non-spoilery thumbnail by EQD:

Quick thoughts past the break.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

And finally we have a Season Seven teaser clip!

That's right: we have an official S7 teaser trailer! Now, in the normal scheme of things, I do not consider things like this to count as spoilers – so please be warned! However, on this specific occasion, even the thumbnail is sufficiently spoilery that I'm placing the trailer link after the break. A single glimpse of it will tell you something about the premiere, though I won't say up here how important it is.

After the break, I will also be discussing some episode details released by Discovery Family – and those include not only the premiere's synopsis, but also a few significant details about other episodes. Read on if you dare!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 149: If You Don't Want to Know the Results, Look Away Now

I'm planning a fairly substantial cull of my Read it Later list in the near future. Although I did just about succeed in keeping it below 500 fics and it's slowly been shrinking, it's still much larger than I'd like. That being so, I'm going to weed out stories I keep looking at and then passing over. What I'll end up with, I don't know, but I'll still add fics from time to time, so there'll always be plenty of stories in the queue!

Read it Later story count: 478 (-1)

We're back to the traditional mixed bag this week, and in keeping with this theme of being normal and unexciting, there are six stories under review and no five-star gems. Still, I did find a good bit of interest in some of the fics I looked at, so let's get on with it.

Promises by RaylanKrios
This Isn't War by KingMoriarty
Overlooked Relations by Calming Moon
Mare of Many Hats by Skywriter
Can Ya Fix Her? by LightningSword
All the Ways that Matter by RoyalBardOfCanterlot

★: 1 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 1 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 13 March 2017

Comic mini-review: Deviations

And another My Little Pony comic to review. And after this, there'll be another comic to buy this next week. As I said last time, I think IDW are overdoing it now. If they go on a splurge like this again, I'm going to be really tempted not to buy everything. And that's me saying that – someone who pre-ordered the box set of issue #1 in 2012 and owns at least one copy of every standard MLP comic IDW have ever put out.

Whinge over. Review starting.

MLP Deviations comic, Pinkie/Dredd mashup cover by Katie Cook
Seriously, how could I possibly resist Cook's cover?
Another special issue this time, but this one doesn't tie in with a toy line – well, no more than usual. Katie Cook returns for the first time since the glorious main-series #42, and I'm pleased to say she's written another winner. This is a "what if?" comic, in which Celestia chose as her pupil not Twilight but Blueblood. You don't want to question certain aspects of continuity too hard, but if you can accept this as pure silliness it's great fun. Agnes Garbowska's style really works here, and Cook even gets away with a fourth-wall gag without its seeming too forced. You may even develop a sneaking sympathy for Nightmare Moon! There's also a four-page backup story drawn by Cook – remember when we used to get backups in regular issues? Despite my irritation with the avalanche of IDW comics, this one is worth the price of admission. ★★★★

Friday, 10 March 2017

What does the future hold for ponyfic?

I am really enjoying The Great War channel on YouTube. Indy Neidell's week-by-week videos are easily the most accessible WW1 stuff I've seen.

Okay, on to the meat of today's post. As you'll see, it's tagged "musing" rather than "essays", as I deliberately haven't made much effort to be comprehensive. This is just a "what's on my mind" post. Off we go!

Our fandom is becoming less active, certainly in terms of publishing fanfics. This is not the cheeriest way to begin a post, but the evidence does seem to point one way. Fimfiction's statistics page tells a pretty clear story: once the site had got up to speed, around the end of Season Two, submissions stayed at a fairly consistent level of around 2,000 a month until the end of S4.

Since then, numbers have fallen to around half that figure, although the decline was at its steepest – perhaps unsurprisingly – during the 11-month hiatus between S4 and S5. Yes, we had Rainbow Rocks to keep us going, but the show itself was away for a long, long time, and that does seem to have made a substantial impression on the number of people submitting fics to Fimf. Some came back, but not all.

