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Glim Glam Presents: Things That Rhyme With Spam, No Meat-Touching Edition
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Hi, I'm Glim Glam. You may remember me from such threads as Kkat's Botched Transition Surgery and Other Tales of Terror by k "I swear I'm an honest to God female" kat, and literally wtf am I reading? by some Mexican guy. I've returned once again for another long-winded review of some long-forgotten bouquet of shit-scented horsewords, that has long-since lost whatever tenuous cultural relevance it may once have had.

>What is this?
This is a literary review thread for pony fanfiction. We take an MLP fic, read through it, and shit all over it discuss its various strengths and flaws.

>Why are you doing this?
Amusement, boredom, pomposity; take your pick.

>Do I have to read the actual fic to follow along?
Not necessarily, but reading the story concurrently along with the thread might give you a better understanding of what I'm talking about. I usually try to provide a clear synopsis of what's going on and quote directly from the text where applicable, but I can't guarantee that my summary will be 100% accurate or clear.

>Doesn't this thread violate the "no generals" rule?
Probably, but does anyone really care at this point?

As ever, discussion of the story is encouraged from those reading the thread. I encourage anons to share their own views and to dispute any of my opinions/takes if they disagree.

Also, I'd like to take a quick survey while I'm at it. Are people still enjoying these threads? Are people legitimately getting something out of this, or is this just turning into another "OP's vanity blog thread?" I'm debating whether or not to call it quits on the fic reviews after this one, and maybe focus either on developing my own (neglected) writing projects or doing a more generalized writing advice thread (or maybe just becoming more of a presence in the existing writing advice thread started by Sven). I also want to get that book club thread that was discussed earlier started up. I legitimately enjoy doing these reviews, but they're also getting to be kind of a time sink. I'd like to hear people's input on whether or not this is still a worthwhile project.

Previous Threads:

Our Girl Scootaloo
By Cozy Mark IV
>>331344 →

Rainmetall *included in the Our Girl Scootaloo thread, post # indicates start point
By Speedy and/or Regular Gonzalez

The Best Night Ever
By Capn_Chryssalid
>>327793 →

Fallout: Equestria
By kkat
>>284789 →

The Sun & The Rose
By soulpillar
>>269307 →

Friendship is Optimal *included in the Past Sins thread, post # indicates start point
By Iceman
>>266598 →

Past Sins
By Pen Stroke
>>248482 →

Would it Matter if I Was?
By Ferret
>>202151 →

Silver "to master the art of sucking dick you must first become the dick and learn to suck yourself" Star and the Adventures of the Endlessly Self-Fellating Britbong
By Nigel
>>165646 →


Current Story:

I.D. - That Indestructible Something
by Chatoyance


Total Word Count:

>A young woman awakens transformed into an Equestrian pony - yet no other human being can perceive her new body in any way whatsoever. With clumsy hooves, but a bright mind, Gregoria Samson must trust in herself to discover the incredible, monumental truth behind her impossible change.

As was the case with Fallout: Equestria and The Best Night Ever, this story is a derivative work, based on a famous story. In this case, the source material is Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. With these other two fics, I mostly avoided comparing them with the properties they were based on, and tried to evaluate them as standalone works. This was mostly because I have never played any Fallout games, and hadn't seen Groundhog Day in a very long time. In this case, I'm a little more familiar with the material being parodied; however, it seems only fair to take the same approach here that I took with the others. As such, I will try to avoid doing too much comparison between this and the story it's based on, and focus on evaluating Chatoyance's writing on its own merits, whatever those may turn out to be.

Alright, let's roll up our sleeves and dive into this.

1. One Morning From Uneasy Dreams

The story opens in a Jewish cemetery in Prague, where a team of workers are excavating one of the graves. Their identity and purpose (other than the fact that they're clearly digging up a corpse) remains a mystery, but we glean that they do not have any official permission to be doing what they are doing, and they could get into quite a bit of trouble for doing it. However, they seem to consider their work important enough to be worth the risk.

A mysterious individual, who appears to be bankrolling the project, is watching from the sidelines. This person's name is not given, but the text refers to him repeatedly with an italicized "he," probably indicating that he's someone important. He seems to be taking a great personal risk by joining his workmen at the site, but he wants to witness the results of this project firsthand. The stakes of whatever they are up to are indicated to be global.

>The team moved aside as he approached. He was dressed not in his usual fine suit, but instead in nondescript clothing, jeans and a hoodie top. He wore sneakers, he always wore sneakers, or canvas shoes, never leather, even with the most expensive of clothes. His driver stood with him over the grave. He was tall, and muscular, and clean-shaven, and very blond.
This is actually some damn fine character description, believe it or not. The author gives us just enough essential information to get a glimpse of this character, while still preserving the mystery surrounding him. Note that there are only two sentences dedicated to describing this person's physical appearance, but we learn quite a bit about him just from what we're given.

We know that he doesn't ordinarily wear casual clothes, so presumably he is well-dressed most of the time, but also that he has a personal quirk about always wearing sneakers. The description of the driver is also sparse, but gives us enough information to form a picture: he is blond, muscular, clean shaven, and tall.

Take note of the word economy here. As we've seen in other stories, you don't want to give the reader either too much information or too little of it. Thus, it's important to focus your description on points that are most essential: what can you tell us about this character that gives us the clearest impression of him?

From the author's sparse description of the mystery man behind this grave-robbing expedition, we actually learn several important things about him. He has a limo and his own personal driver, and can afford to hire a bunch of workmen to dig up a grave in the middle of the night, so he clearly has money. The fact that he's involved in a questionable project like this suggests that he's willing to skirt the law and take risks in order to achieve his ambitions.

The fact that he's taking such risks, as well as spending money on an effort that seems to be more about intellectual curiosity than any material motive, suggests he's the kind of wealthy person for whom money is means to an end, rather than a primary motivation. This is underscored by his attire: he ordinarily wears expensive clothes, indicating that he has no difficulty playing the part of a wealthy businessman (or whatever he is exactly), but he also wears casual shoes with his suits, indicating that he has an independent streak.

Finally, the fact that he can brazenly and confidently flaunt convention like this indicates that he has no actual need to conform; whoever this guy is, he's clearly powerful and successful enough that he doesn't need anyone's approval. This guy isn't middle-management; he's a boss. All of this information is conveyed in a few short paragraphs, and the author does not communicate any of it directly; it's all made clear through impressions.

We're only about five paragraphs into the story, and I've learned that first impressions are pretty much worthless when it comes to evaluating these god-awful horse stories, so I don't want to give Chatoyance too much praise just yet. However, this is a really fine example of a point I've harped on many, many times: word economy is important. Being able to communicate a maximum amount of information using a minimal amount of words is a skill whose value cannot possibly be overstated.

Anyway, whatever; the guys dig up this grave, and it turns out to be Franz Kafka's corpse they're digging up. Holy metafiction, Batman.

Three more seemingly significant things happen. First, the laborers see nothing unusual about the corpse, but our unconventional billionaire clearly makes note of something. Second, whatever he makes note of is clearly very surprising to him. Third, his surprise causes him to exclaim "Sweet Celestia," rather than something more quintessentially human. For now, the author leaves us to ponder what the significance of this might be.

Page break. We arrive in a new scene with new characters. A girl named Gregoria Samson is suddenly awakened by her sister Greta pounding on her door. Her sister calls her by a rude nickname and suggests that she has an overly hairy posterior, indicating that they don't much get along.

I know I said I was going to mostly leave the Kafkaesque please, no meat touching ma'am stuff alone, but there's a fairly obvious reference I ought to get out of the way before we move on. The protagonist of Metamorphosis is named Gregor Samsa, and he has a sister named Grete who mistreats him. So, I'm assuming that Gregoria is going to be our main character and that her sister is going to play a similar role to Grete in the story.

>Her little sister was a pest. She had always been a vile, verminous bug.
I'm assuming this is also a not-especially-subtle reference to the source material.

Anyway, tl;dr this bitch wakes up, her sister calls her a gorilla, and it turns out that for some reason she's a fucking pony now. From context, we can infer that she was not one before.
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>Are people still enjoying these threads
>pic related
Beyond that simple answer, my enjoyment of these threads has much less to do with writing improvement, and more to do with the entertainment of seeing you take the piss out of other works which tend to be undeserving of their fanfare and reputation. You put an enormous amount of effort into the threads, so it's understandable if you wanted to reallocate your time. Still, for as long as you continue to post these, I not exclusively will read them.
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>tl;dr this bitch wakes up, her sister calls her a gorilla, and it turns out that for some reason she's a fucking pony now.
As it turns out, this actually pretty much sums up the rest of the chapter. The author starts rambling quite a bit from here, and by and large this scene goes on for quite a bit longer than it really needs to. Quite a bit of its word count is devoted to the character's inner monologue.

Here's the basic gist of it. Gregoria wakes up from a very pleasant dream involving ponies. Someone named Celestia is mentioned as being part of the dream; I believe we've heard that name somewhere already. She immediately discovers that something is wrong:

>Gregoria stared in horror at her forelimbs, covered now in thick, short, golden yellow hair. The hair lay flat and smooth along her limbs, not the fuzzy fur of a bunny, but the neat, slick coat of a short-haired dog... or a horse. Her hands wouldn't stretch, and with mounting terror Gregoria realized that she could not move her fingers apart. She had no fingers... no, that was not right. She had only one finger, on each hand, the middle finger, which now was gigantic, with a huge and heavy nail at the end.
Once again, this is some not-entirely-bad description of a character's appearance. The imagery accurately conveys the state of Gregoria's body and hints at her emotional state. By dwelling on unpleasant images like coarse hair and fingernails, the author gives us a distinct impression that this transformation is alarming for Gregoria, not pleasant.

>Gregoria curled her single finger on her right forelimb, and stared at the thick, heavy nail that went nearly all the way around. It was a hoof. Her right arm ended in a hoof, as did her left. Wildly twisting on the bed, raising her nightmarishly long and muscular neck, Gregoria tried to take in her utterly changed body. Everywhere golden yellow hair, except for a small patch between her rear legs, where two flat bumps rested, topped with small nipples. Her chest was flat and tall, her sides narrow. As she struggled, her flowing black tail slapped the bed, and stung the inside of her squirming legs. Her legs were equine legs, and they too ended in hooves.
This is also more or less well written, but I would argue he's dragging this out a bit longer than he needs to. We don't need all the anatomical details; in the next paragraph he confirms that she's become a horse, and we know what a horse looks like.

>Her proportions were not natural, they were not the proportions of an earthly creature. She was a living cartoon beast, made of flesh and bone and blood, but there was no question that she was a pony, an Equestrian pony, right out of Friendship Is Magic.
My views on name-dropping stuff from the show are a matter of public record at this point, and I'm sorry to keep harping on it. It's possible the author is still going to explain what "Friendship is Magic" is at some point, but the issue at hand is that he hasn't brought it up yet. If we don't yet know what "Friendship is Magic" is, then this comparison gives us nothing useful.

Anyway, she yammers to herself for a few more paragraphs about how surprised she is to discover that she is now a horse for crying out loud. However, an even more surprising bit is yet to come. Meanwhile, her family continues to pound on the door, and Gregoria is now alarmed that they might enter the room and discover what has happened to her.

>Greta hadn't seemed to notice anything wrong. That proved this was a dream! Gregoria's new voice sounded utterly different, kind of like Twilight Sparkle, but really more like Tara Strong trying to be overly cute.
Once again, I cannot stress enough how much I hate this sort of unsolicited dropping of references from beyond the fourth wall. Yes it is probably safe for the author to assume that we have all seen MLP:FiM, and yes we probably also know who Tara Strong is; however, that doesn't mean he can just namedrop real people out of the blue like this and get away with it. Is there a character named Tara Strong somewhere in this story? Do we get to hear what her voice sounds like when she's trying to be overly cute? If not, then this comparison tells us absolutely nothing useful and should not be in the text. Seriously; if you guys take nothing else away from my writing lessons, I'd like it to be this: DON'T DO SHIT LIKE THIS. A clever reference can enhance your story, but blunt, out of context references are almost always cringe.

While we're on the subject, there's something else here worth pointing out. The observant reader may have noted that earlier, the author namedropped Franz Kafka, and I didn't say anything. So, why does Mr. Chatoyance get a pass for namedropping Kafka but not Tara Strong?

The answer is the context in which the namedropping occurred. Kafka was not simply namedropped, he was inserted into the story as an actual character. Granted, he's not much of a character; his only role in the story so far is to lie in his coffin and be dead. However, the point is, he exists as an actual person in this universe. The author has brought him into this world and made him a part of it, so the namedrop is in context. With Tara Strong, no similar effort has been made to connect her to the world. Granted, if FiM exists in this fictional world, then it's probably safe to assume Tara Strong does as well; however, even if she does, is there any contextual reason to bring her up here?

Kafka's corpse was central to the previous scene. However, in the current one, there is no more reason to bring up Tara Strong than there is to bring up Superman. All the author is really trying to communicate here is that Gregoria's voice sounds comedically high-pitched; there are any number of simpler and more elegant ways to say this. This is just another bronybait reference, and there's no excuse for it. I reiterate: don't do shit like this.
What may come as a suprise but shouldn't is that the works you do are enjoyable. All of them so far that I could dredge up even the low quality shitposts.
The ones on site and further.
Currently I'm trying to figure out how to do that.
I will say, as long as it's fun for you keep going. I would like to read your written stuff too, or projects, or shitposts, or whatever else it'll be a fun time.

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Your reviews of works most would never dare to criticise aren't just entertaining, they're insightful. Where most would feel the urge to go with the flow and say these popular stories earned their praise and fame, you uncovered the truth. Such reviews could only be posted here, as on lesser sites they would be drowned out with regurgitated insults from leftard NPCs or pozzed tranny jannies would censor you for adult language use. The reviews for less well-known fiction are also helpful. The in-depth review of my own story helped me figure out how to fix its gaping plot holes. Speaking of gaping holes, Silver Star Apple was a mess and I look forward to showing everyone my progress as a writer with the rewrite once it is complete.
Learning from the mistakes of other fanfics, I decided not to upload any chapters of my story until it was complete. That way I can rewrite as necessary if I want to.

So far, this review is shaping up to be your best yet. I'd always wondered what you would say if you reviewed a competently written story, or a brilliant one, and if you'd be able to find any flaws in it.
How could the story about FIM avoid the issue presented by bringing up FIM and the main character's pony status before the average reader is told what FIM and its take on ponies are?

Perhaps a moment early on where the non-pony sibling spots FIM posters+toys+other merch all over the place and a tv playing FIM reruns before ranting about how much she hates what she calls "that stupid gay baby corporate show for retatded little girls and perverse old men who masturbate to cartoons because they can't get laid and their mommies didn't love them enough"?

At the very least, Gregoria could wake up listening to her TV playing reruns of FIM to briefly tell the viewer about FIM, what ponies look like, and what Tara Strong's voice sounds like. Or would it be better to cut the mention of Tara Strong entirely?
I agree with this>>342969
They are all pretty interesting ideas, can't really pick one. I'd say, do whatever you feel motivated the most.
>speedy Gonzales

>Learning from the mistakes of other fanfics, I decided not to upload any chapters of my story until it was complete.
I get you may want to avoid the onslaught; but there might be a potential error that needs some attention from early on. Imagine if I had written half of Rainmetall, unaware of the utter puzzle it was for the reader
On the other hand, yeah. Try to make sure you've fixed the issues that were already pointed out before posting.
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File (hide): C965F7B31A6F62D3BA0D52E9A6AA4BB5-1084666.zip (1.0 MB, Listing of : everythingguidetowritingyourfirstnovel.epub Size Date Time Name -------- -------- ------ --------- 20 11-10-21 14:43 mimetype 5422 11-10-21 14:44 OEBPS/toc.ncx 238 03-12-10 15:20 META-INF/container.xml 22259 11-10-21 14:43 OEBPS/Ephr_9781440510632_epub_c21.html 690 11-10-21 14:43 OEBPS/Ephr_9781440510632_epub_part5.html 19343 11-10-21 14:43 OEBPS/Ephr_9781440510632_epub_toc.html 1222 11-10-21 14:43 OEBPS/SS_US_adult_signup_front.xhtml 38447 11-10-21 14:43 OEBPS/FW.css ......... (only showing the 10 first files) ......... , everythingguidetowritingyourfirstnovel.epub)

>Gregoria closed her eyes and with still pounding heart wished to turn into Arwen from The Lord Of The Rings. She opened her eyes. She wasn't in Rivendell. She was still laying on her side, on her torn-up bed, staring at... her hooves.
Previous comment applies here with extreme prejudice. Arwen from The Lord of the Rings has even less relevance here than Tara Strong; there is no reason to namedrop this character other than to score nerd points with your retard audience. Don't do shit like this.

>"I want to be an elf!" She spoke the words out loud, in her odd pony voice.
Let us all take a moment to reflect upon the sad fact that a human being intentionally sat down and typed these words.

Anyway, like I said, this goes on for awhile, and most of it is just Gregoria expressing incredulity at her transformation. Eventually, she loses her shit to the point that her mom suddenly bursts into the room to see just what in the blazes is going on. This is where the author drops his exciting twist on us: neither her mother nor her sister notice that she is transformed. As far as they can tell, Gregoria is still in her ordinary human form, and is just freaking out for no reason.

This segment also continues for a few paragraphs longer than is absolutely necessary. The long and short of it is that Gregoria realizes her family is unable to see her new body for whatever reason, so it's useless to try to discuss it with them. At this point, she changes course and tries to play the whole thing off as a joke. Her mother basically accepts this, and leaves the room.

>Greta stayed a moment longer, after mother had left. "You really pissed her off, Gregoria. That was a fucking stupid thing to do. You had me worried too, you idiot!" Greta stormed out, affecting anger, but Gregoria's new nose smelled fear coming from her sister. It was a very strange thing, to smell fear and know what it meant. "Get dressed, I'm hungry!"
This seems like kind of an inappropriate reaction, imo. The situation here is basically that Gregoria had a bad dream, freaked out, and caused a bit of a ruckus because she was still half-asleep and confused. There is no cause that I can see for either her mother or her sister to be genuinely angry with her over this.

Anyway, her mom and sister exit the room, and Gregoria gets out of bed. She now finds herself in a bit of a quandary: she has transformed into a horse, but nobody else seems able to see her transformation. This is basically the end of the chapter.

Before we move on, I'd like to call attention to one minor thing. The names Gregoria and Greta are rather similar, and this can be a potential source of confusion. I actually noticed I had to reread a couple of paragraphs, because I accidentally read "Greta" as "Gregoria" and vice versa, and the passages didn't always make immediate sense.

This is actually a tip I picked up from one of those how-to-write-a-novel books. I went ahead and attached the epub if anyone wants it; it's a pretty good noob-level guide to writing a novel and there are a lot of useful tips in here. The basic idea is that you want to avoid giving your characters similar-sounding names, because you don't want the reader to get them mixed up. In this case, you have two characters, both female, whose names start with "Gre" and are phonetically similar. To make matters worse, the two characters are sisters. It's very easy to get the two of them mixed up if you're not paying close attention, particularly since we don't know either of them all that well yet.

The author's reason for choosing the names he did is fairly obvious: Gregoria and Greta are analogues of Gregor and Grete in Kafka's story. Arguably, Kafka is guilty of the same mistake as Chatoyance perhaps if he'd had access to The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel he would have been less of a crazy bastard, though in his case it's a little different. Though the names Gregor and Grete are phonetically similar, the masculine/feminine distinction in the names is clear enough, and the reader is less likely to get the two of them mixed up since one character is male and the other female.

If two characters are distinct enough from each other, giving them similar names can in some cases actually help reinforce the distinction; a good example would be Zipp and Pipp in G5. However, in Chatoyance's case, there isn't enough distinction between either the phonetics of the names or the characters themselves, so the names remain a point of confusion.

Naming characters is another one of those things that seems minor, but can actually turn out to be a pretty big deal. If the reader is going to be spending quite a bit of time with your character, you're going to want to make sure they can remember her name. Naming the protagonist Gregoria Samson was, again, a rather obvious nod to Kafka, and that's perfectly fine; however, this doesn't mean that every single character in the story needs to have a similar name to their analogue from Metamorphosis. In Greta's case, I would have probably just given her a more conventional name (Jill or Frances or something) to differentiate her from her sister, and reinforce the analogue to the Grete character through her personality and behavior.
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It's weird that only the transformed pony notices she is a pony. It makes you wonder if magic is involved or if she's just insane. Is this an effective story hook?
Or was that scene with Kafka's corpse the hook?
A more conventional story would have the humans notice the pony and proceed to do every transformed into an animal movie cliche and talking animal buddy movie cliche as if the author just finished a marathon of Hop, the first Sonic movie, Brother Bear, Alvin And The Chipmunks, Brave, Paul, and over 20 others.
Is the story better for bucking this trend and applying the twist that the nonhuman animal buddy character is not only a former human, but also seems human to everyone else?
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>Convincing her mother to let her stay in her room caused a row, but when the shouting was done and her mother had stormed out of the house, and her sister had made sure she understood how she "always ruined EVERYTHING!", and her father had given her a pat and told her he would work on things, only then was Gregoria finally left alone.
There's clearly some tension in this family that revolves around Gregoria, but I'm not sure why. Her behavior has been a bit odd, but nothing that justifies these extreme reactions. My best guess is that Gregoria is a bit mentally unstable, and she probably pulls weird stunts like this fairly regularly. Her sister seems especially aggravated with her. I'll be curious to see how this family dynamic develops.

Anyway, it seems like Gregoria has decided that the thing to do for now is to just adapt to her current situation, while working to see if it can be undone. She realizes she can't stay in her room forever, so she decides to stand up and learn how to walk in her current body. The thought at one point occurs to her that this may all be a hallucination, but she seems to dismiss that for now.

What follows is a rather long and elaborate sequence in which our little pony manages to crawl out of bed and stand up on all fours. As with the previous chapter, this sequence goes on a bit longer than it probably needs to, but at the same time the author's description of the various physical problems she encounters are well done. What I particularly like is that he clearly put some effort into learning about horse anatomy; most of Gregoria's problems here deal with her having to get used to the way a horse's body moves as opposed to a human's. It's fairly well done, and the attention to detail makes it feel believable. Honestly, other than the Tara Strong and Arwen of Rivendell crap from earlier, I have very few gripes about this guy's writing style so far.

If I have any gripes at all, it's that, again, a lot of this tends to drag on just a wee bit longer than it needs to. Anyway, speak of the devil; once she masters the art of standing up and walking around, Gregoria realizes she needs to take a piss. Predictably, she is stumped as to how the deed should be done. tl;dr, the problem ultimately solves itself, but she ends up making a bit of a mess. She is understandably flustered by this.

>It would be so easy to just collapse, to give in, to let her mother send her away to some place where perhaps they would simply put her to sleep like the animal she had become.
I get that this situation is probably more than a bit stressful, but she's being a drama queen here. She's worried her mother is going to have her put down just because she turned into a horse one night and peed on the toilet seat? I mean, come on bitch, we've all been there. Just whinny seductively and tell her that you'll neighver do it again; that always works on my mom. Just how fucked up is your family supposed to be, anyhow?

Well, the next paragraph fills in the sketch a little:

>Late one night, she had heard her mother and father arguing about their daughters being forced to live at home. She had heard her mother say that they hadn't tried hard enough, that Greta was lazy and that Gregoria didn't take life seriously enough. Those words had burned inside Gregoria. Not a speck of it was the least bit true. There just weren't any jobs, not any that paid well enough to afford both food and a place to live. The jobs were just gone. Gregoria had tried so hard, so very hard. Greta had nearly killed herself doing three part-time jobs, one after the other, every day, and it still hadn't been enough. She did take life seriously. And Greta was anything but lazy.
Sounds like the problem is more in Gregoria's head than anywhere else.

The situation itself is neither remarkable nor uncommon: Gregoria and her sister are a couple of 20-something women who are unable to move out of their parents' house because high rents and low wages and so forth and so on the publication date would place this story smack dab in the middle of the Obama "recovery," so as far as I'm concerned the premise checks out. Their parents are a couple of clueless boomers who don't understand why their daughters can't just effortlessly get jobs and buy houses like they did at the same age. An intergenerational communication problem that is, again, quite common. Gregoria, however, seems to be fairly sensitive and high-strung, so I'm guessing she tends to blow things like this way out of proportion: if she can't find a job she feels worthless and terrible, if her parents scold her it means they hate her. That sort of thing.

As an aside, I skimmed a couple of this author's blogs, and I've learned some interesting things. Believe it or not, this story was written by a 62 year old literal tranny (he would have been in his fifties at the time of writing) who claims to be a "real-life shapeshifter" and is involved in some kind of wacky polygamous marriage. From this, I have extrapolated the following:

1. The author has lived long enough and devoted enough of his time to writing that it stands to reason he ought to be at least a little bit good at it by now. Actually, from what I can tell, this guy is a semi-professional who has worked in various creative fields and has had his work published. It is therefore unsurprising that the quality of this book would be noticeably higher than other stories we've looked at.

2. That said, this guy is also clearly nuttier than Chinese chicken. It is therefore unsurprising that his protagonist might be a neurotic with a tendency to blow things out of proportion.

Believe it or not I'm actually very curious to see where this story ends up. My suspicion is that body dysphoria and the effects of mental illness are going to be significant themes. And, unlike the case of a certain vidyagame-obsessed autist we've read recently, these themes might actually be in there on purpose.
having already read this, I could spoil it. The tl;dr version is that its a weird pseudoscience thing and certain people become more enlightened, transcending human form. Furries are part of this trancended form, just not in the way you are probably thinking.
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Alright, that's it!
>>>/sp/19937 →
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Thank you, I appreciate your input. I haven't quite made up my mind on exactly what I'll focus on, but I suspect this review series will ultimately continue in one form or another.

>At the very least, Gregoria could wake up listening to her TV playing reruns of FIM to briefly tell the viewer about FIM, what ponies look like, and what Tara Strong's voice sounds like. Or would it be better to cut the mention of Tara Strong entirely?
You always miss the forest for the trees. Forget what the text says and take a look at what it's ultimately trying to say:

>Gregoria's new voice sounded utterly different, kind of like Twilight Sparkle, but really more like Tara Strong trying to be overly cute.
The essential information here is that Gregoria's transformation has given her a voice that sounds different from her ordinary speaking voice. The specific sound of her voice that the author is trying to convey is high-pitched and overly cutesy.

What is the essential detail here? Is it the actual sound of the character's voice, or is it the name of the person whose voice most closely resembles this character's? I would say that the voice itself is more important. If the author wants to specifically make the author think of Tara Strong, then the way to approach this would be to think about the way Tara Strong's voice sounds, and then describe that sound, as opposed to just namedropping Tara. You could even do it by using a more general comparison: "her voice sounded comical and high-pitched, like the voice of a cartoon pony." This works because it's an appeal to common knowledge rather than specific knowledge.

Pretty much anyone can be expected to know what a cartoon is, as well as what a pony is, so the phrase "cartoon pony" will probably invoke an image close enough to what you're trying to express to get the message across. Conversely, Twilight Sparkle is a specific character from a specific cartoon, and Tara Strong is a specific person who voices that character; you'd have to be familiar with those specific things in order for the existing reference to make any sense.

There are two basic solutions to this problem. The first is to do what you've suggested, which is to retroactively add Tara Strong and MLP to your world to make the reference valid. The second solution is much simpler: find a way to describe the sound of this person's voice without using specific references. Both solutions ultimately solve the problem, but one of them will add extra words to your text without adding meaningful content. This is something you generally want to avoid.

Since you're into game dev, you might find it more helpful to think of this problem in programming terms. "Tara Strong" is a null pointer: it references an object that doesn't exist in your program. You could easily correct the problem by instantiating an object called Tara Strong. However, you don't just want functional code, you want efficient code. If the Tara Strong object doesn't do anything especially useful, does it need to be in your program at all? Does it make any sense to needlessly use up memory for an object that serves no purpose other than to make this single reference valid? When you think about it this way, hopefully you realize that the solution is not to create unnecessary objects, but to remove unnecessary pointers.

That's consistent with what other people have told me about this. I actually looked at this guy's profile and blog posts a little more closely after writing that last post, and I found some other things that are worth mentioning. For one thing, I'll upgrade my assessment of Chatoyance's mental state from "nuttier than chinese chicken" to "certified bat-shit whack-a-doo." For another, I noticed he has Friendship is Optimal listed as one of his favorite fics, and has written multiple Optimalverse fics. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence. We'll see how it goes, I guess.

To clarify, the "vidyagame obsessed autist" crack was making fun of kkat, not you (^:

Also, sorry about the Speedy Gonzalez thing, that was insensitive. Here is a cartoon portrayal that is more appreciative of the accomplishments of the proud Mexican people:
You forgot the most kino film on the list.

Anyway, Gregoria cleans up her piss and washes herself off in the shower. Once again, the author goes into extensive detail describing how laborious the mechanical details of these previously simple actions have become due to her new body. However, since the author already made this difficulty abundantly clear in the earlier scene where Gregoria was climbing out of bed and walking around, this is a mostly redundant sequence that adds nothing meaningful. I'd probably pare this section down a bit if it were my story.

Ditto for the next section, which involves her getting dressed. The central problem is practical enough: her family can't tell she's a pony, but they appear to be able to tell that she isn't wearing any clothes. Thus, if she doesn't put any clothes on before going downstairs, her family will think she's just prancing around in the nude. However, her horse body means that none of her old clothes fit her...and yada yada yada, you get the idea. Long story short, she puts on an old skirt and a tube top that more or less fits her new body.

>The sound of the front door opening, and of her family coming home interrupted her.
Had they left? How long were they gone? How much time is supposed to have passed in this scene? To me, the events of this chapter so far don't feel like they could have taken longer than half an hour. If there is a time skip in there somewhere, this is a detail that ought to be clarified.

