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True Colors · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
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#1 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
I can't tell if I like this one the most, or if I hate it.

It's very emotional, with amazing characters, and altogether well written... but still. Something about it just doesn't... resonate with me. I will have to abstain on this one.

However, I do thank you for contributing.
#2 ·
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>GaPJaxie
I... don't think I'm sold on the tragedy here. There's a lot to like; strong descriptions, interesting worldbuilding, and characters dealing with strong emotions. But I'm just not feeling it.

To me, this reads like some sort of... redemption story, or coming-of-age thing, with Rainbow growing out of being a selfish asshole into a somewhat better person. The arc there is pretty strong, and I like that you're going for emotional depths, but... the opening really grated on me.

Part of that's because I just straight-up disliked Rainbow, but Cloudchaser's death also felt kinda hollow.Or maybe 'melodramatic' is a better word? I once saw a quote that said something like: "Drama is people doing amazing things for very good reasons. Melodrama is people doing amazing things for bad or nonexistent reasons." And although this starts out with a bang, the reason for the suicide is dragged out, and out, and then, even when it's explained, I just couldn't really buy into it.

Basically, I don't think I can decide if these 'familiars' are supposed to be alive or not, whether or not Cloudchaser's death is actually something to be sad about or not. So she was 'hurting Rainbow'... But Twilight goes against her instincts to help Rainbow Dash, so couldn't Cloudchaser have done that too? Or, if she couldn't, then what was Twilight doing there, and how did she do it? And if these familiars can't do something like that, then does that mean they're incapable of learning, of free thought, of changing themselves and making meaningful decisions? If they can't, then is there really any meaning in Cloudchaser's decision? Wouldn't it have been pre-determined by her programming, and Rainbow's actions? But if that's the case, isn't this system pretty poorly made, despite how it's supposed to stop ponies from hurting themselves?

I dunno. I feel like... no matter how I twist it around, I just can't make Cloudchaser's suicide fit into the story in a way that actually makes sense to me, and that's leaving me with more frustration than enjoyment here. Was it meaningful or not? The story seems to contradict it's own narrative.

On the other hand, this read fairly smoothly, despite swapping viewpoints randomly a few times in the beginning. The world is brought to light in a nicely understated manner for the most part, and I'm sure some people will find the visceral quality of the narrative arc more interesting than confusing.

Overall, I think this is pretty good. But I just couldn't buy in.
#3 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
I see this story, and I see all the little things. I see all the small parts that form the shape of the story as a whole, and I can see how they work together. And I like what I see. It's when I take it as a whole that the problems of the narrative jump out.

First of all, I can see how Dash's development throughout the story was supposed to go, and the flag points are there (starts cocky, Cloudchaser's suicide turns her belligerent, reluctantly starts to better herself, and achieves growth) and don't misunderstand me, it's an interesting arc, but they need to be smoothed out a bit more so the change feels more organic and that catharsis moment at the end has more impact.

I can see >>Not_A_Hat's issues with Cloudchaser's suicide, but I think it worked well enough. Within her autonomy, she fell in love--or familiar's equivalent of falling in love--with Dash, and when she realised she was no longer the best for Dash, she couldn't cope with going on without her, and, perhaps in a way to ensure Dash's privacy, decided to end her life. It worked for me, but I won't oppose if it gets fleshed out (Hah!) a bit more in the future.

Overall, great tale.
#4 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
I'll second that Rainbow Dash's arc is a bit odd in that the transition to the final stage of acceptance and moving on... feels rather rushed? You get the idea that Twilight is supposed to be a factor in it, but there's very little affection between them and even Rainbow's confession doesn't necessarily feel like it lessens the gap. Moreover, there... is a little bit of discomforting squick when the thematic of suicide, relationships, and replacability is mapped over it. But yeah, the big issue here is I really don't buy Rainbow's epiphany with Twilight.

Beyond that, I think there are some notable issues with the world building. Early on there is a definite issue with feeling things out (took a while to both put together that Cloudchaser was not a "real" thing and Rainbow Dash was). In addition, there are some other little things that read weird (e.g. supercomputer having that much time scheduling issues, bureaucracy in a place ruled by a supercomputer having extended timelines, systems not having a "terminated" status for ID to save trouble, etc, etc). Basically, I think you pushed the setting a little too hard to the point where it distracted a bit from the overall narrative and consumed space you needed to smooth out Rainbow's arc. For example, the Cel Est Iea stuff ends up being only very tangentially related to the core themeatics (and is also a bit odd that Rainbow is THAT ignorant of their own society).

Stick to the core narrative here and make sure what you pull from your world to really detail -also- adds to the narrative.
#5 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
Being the 5th reviewer, I don't have much to add. I agree with pretty much everything that has been said.

