A My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Round Robin fanfic by Insaneponyauthor, and set in the same verse as their prior fics. The full title is Danger Than Fiction, or, Pony Pony Literature Club, or, Take a Look, You're in a Book, or, Four Nerds and an Alcoholic (Who Is also a Nerd), or, Virtue Rewarded.
It was supposed to be a simple get-together. Moondancer, Lyra, Minuette, Twinkleshine, and Lemon Hearts were going to meet their old friend Twilight at a local bookstore and then go out for dinner. But somepony had the bright idea of hitting up a bar beforehand.
And then the bookstore turned out to be one of those seedy establishments peddling magic books that suck unsuspecting readers into the narrative. Oops.
Now these five mares are stuck in a maze, one built from the plots of dozens of different books. Fortunately, as graduates of Celestias School for Gifted Unicorns, theyre ideally suited to escape this literary labyrinth... Or they would be, if they were a little more sober.
Jump into the story yourself, here.
Provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: When introducing her friends to Trevor, Moondancer forgets Twinkleshine's name and instead calls her The Other One.
- Alien Geometries: The Vonyich castle. No matter how the ponies try to walk around it, they always end up standing in the same spot.
- Alien Sky: The world inside the Vonyich Manuscript has two suns and three moons, all moving randomly.
- Aliens Speaking English: Most of the inhabitants of the Vonyich Manuscript speak another language (requiring Moondancer to use magic to translate it)—but Trevor speaks perfect English, which baffles the unicorns. Trevor says he took three years of English in high school.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Moondancer, by her own admission, "has social problems" and carries around cue cards to help her navigate conversations with new people. But by the time she meets Trevor, she's lost her cards somehow, which leaves her floundering.
- Anachronic Order: Slaughterhorse Five has a non-linear narrative, so the Canterlot Five find themselves bounced around both their own memories and the book's plot.Listen:
Moondancer has come unstuck in narrative.
- And You Thought It Was a Game: When Moondancer accidentally tells Alice that she's a character in a story, Alice takes it to mean that they're all acting out a play on stage (a play with very impressive special effects), and she somehow forgot.[Alice said,] I must be getting very forgetful if I was supposed to be in a play with all of you and forgot. This is a very elaborate set you made, too. That fall through the hole and making my body shrink felt so realistic!
- Book-Ends: The first and last sections were both written by the same guy, and both sections involve the Canterlot Five passing through a ponified Moby-Dick.
- The Cavalry: When everything falls apart and it looks like all hope is lost, Twilight Sparkle shows up and activates the spell's failsafe, pulling everypony back into reality.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Partway through the Vonyich Manuscript, everypony suddenly gets a lot more vulgar, and stays that way until partway through Frankenstein.
- Comically Missing the Point: The ponies try to sober up by drinking coffee, but Lyra adds whisky to it.
- Continuity Nod:
- Contrived Coincidence: When the ponies arrive in the Library of Babel, Moondancer grabs a random book off the nearest shelf—which just happens to have an excerpt that explains exactly how the Library works.
- Depending on the Writer:
- The details of the bookwalking spell fluctuate from section to section. Sometimes the Canterlot Five take the place of characters from the story, and sometimes they show up as interlopers in the plot. Sometimes they say they're supposed to exit a book by reaching the end of the narrative, other times they say it's by fixing some problem with the plot, and other times they just brute-force their way out with magic.
- The heroines' intoxication level doesn't stay consistent. Sometimes they act completely sober, and a few sections later they'll stumble over their words and have trouble remembering anything.
- The writers don't even agree on whether or not Moondancer's wearing her black turtleneck sweater.
- Door Stopper: The Canterlot Five wind up inside the infamously long Moby Dick, which proves a problem, since they're supposed to get all the way through the narrative in order to get back to reality.Seriously? Were you being paid by the word or something?
- Double Meaning: While inside Frankenstein, the ponies wind up talking past each other a bunch because of the shades of meaning to "monster".Um ... Shouldnt we do something about the monster and the stallion chasing him? asked Lyra.
