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.

As though I had readers or something

We’re only a week into November, and already two EqD Drawfriends have yielded up pictures that could have been, but almost certainly weren’t, suggested by stuff I wrote.

The first of them was a now-and-later picture of Twist, the “later” portion of which is about the way I imagined a 52-year-old Twist in The way she used to be, up to and including having had her nose fixed.

Then followed Twilight Sparkle teeing off, as though Desert Brush, who explained golf to her in Chapter 3 of Somepony New, had actually been persuasive for once in his life.

Now if I see something in the next few days that relates to Dead Pony Flying, my head will spin at RPMs hitherto unimagined.

No longer seeing stars

There is turmoil in the Twitterverse, or at least some segments of it, over this:

We are changing our star icon for favorites to a heart and we’ll be calling them likes. We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.

The heart, in contrast, is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people. And in our tests, we found that people loved it.

I question that “range of emotions” business, but no matter. Where else can you find similar iconography?

Right: on our very own Fimfiction, which still uses stars. You apply a star to a story, and it becomes listed among your “favourites,” but that’s not its primary function: once you’ve starred a story, you get notifications of new chapters. Readers can vote a story up or down with the thumb device, whether or not they’re receiving notifications; it’s possible for someone to star a story and still vote it down.

Now if knighty starts something with hearts, I’m going to be ever so slightly concerned.

10/10/10

I was not on hand for the rebirth of My Little Pony five years ago; I barely remembered the first generation, and didn’t bother to keep track of subsequent changes, because hell, it was just a freaking toy, right?

Wrong-O, Buffalo Bob. (And could there possibly be a Buffalo Bob, somewhere on the fringe of Appleloosa?) I hesitate to characterize anything as “life-changing,” having gone through several changes in a life that’s already gone on far longer than I’d ever anticipated, but two things that happened to me in 2010, the lesser of which involved the roof over my head being battered beyond recognition — never you mind about the greater — left me sufficiently despondent to wonder if it was worth going on.

Said Twilight Sparkle in response, late in the second season:

I did everything I could think of to change the future. But it didn’t work. So maybe it’s not what I do … maybe it’s what I don’t do!

You can only plan so much; you can never know the outcome until everything comes out. Yogi Berra knew this; Bobby McFerrin knew this. I should have known this. But it took a befuddled pastel-colored pony to get through to me with it.

Life-changing? You better believe it. I know I do.

The way things are today

A thousand readers have now found their way to The way she used to be:

Fimfiction screenshot: 1000 readers

   A thousand readers!    Some of them even liked it!   And hardly anyone hated it!   (At least, no one has said so yet.)

I am perhaps overly overjoyed at this, but I think it’s allowed.