As you probably already know, if you aren't stumbling upon this site for the first time (and if you are: hello!), I'm one of the curators of the Royal Canterlot Library. Being a curator there is pretty straightforward: when one of us reads something amazing, we recommend it to the group, and if the rest of the crew thinks they're right about its amazingness, we feature it.
But we generally only feature an author once--we don't want to just keep featuring the same half-dozen authors' stories in a never-ending cycle, do we? And this can lead to a tragic problem: sometimes, an author writes something really amazing after we've already featured them! More than once, I've gotten ready to type up a fic recommendation, only to realize that the story I just read is by someone we've already spotlighted. So today, we're taking a look at stories I read, loved... and wasn't able to suggest to the RCL. Find them, below the break!
Before we dive in, though, let me be clear on a few things:
1) This is a personal list, not an RCL one. Think of it as "here's the fic Chris would've recommended first, if it'd been written at the time" rather than "here's the fic the RCL would've featured, if etc."
2) In none of these cases am I disappointed by the stories we actually featured; all of them are great (that's why we featured them, natch). The point is, the author wrote something I liked even better!
3) This list is only of stories that the author wrote after we featured them. Great stories they'd already written are another bag of beans entirely.
4) Obviously, this is only a list of stories I've actually read. There are probably plenty of other authors who've exceeded their RCL feature since said featuring without me knowing about it (yet), but... well, I don't know about it (yet).
With that said: onward!
What the RCL featured: Home is Where the Harp Is, by Blueshift (featured 12-13-13)
What the author wrote after that: Rise (published 8-14-14) (my review)
Why I'm sad we couldn't feature it: Blueshift is best known for his random comedies, but he has remarkable range as an author. Rise shows not just that range, but a remarkable ability to blend the light, soft-comic tone of Equestria with drama and classical heroism. Just as the story blends and contrasts the breezies' worldview with the ponies' at turns, it combines Lang's theories of storytelling with fanfic-style worldbuilding and lore expansion in ways that are endlessly fascinating and engrossing.
What the RCL featured: Lost Cities, by Cold in Gardez (featured 2-7-14)
What the author wrote after that: Small-Town Charm (published 1-12-14) (my review)
Why I'm sad we couldn't feature it: "But wait," you cry, "Small-Town Charm was published almost a month before you featured Lost Cities!" That's true... but we'd already approved Lost Cities to feature, and interviewed the author, by then. Curse you, healthy post buffer!
Not to speak for the other RCL guys, but I rather doubt they'd have gone for Small-Town Charm as our CiG feature, even if it were possible. But dangit, I think it's the best story the author's written, and that it's one of the best stories on the site. The idea of dinner-plate-sized spiders amiably crawling all over everything and everyone, and of nobody except Twilight batting an eyelash at it, is both comical and visceral. As a plot, it gives a perfectly Equestrian vehicle for exploring the way we view traditions, both as insiders and outsiders of the community practicing them, and it recognizes both how absurd those traditions can be, and how important they are despite--or even because of--the fact that they don't make logical sense. And the ending is deliciously open to interpretation.
What the RCL featured: A War of Words - The Opening of the Guard, by Georg (featured 5-9-14)
What the author wrote after that: The One Who Got Away (published 8-28-15) (my review)
Why I'm sad we couldn't feature it: This is another one where the story the RCL actually featured is probably the better one for featuring... but I enjoyed The One Who Got Away a lot more. It helps that the story is synergistic with its flaws; the main character may be painfully obtuse and the setup abrupt, but the story is about discovering that the world is a larger, more wonderful place than you ever knew, which gives those elements a kind of meta-appropriateness. In any case, the author's growth between these two stories shows clearly in the quality of the prose, and The One is as full of beautiful, evocative language as it is of clever bits of lore and history.
What the RCL featured: Where Have the Stars Gone?, by HoofBitingActionOverload (featured 5-30-14)
What the author wrote after that: Spring is Dumb (published 5-18-14) (my review)
Why I'm sad we couldn't feature it: My exact words in an RCL e-mail chain were "Well, damn. I was all ready to rec Spring is Dumb, and then I find out we posted a Hoofbitingactionoverload story." As with Small-Town Charm, we just barely missed this one, too; it had already come out by the time the RCL post went up, in fact. Anyway, Spring is Dumb is one of those stories that absolutely nails the unreliable narrator for comic effect. As I said in the same e-mail chain, "Seriously though, go read Spring is Dumb if you haven't already. I don't care if it's not for RCL, that fic was gold."
What the RCL featured: In Bloom, by Pascoite (featured 3-21-14)
What the author wrote after that: My Domestic Equestria (published 9-11-14) (my review)
Why I'm sad we couldn't feature it: I don't usually get worked up over downvotes, least of all downvotes on other people's stories, but the three people who felt like they needed to hit the red thumb after reading this are so wrong it causes me almost physical pain. While this story probably won't be to everyone's taste, being as it is the (nonfiction!) story of the author playing ponies with his child, it's a deliciously heartwarming glimpse of family life, informed by MLP not only in that it has pony toys, but in its presentation and tone. It's such a sweet, unique story that I can't help but be sad not to feature it.
...That's by no means an exhaustive list, but those are the fics that come to mind when I think of stories that I wish the RCL could have featured, had we only known in advance that the author was going to write them. Note to writers whom we haven't yet featured: please let us know what date you plan to publish your best work on, so that we can plan ahead!