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Many people have tried to explain Pinkie's "Pinkie sense" and 4th-wall-breaking tendencies with some combination of science, magic, and asspullery. Here, we have a story that purports to give us the long-sought answer at last! After the break, my review of Batty Gloom's The Truth About Pinkie Pie.
Impressions before reading: I remember enjoying this a lot when I first read it. Since then, I don't think I've heard of it again.
I have, however, heard of Batty Gloom since then. These days, he's probably best known as the guy who collaborated with Pen Stroke on Past Sins. Leaving aside discussion of the massive fandom/hatedom that fic has spawned, he remains unarguably one of the best-known pony fanfic authors out there.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Pinkie Pie's friends have always wondered how she can seemingly defy physics, but her recent behavior has pushed them all over the edge. They finally confront Pinkie Pie, intervention-style, and demand to know just how she got her "freaky powers."
Thoughts after reading: The reason stories with meta- elements are so hard to pull off is that they undermine their own integrity. Calling attention to the fourth wall may be good for a quick laugh, but it encourages readers to dismiss the story by calling attention to the fact that it is a story. Poorly executed meta-stories quickly collapse under the weight of reader apathy.
The Truth About Pinkie Pie combats this impulse by making its meta- elements the focus of the backstory, using them to support the integrity of its main character rather than to undermine her. This story gives Pinkie Pie the real-world knowledge to explain what she is and where she came from, but then goes the extra step and uses that information, and her access to it, to explicate what we observe in the show itself. And it does this all without ever discarding its own premises for the sake of a joke--clearly a difficult thing to resist, if the reams of lesser meta-humor stories are any indication.
The "story" consists almost entirely of Pinkie telling her friends who she really is and where she came from; as such, there's not much to say about the story outside the story, so to speak. It exists mostly as an excuse for Pinkie to tell us her backstory, and it serves perfectly well in this role.
The writing is mostly good. Applejack's accent is over-written, and she appears to occasionally slip from southern/southwestern American dialect into a northern Irish voice ("You mean tah tells us that you started off as one o’ them stacks o’ papers?”), but the other characters are voiced well. Spelling and grammar is mostly good, with one exception: punctuation coming out of quotes is inconsistent. Batty often uses a period where a comma is needed. Also, he uses a single space after periods. Yes, I know, that's standard nowadays (it's even required in some forms of writing!) and it seems most fic authors these days do, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Back in my day, periods got two spaces after them, and that was that.
Using modern spacing rules may incur the ire of my inner curmudgeon, but the plot more than makes it up to him. Evoking a keen nostalgia for the golden age of animation, this story feels almost like a tribute to the bygone era when cartoons were still fresh and exciting, when convention hadn't reduced most most shows to either mindless retreads or cynical deconstructions. Given that MLP is one of the few (only?) shows today which capture that feeling of innocence and excitement, it seems a remarkably appropriate vehicle.
Finally, the story does include links to a few TVtropes pages which the author directly references. Personally, I could have done without; I'm not a big fan of out-of-story distractions when I'm reading.
Star rating: ★★★★☆ (what does this mean?)
A few technical errors and other distractions aren't enough to detract from the heart of this story. It's warm and fuzzy, yet self-aware (in almost every sense of the word) without ever being cynical. That's one hell of a balancing act to pull off.
Recommendation: I'd suggest this story to anyone, but especially to those of you who, like me, grew up when Saturday morning cartoons were still dominated by Bugs and Daffy, Roadrunner and Coyote, and Tom and Jerry (and not the new, crappy Tom and Jerry, either). One of the reasons MLP appeals to me is because it reminds me of those shows in ways other modern cartoons don't. This fic evokes that same feeling of nostalgia in me, and I love it.
Next time: Party of None, by Sparkler and Quill