FimFiction Link - Short ID: 527639/sonder
Published: Dec '22
'Sonder' is a one thousand and nine hundred-word oneshot. Celestia's human version ponders the pony.
I can't say I generally seek EqG fics as that side of the franchise never quite grabbed me. However, the story's short description caught my attention and after reading it on a whim, I have to say I'm not disappointed by what I found here. What really sold this story to me was the prose: Despite the fic's short length, it's deeply evocative and colorful, and it uses a variety of metaphors and associations to paint a very visual picture about what the Principal is going through. Nothing shows this better than the stretched out and sporadically interrupted narration of her body slowly going numb as the tries to commit suicide or how she describes what she believes the other Celestia is like.
Pretty prose aside, I've really enjoyed the concept itself as well: The Celestia (and, really, the Luna as well) we see in EqG was always a bit of a figure that stuck out as oddly skimmed over. In FiM there is at least a sense of her having things under control, but here she just sort of... exists, occasionally popping up for minimal plot relevance or background jokes, but never quite having the focus or character that the original has. This is why doubling down on this aspect of her works so well in my opinion. The story never spells it out, but it's clear that the character in this author's work already struggled with their perceived lack of worth, so when she sees another version of her as a high and mighty figure, who seemingly has everything figured out, all that insecurity immediately twists the encounter into the worst possible interpretation in her mind. Though the reader clearly understands that her view is biased and outright wrong, it also feels logical and realistic why she feels this way and it's hard to not empathize with her.
The ending only emphasizes this. This fic is the small drama of a small person and so giving it some bombastic, enrapturing finale would have shattered that brooding, moody atmosphere it was building so carefully. The author thankfully took a far more elegant approach. The world isn't affected at large, (human) Celestia isn't suddenly also a princess, but Sunset's assertion that she prefers her to the pony strongly goes against what her inner demons imply and gives her the chance to re-evaluate herself. I've seen some argue in the comments that this is unsatisfying and leaves things far too open, but personally I couldn't disagree more. I would even argue that spelling it out any more obviously would just break the moment's poignancy and I'm glad the author knew where to stop.
Overall: 7/10 I was pleasantly surprised by this fic. Even if you staunchly dislike >no hooves, I can still recommend it, as long as you enjoy short vignettes about characters facing their cosmic irrelevance and someone who just feels better in every way.