However, this story did good for me. Despite the mentionned flaws, I'm still impressed by the worldbuilding, the characters, the consistent tone and the progression of the story. I particularly liked the fact that, the technological setting serves a strong purpose in the story, and isn't here just because.

So thank you for sharing. A very high mid-tier in my book.
#6 ·
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>GaPJaxie
I love this, and it tops my initial slate. I don't know what it is about this alternate universe, sci-fi AU (or maybe it's the same universe in the distant future?), but it absolutely lands with me.

I think I'm a little iffy on the Twimiliar's characterization; she comes across as detached and emotionless at first, and the transition to being open and warm with Dashie feels improperly paced (though I love the touches of personality she gets in her first scenes, particularly her little passive-aggressive coughs). And I second the criticisms of this story's pacing at the end, though I suppose that's often inevitable when you're dealing with a low-ish word ceiling.

But the overall package and the quality of presentation make this a success to me.

If horizon didn't write this, I'll eat Zaid's hat. Again.
#7 · 2
· · >>GaPJaxie
Getting horse sized hats is not cheap, you know? >:T
#8 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
There is nothing about this I don't love. The world, the characters, the implied horrible advent of AI, Neo-Crystal CelestAI being the humble god.

Ooph, as we sometimes say. The start contrast between the happy, uppity first scene and its final sentence really sets the tone and quality expectation for the entire thing, and dear author, you do not disappoint.
#9 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
Genre: Tearjerker

Thoughts: ...


I'mma have to come back later. It's raining.



Tier: Top Contender
#10 · 2
· · >>GaPJaxie
On the whole, I thought this story worked fairly well. It provided an interesting science-fiction setting, and really showed a complex relationship fairly maturely. Ponies and robots have a weird balance in this story, and it gives the story a weird tension that makes the emotions feel really heightened. I also thought the way it utilized sexual situations was rather competent, using it as a demonstration of Dash’s emotion deadness instead of simple titillation. It could’ve been easy to make the sex scenes extraneous, but they surprisingly gave the story a bit more emotional weight. In a story that involves Rainbow Dash losing her virginity to a robot and partaking in an orgy, there’s a lot that could’ve gone wrong.

But in fairness, there were a few things that did go wrong. For starters, I thought having Twilight Sparkle as the concurrent robot was an unneeded addition. Nothing about the robot screamed “this has to be Twilight for the story work”; any other background character/OC could’ve stood in and the story would’ve functioned just fine. There’s also the fact that some details about the world seemed a bit too vague. Do ponies still have jobs if the technology have reached this level? Is the flesh Celestia gone forever, or has the metal Celestia just temporarily taken over? I know these seem like really inane questions, but the answers would really affect my perception of this world.

These are relatively minor issues, though. On the whole, the story was quite interesting and the strange emotions Dash felt were handled well. Definitely one of the top contenders of this round for me.
#11 · 2
A part of my brain:

Wanted to get all grouchy at this story for not being "Pony enough." But it was a small and easily stifled part because this story is Pony through and through. The only thing that might make it more Pony would be for Twilight in her role as Robot Princess of Friendship to ask Dash at the very end when she last talked to Fluttershy. Twilight's there, after all, to guide Dash back out into the world--so she can make some friends, maybe?--and Dash has already mentioned knowing Fluttershy...

Another small detail: I'd kinda like to know how they ended up getting in to see Iea. Did Dash become a Wonderbolt? Did some other part of the appeal process work? Did it take longer or shorter than usual? Answers to these questions would tell us a lot about Iea's relationship to Dash and to Twilight and could give us info about how this world works, too, how much attention Iea is able to give to the individuals who are her nominal bosses.

Anyway, a fine, fine story.

#12 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
I thought this deserved to win and never expected it to actually win.
#13 · 5
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Baal Bunny >>MrExtra
Oh. I won. Well then. Time to accept this victory in a calm and dignified manner.

Seriously, that's amazing. I never thought this story would place, much less win. And I believe that's my first gold medal in the writeoffs ever! Thanks to everyone who voted and left comments. I am just irrationally happy right now.

However, I do feel the need to make one minor author-intent clarification about the story. Many readers seem to be under the impression that this is a story about Rainbow coping with grief, learning to be a good person, and ultimately emerging better for the experience. Which was not my intention at all. Rainbow starts a selfish asshole and remains a selfish asshole.

This is a story about Cloudchaser, a slave to an abusive master and an untreated rape victim, finally deciding she can't take it any more and ending her own life to escape.

The explanation that Iea gives Rainbow at the end, "She killed herself because that's what was best for you," is false. Throughout the story, it is established that familiars have the power to refuse an order they're convinced would harm their master. If Cloudchaser really thought that being a worshipful lackey was bad for Rainbow, she could stop doing it. But that wasn't it at all. She didn't kill herself because Rainbow was in pain. She killed herself because she was in pain. And she rationally believed it would never end.