More of this rambling after the break!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Comic review: Guardians of Harmony

Yet another comic from IDW now. I am just slightly wondering whether they're overdoing it a bit – it's starting to get expensive! – but this is a story I've been looking forward to ever since it was announced. Time to see whether the real thing matches up to my expectations. Not a mini review this time, as I'll be going through each chapter in turn in a spoiler-cut section after the main review.

MLP Guardians of Harmony comic, main cover by Andy Price
Andy Price's main cover is, as expected, great
Guardians of Harmony ties in with the toy line of the same name, and is rather more transparently toyetic than usual. This isn't fatal in itself, and with one exception things don't look too out of place in Equestria. The comic is also a multi-creator deal, with six chapters, each from a different writer/artist pair. (Heather Breckel is the only colourist credited.) The story is inevitably episodic, and there's less smooth continuity than I'd have liked. There are also a couple of slightly irritating character decisions. The chapters themselves are of uneven quality, and there's not really enough action-adventure for the GoH brand, but they're generally at least decent. This is a good comic, but it blows its chance to be a great one. Considering the high cover price (it's marketed as an annual), I can't really award it more than ★★★.

Now, come with me past the break for some spoilery comments on each chapter.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 148: Spotlight on Vinyl and Octavia: University Days (and University Nights)

A quick plug first for FanOfMostEverything's Imposing Sovereigns contest. It's explained over there, but in brief it's all about writing princess stories. (Interpreted quite liberally: Ember can count, and even Big Mac.) There isn't a chance in Tartarus I'll think of something in time, and in any case many slots are already taken – but do give it a look.

Two reviews for the price of one in this Spotlight! Well, actually one and a bit, as the second one isn't really a standalone. I was going to review University Nights separately, but I feel it's too closely attached to the main story for that. So you're getting it here! I quite like school (well, uni here) stories, even though I didn't much enjoy real-life school, so that won't count against Days. Let's go!

Read it Later story count: 479 (-4)

Vinyl and Octavia: University Days by DawnFade
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia
Comedy/Romance/Slice of Life; 71k words; Apr 2012–Jan 2014; Teen
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia go to university.
Oh yeah, you're thinking. I know where this is going. And you're right: you do. From very early on, it's clear that this is a "how they got together" fic. It doesn't do much that's particularly startling, an important character is poorly drawn, the ending is very rushed and there's a fair bit of LUS. Sounds like a waste of time, right? Wrong. What lifts this fic above that level is its likeable central characters. They're not terribly thrilling, but I enjoyed spending time in their company. Not just Vinyl and Octavia themselves, but Lyra and Bon Bon (who play a decent supporting role) and an OC who's more interesting than he at first appears. This is very definitely easy reading rather than world-shaking literature, but sometimes easy reading is all you want. Days could easily have been a mediocre two, but that sheer pleasantness nudges it into the threes. ★★★

University Nights by DawnFade
Vinyl Scratch and Octavia
Romance; 3k words; Aug 2012–Jan 2014; Mature (Sex)
A collection of tales of debauchery from the students of West Manehattan University.
This piece is not actually as wide-ranging as the description makes it sound; it's simply a couple of sex scenes that would doubtless have been included in Days had that been given an M rating. I feel the first is the better, almost startlingly realistic for a short clop scene. The second is okay, but doesn't really bring anything new and is rather awkwardly fitted into the the Days timeline. Worth reading if you like, but in no way necessary to enjoy the main story. Four stars for the first chapter, two stars for the second, so overall another ★★★.

Come past the break for some more detailed discussion of University Days, together with plenty of spoilers. I won't say any more about Nights, as I think I've mentioned everything I want to about that bit.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Announcing Flashfic 150!

Flashfic group icon showing a lightning bolt
Image is a cropped public domain image from here
A long time ago, I floated the idea of running a ponyfic contest. It never happened, for a variety of reasons but most notably the fact that I was too damn lazy to set it up. Years have gone by and the ponyfic world has shrunk somewhat (more on that topic later this week), but as some of you may have seen already, at last I'm actually doing something about it!