>Oh, my - it was late, nearly four in the afternoon. It had taken her most of the day just to figure out how to pee and to get a skirt on. To be fair, much of the time had been wasted crying and feeling grief for the loss of her body and her human life.
This clears things up somewhat, though it still feels like the actions she's taken so far should not have consumed this much time.

>Gregoria felt fear again - if her mother caught her still undressed, there would be questions.
Where the hell does she live, Soviet Russia? What possible questions could there be aside from "why don't you have any pants on?"

Seriously though, there is no normal justification for the level of fear and hostility this woman exhibits towards the members of her family. There are two possible scenarios here: either her mother is abusive and we haven't seen this side of her yet, or Gregoria is just bonkers. So far I'm leaning towards the latter.

>Panicked, Gregoria did the only thing she could think of - she began sticking her head through the tube top, occasionally whacking her head with her hooves as she scrambled to work it down her neck. Her plan was to try to wriggle her hooves through it when it was low enough and place it over her barrel, her pony chest, where her breasts would have been, had she still been human. It seemed a reasonable thing.
As I've commented, this author's writing style is considerably better and more developed than most of the authors we've looked at so far. However, I've also noticed that he uses a rather strange, halting style of narration that tends to overuse commas and splits his phrasing into odd pieces. It's not necessarily bad grammar (or if it is, the rule it's violating is too arcane for me to be aware of), but it still reads a little strangely. It almost reminds me of ESL, but a more developed ESL. As in, someone for whom English was not their first language, but they eventually learned it and became fluent in it, but you can still detect traces of their old accent. I'm not sure if it's a deliberate style thing, an ESL thing, or if it's just the way this guy writes.

Anyway, despite her difficulties, Gregoria is able to yank on her skanky tube top just as her mother opens the door. The exchange is pretty normal: her mother is a little curious about the outfit she's chosen, but doesn't make a big deal about it. She tells her that they went to the mall and brought her back a Cinnabon. She then informs her that they are having pork chops for dinner, and asks her if she would make her bed. All in all, a pretty normal mother-daughter conversation.

Gregoria's fear of her sister I get, she seems like kind of a cunt, but so far the mom seems pretty normal. However, Gregoria seems to view her as some kind of domineering or oppressive presence in her life. The disconnect between the mother's actual behavior and her daughter's interpretation of that behavior is interesting. So far, I'm leaning towards the "Gregoria is crazy and most of this shit is probably just in her head" hypothesis.

Anyway, it's still not entirely clear, either to us or to Gregoria, whether or not her transformation is actually real. However, we have some ground rules. As long as Gregoria the Neurotic Wonder-Pony puts on clothing that covers up what would need to be covered up were she still in her human form, anyone looking at her will just see an ordinary human.

>She decided to get water from the sink faucet in the bathroom. She could practice, to make sure drinking wasn't weird or something. She felt pretty sure drinking water would be normal enough. Ponies on the show used cups and mugs and she was definitely a 'Friendship Is Magic' pony.
This actually raises more questions than it answers. For one thing, we once again have "the show" and "Friendship is Magic" being namedropped without any clarification. For another, the author offers us no explanation as to how these ponies she mentions are able to use cups and mugs; he seems to consider the fact that she's an FiM pony sufficient enough explanation for this. This does not quite grok.

Anyway, there's some more shit in here I could go over, but it would just be a rehash of comments I've already made. Gregoria resolves to leave the house and find someone who can reverse her transformation (or something), and that basically ends the chapter.

>3. The Axe For The Frozen Sea

>His name was Malus Crown. At least that was the name he used, the name his people called him by. No one in his employ thought for a moment that it was his real name. He was wealthy, more than wealthy, rich beyond all dreams of avarice, or so it was whispered. If true, he did not have complete control over his treasure - there were times he clearly was pressed for access to resources. But in the end, even the most extravagant expenses were as nothing to him.
If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say this is the same guy who was digging up ol' Franzy's grave a couple of chapters ago.

>He was a thin man, tall, almost gaunt. His blond hair was long and oddly scraggly. He walked with a curious gait, almost mechanical at times. He always wore tennis shoes, or shoes made of canvas, even with the most expensive of fine suits.
Yep, called it.

Anyway, it seems that Mr. Malus Crown is an enigmatic figure, who appears to have once been someone famous, but faked his death for some reason and now operates in the shadows, doing...whatever it is he does. Stuff, I guess. He employs a large number of underlings and pays them handsomely to keep their mouths shut about him. Nobody who works for him seems to know his real identity. inb4 his real name is Sam Hyde.

At present, Cro Magnon and one of his French henchmen Frenchmen? are sitting in some shadowy office somewhere, looking at the pictures they took of Franz Kafka's shriveled corpse. The scene is actually treated with a fair amount of levity, and I'll throw the author some points for good instinct; it would have been easy to go the opposite direction and make the scene overly dark and edgy, but he resisted the urge.

>Malus leaned forward in his overstuffed chair, tapping his chin with his hand. "Picture In Picture. Put up Canterlot Wedding, part two, somewhere near the end."
This is just how it's going to be, isn't it?

Anyway, as if what they were already doing wasn't weird enough, Cro Magnon's French assistants throw on the requested episode of...eh..."the show," and at their boss's request, freeze-frame the episode on one of the Changelings. There's some back and forth, and while the details are not yet clear, Magnus Hammersmith seems to see some kind of connection between the Changeling on the screen and the desiccated corpse of Franz Kafka.

>Thibault spoke up, a rare thing. "I saw this movie once. Had bug men in it, and all the signs were changed when you looked through these special sunglasses. Roddy Piper, the wrestler was in it. Had a fucking great fight in an alley. You could only see the bug guys if you had the glasses."
>Crown and Guillaume stared at Thibault. He hardly ever said anything, and now this.
>"The guy who made 'The Thing' did it." Thibault seemed uncomfortable now. "It's good. The movie."
>Malus turned back and nodded. "John Carpenter. 'They Live'."
As long as we're discussing outside references, if you're going to insist on making a direct reference to something in pop culture, this is a good way to do it. The vague, awkward description of the movie wouldn't work if you used it in the narration, but it sounds like natural dialogue for this character: if you're trying to describe a movie to someone but can't remember the title, this is usually how it comes out. The title is also worked in as dialogue, which also sounds natural and also serves the purpose of informing the reader what movie is being referenced in case they didn't recognize it from the description. The author gets to have his cake and eat it too: he makes his reference and scores his nerd points, but it doesn't come at the expense of good narrative flow.

However, notice how different the exact same wording of the exact same reference feels if you take it out of dialogue and place it in the guy's thought stream through narration:

>Thibault stared at the image. It reminded him of a movie he saw once, that had bug men in it, and all the signs were changed when you looked through these special sunglasses. Roddy Piper, the wrestler was in it. Had a fucking great fight in an alley. You could only see the bug guys if you had the glasses. The guy who made 'The Thing' did it. It was good. The movie.
>He furrowed his brow in concentration, trying to remember the title.
>John Carpenter. 'They Live.' That was it.
It honestly still doesn't read all that badly; I would probably give this a pass even if the author had done it this way. However, you'll notice it starts to take on a rambling tone as soon as you move it from the character's mouth into his head. Mostly, it feels like the author is beginning to ramble and veer off of the point. Most people have an almost endless inner narrative running through their head 24 hours a day, and the odds are most of it would make for some pretty boring reading. In this case, a reader might wonder why the author found this particular thought of Thibault's important enough to pluck from his stream of consciousness and place in the text. However, if Thibault himself considered it important enough to say out loud, then the same reader might grant a little more leeway.

The Tara Strong thing from earlier was a similar problem. It might make sense that Gregoria was thinking about Tara Strong in connection with the way her voice sounds, but was that thought important enough for the author to tell the reader about it?

What I'm trying to impress upon you all is not that there is some byzantine maze of rules governing how pop culture references should be made in novels; I'm sure that many perfectly talented writers would even find my constant sperging on this subject obnoxious and nitpicky. My overall point is that all of this is more art than science. It can be hard to understand why something works and something very similar doesn't, but if you notice something bothers you a lot in other people's writing, it's good to analyze it, so you can train yourself to notice it and avoid it in your own.
Well, I guess I'd have to accept your apolo...Wait, wtf?!

Anyway, Malus Cooper confirms that yes, the situation is similar to 'They Live' by John Carpenter, only he doesn't need the special glasses to see...whatever it is he sees. Stuff, I guess.

They jaw back and forth about it for a bit, but unfortunately we don't end up any closer to understanding what exactly the connection between Franz Kafka and some fucking character from a children's cartoon might be. The conversation terminates when Malus Kramden decides he needs to get up and take a shit:

>A loud gurgle came from the stomach of Mr. Malus Crown. "Ah." He got up from his leather chair and stood. "You can both take the rest of the day off. That's all for now. If anything comes up, I'll be in the puppy room."
This is probably a typo; I assume he meant to say "poopy room." Seriously, though, I thought I knew every slang term for "toilet" known to man: the little girls' room, the little boys' room, the John, the commode, the crapper, the loo, the honey bucket, the feces closet, the Iron Throne, the pool for brown kids, the kkat-only library, but...I have to say, "puppy room" is a new one on me.

>Of all of Mr. Crown's many eccentricities, perhaps his obsession with puppies was the greatest. He had an entire wing built as a paradise for what must be two dozen dogs now.
Oh. I guess it wasn't a sly colloquialism at all; the "puppy room" is literally a room filled with puppies. Well, isn't there just egg all over my face now. At least I hope that's what it is.

Anywho, the rich weirdo heads off to visit the...eh..."puppy room"... and his two French assistants close up shop and go off to do...whatever it is that French people do. French stuff, I guess. Aaaand, that's the end of the scene.

Page break. We're back with Gregoria again. Turns out, presumably because she's become a horse, she can no longer stand pork chops. The very smell of them gags her:

>They didn't smell good, they didn't even smell like pork chops to her. They smelled like death, like burned skin and rotting flesh. The appearance was no better - the slabs of glutton and bone sat on the serving dish like small road accidents, glistening with pale, greasy ichor, contaminating the broccoli.
Yep, "ichor" sure is a fun word to use. Let's all take a moment to thank the CEO of Racism for giving us HP Lovecraft. Also: I don't think I've ever heard the word "glutton" used to describe a piece of meat before. It might be a less-common definition, but if it is it's really obscure. This feels like a mistake to me.

>Gregoria did not particularly like broccoli, or vegetables in general for that matter - she ate them sparingly and always under protest. Spinach was ghastly, salads pointless, beans were alright, especially in a meaty chili, and the occasional carrot might be tolerated on the periphery of a large slab of beefy pot roast. For color. It could be scraped off, later.
Amen to that, sister. actually, carrots in pot roast are okay, so long as you cook them in pork juice long enough that they don't taste like carrots anymore. potatoes are good tho

Anyway, the big takeaway here is that becoming a horse has completely inverted Gregoria's food preferences. This distresses her as much as literally every other stupid thing has distressed her today, so instead of sitting down to eat her broccoli she just stands there staring at the food like a horse-autist. Her family notices, and eventually her Dad politely asks if she would like some salad. She accepts the invitation and, although everyone seems a bit surprised that she's suddenly eating something she normally doesn't eat, he proceeds to pile up her plate with salad.

>"You're spoiling her. Let her serve herself. Goodness, Harry, she's not an invalid!" Thanks mom, thought Gregoria. Her mother could be such a mean thing sometimes.
I still can't tell if the point of all of this is supposed to be that her mother is subtly picking on her, or that Gregoria is just an overly-sensitive loon who interprets inoffensive comments as subtle insults. My money is still on the latter, but...who knows?

Anyway, she's acting pretty loopy about the pork chops and whatever, which seems to be annoying her mother, so her father comes to her defense:

>"You just enjoy your dinner, Sweetie. Whatever it is, things will get better." Her father smiled, gently at her, and returned to his own meal. Gregoria appreciated the kindness but his words chafed - she had no guarantee things would ever get any better, and a great deal of fear they would get far worse.
I get that she is now a horse for crying out loud, but come on; whine much? Whatever legitimate problems this character might legitimately have at the moment, it's pretty obvious that overreacting to stuff and whining about everything is pretty much her default state, and that her family is pretty used to this behavior from her. Her dad seems nice enough, her mom seems to get irritated with her from time to time but tries to put up with her, and her sister is...kind of a bitch, but at the same time, siblings are usually less inclined to put up with a person's crap than parents.

I'm honestly still finding the other family members to be more sympathetic than Gregoria thus far, and I don't get the impression that's what the author wants. I think I see what he's trying to do with these characters, as far as the family dynamics in this story relate to those in Metamorphosis, but I'm going to set that aside for now. I want to read a little more of this before making any comparisons.

Anyway, from here she grumbles about the smell of the food some more, and then starts sperging to herself about how she can't eat since she can't use a fork.

>On the show, on Friendship Is Magic, earthponies like Applejack ate with their mouths right off of the plate.
This still bothers me, but by now the author's made it pretty apparent that a show called Friendship is Magic exists, and this character apparently watches it, so I guess I'll allow it.
The Tara Strong line could be reworked like that. But for FIM, I would agree with you on removing references to real-world shit if this was Batman fanfiction randomly mentioning Oprah and Pawn Stars out of the author's love for them.
If the main heroine's love for FIM is going to be a major character trait and she's literally transformed into not just a cartoon pony but specifically a FIM pony, surely this pony fanfiction would need to give at least a brief explanation of what FIM is and how it is viewed by most adults in this world, so readers unfamiliar with FIM can understand the basics of every FIM-related thought the character has?
We wouldn't need to know each vital character's opinion on the FIM show, but by showing at least one adult hating the show it establishes that the heroine's love for FIM is not as universal as the love for Avatar: The Last Airbender. Plus it can show the contrast between the heroine's "I love this nice show because it's a prettier happier world and that's a beautiful thing to believe in" vs her cynical sister's "Your show is for faggot retards because it's a prettier happier world and that's not the world we live in, it is pointless to imagine a better world, you're just hurting your ability to accept what we live in" view.
What's the joke in the OP image?
You're right, it could work. The central question to think about is not whether or not it could work, but whether or not it belongs in the story, which depends on what you're ultimately trying to say.

>If the main heroine's love for FIM is going to be a major character trait and she's literally transformed into not just a cartoon pony but specifically a FIM pony, surely this pony fanfiction would need to give at least a brief explanation of what FIM is and how it is viewed by most adults in this world, so readers unfamiliar with FIM can understand the basics of every FIM-related thought the character has?
This is basically accurate, and again it really depends on what the author's real purpose is in writing this. If something about FiM is central to the story, then it's an important plot component and we would need to be told something about it. If the author's focus is simply the issue of transformation itself, and its emotional impact on the main character, then it's less important. Even if it's essential that the reader understand that this woman has been transformed into an MLP pony, and not simply a pony, it's still debatable whether or not the specific actress who voices the specific character of Twilight Sparkle ought to be referenced by name. There isn't really a right or wrong answer here, I just encourage people to think about stuff like this as opposed to just carelessly tossing pop culture references into a story. Fanfiction authors have a habit of just referencing things to reference them, or to score cheap nerd points with the audience. I tend to see this as a form of jerking off and try to discourage people from doing it too often, but a little bit of it is probably harmless.

>We wouldn't need to know each vital character's opinion on the FIM show, but by showing at least one adult hating the show it establishes that the heroine's love for FIM is not as universal as the love for Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Again, this all depends on whether or not FiM is actually central to the plot of this story. We're not really far enough in to know whether or not that's the case, so for now it could go either way.

Every story is its own separate universe, and every person who lives in that universe should be thought of as a complete personality. A writer should try to understand everything he can about the various characters that live in his world, since everything that character has experienced is going to affect the way they think and behave, and as such will affect how they behave in the story. However, a story should also focus on its own events, which means we don't necessarily need to be told every single thing the character likes or doesn't like. What the reader should be told about a given character's attitudes on various subjects should depend partly on how important those subjects are to the character, and partly on how important they are to the story itself. If you do this right, the reader should be able to infer things about your character without being explicitly told.


Gregoria continues to ponder the question of how to go about eating her dinner now that she is a horse for crying out loud. She can't use a fork because she has no fingers, and she doesn't want to just bury her muzzle in her bowl because it might weird out her parents, and so forth and so on. The tl;dr is that she can basically fool people into seeing her actions as normal by mimicking human action somewhat. The details are a little complicated and not especially important; if you're really itching to know, it's all thoroughly explained in the chapter.

>She reasoned that to them, she was still a normal twenty-six year old woman, sitting at the table eating ordinarily. They saw what they wanted to see, or what they were being forced somehow to see, and all that was required to make this strange effect work was some suggestion of the commonplace to work off of.
The inverse could apply as well. It's entirely possible that she is still a normal twenty-six year old woman, and all this stuff about transforming into a horse is just in her mind. She could very well be eating like a normal human, but her mind is interpreting her own actions differently. We'll see which way the author is going with this in due course.

>After being scolded for not helping her sister, Gregoria had almost instinctively reached out with her muzzle and taken hold of a plate in order to carry it to the dishwasher. In that moment, her mother had briefly gasped, blinked, and then seemed to settle into a kind of trance for a few seconds. Then she had turned away, slowly, regaining herself. "Good. Your sister shouldn't have to clear the table alone. We're a family here after all."
>While Gregoria helped Greta clear the table and fill the dishwasher, she wondered whether or not, for just a moment, the strange blindness to what had happened had failed briefly for her mother. It only happened once - after that incident, Gregoria found she could pick up anything with her mouth and her mother did not flinch or blink at the act in any way. It was as if she were now immune to that aspect of Gregoria's pony existence, presumably seeing every use of muzzle and teeth as her daughter manipulating things with hand and arm.
This suggests that the transformation is probably real, and the people around her are unable to see it either because of some kind of magic inherent in the transformation, or due to some sort of inner compensatory mechanism for dealing with shock. Based on this author's personal fixation with transformation (from his bio it's clear that he is a transsexual, and also seems to believe he is actually a pony on some level) I'm assuming for now that the transformation is meant to be taken literally.

Anyway, the next few paragraphs are just more of the same: the text goes into a fair amount of detail describing how Gregoria manages to adapt human actions to her new body, using some kind of weird sleight-of-hoof technique to deceive her family into thinking that nothing has changed. The details of how she accomplishes this are not really important. Eventually, dinner is over and the dishwasher is loaded; her minimal obligations to her family have been met for the evening, and she is officially free to go back to her room and wallow in her own neuroses.

>After the first few minutes, Gregoria excused herself from the family viewing of 'Game Of Thrones'.
Nerd points +10. Got any Marvel™ or DC™ references you'd like to toss in as long as you're on a roll?

>She couldn't handle it. The tension, the gore, it shocked and disturbed her as if she were seeing the worst tragedy of her entire life. It was literally beyond her capacity to enjoy or stand. She felt harmed by it, shaken to her core. She made some excuse of feeling tired, reiterated her mother's thought that she might have come down with some bug, and repaired to her room on the pretense of getting some sleep so as to beat whatever cold or sniffle had her down.
My guess is that this is meant to be another side-effect of the transformation, like her taste in food suddenly changing. Ponies are vegetarian so the idea of eating meat is now repulsive to her; similarly, ponies in "the show" come from a fluffy pastel-colored children's-show universe, so the sort of violence and political intrigue in a show like GoT would be shocking to them. The text basically confirms this interpretation a couple of paragraphs later.

However, this also seems to echo the sort of neurosis we've already seen from Gregoria: she's clearly an overly-sensitive, highly-strung individual, who has difficulty coping with even the most mundane aspects of day to day life. My guess is that transforming into a pony has just intensified ideas that were already in her head to begin with. The alternate interpretation, that all of this is just in her head, would work here as well. In that case, her over-sensitivity and inability to cope with normal life is probably what brought on the "transformation" in the first place.

Interestingly, she seems to acknowledge all of this on some level:

>She could be no judge of her own mind, because she was too busy existing, thinking and being. She was too close to the problem.

Anyway, she goes on about this for a few more paragraphs, and ultimately concludes that she is "herself" no matter what. After this, she rather laboriously makes up the bed; as ever, this task is difficult now that she is a horse for crying out loud, and as ever, the text goes into a little too much detail about it. The tl;dr seems to be that she is getting used to her new body and no longer sees it as a disability.

>In this moment, though, smiling her pony smile into the mirror, Gregoria felt differently than she had in the morning. The human spirit was indomitable. She could do this. Pony body and brain notwithstanding. Anything could be changed about her, and it would not matter. She was indestructible, immutable, imperishable.
Would you say that in this moment, she is euphoric?

>4. Similes Are Like Songs In Love

I haven't mentioned it yet, but each chapter in this story begins with a Franz Kafka quote, and the title of the chapter is usually lifted directly from the quote. This chapter's quotation is as follows:

>"In argument similes are like songs in love; they describe much, but prove nothing."

It's worth making a note of, if only because I spent so much time during my FoE review calling out kkat for the stupid, unattributed blobs of italicized text he tacked on to the beginning of each chapter. In any event, if you want these sort of epigrams attached to your chapters, this is the proper way to do it. Each quote is attributed to Franz Kafka, and an attempt has clearly been made to connect the substance of the quote to the substance of the chapter.

Anyway, it's been five days, and Gregoria has spent the interim further learning about her own body, as well as testing the limits of whatever mechanism is preventing her family from realizing that she has transformed. She has decided, for the moment, to tell her family that she has contracted some sort of illness that gives her bad dreams and affects her emotionally. Her family seems to more or less accept this. Her father rather perceptively observes that the problem could be mental.

The text continues to go into excruciating levels of detail explaining how difficult it is for Gregoria to perform previously mundane actions. However, she is determined to adapt and triumph and persevere and so forth and so on. The tl;dr is that she relearns how to use her computer.

She also does some research into her family's inability to perceive her transformation, and comes across a YouTube video that demonstrates how the brain will pointedly ignore things if it is focused on something else. The author includes an embedded link to the YT video. The video is interesting enough, but it's bad form to embed hyperlinks into prose and I would discourage authors from doing this sort of thing.

From here, the text goes off on another tangent about some trick that Penn and Teller performed which demonstrated a similar illusion. Again, the subject matter is probably interesting enough, but so far this chapter has been nothing but rambling. The author is falling into the same trap that Cozy Mark IV spent almost his entire book mired in: he's wasting page space by writing off the cuff about stuff that interests him, but has little meaningful impact on his story. My advice: don't do shit like this.

>That made Gregoria think - although she did not believe in magic, her overnight transformation into a pony from a cartoon might as well have been just that. Perhaps what she needed to do was find out more about what she had been turned into. She tried to look into what there might be on the internet regarding 'My Little Pony'. In an instant she was overwhelmed.
It feels like the author didn't really think this one through. He's mentioned "the show" several times now, and despite his failure to clarify what exactly this show is, it's clear that this character has a more-than-casual interest in it. I find it hard to believe she was unaware of how extensive its online fandom is.

>Gregoria had met Rachel in high school, they had gone on to the same college just to stay together, Rachel was her best friend in the world. Lately though, the two had become rather distant. Rachel had completely flipped for the pony thing. She seemed to eat, breath, and drink pony. It was My Little Pony this and Friendship Is Magic that, and there was pretty much nothing else she wanted to talk about. Gregoria had tried, she had really tried to show some interest in her friend's Big New Thing, but frankly... it was a kid's cartoon. A show about cartoon ponies for little girls, and it didn't hold any real interest for her.
>Rachel had tried to explain about the show having some great stories and an amazing world, and that it was done by some other cartoon bigwig or something, but the fact was that Gregoria had just plain outgrown cartoons. There was nothing there for an adult with adult tastes. If anything, Gregoria had felt pity for her friend Rachel, who seemed to be retreating into childhood and losing touch with being an adult.
This blatantly contradicts what we've been lead to believe about this character so far. She's referenced FiM multiple times since the beginning of the story, even referring to it as "the show" and demonstrating an active interest in its characters. She even compared her own voice to Tara Strong's portrayal of Twilight Sparkle.

Even setting aside my objections to how the author approached these references, it's clear that this character is meant to have an intimate familiarity with this cartoon. Now, the author is claiming that she is personally uninterested, and that most of her knowledge of it comes from this friend. A casual fan or disinterested person who had seen the show but wasn't really into it probably wouldn't know the name of Twilight's Sparkle's voice actress off the top of her head. She also wouldn't be likely to devote serious brainpower to memorizing details like the ponies' ability to drink from mugs, or any of the other random things that have been referenced thus far.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that she has a friend named Rachel who is a deeply-devoted brony, or "pegasister," or whatever such a person would have been called circa 2012. We are also given a paragraph of backstory about her: she had a boyfriend who was killed in Afghanistan, and he was a brony, and Rachel connected with the show through him, and blah blah blah; not sure if any of this will be important later. Anyway, Gregoria has drifted away from this friend, but now realizes that she may be the person to talk to about her current predicament. So, she shoots her an email. The friend responds a short time later (Rachel apparently calls herself Sunflower Feathermane and sounds completely bat-shit), and agrees to meet for lunch.

Incidentally, I fucked this up yet again. Epigraph is the correct term. One day I'll get it right.

Anyway, Gregoria decides to meet up with Rachel. Gregoria's inner monologue rambles on for several more paragraphs: apparently, she's been a bad friend to Rachel, and her new friendship-obsessed pony brain is just now pointing this out to her. She hypothesizes that it may have even been her pushing Rachel away during her time of need (apparently she became rather clingy after her boyfriend was killed) that drove her friend to the dark online world of pony-worship in the first place.

Alternate explanation: Gregoria subconsciously understood all of this from the beginning. She knows that she's been a bad friend as well as (probably) a bad daughter, a bad sister, and an all-around bad person, based on what we know about her thus far. This, combined with her other neuroses and general inability to cope with reality, caused her to develop a self-induced hallucination in which she believes she has been transformed into a character from her friend's favorite show.

For the record, I don't honestly think the Gregoria-is-crazy theory is going to play out. This author seems to be treating her condition as a literal transformation, and I have a feeling we're going to get confirmation of it eventually. However, I think the alternate theory is worth developing for now, as once again we seem to have a story that paints an interesting psychological portrait of both its main character and its author.

Anyway, it pretty much just goes on like this. Gregoria continues to struggle internally against feelings of guilt that are consuming her. Then, page break.

After some brief autism about shoes, Gregoria finally leaves the house. As an aside, we learn that she lives in Brooklyn, NYC. If anyone cares, she solved the shoe problem by putting boots on her hind legs but not her front legs; apparently this fools her mother and anyone else looking at her.

>Perceptual blindness - the name Gregoria had discovered more or less fit the phenomena - was a blessing in so many ways.
"Perceptual blindness" is a hyperlink in the text; the link just leads to a wikipedia article describing the condition. I will once again protest that you should avoid doing stuff like this whenever possible. Adding hyperlinks to a story is tacky and almost always unnecessary, and it arguably breaks the suspension of disbelief. If you really, really, really think it's important to let your readers know that a wikipedia article on perceptual blindness exists, and you don't think they'll be smart or curious enough to google the subject for themselves, put the link in a footnote or something.

>Thinking about it on the subway to Chelsey - Gregoria had used her pass while holding it in her teeth - it really should be called something like 'sustained perceptual blindness' or maybe even 'verity dissonance' - which was funny for a few moments as an acronym, but which she quickly discarded.
All this stuff about "perceptual blindness" is certainly interesting, and the crack about VD is just hilarious, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that it's "Chelsea," not "Chelsey." It's usually best to double-check stuff like this; nothing says "I know literally fuck-all about the setting I've chosen" like misspelling the name of a prominent location. If it helps, here is an obnoxiously-placed hyperlink to Wikipedia:

>During her walk to the second subway entrance on 14th (she took Livona to 8th, then 14th to 7th), she noted how absolutely nobody took any notice of her at all.
This, however, is better done. I've never set foot in NYC and have no idea whether or not these are real streets, but they sound convincing enough, and adding little details like this helps flesh out the setting. There's no law saying you can't set a story in a place you've never been, but be aware that if someone who does live there reads your story, they will only be willing tolerate so much blatant inaccuracy. Protip: if you're going to set your story in real location, be sure to do at least a little bit of basic research about it.

>On the second subway leg of her journey, something unexpected happened which set her mind to possibilities. A very young child, a little boy of perhaps two, maybe two and a half, began staring at her as she lay across her seat. The boy's eyes were wide, and he could not stop staring. Soon he was waving his arms. The child's mother smiled in faint embarrassment when she saw Gregoria had noticed her boy fussing. Her efforts to redirect the child's attention were opposed by excited statements of "HORSEY! HORSEY!" that made Gregoria startle. The child appeared to be able to see the truth of Gregoria's existence.
Welp, looks like external confirmation of Gregoria's condition came a little sooner than I expected. Just for fun, though, I'm going to keep running with my alternate theory that Gregoria is just crazy and hallucinating. If nothing else, it will serve as an example of another way the author could have approached this idea one that wouldn't have involved such a tediously literal take on Kafka.

>Fortunately, the word of a two year old carries no weight, and the mother moved further away to end the fuss.
Incidentally, it might have been somewhat more interesting if the author had loosened his own rules on this a bit. In the YT video example he gave, you don't notice the guy in the gorilla suit because your eye is deliberately focusing on the people passing the basketball. If you watch the same video without paying attention to the basketball passes, the gorilla-guy is plainly visible. Likewise, it might have made for an interesting scene if this woman's "perceptual blindness" had suddenly evaporated once her son had pointed out that Gregoria is a horse for crying out loud. Food for thought.

Gregoria gets off the subway and heads to Rachel's apartment.

