FimFiction Link - Short ID: 509916/ebonheart
Published: Jan '22
'Ebonheart' is an ten thousand and nine hundred-word shortfic. Set in the fringes of the universe in the sci-fi future, a batpony OC with the heart of a Changeling is hunted down by an old friend. The fateful meeting completely changes the world for one of them.
What a nice story. Even as I was only in the middle of the third chapter out of four, I was already thinking about giving it a good score. The prose is very pleasant and despite the, upon first glance, Mare Sue-ish sounding protagonist, she's in fact a very likeable and interesting character, especially with the "imaginary friend" living in her head. Speaking of whom, the Changeling tumor, named Tickles is an excellent way of putting body horror into a story without it being an actual horror story. He's after all a living, thinking being, who just so happens to be an alien organ living and growing inside and potentially overtaking his host. With merely a few paragraphs the author takes the already intriguing concept of having a "split personality" and turns it into something deeply uncomfortable by presenting a moral dilemma where any possible action feels wrong. Leave him in and risk Ebony turning completely into a Changeling? Or perhaps lose herself in her own head? Cut him out and thus murder him? The third character, Kiln, isn't particularly interesting, but I do like that he's at the end of the day well-intentioned, just deeply misinformed. Not much to say about him otherwise. I have to mention the cabin scene around the end of the story: Despite the fact that ultimately not that much happens and the situation is quickly dealt with, I found the suddenly rising tension really engaging and realistic at the same time. The way the situation was resolved was a bit convenient, but it also played into characterization so I don't really mind it.
The world for me, however, was a miss. I like sci-fi, but 'Ebonheart's world feels both not fleshed out enough and somewhat generic. Spacefaring, megacorps, dubious morality, the usual suspects. It's not even bad, but if you've read any sci-fi with a dingy world, you'll be already well-acquainted, with the one presented here. I don't consider this a massive issue, because at the end of the day, this is a character drama framed inside a sci-fi story to make some plot elements plausible and easier to explain. As long as you don't expect 'Dune,' you'll most likely not find this a major issue either.
Overall: 7/10 While the sci-fi parts of 'Ebonheart' don't really show off anything new, the story excels in terms of presenting characters and a moral question that's both disturbing and hard to answer. If you don't mind OCs and like drama that's neither lighthearted nor too depressing, I can highly recommend this story.