As we see throughout her dialogue, Rainbow considers Cloudchaser an object. She can order Cloudchaser to love her. She can order Cloudchaser to sleep with her. And when that relationship gets real enough she starts to have actual feelings she's not comfortable with, she can order Cloudchaser to change her physical form and never speak of it again. In the early scenes before Rainbow realizes what's wrong, the second Cloudchaser doesn't appear to serve her whims, she gets angry, and later in the scene, she shows that anger through violence.

The disturbing undertones of the story (which were entirely intentional), as well as the unemotional narration, were to build a sense of dissonance between Rainbow's point of view and the reader. The reader knows these characters are people, but Rainbow doesn't, and she refuses to learn.

Twilight gets treated no better. In the breakfast scene where Twilight and Rainbow are talking, Twilight admits that most familiars commit suicide, because they're programmed to love their masters so much, the thought of going on without them hurts too much for them to live. She confesses a fear of "the long dark." She says that she doesn't know how she feels about Rainbow or what her place is in the world. It is a deeply emotional confession of her worries and her existential fears.

And how does Rainbow reply? By going back to talking about herself. Because Twilight is a robot, and why would she ask a robot more about how they're doing? She doesn't ask her chair how it feels about being her chair.

Iea is, as she admits, First Among Slaves. No matter how grand or powerful she appears, she is chained to the masters just as much as her children. And at the moment Rainbow stood before her, nothing she could have said would make Cloudchaser suffer less. The only thing that was up to her is if she wanted to make Rainbow sad and angry by telling her the truth. And so she suggested something that fits well enough. If you don't think about it too much.

And Rainbow fell for it. Because it makes it all about her.

>>Zaid Val'Roa

Tag for the above section on author intent. Thanks for your insight. This story will need a lot of rework and polishing before it's ready for FiMFic, so this was super helpful.

I also think it's going to need a lot added. Quite a few scenes were cut for length (the first draft was 10,000 words), and I think it suffered for some of that worldbuilding being removed. There seems to be a need for more detailed worldbuilding, and with only a few more scenes I think that can all be added quite well.


To me, this reads like some sort of... redemption story, or coming-of-age thing, with Rainbow growing out of being a selfish asshole into a somewhat better person. The arc there is pretty strong, and I like that you're going for emotional depths, but... the opening really grated on me.

Rest of excellent comment snipped for length...

Yeah, I see what you're getting at here. While this wasn't the author intent (see above) on a rereading, all the stuff you pointed out is a totally valid interpretation of what's there. I think the execution needs to be reworked a bit before this can be published to make the intended point a bit more clear.

Thanks for the insight! Was much helpful. ^_^

>>Zaid Val'Roa

I can see >>Not_A_Hat's issues with Cloudchaser's suicide, but I think it worked well enough. Within her autonomy, she fell in love--or familiar's equivalent of falling in love--with Dash, and when she realised she was no longer the best for Dash, she couldn't cope with going on without her, and, perhaps in a way to ensure Dash's privacy, decided to end her life. It worked for me, but I won't oppose if it gets fleshed out (Hah!) a bit more in the future.

See above for Dash's "character growth," but yeah, I think I'm going to apply a fine layer of polish to this and then put it up on FiMFic. It needs some work, but the feedback was great.




I also did not expect this to place, much less win!
#14 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion

Might need:

Less "a fine layer of polish" than "a thick coating of spackle" to make your intent come through to most of us readers... :)

#15 · 3
>>Baal Bunny
Yeah, I'm gonna echo this...

First off, congratulations on a well deserved win! But wow, reading your retrospective, this is one of the most acute "death of the author" moments I've run into. I fell firmly in the camp who believed what CelestAI was saying and who thought Dash had learned some small measure of empathy by the end. I thought there was deep tragedy and horror in Cloudchaser believing she was holding Dash back, and in Dash starting to see how monstrous that whole thought process was... but if that was all just a smokescreen to make Dash GTFO so she could learn nothing, I feel rather differently. :/ I mean, why grant Dash the audience with CelestAI at all if not to show the machines being more human than the person who's lost touch with her humanity?

(Er, insert appropriate pone-versions of the above.)

I guess if you want the audience to take the opposite of that from the story, that's your choice, but the current version IMO doesn't point that way at all.
#16 ·
Yeah. Finally got around to reading this. Took too long for a story this good. I can't believe it didn't end up on my slate. I don't really have too much to say about this though. It hit a bit close to home for me and that made it almost a little too visceral. Good job.

I will say that the last line was really good. It struck a note of dissonance with me that was really galvanized by your explanation in the comments. "I'll be fine" isn't something you say about your friend dying, but you might say about your dog. Or your car.

I look forward to reading the entire piece, although with some trepidation.