Friday, August 31, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 97: Mines of Dragon Mountain

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

Below the break, my review of Mines of Dragon Mountain, by Hephestus.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Even More Stories You Haven't Read (But Should Have)

And now, the third entry in my so-infrequent-and-irregular-it-practically-redefines-sporadic series!  As always, I'll be highlighting three short pony stories that aren't particularly well-known.  I don't claim that any of them are the best thing ever written, but I think they each merit more attention than they've gotten to date.  Look below to see what underrated writing I've managed to dig up:

Monday, August 27, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 96: Derpy's Bebop

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

It occurred to me the other day, as I was going through the comments on the "A Pair of Questions" post, that I've developed some remarkably specific mental images of many of the regular posters here.  I have a tendency to do that: assigning made-up faces to people whom I've never met.  Is that just a personal idiosyncrasy, or does everyone do that?  Either way, it helps me to have a face, even if it's just an imaginary one, to associate with those whom I interact with.

Below the break, my review of TrelaTyraelis' Derpy's Bebop.

Friday, August 24, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 95: The Silent Shore

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

I just re-upped with the league I've played fantasy football with for the last three years.  My combined record over those three years?  12-30, and you can probably guess how many playoff appearances that's gotten me. Much more than the lottery, I think this game is a tax on those of us who are bad at math.

Below, my review of The Descendant's The Silent Shore.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Pair of Questions

You've probably noticed by now that this isn't a story review.  August is a busy month for me, and I spent the weekend on a mini-vacation, so I'm playing catchup on several fronts.  Point is, I haven't written a new review yet.  I'll plan to have it out Friday, for any of you sitting on pins and needles.

In the interim, I figured this might be a good time to ask you, the regular and semi-regular patrons of my little corner of the internet, a couple of questions:

1) Is there anything about the site you'd like me to change/do differently that would make it more accessible or useful?  Bear in mind that I have little free time and less computer savvy.

2)  Is there anything substantive you'd want me to change about my regular content?  Stuff you want to see more or less of, things you want me to focus more or less on, etc.

You all are pretty good about leaving feedback on my reviews when I screw up (which I greatly appreciate, by the way), whether it's spelling errors or more egregious stuff, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask if there's anything else that would make the posts more useful and/or entertaining.

No promises I'll be willing or able to make any given proposed change, of course.  I do this for fun, and while I don't consider that an excuse for poor quality, it means there are some significant practical limits to the amount of time I can actually spend on creating new material for the site; writing three reviews or columns a week is pretty much my upper limit (and as cases like today attest, it's sometimes more than I can manage).  But if there's something you can think of that I could be doing better, consider this my request for your opinion.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Mere" Fanfiction

I've often repeated that I see no reason why I, as a reader, shouldn't hold fanfiction to the same standards as original fiction.  But the fact is, most people do evaluate pony stories (or any derivative stories, for that matter) much differently than they would commercial fiction.  Why is this, and are these differing expectations fair to both author and reader?  My thoughts, below.

Friday, August 17, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 94: The Birds and the Bees

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

Anyone who's under 18 and/or not a US citizen can go ahead and skip down to the review now.

Everyone else still with me?  Okay, here's the deal: elections are less than three months away, and depending on what state you live in and your voting history (if any), you may need to get registered pretty soon if you want to vote in November.  I have said before, and I will reiterate now, that I have no desire to discuss politics on a pony fanfic blog (I assume few if any of you do, either).  However, taking the time to register, and then to cast an informed ballot, is an apolitical decision.  It's a civic duty, and at the risk of sounding hopelessly idealistic, it's the cornerstone of our democracy.  If you need help figuring out how to get registered, this nonpartisan, government-run site can help.  Please, do your part, and make your voice heard.

Okay, with that public service message out of the way, let's move on to my review of theworstwriter's The Birds and the Bees, after the break.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 93: The Pony Poetry Series

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

The Tim Burton Batman was on the other day, and I ended up watching it while doing some reading.  You know, I'd forgotten how much I liked that movie.  The Nolan movies may have been deeper, grittier, and less hampered by silly-looking special effects, but Jack Nicholson is just plain fun to watch.  Also, the old Batmobile may be less "realistic" than the Bat-tank, but it's much cooler-looking.

