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Counterfeit · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 ·
Damn, missed prompt submission again. I just forgot to check when I got home from work and did other things and didn't think of it until now.

At least I didn't miss voting this time.
#2 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
At the confluence of several factors, I have actually written a thing longer than a thousand words for the first time in a long time. Please don’t have me win by default. …Again.
#3 · 1

Looks like:

There'll be at least two of us, then. :)

#4 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
Why do I keep doing this?
#5 ·
The only person who can take care of you, and understand you, is you. So you must take care of yourself.
#6 ·
· on It Takes a Village
The style, I think, could be condensed a little. This writer has a fondness for 'establishing' details--"I'm an entrepreneur and you're a Wonderbolt"; "lunch with Twilight at noon"; "Sweetie Belle in the new auditorium"--building Ponyville up from the gridded bricks. These things suggest a sort of virtuosity but I tend to scan through them as a reader.

Beneath all that, however, there is a very satisfying thematic consistency here, subtly woven into the plot and carried through with great skill. The irony that Rainbow Dash is bad with words, but becomes the most verbal character by the proxy of Starlight, Trixie, and Starburst, is a pleasure, and could hold up in its own setting.
#7 ·
· on Zero-Sum Game
Almost perfect; my gripe with this one is the title. Because of the title, I saw where this was going immediately and any suspense felt deflated.

Other than that, the prose and the interaction between the characters are all excellent.
#8 ·
· on It Takes a Village
I can’t quite pin down the dynamic between Rainbow Dash and Rarity. Little hints suggest that they both hold some feelings for the other (especially Dash, with that ‘easy to fall for Rarity’ bit), but they both seem to clearly understand that they want very different things out of a relationship. With this odd tension I’m reading in things, I’m distracted from what might otherwise be a compelling if mundane bit of friendshipping. Part of me is left wondering how much the StarTrixBurst trifecta stole the writer away, as much as they stole the mid-story plot (not that that’s a bad thing, writer?).
#9 ·
· on Creature from Beyond the Stars
I read this once. Then I read it again. Writer, I’m sorry but: Oh my stars I don’t care. This story comes across to me as the one scene from Back to the Future, where McFly can do nothing as the terrorists show up and shoot Doc Brown over the plutonium he stole (oops—spoilers), stretched out to a short story.

FiO canon-compatible CelestAI does not grant wishes—she satisfies values through friendship and ponies. (There’s a delightfully faithful story on fimfic focusing on a serial killer, for instance.)

Skywriter doesn’t seem to make much of a choice about anything, rather just drifting into taking huge risks because why not that’s that the intro set up for us and how CelestAI made him. The interesting bit for me is not in this story: so Star Voyager made it and is some anathema being… what will Skywriter and Star Voyager do with their lives, always trying to stay one step away of those who fear and are compelled to destroy [the secret society that brought them together and] the both of them?
#10 · 1
· on Pumpkin Talk · >>Heavy_Mole
This one is big on using its language, turns of phrase, and eloquent descriptions, and I’m all for that.

There’s a couple ideas a play here, that I can see. First is the interesting perspective that apparently all three see (or can be made to see) the role of ‘princess’ as being at least partly that of adventurer… or at least requiring adventure, and the observation that ‘exerting themselves as they feel they could would destroy the world’ is a keen one. Second is that the managerial rule—that is, the ruler aspect of rule—crushed their lives and sense of expression. Against this, a bit kept pinging at the back of my mind: “A hole appeared in the Korean DMZ, that’ll get your attention. A PR crisis will demand your attention. …In [three hundred some] days, we will leave this office [of the White House]. In those days, we have the opportunity to effect more change than possibly the rest of our lives. What do you really want to do with them?” …which takes a very different perspective on the role and motivations of a ruler (or at least governor). However, one’s tenure in the West Wing is far more fleeting than the centuries or millennia of the princesses.

