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Wait, was that the red pill? I meant the blue pill. Damn color-blindness.
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A Single Moment
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#3939 · 14
· on Opal, Gemstones, Salt, Wood, Crystal and Stubbornness
>>Cold in Gardez
First, author, I applaud the deliberate omission of the Oxford Comma. Good choice.

You monster.
#3942 · 5
· on The Empty Throne · >>wYvern >>ShortNSweet >>Cassius
You've done something new with Luna's exile, and congratulations on that!

The sentences are well-written, but I didn't care about the core of the story, which I take to be the council's desire to strip Luna of authority vs. Celestia's desire not to. There are several reasons:

- We're supposed to see the council as the bad ponies. They're bad and stupid, and Celestia and Posh Pin are wise and good. This is a boring way to frame the question. Give the council some good points.

- Above point is made worse because the issue being debated doesn't matter. There are no political consequences for doing so or for not doing so. Celestia is the only pony this matters to, so the council's insistence doesn't make sense, and Celestia's reluctance also frankly is a first-world white-pony-problem. it's hard to feel invested in the outcome, or to feel sympathy for Celestia & Posh Pin, when my impulse is to tell them to pony up and stop whining.

- Posh Pin doesn't help your case. His name, his superior attitude, his priggish conservatism, his destroying the political process by working back channels... I don't like him. He makes his side of the debate seem like knee-jerk conservatism blocking the path of progress.

- We don't know any of the council members other than Posh, who is functionally against the council. They are faceless, nameless antagonists who turn on a dime for the resolution.

- The story says that "the council is full of young bucks that they can’t remember how important how important Princess Luna was to Equestria". It's been less than one day since the battle. Are these ponies, or goldfish? I think this conflict would be stronger if they hated Luna, if they were angry at her and angry at Celestia for forgiving her, than if they just... forgot? Were negligent?

- On that point, they should still be in shock from the battle and sweeping up rubble, catching up on sleep, searching for survivors, preparing for the move out of the ruined castle, or just trying to stop bleeding. Surely on the evening of the battle with Luna, or possibly the morning after, Celestia has more important things to do than argue over ceremonial titles (in a castle that is canonically in ruins, no less).

Seriously, change the chronology so this is a year after the battle, not less than a day after it. That just doesn't work.

- The resolution is that Celestia gives an inspiring speech and the council is caught up in the enthusiasm and goes along with her. That isn't how you defeat antagonists.

The plot is too slim to support the story. I suggest keeping that story, but condensing all this "Hail Queen Celestia!" stuff into one scene at the start, and having Celestia do something in response. Like saying, "Okay. I am Queen Celestia. All other noble titles and their privileges are now void. I declare this council disbanded and my authority absolute. The miscegenation laws are now repealed. Land will be redistributed and public education integrated. I'm seizing your mansions and turning them into public housing. Report to the unemployment office tomorrow for your new work assignments." Then figure out how to get from there to the same ending you have now.
#4014 · 5
· on The Concubine or How Luna Got Her Groove Back · >>Derpmind
I read the story and liked it a lot. I think an ideal reader--one raised in a different civilization that didn't have 2000 years of Christianity--wouldn't see a comically sexual introductory section, and a common-folk homespun conclusion, as contradictory.
#4112 · 5
· · >>FanOfMostEverything
Saved by the Fire: To delay graduating from high school, Sunset Shimmer summons dragons to attack Canterlot High.

He Come to Her Groove: Brave Heart's need for a job filled with danger leads him to become Luna's concubine.
#3948 · 4
· on Slingshot · >>The_Letter_J >>Bugle >>horizon
This would easily be at the top of my slate if it were on my slate. I really like how social facts and relationships are woven in among the technical ones, like the poetry and the observations about Flurry & Cadence. I like it when a few words convey vast amounts of information, like how "The most-upvoted response" tells us the previous poem was posted on an interactive network like the Web which measures upvotes like Reddit, and that upvotes are salient, indicating a culture of egalitarian democracy.

The story used the words 'literal' / 'literally' 6 times, which is about 5 times too many.