Arent you listening to what Im saying? Minuette grumbled. The stallion is the monster. Hes chasing his son, who isnt one.
- Either/Or Title
- Erudite Stoner: When the ponies first meet Trevor, he's on the tail end of some kind of drug trip. He's a bit scatter-brained, but smarter than he initially appears.
- Failed a Spot Check: When Moondancer casts the spell to get everypony out of Slaughterhorse Five, she has to have the others point out that they landed in another book, not back in the bookstore.Well, Im pretty sure were not back in the bookstore, Lemon Hearts said. Were on a boat.
- Foreign Queasine:Hmm Looks like a cookbook, but all the recipes call for butane as the main ingredient.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: A traditional version of "Jack Knife and the Beanstalk" crashes into a post-modern retelling, as the old Jack (an earth pony) and new Jack (a sarcastic donkey) both sneak into the same giant's castle. They wind up arguing with each other, leaving the giant confused and eventually bored.
- Giant Foot of Stomping: The giant-sized Minuette tries to crush the Queen of Hearts underhoof, but accidentally gets dosed with a potion that shrinks her back to normal size.
- Giant Woman: While inside Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Minuette eats a currant cake that makes her grow to a gigantic size.
- Great Big Library of Everything: "The Library of Babel", of course. Moondancer lampshades the point from the original story—that in a library of literally everything, it would be impossible to ever find the specific information you're looking for.
- Hypocritical Humor:Filly, dont be pushy! Lyra butted in to stop her friend from butting in on her other friend...
- I Just Write the Thing: The author insists he didn't deliberately try to bring the Canterlot Five into his reality:I raised my hands in a defensive gesture. I may be typing the words, but not everything comes from me. I mean, sometimes the story just writes itself.
- I'm Standing Right Here: In the Moby Dick segment, the characters make disparaging remarks about the Captain while he is nearby.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: The protagonists meet Alice after she's been shrunk to the size of a mouse.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Minuette's reaction when Lyra becomes The Omnipresent.Is there any alcohol in this library? I dont think Im drunk enough to deal with this.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Lyra leaps into the gap between the chapters of the train station story before anypony can even discuss if it's a good idea. And then she drinks Trevor's coffee (with the dimension juice) while the other ponies are just starting to object.
- Let's You and Him Fight: The Canterlot Five and Daring Do are both good guys, but Daring is hunting them down, because she thinks they stole "the Falcon".
- Like Father, Unlike Son: Trevor is kind, easygoing, and helps our heroines without asking anything in return. His father, Steve is some kind of demonic Sealed Evil in a Can.
- The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Lyra fully expects that the bookstore that got them into this mess will disappear as soon as they leave.[Lyra said,] ...for all we know, we wont even be able to find this place again when were fully sober and awake.
- Long Title
- Lost in Character: When Lyra takes the place of the protagonist in Kitchen, she has trouble remembering her real life outside the book, and almost doesn't want to leave when Moondancer finds a way out.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Trevor resembles a pony, but with a back half like a jewel-encrusted slug with wheels.
- Mock Guffin: Discussed:Just give back the real Falcon and this will all be over! says their pith-helmeted pursuer.
What?! the white one shoots back. Youre still mad about that?
There is no real Falcon! says the yellow one. It was a fake MacGuffin all along!
- Monster Sob Story: Minuette and Lyra recognize Dam Refined's abusive upbringing, and are quick to reassure him that he doesn't deserve to be persecuted so.
- Multiple Narrative Modes: Most of the story is written in third person. A few sections are written in first person: the prologue, the bit where Moondancer scouts ahead in the book, and the heroines' meeting with their own author. And the If on a winter's night a traveler parody is written in second person.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles: When her friends try to find some information in the Library of Babel, Moondancer points out the hopelessness of the search.Moondancer continued, Looking for helpful information in here will be like looking for a needle in a haystack thats also stuffed with counterfeit needles!