The new Flashfic group on Fimfiction, which I've just set up (rather startled that the name hadn't been taken), will from next month be hosting a fun monthly contest for 150-word flash fiction. Hence my cunning choice of the name Flashfic 150. :D These contests will be judged by yours truly, for the simple reason that I am utterly power-crazed have always wanted to do it.

Flashfic 150 is intended as a laid back affair. "No prizes, no pressure, just fun!" is its slogan. What I'd dearly love to do is to encourage new writers to have a go, and then perhaps to go on to bigger things. However, everyone with a Fimfiction account will be eligible to participate, subject to the rules of the contest and – obviously – Fimfiction's own.

All Flashfic 150 contests will be pony-centric, and the plan is for the first to take place next month, ie April 2017. The group has enough members already to make a small contest workable. Of course, it may be that there just isn't enough interest in something like this to keep it going in the longer term, but I would like to at least be able to say I'd given it a try.

The Flashfic group is right here!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #51

Comics are coming thick and fast from IDW at the moment! I already have the Guardians of Harmony special issue, which will be reviewed soon, but for now we're back to the main series.

Main cover of MLP comic #51, showing the Mane Six and Shadow Lock
Tony Fleecs' cover appealed to me more than the "toga party" sub cover
A new writer this time! James Asmus, writer of much other stuff including quite a few X-Men comics, makes his Pony debut alongside regular artist Tony Fleecs and colourist Heather Breckel. In this arc, which will apparently somehow tie into Season Seven of the show,* Asmus gets off to a solid if unspectacular start with a fairly interesting story, introducing a suspicious new pony. Most of the character interaction is decent, though a bar scene is a bit odd and I can't see Fluttershy ever using the term "wrestly-doo". A bigger problem, given the importance of book magic, is the absence of even a passing reference to the Bookworm arc. Hopefully that was a choice, not a research failure. Fleecs' art is fine, though it's a bit weird having Fluttershy flying so much and Rainbow flying so little. Enough here for me to be cautiously optimistic, but not enough for me to proclaim Asmus a Pony comic genius. I await the next issue with interest! ★★★

* I'm being deliberately vague here. I know what was announced.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Pony Music Library 40: "Step Around"

I've been pleased with the reception I've had for The Book of Ended Lives. A relief to know that I haven't crashed and burned with it – yet, anyway. So far, so good on that one! As far as this blog goes, there'll be a review of main-series comic #51 in the next few days, but today it's time for another PML induction.

What? "Step Around"

Who? Wasteland Wailers

Which? Original song

When? April 2014

Why? The Fallout: Equestria game this relates to is still in production nearly three years later, but regardless of that this is a very nice jazz number, albeit rather more upbeat than you'd expect for the setting. It's a genre I like, but one that's not hugely well represented in the fandom. This particular song benefits from Brittany Church's vocals; she does an excellent job as Velvet Remedy. The trumpet solo is the work of Danielle Horan, while Joel Stumbaugh plays the drums. The song is well produced, too, and an all-round joy to listen to.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

New story by me: The Book of Ended Lives

Cover image: Applejack looking unhappy
Marvel at my astounding "yeah, that filter, I suppose" skills, y'all!
To my enormous relief, I've finally got a new story up on Fimfiction. My last fic, More than Alive, was a pretty niche affair set in an alternate universe and still has under 100 views after two months. Even for me, that's not many. This new story, set firmly in the Ponyville we know, has surpassed its predecessor (and by quite some margin) in two days. Here's the summary:

The Book of Ended Lives by Loganberry
Applejack and OC
Sad/Slice of Life; 4k words; Feb 2017; Teen
I'm Last Account. For quite a while now, I've been the Keeper of the Book of Ended Lives here in Ponyville Town Hall, and it can be hard work – especially when Fluttershy visits the office. This afternoon, though, it's Applejack. She's here to tell me about the timberwolf she killed earlier. To start with.