>Rachel had actually succeeded in making a life for herself away from her parents, thanks to very good luck, a bachelor's degree in finance, and a solid contact at the SEC. Rachel was an entry-level examiner, and made enough money to live on her own. Gregoria's new pony brain did not need to inform her that she was deeply jealous of her friend, but it had made her feel rather bad about feeling that way.
This is kind of ironic; I'm not sure if it's intentional or not. Gregoria has apparently been looking down on Rachel and avoiding her, due to her obsession with a children's cartoon. However, Rachel, for all her quirks, is basically a functioning adult, whereas Gregoria, based on what the author's given us so far, is basically a 26 year old NEET.

Gregoria is critical of her high-school friend for developing a hobby she perceives as a regression into childhood, yet Rachel has done a far better job of advancing past childhood than Gregoria herself has. She is basically taking her own mother's criticism (which she usually deflects or makes excuses for when it's directed at her) and redirecting it at her friend, to whom she secretly feels inferior.

Experience has taught me to assume that most people who write pony-fiction are not perceptive enough to notice screamingly obvious things about their own characters, but I am still holding out hope that Chatoyance will turn out to be a little more adept at writing. So, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt for now and assume that he's doing this on purpose. It will be interesting to see where Gregoria ultimately ends up.

Anyway, if Rachel is pissed off at Gregoria for abandoning her for...actually, I'm not sure if the text specifies how long they've been drifting apart for; presumably a few years...she doesn't show it. They hug and have a nice, sweet, tearful reunion. Gregoria apologizes for her shitty behavior in the past, an act which she silently chalks up to her newfound "pony brain."

>Rachel was a dishwater blond with green eyes that was almost nondescript to the point of invisibility. Gregoria, who as a human, had been a striking, dark-haired girl with a more than decent figure if she did say so herself - and she did - had enjoyed feeling more attractive than her comparatively plain best friend. Now, for the first time, she felt envy for Rachel's average appearance.
Wow, backhanded compliment much?

Seriously, though, I'm having a hard time getting a bead on this character so far. Granted, she's been a pony for the entire time we've known her, so there hasn't been much of an opportunity for the author to describe what her human self was like. It's not just how she looks, though; it's her entire character. I'm forming a pretty negative impression of this girl so far, but can't tell if this was the author's intent or not.

Based on the behavior we've seen from her so far, as well as the background info the author has given us, here is my impression of Gregoria: she is an insecure, unmotivated, selfish neurotic in her mid-twenties. She lives at home, doesn't work, and does not attend school. She claims to be looking hard for a job, but she also comes across as lazy and whiny, and I suspect that she probably hasn't been trying nearly as hard as she thinks. She also strikes me as someone who doesn't like to leave the house unless she has to. My guess is that even if she actually does go out to the occasional odd job interview, she probably doesn't make much of an impression on the interviewer. I remember the Obama economy too, but...well, let's just say you can't blame it all on a shitty job market.

In addition to having no practical ambitions, she doesn't seem to have much of a social life either. From the author's incessant references to ponies and "the show," I had assumed he wanted us to see her as deeply involved in the MLP fandom. However, recent info makes it clear that she's not especially interested, and is only familiar with MLP through this old friend of hers, to whom she rarely speaks anymore. She complains constantly about being picked on by her mother and sister, but there has been little evidence of such treatment (at least not from her mother).

All in all, the author has painted us a portrait of a self-absorbed, lazy, neurotic young woman with no friends, no tangible or intangible goals of any kind, and no hobbies or interests other than complaining. It sounds like she was physically attractive in her previous existence, but I also find it hard to believe she had the motivation to put her looks to use. By contrast, her friend seems like kind of a sperg so far, but otherwise a likable enough person, and it's clear she's done a lot more for herself than Gregoria has. However, Gregoria not only ignores her, but privately condescends to her, mostly on the grounds that she's (in her own opinion, at least) better-looking. Now, she doesn't even have that anymore, and despite the influence of her "pony brain," seems to mostly be feeling sorry for herself.

Again, I can't tell if this is a case of a competent writer setting up his protagonist as deeply flawed so she has room to grow throughout the story, or if I've got another goddamned kkat on my hands. Time will tell, I suppose.

>She looked about the small, tidy Chelsea apartment. It seemed to be furnished in the Middle Ikea fashion, with a hand-me-down wooden Krāppö Bookcase dominating the room.
And on top of everything else, she's a snob about furniture. also, I notice the author spelled "Chelsea" right this time.

Anyway, her friend Rachel seems nice enough...but is also pretty damn loony-tunes in her own right. She serves lunch, and it turns out they are having...daisy and daffodil sandwiches hold the daffodil, because they're poisonous I guess. Just like in...you guessed it..."the show."
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>Rachel had become such a fanatic, so obsessed in her love of My Little Pony that she had somehow reasoned that serving someone a daisy sandwich was a good idea. Gregoria's mind reeled at how far her friend must have fallen into crazy to do such a thing. Her first impulse was to storm out, the girl was too far gone. Time to sever all ties and run screaming from the freak.
This is probably a reasonable enough instinct, but...still. People in glass houses.

Anyway, it turns out that none of the otherwise-reasonable objections to being served a plate of lawn clippings by some deranged fangirl apply. Gregoria is a horse now, and horses apparently like eating daisies slathered in mustard and wedged between two slices of Wonder bread. So, she chows down. Nom nom nom.

>This was the single. Most. Delicious. Thing. That Gregoria had ever seen in her entire new life.
Writing. This. Way. For. Emphasis is. Annoying. And it. Should be done. Sparingly. If. At. All. Also, the sandwich should probably be the single most delicious thing that Gregoria has ever tasted in her entire life.

Anyway, point is, she enjoyed her sandwich. Rachel is, of course, pleasantly surprised by this, and offers to make her another one. During the interim, Gregoria's inner monologue fires up again, returning to the same tired subject of how different everything is for her now that she is a horse for crying out loud.

>Human Gregoria would have already been on the subway home, a lifelong friendship ended because it had gotten too demanding and weird. Pony Gregoria worried for her friend, felt sorry for her loss, forgave her eccentricity entirely, and only wanted to stay and help as much as she could.
Once again, this seems to highlight this character's extreme emotional sensitivity and tendency to overreact to nearly every situation. I'll grant that Rachel probably has more than a few screws loose herself, and serving a guest flowers for lunch is some flat-out wacko behavior. Surely, though, there has to be some kind of middle ground between abruptly terminating a years-long friendship and eating the lawn just to be polite.

>Rachel was singing to herself now, one of the songs from the show she loved. It was about wrapping up winter or some bizarre thing.
I hate to keep returning to this reference business, but it's a repeated fault point for this story.

The author's first offense was in dropping highly specific references to the show without establishing it as part of this story's universe. The second offense was not clarifying just what this protagonist's relationship to this show is. The third offense is a direct consequence of the first two: without any clear guidance from the author, the reader has no choice but to just make inferences based on his own prior knowledge and on what sparse information the author provides.

From this, one would logically deduce that Gregoria is herself a devoted fan of the show, and this is why she immediately recognizes that she has become a character from it. This is also why she knows seemingly random insignificant details about it, like the name of the actress who voices a specific character, or the fact that Earth Ponies are able to somehow hold mugs. The fourth and final offense (so far) is suddenly pulling the rug on us, and informing us out of nowhere that Gregoria is actually not a fan, actually knows very little about this show, and has gained almost all of her knowledge about it from this one friend she hardly ever sees (and doesn't seem to have much respect for).

Again, this may seem like a minor detail, but keep in mind what I've said during other reviews: problems in stories tend to cascade, so the odds are if you notice a small problem, it's connected to a much larger one. In this case, I noticed something early on that bothered me, and sure enough, once I started tugging on the loose thread, it revealed a much more serious faultline. Since it's clear that the meta-MLP cartoon is a significant plot point in this novel, the author should have given a lot more thought to how he was going to weave it into the fictional world, and how he was going to introduce it to the reader from the perspective of his characters. Particularly since, by his own admission, the main character is supposed to have little to no interest in the cartoon.

>And it was clear that her pony self could not be entirely denied, no matter how much she tried. It wasn't that she was changing - she had already changed, in one night. She wasn't fighting some invasive alien mindset. The true horror hit her - she was fighting herself. The reason she couldn't win, the reason she couldn't just make the 'pony' vanish, or push it away into some corner of her mind and lock it up was because it was her. It was as much her as her memories of having been human. She was a pony, trying to pretend to be a human now. Clinging to something she wasn't anymore.
I'm just grabbing this passage as a random example, but there have been numerous passages just like this one throughout the book. The author basically writes well enough, but he falls victim to the same tendency to ramble that we've seen from others.

Gregoria is a horse now, and it's weird for her. Fine; we get it. We've already been over this subject, many times and from many different angles. Obviously, transforming into a pony is a unique experience for Gregoria and we can expect it to be at the forefront of her thoughts most of the time. However, remember what I said in an earlier post: just because something is in the stream of the character's thoughts doesn't mean it's something the author needs to pluck out of that stream and present to us. There are only so many times you can expect a person to read the same idea over and over before they start to get annoyed with it. This metaphorical horse has been whipped into a bloody, lifeless pulp. It's time to move on.
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>People in glass houses.
What about if they aren't?
What about if she never liked the show? Ha?
You're going to have to elaborate on these questions a little, I'm not quite sure what you're getting at.

>Only her excitement over having her friend come back into her life and want to talk ponies had made her think daisy sandwiches were a good idea.
This is an uncharacteristically terrible sentence. "Only her excitement over her friend having come back into her life, wanting to talk ponies, had made her think that daisy sandwiches were a good idea." This is what I'd probably go with.

Anyway, Rachel suddenly announces that she thought she saw something out of the corner of her eye. She then goes on to explain that she sees things sometimes, pony-related things, and also that she has dreams about ponies. Clearly this girl is a perfectly well-balanced human with no emotional issues whatsoever.

>"Dreams? What kind of dreams?" Gregoria's heart was pounding now. "Wait... Celestia... dreams?"
This actually jogs my memory about something that happened at the very beginning of the story:

>The dream was already fading, which was sad because it had been such a pleasant one. It was rare to have a happy dream, so Gregoria lay still, trying to cling to it. It had been a pony dream! Yes, a pony dream, she had dreamed of... of what? Running, she had dreamed of running, she was certain of that much, and she remembered talking with... with princess Celestia in her dream, though she couldn't remember about what. It was fading away so fast now. In a moment, the last details were gone, and inside herself Gregoria felt sad, because there had been something wonderful about her dream, and it was gone now.
Right off the bat, the author gives us the impression that this character has a deep, personal connection to this show. I think I'm beginning to get a dim glimpse of what he actually had in mind for her, but it's presented in a rather confusing way.

If the character is somehow being fed these dreams from some outside source, as some kind of prelude to her forced transformation into a pony, that's all well and good. However, the fact that she can identify "Princess Celestia" by name, and that she seems to think of "pony dreams" as something warm and comforting, suggests a preexisting intimate relationship to this subject matter.

Probably a better approach to this would have been to describe what she was dreaming about without using any show-specific names or terminology: she had been having dreams about a "tall, majestic white unicorn with a sparkling mane;" she dreamt she was in "a pastel-colored, idyllic, peaceful and beautiful setting, filled with magical talking horses;" that sort of thing. Let us know this character is dreaming about Equestria, without telling us she's dreaming about Equestria. Also, if the author wants to make Gregoria's relationship to the cartoon a little more clear, he could say something like "the dreams reminded her a little of that weird little kids' cartoon her friend Rachel enjoyed," or something to that effect. It's important to make sure that you and your readers are on the same page about these things.

Anyway, that's the end of the chapter.

5. By Means Of Very Strong Light

Rachel leaves the apartment. Ironically, she didn't much care for the daisy sandwiches she'd made (go figure), so she runs downstairs to grab a couple of slices from the pizza place across the street. Most likely, the flower sandwiches were just an elaborate, autismo way of grabbing her friend's attention.

>Flashes of cartoon-like imagery, strange dreams about Equestria, especially the character called Celestia - Gregoria worried that her friend might well be on the way to becoming a pony too.
>especially the character called Celestia
Oh, now you start treating "the show" like something this character isn't supposed to know that much about.

>The armchair, though well padded, was not entirely comfortable anymore - Gregoria was well and truly stuffed with sandwiches and pop.
Would Gregoria call it "pop?" Or would it be "soda" to her? How about "coke?" She's a New Yorker, so what is the most commonly used term in that area? Well, I did a little research (apologies for the Huffington Post source; it was all I could find):

According to this map, most of the east coast calls it "soda," but the observant reader will note that "pop" is more common in western New York, which I imagine is because that region is closer culturally to Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Makes you wonder about Gregoria's backstory a bit, doesn't it? Was she born and raised in Brooklyn, or did she emigrate from somewhere else? Maybe her parents came from the Midwest originally, and she grew up saying "pop" instead of "soda?"

I'm sure this all sounds very autistic and nitpicky, but believe it or not idiotic little details like this can make a huge difference when fleshing out characters and setting.

Anyway, the narration dives once more into the stream of Gregoria's tedious thoughts, and it's mostly just more of the same ol' same ol'. The gist of it is that she is now concerned that her friend Rachel may also be turning into a pony.

>Rachel was going through a pattern Gregoria recognized. She had ignored it at the time, it had seemed trivial, even silly. Little flashes out of the corner of the eye, odd dreams about a show she barely knew - who would see such things as a sign of such a monumental transformation? It had been only rational to discount them. Anypony would.
Oh, I see. Gregoria was having "flashes" of pony-related things in the days and weeks leading up to her transformation; hence, she was thinking more about her friend's pony show, even though she didn't pay much conscious attention to it. This information would have been helpful earlier on in the story.

>Gregoria scanned the room, trying to think of any way to explain the reality of spontaneous physical transformation to Rachel without losing her as a friend. It was such an insane thing, it seemed impossible.
This bitch literally just served you a plate of flowers for lunch; you're probably overthinking this tbh.
Hey are you that jewish guy who bullshits people about "muh evil putin's KGB, at least the west doesn't have that"?
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Anyway, she rambles on about stuff and whatever for several more paragraphs than she needs to, but the long and short of it is that she wants to reveal the nature of her transformation to Rachel, in order to warn her that Rachel may be transforming herself. Eventually, she notices a picture that caught her eye earlier in the story, that seems to show Rachel and her dead boyfriend...in Equestria.

At first, Gregoria had assumed that this was simply an elaborate Photoshopping job; however, upon closer scrutiny, the image looks too well-done to be a fake. As far as she can tell, the background of the photo is real. Moreover, she recognizes the picture as the last one that was ever taken of Rachel and Rick. It is also said that she knows the photographer, but the name of this person is not given; most likely this is foreshadowing something that will be important later. I'm going to assume that this photograph will be resurfacing many times throughout the story.

Also, I'm not 100% sure, but the text seems to be implying that Gregoria herself has been fooled by the same "perceptual blindness" that prevents her condition from being noticed by others. She seems to have seen this photo before, and knows that it did not depict the couple standing in Equestria the last time she saw it. She also knows that the photo is too precious to Rachel for her to just casually doctor it into some fangirl bullshit. The overall implication is that, when she was a human, Gregoria had perceived this photo as a normal photo of Rachel and her boyfriend at the Williamsburg Bridge. However, that was just what her brain tricked her into seeing, to distract her from the impossible fact that it was actually taken at a similar bridge in Equestria. At least, that's my interpretation of what this is saying.

Anyway, Rachel comes back to the apartment. Out of consideration, she brought an extra slice of pepperoni for Gregoria. Obviously, that doesn't appeal much to her, but she decides to be polite about it for now. Meanwhile, she calls Rachel's attention to the photo, but Rachel doesn't see anything wrong with it.

>If her family, and all the humans out there in the world, if Rachel - the biggest pony fan she knew - could all be perfectly blind to what had happened to her, then it must also be true that she, when she had been human, must have been blind to such things as well. The Williamsburg Bridge had appeared perfectly ordinary when she had taken that picture of Rachel and Rick. Perfectly, completely ordinary. But it hadn't been, it couldn't have been. Eight months ago, when that picture was taken, when Gregoria had been completely human, that bridge must have already been changed. Altered. Transformed, and not one of them had noticed or seen it for what it really was.
This seems to more or less confirm my theory. However, it's hinting at a pretty weird idea: that there is some kind of overlap between Equestria and our world that can't be perceived. Not sure where the author plans on going with this, but I'll admit that he's piqued my curiosity.

>It wasn't just her. The bridge had transformed before she had, only she had been incapable of knowing it. And if a bridge could change, and if she herself could change, then it was unlikely she was alone in the world. There might be any number of transformed humans - or bridges - out there, somewhere in the world. They couldn't be commonplace, not yet - that thought hung in her mind sending a shiver up her withers - but there could very easily be others out there. What was the chance that she, Gregoria Samson, was the very first human to be transformed like this?
So...some unknown force is quietly turning the world into Equestria because...reasons? Maybe? Interesting idea, I'll be curious to see where it goes.

>Gregoria's ears went flat, and her eyes narrowed. 'Humans said it so...' That was how she was thinking now. Humans. They. Them. The not-pony creatures. Anypony, everypony, somepony - it was impossible to ignore anymore. Her brain and body and self couldn't deny the reality of her existence. She was Gregoria - she had to be Gregoria, that was an absolute - but she was Gregoria-the-pony. Gregoria AS pony. It was there, it was always there. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't un-see the gorilla anymore. The proof was in her every thought.
Yes, yes; you're a pony now, but you used to be a human. We've gone over this several times.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that Gregoria is able to break her way through Rachel's perceptual blindness using a long and convoluted trick that forces her to acknowledge the height difference between them. Rachel is understandably surprised.

>Rachel's eyes suddenly focused, clearly and sharply on the unearthly creature before her. The unearthly creature she was touching, the creature that she could feel the fur of, right under her hand. Huge - oh sweet Jesus such big huge purple eyes! Scary giant eyes, oh god they were so big and ears and tail and yellow all over and oh my fucking goddamn...
inb4 this is the thing that finally breaks Rachel's fragile grasp on sanity, and the rest of the story is about her going on a Columbine-style rampage.

>She crept past the table, past the fallen chair that Rachel had knocked over in her mad scramble. Animal comfort. The most basic thing in all of life. Simple animal comfort. Temple Grandin would be so proud.
"Temple Grandin" is another gratuitous hyperlink to Wikipedia. She's apparently some kind of animal behaviorist. This seems to be the relevant bit:

>Grandin is one of the first autistic people to document the insights she gained from her personal experience of autism.
...and then "she" changed her name to Chatoyance and started writing fanfiction.

I'll say it again: please don't dump hyperlinks into your prose; it demeans us all. If you really feel the need to make a reference this obscure, just add a footnote that explains it.

The author draws out this scene for quite a bit longer, but the basic idea is that Rachel accepts Gregoria's transformation, despite being a little freaked out.

>"Are... are you... will you still be my... are we...?" Gregoria felt very insecure all of a sudden. She was afraid to turn her head and look at Rachel. She was afraid of scaring her, she was afraid of being rejected.
tbh it would be hilariously ironic if the obsessive MLP fangirl, whose obsession runs so deep she serves flower sandwiches to her guests, wound up slamming the door on Gregoria because her "look at me I'm a pony now" revelation turned out to be a little too weird for her.

Anyway, they're still friends, and Rachel knows Gregoria's secret now. That's basically the end of the chapter.

6. Neighbor Within The Limits Of The World

We rejoin Malus Crown and his merry band.

>Nadzieja returned to her cross-checking and searching. Her fingers flashed over the Mac keyboard.
>Guillaume raised his head from his 27-inch iMac and nodded.
Gotta love unsolicited product placement.

This next bit is a little bizarre, but apparently Malus Crown is trying to find a very specific My Little Pony fanfiction author. It isn't clear what he wants him for just yet, but the relevant point is that his staff is being forced to sit and read every single MLP fanfiction on the internet until they find this guy. I think we finally found a working definition of Hell though I suppose I'm not really one to talk. Malus's staff is apparently very highly paid for their efforts; I'm over here reading this shit for free like a certified retard.

Anyway, again, it sounds like Malus in Chains is looking for a certain fanfiction author, for some yet-unspecified reason. Specifically, he is looking for a soldier who writes a common variety of story, in which the main character is killed somehow and then ends up reincarnated in Equestria. Oh, also, there's one more criterium: the guy has to be dead.

As it turns out, one of Malus in Wonderland's loyal Frenchmen seems to have located just such a man: Private First Class Richard Deckard. He meets all the criteria: he's a soldier, he's dead, and he's written brony fanfiction about being dead. Also, eerily enough, he managed to die in a way that parallels the death of one of his protagonists. Interestingly enough, it was mentioned earlier that Rachel's ex-boyfriend, a soldier killed in action who was also a dedicated brony, was named Rick. Could there be a connection? Methinks it's a possibility. seriously, you guys can't imagine how refreshing it is for me to finally be critiquing a story written by someone who can at least write at a collegiate level. He does a few things that annoy me, but overall Chatoyance has done a remarkably good job so far of not being a gigantic faggot. This in itself is an accomplishment, considering that as far as I can tell he's an irl tranny involved in a polyamorous relationship with multiple dudes.

Anyway, speaking of things that annoy me:

>Guillaume clicked his single-button iMac mouse.
This is the third time in this subchapter alone. I own some Apple products myself, so maybe I'm not in a position to throw stones here, but why are Macfags the only ones who do shit like this? Seriously; I've never met a Dell or Hewlett Packard user who felt compelled to namedrop the brand of computer he uses without being asked.

ANYWAY, the Frenchman tries to investigate this Richard Deckard character, and discovers that all military records pertaining to him have been sealed if that's the case, I'm a little curious how they found out about how he died, since it stands to reason that information would be sealed as well. However, I don't really know that much about how military classification works, so maybe there are some details that would reasonably be public.

Page break. Now that she has a friend who knows her secret, Gregoria decides it would be simpler to stay at Rachel's place for the time being.

>Gregoria's mother had no problem with her daughter staying over for a while, one less mouth to feed and it was clear she secretly was hoping that it might mean a second shot at leaving the nest. If anything, she was over-eager, which made Gregoria feel just... [/i]wonderful.[/i]
Once again, it feels like this rift between Gregoria and her mother is mostly just Gregoria reading too much into her mother's words and behavior, while being simultaneously oblivious to behavior on her own part that might be getting on her mother's nerves.

This is even apparent to her friend:

>"She doesn't mean it that way, Greggie! She just feels glad you are having fun with me!" Rachel constantly tried to see the best in people. It had always been her most annoying trait.
Because clearly Gregoria has no annoying traits of her own.

Anyway, Rachel and Gregoria go grocery shopping, and the dead horse that is Gregoria's transformation is once again given a thorough whipping. The subject of perceptual blindness is thoroughly discussed for the umpteenth time, and Rachel buys "Greggie" some vegetables.

>Gregoria grinned. "This one does! Cabbage too, if they have any. Ooh! Can we get some apples? That pony on the show was like "Mooaarr Apples!!!"
>"You're thinking of 'Jappleack' from those Diggity Demon fan cartoons. She's not really canon."
Alright, this is getting ridiculous. It's been established that the only reason Gregoria knows anything about this show is because Rachel made her watch it a couple of times several years ago. It's plausible that she might recognize one or two things, but fan-made cartoons that would need to be explicitly sought out should be well outside her knowledge base, especially since it was also established she had no prior knowledge of the online fanbase.

If I were this guy's editor, I would suggest setting a plausible, consistent threshold of MLP knowledge for Gregoria, and rewriting all portions of the text where the subject comes up with this in mind.

>"Um... listen, you know I'm paying for all of this, right? I've got my card in my, um, saddlebags." The ratty old bicycle bags were slung over Gregoria's back, and she had her boots on again too. "I'm not a freeloader."
Just out of curiosity, did this totally-not-a-freeloader ever offer to buy groceries for the parents she's been sponging off of for however long?

>It was really hard sometimes to tell where old Gregoria stopped and pony Gregoria began. It was getting more blurred with every decision she made.
So far "pony Gregoria" doesn't impress me much more than "old Gregoria" did, but in this girl's case nearly any change is probably an improvement.

Anyway, nothing really happens in this scene that merits going over. They discuss Gregoria's transformation some more; Gregoria is still being a Debbie Downer about it, but Rachel has more of a Positive Pete outlook. I'm honestly starting to wish the author had made Rachel the protagonist of this story instead of Gregoria. For all her craziness and annoying fangirl bullshit, it seems like it would be more enjoyable to spend 97,000 words inside her head than that of the dreary bore we're currently stuck with.

There is one minor detail that's probably worth calling attention to:

>Gregoria stared at a box of cookies. The Keebler Elves were all ponies. With buckle hats and pointier ears. "Rachel - look at that box, that one, right there. The elves on it?"
>"Keebler, yeah."
>"Look normal to you?" Gregoria was pointing at the box with a hoof.
>"Um... yes?"
>"I see them as ponies. It's like the bridge in your picture." Gregoria put her hoof down and leaned in to study the box. Ponies. Dressed like leprechauns or whatever the Keebler company thought elves dressed like. It certainly wasn't Lord Of the Rings clothing.
Nerd points +10. Anyway, it's not clear whether Gregoria's transformation is causing her to see ordinary things as pony things, or if her transformation is allowing her to see things as they really are. This story is beginning to feel more like They Live than Metamorphosis. In all likelihood, the film was referenced earlier in order to foreshadow this similarity. Again, whatever flaws I might come across in this text ere we reach the end, I am at least glad to finally be reading a fanfiction written by a competent writer. I don't care how many dicks this guy has sucked irl or how tiresome I find his whiny drip of a protagonist to be; if he can maintain at least this level of quality through the end of the book, I will proclaim him an honorary heterosexual.

Anyway, after this, Gregoria once again voices her concern that Rachel might be transforming as well. This prospect doesn't offend Rachel as much Gregoria feels it probably ought to; beyond that there's nothing much to report.

Page break. We rejoin the two of them a few hours later. They have just eaten dinner, and we are treated to several lengthy paragraphs describing the taste of vegetables. We also learn that they went shopping, and Rachel bought her some motorcycle saddlebags to use as...well, as saddlebags, and some clothes she plans to modify later so they will fit a horse body.

>Gregoria found it all quite odd.
>She had dropped her supposed best friend because she had become a burden due to legitimate grief. Gregoria had ignored Rachel's calls, deleted her emails, and made herself absent the times Rachel came in person to try to find out what was up. She had refused to acknowledge Rachel's birthday, all to avoid having to deal with a 'clingy' friend.
Seriously; what a cunt.

>Now, Gregoria herself was in desperate straits. She had forced her problem onto Rachel, selfishly, because she had nopony else to turn to. By all rights, Rachel should have spit on her. Yet here she was, spending her savings on new saddlebags and other things to make Gregoria's life easier, on special food just for her, and giving Gregoria all of her time.
Seriously; you'd better end up learning something from all of this. Ideally, something that goes a little deeper than just "friendship is magic."

Anyway, the chapter ends with Gregoria at least having something of a revelation:

>The enemy she inhabited, this alien pony body, this alien pony mind, was innately kinder and more worthy of life than human Gregoria had ever been.
Basically, she realizes that as much as she's been pitying herself, she's really been kind of a cunt up to this point. I can't quite tell where the author is going with this. I more or less suspect that my reaction to Gregoria is the one I'm supposed to be having; this character was made intentionally unlikable so she can grow and become better over the course of the story. However, I'm not sure if this is just supposed to be one character learning a personal lesson, or if this is part of some larger "ponies are morally superior to humans and the world would be better if it was made into Equestria" theme. This line I've quoted seems to be hinting at the latter, though I might be overthinking it.

7. Splendor Forever Lies In Wait

>Pandit Ramsamooj had spent the entire day praying to Hayagrīva, but nothing had come of it.
I can make up words too, you dimbledwoddling bandersnootch.

Seriously, though; it looks like we've got a new character. This one is a Pajeet, and he seems to have recently turned into a horse as well. There is mention of wings, so this one appears to be a pegasus; not sure if that's important or not.

Even though being a horse means that he can now legally shit on any street he likes, and not just the designated ones, for some reason Pajeet still seems to think there's a downside to this. He's currently praying his way through the Hindu pantheon, to see if any of his wacky gods are able to overturn his curse. So far, he hasn't had much luck.

>One day Lord Hayagreevar would surely answer.
This name was spelled Hayagrīva before. Less important than which spelling you pick is that you pick one and use it consistently.
Those scenes with Gregoria as a neurotic part of her family feel pointless. Pony niceness is supposed to contrast with human awfulness, right? What if the family had been bigger cunts, kicking Gregoria out for lacking a job at the story's start, forcing her to move in with the only friend she had left: her wacky flower-eating friend? Gregoria could go to sleep crying, wishing she was anyone else, and then she could wake up a pony exactly where she needs to be for the story to continue.

There's a page break, and we switch over to another new character who has been turned into a pony. This one is a woman named Marguerite, who is presently wandering around Brussels, observing that all of the buildings have been replaced with pastel-colored cartoon versions of themselves. That's about all that happens here.

There's another page break, and we're back to Gregoria and Rachel. Rachel has made some outfits for Gregoria, and Gregoria is trying them on. Her friend also managed to make a set of "hoof cuffs" that cleverly mimic the appearance of sneakers. So, it looks like the issue of wearing clothes in order to appear human has been solved; hopefully we won't have to revisit it.

Anyway, it's apparently been three days since our last check-in with this mopey twat. To her surprise, she finds herself starting to have fun in her new body; unfortunately, not quite enough fun to stop her from whining about her transformation for another three paragraphs.

From here, she segues into a long, rambling tangent about the show itself. The details don't really matter; the overall point is that, by way of some convoluted brony autism, she deduces that Granny Smith in the show is 300 years old. With absolutely nothing to go on beyond the show's writers having clearly not taken into account the level of autistic scrutiny the bullshit they came up with for a children's cartoon would be subjected to, Gregoria concludes from this that she herself can expect to live approximately 300 years or more. Yes, this autism is actually in the text.

