FimFiction Link - Short ID: 155678/flowers-through-asphalt
Published: Dec '13
'Flowers Through Asphalt' is a one thousand-word onehsot. Equestria experienced its own Industrial Revolution and the effects have shaken up the world to its core. The ponies, who previously lived in harmony have subjugated nature. The previously minor settlements grew into sprawling jungles of concrete and iron, covering the blue skies in soot and toxic fumes. In this bitter, dark world a single pony, named Roseluck, tries her best to preserve a tiny slice of the old times. She almost ritualistically opens her little flower-shop every single day, selling so little it hardly earns her an existence. Through her bleak days, she hopes that this isn't a permanent state of things, but rather just an era, that too will pass and Equestria might return to its former, natural glory. She also dreams of leaving the city behind and moving to the mountains, but at the end of the story she hesitates, saying that this will happen "One day. But not today."
The issues with rapid industrialization have fascinated writers for a long time now and rightfully so, there are few events in global history that have been as impactful as humanity's mastery over machines. Similarly to many of them, this story too depicts an extremely grim world, somewhat reminiscent of Britain during the peak of the Revolution. Yet it also mentions the positives that came with the changes, which is something I must applaud the author for, it'd be very easy to just say "machine bad, nature good."
Roseluck's loneliness is never directly stated in the story, but we can see how isolated she is from the fact that no one from the bottom of society to the very top is sympathetic to her worldview. This is, however, where the immersion for me breaks a tad. Roseluck asserts that even the Princesses too were entirely complicit in the system change, which to me is a bit hard to accept. I would assume a pair of monarchs with a thousand years of experience would realize, that they are cutting the very tree below themselves by doing this. This along with the fact that not a single soul is willing to fraternize with Roseluck paints an overly cynical picture in my opinion. If I consider this fic a bitter, warped-mirror portrayal of what happened IRL, the drama works very well and I can't really fault anything I've read. However, if I treat it as a "normal" story, then the whole thing feels a bit forced and lacking the necessary exposition of how all this happened.
Overall: 7/10 The feeling of almost no hope and the well-constructed prose carry this story. Whether you'll like it or not will ultimately come down to which of the aforementioned two ways you look at it.