Monday, 29 February 2016

Signal boost: Horse Music Herald

You often hear people these days complain that there's not much new pony music about. While it's true that there isn't the same huge scene that there was a few years ago, there is still plenty of new music being made. One place where you can find out about some of this is Horse Music Herald, a newish website which aims to let its readers know about the fine new tracks that are still coming out of our fandom.

There's the occasional post about classic works from the past, but the focus of Horse Music Herald is very much on new music. They also have a Twitter account, and I wish them every success in helping to publicise new and interesting pony music. I'll certainly be listening to plenty of the stuff they post about, and with any luck I may even write about some of the tracks they discover right here on Louder Yay.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #39

IDW MLP comic #39 Sub cover
Amy Mebberson's "Valentine's card" Sub cover is cuteness itself
You will probably recall that when I reviewed the first half of this Christina Rice/Agnes Garbowska arc, I wasn't too impressed. Happily, the second half of the story is more involving – not amazing, but certainly a better read than the earlier comic. That's largely because of more interesting dynamics between the various foals involved, with even Snips and Snails seeming vaguely likable at times. It's hard to get away from how old-fashioned a pre-CMC cutie marks, pre-reformed Diamond Tiara story now feels, but this does at least give those days a moderately good send-off. ★★★

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 96: Strike a Pose on a Cadillac

Fimfiction has announced an interesting rule change: authors with two or more published stories will now not have to go through moderation when they submit a fic. Quite a few people seem to be of the opinion that "in principle, this is a good idea. In practice, it's asking for trouble" – and I rather sympathise with those people. I suspect that "two" may become a larger number in the nearish future.

One change this might make to my own reading behaviour is that I may well become warier of the list of newly posted fics, since that will be by far the most likely place to find stories that break the rules but which nobody's yet got around to reporting (and the staff to dealing with). It won't make a huge difference to Ponyfic Roundup, though, since I try to steer clear of just reviewing the latest and the greatest in any case.

Also, tucked away in the comments to that announcement is this little comment from admin Xaquseg about the forthcoming expansion of the site to allow non-pony fiction. It seems that the current plan is to let in "original fiction and a few other fandoms initially" before opening it up when they're sure the servers can take it. Like most people, I think, I'm both interested and apprehensive about this change.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be reviewing My Little Pony stories here, not rambling on about Fimfiction rules, and I have six on the slate today, which are:

A Giant Leap Forward by AugieDog
The Dragon King by MonsterMasher137
The Golden Daughter by LiamNeighson
A Taxing Evening by Admiral Biscuit
My Dear by The Poisoned Soul
Ponies and Plinians by PonyAmorous

★: 2 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

What lies ahead for the brony fandom?

Nethesem (yes, the BUCK guy) does an interesting YouTube series called Ask a Sane Brony, and recently he posted a video called "Welcome to the Post-Fandom". It's worth watching in itself (it's only seven minutes long), but it also finally gave me the nudge I needed to make this post – one I've been thinking about making for quite some while. I'm not just copying what Nethesem did, because what would be the point? Instead, this is my musing on where the fandom goes (or, at least, may go) from here.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Patreon? No. Requests? Maybe!

I was surprised to be asked recently whether I had a Patreon. The answer is no, and the answer will remain no. There are several reasons for this, but one is what now seems to be considered a slightly old-fashioned attitude in some quarters: I'm uncomfortable with the idea of money changing hands for fanfic. I'm not even sure I'd feel happy about being commissioned. This is a pretty silly attitude given that I have no similar reservations about fanart, and generally I think authors get a fraction of the attention of artists of similar skill. Nevertheless, the feeling is there.

Of course, this has never gone beyond a passing thought, for the very good reason that I'm not a good enough writer to deserve payment for my ponyfic. I'm not terrible, and I've written some good stories, but there are others out there who've written amazing stories. Still, even if I were on that level, I think I'd still shy away from Patreon. I love the relaxed feeling that this isn't a job in any way, but purely a hobby. I have no ambitions to write stories professionally, and I think it might actually lessen my enjoyment if I started thinking about satisfying "paying customers". So there you are: no Patreon here...