>The transformation was ruthless. Heartless. Cruel beyond comprehension. Earthly ponies were fortunate to make it to thirty years. That would be a dire motivation to get her human body back. But a three-hundred year lifespan - two hundred at the very least - it was a temptation beyond measure.
Seriously: is there anything this twat won't bitch about?

>Maybe if she had been a religious fanatic, sure of an afterlife, certain that death was nothing but eternal pies and cake - but death was scary to Gregoria, very scary. She was not convinced that death meant reward - or punishment. It nagged at her that death could be just what it appeared to be - permanent termination. Oblivion. And that frightened Gregoria more than anything.
Yeah, imagine not existing. Imagine not being able to take up space in your parents' house anymore. Imagine not being able to lie around in bed all day bitching about how mean your family is for demanding you get a job. Imagine not being able to completely sever all ties with your one friend because she had a legitimate emotional need for companionship and being friends with her suddenly required mild effort. Imagine all of that coming to an end. Imagine a world without Gregoria Samson in it. Imagine.

Anyway, she blathers on about this nonsense for several long paragraphs, and I'm tempted to just skip over it, but some of what she says here is actually worth calling attention to.

>Three hundred years instead of eighty. It was as if whatever had changed her had deliberately done everything possible to make her suffer for any attempt to undo it.
First of all, I'd like to once again point out that the lifespan thing is 100% speculation. Beyond some kooky autism she came up with by comparing some random details from the cartoon, she has absolutely zero proof that she can expect to live that long. For all she knows, her lifespan has actually been shortened.

Second, how much of a self-absorbed cunt do you have to be to actually think like this? Does she honestly believe that whatever mysterious force transformed her into a pony is consciously and deliberately targeting her? That there is some flying saucer following her around with a laser beam that transforms humans into ponies? That out of all the eight billion some-odd humans walking around on this planet that they could have chosen to transform, the aliens picked her? That they were just flying around looking for someone to use their pony ray on, and then saw her and said "hey, let's zap that 26 year old unemployed whiny NEET that lives with her parents; she sure looks important?" Seriously, bitch; get over yourself.

>The revelation that, as a pony, she could expect to live as long as three centuries, far beyond any recorded human lifespan, made her determination to regain her humanity much more desperate. Such a generous bounty of additional years of existence was a temptation that would only become increasingly difficult to fight against accepting.
At this point, I am no longer sure if this is the author deliberately trying to make his character seem insane, or if this is yet another example of an author's personal autism preventing him from realizing just how insane he's made his character seem.

>It would become worse as the years went on, as people she cared about - such as her mother, her sister and Rachel - grew old and died around her.
More likely she realizes on some level that if these people die, there will be no one left on earth who will voluntarily put up with her whiny bullshit. Who will she sponge off of once her parents and only friend are finally gone?

Anyway, whatever. She babbles about this nonsense for a few more paragraphs, and then eventually Rachel starts scratching her ears and she stops babbling. Then, she asks Rachel not to scratch her ears, because she really enjoys it, and she's afraid that if she enjoys being a pony too much it will weaken her desire to turn back into a human, which has already been weakened by this ridiculous headcanon she thought up where she gets to live for 300 years because something something Granny Smith Winter Wrap Up. Yes, this autism is actually in the text seriously, Chatoyance, you fuck; that 'honorary heterosexual' thing isn't a done deal yet. If you stray too far from God's light I'll punt you right back into the Gay Authors corner with kkat and the rest of those faggots faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
op dlitrs.png

Anyway, it seems like Gregoria is having some kind of inner conflict over whether or not she wants to go back to being human. Rachel, for her part, seems like she was pretty fragile to begin with, and having her boyfriend killed seems to have sent her careening off the edge into a world of pure escapism. Tl;dr, they're both nuts for entirely different reasons, and it's not clear whether their present relationship is helping or enabling their respective mental problems.

There's a lot of weird emotional back and forth here, and the text meanders quite a bit. Ultimately, though, it ends up with Rachel assuring Gregoria that her getting used to being a pony is making her more human, not less, because adaptability is what sets humans apart from all the other animals. It doesn't make a ton of sense, but this feels like one of those situations where the author is trying to argue his own views through one of his characters, so what she says here is probably worth looking at:

>Humans adapt, Greggy. That's the one thing that defines humans, I think. I mean, gorillas and chimps can talk - sign language, but sign language is still speech, and lots of animals can make and use tools, and all animals care and feel and even squirrels can solve puzzles and crows can do math problems and...
>Other animals can pretty much do everything humans claimed - for a long time - that only they could do. That's all been proven to be totally false. So what makes humans human then? It can't be speech, or thought, or emotion, or tools or problem solving or even math, so if it isn't any of those things what's the one thing that humans do better than any other animal?
>Humans can adapt to anything!
>Out of Africa, through the ice age, into every climate, in the middle of deserts, or the arctic, or jungles or grasslands or mountains or islands in the sea - humans adapt to everything, Greggy. That's what humans are - the animal that adapts.
As far as I'm aware, all the stuff about animals using tools and sign language and whatnot is basically true, but she draws some strange conclusions from it. For one thing, she seems to be working from the assumption that every human group spawned from the same ancestry, originating in Africa. My understanding is that's been proven false; maybe someone with more knowledge on the subject can provide details. Furthermore, "adaptability" isn't a uniquely human trait at all; in fact, adaptability is pretty much the universal factor that determines whether or not any species can survive. Every existing animal has had to be adaptable to some extent.

What I think she's trying to say is that humans have managed to use all of the skills they've cobbled together (tool use, puzzle solving, math, etc) to adapt to every environment on earth, and that level of ingenuity is what sets humans apart. Again, this seems to be assuming a single, universal human type. Looked at that way I can kind of see what she's getting at, but adaptability itself is still not a uniquely human trait. If you want to get technical, the cockroach is probably the most adaptable species on Earth, and this is a pretty ironic observation when you consider the book this story is supposed to be based on.

More to the point is that the main reason modern humans are able to live nearly anywhere on earth is technology, not any sort of biological adaptability. There's nothing in human biology that makes us able to live in the arctic the way a polar bear can, or in the desert the way a scorpion can. We've just honed food production, transportation, and infrastructure to the point where we can modify any otherwise hostile environment to make it hospitable to us.

Even more to the point, most of our technology is the result of centuries of accumulated knowledge and the ability of humans to cooperate and specialize. The bulk of this knowledge was produced and preserved by a comparatively small number of human individuals. The average human has no idea how most of the machinery that runs his civilization works, let alone how to survive off the land alone if it became necessary I certainly couldn't. Basically, with the exception of a few talented individuals, the overwhelming majority of humans are completely unremarkable creatures that in a state of nature would be quickly and ruthlessly culled I certainly would be.

Therefore, if I had to come up with a simple definition of what differentiates "humans" from "animals" that stays within the purely materialist scope the author is working in, I would say it's the ability of some human individuals to innovate, and their willingness to record and transmit this knowledge for the benefit of the human group.

A small number of highly talented individuals produce innovations, a larger number of less-talented humans learn from those innovations and use them to create solutions to practical problems, and the largest and least-talented number of humans perform the labor that applies those solutions. It's worth noting that, in order for this to work effectively, you need to have some sort of hierarchy that favors innovation, and enough cohesion among the human group to make cooperation desirable and effective. I'll let people draw whatever conclusions they like from that.

Anyway, fuck; where were we? Oh yeah. Rachel spergs some more about the glorious world of ¡SCIENCE!, and how innovations like space travel are something that apparently every living person can claim partial ownership of simply by virtue of being human. Even spergy Rachel and her useless NEET friend Gregoria can include themselves.

>Could a chimpanzee cope with suddenly being a completely different animal? Could a dolphin? Could a crow? It was more likely, Gregoria thought, that such animals would just freak out and stumble about smashing into walls in mindless panic until they broke their neck.
You have absolutely zero proof of any of this.
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Anyway, wew lad. There are several more rambling paragraphs in which Gregoria spergs to herself about how adaptable humanity is (or something), and then the chapter ends with her asking Rachel to scratch her ears. Honestly, this whole chapter feels like it ought to be either rewritten or just outright deleted, because most of this was an incoherent mess, and basically nothing happened.

>...to adapt to. To adapt to. She'd had to deal with this, and she hadn't panicked (maybe just a little) and she was adapting, and she was staying on top of it. Body, brain, emotion, everything. Gregoria grinned. Rachel had a point. There was something irrepressible about humans. Something unconquerable. And she, Gregoria Samson, had to still be truly herself, and still human in some deep way, because she was not bashing herself against walls in panic, like another animal might. She was adapting to the strange, the alien, the extraordinary, because that was what humanity did best.
Seriously, this is pretty much what the whole chapter was like. Apart from the two vignettes about the poo-in-loo and the French lady in Brussels, there was basically zero meaningful content here. I'm just going to chalk this one up to Chatoyance drinking a little too much cough syrup and move on.

8. A Key To Unknown Chambers

We rejoin Guillaume, the French guy who works for Malus Coltrane.

>Guillaume clicked once with his one-button mouse and left his iMac to plow through Markov chains, rainbow tables and just plain brute force on the hash list.
Seriously, why do people do this?

>Guillaume reached for his Ipod
Please stop.

>Guillaume was welcome to sip a beer at his desk or even take a nap while his Mac compiled or sorted or crunched data.

Anyway, Jacques the Consumer Whore seems to have somehow obtained some encrypted military records, and is presently running some kind of decryption script so he can read them. At least I think that's what he's doing. He's also dug up some more info on Private First Class Richard Deckard, but has not yet figured out what all the secrecy is about.

>Deckard was in every respect an entirely forgettable soldier, as most soldiers were. He was just another speck of cannon fodder tossed at Afghanistan by the US war machine, another turd thrown into the fan. He had died as so many did, anonymously, randomly, by a buried explosive device that ripped the truck he was riding in to shreds. Guillaume shook his head - Afghanistan, the place where empires went to die. He'd seen it happen before to the former Soviet Union, now the Americans were sticking their dicks in the grinder.
Please, just tell us how you really feel; no need to hold back.

>But there was something special about Deckard. As far as he could tell, the entire incident hadn't just been hushed up, it had been secured. Contained. Majestic-12'ed like it was the very Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones.
Nerd points +45. Also, fun fact: the Ark of the Covenant™ was not originally from Indiana Jones™. Believe it or not, it was a thing that existed long before that movie was made. One of those fun facts I picked up by using Google™ on my iPhone™.

>Guillaume startled, Crown was there, in his chair by the gigantic screen. Like a proper Captain Kirk at the bridge of his ship, Guillaume thought.

Anyway, American McGee's Malus enters the room and pulls up this old medieval illustration to show him. Oddly enough, I actually recognize the illustration from the author's description; I have it saved on my computer, and used it at one point during my Sun & Rose review. Pic 1 related.

>Mr. Crown was a man of rigid tastes. Every machine a Mac, every beer a Tsingtao, every meal vegetarian.
Apologies to Frenchy La Rue; looks like it's actually Malus Tompkins who's Mr. Consumer Whore.

ANYWAY, after some back and forth, the reason this image was brought up is revealed. It turns out that when Malus looks at it, he sees pic 2 related (included in the text by the author). Seems like we have yet another one of these pony-seeing guys on our hands.

>Crown looked up from his iMac and gave Guillaume a level look.

Anywho, from what we've been shown so far, it's looking more and more like the world is either slowly turning into Equestria, or was Equestria to begin with, and only a select few humans are able to perceive this. It's also possible that humans are all actually ponies, who have, for reasons unknown, been duped into thinking they're not. If this latter possibility turns out to be the case, it should settle Gregoria's internal struggle, since it means that she was actually a pony the whole time and has nothing to worry about. Maybe if we're lucky, learning this will make her stop endlessly whining about it.

Anyway, at this point, the story takes a weirder turn. Malus asks Guillaume if he minds working for a crazy person. Guillaume starts. to reply that Malus is a good employer, and that he treats everyone well, but then he suddenly remembers an incident in which Thibault (one of the other henchmen) made some minor mistake, and Malus flew into some kind of terrible, over the top rage. It's implied that something serious happened as a result; possibly that Malus killed Thibault, or injured him or something. At this point, Malus's eyes suddenly turn into "huge, green insectoid orbs," and he mind-controls Guillaume into forgetting that the incident ever happened. The overall implication is that there is a darker side to Malus, and also that he is probably a Changeling.

Interestingly, as he is leaving, Malus asks Guillaume to find out what sort of beer everyone likes, so he can stock up on it. Earlier, it was specifically mentioned that he only kept Tsingtao on hand, and Guillaume was privately wishing he had something else; the implication seems to be that Malus can read Guillaume's thoughts somehow.

Page break, and we return to Gregoria. As usual, she's not doing a whole hell of a lot. She now sleeps on Rachel's couch, which she seems to find comfortable. She is presently dozing there, listening to Rachel talk in her sleep in the next room apparently she has super-sensitive ears now.

>As she drowsed, Gregoria mused about the trip they had taken to the bridge. The Williamsburg Bridge where she had taken Rick and Rachel's picture months ago.
Time in this story is a bit murky. It would help if the author did a better job of establishing how much time has elapsed between certain key events and the present: how long have Gregoria and Rachel been friends, when did they start drifting apart, when did Rick die, etc.

The impression I had was that Gregoria and Rachel had known each other in high school and had been friends for a couple of years afterward, and then drifted apart when Rachel became needy after Rick's death. Assuming Rick had enlisted at around age 18 or 19, I placed his death at somewhere between there and age 22 or so. So, if the three of them were around the same age, this would mean that Gregoria and Rachel would have drifted apart in their early twenties. They are now in their mid-twenties, so I've been imagining a time lapse of 2 or 3 years since Gregoria last spent any serious time with Rachel.

From what the author gives us here, however, it sounds like Rick's death was pretty recent, so most of the friendship-drama between these two would have played out within the last few months. This could potentially affect my perception of Gregoria as a character: the picture I've been developing is of an emotionally immature NEET who finished high school, bummed around with her HS friend for a couple of years afterward, abandoned her in her time of need, and then did little else besides sponge off her parents for several years until one day she woke up as a pony. However, this could be way off base from what the author had in mind. He's given us almost no details of Gregoria's life up to the present, and only sparse information about her relationship to Rachel.

This is why it's important to make sure that you and your readers are on the same page about stuff like this. We don't need every detail of Gregoria's life or her friendship with Rachel up to this point, but we should at least have the broad strokes and a general timeline. Considering that about 85% of the story so far has taken place inside Gregoria's head and almost nothing has actually happened, it shouldn't have been that hard for the author to feed us at least a little bit of essential information.

Anyway, Gregoria's inner monologue goes wandering again. She spergs to herself about the Williamsburg Bridge and the transformation she observed in the photo earlier. The text goes into quite a bit of unnecessary detail describing the bridge, and then suddenly Rachel appears and begins stroking Gregoria's mane.

They spend the next several paragraphs discussing the bridge: what the bridge looks like to Gregoria, how this differs from Rachel's perception of the bridge, how Gregoria had wanted to see the bridge for herself and had gone with Rachel to look at it, and so forth. People who like reading about bridges are no doubt on the edge of their seats right now. The rest of us? Not so much.

This section is actually pretty confusing. At times it sounds as if they are physically stranding at the bridge right at this moment, which seems odd since they were just in Rachel's apartment looking at her picture of the bridge. My assumption is that, sometime during the interval between chapters, the two of them went down to look at the bridge, and Gregoria is simply remembering this incident. It sounds like they had some kind of bridge-related argument, something about Gregoria still being weirded out by her transformation and Rachel's frustration at wanting to transform, and see Equestrian bridges in place of real ones and so forth, but not being able to.

Anyway, what I assume was a daydream abruptly ends when Gregoria hears Rachel talking in her sleep again. This is very weird, because I thought Rachel had approached Gregoria on the couch while she was looking at the picture and started stroking her mane, but now it sounds like she's back in her room talking in her sleep again. The perspective in this entire section is vague; I'd personally recommend a rewrite here.

ANYWAY, Gregoria is alarmed because Rachel is now shouting in her sleep, and sounds like she's having a one-sided conversation with someone. Gregoria goes to check on her, but it turns out she's fine. She reasons that Rachel must also be dreaming about the bridge seriously; enough with the goddamn bridge already. There is some brief concern about Rachel turning into a pony, which appears to be unfounded. Gregoria goes back to the couch.

However, no sooner does she get the blanket over herself when she hears Rachel mumbling something about a princess in the next room. In a very confusing and awkwardly-described sequence, Rachel once again springs out of bed and runs into Rachel's room, tries to check on her, trips on the mattress or something (this part isn't clear), and then observes something shocking, though we are not told what exactly she sees. The chapter ends on this cliffhanger.

9. Sitting In The Balance Without Knowing

The chapter opens, unsurprisingly, with a lot of rambling inner monologue from Gregoria. It's not entirely clear what's going on. Whatever the situation is, though, Gregoria seems to be overreacting to it as usual.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the room is dark and Gregoria can't see what's become of Rachel. There is an interesting visual involving a blinking neon light coming in through the window; beyond that, though, not much is going on.

Anyway, tl;dr Rachel is now also a pony. Here's the big tweest though: she's actually Princess Celestia.
344279 344337

Anywho, it looks like Rachel is Princess Celestia now.

>The vast violet eyes closed, and Gregoria saw the beginnings of tears pool along the thick, dark lashes. "Rick always called me his Celestia, his princess. I never wanted to be Celestia, I never wanted to be anypony's princess. I just wanted to be a simple pegasus. Or an earthpony. Or a unicorn. Just an ordinary pony, if I'd had a choice I would have been Fluttershy." Rachel said the words with the voice of the actress that spoke for Celestia in the cartoon, but her words were not grand or sweet, just sad, and lonely, and so very, very let down.
Jesus, the autism here is off the charts. Rachel, who wanted to turn into a pony and was jealous of Gregoria's becoming one, is apparently now upset because she wanted to be a different pony than the pony she turned into. She wanted to be Fluttershy, but she wound up as Celestia instead.

>"I kept telling him..." The Celestia on the bed sniffed and wiped an eye with a foreknee. "...I was his little Fluttershy, but no, no he wouldn't have any of that. He always put me on a pedestal. Now just look at..." Suddenly anger flashed across Rachel's muzzle as her eyes flew open "DID YOU DO THIS? IS THIS SOMEHOW YOUR WORK, RICHARD?" At that, Rachel collapsed fully onto the bed, her crown tumbling from her radiant mane to thunk heavily on the floor after a roll over the end of the mattress.
Seriously; I can't make sense of what this character is supposed to be feeling here. She's...sad? I guess? Or angry? Angry at her dead boyfriend, because she wanted to be one pony and it turns out she's a different pony? This shit is just weird. In any case it's hard to sympathize with her here; it's like she's going out of her way to find stuff to complain about.

>Before her, her friend had become a truly unearthly creature, an entity strange even by pony standards, an eldritch creature of unknown power and fearful elegance.
What is with this fandom and the word "eldritch?" I could swear it's come up at least once in every single thing I've reviewed, but before I started reading MLP fanfiction I think I could count on one hand the number of times in my life I've encountered it. I don't have a problem with it, but I am curious. It's a rather obscure word, and as I said I really didn't run into it all that much in fiction before I got into this fandom.

Anyway, it just goes completely off the rails from here. Gregoria launches into another rambling bout of verbal diarrhea about Princess Celestia on the cartoon show, and what powers she seems to have, and what powers she doesn't seem to have, and so forth and so on. This goes on for no less than five paragraphs; meanwhile, Rachel is crying.

Eventually, Gregoria gets mad at her for crying and tells her to pull herself together, although she's hardly one to talk. Rachel gets mad and uses some kind of magic burst to fling her across the room. She immediately regrets this and apologizes. After that, they both start laughing.

The text unfortunately continues to meander in this fashion for quite a while, and most of it isn't worth scrutinizing. The main takeaways of this section are as follows:

>Rachel is now Princess Celestia
>She didn't want to be Princess Celestia, she wanted to be Fluttershy
>Gregoria observes that although she resembles Celestia and has Celestia's powers, she is not actually Celestia, she is still Rachel
>Presumably, this last point is meant to be the upside to whatever the downside of this situation is meant to be

Page break. After a long night of bitching and moaning, Rachel and Gregoria awaken and have breakfast, apparently so they will have plenty of energy to bitch and moan some more.

We once again revisit the well-traveled subject of how difficult ordinary life is for a person who has transformed into a horse. This time, we get to see how these details play out for Rachel, whose new body comes with its own unique set of difficulties. Specifically, she is concerned that, due to her large alicorn body, she will no longer be able to perform the functions of her job and pay their rent.

>Gregoria had no answer for any of this. Perhaps it was time to try to breech the subject of magical solutions again.
Perhaps it is time to breach the subject. Actually, if you want to get really technical, it should be broach instead of breach, though the latter is so commonly misused you could easily get away with it. In any case, you should never use "breech" in this context; "breech" refers to either "the lower rear portion of the human trunk" or "the part of a firearm behind the barrel." For more on the subject:

>It had struck Gregoria that whatever the mysterious transformation represented, it clearly wasn't interested in cartoon canon. There was no bridge the size of the Whinneysburg Bridge (it was hardly the Williamsburg Bridge any longer), because there was no city in Friendship Is Magic that was even close to the size of New York. Even Manehattan was clearly massively smaller than the real city it was named after. Truly large megastructures were limited to one thing - Canterlot Castle. There was no need within canon Equestria for a massive bridge like the Williamsburg. Canon wasn't part of this.
Does any of this information matter? With every single fanfiction I've yet reviewed, across the entire spectrum of skill levels, the most consistent problem I've seen is this tendency to veer off-topic into subjects which may be interesting to the author and even possibly the reader, but have little relevance to the story being told. This author writes reasonably well compared to some of the others we've looked at, but he still falls victim to this tendency. Well-written bloat is still bloat; learn to recognize irrelevant fanboy blather and trim it from your text where appropriate. Or, even better, learn to recognize it before you even write it in the first place.
I blame TV Tropes and the way it overuses the term eldritch abomination.

If the story used a scene where Gregoria overhears her parents yelling typical malding "spending money on kids is sooooo hard, woe is me, kids are lazy, back in my day some of us did child labour paper rounds and lawn care, our kids are losers because they make no money for us" boomer shitrants and overhears a 13 year old sister of hers crying because "i must be useless too because i also have no job and my parents seemingly hate me" and pony Gregoria felt compelled to go and comfort her crying little sister, would that be a good opportunity for Gregoria to spell out every part of her life's backstory important to the story and clarify important details of her friendship with human-Celestia and events in its timeline, or would that be gay bullshit?
Why does Gregoria need an opportunity to spell out every part of her backstory? Generally large information dumps are a bad way to handle this sort of thing, and ratcheting up the family anger to eleven doesn't really add anything to the story. I don't understand what you think any of this would accomplish.
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At any rate, Gregoria's reasoning is that Rachel should now have Celestia's powers, which ipso facto means that she can use her all-powerful magic to transform the two of them back into humans. She arrives at this conclusion by the same process she used to determine that she can now expect to live for 300 years. That is to say, she has literally fuck-all in terms of actual concrete evidence, and is instead relying entirely on autistic fan-canon of a children's cartoon show.

However, this ultimately backfires. The achilles heel of Gregoria's plan was her failure to consider just how much of a turbo-autist her friend Rachel actually is. She isn't upset because she's been transformed into a horse; she is upset because she was turned into Celestia when she wanted to be Fluttershy. However, Gregoria made her realize that she can still use Celestia's powers to transform the world and make it a better place:

>Pollution, everywhere. Global climate change. Animal species going extinct by the hundreds per day. Starvation, poverty and homelessness in the richest nations purely because of greed. Wars, Gregoria. WARS! My Rick is dead, he was blown up, ripped limb from limb because humans fight all the time, everywhere, over anything, forever and ever!
It's worth pointing out that the United States has not had a draft since 1973, and however asinine the war he died in might have been, Rick was still a volunteer soldier. There's a bit more, though:

>My Rick, the man I loved more than anything in the world is dead off in some stupid place and do you know why, do you Gregoria? Huh? Do you know why he went into the army?
>He couldn't get a job. He tried, everything was outsourced. WHY?
>Greed, Gregoria! Sheer, unmitigated greed. That's all, just so some super-rich suit could make even more money than too much!
Presumably she doesn't notice the irony here. Globalism outsourced Rick's job, forcing him to join the army and fight for globalism. Anyway, it's pretty simplistic, but this is probably about as intelligent a take as you could expect from a person like this.

Page break. The two of them are still in the apartment, and they still aren't doing much of anything. They continue to sit around for most of the day. Rachel is clearly in a pissy mood about something or other, to the point where Gregoria is too intimidated even to go into the kitchen and mooch some more of her food. They basically spend the entire day sitting around doing nothing, until Rachel once again brings up the subject of that goddamn bridge.

Using the same kind of autistic non-logic that led Gregoria to conclude that she will live for 300 years and that Rachel's resemblance to Celestia gives her untold cosmic power, Rachel has apparently deduced that the Williamsburg Bridge is some kind of passage to Equestria. Since both of them are horses now for crying out loud, she reasons they would be happier in Equestria than New York. So, she suggests that they cross the bridge together and go to live in magical horsie land. This ends the chapter.

[b]10. Belief Is Like A Guillotine[b]

The chapter opens with another bout of spirited rambling, this time about how Rachel could have sold Celestia's jewelry but ultimately chose not to. There is also some autism about whether or not they will encounter the actual Princess Celestia once they cross over into Equestria, and whether or not Rachel will be arrested for impersonating her. Ordinarily I'd point out that they still have zero reason to assume that the bridge will even take them to Equestria, but that seems like a silly thing to bring up at this point. Basically nothing happens in this section beyond that they get some supplies together and set off on their journey.

Page break. Because Rachel is now apparently too big to fit into a cab, they have little choice but to walk. We are given a small amount of insight into Rachel's thought process:

>"Oh, yes, Greggy! Derpy Hooves, Doctor Who in pony form, Celestia and Luna as benevolent goddesses, Equestria as a perfect land, a pony heaven where ponies are always nice to each other and the scary stuff in the show only happens to the Mane six. That's what Richard and I loved, we loved all the stories about Equestria as heaven. He wrote a few, did you know that? He wrote about getting blown..." Rachel looked away as they walked. "...I ...I hope... stories can come true."
This is part of a longer discussion, in which Rachel admits that she is more interested in the pony fandom than the show itself. Part of this is probably the author inserting his own meta-criticism, but the bit at the end is what I wanted to highlight. Probably, Rachel is hoping that her dead boyfriend wound up in Equestria, and that crossing the bridge will take the two of them to Equestria as well. Basically, it's a long-shot hope that she'll get to see her boyfriend again.

Alternate take: Both Rachel and Gregoria are completely insane at this point. Neither of them have actually transformed into ponies; they are just enabling each others' delusions. Gregoria, who is incapable of handling day to day life, hallucinated that she had transformed into a pony as a way to deal with her family's disappointment in her. Her friend Rachel, who was probably fragile to begin with and is now completely bat-shit from dealing with her grief over her boyfriend, readily accepts Gregoria's delusion. Not long after the two of them move in together, Rachel begins hallucinating that she has transformed into a pony as well. Continuing to dwindle off into the twilight realm of her own secret thoughts, Rachel cooks up this half-baked idea that the Williamsburg Bridge is a portal to Equestria, and suggests that the two of them cross. However, her actual plan is for the two of them to take a flying leap off of the bridge and plunge into the icy depths of the river below, finally bringing an end to their tortured existence and allowing her to "go to Equestria" for real.
>However, this ultimately backfires. The achilles heel of Gregoria's plan was her failure to consider just how much of a turbo-autist her friend Rachel actually is. She isn't upset because she's been transformed into a horse; she is upset because she was turned into Celestia when she wanted to be Fluttershy. However, Gregoria made her realize that she can still use Celestia's powers to transform the world and make it a better place:
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>The silence and clippy-clopping became unbearable. "Hey - maybe... maybe we can buy a last meal before we cross the bridge, okay? Maybe we could have a snack, something really nice, before we go across? A last treat to remember earth with?"
Lol, it's starting to sound like they actually are planning to suicide off the bridge.

>Gregoria felt like she would probably be very hungry by the time they got to the bridge, and the provisions in her saddlebags were supposed to be for surviving in Equestria until they could find a town or a city. Just in case they came out in a desert or something.
However, I'm assuming this author's autism runs deep enough that there is no subtext here whatsoever. All of this shit is meant to be taken 100% literally.

Anyway, they decide to have "one last meal on Earth" before "going to Equestria." However, it turns out that both of these retards forgot to bring their wallets with them, so they have to go back to the apartment. When they get there, however, they see that a line of limousines and black vans are parked outside the building, the lights in the apartment are on, and there are a bunch of guys in black turtlenecks poking around the apartment. The two of them immediately turn around and make a run for it.

Page break. We rejoin Malus Crown's band of henchmen, who, as I'm sure you've guessed, are the guys currently prowling around Rachel's apartment. They have found the Equestrian jewelry and stuff that she left behind, and are making an assessment of its worth. They take the jewelry, put some kind of gift and a note on the dining room table, and leave the apartment.

Page break. Apparently, seeing a bunch of complete strangers ransacking her apartment did little to quell Rachel's desire to "travel" to "Equestria." So, since the "last meal" idea is apparently out, they decide to stick to the original plan and visit the bridge after all. The text then veers off into some fanboy autism about how lights in Equestria work, which could easily stand to be chopped.

>"I figure that the bridge probably leads straight to Canterlot. That's the only place big enough to warrant a bridge like this. But if it doesn't it probably leads somewhere civilized. It would be pretty silly if it just opened out into the Everfree or some desert or something." Rachel nodded at a cluster of lamps near the middle of the arching bridge that were particularly large and elaborate. "Look at this thing, Greggy! This is designed, sculpted, created. I don't know by who or what, but this bridge is a work of art, and that means purpose is involved. It isn't some random thing. So it has to lead to some place, and not just... um, noplace. See?"
Reminder that you are pulling all of this completely out of your ass.

