Monday, February 6, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 35: Vengeance and Fashion

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

"And with this win, I think it's safe to say that Eli has silenced all the doubters.  A clutch performance by one of the NFL's elite tonight."  -Some idiot on TV who probably got paid more for that "insight" than I make in a month

"Are the Giants favorites going into the 2013 season?" -Different reporter, same network, a couple minutes later


Okay, I promise I won't talk about football on this blog any more, even if the stupid things people say make me angry and very sad.  Tumbleweed's Vengeance and Fashion, after the break.

Impressions before reading:  I can honestly say that I have no recollection of this fic; the image and description aren't ringing any bells.  So I'm a little surprised to find that I 5-starred the story on EqD, presumably back in June when it was first posted.  I wouldn't say I have a memory like a steel trap, but I don't usually completely forget about something I've read.

Still, I did 5-star it.  That has to be a good sign, right?

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When the girls discover that Blueblood is coming to visit Ponyville, Twilight offers to take charge of Carousel Boutique for the day while Rarity hides.  Naturally, everything goes exactly as plans, and no hilarious hijinks occur؟

Yes, the punctuation's deliberate.  Go look it up if you don't know what it means--there's probably a Wikipedia article about it.  Fun stuff.

Thoughts after reading:  Even reading the story all the way through didn't jog my memory.  Huh.  Whatever my mental imperfections may be though, this was a very satisfying story to read.

With comedic stories, there are several kinds of arcs which are commonly utilized.  Arguably the most common thematic arc, and the one which Vengeance and Fashion follows, is to start off with characters placed in a normal/unexceptional setting, with the comedy similarly confined to what might be called "real-life humor."  Then, as the narrative progresses, the weirdness level is steadily increased.  The advantages of this kind of arc are obvious: it allows the reader time to settle in before everything gets too crazy, and it ensures that the lighter moments won't be overshadowed by the late-story wackiness.

Vengeance and Fashion, for about the first chapter and a half, could have been an actual MLP episode.  The jokes center mostly around character interaction, and match the show's aesthetic perfectly.  While characterization and character-based humor remain present throughout, the later chapters venture farther afield, into territory including alcohol, sexuality (nothing explicit, lest you worry), and the threat of radiation poisoning.  It's safe to say that things get truly bizarre by the time "The End" rolls around.

Still, most of it was funny.  I admit that a few scenes fell flat (a pair of appearances by Dr. Whooves & co. in particular added little, and felt more like an awkward attempt to throw in a popular reference than anything else), but most of the late-story hijinks were enjoyably humorous.  Overall, the pacing of the comedy was excellent.

The best parts of the story, however, really were the bits that could have come from an episode.  A running gag involving Spike consulting a dictionary had me in stitches every time, to name one example.

Character voicing was some of the best I've ever seen in a fanfic.  The dialogue for each of the major characters was spot-on; it was impossible to read Rarity's histrionics and not hear them in her voice, and each of the other ponies (and Spike) were equally well done.  Indeed, the dialogue in this story is positively wonderful.  The narration, by comparison, is adequate but unexciting.  The story is strongest when Tumbleweed lets the ponies talk with a minimum amount of interruption.  To his credit, he does precisely this at every opportunity, allowing the characters to shine through their lines rather than their actions.

Although I noticed a couple of spellcheck errors, the document was well edited, on the whole.  Also, there's not really a solid ending.  I wouldn't say this is one of those stories that just stops, but it does come to its conclusion awfully abruptly, which left me feeling a little let down.  Sorry, two thoughts I couldn't quite find a way to build a paragraph around there; I figured I'd lump them together here at the bottom and see if anyone would call me out on it.

Star rating:   (what does this mean?)

Although a few of the more over-the-top moments in the story didn't really work, there's still plenty to like here.  The dialogue is absolutely wonderful, and I was laughing aloud multiple times as I read this.

Recommendation:  Although it's four chapters long, they're very short--the entire story is probably only 6-8000 words.  So I wouldn't just recommend this to the "long reads" crowd--this is a great one for anybody looking for a laugh.

Next time:  Tales, by George Pollock, Jr.


  1. One question: Are you doing all the reviews in the order they were originally posted? Or are you doing them in the order of when their page last got updated?

  2. I'm doing the reviews in the order the stories were completed--so, last update. That's how they sort on EqD, and I'm a sucker for simplicity.

  3. Right, that's what I figured. However, Silent Ponyville 1 finished June 30, but since all the sequels have updated to that same page that's not reflected. Also the page is a total mess at this point. See for yourself. That's probably not something you'd like to wade through on your own.

    And when you do review it, I'd like to make sure you read the remastered version, which you could easily miss in that mess..