Well, the last fic I covered reminded me of another MLP fic I wanted to re-read. This one is also a “Twilight Sparkle becomes something” fic (this time, a draconequus), it’s also good and memorable, and, if Ascend had a decent grasp of referential comedy, this one is brilliant at it.
Magical Mystery Oops by BookeCypher
The story is set after the Tirek incident and we’re brought in just as Twilight Sparkle is about to attempt another first: Leveraging her access to consult with Discord, she will attempt to be the first pony to ever make use of chaos magic.
The first time she did something so unprecedented, she earned a pair of wings. This time, things go… well… chaotic and, when she comes to, she finds that she’s been transformed into a draconequus. (Though, not being on a level equivalent to Celestia and Luna, she lacks Discord’s “fashionable asymmetry”.)
Almost immediately, we get to see a solid impression that this is an author who knows how to write interactions between Twilight and Discord which feel both natural for the two of them and, at the same time, very engaging.
When Twilight’s friends show up, we also get to see the first example of the elegant way in which Discord is used to make referential humour feel natural: His initial summation of what went wrong is “She ate an energy field larger than her head.” (Hyperlink mine.)
It feels natural for Discord to say it, it’s amusing even without the reference, and you wouldn’t know it’s a reference at all if you were unaware of what’s being referenced. The story does this again and again, but never too often, so it becomes a fun game of “spot the reference” with the one canon character more suited to making them than Pinkie Pie.
(Another such example would be when Twilight’s first trip through town prompts Mayor Mare to unknowingly quote Ray from Ghostbusters.)
Continuing with the plot, it’s quickly revealed that:
- Twilight can’t use her old pony magic while she’s a draconequus.
- She got turned into a draconequus because chaos magic has a different conception of “easiest way to accomplish a task” such as “controlling chaos magic”.
- If she wants to change back, she’ll have to figure out how to do it herself, because her new innate abilities will counteract any attempt Discord might make.
At first, she refuses Discord’s offer to give her some training, but he gets his foot in the door when his parting comment of “nudge it, don’t force it” proves to be the key detail that allows even the tiniest bit of progress on her own.
That also touches on two other things that make the story so good:
First, the amount of detail that BookeCypher put into how Twilight perceives chaos magic and how it actually achieves its effects on the world around her.
I could spend all day just reading about this, purely based on the (quantum) mechanics… let alone the fun that emerges from Discord being Discord during Twilight’s chaos magic lessons:
“Wouldn’t transfiguration be easier then reversing gravity?” Twilight asked.
“Reversing gravity just means you make the apple do what it wants to do anyway.” Discord waved a finger and a few of the apples started dancing in the air around him. “Transfiguring means making it into something it isn’t. Apples don’t like that.” He paused before adding “Neither do the bunnies, now that I think about it.”
I also love the world-building related to that, such as the nature of Poison Joke and why it smells heavenly to draconequines yet causes no end of trouble for ponies.
Second, and more significantly, the overall interaction between Twilight and Discord as the story unfolds.
This is a romantic comedy… and it works! Twilight and Discord grow together little by little, because circumstance leads them to do and say perfectly plausible things, which cause them to slowly see each other in a new light. Likewise, they snark at each other, but there’s no malice in it. They get on each other’s nerves, and they make mistakes, but and they get past them… and, through it all, they grow and change as characters without losing the essence of what makes them who they are.
Far too many stories are written by impatient authors, but this one isn’t.
It also works beautifully because of how it makes the readers see them in a new light. For example, there’s one scene where Twilight does something perfectly plausible for her canon personality, but the way it’s presented makes you realize that, were it not for her upbringing, she could easily be a mad scientist sort of villain.
The end result is charming, funny, and all the other adjectives that a good romantic comedy should have… yet, at the same time, has a depth to the conception of how chaos magic actually works that helps to make it feel satisfyingly balanced.
…and the delightful characterizations aren’t limited to just Twilight and Discord, as this quote demonstrates:
Luna cut her off as she gestured at Twilight with one hoof. “You mean to tell me that this adorable creature is of the same ilk as that scruffy looking fellow Discord?”
“Who’s scruffy looking!?” Came a shout from one of the windows above them
There is one arc where the tone gets more serious temporarily and the references feel a bit discordant with the narrative tone there (ignore the pun. It detracts from what I’m trying to communicate.), but the rest is good enough that I can’t count it against the story’s overall rating.
The illustration of Draconequus Twilight used for the cover is also beautiful and really helps to get one into the story.
Definitely a 5 out of 5. As of this writing, it stands incomplete at 99,272 words and is still receiving infrequent updates.