My last published fic rather came out of nowhere. The Book of Ended Lives did not: in fact, it's been in my mind since well before More than Alive was, and I've been working on it, on and off, since late last year. One reason it's taken so long is that it began life as a very different story, centring on the Fluttershy aspect that now forms only a small part of the tale. I didn't sit down to write the AJ fic it's become, but sometimes the story won't let you do what you want and insists you do things its way. This is one of those times.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 147: A Bringer of New Things

Read it Later story count: 483 (+1)

Last week, most of the stories I reviewed were several years old. This week, I'm going in the other direction. With fewer ponyfics being published now than there used to be,* I think it's more important than ever that there's good new stuff appearing on Fimfiction. So all the fics I'm reviewing in this PR have appeared since the start of 2017. Will it work? Let's see.

* Fimfiction submissions have fallen by slightly more than half since their 2013 peak.

Glimmer in the Snow by Emperor
Ignited Embers by Inquiry Tales
Can Pegasi Have Magical Surges by redtau
Cold Currents by Odd_Shot
A Heart of Cold by HMKv2
Spare Me by Fangren
A Monster Looming Over Us by Brass Polish

★: 2 | ★★: 4 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

What does Logan review the most?

It's stats time again! All the numbers this time relate to reviews published in Ponyfic Roundup from the beginning through no. 146, a total of 753 stories. I'm doing this purely for fun, using the stats I have in Calibre. Still, I thought, why not share this fun with my readers? On second thoughts, please don't answer that question.

Most reviewed authors
10: Blueshift
9: Cold in Gardez
8: PresentPerfect
7: The Descendant
6: shortskirtsandexplosions, xjuggernaughtx
5: Akumokagetsu, Chris, FanOfMostEverything, Skywriter, Twinkletail

I stopped at this point since there are any number of authors who've had four reviews. Most of the list isn't very surprising. Akumokagetsu makes it in because I read all the Evil Belle stories in quick succession. I'm not sure why Twinkletail is there; it's ages since I've read one of their fics. There are a few major omissions, but that's in part because I've always tried to give an airing to less popular writers.

Most popular character tags
223: Twilight
187: OC
142: Rainbow Dash
135: Celestia
115: Mane Six
113: Fluttershy
104: Other
102: Luna
75: Spike
74: Pinkie Pie
69: Applejack
65: Rarity
51: Scootaloo

The big finding here is that last week's Fluttershy special was not only necessary but should be repeated as soon as possible. :P I was initially a little surprised that Celestia was quite so high up the list, but it turns out that she has more tagged stories on Fimfiction than anyone else – slightly ahead even of Twilight.

Most popular genre tags
400: Slice of Life
252: Comedy
153: Sad
128: Romance
119: Dark
109: Random
106: Adventure
56: Alternate Universe
50: Tragedy

I like my Slice of Life stories, so that result is no shock. Romance is a little higher up the table than I would have predicted, given that I'm really not much of a shipper. (I've reviewed one Braeburn-tagged story!) None of the newer genre tags get anywhere near this list; topping those so far is Horror, on a mighty seven reviews.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #37: Rarity and Trixie

MLP Friends Forever cover #37, showing Rarity and Trixie

Here's the penultimate Friends Forever issue, and it's an interesting team-up – especially when you consider that Sapphire Shores is also involved. Actually, Sapphire is my favourite character here, if you don't count a fun cameo by Babs Seed. (Let's face it, comic cameos are all she'll ever get now.) The Whitley/Garbowska/Breckel team does its usual solid-but-not-amazing job. Continuity is a problem, though: the level of antagonism Rarity has for Trixie seems to be several years out of date, especially given 2014's Gem Thief arc, and it grates badly. Frustrating, because I think this plotline had four-star potential. As it is, an uninspiring three. ★★★

Friday, 24 February 2017

Pony Music Library 39: "Beyond Her Garden"

What with everything that's been happening lately, it's been almost a month since I've added to the PML. That's too long! Today, a real Golden (Harvest) Oldie:

What? "Beyond Her Garden"

