Wednesday, June 6, 2012

And Now, an Unconnected Amalgam of Links for You to Enjoy While Waiting for the Past Sins Review

As of Tuesday late afternoon, as I sit down to write this post, I'm a bit less than two-thirds of the way through Past Sins; barring setbacks, my review of that should be ready for Friday.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few articles/posts I've read recently which seem likely to have some relevance to the folks who visit this site.  Enjoy.

Oh, one caveat: the links below are posted because I thought they'd be of general interest, and because I personally found them interesting.  I don't necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in those links, but I'd say that at the very least, they're opinions worth dissecting.

Some of you may remember that a month or so ago, Kurt Schlichter (of wrote an article about how horrible it is for grown men to enjoy a TV show targeted at little girls (also, someone needs to tell Cold in Gardez and any other military fanfic writers out there that "bronies" aren't allowed to serve in Afghanistan; that's where the REAL men are, not the pathetic weirdos and sissies who watch MLP).  Brian Lambert finally got around to writing a rebuttal, which I found highly amusing (also, it's always nice to know I'm not the only one who doesn't have a problem with adults watching MLP, but thinks that it isn't a phenomenon that needs its own name).  Granted, Schlichter is hardly a difficult target for ridicule, but I still found this article pretty funny.  Maybe you will, too.  It's full of profanity though, if that's the sort of thing that bothers you.

I was recently linked to this article, written by a popular webcomic producer (writer?  Artist?  What do you call someone who makes webcomics, anyway?).  It's been pointed out by readers here more than once that quality criticism is often hard to come by in the fanfic world.  Much of this is the result of the overabundance of mindless praise which clogs any fandom, but another factor is that many critical responses, as Thunt puts it, "[are meant to] make the critic feel superior to the creator."  The overly defensive tone in which the entire post is written seems to me like it undermines his argument, but despite that I think he offers some excellent suggestions as to how not to write a critical response or review to someone's story.

Okay, this one's just here because I'd have felt silly only including two links.  But if you're wondering what I've been doing with my free time lately when I should have been reading Past Sins, here's your answer.  Fantasy General was a turn-based strategy game that I loved when I was younger, and I recently found out that, as abandonware, it's available for free online (legally).  So yeah; this is what I do for fun.

Also, it has pegasi and unicorns, so I guess that's how it ties in to MLP.  Eh, close enough.


  1. Barring an explicit free release by the copyright holder, sharing abandonware remains illegal. Abandonware sites are mostly relying on publishers either not caring enough to stop them, or on no-one knowing who holds the copyright. On the upside, if you only ever download, never upload, abandonware, your personal risk is essentially zero.

    The ethics of abandonware, are an entirely different matter. I'm not seeing any harm in keeping out-of-print games available, and indeed I see it as helpful to culture as a whole, but not everyone will agree.

    1. Writing fanfiction is illegal too, and relies on those same things.

    2. Oops; I thought that only the uploader was doing anything illegal, but it looks like that's not technically true.

      Okay everybody, my official line is that that link up above is for informational purposes only, even though it's a pretty neat strategy game that I like a lot and you might like it too if you enjoy TBSs. Yup, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  2. "My review of that should be ready for Friday."


    The articles are interesting, but I have to disagree with one point on the second one, where he says that anyone who didn't read your whole thing should be ignored. While this is true in some ways for art and comics (which can be looked through fairly quickly), writing (and by virtue, fanfiction) is another beast entirely.

    Reading a story requires a significantly closer connection between the author and the audience. It also has a much longer time investment compared to going through a webcomic. It is the author's responsibility to make sure the reader is hooked from beginning to end. So, if the first few chapters fail to make that connection, the reader has the right to criticize the story and let the author know that they aren't going to continue reading.

    The key is admitting you haven't sampled the whole thing. You can offer constructive criticism on a story even if you didn't read the whole thing as long as you make it clear that you didn't finish. Those first few chapters are some of the most important parts of any story, because that's the one chance the author has to sell their fiction to the audience. Even if the last chapter is so good it can cure cancer just by gazing upon it, nobody is going to go that far if they have to trudge through something that makes Twilight look like Shakespeare.