Anyway, there is some more discussion about what they expect to find on the..."other side"...of the bridge, and then finally they cross. Tl;dr, the bridge doesn't actually lead to Equestria; it's just a normal bridge that leads to the other side of the river.

In typical cunty fashion, Gregoria has a moment in which she considers just abandoning her friend to deal with her own craziness, since she'll be evicted from her apartment once her lease expires and thus can no longer be mooched off of. The sensible thing, she reasons, would be to return home to her parents and resume mooching off of them. However, her "pony brain" convinces her that this is the wrong thing to do. So, the two of them return to Rachel's apartment for the time being. Well, that was a pointless little side-trip.

Back at the apartment, the two of them discover that the invaders from earlier apparently left behind a brand new iMac™ along with a note from Malus Crown. The note informs them that he knows who they are, and has been watching them, and knows they are horses, and so forth. It also explains that they can use this computer to talk to him if they want to. They decide to fire it up and see what this weirdo has to say. End of chapter.

11. Life Is Merely Terrible

They fire up the computer and are greeted by Malus's henchwoman Nadzieja.

>She was in her late middle ages, had a bit of an accent, and reminded Rachel of an economics instructor she had liked.
She was in late middle age. The "late middle ages" was a historical period.

Anyway, a couple of things are made clear by this conversation. The first is that Nadzieja and Malus's other underlings are not privy to any of what's going on, they are just following his instructions. The second is that this is clearly not the first time Malus has done something like this, so in all likelihood he has reached out to some of the other humans who have been transformed into ponies. Nadzieja informs them that Malus will be contacting them personally at ten, and that they should expect a "delivery" soon. The implication seems to be that Malus is going to be taking care of them from here on out, which presumably solves the problem of how Rachel will pay her rent. For Gregoria, nothing significant changes; she's just found yet another person she can permanently mooch off of.

When the call concludes, the two of them poke around inside the iMac™ to see if Malus installed any rad games for them, or at least left them a clop folder. Unfortunately, the answer is 'no' on both counts; all that's in there are some pictures of Rachel's dead boyfriend, which Rachel proceeds to cry over for awhile. This, of course, triggers some more tiresome inner monologuing from Gregoria, the long and short of which is that she is basically glad that her "new pony brain" has made her slightly less of a cunt.

Anyway, they cry for awhile, and then eventually they finish crying and clean up the apartment while talking about memes. Then, the delivery guys show up. Turns out that Malus Crown sent them several bales of hay and alfalfa and whatnot; horse food, basically. The scene ends in a page break.
Surely if Gregoria's parents were larger faggots it could give Gregoria chances to be less of a faggot and spell out backstory details the author struggles to convey.
There could even be a thematic message where the short-sighted whiny pony-hating humans who make the world awful are powerless to solve problems the empathetic kind ponies and pony-lovers can solve because they are motivated by their desire to make the world more like equestria.
Telling media fans their love of product makes them smarter and better is something tons of products do.
>He wrote a few, did you know that? He wrote about getting blown...
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Honestly it depends on what sort of a dynamic you would want for those characters. You also have to consider how you want your different characters to perceive the situation, what you want the reader to perceive about it, as well as the literal, objective truth, which is known only to the author.

In this story, we have Gregoria, who lives with her parents and sister. Gregoria's view seems to be that her mother is callous and cruel to her; the mother's view seems to be that Gregoria is rather lazy and whiny, and needs to be motivated to go out and make her own way in the world. The objective truth of the situation is harder to determine because the author hasn't really given us much to go on, but from what he has given us, the mother feels like the more sympathetic character, whose view is probably closer to the truth.

Gregoria comes across as rather whiny and needy, and seems to spend a lot of time moping around the house. She claims that she can't find a job, but we've seen no direct evidence that she's spent any time actually looking for one; all we have is her assurance that "she tried." All of this probably gets on her mother's nerves, so her mother occasionally rides her about things like sleeping in too late and not making her bed. Gregoria interprets these actions as cruel and abusive, which is not only an overreaction but also seems like further evidence of her immaturity and selfishness. So, even though Gregoria is narrating the story she's not technically narrating it, but we're still viewing the story through her eyes, the subtextual clues we receive from our own observation paint a different picture of the situation than what she is literally telling us.

The question here is whether or not the author is giving us this impression deliberately. The story would be far more interesting if he was, but having read about half the book now I honestly don't think that's the case; I think we're supposed to be taking Gregoria at her word here. Looked at this way, I guess I can see what you're getting at: if the author wants us to see the mother as the cruel and oppressive figure, then he should make her appear more cruel and oppressive. However, to accomplish this, you don't need to turn her into some kind of screaming monster, we just need to see some examples of her treating Gregoria with more cruelty than the situation calls for. It's usually better to approach these things with subtlety anyway; heavy-handed displays of emotion that are obviously intended to provoke a reaction will generally produce the opposite effect. Think Peen Stroke's scenes of endless sobbing or kkat's over-the-top angst and violence.

The main issue with the family dynamic in this story is that the author just plain doesn't spend enough time on it. He's clearly trying to establish a similar dynamic to Gregor Samsa's character in Metamorphosis, but it doesn't really work. In Kafka's book, the family dynamic was the focus of the entire story: Gregor Samsa initially has a good relationship with his parents and sister, but then one day he turns into a giant cockroach because reasons, and transitions from being the primary breadwinner of the family to being a burden on them. The whole story takes place inside the family apartment and deals exclusively with how Gregor's various family members treat him, and what this ultimately says about how they probably felt about him in the first place. I'll get into this some more once we've finished the story.

Anyway, in this story, the focus is less on Gregoria's relationship to her parents and sister, and more about the difficulties that her transformation creates for her in dealing with the external world. Her family is out of the picture almost immediately, so we don't get to witness any real interaction between them; they were treated as fairly peripheral characters anyway. We've spent little time with any of them and know next to nothing about them. All we have is Gregoria's version of the story: her mother mistreats her, and her sister is mean to her, and so forth and so on. But, since we don't actually see them interact, we can't really gage if any of this is actually true. My personal inclination is to disbelieve Gregoria because she's done little to establish herself as credible: she comes across as lazy, whiny, self-absorbed, and generally unable or unwilling to face life as it is. She has the attitude of a bratty teenager, so it's not surprising that her mother would treat her accordingly.

Heh. Sensible chuckle.
Is the story worse for making the focus of this story the mystery behind a global event involving converging dimensions and the lead heroine and countless others and some rich guy with underlings, instead of tightly focusing this story on as few characters as possible and keeping the focus squarely on the main character and how her life's changing circumstances cause others to treat her differently?
Scenes where characters use headcanon-fu and talk about bridges and photographs and try to figure out the mystery behind the event going on seems to detract from the focus on people.
>Is the story worse for making the focus of this story the mystery behind a global event involving converging dimensions and the lead heroine and countless others and some rich guy with underlings, instead of tightly focusing this story on as few characters as possible and keeping the focus squarely on the main character and how her life's changing circumstances cause others to treat her differently?
It's not a matter of either of these things making the story better or worse, it's more that these two things work against each other because they're competing for the reader's attention, and the author can't really decide what he wants to focus on.

If the author wanted to more or less follow Kafka's structure and tell a story about the relationship between Gregoria and her family, then all the stuff about interdimensional rifts and pony-transformation is absolutely working against it. However, if his idea was to tell a story about converging dimensions and people turning into ponies, then all the stuff about Gregoria and her family is working against that. The two ideas don't complement each other at all.

Chatoyance has clearly read Metamorphosis, but from the way this is developing I can only assume he either didn't understand it, or else this project took on a life of its own as he was writing it and he wound up with something a good ways off from his original idea to be fair, this does happen sometimes, and just because you're using an existing story as a jumping off point doesn't mean you have to follow it completely. In any case, the story we've been reading bears very little resemblance to Kafka's book beyond some superficial elements introduced at the beginning. I suspect that the pony-transformation dimensional-convergence stuff is probably going to end up being the focus, but if that's the case the author would have been better served by just dropping the Kafka angle entirely, because it's just tacking on extra characters and storylines that he seems uninterested in following up on.

Metamorphosis is ostensibly a story about a guy who transforms into a giant insect, but that isn't really what it's about. Basically, this Gregor Samsa guy works as a traveling salesman, and supports his parents and sister with his income. He doesn't like his job, but he's willing to bear the hardship of it in order to take care of his family. However, as soon as he transforms, he loses his job (obviously) and goes from being the primary breadwinner of the family to being a burden whom they have to support. The family grudgingly tolerates this for awhile, then they start neglecting him, then they become outright hostile to him. Basically, even though Gregor was willing to bear the burden of supporting his family through their difficult times (iirc the father lost his business or something, and that is why Gregor had to initially take the traveling salesman job), they are unwilling to do the same for him. Basically, his family sucks.

The titular metamorphosis is actually not that important, it just gives the story a surreal twist that grabs the reader's attention. The only purpose it really serves is to create a situation in which Gregor can no longer support his family and has to depend on them instead. You could easily drop the transformation angle and just have Gregor become paralyzed or injured or develop a terminal illness or something, and it wouldn't change anything important.

Chatoyance's story, however, focuses almost entirely on the transformation itself. As I said earlier, the family is pretty much out of the picture right from the beginning, and whatever relationship Gregoria had with them isn't really affected by her transformation. There isn't anything inherently Kafkaesque please, no meat touching in a story that simply deals with humans transforming into non-human creatures, since Kafka was not the first person to come up with the idea and certainly hasn't been the last. So, unless he wanted to explore similar themes or use a similar structure to Metamorphosis, the author really doesn't benefit from using it as a jumping-off point; if anything it's weighing him down.

Since as far as I can tell the author is a tranny, as well as being a furry and whatever else, I came into this assuming that the whole thing was going to end up being a heavy-handed allegory for body dysphoria, or whatever you want to call it. "On all levels except physical, I am a pony. *whinnies*". That sort of thing. However, he doesn't seem to be going that direction with it either, so at this point I have no idea what the hell he's trying to do. All I know is we're about halfway through this thing and almost nothing worth recording has happened yet: a whiny and not-especially-interesting protagonist stops mooching off her parents and moves in with her friend so she can mooch off of her instead, and that's about it.

Anyway, like I said, this author's problem is either that the interdimensional-pony-rift stuff is fucking up his Kafkaesque no-meat-touching story, or else his Kafkaesque-meat-touching is fucking up his dimensional-convergence pony-transformation story.

>Scenes where characters use headcanon-fu and talk about bridges and photographs and try to figure out the mystery behind the event going on seems to detract from the focus on people.
The headcanon-fu stuff detracts from literally every other focus, which is why I hammer authors so hard on it. There's nothing wrong with throwing in the occasional reference or easter-egg for the fans, but too much of this shit will ruin just about any story. In this particular case, we have a story that already can't decide what it's even about, and is extremely slow-moving on top of that, so all the rambling fanboy autism just drags it down further. If I were Chatoyance's editor, I would probably have highlighted at least a third of the text so far as being shit he should just outright chop.

Anywho, the two pony-thots eat a bunch of hay and alfalfa and shit and lay around the house afterward, feeling fat. Then, the iMac™ clicks on, and Malus Crown addresses them directly. He tells them that he has been researching their transformation (as well as his own, since it sounds like he is a pony too). It seems that finally, at long last, the plot is about to thicken. However, what he has to tell them is apparently too complicated to explain over audio link, so we are going to have to wait a bit longer.

>The computer paused, then continued "Your... lover... Mr. Decker. His pet name for you... it was 'Celestia', correct?"
>Rachel stared at the computer. "How... what? How do you know..."
This is actually a minor continuity error.

We have this in Chapter 4:

>Rachel had found in 'Friendship Is Magic' something that filled some of the empty hole in her life caused by the loss of Rick. He had loved the show so very much, and she was his 'Little Fluttershy' when he was able to write or call.
It isn't huge, but this establishes Fluttershy, not Celestia, as Rick's pet name for Rachel. It's possible that he had two pet names for her, but that seems unnecessarily complicated. Furthermore, the distinction between Fluttershy and Celestia is already significant: Rachel mentioned earlier that she always saw herself as more of a Fluttershy, and if she had a choice in the matter that is the pony she'd choose to become. It was Rick who saw her as Celestia. Keep an eye on stuff like this when writing.

Anyway, Malus intimates that Rick is somehow at the center of this transformation business, and that he can explain everything if they come and visit him at his secret compound in the woods. What could possibly go wrong? It's not like Malus Crown is just some weirdo who transforms girls into ponies and then invites them to his secret compound in the woods, which as it turns out is really a high-end pony-brothel where sweaty neckbeard bronies can pay to live out their fantasies for an hour at a time. That would just be silly.

Anyway, there's some back and forth, as Gregoria and Rachel are understandably suspicious, but ultimately they agree to come visit him at his creepy compound in the woods. He also hints that there might be more going on than they realize; apparently there are "unchanged humans" who are aware of the transformed humans, and who want to exploit them as a resource or something. Presumably we will get more on this later.

>"A trap?" Gregoria was stunned. She had been certain that the trap was Mr. Crown himself.

Anyway, he tells them to look out for "a large, black truck with a green apple painted on the side," and that's basically the end of the chapter.

12. Whatever We Have Not Sufficiently Desired

We rejoin Gregoria and Rachel on board Malus Crown's truck-van, which he has converted into a car from the Friendship Express™ (the official name of the train that appears in the show). There is some back and forth autism about this; the main takeaway is that, while Rachel seems to be having fun with all of this, Gregoria would still prefer not to be a pony and has no interest in "all of this pony stuff."

Anyway, Malus's voice comes on over the loudspeaker, and informs them that he will be making some stops along the way, in order to show them some things. This is apparently related to his explanation for how the transformation works.

The bus comes to a stop, and the loudspeaker plays them the sound of some homeless guy raving and quoting Bible verses. Malus asks them to describe what they hear, and they tell him that it sounds like some homeless guy raving and quoting Bible verses. He then lifts up the shades, and reveals that the homeless guy is actually a griffon.

>Malus Crown broke in. "No, mister Clements is not... a pony. Mr. Clements was apparently once a family man, active - as is perhaps obvious - in his faith, which was, I am informed, a fairly severe and narrow one. As far as can be researched, he transformed about five years ago, and was unable to cope with the experience. He was put into several institutions, given numerous pointless treatments which seemed to only make things worse, and as miss Priss so accurately put it, he was dumped out on the street when the money ran out."
So, presumably, the takeaway from this is that these transformations are not strictly limited to ponies, but to other characters from the series as well. Also, this has been going on for quite some time now; at least for the last five years. Also, the author's smarmy little dig at religion did not go unnoticed.

Gregoria makes the observation that the show has (apparently) only been on for three years, and points out that it should be impossible for this man to have transformed five years ago, since the cartoon didn't exist at that time. This is another one of those areas where it might have helped for the author to establish the time period and the setting a little bit better.

I'm basically assuming this story is meant to take place in the year of its publication, 2013, but the text itself doesn't really clarify this. You'll recall that earlier, I noted that we were never really given a time frame for how long Rachel and Gregoria had been friends, when they had parted company, when Rick had died, and so forth. We have the same kind of problem here: this show is clearly a central part of the plot, but the author doesn't really establish it as a part of his fictional world, he just relies on the reader's presumed knowledge of the actual show, as well as their assumption that they are reading something that takes place in the present. Even if we were reading this in the year it was published, we would have no way of knowing what time period it was set in. I've actually been imagining this as sort of a near-future setting, where the show has been on for maybe five or six years. Again, it's important to make sure that you and your readers are on the same page about details like this.
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Anyway, even though Gregoria seems to think she has put one over on Mr. Crown, it turns out that this discrepancy with the years was part of what he wanted to show them:

>"Very astute, miss Samson. A very sharp observation. You are correct. Mister Clements was transformed into a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic griffon one full year before Lauren Faust even conceived of the show, two years before the program was first released. Mister Clements became a griffon at least a year before that particular vision of such a creature had even been sketched."
The significance of this revelation is about what you'd expect: Equestria is not a fictional place created by Lauren Faust, but is a real world that exists somewhere out there in the multiverse, which Lauren somehow managed to tap into...

>"No. That is entirely incorrect, miss Priss. To the best of my understanding and knowledge, there is no Equestria. Equestria is a fiction, miss Priss, invented by many talented artists working together. It is a completely false, nonexistent fantasy land, with no more substance or reality than Middle Earth or the Land of Oz. Or Pepperland, for that matter."
...or is it?

>"Pepperland?" Gregoria had no clue on earth what that was, worse, it sounded silly to her.
Yeah, I didn't get that one either. if anyone cares, I did some light googling and discovered that "Pepperland" is a fictional setting invented by the Beatles for their 1968 animated feature Yellow Submarine. I think I technically saw this cartoon at one point, but it was a long, long time ago and I don't remember much about it.

Anyway, Rachel is crushed at the revelation that Equestria isn't real and refuses to believe it; there's a bit of autistic back and forth between her and Malus that I won't go into. Meanwhile, Malus informs them that there is one last thing he needs to show them before he can finally provide full disclosure.

>Gregoria felt frustrated and angry. "Look at what you've done to her! Come on, just talk to us, no more of this supervillain swirl, okay?"
I haven't gone over this, but there is something this author does that I think is funny and clever in principle, but is not especially well executed. One of the effects of turning into a pony means that Gregoria can no longer swear; or, rather, whenever she tries to swear, she ends up saying innocuous cutesy words in place of the dirty words she's trying to say. I actually think this is a funny idea, and I think Fallout: Equestria would have been better served by doing something like this instead of using all of that over-the-top "Luna fuck me with her horn" profanity. However, the specific words the author chose to use here leave a little something to be desired: "muffin" is used in place of "fucking," which is awkward and weird, and "swirl" seems to take the place of "shit," which is a little better, but which I also find to be kind of a sub-par choice. This is about as creative as it gets; these two words are the only pony-swears I've come across yet, but they are used over and over. Again: funny idea, but the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Anyway, the next thing Malus has to show them is a bit different from what we were all probably expecting. Instead of another human-turned-pony, he shows them a guy who has become Elrond, from The Lord of the Rings nerd points +25. What's more, he initially looks like an ordinary homeless guy; they have to unfocus their eyes while looking at him, like a Magic Eye picture, in order to see him as Elrond. The implication seems to be that people who have transformed can only see other transformed people if they are characters from the same universe; pony people can see other pony people, and presumably LOTR people can see other LOTR people, and so on.

It's probably easier if we let Malus explain it himself:

>Once again, you impress, miss Priss. The man is indeed Elrond, or to be more specific, an incidence of Elrond. His earthly name is Neil Walter Allen. He was a private first class during the Vietnam war. He escaped an ambush, but his best friend did not. The best friend, another private named Hervey Lewis Taylor was a Tolkien fanatic. During the sixties, many people, both in and outside of the military became obsessed with the Lord Of The Rings. This is the primary reason those books became culturally relevant at all.
There seems to be some significance in this guy being a soldier as well as a fanboy, same as with Rachel's boyfriend. My guess is that this will all turn out to be either some kind of weird military experiment, or else it's some kind of psychic mass projection brought on by the horrors of war.

>The level of fanatical obsession with Middle Earth during the sixties approached or exceeded the level of obsessive fanaticism seen with regard to the Oz books in the early nineteen hundreds. Like the Oz craze, many people wanted to believe that their perfect fantasy world was real. Fanfiction was written revolving around the concept of somehow gaining permanent admittance to the world they yearned for. People created art and crafts, trying to make their fantasies real.
At this point, things seem to be leaning towards the "psychic mass projection" theory.

Anyway, from here the dim outline of whatever the author is carving begins to take shape. It sounds like all of this does indeed have something to do with people who have an intense desire to live in a fantasy world projecting their desires onto reality somehow. Unfortunately, though, it seems like we're going to have to wait a bit to get the details, as the chapter ends here.
My theory is that Malus is lying and every fantasy world that matters is real. He will try to eat the heroes or pervert the power of fantasy to become a deity. He is a cynical nonbeliever in something written by a troon so he's probably evil, you can only be a cynical nonbeliever pseudointellectually in pseudointellectual troon works. Hating God and country and militaries is fine, but denying "someone else's truth" and putting a scientific explanation on what causes the perception-brain-body mismatch or telling a child in the body of an adult Santa and Equestria aren't real crosses a line.

Also i knew the LOTR and Avatar fandom had isekaifags and otherkinfags just like the Star Wars and Harry Potter fandom but fucking Wizard of Oz? What is there to fantasize about? What is there to do in Oz? Being one of the munchkins singing about the yellow brick road? Becoming some fantasy thing like the Scarecrow? Fucking the Good Witch?
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Glim, darling, you glorious fucking horsefucker i love your fucking threads, i never say shit, i barely post at all on mlpol but i eat this shit like my morning cereal.
Simply because using shit fics as examples of what not to do is much clearer than telling me what to do.
I would sure love if you just set up a tiny writing advice thread, i bet that would be wonderful, but dude i can't even begin to thank you for these threads.

Your constant shitting on fanfics has led me to question my own writing so much, i found myself actually improving and being able to point out bad things in other people's writing.

I hope you do what you must, and what you want, but specially what you enjoy.
So GG, I was thinking about making another one of those writing comp threads. I have a new twist on it that I thought would make it extra interesting. I thought I would ask you in advance if you feel up to being the judge, jury, and executioner. It won't happen for a while. I want to do it but I gotta give myself time to get around to it.
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thx fren

Np, as ever you may consider me at your disposal.

>Also i knew the LOTR and Avatar fandom had isekaifags and otherkinfags just like the Star Wars and Harry Potter fandom but fucking Wizard of Oz?
I'm not sure if he's talking about the novels or the movie, but both had pretty widespread popularity. I'm not aware of any obsessive fandom surrounding them but it's possible it could have existed.

If he wanted to bring up early fandom culture I'm surprised he didn't mention the cult following that Sherlock Holmes had. As far as I know that was the first character to have its own "fandom" in the sense that we'd understand it, and I think it was one of the earliest examples of fans writing derivative works using someone else's character. Whenever anyone brings up the history of fanfiction, that's usually one that gets mentioned.
Thank you so much. I really do appreciate it and don't take if for granted. Have best pony.
Watsonian and Doylist are fandom words that exist and persist to this day thanks to Sherlock. Sherlock had fanzines with fanfics long before Star Trek. If the average person hears "detective fiction" he will think of Sherlock, a Sherlock ripoff where he's an animal or woman or even more neuroatypical, or simplified TV copaganda shilling the FBI/CIA/IRS. There's even Herlock Sholmes from Le Blonk's Arsene Lupin, who allowed the Phoenix Wright localizers to get around paying royalties on the Sherlock Holmes copyright in the US. Sherlock's a fucking massive deal, and it's absolutely fucktarded that this story doesn't mention it.

Unless it's because Sherlock takes place "on earth" unlike the mentioned stories about other worlds. But still, people can fantasize about being taken on adventures with Sherlock or The Doctor whether this takes them to London, Past London, Space London, or Anachronistic Romanticized/Demonized Basically-Fantasy London.

But The Doctor is living as a pony in Chatty's other TCB fics anyway, so clearly that's not an issue. How does this fit into the timeline of that series?

13. But From Their Silence

>The shiny black truck with the green apple on the side entered the multistory parking garage and drove to the third level. It parked next to a black 1965 Ford Econoline van, which had no markings at all.
Can they really tell the exact year of the van just from looking at it? Seems a little too specific; I'd probably just call it a "1960s Ford Econoline van," or even just "an old Ford van," but that's me.

Anyway, they pull up to this oddly specific model of van, Malus gives them some ambiguous instructions, and assures them that if all goes well, they will all see each other again at his compound.

>The rear doors of the custom transport truck suddenly opened and Gregoria and Rachel found themselves in a swirl of activity.
Is this a shit-swirl, or just the regular kind of swirl?

The two of them are taken inside the van, and one of Malus's Frenchmen scans their bodies and asks them a series of questions about "the Event" this is what the Henchmen have been instructed to call it, since they don't seem to be in the know about the transformations.

>"Alright. Last question." The tall man looked briefly at his pad. Then he whispered "Majestic Majik Umbra. Eisenhower saw dark sunglasses. We are among friends."
>Rachel looked at Gregoria. Gregoria looked at Rachel then back to the tall man. Gregoria giggled. The tall man seemed to be waiting for something. Finally, Gregoria stared at Rachel with an exasperated look on her face. "Is this really worth it? I mean, seriously? Rachel?"
>The tall man was still waiting.
>Rachel turned to the tall man. "Honest. I don't have a clue what to say to that."
I'm not sure what to make of this exchange. As far as I can tell, this is either a reference that goes way over my head, or is just a coded message of some kind intended to test their reaction. Since Gregoria and Rachel seem as confused by this as I am, I'm just going to assume the latter and move on.

Anyway, the two of them have apparently passed the test, and are packed up into the van and driven away. They travel for some time, and are disoriented due to not knowing where exactly they are going. At one point they are moved into a different vehicle, and eventually they end up at what appears to be a farm in the middle of nowhere; probably Malus's private compound. They are given dinner, and afterward are escorted in to see Malus.

>The room was large, with a high ceiling. The walls were partially covered in acoustic foam, like a recording booth. There were multiple work stations with chairs, with iMacs and other iDevices on them.
Seriously, was this guy being paid to shill Apple products or is this just a personal declaration of love from a dedicated consoomer?

>In front of the screen was a large white sphere on a pedestal. Rachel, ever the science fiction fan, instantly recognized it - it was a replica of an Eero Aarnio ball chair. It was turned, facing away, and Rachel was instantly jealous of it.
Alright, I think he is just a consoomer whore. Incidentally, if you've got $1800 and feel like blowing it on a chair, here's where you can buy one of these ridiculous things:

Anyway, at this point, the doors automatically lock, and a loudspeaker plays a recording of Rachel talking earlier, apparently made without either of their knowledge or consent; in it, Rachel is protesting that she is not actually Princess Celestia, she is just herself. Malus Crown, still sitting in his goofy chair and facing away from them, asks her if she still believes this. Instead of being creeped out by the fact that he apparently had her apartment bugged, Rachel simply answers his question: yes, she still thinks of herself as Rachel, and not Princess Celestia.

>There was an awkward silence, then the eerie voice spoke again from within the ball chair. "Man cannot live without a permanent trust in something indestructible within himself, though both that indestructible something and his own trust in it may remain permanently concealed from him." Another pause. "Franz Kafka. I have a very great interest in Franz Kafka.
I'm assuming this is where the title of the story comes in.

Anyway, now comes the big reveal about the Kafka business that's flitted in and out of the story so far: Franz Kafka was apparently a Changeling, from My Little Pony.

>"Franz Kafka died - supposedly of laryngeal tuberculosis - though I suspect it was from a lack of positive emotional energy - in the June of nineteen-twenty four. I cannot be sure just when in his life he transformed, but he was not always a Changeling, I am certain of that. He had no basis to understand what he had become. My Little Pony would not be created for almost a century, and there is nothing quite like the appearance of the pony Changeling in any ancient culture. The best he could describe his new form was as a "monstrous vermin". He used that very phrase in a story he wrote about a man metamorphosing into an inhuman creature.
I guess that settles the issue of how Kafka's Metamorphoses connects to this story. Seems Chatoyance chose about the most literal interpretation he possibly could have.

Anyway, you can probably figure out where this goes from here. Malus finally spins his fancy ball-chair around like a Bond villain, revealing that he, like Kafka, is also a Changeling. This confirms what was foreshadowed earlier. Also, not sure if it's significant or not, but he's not just a Changeling, he's a Changeling King. Sort of like Chrysalis but male, I guess.

The rest of this is just a rundown of what we've more or less figured out: transformations of this sort have been occurring since the dawn of humanity, they are not limited to any specific fandom or canon, and transformed people are constantly at odds with human governments who want to capture and control them.
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>There are hangers with flying saucers in them, and little gray aliens - only those aliens are people, just like ourselves, changed. Changed into something someone believed in with all of their heart and mind, someone who became an anonymous John Doe Injector.
This seems to explain another part of the book's title.

Anyway, it gets even weirder from here. Turns out there was a reason all along for all the Apple product placement in this story:

>"Malus... 'apple'. Crown. A king wears a crown - the king of apples!" Rachel felt very smart indeed. "You... you're Steve Jobs! ...or ... you were."
Yep, you read that correctly. Not only was Franz Kafka a Changeling, but so was Steve Jobs. Whatever other flaws this story might have, you can't fault the author for any lack of originality. In all seriousness I don't mind this development that much. It's bizarre, but it works.

Anyway, you can probably guess the rest of this. Steve Jobs, after discovering he was a Changeling, faked his own death, somehow kept all of his money, and now lives as some kind of renegade billionaire Changeling who goes around the world rounding up people who have been transformed into ponies. Also: yada yada yada, it turns out the world is all a big simulation and humans are just AI programs living in a giant video game.

The text elaborates on this quite a bit, but most of it is just Friendship is Optimal-tier intellectual wankery that isn't really worth going into. If you're really curious about it for whatever reason, feel free to read the actual chapter. The basic idea is that, at some point in the distant past, humanity figured out how to upload their minds into virtual reality. Multiple simulations of the world were created, and the characters in this story are living in one of those very simulations. Malus Crown and his associates have apparently proven this by exploring space and proving that the solar system just "ends" in something like a 3D skybox.

Next, the transformations themselves are explained. Apparently, there is some kind of bug in the software that reality runs on, which causes certain individuals, in times of extreme stress, to somehow inject their thoughts into the system code, which creates some kind of distortion in the simulation, causing some people to simultaneously appear as humans and also ponies and elves and whatever the fuck else. This appears to explain what the "injector" part of "injector Doe" means. The chapter ends here.