This one was really clever. I’m just a bit torn on its message.
#11 ·
· on Zero-Sum Game
Is this horror? I think this is horror.

Great use of bookends; I think I can see how the story arc as a whole mirrors itself. Sunset’s anxieties and general erosion could be better articulated, I think… the latter scenes feel like they’re glossing over what she’s really focusing on or what’s pulling her apart (unless it’s meant to be an irrational, very internal erosion, in which case more of her internal monologue may help, rather than focusing so much on her physical expressions). Similarly, sinister Sunny at the end lands in the uncanny valley of being not clearly set up and maybe not communicated strongly enough? The ending really needs to stick the landing, and it may have wobbled a bit.

Digging into the negative implications about { puberty, sexual freedom/deviancy, self-actualization, independence, touch addiction(?) } being bad things is not something I have time to get into, and those negative associations are probably unintentional anyway (you tell me, writer).
#12 ·
· on New
This was the unveiling show for her spring collection.

Coming off of Zero Sum Game, the way these opening paragraphs were framed, with this line in particular, I was primed to think this was Rarity losing her mind. I’m not sure the reality is any kinder.

Rarity may not know what she wants to say anymore, but stars this story does. I’m not putting together the right word, but it expresses immaculately the feeling of burnout that comes from realizing that your career has left you up shit creek and you have no one and nothing to blame for landing there but yourself. There are gems of language and insight to be unearthed all about; Rarity’s emotional journey through the story is conveyed impeccably… To the top of my slate it goes, and there it shall remain.
#13 ·
· on Creature from Beyond the Stars
I am not familiar with the "fan canon" from which some of the details of this story are drawn.

There are some references to artificial intelligence and to the Pfermi Paradox; but as a story archetype this reads rather more like "the Monkey's Paw" than science fiction, having to do with the consequences of 'wish fulfillment'. Because of this, I felt a strong anticipation for a bait-and-switch, but got served straight.

It's tricky to do "paranormal" well. When we can see and talk to a ghost, it ceases to be "para-" and becomes "normal"; and similarly with an alien paradox, because it is a variation on the same idea: when we recognize extraterrestrial life, the 'paradox' of the vacuum collapses. There has to be a touch of the uncanny for it to really work. There is a passage here, where Starsailer is flying over the benighted towns of Equestria, which comes closest to that--having a physical representation of what 'created' Equestria is, as a whole, whilst living it, thrusts our hero into a truly strange world.
#14 · 1
· on Pumpkin Talk · >>Heavy_Mole
First surface impressions: the prose feels a little spotty at times. There are long sentences that meander on, making them (and consequently the ideas they're meant to convey) feel unfocused, dulling their impact.

Digging into theme, or more exactly the idea of how theme is conveyed, I think this story suffers a lot from being so dialogue-heavy. Bring a single scene without much action and mostly just characters talking to each other makes it difficult to show what the themes or ideas of this story are supposed to be without resorting to the characters just saying them more or less outright, and coming across as either too on-the-nose or too fourth wall breaking.

As it is, I'm left without a strong sense of what the theme is supposed to be, exactly. I get a sense that the story is exploring boredom in conflict with the potential for great power, and the need for an outlet lest the old saying about idle hands (hooves?) being the devil's tools be validated. But I'm not sure what the more significant conclusion or takeaway (if any) is supposed to be from that.
#15 ·
· on Pumpkin Talk
This story wobbles a little bit. It begins with "writing", then transitions to "role playing", then changes tone, and becomes about Twilight's missed time with the princesses. It is a stew or gumbo, comprising several things, but more on the side of indecisiveness than roundness.
#16 · 1
Okay, someone gets a drawing.
#17 ·
· on Zero-Sum Game · >>KwirkyJ
My take on this story is that it is a sort-of allegory for overcoming anxiety; distantly, there is also something to do with the difficulties a young person faces in the foster care system, but I will not presume anything on the part of the writer.