...though I am open to requests in terms of reviewing stories, or conceivably even doing audio readings thereof. You're more likely to be bumped up my Ponyfics to Review list if your story is short, and even more so if you're not already horsewords famous. I'll consider looking at Mature stuff if it's not plain clop/gore (though foalcon is an absolute no-no). However, E- and T-rated fics are much more likely to get my attention. Contact me (Loganberry) via Fimfiction PM if for some odd reason you're interested in this.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

My BronyBeeb "Smile" video reaches 1,000 views

Shameless self-promotion time! Back in September 2012 (blimey), I uploaded a video to YouTube of a little cover version I'd made of Pinkie's "Smile" song. This was my (necessarily simplified) arrangement of the thing for the BBC Micro, my all-time favourite 8-bit microcomputer. Anyway, I looked back at the video the other day and, to my surprise, realised that it was closing in on 1,000 views. I know that's peanuts to many of you, but to me it's a lot. So, now that the four-figure barrier has been reached, I'm damn well posting it here again!

Also, on a fanficcy note: I had an idea today that might actually become a story. Not only that, but I may have a notion of how to turn my one and only, not-terribly-brilliant, Writeoff minific into something I can publish, too. I may never do the Writeoff again, but if I can manage that then it will have been worth it. :)

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 95: The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water

Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I've seen a few people recently talking about being less interested in ponyfic than they once were. As so often, then, I seem to be outside the mainstream, since if anything I'm more into ponyfic than I have been for a while. I don't have much interest in moving into writing original fiction, or writing for other fandoms, at least not right now. As for reading the stuff, I'm still excited when I start on a new story. We'll see what happens when Season Six starts, but at the moment I'm still very much invested.

This week's five stories under review are:

Remembering, Mother by IndiBrony
Sibling Snuggles by The Abyss
A Lot to Think About by chronicLurker
Winning, and Why by 8686
Here's To You by Portable Dingus

Monday, 15 February 2016

Comic mini-review: Friends Forever #25: Twilight and Rainbow Dash

MLP Friends Forever #25 standard cover
I'd have preferred Brenda Hickey's Sub cover, but it had sold out
Two of the Mane Six pair up in Barbara Randall Kesel's first My Little Pony comic since the excellent Twilight/Pinkie issue. As with that comic, the dependable Brenda Hickey does the drawing and Heather Breckel does the colouring. This isn't quite as good as that comic, although it's an entertaining read which thankfully doesn't have any truck with Twilight's infamous "I won't use magic on Equestrians" stance from that Cattle arc. The villains responsible for Rainbow's disappearing wings don't feel quite right for Equestria in a couple of ways, but do at least pose a threat even to Twilight, which isn't that common. Twilight and Rainbow work well together, and there are a few nicely judged jokes. You don't need to go out of your way to get this, but if you like Hickey's artwork and this pairing, you probably won't be disappointed. ★★★

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 94: We've Followed Mr Spoon

I see that Smile HD etc have been zapped by Hasbro. I'm not in favour of censorship, but I can't bring myself to be devastated as I've never liked that sort of video anyway. Back to ponyfic, and now that my latest bug has relaxed its grip just a little bit, I've been able to do a spot of reading and reviewing. Which is quite handy, given what this post is actually for! Five fics have been perused for your delight and delectation this week, and they are:

Analemma by Miller Minus
The Stars Will Aid in Her Escape by dragonjek
Princess Celestia's Newest Arch Enemy by naturalbornderpy
Letters by Coronet the lesser
All of It, for Her by Pav Feira

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

BUCK 2016: Last of the Line

Note: this is an "initial reaction" sort of post, bashed out with very little editing. I may give some more considered thoughts at a later date. Or I may not!

Nethesem, the chairman of BUCK, has put out this official release, and the headline to take away is this: there won't be another BUCK after this year. Not ever. It's worth reading all the way through, since it gives a little insight into just how much effort the convention staff have put into making the con happen since 2012. Having attended in 2013 and 2014, I can't help but be appreciative of the mountains the BUCK guys have moved to make a full-scale con happen in the UK, one of the hardest places to put one on.