Who? WoodenToaster/Glaze

Which? Original song

When? October 2011

Why? Nostalgia has a lot to do with this one, as "Beyond Her Garden" was one of the first brony songs I ever heard, back in spring 2012 – and it wasn't new even then! This sort of somewhat glitchy electronic... stuff (you can see my technical knowledge is coming on apace) has rarely been my favourite genre, but I like a surprising amount of such songs in this fandom. Why this one in particular, then? I don't know. But it's still the best Carrot Top song around, more than five years after it arrived.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Some thoughts on the recent announcements from Hasbro

The Toy Fair announcements have been coming thick and fast, but most of them have involved actual products. Not all, however, and today I'm going to give some brief thoughts on a couple of really interesting things we now know. Major spoilers for Season Seven and the movie after the break! Don't come any further if you don't want to see them!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 146: Love is Like a Fluttershy

According to Singularity Dream's Big Master Review List (one of the great unsung achievements of our fandom), around 8,300 ponyfics have been reviewed. Considering that there are over 106,000 stories on Fimfiction, plus many more scattered around other sites, this means the great majority of fics have never featured in a review at all. Food for thought.

Read it Later story count: 482 (-2)

No, today's post title doesn't mean this will be a shipfest. I just couldn't resist the reference. As you will know if you read my endnote last week, today is a Fluttershy special. There are actually fewer than 5,000 completed stories on Fimfiction with the "Fluttershy" tag; given this disgraceful situation, I very much feel the need to actually write the one I keep thinking about give some of the Flutterfics that are there some publicity. So here goes:

It's an Easy Feat by TailsIsNotAlone
We Live in a Kind World by shortskirtsandexplosions
Wingmares by CouchCrusader
Fluttershy's Sick Day by Everyday
If I Fell by A Hoof-ful of Dust
Dead Nuthatch by PresentPerfect
The Proper Care and Feeding of Monsters by Cold in Gardez

★: 0 | ★★: 2 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 3 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 20 February 2017

UK PonyCon 2017 theme revealed!

We've known for ages that UK PonyCon would definitely be returning for 2017, but I must admit I wasn't expecting any further news for a few weeks yet. However, there is some! According to DaisyD, Communications person on the con committee, the theme for this year will be Wild West and Rodeo! The reaction to the announcement has been very positive, and personally I think it's a great idea. I'm sure it's Applejack Approved, too! :P

The other big announcements before we can all start planning will be when the con is, plus host town/city, specific venue and ticket details. I don't expect any of those for a bit longer yet, but I'm looking forward to it already!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Non, je ne regrette rien...

I know the Hasbro News Splurge Machine has revealed/spoiled about 837 things in the last two days, and we've also had the first significant piece of UK PonyCon 2017 news beyond the fact that it's actually happening, but my thoughts on those things can wait a day or two longer. I've had to delay today's post long enough as it is.

The headline today isn't actually entirely true, but what the hay. And there isn't really a single-word antonym for "regret" (as a noun), is there? Oh well. Here is the promised companion piece to last week's post. This time round, I'll talk about aspects of three of my fics that I do feel happy with. To avoid going over too much old ground, I'm deliberately not choosing either It Doesn't Matter Now or We Who with Songs Beguile, although I do certainly still like both of those.

1. Ever Let the Fancy Roam
This is not one of my best known stories, but it is one I very much like – ending perhaps apart, as it's not the strongest. What gets it into this list is the interaction between Fancy Pants and his butler Silver Cloud: I got a pretty brutal review first up in the comments, but I don't regret writing the dialogue as I did. Actually, that's why this story is here: because I'm very satisfied with the voices I gave both of them. I keep meaning to go back to these two, but apart from one passing mention of SC in Starlight Repeatedly Teleports into Custard, it hasn't happened yet.