14. Don Quixote's Misfortune

Obviously, this latest revelation is a shock, particularly for Rachel. Rachel initially took Gregoria's transformation as evidence that Equestria was a real place to which travel was possible; she even made a special pilgrimage to that bridge on the hopes that it would lead her there. Even when that dream died, she still seems to have clung to some kind of basic faith that Equestria existed, and that becoming horses meant that she and Gregoria would be able to get there somehow. Above all, she had faith that all of this meant that her boyfriend Rick was alive and well, and probably living it up as a cartoon horse in an alternate dimension.

Now, however, that dream has been completely shattered. Not only did she find out that the world is nothing but a simulation and that she as well as every other human on earth are nothing but a few lines of code, she has learned that this applies to Rick as well. Rick was a sentient computer program who was presumably deleted when he died in Iraq or wherever, and her "transformation" amounts to nothing more than a glitch in the software that he somehow caused in the moment of his death. This girl's last fragile hope has been cruelly dashed, and now she is confronted with the cold hard fact that reality is fake, that she herself is fake, and that everything she's ever believed in means nothing at all nothing at all...nothing at all...nothing at all. On top of that, she is now a horse for crying out loud. We can only assume that she is experiencing the mother of all existential crises right now.

Unfortunately, the author seems to have chosen to gloss over this for the time being. As the chapter opens, all we really learn is that Rachel and Gregoria have now moved into the compound. Gregoria herself must be on cloud nine; Steve "Malus Crown" Jobs is wealthy enough that he has no problem supporting an indefinite number of transformed humans for the rest of his natural life or at least until he dies of ligma. Apart from the minor inconvenience of being a horse for crying out loud, Gregoria can now sponge to her heart's content.

Anyway, the first several paragraphs explain that Steve Jobs has a ranch out in the middle of nowhere, and there are already a bunch of other transformed individuals living out there. All of them are characters from My Little Pony; Mr. Jobs seems uninterested in collecting transformed individuals from any of the other franchises. There's a dragon and a diamond dog and a pegasus and a few others.

The pegasus, whose name is Chelsea, apparently invoked something called "error correction" in the simulation program. Instead of attempting to hide her equine appearance by wearing clothes and mimicking human behavior, she flew around butt naked, eating people's grass and landing on their roofs and just going all-out about being a pegasus. It basically made "perceptual blindness" impossible, so apparently the VR program kicked in and erased her from the matrix. Her entire identity was erased, everyone she knew forgot that she'd ever existed, and anyone who saw her saw her as an ordinary Shetland pony though it seems like her ability to fly ought to still cause some problems.

This next bit I don't entirely understand:

>She could still think, and she could still talk, if with some difficulty. She could still breath through her throat as well as her nose. She possessed vocal chords. Her insides were not one-hundred-percent earth equine, thankfully. But from the outside, except for a slightly oversized skull with a high forehead, Chelsea was a perfectly ordinary looking Shetland pony. She had lost her wings. She had lost the magic to fly. She had lost the color red, having become a dichromat like a real horse. Also like an earthly equine, her vision had lost most of the capacity for binocular sight, and what little remained needed to be quite a distance from the front of her head. She now saw the world in three hundred and fifty degrees of monocular vision, flat, without depth of field. For all intents, she was a talking horse, ordinary in every way save for the capacity for human thought and limited human speech.
I think the idea is that the error correction didn't just alter people's perception of her, it physically altered her as well. So I guess I got it wrong: people don't see her as a Shetland pony, she actually is a Shetland pony now.

>Worse, Mr. Crown strongly suspected that her Equestrian three-hundred year lifespan gain had been reduced to less than three decades.
So is this confirmation that the 300 year lifespan is actually a thing? Because it seemed to me like all of that was just Gregoria's autistic headcanon, based on nothing but an exploitation of some contradictory details from different episodes of the cartoon.

>Rachel was gravely disturbed and upset at what had happened to Chelsea. The poor creature had genuinely wanted to be an Equestrian pony, just like Rachel, and her innocent exuberance had cost her her wings, her lifespan, and every last bit of magic. Up until meeting Chelsea, Rachel had felt terribly sorry for herself. Now she realized that by comparison, being a big immortal alicorn was nothing to complain about. It made her feel ashamed for having complained at all.
It seems like she's "gravely disturbed" about the wrong things here. As I detailed above, she logically ought to be mired in an existential crisis to dwarf all other existential crises. However, we've heard nothing about her being upset by any of this. The realization that her boyfriend is gone forever, the realization that Equestria isn't real, the realization that life itself isn't real; seems like all of this ought to be a pretty big deal for her. However, from this paragraph, it sounds like all she's really upset about is being transformed into Celestia instead of Fluttershy. The bit about Chelsea's experience putting this into perspective for her is probably fine, but it still sounds like she's upset about entirely the wrong things.

Anyway, it sounds like Chelsea has more than a few screws loose herself. She apparently insists on treating Rachel as Princess Celestia, despite her objections, and bows and whatnot every time she sees her.

Meanwhile, Gregoria is learning what it means to be an Earth Pony:

>"Yes, you have powers - you really haven't read any of the good fanfiction, have you?" Damon was annoyed with Gregoria today, and Gregoria, for her part, couldn't imagine the point of learning to use earthpony magic.
>"No, and I don't intend to. Being a fanfiction writer is the only thing that isn't as low as being a furry, and face it, if you read that crap, you might as well just put on a fake tail and burn your 'coolness' card on the spot."
kek. When she's right, she's right.

Anyway, it sounds like these two other ponies, Damon and Joanna, are trying to help Gregoria become a better Earth Pony, and Gregoria is being an annoying bitchy twat as usual. In the space of a week, she's gone from sponging off of her parents, to sponging off of her self-sufficient friend, to sponging off of a loony (and ridiculously generous) billionaire. She's hit the freeloader jackpot, and yet it seems she can still find shit to complain about. She bitches about being an Earth Pony for awhile longer, and then the scene ends.

Page break. Rachel is having tea with Chelsea. Apparently, Malus Jobs built her a tiny cottage that is a replica of the ones from the show, and she spends her life living out some delusional fantasy about living in Equestria. Now that Rachel is here, she delves even deeper into this delusion, pretending that she's having "Princess Celestia" over for tea.

Page break. Steve Jobs is now trying to convince Rachel to embrace her destiny as Princess Celestia, and do alicorn magic for real. That is not a sentence I would have ever imagined typing in my wildest dreams, and yet here we are.

>Rachel felt bitter, she knew she was bitter, she hadn't wanted to be stuck as a poor replica of Celestia. She had so wanted to be her own original pony, or if she had to be a replica, Fluttershy.
Seriously; is she still on about that? Her boyfriend is dead and gone forever, everything she ever thought existed is a complete fabrication, her own existence is nothing but a sequence of ones and zeroes, and this is what she chooses to get upset about? Everyone in this story is nuttier than elephant shit.

Anyway, Rachel doesn't believe she can use magic because magic isn't real, but Malus counters this by pointing out that, since the world is a simulation, magic is no less real than anything else. This is deeply ironic, of course; just like in FiO, we have a world where magic is suddenly possible, but at the same time has been rendered meaningless. "Reality" in this setting is just a set of rules defined by a computer program, so the fantastic can be just as real as the mundane, which frankly sucks all the fun and meaning out of both. Doing "magic" in a world like this is just a matter of realizing that "there is no spoon."

Page break. We're back to Rachel and Chelsea, who are having tea or something again. It sounds like she has been more or less talked into using her Celestia magic to "help" Chelsea, so she goes back to Crown's office to ask for all her princess jewelry back. Not sure what her jewelry has to do with using her magic, but I guess we'll find out.

>Mr. Crown had explained that his team had found her golden and bejeweled Equestrian regalia and taken it away. Rachel - if not Gregoria - had been okay with this, she understood that such a treasure would only cause trouble, and Crown had made a point of showing her where it was kept safe, and giving her the means of access. It was hers, he had no intention of stealing it, but it was too precious an artifact to be lost or melted down.
Prior to the revelation that the world is a simulation, treating Celestia's royal jewelry as precious artifacts would have made sense. However, knowing the truth, does it really make sense that these things would need to be preserved? Knowing that nothing in reality is real basically reduces the value of everything to zero. Celestia's jewelry might be worth something in the real world, being exceedingly rare items made out of precious metals and jewels. However, in this world, they're just lines of code, like everything else. I guess if everyone living in this simulated reality is trapped inside the game, any object would have as much value as it has according to the game's rules. That's the sticky point, though; as Rachel observed earlier, these things are basically too rare and valuable to sell, so any monetary value they might have is beside the point. They have no utilitarian value, either.

In the real world, the royal jewels of a race of sentient ponies belonging to another dimension would be a priceless artifact that would need to be preserved for its historical value. However, here, the author has effectively proven that nothing in this setting could possibly have any historical value because there's no actual history.

Here is another way to look at it. Imagine you're playing a video game. You're exploring a cave, and you find some kind of rare sword. The sword is worth hundreds of thousands of gold pieces, has all sorts of rad magical powers, and has tens of thousands of years of history behind it. It's a pretty valuable item, but only inside the world of the video game. As soon as you stop playing the game, "owning" that sword becomes meaningless; it's just some data in a saved game file. The sword is therefore only valuable insofar as it can be put to practical use inside the game. If you can sell it for gold or use it to defeat an enemy it's worth something, but if it's so valuable that no one in the game can afford to buy it, and it can't be used as an actual sword for some reason or other, then there's no reason to have it or want it. Its historical value is meaningless, because there is no history; it's all make-believe. Food for thought.

Anyway, Rachel goes and gets her costume jewelry and puts it on, and then goes to visit Chelsea. The chapter ends here.

15. Back The World

I'm honestly not sure what the hell is going on. Things seem to be in a state of pandemonium; if I had to hazard a guess, whatever Rachel attempted to do with Chelsea backfired, and drew the attention of some kind of government agency. However, I might be reading things entirely wrong here. Gregoria seems to be using her earth pony magic somehow, for some reason, and...it's just a very confusing scene. Like I said, I'm honestly not sure what the hell is going on.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, the compound is being raided or something and everyone is trying to escape. The diamond dog digs them some kind of hole, and everyone crawls inside. Then, a bunch of shit blows up. Seriously wtf?

Page break. Out of nowhere, we are suddenly back with Gregoria and Joanna (another pegasus; not sure if I mentioned her or not). Joanna is teaching her how to play video games using her hooves. I'm assuming this is some kind of flashback to an earlier point in time; presumably we'll find out what happened in the space leading up to the opening scene.

Anyway, as Joanna shows Gregoria how to play this game, it slowly becomes apparent that Joanna does not enjoy being a pony very much, but she puts up with it because she has no choice at this point.

Suddenly, there is some kind of big explosion outside, which I guess is the end result of whatever Rachel tried to do for Chelsea. A huge column of light fires into the sky, and suddenly everything starts turning into Equestria. I seriously can't explain it any better than that; you might want to read this part on your own.

>Joanna was shouting into a cellphone, placed on the floor. It wasn't an iPhone. "...WHAT YOU WARNED ME ABOUT! YES! AN INCURSION!"
>Gregoria's mouth opened in dawning shock and anger.
>Joanna stared back, unrepentant. "They have my family!"
>Gregoria thought, briefly, about bucking Joanna's ugly pegasus muzzle across the room. Instead, she abruptly turned, and ran on, to the back door.
Seriously; I have no idea what the fuck is going on anymore. Was Joanna a traitor of some kind? I can't really tell what the significance of all of this is supposed to be.

Anyway, it seems that the tl;dr is that Rachel inadvertently unleashed some kind of atom-bomb explosion, which transforms everything it touches into the cartoon version of Equestria. The explosion is now radiating outward from the barn, and Gregoria and Damon are running away from it. Still not sure what the hell is up with Joanna, but we'll put a pin in that for now.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the military shows up and attacks the compound. We can probably assume that they were drawn by the giant explosion of light that is transforming everything into a cartoon; the question, though, is how they were able to mobilize and get out here so quickly. Maybe it will be explained.
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Alright, I think I understand basically what's going on. Joanna was some kind of spy that the government placed in the compound. When Rachel fired off her cartoon-doomsday spell, Joanna called the military, and they swarmed in and took down the compound. It sounds as if Rachel has been taken captive or something.

>The copters were beginning to lift off again, rising above the huge circle of alien land and unearthly buildings that had replaced the barn, the cottage, and the ranch house entirely. Where there had once been a human dwelling, a terrestrial farm, now there was a part of Equestria, and it was clearly visible to the humans. The beams of light from the circling helicopters were all focused on it now, scanning it, now and then converging on the purely Equestrian architecture. There was no perceptual blindness now, not there, not within that impossible zone. They would erase it. They would have to.
Sounds like the change that Rachel brought about was significant enough that humans won't be able to ignore it. The military plans to destroy it in order to keep it a secret; standard X-Files type stuff.

Anyway, this brings us to where the chapter started: Gregoria realizes she needs to run, so she and the other transformed people (the ones who aren't traitors and who haven't been caught yet, anyway) run off into the woods. At one point, she attempts to dig a hole, but it turns out the diamond dog is better at it. He digs them a hole, they all go underground, the unicorn (Damon I think) throws up some kind of magic protection shield, and then the farm kerplodes.

Page break. The government set off something called a "fuel-air bomb" I have no idea whether or not this is a real thing, but from the author's description it sounds pretty nasty, and the group is trapped in their underground bunker. The unicorn's shield is the only thing keeping them all from being roasted alive.

Apparently, Gregoria has the ability to telepathically see through dirt...or something. It's some kind of Earth Pony power; I'm just going to run with it for now. Anyway, she uses this ability to find an underground chasm not far away, which she orders the diamond dog to dig to. I think the dog's name is Michel, but I could be mixing him up with Damon or one of the others; there are quite a few minor characters in this group that haven't been in the story long enough to be memorable.

>Gregoria closed her eyes and projected herself through her hooves once more. "We're... um... about halfway up the shaft. It's really big, a drop would be fatal. It's bigger than an apartment building in there. The bottom is pebbles and stones." Gregoria tried to think. They had air now, and lots of it. There was water to drink too - about five hundred feet below them.
>"Minecraft!" Gregoria heard her voice echo from beyond the black opening.
>Damon grinned in the silvery light from his horn. "Yeah! Minecraft!" He laughed with delight. "Michel - you think you can dig us a staircase down, following the wall?"
These dweeby references keep ruining what is otherwise a well-executed scene.

Anyway, they "minecraft" their way down to the bottom of the shaft, which has a subterranean river or something at the bottom.

Page break. They sit around at the bottom of the underground river and rest for awhile.

>Michel smiled, invisibly in the dark. "Yeah, I do. I know so. They came quick, didn't they? This was planned. They were gonna do this already, they were just waiting for the time. Probably had us all marked. She's alive. Absolutely, she's alive."
>"It was Joanna. Joanna called them, I heard her do it. She told me they had her family." Gregoria wiped her nose with her foreleg.
This seems to more or less clear up the confusion from earlier. The military was probably watching this place, and Joanna was planted there to be a spy or something. When Rachel fired off her Celestia magic, Joanna called the army and warned them, and they flew in and firebombed the place. The big clue, apparently, was that Joanna had a non-Apple phone. This whole thing could have been made much clearer. Also, Joanna is another minor character that isn't really in the story long enough to make us feel attached to her; this "betrayal" is therefore pretty meaningless.

Anyway, for some bizarre reason, the diamond dog seems to know exactly where the government took Rachel and whoever else they captured:

>"So I hear, yeah. S-4. Super-secret facility, above top secret, actually. Majik-12 Umbra clearance bullshit, not even presidents get filled in on that." Both ponies cringed repeatedly at the diamond dog's ease with human obscenities.
Not even Presidents get filled in on it, but for some reason this random asshole who transformed into a dog knows about it?

>"Roughly, sure. I mean nobody knows exactly where it is, it's secret! But generally, everybody knows. Well, everybody that is into all the weirdy shit. I love the weirdy shit, man. Love it. Used to watch all the UFO shows." Michel yawned yet again, and lay his head down on his paws and closed his eyes.
I'm going to assume this is as much of an explanation as we can hope for.

Anyway, they bullshit for awhile; the long and short of it is that they are going to storm the government compound and rescue Rachel assuming the government hasn't already dissected her brain by now.

16. Your Most Intense Obsessions

They dig their way up to the surface. By now, the fire has burned itself out, and the ruin of the farm is crowded with police and reporters and curious onlookers and so forth. Apparently, the official story is that a chemical tank exploded.

Since they don't have any clothes on, and the perceptual blindness thing is once again an issue, their first order of business is to find something to wear. They sneak around, and find a dress and some shirts in the back of an SUV. Despite the large press and police presence, they are (somehow) able to sneak away without incident. They head off into the woods.
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Page break. Apparently, they made it through the woods without incident, because we rejoin them at some indeterminate point in the future in some indeterminate location. They met up with Malus Crown somewhere, and he is presently advising them not to storm a top-secret government compound by themselves. Probably sensible enough advice, all things considered.

The events of the ether-space between subchapters are summed up succinctly:

>Gregoria, Damon and Michel had not made it to the town, and apparently this was a very fortunate thing. Rather than them saving Crown from capture, Crown had rescued them. The town was a trap, with agents and devices everywhere. Malus had been alerted that something had gone terribly wrong from afar. Apparently he monitored everything that transpired on his farm, a fact which - while beneficial and obviously necessary - thoroughly disturbed the three of them when it was revealed.
They were picked up along the side of the road by one of Crown's Frenchmen, and transported to another of his safe houses.

>"Rachel is my best friend, mister Crown." Gregoria hung her pony head. "I wasn't a good person before I changed. I wasn't a good friend to her. I was an total Marzipan Chorley Cake, to put it bluntly. She took me in, helped me, forgave me - she was a pony before she became a pony, mister Crown. I would... I would... " Gregoria swallowed, and took a breath, knowing her next words were literally true. "I would rather die, than turn my back on her now. I will get her back, or I will die trying."
I think this is probably about as much growth as we can expect from Gregoria. She started off as a lazy, whiny, self-absorbed cunt; however, being transformed into a pony taught her about friendship and stuff, so now she is a lazy, whiny, self-absorbed cunt who seems to more or less value the one person on earth willing to be her friend. Good for her, I guess.

Anyway, there's some more back and forth. One of the literally-who background characters (the diamond dog, I think) makes an impassioned speech that might have been inspiring if this character hadn't just been casually tossed into the story about a chapter ago. The long and short of it is that they are going to disregard Steve Jobs's advice and go off to rescue Princess Celestia from Area 54. Not a sentence I ever would have imagined myself typing, and yet here we are.

Page break. Having realized that he can't deter them, Steve Jobs proceeds to give them the rundown on what they can expect to encounter in this government facility. For some reason he seems to know quite a bit about it, though that probably makes sense for his character, since he's been evading these guys for some time now. The place itself is just your standard run-of-the-mill impenetrable fortress: minefield surrounding the perimeter, gun turrets hidden in boulders, buried hazards that prevent the place from being tunneled into, all that jazz.

>Damon scowled. "Crown, come on. You're just badgering us now. We get it, really we do. It's the Death Star, manned with wall-to-wall Darth Vader clones. It's Mordor, and we're unarmed hobbits and there is no distraction at the Black Gates to save us. We get it." The unicorn put a foreleg over Gregoria's withers. "We're going anyway."
Chatoyance, despite your...peculiarities, I will grant that for the most part you are less of a faggot than most of the other authors we've read. That said, I am about this close to reaching through the screen and slapping the everloving bejeezus out of you until you forget every geek reference you ever learned. Also, as a side note: this Damon character really isn't any more memorable than Michel and Chelsea and all these other background ponies who were just tossed in at the last minute. However, I'm beginning to get the feeling that he and Gregoria are being set up for some kind of romantic relationship. Something to keep an eye on, although we only have about four chapters left and I'm assuming the jailbreak is going to take up most of it, so it's not like there's a whole lot of time left to develop anything. Anyway, something to keep an eye on.

Anywho, Michel the Wonder Dog makes a second impassioned speech, this time about how he wants to rescue Rachel so she can use her magic to turn the entire world into Equestria. Apparently, watching her little nuclear-cartoon-explosion gave him the idea. I was beginning to wonder if something like this wasn't going to work its way into the story eventually. Anyway, I guess his big dream now is to convert the world into ponyland so that he and the others don't need to hide anymore. Seems like kind of a dick move, honestly, since it basically means forcing all eight-billion-some-odd humans on earth to become ponies regardless of whether or not they wanted to. I'm also curious how this would affect the people who transformed into characters from other franchises. Will the people who have been playing Lord of the Rings™ and Harry Potter™ up to this point be forced to play My Little Pony™ instead? Seems like there are a lot of potential snags here. But whatever; we'll let the kids dream for now.

>The meaning hit Gregoria almost like a physical impact. To save Rachel meant potentially ending the reign of Man on earth. If she lost it again - or did it deliberately - there might not be an earth. The entire Earth simulation that was existence might be changed into an Equestria simulator instead. It was one thing to face never being human again, but to choose ponydom for every self-aware person in the entire world? To choose which world would be the real one? Just so a few wouldn't have to be misfits? Would it even be allowed by who or whatever was running the simulation of existence?
Seriously, this shit is just getting weird. I've said it before and I'll say it again: whatever flaws this story might have, at least it doesn't want for imagination.
>Yep, you read that correctly. Not only was Franz Kafka a Changeling, but so was Steve Jobs.

Why are the characters acting like ponifying the world is an all or nothing deal? If the world is code, anything a code compiler can understand can be made to happen. Nothing's stopping "Celestia" from magicking up a small secluded self-sustaining town for ponies only and summoning ponified former humans to it.
>The government set off something called a "fuel-air bomb" I have no idea whether or not this is a real thing, but from the author's description it sounds pretty nasty
It's a legit thing. Not terribly useful in areas where there is lots of wind or possibly trees.
Its just a tank of propane (or other gas) that ruptures, and they know the gas expansion rate, and torch the gas off after it reaches approximately optimal fuel-air mix with the atmosphere.
you can watch videos of the two explosions, one small one to pop the tank, and some amount of time later it torches off all the gas now mixed with the atmosphere. Yuge explodie.
As far as I know it does not tend to catch things on fire though, as its mostly good for concussion. A quick youtube search only shows "russia bad" shit, so some digging will have to be done to find a useful video.
Other names would be thermobaric bomb, aerosol bomb, vacuum bomb or, fuel air explosive.

I hope this helps.

Anyway, the chapter basically ends here, but we learn a few interesting tidbits before it concludes. Apparently, the large-scale-transformation of the world that Rachel/Celestia accidentally invoked has happened before:

>"The human world. Naked ape world. Brutal, unforgiving Earth. It replaced the last one." Crown sighed. "Sometime probably around eighteen-sixty, the world changed into the one we see out there." An ebony Changling hoof pointed at the desert. "The British took Beijing in ironclad ships to win the opium wars, and in the process cracked the belief that held the old world together. A Victorian materialist, a profit-mad rationalist, bone-sure that the universe was a big ticking clock was the John Doe Injector. It was a nearly complete reset. The old world faded away, and we ended up with our Blind Watchmaker universe of humans, unforgiving physics, and permanent death. A world for profiteers and merchants. A world for scientists and rationalists. A human world."
Prior to this, the world was some kind of magic land of elves and fairies. This is...an interesting idea, I'll give it that. As I said, at the very least this author isn't wanting for imagination.

Anyway, the implication is that the simulation has apparently been set and reset in this manner multiple times, probably stretching backward into infinity.

17. A Gift From Within

They've begun tunneling their way into the secret government facility. So far they haven't encountered any resistance. Crown gave them some kind of tricked-out iPad full of special apps for them to use. Beyond that, not a whole hell of a lot is going on. They've apparently been digging for about a week now.

>Then again, what such an effort was working to hide was itself even more incredible by far. If only what was hidden away within the Majic facility was merely flying saucers and little Gray men. No wonder, Gregoria had mused, the government didn't just open up about extraterrestrials - they couldn't, because there weren't any. There never had been. The real truth, which was indeed 'out there', just a little bit farther in fact, was very possibly beyond the ability of most humans to even comprehend.
As mind-blowing as I'm sure this is for Gregoria, I find that the whole "simulation" angle actually makes things a bit dull. It's the same problem I had with Friendship is Optimal: if the world is just a simulation, then nothing that happens within that world is real. The "world" is basically just a set of parameters defined by the computer; a fantasy game with magic and monsters isn't any more difficult to code than a sci-fi world, or a horror world, or a world that is identical to the ordinary one we live in.

Things like magic and aliens and the supernatural are only interesting in stories because they're otherworldly and surreal. In order to use these elements effectively, you have to maintain suspension of disbelief; the magic has to be magical and the aliens have to be otherworldly. As soon as you nix that, everything in the story becomes commonplace and mundane. Even a cheesy, low-budget 1950s sci-fi movie can have genuine entertainment value so long as it can suck the viewer in and make them believe that creatures from outer space are actually attacking the earth. However, if the film's characters were to suddenly realize that the "space monsters" are really just guys wearing cheap rubber suits, then suddenly the teenage heroine has nothing to fear, and the whole story becomes pointless. That's kind of what's happening here.

>Compared to trying to wrap the mind around living inside a tiny, mutable simulation of reality run for some unknown purpose, the notion of space aliens was positively mundane.
See? Even the people in the story agree with me.

Anyway, there's some debate over how to best approach tunneling into the facility. Gregoria suggests digging about four stories down and coming up through the basement.

Page break. They seem to have chosen Gregoria's method. They tunnel their way underneath the facility more or less without incident, and come up against the concrete floor of the lowest level.

Conversation is going on while all of this is happening; the subject of Rachel using her Celestia powers to transform the world is once again discussed. Gregoria has some concerns that in the process of changing the world, Rachel might somehow lose her own personality and "become" Princess Celestia.

>"Crown said the world has changed several times, right? Complete rewrites, only all we know about it are myths and stories. What if reskinning reality also changes all the data, right down to everypony's minds? Maybe none of us would remember the world or our lives anymore."
Seems like a valid concern, actually. Though in Gregoria's case I imagine nearly any change would be an improvement.

>"You pansy-ass rich-bitches think everything is just peachy, don't you? All iPads and big screens for everybody, huh? Fuck you. I've seen the world, the real world, and most people - real people - live in shit and die hungry. That's the human world, that is real. That is a fact. So, you going all liberal guilt about the plight of robber-baron humans and permanent death - you remember that part? Clockwork Victorian universe, you die and you don't come back? - Fuck you whining about 'the poor humans'. Tell it to the animal people before them!"
Alright, this was pretty much out of left field. Sounds like Michel the literally-who Diamond Dog has opinions and stuff.

>"Didn't have the money... you know what most humans live on? A dollar a day. Or less. That's most humans, the majority of humans. The money you spend going to fucking Mickey Dee would feed the most common human family for a week, maybe a month. That is human life, right there, taken on average. You think you are poor, 'oh, I can't get a job' - bullshit! You are part of the elite, privileged pony. Like all of us."
Cue violin music.

>Neither Damon nor Gregoria knew what to say to that, so they just sat in the dark, waiting for the next shoe to drop. It did occur to Gregoria, though, that they didn't know anything about Michel's human life, only that he had worked at Apple once. Gregoria had just assumed that Michel had been an upper-class, white, American computer geek. Maybe... maybe that wasn't his background at all.
Yeah yeah, I'm sure Michel has had all sorts of fascinating experiences. Raised in a tar-paper shack, grew up eating garbage, had to hike forty miles to school uphill both ways, only to one day overcome all of this terrible adversity and get a job at the Apple genius bar. Very moving. Protip: if you want sudden revelations about a character's backstory to resonate, make sure you've made this character into someone the reader has a reason to actually give a shit about. We only met Michel a couple of chapters ago, and so far all we know about him is that he's a diamond dog and he swears a lot. Even this bit about him working for Apple is completely new information.

Anyway, they break through the floor and come up in the basement of Area 54 (or whatever it's called; I think it's the "Majik 12" facility or something to that effect). The basement level is full of mostly WWII-era technology, but everything seems to be operational. They do not encounter any opposition; presumably, this is an area of the facility that is seldom visited.

They go through a door and find themselves in a large warehouse-space, filled with food and other supplies. For some reason, the supply-storage area also contains a number of glass coffins, in which several types of anthropomorphic humans are preserved. Pretty standard secret government sci-fi stuff for the most part. The creatures appear to be specimens who somehow survived the last reset of the world.

>"This guy wore earrings, once. Probably clothing, too. Fits. Once, his kind were probably the real Incas and Mayans and whatever. Now, everyone is hairless and boring. Fuck Victoria."
Yeah yeah, Michel has a chip on his shoulder about the tragic destruction of the once-proud Jaguar people. We get it.

The chapter ends on kind of a down note:

>The freshly installed case with the lemon-yellow fluid held the body of a partially dissected Equestrian pegasus pony. Not long ago, it had been Joanna.
As far as knife-twist moments go, this one actually isn't bad. It would be better if the author had done more to establish Joanna as a character instead of just dropping her in for one scene and then having her suddenly "betray" them, but the overall idea is good. The government took her family hostage, used that as a bargaining chip to force her to spy on her fellow transformed humans, and then, when she'd done as they asked and they no longer needed her, they dissected her for some reason or other (for whatever reason government agents in sci-fi stories seem to enjoy dissecting things), and threw her corpse in the basement with the other weirdos. What a bunch of dicks, amirite?

Anyway, this is the end of the chapter, but before we move on I wanted to call attention to something from the comments section. This is from the author himself, responding to a question posed by one of his readers:

>What? Of course they're the good guys!
>Gregoria, Damon and Michel are dangerous terrorists working against both American interests and American law by deliberately infiltrating a top secret united states facility, damaging official government and military property, and observing things that are of the highest security classification possible. Worse, their intent is to permit the unlawful escape of a threat to national security which was duly and properly taken into custody by the full legal authority of the government of the United States of America!
>Gosh, you aren't one of them dirty, left-wing 'Freedom and The Constitution', socialist radicals, are you?
This comment is dated June 21st, 2013, an era when lefties (at least outwardly) still adopted a posture of distrust towards government agencies. Amazing how much things can change in just ten years, isn't it?

