It’s time for another round of reviews!
Order and Chaos (finished)
Synopsis: Night and day. Fire and ice. Creation and destruction. Everything has an opposite, and Chaos is no exception. Princess Celestia tells Twilight the true history of Discord’s rise, the Alicorns’ fall, and the creation of the Elements of Harmony. She tells her student the story of Order and Chaos.
Review: While relatively short, this story does an excellent job of utilizing Celestia’s first-person storytelling perspective to describe an origin story that’s compelling enough to be headcanon for a few people I know. The major theme is the divorcing of order and chaos from the “good vs. evil” spectrum — both extremes are rather inhospitable to life as ponies know it, and when they come into conflict, disaster and genocide ensues.
From a technical perspective, the writing is top-notch, and the various character voices are spot-on. The pacing is impeccable, with the first-person remembrances of Celestia being occasionally broken up by present-day questions from Twilight and interruptions. Characterization, likewise, is excellent, presenting the relatively black-and-white immortals from the show in pleasing shades of grey. Celestia and Luna show up as less than all-knowing and perfect, while Discord is presented with a significant sympathetic side, all while retaining the traits we’ve seen on the show. It’s quite well done.
Lez Ponies (ongoing)
Synopsis: Kate the college student loves ponies. But unwanted magnetism to her own gender has also made her a bit of a homophobe. Landing smack in the middle of Ponyville, she discovers (to her horror) that she is even more attractive to mares than she is to women. Her mission? Find actual friendship without being shipped. Whether or not she’s successful… is entirely up in the air.
Review: All right, I’m going to have to tread a bit carefully with this one. I’d like to make two things clear: one, any kind of explicit clop has never been my thing, and two, this never descends to that level. That being said, this is a inversion-heavy farce with a vaguely sophomoric premise, so innuendo played for laughs abounds.
Fortunately, ‘played for laughs’ succeeds brilliantly here. The protagonist is reminiscent of the hilarious, genre-savvy, spaztastic heroine from the Grrl Power webcomic (which I also recommend). The inversions of many of the typical Human in Equestria tropes are pulled off with seemingly-effortless aplomb, as the protagonist (for once) distinctly shies away from the semi-crazed attentions of every pony she meets, and eventually discovers an in-universe reason for it. What really drew me in here was the sheer exuberance and richness of the narrative. I’ve always had a thing for a well-written wisecracking first-person perspective, and this delivers it in abundance. The protagonist muses on which narrative archetypes her current experiences most closely follow, holds highly-amusing conversations with traumatized portions of her psyche, and pokes pop-culture-saturated fun at the world.
Yes, it does deserve its “Teen” rating, but the journey is so much fun that I couldn’t let it go without a review. The huge grin that was plastered on my face the entire time I was reading wouldn’t allow it.
Project: Sunflower (finished)
Synopsis: It’s 2038, and the Earth is under assault from an apparently mindless enemy that has been dubbed the Black Tide, which is using nanotechnology to remake the planet into something hideously alien. Erin Olsen works for Project Harmonics, humanity’s last-ditch effort to find a new world before the Tide can wipe them out. But when that world is found, and it turns out to be occupied, will Erin have the courage to face the unknown in an attempt to save the inhabitants of both worlds?
Review: If I had to describe this story in two words, those words would be “blissfully sane”.
What, not enough? Let me elaborate. Project: Sunflower is an adventure that defies easy classification, encompassing the human-only, ponified human in Equestria, and first-contact/two-worlds archetypes at different points in the story. Now, every single one of those genres is fraught with pitfalls. As I was reading the story, time and time again I would be unfortunately certain (based on my previous experiences with similar fics) how things were going to turn out. Each time, I was delighted to be proven wrong as the author adroitly avoided the clichéd option and effortlessly set a path for his characters that was both believable and reasonable.
Neither human nor pony is inherently either angel or monster; no villain acts on unjustified (in his or her eyes) motivations, no hero is an untouchable Mary Sue. Characters who behave badly towards the main character aren’t necessarily marked as irredeemable antagonists whose only role is to soak up karmic retribution. The protagonist, while thoroughly likable, is far from perfect, which makes her all the more endearing. Bad apples exist on both sides of the fence, but nowhere does the corruption extend to the roots of society.
Overall, Project: Sunflower is a thoroughly refreshing read that’s a delight to follow. I look forward to seeing where it goes next.