Last updated March 20, 2016
Almost all stories I’ve read the last few years were self-published online. There’s something very addicting about being able to read a story wherever I have Internet access, especially because I own a smartphone.
On one hand, this means there are a lot of print books I haven’t read. I’ll admit that the standards for web fiction are much lower. On the other hand, not all web fiction is terrible, and thanks to my reading habits, I’m slightly more qualified to recommend web fiction than the average person. Hooray!
I intend to write more in-depth reviews for some of these recommendations. To stop this page from getting too unwieldy, every recommendation must either link to a full blog post review or be at most three sentences long.
This is restricted to text only content. For webcomics recommendations, see this page.
Stories in each category are ordered roughly by how much I liked them, but every story on this page is worth checking out.
Table of Contents
- Table of Contents
- Overall Favorites
- Original Work
- Harry Potter
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
The other stories are good. These are better.
Fallout Equestria, by kkat (MLP x Fallout)
A story about maintaining hope in the face of crushing adversity, as told through a wonderful ensemble cast and some of the most engaging action I’ve ever read. Blends MLP and Fallout canon very cleverly, but is good enough that you should try reading it even if you know nothing about either. When the author can make a pool of water scarier than a squad of rifle-wielding raiders, you know you have something special.
Worm, by Wildbow
A massive cast of characters living in a world where superpowers are real. Like Fallout Equestria, the worldbuilding is incredibly organic, and every character has a good reason to do what they’re doing, even the villains. Dark and gritty, with lots of entertaining fights that are won by cleverness instead of brute strength.
You see a blank piece of paper, but I see potential.
Ra, by qntm
Magic breaks the laws of physics, but it still has to follow the laws of magic. A hard science fiction story driven by a deep desire to understand how the world works. As far as I know, this is the only story that cites Gödel’s incompleteness theorems in correct context.
Fine Structure, by qntm
A series of seemingly disconnected science fiction vignettes that slowly reveal a shared narrative. The height of my addiction was in my second reading of the story, not the first, because many chapters get better once you know what they’re trying to hint at. The characterization is weak, but this story is carried by its ideas, not its characters.
Twig, by Wildbow
Status: In Progress (updates 2-3 times a week.)
A biopunk story set in the early 1900s. A nice mix of clever plans, on the fly thinking, and horrifying biology. Best to read and draw conclusions on your own.
Other Short Stories, by qntm
Similar flavor to Ra and Fine Structure, but much shorter. I recommend:
- I don’t know, Timmy, being God is a big responsibility
- The Difference
- The Last-But-One Question
- Causal Noose
Pact, by Wildbow
A modern supernatural story that juxtaposes ancient tradition with technological advances. Workings of the world are explicitly kept vague and ill-defined, which can be frustrating at times. Strong start that peters out in the middle, but the final arcs make up for it.
Ed, by qntm
Ed is an excuse premise that lets the author explore interesting science fiction ideas. It’s like Fine Structure, but with even flatter characters. Nevertheless, if you like reading about mind-bending sci-fi ideas analyzed to their logical conclusion, Ed will be good for you.
Harry - yer a wizard.
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Harry Potter grows up in a loving household and spends most of his childhood reading books about physics, chemistry, cognitive science, probability, etc. He goes to Hogwarts, and then things get complicated. This tends to be a love it or hate it story, but if you love it you will really love it.
Harry Potter and the Natural 20, by Sir Poley (Harry Potter x D&D)
Status: Unfinished, assumed dead
A munchkin from the D&D universe drops into the Harry Potter universe, and abuses both systems of magic in his quest to be the most powerful wizard in the world. Starts off funny, then slowly leads to real character development and drama. Fun trivia: for all encounters, the author rolled dice in real life before deciding what to write next.
The Unicorn at Hogwarts, by Saphroneth (Harry Potter x MLP)
Crosslisted here in the MLP section.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
I felt it the very moment I realized how happy I was to hear you, to see you, how much I cared about you. The spark ignited inside me when I realized that you all…are my friends!
