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Summer doesn't really start until you haul the snow shovels back up into the rafters and out of the way, if you ask me. So if you were wondering, the official start of the season occurred over the weekend. Next up: clean the gutters, which could really use it. I can literally see corn stalks (planted by overzelous squirrels, who harvested them from our corn feeder) sprouting out of the gutters from the ground.
My review of Stargate: Equestria, after the break.
EDIT: Sorry guys! After I wrote the review for this story (I write them in word docs), I forgot to paste it into Blogger. So if you came here right at midnight and found the entire review part missing from my review, mia culpa.
Impressions before reading: Another post containing an in-progress sequel, another review comprising only the completed first story. The note at the top of the story page has me worried going in: "It is primarily for Stargate fans, and sort of begins assuming you are into the show, but the non-Stargate pre-readers liked it, even if they were a bit confused at the beginning." I know I saw the Stargate movie, but that was... fifteen years ago, maybe? It was a long while back, and I couldn't tell you anything about it other than that it involved sci-fi and the titular gate to another world. Hopefully there's enough here for me to at least pick up the meat of the story.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: The SG1 crew make a blind dial and end up in Equestria. From there, they need to figure out how to get home, and how to help keep the locals safe from the trouble they may have inadvertently brought.
Thoughts after reading: Apparently, this story is actually based on one of the multiple TV series which the movie I saw spawned; Stargate: SG1, to be precise. And I really hope that anyone who's already read this story before coming across my review had some familiarity with that franchise, because this story really isn't written for the reader unfamiliar with the crossover setting.
For the non-Stargate-watching crowd, there are a number of problems with this fic. First of all, there's the difficulty of unfamiliar and unexplained terminology: saying someone's a Jaffa or might be working for a Goa'uld doesn't mean anything to such a reader. There is a very brief summation of some of these elements in chapter four, but even after finishing the story I'm not sure if Jaffa are supposed to be kidnapped humans, or a separate breed of humans used by the false gods, or if "Jaffa" is an even more generic term than that. Jaffa-ness appears to be permanent (a character named Teal'c is a Jaffa who abandoned the false gods, but he's still referred to as a Jaffa), which makes me wonder if there's a genetic or cultural aspect to it, but I really don't know. Past chapter four I had enough grounding to follow what was happening, but a number of Stargate elements were left unexplained.
More frustrating than this, though, was the way the human characters (yes, it's a HiE story) were denied any sort of introductions. From the first line of the first chapter, the narrative assumes reader familiarity with character names, personality traits, and mannerisms. Dropping four unfamiliar characters on a reader right away, without taking the time to establish any defining characteristics, is a good way to induce confusion, and the early going was indeed unrewarding as a result. Thankfully, the characterizations of all four were clear and competent (and I assume in-character as well, though I can't personally attest to this), and after a few chapters they began to fill out for the non Stargate-er.
Of course, these problems apply only to readers who, like myself, lack familiarity with the crossover material; for SG1 fans, the above pose no problem. But I think that accessibility is a legitimate criteria to judge a story by; if a story is only enjoyable for Stargate fans, or for whoever else, then that's a sign to me that more care should have been put into the initial chapters. Other stories (Creeping Darkness and Jack and the Ponies come immediately to mind) managed to write full crossovers which were perfectly comprehensible to readers unfamiliar with their non-pony inspirations. That was not accomplished here.
Even for those who have no trouble with the setup though, there are some issues with this story. Perhaps the largest one in terms of plot is the lack of conflict between the humans and Ponyvillians. I don't mean "conflict" in the sense of combat necessarily, but in plot terms. The humans are apparently used to encountering alien civilizations (even if this is there first contact with equines), so I'm prepared to accept their no-nonsense reactions, but the casual acceptance they receive from the other ponies (the worst they get is a few curious and concerned looks) is a stark contrast to the way ponies as a population usually seem to react to new creatures, let alone self-described aliens twice their size. The fact that language, among other things, is common between the humans and ponies apparently didn't strike anyone as odd, either (even assuming that there's some Stargate explanation for this, that doesn't excuse the ponies for not asking why the strangers from another dimension happen to speak flawless Equestrian). And in terms of literal conflict, the "climactic" conclusion is resolved far to quickly and painlessly to be believable after all the effort that's put into building up the resilience and convictions of the antagonists.
A few strictly comical inclusions are very hit-or-miss. Several lampshades of the episodic and formulaic nature of life for both the ponies and the SG1 crew did cause me to grin despite myself. On the other end of the spectrum, hints of romance between one of the humans and a pony are played mostly for laughs, but the dialogue strays into decidedly uncomfortable territory--my reaction was one of mild disgust, personally.
The writing throughout was competent, and the dialogue often a cut above average. The humans' voices were distinct and exaggerated enough to stand out without being silly or excessively over-the-top, though the ponies were all a little bland (though not out of character) by comparison. Clear descriptions were occasionally lacking, however: the first two chapters contain some segments where the passage of time becomes unclear, and topographical and battle descriptions near the end are often muddled.
I should mention that the author makes a few assumptions about how magic in Equestria works that are obviously at odds with what we see in the show (and with what was known at the end of season one, when this was written), such as unicorns being unable to use telekinesis on anything not related to their special talent or Twilight having great difficulty performing multiple magical actions simultaneously (using telekinesis on several objects at once, for example). It bothers me that these inclusions exist, as none are necessary to the story and collectively. While it's true that none are really massive either, casual disregard for the way things function in the world one is writing a fanfic about is a pet peeve of mine as a reader. Altering tone or creating lands/races/etc. whole cloth are one thing, but what's the point of writing fanfiction if one feels the need to directly contradict the way things work in the source material?
Star rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
There's too much left unexplained here to justify recommending this story to readers unfamiliar with the source material for this crossover, even allowing for what clarification eventually does come. Leaving that aside, there's just not a lot of story conflict, and what does exist is trite and quickly brushed away. The technical and writing elements aren't bad, but there's nothing about this story that makes it worth recommending.
Recommendation: For anyone unfamiliar with Stargate: SG1, this is a story to avoid; it simply wasn't written with non-Stargate fans in mind. For those who enjoy both of the franchises this fic is built around, Stargate: Equestria may hold some appeal, but the length of the story belies how little there really is to it. Even for such readers, I'd have a hard time recommending this story.
Next time: Past Sins, by Penstroke