18. Not Even The World Of Its Victory

They continue to explore the facility. Curiously, the place seems to be uninhabited: they have not encountered any opposition or seen any humans since entering the building, and they keep finding eerie signs of recent human presence, like cold food on the tables as though a dinner were suddenly abandoned. Very spoopy.

>"It's like a ghost ship in here." Damon noted the cold cups of coffee and other beverages beside the trays. Some were half empty, most were full. "You know, one of those ships they find that have nobody on board and everything is like this - just left as if in the middle of something?"
I think "ghost ship" is enough of a self-explanatory term to render this extended definition unnecessary.

Anyway, the mystery of what happened to all the army guys is revealed in relatively short order. Michel opens a door, and they enter a room filled with hundreds of burned corpses.

>"It must have been big. Really big. Like a rhino or something. Bigger. Oh... fuck." Michel stopped. Fortunately they were now past the pile of debris and bodies, the remainder of the long corridor was streaked and heavily damaged but free of corpses.
>"What?" Gregoria stood, her legs shaking, not looking back as hard as she could.
>"Not what, pony. Who." Michel, normally gruff, sounded sad. It was the first time Gregoria had seen the dog even capable of that emotion. "He accounted for himself with honor. Damn."
>Damon walked to see the diamond dog's face. "Randal. Randal did this, didn't he?"
"Randal" is another literally-who character that was dropped into the story only a couple of chapters ago, and has barely been a presence in it at all. As I recall, he was a human who had been transformed into a dragon. He used to live in the big barn; Gregoria and the others have been wondering what happened to him.
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>"You, Gregoria, you ever spend any time with Randal?" Michel's question was almost accusatory.
>Gregoria still felt queasy and shaky. "N-No. I... I was going to, but..."
>Michel bared his fangs, and then calmed himself. "Yeah, fucking quonset hut waaayyy too far out there for ponies." The diamond dog walked to the scorched wall, and ran his paw over the flakes of blackened paint. "I know, I know, dragon. Scares you guys. It's in the show, it's in you. But know something." Michel fixed the two ponies with his eyes "Probably the only reason we're not caught or dead, the only reason we even have a chance, is because Randal, poor, lonely Randal, out there in the back forty, busted up their shit for us."
I think I liked Michel a lot better when he was just a background character we knew nothing about. Whatever's up this guy's ass exactly, I'm finding him less and less likable every time he opens his mouth. I'm kind of hoping he catches a stray bullet or something in the near future so we don't have to listen to him anymore.

Anyway, the long and short of it seems to be that the military captured Randal the Dragon and brought him back to the lab for dissection (or something), but he escaped and killed everyone. The presence of blue goop on the walls alongside all the burnt human carcasses is identified as dragon blood; this implies that Randal is now kill. F, I guess.

They explore the place a little, and it's apparent that Randal did a pretty thorough job of clearing the place out. They move from floor to floor, following the path of the dragon's destruction. It's apparent at this point that the soldiers are all dead, and they are unlikely to meet any serious resistance in here. The scene is eerie, but the lack of any genuine danger robs it of most of the tension it could have had. Eventually, Damon picks up on Rachel's presence using some kind of detection magic he has (this was established earlier as one of his unicorn powers), so they start heading that way. Coincidentally, the path to Rachel coincides with the path traveled by the dragon.

Eventually, they find the both Rachel and the corpse of the dragon, as well as a third pony whom the dragon seems to have liberated during his rampage. Rachel is strapped down to some kind of dissection table, but is still alive; seems that Randal got to her in time. Ultimately, it was the military's love of dissection that proved their undoing. If they applied the same level of passion to dragon-killing, they might have avoided this whole predicament.

Anyway, Rachel is alive, but it's not yet clear if she's okay or not:

>It was then that Gregoria noticed Rachel's bare, shaved poll, the pink skin around her horn, and the rest of her head. Tiny dots of red made little crimson flowers on the bandages above her eyes, near her horn, and by her ear. Something was missing. Rachel was not glowing along her back. She had no rippling magic mane, nor tail, no eerie fields of glowing energy at all. They hadn't been shaved off - Gregoria couldn't even imagine how it would be possible to shave ethereal force - Rachel's glowing mane had simply been extinguished. In the place of the luminescent expression of divinity was only an ordinary, cloud gray mane and tail, bedraggled and dull.
>Gregoria's dumbfounded mind finally made sense of what Rachel was trying to say.
>She was mindlessly singing 'Giggle At The Ghostie' over and over, very, very poorly.
Sounds like the military guys shaved her, possibly just for keks, and the shock of being bald has rendered her insensate. Either that, or they lobotomized her or something. Those Area 54 guys sure are a wacky bunch.

Anyway, the chapter ends here.

19. Long Since Floated Away

Final chapter. I have to say, though this story isn't the most gripping thing I've ever read, it's been a fairly easy read so far and it's keeping me more or less entertained. At the very least, it's definitely been nice not having to wade through an endless minefield of grammatical errors and shitty prose for once.

Anyway, we rejoin Gregoria and Rachel on Steve Jobs's private estate in Argentina. From this, we can extrapolate that they probably had no difficulty escaping the super-sekrit military base. That whole thing was a bit of a letdown, really; I was at least expecting some kind of a battle or escape scene or something. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

>Crown had finally decided he was permanently done with the Estados Unidos. The place had become too totalitarian, too much of a panopticon. Cameras everywhere, zero privacy, and total surveillance of the civilian population had convinced him that there was no future for him, or those he cared about, in that crumbling empire.
When he's right, he's right.

Anyway, it sounds like rescuing Rachel was as close to a climax as we're likely to get in this story, so things are basically winding down. It's been roughly a year, Steve Jobs has spent that time going around and gathering up all the various Equestrians, and setting them up in his fancy Argentinian ranch. Hopefully the military here is a little less fond of dissecting things, but we'll see how it goes I guess. It also sounds like he pared down his human staff and eliminated a few people who might have been rats. By that I mean they were snitching to the Feds, not that they had literally transformed into rats. Although, who knows; maybe someone who was a huge fan of the Muppets turned out to be an Injector as well.

>Certainly the raid of Crown's American ranch had made of Malus a new person. He was polite always now, and never showed his temper any more. Sometimes, though, he became strangely distant, almost brooding. He spent most of his time with his puppies and dogs, feeding on their unconditional love.
Oh yeah, I forgot about that whole thing with him and dogs. It didn't come up all that often.
Perhaps it would help the story if this Michel dog was the one who contacted the lead ponies, introducing them to a small community of ponies and other beings living under the radar.

The characters could get to know each other for a while, before Steve Jobs and the Government get involved. Or Steve Jobs could turn out to be funding this, only to show up when shit gets bad.

Each protagonist could use their special abilities in a row to break into the government facility in a show of character growth, symbolically coming to accept their new "true" identities instead of whining about how hard it is to piss and have hooves and find clothes that fit you. It could be like a heist movie. The Dragon sacrifices himself to buy the others time to do the heist, and fights a giant enemy working for the US Government, perhaps an artificially made one. Some LOTR Elf has to show off movie-level archery skills to hit a laser hallway's Off Switch without tripping any of the laser tripwires. Gregoria has to think of a plan, and ends up having Michel dig underground to hit water, which will rush up and flood a room, so a Unicorn can freeze the water with magic, defeating some other heist movie security measure. Walking through a cleared path where the Dragon already did everything for the heroes is kind of lame.

Anyway, we aren't told exactly what happened to Rachel, but we can infer quite a bit from what's in here. They appear to have conducted some sort of lobotomy on her, which resulted in the loss of her Celestia magic and basically turned her into a potato. She appears to be capable of basic speech and not a whole lot else; basically the intelligence level of a mentally retarded adult.

>Gregoria nuzzled her best friend back, and then relaxed as Rachel began nibbling at and grooming Gregoria's mane. Above, through her half-closed lids, Gregoria saw the gray and blue form of a pegasus circling. She would land soon. She never strayed far from Rachel.
>Gregoria sighed as she enjoyed the careful, loving grooming of her mane. There was no doubt that despite everything, Rachel still knew and felt love for Gregoria. There was so very much that had been stolen from Rachel, but even without speech, or apparent thought, friendship, love, had turned out to be something truly indestructible.
In the end, everything worked out perfectly for Gregoria. She learned sort of an asinine half-lesson about the value of friendship, kinda-sorta undertook something like a challenge to rescue her friend from the clutches of the government, and in so doing kinda-sorta redeemed herself for her past neglect towards Rachel. On the downside, she arrived a bit too late and discovered that Rachel had already been lobotomized, but on the upside her friend is now closer to a child or a pet, which relieves some of Gregoria's burden.

As Rachel's emotional needs are likely to be far simpler now that she's essentially a talking vegetable, Gregoria can now enjoy the benefits of having a close friend, without ever having to worry about her becoming too demanding or needy as she was before. And on top of that, she still gets to sponge off of some billionaire for the rest of her 300 year life. She transitioned from childhood into quasi-adulthood without ever having to get a job; she gets to reap the benefits of having her every material and emotional need met without the bother of having to meet the needs of anyone else; and she learned all of her lessons and accomplished everything in her character arc without having to actually sacrifice anything or expend any serious effort. Gregoria pretty much hit the Millennial jackpot. In fact, since Steve Jobs is basically her combination landlord and patron, she probably gets free Apple™ tech support for life on top of everything else.

Anyway, there's a page break, and we rejoin Gregoria and Crown at some kind of weekly dinner soiree he holds for his inner circle, of which Gregoria is now apparently a part. Incidentally, the mystery pone that was mentioned at the end of the previous scene turns out to have been Chelsea. It seems that Rachel succeeded in giving her back her pegasus form when she unleashed her magic, it just turned out that the magic she unleashed was more powerful than she expected.

Rachel's arc comes to a much more graceful conclusion than Gregoria's: she never wanted to be Princess Celestia, yet she was able to put her Celestia powers to a single good use, giving Chelsea back her MLP form and thus enabling her to live an idyllic life as a pegasus, which is the life that she herself had always wanted. The act essentially required her to sacrifice her own chance at happiness, but at the same time she's technically still alive, so she got something out of the deal. While her end may seem tragic, she seems to have always been an emotionally fragile person, so it's probably for the best that she gets to spend the remainder of her days in a more or less blissfully ignorant state. All in all a well-executed bittersweet ending for a side character who was frankly a lot more likable than the book's protagonist. I'm okay with this.

However, it seems the author is not quite done with her yet. He drops a few more strange tidbits on us at the very end: apparently, by the laws of the same goofball cartoon-logic that allows Gregoria to live for 300 years, Rachel is revealed to be immortal. If anyone is curious as to specifically why, the answer is something something blah blah Princess Celestia.

From here, the text launches into a long and somewhat interesting explanation of what went down in the secret facility. Apparently, the super-sekrit government agency had its own internal conflicts: there was one faction that understood the world is a simulation, and another that took everything at face value; ie magic is magic, aliens are aliens, and so forth. The "world is a simulation" faction tried to "prove" their position by killing Celestia over and over to prove that she was literally immortal; however, this backfired, and only made the "aliens are real" faction want to find out more about what made her tick, and long story short, that's how she wound up having her brain dissected seriously; what is it with secret government agencies and dissecting things?. According to Crown, she's going to gradually heal up and might even become her old self again someday, but it's probably going to take centuries for this to happen. Again, kind of a bittersweet ending for her, though I think I like the version I came up with a little better.

Anyway, from here the text meanders off into autism-land a bit. There's a lot of stuff about fanfiction and different kinds of unicorn magic that isn't really worth going into. However, to Gregoria's credit, we learn that she's been making an effort to learn more about the things Rachel is interested in (ie MLP lore and nerd stuff) so that she can be a better friend to Rachel once she eventually becomes herself again (assuming Gregoria is not centuries-dead by then). This is actually kind of a sweet gesture, and is probably the first evidence we've seen that this character might have actually learned something from her experiences, or at least learned something on her own, as opposed to being dragged there by her "pony brain."

Everything that needs to be wrapped up has basically been wrapped up, but for some reason the author felt a baffling need to include this one final scene:

Page break. Apparently, the pony population has expanded: they've built a town, they've opened some kind of school for medical unicorns, and so forth and so on. For all practical purposes, they have a fully-functional version of Ponyville now.

So anyway, Gregoria is out farming one day when she accidentally cuts herself on some kind of buried blade or something. It nicks something vital, her femoral artery or something, and she is in serious danger of bleeding to death. Chelsea, the pegasus that Rachel rescued, flies off to get the medical unicorns, because they have medical unicorns now. The unicorns do all they can, but it's not quite enough; Gregoria's death seems imminent. Then, suddenly, Rachel transforms into Princess Celestia and fixes her with all-powerful magic. Gregoria awakens a moment later, but doesn't see Celestia; it's just ordinary ol' potato-Rachel peacefully munching grass. The story ends here instead of just gracefully adding a "The End" and calling it good, the author rather tastelessly tacks on a bunch of hyperlinks to all of the other stories he's written.

As an ending, this is...bizarre. My best guess is that the author felt he was ending on too much of a down note, leaving Rachel as some kind of half-retarded lobotomized vegetable, and he wanted to leave the reader with a clear understanding that "Princess Celestia" was still in there somewhere. Personally, I found vegetable-Rachel ending to be satisfying enough in its own way, for reasons I've already detailed. In any event this scene seems superfluous.

On top of that, like 80% of the actual written text is sheer autism; the author veers sharply off into his own wacky headcanon about how unicorn healing magic works from a medical perspective. Almost none of this shit actually needed to be written; I would literally chop everything after the final page break and just end the book with Rachel and Gregoria passively munching grass or something. It could have worked if the author had tacked this scene on as an epilogue or something, but as an ending to the story...? I don't know; it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Anyway, that's all they wrote of Gregoria Samson and her band of wacky rascals. Another one in the bag. I'll be back in a little bit with some final thoughts.
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Actually, scratch that; there's an appendix tacked on that is probably worth going over, and then I'll be back with final thoughts. The appendix has nothing to do with the actual story, it's just a brief author's note entreating his readers to expand upon his universe, which he calls "the Injectorverse."

>If the world was converted into Equestria, what of the humans in the pockets that would resist the rewrite of reality? How much transformation can be allowed before the simulation is shut down? Could whatever happens when a John Doe injects code be used to escape the simulation entirely? What would out there, in the Big Machine?

I'll admit the author came up with a fairly imaginative idea here, and there's probably quite a bit of room for expansion. If anything, there might be too much room for expansion:

>Transformers meet ponies? Star Trek overlapping Dr. Who? Westerns intermixing with comic books? Anything is possible, any faction or group or crossover could happen. All it takes is one poor, doomed John or Jane Doe being written into the code of the universe.

What this author has essentially done is create a fictional metaverse in which virtually any fictional property can be brought to life and mashed up alongside any other fictional property. The 'Injectorverse' just provides a basic set of rules for mashing them up: the world is a computer simulation, random individuals "inject" their favorite fantasy onto the world's code, rewriting a new reality based on an existing (or even completely original) work of fiction. Actually, since the rules of this universe also allow for the existence of multiple simulations, you could pretty much take any idea and turn it into an 'Injectorverse' story if you wanted.

For instance, I could *hypothetically* write a story in which Dale Gribble wakes up in Equestria one day, and makes friends with Sweetie Belle. What's the twist? Why, something something computer simulation, of course! A guy who really, really liked King of the Hill was killed in Iraq, alongside his brony friend, and their closest relatives suddenly woke up as characters from those franchises in a world that didn't make sense to either of them...and then...and then...

...or, alternatively, I could not do any of that, and just leave my story as a self-contained original. But you get the point; almost any story could become an 'Injectorverse' story simply by defining the premise within Chatoyance's extremely broad rules. Is there any reason to do this instead of just coming up with your own rules and your own universe? Depends on the idea, I guess.

The recursive nature of fanfiction is both a strength and a weakness. The ability of one author to expand upon the ideas of another allow for an infinitely-expanding webwork of universes and sub-universes, and there is a lot of fertile ground for a truly creative person to play around in. However, it's also part of the reason that the overwhelming majority of it tends to be unreadable dreck. Oftentimes, authors become too focused on the details of their "universes," and explaining their various headcanons for how this and that aspect of their chosen universe works, instead of just focusing on telling a good story. We've seen countless examples of this in our long voyage through the vast ocean of autism that is fimfiction.net.

An interesting universe with interesting mechanics or an interesting history can indeed provide a good groundwork for original stories; there has been plenty of interesting fiction created within the framework of Dungeons and Dragons, for instance. Deep-lore universes like Tolkien's or Lovecraft's can generate original stories long after their creators are dead and gone. Likewise, iconic characters like Sherlock Holmes or Arsene Lupin can be placed into an infinite number of stories.

So, is the Injectorverse an interesting enough fanfiction premise to justify its own fanfiction? In my view probably not, but I can see how it might appeal to a certain kind of writer.

This isn't really a "deep lore" universe; most of the lore that's in here comes from other franchises. Likewise, it doesn't have much to offer in the way of memorable or iconic characters. Rachel was likable but not memorable, and Steve Jobs as a Changeling was a fun idea, but the character himself was not that exciting. The rest of these people I don't have any strong desire to run into again.

That said, what it probably does have going for it is in the "mechanics" category. Namely, it provides an interesting framework for stitching together unrelated universes in a plausible way; sort of like an expansion pack that combines card games whose rules would be otherwise incompatible. Want to create a game where your friend can play his YuGiOh deck against your MTG deck against your other friend's Pokemon deck? Then maybe the Injectorverse approach is for you. Then again, if all you really want to do is create a mashup of several otherwise incompatible fictional universes, is there any compelling reason to use Chatoyance's rules instead of just creating your own?

Anyway, that's about all I had on the subject of the Injectorverse. Chatoyance leaves the reader with this open-ended invitation:

>I open the Injectorverse to anyone who wants to play in it, and if nobody does, that is fine too.

Fair enough.


All that's left is a brief page of acknowledgements. Along with Franz Kafka, the author credits physicist Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann and philosopher Nick Bostrom, whose ideas were used as the basis for a lot of the "world is a simulation" business. The rest of his influences I'm not familiar with, but they all seem to revolve around a community called Shifti, which seems to focus on shapeshifting and transformation stories.

Anyway, that's all they wrote of Gregoria Samson and her band of wacky rascals. I'll be back (again) shortly with final thoughts.
This universe seems like a gay concept.

Anyone could write something where Star Trek's Spock and Batman meet and fight or fuck or work together to punch Khan and Joker in the face and stop them from blowing up the universe with a big spacebomb. Anyone can write this without needing to fit it inside somebody else's universe, make somebody an injector, make Spock and Bilbo into former humans who became fakes, and make the entire story double pointless in universe and out. Maybe even triple pointless.

Out of universe everything within the story is just code and fakes. That isn't the real Doctor Who teaming up with Batman to save the two universes colliding and defeat Ultron-Sigma, this is just a bunch of larping delusional faggot former humans with stolen identities and superpowers they never earned. Double out of universe, these characters are just words in a page but suspension of disbelief requires ignoring that. But even in universe nothing matters in the Injectorverse.

It's basically Displaced, only worse. I never thought I would ever say this. I thought Displaced was the lowest it could go because it has less effort than the average writing prompt, but what the author did add to this setting makes it bullshit on two big levels.

Because even in universe, nothing any character strives for and achieves or loses can matter after the next time a sufficiently powerful John Deer Injector is born and rewrites the entire setting, its rules, and its reality. This world was supposedly full of myths and magic and furries and other weird shit before the hyper rational victorians came along (fuck that anti whiteness btw, the white man would not fail to detect magic and reject magic so hard it stops existing, the white man would make magic his bitch). Next time a faggot rewrites reality according to his biases or delusions or delusional biases, it will change everyone. People in this "clockwork earthlike world" can still fantasize about being characters from myths and fantasies but what if somebody's fantasy or myth made real is to erase all other fantasies and myths? It happened once before, it can happen again harder.

It only takes one Injector to wish for this false reality to end or change to end up better off ending. It might even be trapped in a time loop if an Injector dies fantasizing about his own childhood. The simulation could be broken beyond repair by an Injector, killing everyone or waking up people trapped inside the simulation if there are any. But what is outside the simulation? That is for the author to make up. And what author would choose to attach his work to this bizarrely specific and yet vague premise, when so much work is required to fit anything original into a premise that by definition can only ever be about fakes interacting with fakes until Celestia programs herself a portal to the real pony world just to see if this takes her to a real place, even though this might take her to a convincing fake one inside the same simulation?

Also why doesn't the Conversion Bureau show up in this story? That's Chatoyance's thing, the "literal nazi ponies" that made the fandom call her an insane misanthrope. Even though they aren't nazi.
I kinda agree with nigel on this one, well, sort of...
Simulation theory is nearly pop-culture at this point, it's right there with Disney's multiverse faggotry. And I do think it's rather cheap of a concept. You can't blame me after cross-over, multiverse stories took over Spanish fan-fiction.

So, am just saying that a ton of amateurs can, and have come up with stuff as original/imaginative as this, that's not saying they could properly write it tho.
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Final Thoughts

All in all, I didn't dislike this story nearly as much as I expected to. However, I also didn't think it was anywhere near as good as it could have been.

Chatoyance is clearly a capable writer, in fact he's probably the most capable writer we've looked at so far. As far as mechanics, prose quality and so forth, I had very few complaints with this. There were a couple of minor errors here and there, but all in all this guy comes pretty close to writing at a professional level. It's actually a little depressing to be praising someone just for this, since this is about the bare minimum I feel like I ought to be able to expect; but, for fanfiction, this is pretty much Shakespeare.

That said, the story itself left quite a bit to be desired. For one thing, despite his general aptitude as a wordsmith, this author falls victim to a lot of the same things we've seen from other writers. He has a tendency to go off on long, rambling tangents, and inserts arbitrary headcanons that were not asked for and that don't contribute anything valuable to the story. He also overuses geek culture references to the point that it makes me want to physically strike him.

From a high level, this story was competently planned and constructed. In the beginning, we are introduced to Gregoria Samson and the problem of her transformation. Simultaneously, we are introduced to a shadowy figure named Malus Crown, who is for some reason exhuming the corpse of Franz Kafka, and appears to be conducting some kind of secret research. It's not immediately clear how these two plot threads will connect, but it appears as though they will connect eventually.

Through Gregoria, we are introduced to her friend Rachel, and we learn that the two of them used to be close, but that Gregoria intentionally distanced herself from her when she became emotionally needy. Gregoria feels bad about doing this, and feels worse when she realizes that, even though she abandoned Rachel in her time of need, Rachel is more than willing to come to her aid. She holds no apparent grudge for her friend's mistreatment of her. This gives Gregoria a distinct goal to work towards.

Rachel's turning clingy and emotional was due to the death of her boyfriend Rick. As the plot thickens, we learn that Malus Crown is looking into Rick's death for his own reasons. Eventually, it's revealed that Rick's death was the pivotal event that caused Gregoria, and eventually Rachel's, transformation. At this juncture, the Malus Crown plot and the Gregoria plot are brought together, and the main plot of the story begins. We are then introduced to some minor characters: Chelsea the Pegasus, Randal the Dragon, Michel the Diamond Dog, and Damon the Unicorn.

These characters all play pivotal roles in the final arc of the story. In attempting to restore Chelsea's pegasus form, Rachel inadvertently unleashes a cataclysm that causes her to be abducted by the government. Gregoria has to go off and rescue her, with Michel and Damon playing integral parts in this mission. This ultimately allows the story to conclude, with everyone living happily ever after on Malus Crown's ranch in Argentina.

Overall, this is a well-constructed story: (nearly) every character has an essential role to play, (most of) the major characters are connected, and (almost) every plotline connects to the main plot. There are (mostly) no superfluous characters or subplots; everything that's in this story belongs here. Compare this structure to Fallout: Equestria, which was just one long rambling sequence of unrelated events; or Past Sins, which contained almost every character from FiM, despite most of those characters having no meaningful role.

That said, there are some problems. The story uses Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis as a jumping off point, and initially presents itself as a pony-themed retelling of this story. We are introduced to a group of characters and a premise that parallels Kafka's, and are led to believe that this is going to be what the story is about. Then, without warning, the protagonist suddenly walks out of the story, and we follow her into a completely different story altogether, and never see any of the first story's characters again.

Imagine if Charles Dickens began telling us the story of Great Expectations. We meet Pip, and he introduces us to Joe, Mrs. Joe, Biddy, Miss Havisham, Estella, that crazy homeless guy in the cemetery, and whoever the fuck else is in that book, and for a chapter or two we are led to believe that these are the people we are going to be reading a story about. Then, without any apparent warning, Pip decides to just up and leave the forge, and tells Estella he's not into her mind games and that she can tell her weird aunt to just ram that moldy old cake up her ass. Then, he hops a steamship to America so he can join the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The rest of the story is about Pip learning to be an acrobat, and the original batch of characters are never heard from again. The effect would be similar to what the author does in this story.

Again, I rather suspect that what happened here is that the author had one idea, sat down and started writing, and then realized he wanted to do a different idea entirely. That's fine, but if you're going to do that, it's better to just pick the stronger idea and run with it instead of trying to fit both of them in. The author tries to make Kafka into something of a centerpiece in this story, using quotes from him at the beginning of each chapter, and adding the bit about Malus Crown digging up his corpse and so forth, but the connection is weak. Unless you want to go with the most basic-bitch literal interpretation of Kafka possible, ie that it's literally just a story about a guy who turns into a bug, the connection between Metamorphosis and this wacky sci-fi thing that Chatoyance wrote is superficial at best.

Running out of space, will continue.
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The other major problem has to do with pacing. Nigel was actually on the right track here >>344963 when he suggested that the middle portion of the story, where Gregoria goes to live on Malus's farm and the other Equestrians are introduced, should be expanded. Ideally, this expansion would come at the expense of some of the extraneous text that comprises the earlier part of the story. The first several chapters of this are pretty slow-moving, and the vast bulk of it takes place entirely in Gregoria's head. Moreover, Gregoria is a fairly unlikable character to begin with, and her head is not really an interesting place to spend time.

Initially, we have this introductory bit that sets up this conflict between Gregoria and her family, which ultimately proves to be a fake-out. This story arc is abandoned when Gregoria moves out of the house to go live at Rachel's, and we never encounter any of her family members again. What makes it worse is that much of these early chapters are just a lot of listening to Gregoria complain about how difficult it is to eat, to get dressed, to use the bathroom, to walk around as a pony, and so forth and so on. The author does a fairly good job of establishing this difficulty within the first half of the first chapter; everything further on this subject is just redundant.

Worse, we have to go over the same thing again once she moves in with Rachel and Rachel transforms. Again, much of the text is just irrelevant inner-monologue from Gregoria about how difficult it is to adjust to life as a pony, along with some dull scenes in which the two of them go grocery shopping, talk about MLP, sit around the house eating, and not really doing a whole hell of a lot that's worth observing.

If this were my story and I wanted to revise it, what I would probably do is tone down the Franz Kafka angle (you could probably keep the chapter quotes and the bit about Malus Crown digging up his corpse, but the whole bit at the beginning with Gregoria's family should be pared down or cut if these characters and events are not going to be important), chop out all or most of the superfluous text from the first several chapters, and massively streamline the expositional part of the story. Gregoria wakes up transformed into a pony, she has some initial difficulty adjusting, she seeks out her friend Rachel for help, reveals herself as a pony, and decides to move in with her. There is an initial period of adjustment there, then Rachel transforms. The two of them go out looking for Equestria, are disappointed when they can't find it, then they meet up with Malus Crown.

These events currently consume about eleven chapters of the story, but they could easily be condensed into about three or four, particularly since the only other things that happen here are a couple of cutaways to the Malus Crown subplot. Once this material has been condensed, I would add an expanded part in the middle that focuses on Gregoria and Rachel initially adjusting to life on Malus's farm. In particular, I would want to expand the characters of Joanna and Randal, and provide the reader with a proper introduction to them, instead of simply mentioning that they exist. As I've already explained, Joanna's betrayal of the group is completely meaningless unless the she's someone the reader cares about. Randal, who plays a pivotal role in the climax of the story, we never actually get to meet; we are simply informed that he exists, and then when we finally get to see him he's already a corpse.

As it stands, the story feels completely lopsided. The main plot really doesn't start to take shape until about chapter 13 or 14, and there are only 19 chapters. Most of the early part of the novel is just filler text and headcanon-fu rambling thank you for this term btw Nigel, I will probably steal it that could be deleted at no cost.

The last word that probably needs to be said is about the protagonist. I can't tell if I have some kind of inner bias that causes me to shit extra-hard on the protagonist of any story, or if it's just randomly worked out that most of the protagonists in the stories we've read have been awful for various reasons, but in any case, Gregoria Samson is really just not a likable character at all. She's needy, bitchy, whiny, ungrateful, and self-absorbed; she is an absolute bore to listen to, which is unfortunate since her thoughts comprise a large portion of the story; and, ultimately, her character arc is simply that she is a bad friend who eventually learns how to be slightly less of a bad friend. It wasn't exactly a joy to spend 100,000 words with her.

Aside from her name, the author clearly modeled Gregoria Samson on Gregor Samsa in Metamorphosis. Unfortunately, he ends up missing the mark. In Kafka's novel, Gregor is an overly sensitive, somewhat fragile, generally unremarkable man who nonetheless works hard to provide for his family. His transformation into a bug turns him into a burden, and though he was fully willing to bear the burden of providing for his other family members, once the tables are turned he finds that they are unwilling to support him. Gregor is a highly sympathetic character for this reason.