Hard Reset, by Eakin
Spoilers: Up through end of season 2. Sequels spoil through end of season 3.
Twilight Sparkle gets stuck in a time loop right before an invasion of Canterlot. The invaders win, but she has all of eternity to figure out how to save the world. A short action based Groundhog Day story with an excellent ending chapter.
Followed by A Stitch in Time (romantic comedy with some adventure), then concluded by You Can Fight Fate (adventure).
MLP Loops, by many people (MLP x everything)
Status: Ongoing (updates every few weeks)
Spoilers: Up through end of season 3. Writers incorporate new episodes as they get aired, so the latest chapters spoil up through the latest episode.
A strangely addictive anthology of short stories where characters from MLP get stuck in Groundhog Day time loops. Stories have lots of awesome moments, which is balanced by deadpan situational humor. The joy comes from seeing how characters change as they gain perspective through the time loops.
Status: Unfinished and likely to never update
Spoilers: Up through end of season 2
Twilight gets banished to the Harry Potter universe, and decides that if she has to rederive dimensional travel in a different branch of magic, she might as well enroll at Hogwarts. A very lighthearted crossover that does a surprising amount of worldbuilding. All the extra details make the plot more engaging and more natural.
Friendship is Optimal, by Iceman
Spoilers: Nothing. You can actually read this without knowing MLP, since it’s set on Earth.
Hanna is the CEO of Hofvarpnir Studios, and after the success of their AI generated shooter The Fall of Asgard, they’ve been contacted to make an MMO for My Little Pony. At its core, this is a story about AI, not about people. It makes it somewhat alien to read through, but I feel that’s intentional.
Friendship is Optimal: The Law Offices of Artemis, Stella & Beat, by Eakin
Spoilers: Nothing (except Friendship is Optimal)
Recursive fanfiction based on Friendship is Optimal from the perspective of a lawyer. I liked this over Friendship is Optimal because it’s grounded more in human interaction. Unfortunately, you do need to read about two-thirds of Friendship is Optimal to appreciate this.
Past Sins, by Pen Stroke
Spoilers: Up through end of season 2, although season 2 spoilers only show up in the sequels.
A historically important fanfic that created its own subfandom. It’s aged a bit, and it goes for the easy emotional punches, but it’s still enjoyable and worth reading. The premise should lead to crazy Mary Sue issues, so the fact that it doesn’t have those problems is a good sign for the writing.
A Taste of The Good Life, by Eakin
Spoilers: Up through end of season 2
A romantic slice of life story that stays light throughout. The plot is predictable from a mile away, but that doesn’t make it bad because the execution is solid.
Nosflutteratu, by Charcoal Quill
A one-shot where Fluttershy’s a vampire. Yep. It’s pretty cute.
Doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
Cenotaph, by notes
Spoilers: Doesn’t spoil major plot points, but will spoil some character arcs.
An original flavor AU where Taylor decides to take matters into her own hands. The writing style is concise, and every word feels deliberate. If you liked Worm, you will almost certainly like Cenotaph.
Followed by Wake, then Legacy. Wake is completed and Legacy is in progress.
Manager, by Seraviel
Status: In Progress. Very sporadic updates.
Spoilers: Will spoil major plot points.
An AU where Taylor triggers with a completely broken power, and uses it to troll the entire setting. At the same time, her power still has limits, which lets her avoid Mary Sue issues. Lighthearted and all around fun.
You can’t take the sky from me.
Forward, by Peptuck
Status: Incomplete, kind of dead
Spoilers: Everything up to the movie
A hypothetical Season Two, set after Serenity with some retcons. Characters and stories feel very true to the show, with plenty of references to both Firefly canon and other works. I would avoid reading the Author’s Notes unless you’re okay with spoilers on how the current episode will play out.