I’ve had another extremely busy week, so I’ve decided to try another approach to delivering a quality recommendation without having to re-read an entire story to make sure I’ve got things right… a story where the details are so spoiler-y that digging up details would be a waste of time.
The Petriculture Cycle by Kwakerjak
Beginning with the eponymous Petriculture, this series of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfics is one of the most satisfyingly clever cases of world-building I’ve ever read.
That said, it’s also one of the trickiest stories to write a recommendation for because simply saying Alternate Universe rather than a more euphemistic “world-building” is spoiler enough for the first story in the series that it’s not listed in the story’s tags. (Let that sink in for a moment. The first story in the series contains such a fundamental plot twist that properly tagging it would be a spoiler.)
As the very sparse intro to the TVTropes page says, “the premise of each successive story is more or less grounded in the surprise ending of the previous story”.
All I can really say for those who want the full experience is that the series is a brilliant example of out-of-the-box creativity in how it blends novel character, setting, and plot details and I’d give it a 5.0 out of 5.
I highly recommend that you just read the series for yourself. I didn’t read the first story until a spoiler for the twist got me curious, and I still regret that.
That said, if I hadn’t seen the spoiler, I might never have read it, so here’s a series of increasingly twist-ruining spoilers for if you’re not yet convinced:
- The key detail which forms the core of why this setting is fascinating (and completely spoils book 1) is that Pinkie Pie is Twilight Sparkle’s imaginary friend, who gained her own independent existence during that first Sonic Rainboom and her strange abilities are due to her unusual nature.
- The reason it makes it so fascinating (which is a partial spoiler for the later books) is that she’s not the only canon character who’s actually a reified imaginary friend.
- The cherry on top (which is a bigger spoiler because of how it gets you thinking) is who these other “thoughtforms” are and whose minds they were born from.
- If you’re still not convinced that you want to read it, maybe knowing some (but not all) twist-spoiling specifics will sway you. Nightmare Moon was an “imaginary antagonist” created by Luna who got out of hand. She gets redeemed and becomes an interesting OC. Discord is a name Celestia’s imaginary friend took on when he felt he’d been abandoned by her. Thoughtforms not taking rejection well is a recurring theme.
That said, it’s what Kwakerjak does with those spoilers which earns the story such a high rating. Spoilers or not, it’s still a great read.