Hard as it is for me to say, I think they've made the right decision. As Nethesem says himself, the numbers just don't stack up any more. The prices that have to be charged to break even are so high that not enough people want to come – and you can't run a convention on the scale of BUCK with a couple of hundred attendees. Something has to give, and given that the BUCK guys understandably don't want to compromise or downsize, there's only one realistic option. The alternative would be pushing ahead without sufficient funding in place, and that way lies madness.

This does not mean that the pony convention scene in Britain is dead. As far as I know, both UK PonyCon and BronyScot intend to return in 2016, and BUCK's demise may even leave a space for a third smaller event in 2017. However, I think that, once April is out of the way, we will have seen the last of the all-singing, all-dancing brony extravaganza events. The economics just don't work any more. Maybe Europe only has room now for one such event, and that event is GalaCon. It's been a long, hard road for BUCK, and they've done amazing things. But now there's just one more to go.

Yes, of course I regret not being able to attend BUCK this year, and after this news was announced I did have another think to see if I could make it work. Sadly, my problems are in some ways similar to BUCK's: the numbers just don't add up. I could only afford it if I dropped plans to do pretty much anything else pony-related, UK PonyCon included, and I'm just not willing to do that. So I'll be supporting from the sidelines, to my great and probably lasting regret. Those of you who are going, though: make this one last party to remember, eh?

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Hasbro and Mattel in merger talks?

My health is not doing me any favours right now (again), so this will be a short one. Media reports today claim that, a few months ago, Hasbro approached Mattel with a view to proposing a merger of the two companies. There's no official comment from either party (not that I'd expect one), but Hasbro's annual earnings report is out in a couple of days' time. It'll be interesting to see how the numbers compare with last year's. What a merger might mean for the My Little Pony brand in particular, I don't know, but I guess we may soon find out.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 93: Spotlight on Cadence in A Minor

Okay, this time we have a fairly controversial story by a fairly controversial writer. Suffice it to say that there are stories of theirs that I will never, ever read. This fic, though, was recommended to me by a couple of people when I asked for a story that justified its [Mature] tag without being either clop or gore. Here we go:

Cadence in A Minor by Isseus
Cadance and Shining Armor
Drama/Romance/Slice of Life; 134k words; Dec 2012–Apr 2015; Mature (Sex)
Shining Armor and Cadance have trouble in bed.
Specifically, Shiny can't get it up when he's with his new wife. This story, told in the historic present, follows his journey to find out why, and what he can do about it. Unsurprisingly, the fic features explicit sex scenes, but there aren't all that many and they do tend to move the story on. There are some good emotional hits, especially when Shining is helped to realise something crucial. The supporting characters are a mixed bunch, some good and some just annoying. There's also an unevenly effective background of Shiny's army role. My biggest barrier, one that almost made me DNF this at one point, was that one significant character's incestuous thoughts are a running theme. The ending feels a bit too convenient, but I think this is worth a read. Approach with due caution, though. ★★★

More detailed discussion on this story can be found beyond the break, though be aware that this will contain significant spoilers.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Comic mini-review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #38

My Little Pony IDW comic issue 38, sub cover
Sara Richard's Sub cover is the best thing here
Meh. ★★

Okay, okay, here's some more detail. This is a collaboration between Christina Rice and Agnes Garbowska, so if you don't like the latter's distinctive style you might as well pass. I'm pleased to see the creators' names get more prominence than on the last comic, but I don't think this is a classic. The story (fillies get lost away from their main school party and stuck with their bullies) is a time-honoured one. Rarity plays a fun supporting role, and I don't mind that this is pre-CMC cutie marks with Diamond Tiara unreformed, but the whole thing is just boring. Snips and Snails are unsurprisingly irritating, too, and I never get the sense of anything more than a by-the-numbers adventure. Both We the Nerdy and Unleash the Fanboy liked this more, but I can't raise their enthusiasm.