The tingling of the back of the neck; the warmth of touch; erotic sensation in the abdomen, all suggest the assertion of the body, which bears on what one ineluctably is, as against our mental repertoire of attitudes and hoped-for states. Note that "Shimmy" never calls Sister Willful, though she is able (through a "burner" telephone), and that we never see an interaction between the two Shimmers with a third party.

The tone of this is very much like "The Metamorphosis", tragi-comic, or perhaps comic-comic (depending on what part of the old Czechoslovakia you are in, I've been told). It has a confident style, and suffers just slightly (in my opinion) from the need to "bookend"--that is, to have the story itself be the "fugue" which is alluded to at various places in the text.
#18 ·
· on New
I like the association of season-themed fashion lines and a feeling of personal stasis. (Who gives a rat's ass about Vivaldi, anyway?) But I am not sure that 'longing for Ponyville' is the right direction to take it, or at least to conclude with. Surely, Rarity's impulse to leave town and pursue a calling was a real feeling, just as her crisis of authenticity is a real feeling; they are at parity, and that is the whole trouble. It figures a bit clumsily in this particular fictional universe, but the designer seeing herself nude in the mirror, caught between these two worlds, is the important image.
#19 ·
· on Pumpkin Talk
This is actually a bit of a shaggy dog story about why (I think) people become writers, and what the "life" is like.

Luna's remarks about burning down the forest were meant to be a punchline, or rather, a perfectly logical justification (in her mind) for her bizarre lifestyle. I didn't intend them to be taken so literally. Since the subject matter is LARPing, I also thought it transposed amusingly to real-life--imagine one of your role-playing friends actually holding back an enormous amount of power, proportionate to their level of investment in their hobby.

When I was younger, life seemed to be filled with promise. I could be whatever I wanted, could set my sights on anything, and other people could, too. The "middle"--without getting too melodramatic--is not quite like that! You've got where you're going, as it were, and 'potential' is sort of a silly question. This is where Celestia and Luna, in my process of writing this, wound up. If existence is too "wide" for us, then surely the essence is just as "deep", and it all becomes a little like role playing.
#20 ·
· on Flyby Knight
Interesting use (and mix) of media. I doubt it was your intent, but I can't help but see some Nightmare Before Christmas elements in here, especially with the moon, sky, and bone-pale shade and expression of the mare. Was the seeming-anthro approach intentional? Is this adapting the cover to something else?

Hm... Is she a mermare/mermaid? Or is the boat why one of them is gone by morning? Intriguing!
#21 ·
· on Zero-Sum Game · >>Heavy_Mole
You gave me some perspectives I hadn't considered before. How it could be interpreted as a story about overcoming anxiety (the scared-me goes away, a stronger me takes her place) I can see, but with 'Shimmy' being so cold, it's debatable who was healthier. Contrasting what the body wants to be and what it is also really surprised me, but I can follow that reasoning as well.

I'm afraid you'll have to explain the tragic-comic/comic-comic description to me, that I don't follow. I felt the bookending served the story as I saw it, with the 'strength' of the two characters always summing to exactly one (or, zero?); as one waxes, the other wanes, and this bookending - actually, mirroring - works to communicate that structurally.

Thanks for your thoughts!
#22 ·
· on Zero-Sum Game · >>KwirkyJ
I meant that there is a certain contrast between the tone of the "incident" of the story and the underlying interpretation we are lead to make of it: what happens is sad or dark, but what really happens is a positive transformation. In "The Metamorphosis" a salesman inexplicably is changed into a giant bug, and his family comes to hate and resent him, except for his sister. The thematic elements of the story revolve around their relationship; eventually she rejects him as well, and emerges a healthy young woman. The story is "tragic" because it appears to be told from the point of view or Gregor.