- Never Trust a Title: The final part of the fics' Long Title is Virtue Rewarded, which is only accurate in the sense that nopony embodies any virtues (beyond basic decency) and nopony is rewarded.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Inside Moby Dick, Lyra steals the gold doubloon nailed to the mast, breaking said mast in the process—and forcing the heroines to flee before Captain Ahab can punish them.
- While looking for Lyra inside Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Minuette starts indiscriminately blasting doors and walls, which earns them all the Queen of Hearts' anger.
- Inside The Hobbit Moondancer accidentally wakes up Smaug early.
- Trevor gets the unicorns some dimension coffee to take them back to their reality... but Lyra spikes it with whisky, which gives them all a dimension hangover that sucks them back into the next book they touch.
- Noodle Incident: A particularly weird case, in that these incidents allegedly happened during this very story, but there's no point when they could have happened.
- Pooled Funds: Lemon Hearts wants to swim in Smaug's vast treasure hoard. Lyra has to restrain her and remind her that piles of gold and jewels don't work that way.
- Portal Book: The five Canterlot unicorns get sucked into a magic book and proceed to bumble their way through the plots of about a dozen different books.
- Off the Rails: The heroines' presence always disrupts the original plot somewhat. But when they get into The Mare Who Was Thursday, they destroy the entire plot before it can even start.Well, thanks for flipping through half the story just like that, Lyra grumbled. So is there anything else we can do before the trippy bits start, or should we start looking for the anomaly so we can bust out before Twinkle gets homesick?
- The Omnipresent: As long as Lyra touches The Gimel, she exists everywhere at once. This is indicated by the phrase "And Lyra was there, too," appearing in some form in every single paragraph.
- Once More, with Clarity!: The prologue outright gives away the last line of the story, but it doesn't make any sense until you read the context leading up to it.It ends like this:
- Only Known by Their Nickname: After Moondancer refers to Twinkleshine as "The Other One", everyone else, even the narrator, calls her The Other One until the very end of the story.
- Reality Bleed: At the end of the story, the bookwalking spell begins to break down. This results in different versions of the same book merging (like "Jack and the Beanstalk") or completely different stories getting mashed together because of vague similarities in setting (like the Rime of the Ancient Mare-iner / Iron Filly / Moby-Dick / Arthur Gordon Pym crossover at the end).
- Real World Episode: The five unicorns combine their magic to brute-force their way out of the book-within-a-book—but they overshoot a layer and wind up meeting their human author. The author's just as freaked out as they are, and quickly writes them back into their layer of reality.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lyra calls out Crank Refined for being such a terrible father, in the form of a song.
- Remember the New Guy?: The very first time A.K. Yearling is mentioned, the heroines talk about her as if she's been chasing them since the start of the story, and everyone expects the readers to already know why she's pursuing them.
- Self-Deprecation:Well done, Lyra! Minuette grinned.
Eh, it wasnt my best work, Lyra replied. Almost like it was written by somepony who knows nothing about music.
Dont insult Marey Shelly! Minuette moaned.
Well, shes not really writing this scene any more, is she? Lyra asked.
- Serious Business: When Moondancer finds out that she can't touch any books for the next five years, she freaks out and demands someone fix the problem. Trevor amends his estimate and says they just have to avoid touching books for a few hours, but Moondancer continues freaking out just as hard.Moondancer lunged, wrapping her hooves around Trevors throat. Fix it! she demanded. Fix it! Books! Fix books!
- Shout-Out: Has its own page.
- Show Within a Show: Technically, every book they jump into qualifies. But it gets recursive when they jump into If on a winter's night a traveler, then jump into the train station story inside that book, then fall from there into "The Library of Babel", and finally jump into the Library's copy of Kitchen.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Moondancer compares her friends' current predicament to "looking for a needle in a haystack thats also stuffed with counterfeit needles!" Minuette somehow finds a book about how to do precisely that. Moondancer eagerly reads it, then says it's less relevant to the situation than she hoped.