Helping the changelings survive is problematic, though that's not your fault; the setting leaves you stuck having to say something about them. I realize my belief that saving the changelings is like saving the timber wolves is a minority viewpoint.

Matumaini ('hope'): It's chic to use a Swahili word, but only in an online publication, where Google is close at hand. In print, it would be as much of a dick move as using an untranslated Latin phrase.

the 2.5 million light-years to Hope could be covered with an intergalactic banishment of just under two thousand subjective Equestrian years.

The irony, Twilight often noted, could not have possibly been lost on Celestia.

... am I missing something? Just under 1000 = ironic. Just under 2000 = ???

It's admirable how that big wall o' text infodump has 3 different points, at the start, in the middle, and at the end, where it connects to something else--the existence of the aliens at the start, new head-canon about Equestria in the middle, and Luna's banishment at the end. It's admirable that the author had enough restraint to hold off on the infodump this long.

Not a minor quibble: The impact of the last line is broken because it doesn't grammatically fit with the sentences before. I figured out that it meant "We'll make friends with everyone we find," but to do so I had to stop and re-read the last several sentences a few times, try to think of possible interpretations, and finally decide that must be the interpretation even though it didn't make any sense grammatically. That killed the dramatic impact. When it comes to central story points or dramatic moments, whenever possible, & when not deliberately handing out puzzle pieces, make things clear, not just clear enough that the reader can figure it out. (Unless the impact comes from the delayed realization.) I put that in italics because a lot of authors argue with me on that point. Requiring extra cognitive effort to parse sentences or resolve pronouns is far more destructive than authors realize, especially in sentences that are supposed to have emotional impact. It's like telling a joke this way:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
It demarcated the boundary between where it wanted to be and where it was.

By the time you figure out what it means, the joke is dead.

>>Bugle There's no technobabble here. This is hard SF.

Hard SF quibbles:

"Canterlot Castle, 120.47138 kilometers away" -- 0.00008 km = 8 cm. This is more precise than the measurement can be meaningfully defined. To be that precise, you have to answer questions like: Are you taking the nearest point of the castle, the nearest point of its bounding convex surface, the nearest point of a simplified polygon representation (to eliminate irregularities in its surface), the nearest point on the surface of the land, its center of mass, etc.? Are you measuring to the nearest point on Twilight, to Twilight's center of mass? Are you measuring at the moment she begins thinking the proposition, the moment she stops, or are you taking a path integral over Twilight's center of mass throughout that thought? Etc. The implication of such a precise measurement is that Twilight is now an artificial intelligence, as only an AI could make use of such precision. Either that, or their user interface technology is both highly advanced and stupid.

"If Celestia grabbed Shard and "raised" it to in front of Equestria—leveraging unicornium's unique properties to do so without pushing the planet backward and "slowing down" Equestria in normal three-dimensional space—she could then turn on its gravity and have it pull the system's center of gravity forward."
-- This allows you to build a free energy pump. In other words, it breaks the universe. It would be better not to mention this speed-up method.
#3983 · 4
· on The Day the God of Time Stopped by for Tea · >>wYvern >>ShortNSweet >>MrNumbers
This story isn't on my slate; I read it because I saw it getting a lot of comments that sounded unreasonable, so I checked. I disagree with a lot of them. This story is (mostly) great.

As to being pony, it's pony because Fluttershy, Angel, and Twilight are pony, and because a God of Time fits in Equestria better than he would into generic fantasy settings. The story grows out of Fluttershy's personality and her relationship with Angel Bunny, and the personalities of Twilight and Angel are also useful to it. I don't understand the "not pony" complaints at all. The original point of fan-fiction is to write about the characters, and this does that better than any of the other stories I've read in this competition, so ???

Character voicing is done well. Fluttershy, the God of Time, and the narrator all have distinctive & consistent voices. The GoT's voice is Discord's voice, though, which is odd in an MLP story, because then it seems Discord is disguising himself in order to kill Flutters. That probably isn't what you intended.

