No secrets

Sethisto tossed this question to EqD readers: “Do You Tell Your Non-Brony Friends About Your Interest in Pony?”

Well, yes, but how could they not know? The farther you get into my house, the more likely you are to see something pony-related; there’s a plush Twilight Sparkle on my desk, fercryingoutloud.

And I learned today that a second co-worker has actually read The Sparkle Chronicles. The power of word of mouth, folks. Some are undone by it; some of us revel in it.

Star equivalence

A couple of weeks ago, I got semi-boastful about the 99-6 thumbs up/thumbs down ratio accorded The Sparkle Chronicles by Fimfiction readers. Now that the 100th upturned digit has arrived, and in view of the fact that I’ve reviewed a few books on of late, I have been wondering how this would equate to an Amazon star ratio.

The systems are not strictly comparable, of course. But taking thumbs up as five stars, and thumbs down as one star, I end up with — 4.72 stars.

Probably better than I deserve, but what the heck.

By now I should be insufferable

Over at Fimfiction, The Sparkle Chronicles got its 3000th reader today. I am somewhere between delighted and disturbed: while I am grateful that this novella (well, it is) is finding an audience, and a largely favorable audience at that — current Thumb Ratio is 99 up/6 down — it’s precipitated a small outbreak of Non sum dignus. This is, of course, typical of me, seeing a silver lining and peering around to make sure there’s a cloud back there. I guess I’m grateful, but I’m also shaking a bit.

I blame changelings

After problems getting into the site, I decided to hang around the back door, and found some highly dubious code injected into the front page. Not sure what it was for, but it can’t be good, so I replaced an obviously bad file with a backup. Performance has improved markedly. (The site’s performance, I mean; I’m the same slug I’ve always been.)

Another digit

I am at least slightly amazed that I’ve been doing this for three and a half years. And if I’m not as productive as I might have hoped I’d be, I’ve somehow managed to pick up a few fans.

To all of you, may your new year be bright and full of promise, and twelve months from now, may those promises be fulfilled.

Apparently I can be replaced

By a neural network, no less:

Okay, maybe I write a little better than that. But the machines are advancing far faster than I am.

From the “I Know What I Like” files

A Fimfiction user, in the Personal Description segment: “I like my Romance sickening sweet and my Comedy breathtaking hilarious.”

Three different bookshelves belonging to this user contain The Sparkle Chronicles. I guess that’s a review right there.

A Glimmer of retconning

How The Cutie Re-Mark should have ended, according to longtime fan Erin Palette:

Twilight, realizing that Starlight Glimmer is pathological, decides that she needs to go back in time and prevent the childhood trauma from happening (basically, a pony version of Let’s Kill Baby Hitler). So Twilight uses her special talent in magic — remember, she was promoted to princess when she fixed a spell that Starswirl the Gandalf Bearded couldn’t do — to modify this other Starswirl spell and goes back to Starlight Glimmer’s past. There, Twilight shows her how to make new friends, and halts the creation of the nascent sociopath. Starlight Glimmer makes new friends and understands that friendship is the most powerful magic of all. Bam, problem solved in a proper pony manner and it makes sense.

Or, perhaps, they could have made it a story about The Great and Powerful Trixie.

Distant memory

For a couple of years now, I have contended that the single most transcendent work of fiction yet produced by the ponyverse was Background Pony by shortskirtsandexplosions, an epic running 430,000 words, not anywhere near the longest story to come from the fandom, but one of the deepest. The official description:

“My name is Lyra Heartstrings, and you will not remember me. You won’t even remember this conversation. Just like with everypony else I’ve ever met, everything I do or say will be forgotten. Every letter I’ve written will appear blank; every piece of evidence I’ve left behind will end up missing. I’m stuck here in Ponyville because of the same curse that has made me so forgettable. Still, that doesn’t stop me from doing the one thing that I love: making music. If my melodies find their way into your heart, then there is still hope for me. If I can’t prove that I exist, I can at least prove that my love for each and every one of you exists. Please, listen to my story, my symphony, for it is me.”

Of all the alternate-universe stories out there, Background Pony is surely among the alternatest.

And while it can’t be summed up in five and a half minutes — well, this will have to do:

Two parts ambient, one part clockwork, one part despair, it’s a worthy companion to the story.

Canon fodder

The ponyverse as we know it, overwhelmingly huge as it may seem at times, is still pretty small compared to some of those Other Fandoms, though most of them had a substantial head start: G4 began a mere 61 months ago. (If you question that word “mere,” come back when you’ve lived twelve times that long.) Being newish and smallish, we actually acknowledge canon handed down from the heirs and assigns of the Brothers Hassenfeld: the episodes, certainly; the books, mostly; stuff like Equestria Girls, hardly at all. In larger literary and cultural spheres, it’s more of a collective effort:

What the literary anti-canonists refuse to accept, in virtually every case, is that a canon does not exist because it was declared from On High. It emerges from the widespread recognition of the quality of its components, and their formative importance to later writers. In the usual case, that’s because their attempts to gain fame by dismissing or contradicting some canon fail miserably. The execrable quality of most of the crap that’s won awards stands in testimony.

Of course, “canon” in this sense refers not to the established rules of a genre universe, or whatever alternate universe may obtain, but to the works acknowledged by a culture as having significant value to that culture. Still, the fundamental rules apply: if you’re proclaiming the existence of a universe, the first thing that will be called into question is your mad world-building skill. You can break any rules you like, but you’d better be prepared to defend the breakage.