- Stating the Simple Solution: As Twilight points out at the end, the book-traveling spell had several failsafes the Canterlot Five could have activated at any point to get back to reality. They didn't notice because they were too drunk when they stumbled into the bookstore.
- Stealth Pun: One of the Jacks in the "Jack and the Beanstalk" portion of the story is a donkey. He's a jackass.
- Stern Chase: Daring Do is hunting the Canterlot Five, so they can't stay in any one book for too long... until Daring disappears from the narrative for no reason.
- Tempting Fate:
Moondancer, be chill, Lyra said. Its just a couple hours. You can avoid touching a book for a couple hours.
- Moondancer says, I wouldnt worry too much, though. Worst case scenario we just have to reach the end of the story. Seconds later, she realizes the story they're inside is an infamous Door Stopper.
- Shortly after that, Minuette says, "We're on a boat in the middle of nowhere. What could possibly happen? It's not like a giant sea monster is going to jump out of nowhere and smash the boat." Everypony then pauses and waits to see if any sea monsters materialize, but nothing happens.
- After getting out of the Vonyich Manuscript, and discovering they have to avoid touching books for the next few hours, lest they get sucked back in:
Just then, Minuette trotted back up to the shelf, carrying a copy of Frankenstein. Does this go in Science fiction or Fantasy? she asked.
[Lyra said,] As long as nothing sudden and dramatic happens to create a high amount of tension for a period of like—
- And then Lyra nearly does it:
If Im not allowed to do it youre not allowed to do it! Minuette said sharply.
Lyra paused in her sentence, and frowned. Fine! she said.
- Trapped in TV Land: The whole plot of this story is the five Canterlot unicorns getting sucked into ponified versions of various Real Life books.
- Translator Microbes: Moondancer casts a spell that lets her understand and speak Vonyich.
- Trilogy Creep: Parodied with the title of chapter four: "Part 4 of the Epic Trilogy".
- Villain Protagonist: The ponies who've read Frankenstein before are quick to point out that the scientist (who made and immediately abandoned the creature) is the real monster in the story.Look! Minuette said. Its a metaphor for fatherhood, a man who refuses to take responsibility for what he has created and yet blames the child for its own faults; who looked his son in the eyes on the day of his birth and turned him away as bilious and unworthy; who harries that very same son to the ends of the earth for a perfection it neither desired nor understood, and which the father forces upon it even while denying love and affection for the sons efforts! The monster!
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Lemon Hearts spends the whole trip through Moby Dick getting sea-sick and barfing over the edge of the ship, but it's never described in any detail.
- We Have Reserves: Moondancer uses magic to understand the language of the Vonyich creatures, but accidentally melts and absorbs one of them. Lyra tries to assure her it's no big deal.Lyra pat Moondancer on the back to reassure her. Dont worry, theres like 50 of em, Im sure theyll manage.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Not only does Daring Do appear in the story with no explanation, but she disappears with no explanation as well.
- Trevor goes off to gather plants inside "Jack and the Beanstalk" and is never heard from again.
- The World as Myth: Minuette and Trevor discuss the possibility that they aren't visiting works of fiction, but visiting other universes that happen to resemble fiction from their own universe. Moondancer thinks the idea is trite and stupid.Minuette blinked hard enough to make a noise. But what if like, every world is a book to someone else, or like, a childrens cartoon, and what if this conversation reads as deeply trite to somebody because the implicit recognition that characters exist inside of media is beginners meta-commentary and stopped being funny or subversive decades ago? [...]
Nah, I get it though! Trevor said. Like, what we understand as media is just another level of reality. Youre not actually going into books, just visiting other facets of the gem we call reality.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: The trip through the book world feels like it takes hours, but only ten minutes pass back in Canterlot.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Three times, the mares actually escape from the book world and get back to the bookstore, and think their adventure is over. Then something happens, and they get sucked into another book, again.