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Bucking
For a start, I doubt there's another story on Fimfiction with the (unintentional) prompt "existentialist fruit story". More to the point, though, a wide enough variety of readers have liked this for me to be reasonably confident that it works decently enough as a simple character piece. However, if you know even a little philosophy, you'll quickly realise that I'm not just inventing Neightzsche's thoughts on apple pies or Haydigger's Ruminations on Ontological Discourse. The central mystery is a tad forced, but it couldn't really be otherwise – and it's a story I still like to read for fun. It also made me enjoy writing Applejack more than I used to.

3. Where They Understand You
This is far from being a perfect fic – indeed, I mentioned it briefly at the end of last week's post – and substantial parts of it have been overtaken by canon, especially since "Flutter Brutter" went out. Nevertheless, the basic plot of this story remains my favourite headcanon about how the young Rainbow ended up living in Ponyville, and to show her deepening friendship with the young Fluttershy, as well as 'Shy's commitment to her calling. I like Rainbow explaining why flying down is a bigger thing than flying up. It also has my favourite final line of any fic I've written.

Bubbling under: Silver Buck's tale in To Be the Candle, the premise (if not the writing) of Clouded Minds, the sheer cute cheesiness of The Light that Ignites in the Dark. Also, custard. As before, yell at me if you think I should have chosen something else!

Saturday, 18 February 2017


We're getting more MLP in 2018 – though, as several people have pointed out, we haven't explicitly been told that this means a full season.

Back to big-screen Pony now. Courtesy of Meghan McCarthy, via EQD, we have one-line descriptions of each of the main guest characters in My Little Pony: The Movie. And they're... well... come past the break if you like.

Friday, 17 February 2017

So, about those character reveals...

Note: this was accidentally posted yesterday, along with the keyboard-related post. I wanted to give it a day to itself, so I deleted yesterday's post and re-posted this today. The article itself has not been changed.

The other day, we were treated to a chunk of information regarding My Little Pony: The Movie – to wit, no fewer than seven guest character announcements to go with the one we already had. There's also been an apparently genuine synopsis reveal on a Polish site. Like just about everyone else in the fandom, I have my views on these. I don't really consider these to count as spoilers, but for now at least I'll put a break here for the sake of anyone who is attempting the (I suspect impossible) task of avoiding any news at all.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Argos keyboard offer

Microsoft Wired 600 keyboard
The Calculator button even works in Linux :P
I recently became fed up with the awful quality of my HP K45 keyboard (looks like this, but isn't). It might be okay for people who occasionally press the odd button, but for actual typing it's terrible – it's much too light, has poor feedback and feels like something from Poundland. Actually, I wouldn't recommend it even at a quid, it's that bad.

Since I don't have the cash sloshing around to buy a really nice keyboard – and don't think I could bear the noise of a mechanical one anyway – I needed a cheap replacement. But what? I hadn't been impressed by the Logitech K120, or those Trust keyboards you see in places like Wilko. The HP was so bad that I needed something right now.

And look what Argos have right now: the venerable Microsoft Wired 600 for a mere £7.49! (It was actually £7.99 when I bought it. Huh.) The offer only applies to the white version – they don't even stock the black one – and a few stores are running low on supplies. Nevertheless, my local Argos had one so I snapped it up immediately.

In use, it's very much a budget keyboard, with slightly wobbly keys and the occasional very quiet squeak, but it's approximately a million times nicer to type on than the HP. The keys are a little soft, but they're reasonably responsive and pretty quiet. The small Esc and function keys are a bit of a shame, but it's by no means a deal-breaker.

The keyboard is very slightly concave, with the lowest row of letters and space bar tilted slightly away. I got used to this very quickly, but then I'm not a touch typist. And to set minds at rest, the one Argos sell is the UK layout: big return key, double-quote on the two and all. The picture that heads this post is of the one I bought!

It's odd, but MS have made decent cheap peripherals most of the time, even when their operating systems were terrible. The 600 continues the line. My personal view is that at the price Argos are asking, it destroys anything else available. You'd probably have to spend three times the amount to get anything appreciably better.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 145: Lovely Rice Pudding for Dinner Again

When I was little, my favourite tea consisted of Heinz spaghetti somethings in tomato sauce (hoops, alphabetti, numberelli, whatever) followed by rice pudding and jam. Preferably sitting in front of the football results on Grandstand, despite the fact that I had nearly no interest in football.

