FimFiction Link - Short ID: 504031/do-metal-hearts-beat
Published: Sep '21
'Do Metal Hearts Beat?' is a three-thousand word oneshot featuring a futuristic Ponyville where more and more ponies have decided to replace their bodies with artificial ones. The crux of the conflict comes down to the fact that while most accept and even welcome being put in a cybernetic body as a way of evolution, some consider it a loss of their being. Because the story was written for a contest that put a hard limit of 3000 words on the competing fics there isn't really enough time to truly delve into the implications of a population who slowly becomes less and less biological, however, with the circumstances in mind, I think the author did a pretty good job at portraying both viewpoints in a way that doesn't feel preachy either for or against the subject. I was actually somewhat reminded of Bradbury's stories while reading, which is a really good thing.
I really enjoyed the way the author described robotic ponies, their design sounds practical, but also somewhat unnerving despite attempts at hiding their unnatural nature. Things like detailing the robots' eyes as tiny cameras hiding among the lights on their faces, their ethereal mane or the hollowness of the sound they make while trotting are perfect show-don't-tell ways of showcasing this. The glimpses we get into how the world has advanced in this setting is also intriguing, though sadly not elaborated on, again due to the word limit. The only thing that somewhat confused me was what the deal with Sweetie Belle was. The story points it out that robotic ponies can't eat because their heads are basically glass shapes with faces projected onto them. Yet in the beginning of the story Rarity - who underwent the procedure - is cooking for Sweetie Belle who supposedly also got a body replacement. I guess what the author meant is that she's a cyborg instead of becoming a full-on robot, but it still felt a tad disorienting and could probably have been explained a bit better. Still, this is a minor issue in an otherwise very well written short story.
Overall: 7/10 This fic is an understandably short but sweet read. I finished it wanting more. The prose is nice, the world-building is valiant despite the constraints and the philosophical question it tackles is really interesting. Can recommend.