By contrast, Gregoria is already a burden on her family when this story begins; her transformation only exacerbates things. There's no indication that she's ever done much, tried to do much, or even has any interest in doing very much, and the only justification we're offered is her vague assurance that "it's hard out there." Again, not someone I really enjoyed spending 100,000 words with.

Anyway, that's about all I had for this. In regards to what was mentioned in the OP post, I've decided I will probably continue with this review series since people seem to like it and I like doing it. Not sure what I'll review next, but if anyone has any suggestions feel free to drop them; otherwise I've got a couple of ideas.

Glimglam, I have a problem. Yesterday, I woke up and on my head was a huge, hooked nose. My family hates me now and my waifu, Aryanne, wants a divorce.
Plz send halp
My way of just throwing in a fyi that Kafka was a jew not that it really matters that much in this context since, well, you know the books he wrote could still be worthwhile and the context of reference here is about a pony fanfic. I haven't read them but the one called prosecution, or whatever, seems interesting for both meta a normal reasons.
Thought it was still worthwhile to have that context.

>I can't tell if I have some kind of inner bias that causes me to shit extra-hard on the protagonist of any story, or if it's just randomly worked out that most of the protagonists in the stories we've read have been awful for various reasons
I think the main problem is indeed that people are just not that good writing characters or getting into characters for their stories.

You have been reading and reviewing pony fanfiction for a long time, Glimmy, maybe something a bit more light hearted or well written could be a good change.
I'm a sucker for drama so i would probably mention something like a chapter from "When you least expect it" from anonpencil, which is one of my favorite fanfictions and from what i remember, even though the characters can be a bit shallow, they are not really terrible characters.
Huh? I somehow assumed he was a kike after seeing this nonsense in RE: Revelations 2.
I was going for
>Huh? I suspected Derrida ever since this nonsense in RE: Revelations 2.
But my ID changed and my piss-word got lost.
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When this story started I thought it would be an inverse of Metamorphosis.

Where the man with others dependent on him became a cockroach, making him dependent on those who see him as a cockroach now that he is a burden like they were, I thought Gregoria's transformation was going to inspire her to patch up her old relationship, find a job ponies do better than humans amd get rich for being the best at it, impress her parents, improve the lives of everyone around her, and generally undergo a positive transformation as a person by making the best of her new body.

That could be a good way for this story to go without forcing the heroes to meet Steve Jobs and oppose the US Government and naruto run into Area 69 while making everyone numbers and code in a glitchy matrix where one death can retcon the past, present, and future at any moment.

Does it rub anyone else the wrong way Steve Jobs is a hero in this story who's opposed to the American government, but in main series TCB fics by Chatoyance, megacorporations ruled by rich (white old) men are the villains who killed humanity's future and made Equestria the only way to successfully save humanity at the cost of all that makes them human instead of pony? The rich council of evil is so evil they do stupid shit that gets in the way of being evil effectively. But I guess the author's favourite rich person get a pass for some reason. Steve fucking Jobs of Apple.

The Conversion Bureau is a wild ride. I suggest the first TCB fic https://www.fimfiction.net/story/1868/27-Ounces because it's the main one.
Was it wrong for me to say this? Am I talking too much again?
I've got no complaints
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Sorry, I tend to forget about checking these threads once the actual review is concluded. Also, my laptop shat the bed so until I get another one I'm only really online when I'm at home. This is a good contribution; well done.

When the story began I more or less assumed it was going to end up being something similar, maybe not an inversion exactly, but that the general framework of the story would be used to communicate some idea that the author wanted to get across. Presumably, the plot would follow the same basic trajectory: Gregoria transforms into a pony, and her transformation causes her to become an increasing burden on her unsympathetic family. It would either end tragically as Metamorphosis does, or have an upbeat ending like the one you suggest, where Gregoria uses the transformation to overcome her personal problems and find her way in the world.

Honestly, when I found out the author was a tranny and a furry and so forth, I assumed the whole "transformation" angle was just going to be a thinly-veiled metaphor for body dysphoria. The idea pretty much writes itself; I'm a little surprised the author didn't end up going this route, actually. The idea that no one but Gregoria could perceive the transformation gives the premise an interesting dimension: instead of the central problem being that everyone is horrified by Gregor Samsa's new appearance, the problem would be that Gregoria Samson is suddenly becoming even more reclusive and moody that she was to begin with, and her boomer parents are getting increasingly annoyed with her, since from their perspective she is either being lazy or regressing to infancy. Again, the whole idea is so obviously tailor-made for a writer like this, it's really surprising that he didn't end up going this way with it. I guess he just wanted to tell a science fiction story instead.

>The Conversion Bureau is a wild ride.
This is one I've been meaning to take a look at. I haven't actually made up my mind as to what story I will do next. It's been suggested more than once that I should do Project Horizons, though I can't decide if I really want to get sucked down that particular black hole of autism. I actually really enjoyed tearing FoE to ribbons, and I kind of miss having that sort of ridiculously awful material to work with; on the other hand, PH is like 1.5 million words long.

The other one I'm considering was suggested by (I think) Sven in one of the previous threads, and it was called (I think) Project Vulcan or something to that effect (it had Vulcan in the title; I know that). I have to go back and find the post again. But I remember taking a look at it and thinking it might be a good one to do.
I think if you reviewed this story, you wouldn't just run out of things to say about the story after the first year spent reviewing this, you'd run out of things to call the author after the second.

Project Horizons is like if Micheal Bay was an edgy teenager who read Fallout Equestria, loved it, and felt it needed a spinoff where it was even more Fallout Equestria-ish in the worst possible ways, except Micheal Bay would have turned this into something more fun. I couldn't finish this story, not completely. It's darker, bleaker, and absolutely stuffed with rape and cheesy edge and plot-armoured superheroes and corny one-liners and jarring tonal shifts. This isn't autism any more, just the same obvious writing mistakes repeated ad absurdium for over a million words in repetitive uninteresting ways.

Littlepip plucking a Twilight Sparkle figurine right out of Pinkie Pie's ribcage, right after learning more about Pinkie and Twilight and their relationship, because to her, it's just another piece of loot for this kleptomaniac murderhob to steal from the dead? That's kind of funny in a dark way the author didn't intend. But FEPH doesn't know how to be funny and it usually isn't funny anyway. Anyone could write the next FEPH or something even longer and edgier if they had enough free time to spend giving this work words in place of soul.

I remember saying Fallout Equestria is not a story, just a sequence of events, because events in this story just arbitrarily happen with no rhyme or reason. FE:PH isn't a story, it's a swamp full of dragon shit. All of FE's mistakes are made worse by someone who specifically thought they were FE's best parts and the most ideal things to not only emulate but crank up to 11. Worse rambling, worse moments were dumb random shit happens just because it was in the author's unfinished planning document even though it makes no sense, worse pre-war backstory, worse retcons, worse integration of FIM and Fallout game content, worse asspulls. I don't think there's anything interesting to learn from reading, or even skimming, this weapons-grade non-art. It makes Christian Humber Reloaded look like Shakespeare. It makes me wish I was reading Christian Humber Reloaded! Though I'll praise its decision to retcon Raiders from "Mean little ponies" (grr!) into victims of an evil-inducing virus, toxoplasma gondi by another name brainfucking pony brains with its toxoplasma gonads was the smartest excuse I've ever heard for those borderline Borderlands Bandits to exist.

Fallout Equestria deserved to be mocked because it's held up on a pedestal as "The greatest thing bronies ever produced" as if fangames and original games that started life as fangames never existed, it's written like it thinks it's better than Fallout 3 (and it's not) and better than FIM (and it's not), but FEPH is only held in high regard by people who never read it but want to look like loyal obsessive dedicated FE fanboys in front of the other obsessive FE fanboys. How many years of life can this story take away? How many repetitive scenes and awkward rants and stock cliches can be crammed into one novel written by someone who thought Fallout Equestria didn't need more Pony, and didn't need more Fallout, and instead needed more of everything that made Fallout Equestria gay?

Conversion Bureau tries to be serious, epic, and deep. It tries harder than FEPH, which is content to wallow in cheap edge. It isn't just fanfiction for fanfiction, it's "Hard science-fiction" about the fall of mankind at the hooves of pony perfection, and every alternate timeline where humans win is treated as a "Bad ending" where humanity keeps Celestia's head in a box. The plot is an inherently absurdist cosmic horror story about one reality devouring and assimilating another, and we get to see this from the perspective of strange characters written strangely. The author's biases shine through whether he wants them to or not, and there's so much to say about these biases. Petal Chatoyance aka Jennifer Diane Reitz really tries to make something new that speaks to the heart.

The author "Isn't just writing fanfiction", it's "Derivative fiction because Fanfiction is just fan pandering" or however he put it. It's a series of stories that try to work as self-contained stories and as parts of a greater whole, and each story does something unusual no other writer would do. Some of these stories were published on real paper, like Fallout Equestria, except these aren't self-published.

Chatoyance says this work is "Hard Science Fiction", scientifically accurate and entirely plausible, despite moments where something doesn't work quite right such as nuclear half-life or the law of conservation of mass. Chatoyance's work begs for analysis, but so far I've only seen midwit libtards from SpaceBattles take issue with this story, and only through the smug libtard hypocrite lens of "Chatoyance isn't a very good humanist liberal universalist because universalist humanist liberalism doesn't create a utopia for the humans, this isn't WH40K or Star Trek or Humanity Fuck Yeah masturbation inspired by those two so it sucks, plus the ponies are literally hitler because the inferior doomed dying human race is allowed to assimilate into ponykind's race to escape assured destruction by circumstances beyond ponykind's control".
>Sven in one of the previous threads
Must have been the other Sven that has sometimes posted in this thread cuz I don't recognice that title.
The story before and after Steve Jobs meets Gregoria is so bizzarely different. If you skipped his scenes interspersed with Gregoria's scenes, he and everything he represents and is attached to would seem to come out of nowhere.
Do you think it's possible that Kkat started writing a story about Gregoria, abandoned it for a long time upon getting bored or distracted or sick of Gregoria or afraid of writing a story where pony stuff drives a human to be better, and came back to it after thinking of the "American govt is evil, Steve Jobs is a Changeling, everything and everyone is code inside a simulation the deaths of people important to the simulation can rewrite at any moment" angle, adding in the early Kafka corpse scenes retroactively to try and thematically tie the Matrix-style plot he represents in with the story's original Kakfaesque inspiration?
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>be Chatoyance
>your fanfiction about earth getting absorption-vored by the Equestria dimension get popular
>>create group to advertise your fanfiction universe, collect fanmade unofficial faithful and optimistic "pro-TCB" spinoffs of it in one place, and give fans of it a place to talk
>some readers take issue with how negatively humanity is portrayed in Chatoyance's TCB, and how the only available salvation for the failed human species is for them to give up and assimilate into ponies or suffer unstoppable annihilation
>"That's not like my Star Something movies!" rages the capeshit fan
>some readers don't read the story, but are summoned when they hear corporate judeo-liberalism's viability is being questioned by a pony fanfiction in which a corporate hell world dystopia isn't magically turned into a utopia by impossible technologies like food-replicators and healing nanomachines
>anti-TCB writers write fics where a version of ponykind even more anti-human than TCB-Equestria get obliterated by a "more faithful" version of the cast of MLP, Pokemon, other vidyagames, capeshit, and so on
>telephone game is played with TCB-related talking points
>be Chatoyance, still a tranny even though liberals pseudointellectuals are calling your tranny cartoon horses nazis
>allow your group to be taken over by "naive appeasers" and fail to make a group exclusively for TCB enjoyers in time
>group gets invaded by anti-TCB writers
>anti-TCB writers outnumber pro-TCB writers because you don't have to know anything about TCB to know talking points about the fic to include in any story that exists to intellectually argue against, or pseudointellectually insult, TCB
>group is not a democracy, so the anti-TCB posters can't replace leaders with the leaders they want ruling the pro-TCB posters, yet their presence and mod-tolerated volume still derails conversation and floods the forums with retarded threads like "What do you think would happen if Doomguy and Terminator and 300 Man and the Space Marines went to TCB Equestria? Hurr durr Rip and Tear For The Emprah I'll Be Back This Is Sparta!"
>because diversity doesn't work, group culture is changed irreperably by the invasion as pro-TCB writers overwhelmed by the negativity give up, having no safe space to retreat to and no place to call their own

Chatoyance accidentally watched Liberalism fail him in real time, due to a small-scale "ideological conflict" about his pony fanfiction. It didn't matter that Chatoyance is a vaccine-loving liberal tranny. Occasional moments of accidental realism were enough to trigger the left into cancelling him.
Why don't you just go to Chatoyance's page on fimfiction and tell him all that yourself?
The only good thing in TCB/anti-TCB stories is the elusive chance that a man might somehow bust a sublime nut in a submissive Newfoal mare, thus offending everyone that isn't obscenely based and of excellent taste. Otherwise, TCB/anti-TCB shit is just a colossal expanse of extreme autism.
What would you like to see Glim review?
In what way? I've never read the side stories, sorry. I heard Chatty made one tranny story about men losing their testosterone from a virus or something resulting in world peace. Haven't read that one either.
The author of The Light Despondent is the greasy, fat jew that pops up in this video wearing only a shitty wig and a pink unibody spandex suit. Just find him in the video. He goes up over and over again to ask weird questions to cosplay thots in a room with children. Oh, and Literally every other character his the stories are kikes.
He's a personal lolcow of mine.
Ah, I fucked up with trying to edit my replies and accidentally lost the initial one. I'm retarded. Anyway, if you're dead set on TCB shit, then SPECTRUM is a bustling give of sperg shit, but it might be too boring for Glim Glamerino.
>I've never read the side stories, sorry.
You're missing out on some potent autism. I never read the main spergfest, but the other stories are teeming with bizarre shit.
That's one ugly fucker. Where should I start with Chatoyance's weirder shit? I'd rather save fanfiction of fanfiction for later. But out of all the pony fanfics out there, which would you call the most overhyped?
>That's one ugly fucker.
Yeah, he is. The content of his stories is equally as ugly since they seem to serve as sinks for his sadistic fantasies. He's an out of control kike! I mean, who dresses and acts like that before a panel with children?
>But out of all the pony fanfics out there, which would you call the most overhyped?
Fallout: Equestria. I've never read it, but it clearly seems to be cut from the same cloth as other legendary spergfics.
I mentioned The Light Despondent since it's pretty specific and extremely kiked to an unintentionally comedic effect. It's literally pure kike hatred of us goyim condensed into ponyfic form. Not to mention the fact the author falls into lolcow territory and is apparently an actual medical student. Nightmarish.
Personally, I would absolutely adore seeing you take a whack at another FO:E story. It would be incredibly interesting for you to take your experience with the original, and compare it to the approaches these fans and authors have with their own stories. Seeing their interpretations of the concepts, what the sort of person who liked FO:E writes about, the same setting viewed through the lens of a different set of characters - just so many things. The unfortunate core element of a lot of these fans is that they're copycats, and thus almost all side-stories fall into the pitfall of being 300k-1 million words plus, which is an absolutely agonizing period of time-consumption, i'm sure.

Still, it would be so fascinating seeing you tackle a fic or two in what is known in the subfandom as the "Big 5": the 'best' side stories of the initial era. See how they hold up.

If anything, maybe you could do a quick readthrough of the first few chapters of some of these, just to dip your toes, so to speak without the massive time commitment, and see the vibe they give you. Might even inspire you to take a full dive into them. As others have said, there's even edgier, crazier, and more fucking retarded concepts in these, because they're building off of Kkat's work. I think that is one of the most intriguing parts, honestly.
We already did Fallout Equestria, it was epic. Glim noticed tons of things wrong with the story I missed when I went through it. It's not truly a story, it'a a sequence of events. OP protagonist LP never meaningfully grows, so if the LP who left her vault in Chapter 1 glitched a load trigger on the way out of her Stable to Wrong Warp into the final room where she takes over the weather machine, or if she did her story as usual until she met Watcher and was immediately sent to the end location in the way only the Watcher's true identity can and always could, this shortened take on the story could end the same way it canonically ended.

Here's something I forgot to mention, while Fallout uses ending slideshows to give choices made during your game playthrough consequences, Kkat's biggest inspiration was Fallout 3 which fucked this up completely along with the worldbuilding and timeline and morality and more. None of LP's struggles to free one town or kill one raider gang or complete some sidequest or improve the lives of others or gather records for her dykefriend ever truly mattered in the face of her self-appointed subtly commie quest to supplant Equestria and the Mane Six as the new immortal all powerful dictator Goddess out to redistribute wealth with a monopoly on force, the weather, and the means of food production. LP's choices never mattered because she was never forced into truly morally grey situations and pick what she considered the best choice. Everything is black and white. Raiders and Slavers and "American fascist Pegasus Enclave" cackling supervillains run around the ruins being evil for fun until the heroes kill all of the former and much of the latter in the name of establishing "good liberal democracies" that agree with LP and friends and ended up making either Gawd or Velvet Remedy the President of the NCR-Followers. I forget which.
The nihilistic edgelord gore-art behaviour of the Raiders was supposedly based on real Congolese soldiers, many of whom were child soldiers once, yet this niggerish fatherless behaviour is given to much of ponykind's remaining survivors, even though the Zebras were only able to sneak nuclear maginuclear bombs into Equestria thanks to dievershitty and Zebras only had nukes in the first place thanks to Fluttershy's naive belief that Mutually Assured Destruction aka Communally Assured Reciprocal Existence works even when ziggers hate you more than they love themselves.
And a pony in a zebra "ghetto" wishes there were more pony cops about to do something about the unponylike behaviour of drug-addicted Always Stupid Evil ziggers, yet Kkat never stops being a useful idiot for leftism, convinced anyone to the right of Stalin is misinformed at best and pure evil for not listening and believing, or pure evil and in need of enslavement under a food-controlling regime. Every time Kkat tries to add gritty realism into this story about quippy invincible superheroes, the result undermines an ideology the author believes in more than truth and reason.
Fallout's NCR was an expansionist republic hell bent on gathering resources and anexxing more land it couldn't tame, repeating the sins of empires past and future while the Followers Of The Apocalypse is a charity. Combining these to "make a good empire" misses the point of both completely, yet it's par for the course for Kkat as his idea of creativity is stacking two lego bricks from different clashing sets and calling it a remixed original masterpiece greater than the sum of its parts. This isn't something new he's built from old parts, it isn't something cleverly put together for the sake of art, this is just a messy amalgamation of redundant or contradictory elements and random content...

Just like the Loot Katamaris Littlepip loves to carry around.

What stories does the FOE community consider "Their best" and why?
For a while the community had what they considered their "Big Five", which were the most popular and 'well-written'. Some were the first, but typically they stood above their contemporaries by being more 'unique' as well, since every fic was and still is the same.

The "Big Five" includes the original, as well as four other sidefics, and are heralded as legendary/ are the subject of recommendation and praise:
-Project Horizons
-Murky Number Seven
-Pink Eyes

If Glim were to look back into FO:E sometime, he could start here, as he already tackled the original which was "god" status, and these stories are sort of the lower "pantheon" so to speak.
I am also enjoying them. Admittedly I lost my tab from the last thread I was following. Was the conclusion to the Our Girl Scootaloo and I tried to take a quick glance at the first few pages to see if I could find my way back to the Shim Sham hosted by Glim Glam to no avail.

Glad I managed to find my way back towards the relative start of a new story. Still need to start mine but stuck on how to open it plus some of the people I talk to scoff at the idea of an MLP fanfic without the M6 involved saying they'd be bored to tears reading about any OCs I made.

Honestly don't know if I'd ever write one but if I don't then I know a fanfic that's probably my favorite which doesn't involve any main characters from the show. There's another I like but is more a guilty pleasure with ESL quirks abound and stuff Glim Glam could probably make plenty of jokes about.

While Glim Glam would probably want us to either be able to use his lessons to read normal books critically or write our own stories I really want to write an MLP fanfic and put his lessons to heart to show his efforts have paid off.
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I was actually just about to ask which stories constituted the "Big Five," but this post answers it. At the moment I'm leaning towards doing something like what you suggested: delving into PH, reviewing as much of it as I can stomach, and then maybe veering off and doing the same thing with the others to see how all they hold up.

In any case I will definitely be doing another review relatively soon, I'm just not sure when it's going to start exactly. I will be acting as judge in the writing contest thread, which I think should be starting to wrap up, and I'm also going on vacation fairly soon. So, it might be a little while before the next one starts, but I assure you all that there will be a next one, and that there is a high likelihood it will involve another major FoE story.

>I lost my tab from the last thread I was following. Was the conclusion to the Our Girl Scootaloo and I tried to take a quick glance at the first few pages to see if I could find my way back to the Shim Sham hosted by Glim Glam to no avail.
If it helps, I've been thinking that at some point I might go back and archive all of my old review posts on pone paste, just so they're preserved in some kind of coherent and easily accessible format. I might try and whip up a simple script or something to scrape the text body of only my posts and append them to a long document, so I don't have to laboriously copy and paste hundreds upon hundreds of posts by hand.

>some of the people I talk to scoff at the idea of an MLP fanfic without the M6 involved saying they'd be bored to tears reading about any OCs I made.
I've heard other writers grumbling about this, and I don't understand this attitude among readers. A story is a story, characters are characters; the final product is either good or isn't, based on the author's ability. Whether the author is working with his own characters or someone else's isn't even remotely a factor. Personally, I'd rather read a well-written and engaging story about OCs than some shoddily-written crap about the M6. The same is also true in reverse; FoE was almost entirely about OCs, and I hated it, while that one about Rarity and Prince Blueblood I quite enjoyed. Point is: quality should 100% take priority over appealing to the superficial preferences of some autist.

This attitude rather supports my theory that a large chunk of the MLP fanfiction audience consists of barely-literate retards whose opinions should simply be discarded. That said, a reasonable rebuttal to this position might go like this: since the majority of fanfiction is terrible anyway, and since there is so goddamn much of it, a reader might be forgiven for filtering what he decides to read based on arbitrary preferences. If you are coming into the story-selection process with the understanding that pretty much anything you pick is going to be terrible, you might as well limit your selections to stories about characters you like.
Amazing to hear, glim. I learned so much during your FO:E review and it genuinely helped me become a better and more aware writer and gave me a TON of things to write down and keep in mind. It was an absolutely legendary review, and a ton of fun, too.
I like to see something else than more foe if you want my opinion. Having said that, I'm not completely against it either.

Only one of the teams in the competition thread is done, or I just wanna finish my proofread first then my team is done. No shade towards the teams that aren't done yet though. I will wait for them to finish but you can review our story as fast as I link a reply of it do your post in the thread because that might motivate the others to push forward to finish theirs. Again, if any of you are reading this. No stress. Take your time.
Was Vault 34 mentioned when talking about how unoriginal Fallout Equestria was? One of the Fallout NV vaults, number 34, the one the Boomers came from, was overpopulated and full of armed people. Because an armed population causes revolution whenever the leader is unpopular no matter what, according to this quest, and the vault was set up to prioritize leisure activities over housing. One day the Overseer in charge cuts off access to the armory and something something war breaks out, population controls are proposed and war breaks out again, the nuclear reactor got damaged during the fighting and that leaked radiation and the way out was fucked. Fallout Equestria stole "A pony shot the reactor" from this, and Fallout 3's opener where a pony with a BB gun shoots targets in the reactor room, which has RadRoaches for some reason.
Fallout Equestria fucking sucks. Meme mashups featuring Smash Mouth and Space Jam and either Coldplay or Foo Fighters are more original than this.
Not sure what Fallout Equestria stories will do. FE already ripped off most of Fallout's best and worst parts. Would this force FE fics to be original, or rip off Fallout stuff FE didn't get around to using properly and Fallout content from games released after FE like 4 and 76?
Heard the one with an "adorable" filly named Puppysmiles was the best one.
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>I like to see something else than more foe if you want my opinion. Having said that, I'm not completely against it either.
Understandable. Mostly, I just had a lot of fun reviewing it and I'm in the mood to do something similar again. Littlepoop was truly the protagonist I loved to hate; I think the only other story I had as much fun taking a giant well-deserved shit on was Nigel's Silver Star thing. Since then I've done two more-or-less serious reviews of stories that I more-or-less respected (The Best Night Ever and I.D. - That Indestructible Something), with that ridiculous thing about Scootaloo and her fudge-packing queermo daddies sandwiched in between, so I feel like a change of pace is in order.

Also, as a weird aside, I just now noticed that in the OP post I made a typo when attempting to link to the review of Rainmetall. I didn't include enough le meme-arrows, and so the post number was greentexted instead of quoted. Anyone looking for that review could still probably find it easily enough, but for the sake of being thorough, if anyone wants a direct link to my Rainmetall review, it can be accessed here:

>>338993 →
Got links to the two stories I mentioned that could be neat to review.
This one here I read years ago so can't recall how the actual story was written or played out but I recall really liking it for having a small cast and a cozy setting of a southern river boat. Probably won't be much of a comedic review with much to rip apart or make fun of since the story remains pretty grounded.

This one is the guilty pleasure of mine and a bit distressed I read one that is so long. The author is ESL so has some odd spelling errors like jaw always being spelled yaw so while they could be funny to point out it's more a language barrier thing rather than laziness. I'm weary to suggest a 360k word long story but this one I imagine you could write more jokes about. I did start to get burned out by it when I read through it but towards the end I did commend him for how he tied in the different antagonists meet individually back into the story and main antagonist. Plus has a segment that's blatantly a Five Nights At Freddy's reference so could imagine many jokes being made there.

I loved the review for FoE but being almost a year long I do remember getting excited for when it would be over and worried this second story could take awhile as well. Wasn't your fault for it taking so long and mostly had to do with many of the same issues popping up and then everyone else I know telling me these things are actually perfection and I should try reading FoE and every spin off. Felt like I was being gas lighted so exasperated my frustrations with the story and wanting to be rid of it.
I think Project Horizons might be an even more 'enjoyable' in how over the top and batshit it gets. FO:E was badly written, boring, but it still had a sort of bland set of characters that were straightforward at least in the idea behind them, and it more or less followed a simpler plot idea, even if it was schizophrenic. PH has some truly fucking bizarre plotlines, and some of the most deranged and crazily-designed characters i've ever seen. Imagine taking FO:E and having a depressed anime-obsessed autist shove in references to all his favorite anime, make crazy 'god' characters, insert his own oc into the lore as the reason behind everything, and ratchet the insane concepts and scenarios up to 10x the sort of stuff you'd see before in what is some weird 'anime epic' version of FO:E.

Seriously, imagine combining what you know of FO:E with an over the top anime fanfic.
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How are you doing, fren?
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So, late last year I was bemoaning the lack of readership for my stories and related topics, because I refuse to submit to the botnet and so don't participate in Discord and other social media garbage; I was just uploading my stories as PDFs for several years; in the discussion, someone recommended I come here to get feedback.

Now, I've made a Fimfiction account since then, I used my horsefucker e-mail address to make a protonmail address and get past the stupid account creation filter, and it's helped in that respect; I'm almost finished with uploading all of my stories by now. My question is whether you'd be interested in reviewing my stories. My collection is roughly fifty-thousand words across over a dozen stories, and I write exclusively about a fetishistic fixation of mine.

So, what say you?
Wash ur penis, anon
Your fixation isn't something gay like feet or shit, right?
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Rest assured that my fixation is about as heterosexual as it gets.
>Rest assured that my fixation is about as heterosexual as it gets.
I'll be the judge of that.

Seriously though, if you want me to take a look at your work I can certainly do that.
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Alright here you go:
I still need to upload four more, what I wrote in 2021 and this year, but I'll be completely finished after that. Thanks in advance.
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Kek. The fucking comments section on the Aryanne story and the seething it caused. You're doing God's work, anon.
>someone recommended I come here to get feedback
Now i get it.
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picrel is my personal favorite. I didn't expect a fimfic user to come out of the gates swinging like that. Hardest I've laughed all weekend.
Can't wait for Glim's review.
Very fun fics, friend.
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I'll take a look at these in the next couple of days. I'll probably start a new thread for it and link it here.
GG are you a gemini?
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Impregnation and hyper pregnancy really is the most based fetish. Obsessions with weird sex and weird shit unrelated to sex distracts humans from what matters, but a fixation on the result of proper sex is based.
>Impregnation and hyper pregnancy really is the most based fetish. Obsessions with weird sex and weird shit unrelated to sex distracts humans from what matters, but a fixation on the result of proper sex is based.
Says the guy obsessed with big-titted pokemon.
Haha yeah, can you imagine wanting to fuck nonhuman fictional characters? That's almost as weird as wanting to fuck Nala from Lion King or Rainbow Dash from FIM!
I appreciate the kind words. I enjoy when people enjoy my stories.

Alright. I recently uploaded another story, and should be able to upload another within a few days. I don't believe myself to deserve a new thread, but alright.
Uhm, you do realize that impregnation sex is bad for the fetus, right? I know it's 2d porn, but that's a really sick fetish. There's nothing based about it. Seriously, consider talking to someone.
Get help and take meds, impregnating a woman creates a fetus. Or two. Maybe more. Impregnation good. Cultures that say "impregnation bad, childlessness good" are jewish.
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>impregnation creates a fetus
Uh, yeah. Glad you figured it out.
Now, what happens when one coops a female reproductive system, actively involved in the reproduction, with sex?
Cuz if you try to get NEAR the hindquarters of a pregnant female animal, they'll tear ur throat out.
But because degenerate women fetishi,e the shit, it's 'okay'?.
Seriously, get help
wtf. What are you even talking about?
Eh, sorry. But ididn't follow.
I'm still not sure what you're saying. But if you're saying what I think you are... It's wrong to fuck a pregnant woman, you might injure the baby. I want to impregnate a good woman, make her my wife, and be a good husband to my good wife.
New thread:
>>348497 →