Below, my review of Aquarian Poet's The Pony Poetry Series.

Monday, August 13, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 92: Ponies Play D&D

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

Funny story: my parents actually met playing D&D (well, it was AD&D at the time, and even that was brand-spankin'-new): Dad played a variety of different classes and races, while Mom mostly stuck to half-orc fighters.  So I grew up on what's these days often referred to as 1e, and have intermittently DMed it ever since, in addition to playing a variety of pen-and-paper RPGs.  Maybe it's just the nostalgia goggles talking, but for my money none of the newer versions, or various iterations, can hold a candle to the set so Gygaxian, it was actually written by Gary Gygax.

Though to be fair, the table for weapon bonuses and penalties vs. various ACs was always kind of ridiculous.

Anyway, my review of Ponies Play D&D, by Lucres, after the break.

Friday, August 10, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 91: Moonbeam

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

I've always had a pretty decent vocabulary, and I've never been afraid to use it (even when I didn't know how to pronounce the word in question).  So lately, my friends have started singing this song from a beer commercial at me every time I say anything that involves stringing more than three syllables together.  I want to be annoyed, but honestly it's pretty catchy.

Below, my review of Laurence Brown's Moonbeam.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For a Change, Let's Talk About Actual Books (part 2)

I'll be honest: between my sister visiting this week, and August already being a relatively busy month for me, I haven't made the time to finish reading Moonbeam yet.  I'll have it done by Friday, but until then, how about some delicious filler?  Way back in the misty reaches of, er, May, I listed the books I was reading at the time, and talked briefly about each.  That seemed to spark some interesting discussion, so I'm going to go ahead and do the same thing again.  Below, I'll put the title and author of each book, what my opinion is of it to this point, and a recommendation based on that incomplete reading.

Monday, August 6, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 90: A Cup of Joe

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

I've seen the image used here as cover art literally dozens of times prior to writing this review, but I only just now noticed Derpy in the background.  Huh.

Below the break, my review of The Descendant's A Cup of Joe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 89: Progress

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

Okay, back and full of commentary!  Andrew Joshua Talon's Progress, reviewed below the break.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Little Sister's In Town, and She's More Important Than Timely Posts

Nothing personal, but blog vs. family is hardly a fair fight.

Anyway, I've finished Progress, but haven't had time to write a post up for it yet.  And in just a minute, I'm going to be leaving to hang out with my sister, and probably won't be back until late.  I'll write it up then, but expect it to be at least an hour or three later than usual.

In the meantime, you might want to consider taking a look at Inquisitor M's recently-published story, Shades of Grey.  I first encountered the author more than seven months ago, when he asked if I'd be willing to lend him a hand with a fanfic he'd begun writing.  It was clear from the start that he had an interesting idea, but there was a lot of work to be done to turn it into an interesting story.  However, Mr. M put in a huge amount of time and effort to produce a 130,000-word adventure which also manages to be one of the most detailed character studies of Rarity that I've ever seen.  And I can tell you all from personal experience that the quality of his prose and editing have vastly improved since he first contacted me.  I'm never sure how to word that sort of thing so that it doesn't come off as a left-handed complement, but nevermind that; the point is that he's been consistently willing to put in the time and effort needed to improve, and I think that shows in the finished product.

You can read it on FIMFiction here, or on Gdocs (the suggested format) here.  And if that doesn't tide you over until I post the Progress review, you're on your own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 88: Raiders of the Cutie Mark

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

Not being a farmer, I don't usually pay too much mind to ruminations about drought or excessive rain (farmers, for those of you who don't know any, will complain about either with equal gusto  And if conditions are somehow perfect, they will switch to dourly commenting on how low crop prices are sure to be with everyone's else's fields coming in so well.  There is no pleasing these people).  However, the lack of water seems to be affecting the quality of this year's sweet corn, and as far as I'm concerned grilled sweet corn is one of life's simple pleasures.  This is no good.

Below the break, my review of DJLowrider's Raiders of the Cutie Mark.