Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Even Yet Still More Stories You Haven't Read (But Should Have)

It's been a while, hasn't it?  Honestly, I just kind of forgot to do one of these under-read short stories posts.  But now it's time!  As always, I'm not saying these are the best stories ever written--but they're a heck of a lot better than their fame and popularity would seem to indicate.  Below the break, as usual.

P.S.  Most of you probably already know about them, but if you're in the market for stories that need a little more attention, take a look at the Seattle's Angels group on FIMfiction.  Multiple brief reviews of three under-appreciated fanfics every week (or so)--good stuff.

     1.  Burning Man Brony: Fear and Loathing in Equestria, by Bad Horse

How overlooked is it?:  It's got about 450 views on FIMFic, which isn't terrible, views-wise, but when you consider that the author has right around 450 followers... yeah, this is one that a lot of people have skipped over.

Why it deserves better:  Honestly, I didn't really enjoy this story.  There's a ringing endorsement, right?  But although it wasn't my cuppa, I found this to be a remarkably impressive story in a lot of ways.

To begin with, it's a human in Equestria story (basically--it's hard to say too much without getting in to spoilers) that isn't awful; that's rare enough by itself.  What Bad Horse does here that really impresses me, however, is to create vivid scenes which practically leap off the page (screen).  From the very first paragraph, the focused language and precise use (but not over-use) of visual and cultural touchstones make this story incredibly easy to visualize.

Recommendation:  Like I said, I didn't actually like the story all that well.  Readers who aren't interested in seeing ponies through jaded, cynical eyes may want to steer clear.  Also, there's lots of swearing in this one, if that's a turn-off for you.  But those looking for highly visually evocative writing will definitely want to check this one out.

     2.   A Certain Point of View, by Inquisitor M

How overlooked is it?:  Even though the above-mentioned Seattle's Angels reviewed it, this story's still sitting at less than 450 views.  

Why it deserves better:  Mr. M is a regular commenter on this blog, and as you may already know if you read those comments, he's perennially unable to be right about anything conform to my opinions about literature.  That doesn't mean he can't write something I'll enjoy reading, though.

A Certain Point of View is basically a giant wad of headcanon (at least some of it tongue-in-cheek) wrapped in a character study, with the twist that you don't know who the character is until the end.  Although it could easily come off as gimmicky, the way the author packed so much into less than 2000 words made it conceptually dense but highly interesting read.

Recommendation:  There is so much tied up in this story, I think that readers who won't object vociferously to one or more of the author's postulations are few and far between.  But when it comes to stories like this, I think that finding those areas is part of the fun.  Anyone looking for a story that mixes heaping doses of insight and speculation into every paragraph will find this a rewarding story to explore.

     3.  Playing Along, by Lt_Luc

How overlooked is it?:  This was one of the entries for the Hearth's Warming Care Package.  I kept waiting for it to pop up on FIMFiction or Deviantart or something (or at least, for the author to say he was planning to post it eventually, a la the winning entry, Pinkie Pie's Balloons), but it didn't!

Why it deserves better:  Pinkie Pie's Balloons was a good story, no doubt about it, and I didn't have any problem with it carting away the "win."  Still, Playing Along was the story I enjoyed the most in that group.  To quote myself talking about it: "Great characters, even those with only a couple lines feel more fleshed out than some of the protagonists in other fics from this competition. Deep, but easy to understand, and distressing enough to create an emotional investment without scarring a young reader. This is good."

Recommendation:  A few commenters compared this to Toy Story, in that both deal with the process of growing up and "putting away [your] childish things."  Readers looking for a very solid telling of a sweet-yet-poignant tale will definitely enjoy this.

Stories You Haven't Read (But Should Have) is an irregularly scheduled feature.  Since I'm unlikely to have heard of any given little-known story by definition, you can help make this feature more frequent by suggesting exceptional or unique underrated fanfics.  Please e-mail me if you can recommend a short, high-quality, and under-appreciated piece of pony fiction.  Thanks in advance!


  1. Playing Along was, I believe, my #2 in the care package voting. It's so full of feels, and both charming and surprising.

  2. I have read the last two.

    Such study and speculation things as A Certain Point of View don't float my boat, and last I recall, Mr. M himself wasn't too pleased with it, but hey, Obviously he did something right!

    Playing Along Just didn't jive with me. Not sure why. There was some cool things in there though. The thing that stood out to me the most was Princess Rose.

  3. I've fallen way behind on pony ramblings, and didn't see this until now. Maybe this post is what got Seattle's Angels to review Burning Man Brony. Thanks!

    Equestria Daily said: "While this is not technically a Brony in Equestria story, it has many similar details (mainly the bit about a human with knowledge of MlP:FiM interacting with characters from the show. Whether or not these characters are hallucinations is irrelevant, as the effect is the same). While we would be willing to look the other way if the writing were exceptional, we're afraid it does not quite meet Equestria Daily's standards."