    Or I might just be talking out of my flank. Either way, interesting reads, way to promote piracy, I'll see you Friday for the review.

    1. I definitely agree with this. Though I am a great fan of many things that "got better halfway through," they still managed to maintain my interest up to that point by having the POTENTIAL to improve. I think it's perfectly legitimate for a critic to say "It may improve halfway through, but the first quarter is so awful I couldn't make it that far."

    2. Yep, yep. This is exactly why I said what I did on the review for Sock Swap: that I couldn't say it was the worst fic I'd read, because I didn't finish it to be able to make that claim.

    3. I think what he meant is that one shouldn't pass judgement on an entire work (or on an author's entire body of work) based on partial information, as in "I read the first chapter of Harpflank and Sweets and it was terrible, Arcainum is a terrible writer who couldn't write a joke if one bit him in the arse" (note: the first chapter of Harpflank and Sweets is not terrible, and Arcanium can write a joke whether or not his arse has been bitten). I'm inclined to agree with this position, though I'll be the first to say that Thunt did a really poor job of expressing that idea. Really, the whole post comes off as passive-aggressively dismissive, which I for one found off-putting. Still, I think he makes some good points.

    4. From that perspective, he does have a point. Saying that a work (or person) sucks based on one thing they did in the past is unfair. I just wish he had phrased it in a less whiny tone.

    5. Interestingly, I think he illustrated his own point quite well. Though he made a number of good observations (such as the 'judging an author on anything other than the work in front of you' that we've focused on), they were presented in such a, as Chris put it, passive-aggressive tone that I was inclined to disregard his advice - like I would disregard a bad critic's.

      Also I'm a lot more intrigued as to how I'll be reviewed now. I was fairly certain that Harpflank and Sweets is composed almost entirely of things that you don't like. I should probably finish the damn thing so you don't skip it. At least I have a few months x)

      Oh, and thank you for the surprise compliment!

    6. >I was fairly certain that Harpflank and Sweets is composed almost entirely of things that you don't like.

      I'm dinging you a point for the tense slippage, but I've enjoyed what I've read of H&S quite a bit; I even left a bit of praise on EqD for it at one point. Ah, back before they got a new comment system, and I still had an account capable of leaving comments...

      That said, the last episode I read was the sea pony one; I've gotta go catch up.

      Before you get too excited for my review (which should be in what, 2015?), I'll warn you: I haven't let the fact that I enjoyed a story stop me from giving it a low rating in the past. Twilight Sky Over Canterlot comes to mind. I've found my reading experience when I read for fun and when I'm reviewing is pretty different, so I wouldn't want to hazard what I'll think of it come review time, but rest assured I won't hate every second of it or anything.

    7. Because I have no life, I decided to figure how many fanfictions are in line before Harpflank and Sweets. Just a word of warning, though: I suck at math.

      By my count, there are 40 stories in the queue that are either complete or abandoned, thus making them fodder for review. (This includes Secret Tub Fun.) Assuming three stories are reviewed per week, that would come out to about 13.33 weeks until you get to that story, and that's assuming the second season doesn't get marked complete, which will bump it down even further.

      In other words, if everything is ideal, it would take three months, one week, and one (update) day before your story is up for review. However, in the same group of stories are Silent Ponyville, It Takes A Village, and of course, Fallout: Equestria. All three of these fics are gargantuan in size, and will no doubt take a VERY long time to read and analyze for a proper review. So it could take up to four months before he gets there.

      Just look on the bright side. At least your story has a chance to get reviewed this year. My story (which I still have no idea how it got six starred in the first place) is about three or four months after that.

    8. Sorry. I meant "40 stories that are either complete or abandoned in between Harpflank and Sweets and Past Sins." Sorry, Chris, but you still have a long march ahead of you.

    9. I was _previously_ certain that Harpflank and Sweets is _currently_ composed almost entirely of things that you don't like. I thought the shift in reference made it legit. Dang =(

      And don't worry, I wasn't descending into a mire of optimism x) My thought process has simply moved from "Oh God, he's going to hate it," to cautious curiosity!

      Anyway, on to Past Sins! *scurries into next post*