Read it Later story count: 484 (nc)

We're back to mixed bag territory on Ponyfic Roundup this week, and I'm kicking off with a story that many people will probably look at once and pass over. I did the same thing several times before forcing myself to sit down and read it properly. This week, there are six stories to go through, as follows:

Pinkamena's Wake by GroaningGreyAgony
Pointless Pursuits by JC
We by Sessalisk
All's Well That Ends Well by billymorph
Pipsqueak Plod and the Quest for Crackers by Kegisak
A Good Filly by Orbiting Kettle

★: 0 | ★★: 3 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 2 | ★★★★★: 0

Monday, 13 February 2017

Most and Least Rewatchable: Season Six

I have of course noted the character reveals for My Little Pony: The Movie, and I'll be giving my thoughts on those in the near future. Something else for now, though.

Starlight Glimmer singing in "A Hearth's Warming Tail"
And the Muppets can go, too!
I've been promising to do this for ages, but with Season Seven in the offing it's probably now time I got on with the S6 edition of this. I think enough time has now elapsed for me to have a fair idea of which episodes I enjoy watching again. S6 had a lot of "decent, but could have been better" eps, ranging from "P.P.O.V." to "Spice Up Your Life", so this wasn't quite as easy to decide as the S5 list. Past the break you can see what I eventually plumped for.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Regrets, I've had a few...

And now, a post I wrote months ago and kept forgetting about. That's me all over.

Having published more than 20 stories on Fimfiction now, it's hardly a surprise that not everything has worked out exactly the way I'd have liked. In this post, I'll pick out three stories where I'd change at least one thing if I could rewind time. Don't worry: this won't simply be a "woe is me" exercise in self-flagellation, since I'll follow up next week with a companion piece talking about three stories I am happy to have written as I did.

Edit: in the light of Pascoite's comment below, I realise I haven't been clear. This is not a list of "my worst stories". It's a list of specific problems I have with those stories. None of these fics would come bottom of my personal favourites list. And no, I'm not going to tell you (at least, not now) which one would!

1. For an Angel to Pass
This choice is unlikely to surprise anyone. When I wrote this story, way back in the spring of 2013, I deliberately avoided explicitly identifying the POV character until right at the end. The snag with having done this is that, for readers who are paying any attention at all, the mystery is non-existent. I still quite like the story in itself, and most of my readers seem to appreciate it too, but if I were writing the fic now I would make it a straight slice of life piece and remove any mystery element. (You may notice that I haven't added the [Mystery] tag.)

2. One Hell of a Party
This I submitted to EQD way back when, confidently expecting to get back a one-line "Thanks, but it really needs work" response. Instead, the pre-reader generously provided a detailed list of comments and suggestions. I rebelled against their final and most significant suggestion in the end, and so didn't resubmit the story, because I didn't want the thing to be more than jokey fluff. I still don't, really, but I wish I'd at least pushed harder to see what would result. There is a silver lining: those comments have certainly made some of my later stories better than they otherwise would have been.

3. Sunset's Sales Snag
I'm irritated with myself in two ways as far as this fic is concerned. First, I apparently annoyed some of my readers by slapping an overly cautious [Sex] tag on it. While I suppose there's a case for said tag given an underlying theme, I feel happier with it gone. Second, the ending was dreadful, with a horrible choice for the name used at the end. The ending I have there now isn't exactly amazing, but it's better than it was. This fic has by far the worst thumbscore balance of anything I've written, and it didn't need to have. My fault.

Bubbling under: cramming too many characters into The 20 Percent Solution, having a subplot peter out in Where They Understand You, the pathetic yet irritatingly popular 11th entry in Friendship is Poetry. By all means yell at me in the comments to tell me where else I made a hash of things! :D