To be frank, if you're considering a revision of this, I would do away with the "Zero-Sum Game" gimmick altogether. It is a "set-up" for my attention but it does not hold experience for me the way the actual content of the story does. As a reader, it feels like striking a conversation with someone at a party, only to learn later that the other person was just looking for plants for their night club gig. Let the story speak for itself. Maybe come back to it in a few weeks, read it again, and see what it says to you.
#23 ·
· on New
You give a fair representation of Rarity's dilemma, where fashion is *change* and she is feeling frozen in place, because how do you change fashion for the *better* as you progress. As writers, we tend to fall into 'class traps' because we are by nature part of the class that will never be invited to VIP events where people who have far more than two commas in their net worth chat about nothing in particular. Rarity's motivations in-canon are always tricky to represent, because she's driven by ego to become the most famous designer ever, loved by the rich, adored by the glitterati, courted by the nobility. It's a bubble that is constantly only one prick from an explosion, or in this case, a mis-step in front of the people (metaphorical) that she most wants to impress. The thing is the process is a cumulative exercise for her to reach her goal: Elation, explosion, misery, rebuilding to new and greater heights. You only hit the first three steps in this story, leaving it on a downer ending, and people as a rule dislike stories in which the dog dies at the end. (with maybe one yellow exception) This is perhaps why Never The Final Word tends to collect such gems (and the occasional pebble from me).

"So I'm an imposter." The hotel light was insufficient for her purposes, but it would have to do. Mussed and disheveled from tossing and turning, Rarity removed a quill from her traveling bag and sat down on the cheap chair to begin drawing. The quill was no ordinary feather, but the flight pinion of an alicorn, her best and most trusted friend in the world. "I have seen things you posers and hypocrites have never even dreamed of," she muttered between clenched teeth. "I have seen dragons fill the sky, surrounding us like thunder and fire. I have seen the home of breezies and seaponies and faced powers beyond description with my friends. I have been to the MOON and back, while most of you were sniveling about trivia." The quill swooped and darted across the page, leaving wonders in its wake as the night wore on unnoticed outside the window, with the stars twinkling to each other as they peered down at the act of creation and seemed to applaud until the dawn.
#24 ·
· on Zero-Sum Game · >>KwirkyJ
The major problem:

I had with the story is that I can't see any connection between the characters here and the character I know as Sunset Shimmer. You have the perfect opportunity, too, since Equestria Girls has forever left unanswered the question of what happened to the human version of Sunset Shimmer. Maybe she's just gotten her apartment as described at the beginning of the story, then, unable to sleep that night, she walks over to check out the Canterlot High campus only to witness her doppelganger falling out of the Wondercolt statue. She takes this shaky, uncertain version of herself home, and the rest of the story progresses as we see it here, the still-villainous Sunset literally taking over the human Sunset's life.

#25 ·
· on Zero-Sum Game
>>Baal Bunny
This reaction is completely justified -- the pony serial numbers are extremely forged. My goal with this was to explore writing psychological horror. Neither of these characters are meant to be the pony-Sunset, and indeed I was purposefully ambiguous even about exactly how many people are actually present.

I shoehorned EQG elements into an effectively original story so I could double-enter it into a Sunset x Sunset competition (with Horror and AU tags affixed, salvaging elements from dead-end attempts) and to ensure (trick) a ready audience.

It so happens that the winner of the SxS event does exactly what you propose, has a strong romantic dynamic between them (as lovers, exs, and together again), and not a lick of horror to be found.

The Sunset we see at the beginning (Shimmy) is happy, confident, self-assured, eager; despite her less-than-ideal circumstances. The neuroses she develops are exactly correllated with Sunny becoming more and more complex and realized. Further, the 'dark side' of Sunny isn't revealed until Shimmy is completely powerless. (at least, that's what I meant to write). From that perspective I can't say I find your interpretation particulary valid specifically to this story as written. Still interesting to consider, so thanks for following up.
#26 ·
· on Creature from Beyond the Stars
Contest is over and I don't have to say anything pretending to be smart.

Even though it's lopsided in POV, I like this story a lot.