FimFiction Link - Short ID: 506905/inside-where-eternals-die
Published: Nov '21
'Inside Where Eternals Die' is a six thousand and one hundred-word sci-fi shortfic. In the far reaches of space, an empty void is found, where not even a single photon can be measured. In the depths of this pitch blackness exists a single black hole and around it orbits a station older than time. A part of the M6 (who are still alive due to cybernetics) board the station in an attempt to figure out what its purpose is and why such a bizarre pocket of space exists in the first place. The entity they stumble upon is only too willing to give answers.
On one hand, I love sci-fi, especially golden age stories, - Bradbury is one of my favorite authors - and this story is evidently trying to go for a somewhat similar mood. A silent station floating in deep space, filled with what appears to be signs of conflict and bloodshed that happened hundreds of years ago, also evokes feelings of mystery and is quite a nice backdrop. I even like the cosmic indifference the story toys with: The Interloper very casually mentions that two other cross-galactic alliances rose up already and they all crumbled before its eyes.
On the other hand, sadly I can't help but feel like this story is cheap. Tension is built nicely as the ponies finally find the station, see several concerning sights inside and even get cut off from their ship, but the moment the AI wakes up, all that tense atmosphere leaves through the airlock. Perhaps the author wanted to go for something new, but characterizing the eons old, now cut off from the universe at large AI, as a jovial and lighthearted being, who even talks to its underlings like it was a silly boss just destroyed all the pathos a story like this could evoke. Without the necessary buildup, it's impossible to connect the behavior of this character with its apparent feats of killing gods and infiltrating the universe over millennia. I don't mind that the AI is benevolent, it was a nice subversion of expectations, but I think starting with "Be not afraid" would have been much better, instead of acting like a guy welcoming his buddies to a house party would. Also, the way the AI just decides that it is bored and that this Twilight girl is alright, and then some time later visits her and her peers to impart some knowledge on them was just weird. I think I understand what the author is going for, the story is ultimately about the AI finally deciding to become an active part of the universe once more, instead of just a passive observer, but it doesn't really feel earned. Twilight, aside from being curious as usual, doesn't really act in any extraordinary way to really warrant the AI's attention, who has apparently watched the collapse of entire universes. I also couldn't really place that half-a-page romance subplot anywhere.
Overall: 3/10 The concept is interesting, but the story relies too hard on "big is cool" and telling instead of showing to be really enjoyable.