I would ignore the comments asking why Discord GoT wants money, or why he wants payment back in time. This kind of story is not that literal. This is a pseudo-fairy tale. Story elements are, let's say, symbolic.

The dark ending, though... it's a choice. Maybe it's not a bad choice. It feels like a questionable tonal shift, though. This story is unique enough, and out-of-place enough, that we struggle to locate it in story-space, and we might need some extra hints in the start and middle about how dark it might be.

I'm undecided on how much of a problem the wall-o-text is which MrNumbers commented on. It is a wall of dialogue, but it's great dialogue, and it's supposed to come out in an overpowering rush. It is hostile. Maybe break it in two & insert a response from Flutters before "So I waited".

The only thing I can single out as bad is a semantic mismatch:

“My friends will stop you!” Fluttershy cried. “Twilight will stop you!”

“Actually,” the God of Time said, pausing, “I think you’re right. I believe Twilight Sparkle will be my next customer.

Actually, he doesn't think she's right. He doesn't think Twilight will stop him. Change that from "I think you're right" to something like "you have a point. Perhaps I should make Twilight..." As it is, it stopped me and broke the flow of the story at the worst possible moment.
#4963 · 4
· · >>Trick_Question
Roger, the new voting system doesn't work well for me, because I read the stories on an e-reader. I want to download the stories on my slate to an e-reader, but I can't after I read my opening slate, because I have to vote on a story before I can get assigned another story. I'd like to be able to get another batch of stories to read and know that I'll be able to vote on them.

It would also be nice to be able to add stories that I've read to my voting slate, maybe by a button by its gallery entry. If I go out of my way to read a story, I don't think it biases the voting for me to add that to my slate, as long as I vote on my entire original slate.
#5211 · 4
· on Only, Only, Only Me · >>Not_A_Hat
But I'm not seeing arc or plot;
It's pretty, but it is not fraught
With tension, anger, or device,
To draw me in. My heart's uncaught.

I think it's unfair to compare a poem to a story in this way.
If you compare this to the older love poetry it's mostly modeled on, I think you'll find the old stuff is even less dramatic. Poetry is rooted in an older tradition than prose, a classical/medieval tradition in which there is no tension because every poem or story is just a re-working of tropes in a predictable fashion. This was broken by the metaphysical poets just after Shakespeare, for a few years--about 1600-1620--and then we had another 300 years of boring love poetry until things started changing around 1920. I think it's unfair to accuse "Only, only, only me" of being less than gripping in a world in which John Keats is still considered a great poet.

William Browne, early 17th century:
Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse:
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother,
Death, ere though has slain another
Fair and learn'd and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.

Robert Herrick (1591-1675):
When as in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.
Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free
O how that glittering taketh me!

John Keats
The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!
Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast,
Warm breath, light whisper, tender semi-tone,
Bright eyes, accomplish’d shape, and lang’rous waist!
Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise –
Vanish’d unseasonably at shut of eve,
When the dusk holiday – or holinight
Of fragrant-curtain’d love begins to weave
The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight,
But, as I’ve read love’s missal through to-day,
He’ll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.

Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864):
Ah, what avails the sceptred race!
Ah, what the form divine!
What every virtue, every grace!
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
May weep, but never see,
A night of memories and of sighs
I consecrate to thee.

See also Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe:
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

... or don't. These are all famous poems, and all less dramatic than "Only, Only, Only Me" above.
#5464 · 4
I had one small victory... I submitted the prompt. Roger, I want a badge for winning the prompt. :P
#3912 · 3
· on A New Home · >>Posh >>Astrarian >>Oroboro
I agree with literally everything >>Posh said (and have head-canonized the names Rainbow Dad and Mombow Dash). It didn't even occur to me that the opening scene was a dream until I read Posh's comment; I was just confused by Rainbow having a possibly-homicidal real-mom somewhere who never entered the story.

My suggestion: Start this story where you ended it, with Rainbow moving out. I predict it will not go well and lessons will be learned, mainly by Dash, who seems to be the pony who most needs to learn them.