Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fandom Classics Part 158: Pinkie Pie is an Eldritch Abomination

To read the story, click the image or follow this link.

Over Easter, my family and I engaged in one of those classic hypotheticals: if you had to pick one actor or actress who would appear in a major role in every movie you saw for the rest of your life, who would it be?  To be clear, that's "every movie you see will magically have them cast as a major role," not "you can only watch movies they actually had a major role in."  Then we went to second, third, fourth, and fifth choices.

Between Sean Connery, BRIAN BLESSED, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee, and John Hurt, it turns out that my hypothetical world of cinema is rather heavy on elderly/dead white British men.  I should probably expand my filmographic horizons, shouldn't I?  Oh well, I've got plenty of time left to start learning to appreciate actors and actresses who are... well, anyone other than old white British men.  Meanwhile, how about we get on with the reviewing?  Click below for my thoughts on PonyAmorous's Pinkie Pie is an Eldritch Abomination.

Impressions before reading:  There are a lot of "Serious Pinkie metafiction" stories out there, which in some way examine her fourth-wall breaking ability.  Most of these stories are shallow, uninteresting, or both, and generally the ones that are under 2000 words (like this one is) don't leave themselves enough space to actually explore Pinkie in any meaningful way; their wordcount ends up being entirely taken up by the premise itself, and "Pinkie acknowledges the audience" becomes the story's core element, rather than its jumping-off point.  So all told, I'm not feeling terribly positive about this as I sit down to read.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight wakes up next to a mysterious journal written in her own writing, which details her studies of "Pinkie Sense."

A few thoughts:  The majority of the story is told through Twilight's journal, which ends up being a weak device in a number of ways.  First, it occupies an uncomfortable middle ground between scientific and personal; second, it's used as a blatantly expository tool; and third, it doesn't do a terribly good job of capturing Twilight's voice, even accounting for the time it was written (back in the summer of '12, Twilight's voice wasn't, perhaps, as well-established as it is as we enter season six).

There's also the fact that, as I feared, the story doesn't actually do much with Pinkie's "Eldritch Abomination" status.  Despite the journal's premise, her awareness of the fourth wall and of the audience is not meaningfully investigated.  Instead, it's simply a fact which Twilight discovers, and not a word is spent on either explanation or explication thereof; it's treated every bit as much as "a thing which doesn't bear investigating" as it ultimately is in the episode Pinkie's Pinkie Sense comes from--an attitude at which this story takes a couple clear swipes, albeit as a plot point.

And yet, this doesn't end up being a disaster, because (title notwithstanding) this isn't really a story about Pinkie at all.  It's not even a story about Twilight discovering something about Pinkie.  Instead, it's (to borrow the author's phrase) an existential horror story in which Pinkie is Twilight's vector of discovery, rather than the discovery herself.  In this view, the journal isn't really the story, even though it's most of the wordcount.  Instead, the real story is Twilight's dawning discovery, and the twist at the end.  And even though the former is mostly implied (indeed, perhaps because of that), it gives the final revelation a delicious sense of dawning darkness.

The writing helps in this regard, bringing in details which quickly add up to a coherent whole even as they leave many aspects of the setting unexplored, guiding the reader's focus to where it's needed most.  While the journal itself may not be particularly strong on a technical level when treated as Twilight's writing, it is strong in the abstract.  And at the beginning and end of the story, where that conceit isn't present the construction is an unambiguous strong point.

Star rating:  

There's an excellent piece of horror about Twilight at the core of this story.  Or rather, at the edges, seeing as those elements largely bookend the fic.  The middle provides necessary context and setup for the final reveal, so I can't hate it too much, but it (the journal section, specifically) does seem rather long as a piece of explication, and doesn't do a terribly good job of being much else, nor of providing more than the most standard of views of meta-Pinkie.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for something short and with a pleasantly disturbing reveal, this would be a good choice.  Sticklers for voicing might find this a bit off-putting, though, and readers hoping for some sort of "how" or "why" will doubtless leave frustrated.

Next time:  Gods-In-Law, by Pearple Prose


  1. That's actually a better review than I'd expected for a story with a title like that. :) I'm gonna have to check it out now.

    1. Addendum: Apparently I read this three years ago and forgot about it, having been overall nonplussed but appreciative of the ending. :B

  2. Author here (Ponyamorous is my fimfiction pen name while Scienceandponies is everything else). I find the review eminently fair. To be honest, I have no idea how this story ever got that popular. I was still cutting my teeth on Then Tomorrow Came (my first attempt at actually writing fiction) and this was just a transient thought that popped up while procrastinating on the next chapter. I jotted it down in an hour or two so I could get the idea out of my head and get back to work. Glad people enjoy it though.

    1. Dude, I didn't know you wrote fanfiction! I've been following you on YouTube for, like, four years now

    2. It's funny which stories people seem to glom on to, isn't? But as bits of transient jotting go, I think this is quite the solid example. Thanks for commenting!