Wednesday, September 26, 2012

6-Star Reviews Part 104: The Rummy Business of Old Blooey

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

As we start to get close to season three, I find myself wondering what effect the new episodes will have on fanfiction, numbers-wise (obviously, they'll have plenty of impact on the content of new fanfics).  Last year it seemed like there was something of a lull following the premiere of the new season, at least for a couple of weeks.  It'll be interesting to see if the same thing happens this time.

Below the break, my review of Cloud Wander's The Rummy Business of Old Blooey.

Impressions before reading:  I have read far, far too little Jeeves and Wooster, but I have read enough to be justifiably excited for a story told in that style, as this would seem to be.  Plus, Cloud Wander is an author whose other stories I've quite enjoyed, so I'm feeling pretty good about this one going in.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Prince Blueblood comes to one Barney Trotter with a terrible dilemma--apparently, he has accidentally become engaged--the two of them, assisted by Mr. Trotter's valet, set out to clear up this regrettable miscommunication in a way that leaves as little egg on the faces of all involved as possible.

Thoughts after reading:  I will happily admit my weakness for linguistic humor, clever phrasing, and other punnery, but this story truly is a sublime example of witty wording.  From the very first line ("'I say, Cheese,' I said, to Cheese") on, the use of language in this story is consistently both clever and amusing.  Enough so, in fact, that I'm sorely tempted to simply quote a dozen or so of my favorite lines, to show the gamut this wit runs: from punctuation puns to satirical understatement to brilliantly evocative nonstandard wording (okay, I'll quote an example of the last: "I think you can perceive the type of pony this was: the drooping, soupy sort of saucer-eyed young prune that dotes on the fluffiness of bunnies and the preciousness of pangolins. Probably commits poetry in secret, I shouldn't wonder") and beyond, the writing in this piece is positively brilliant, both a wonderful satire of Wodehouse and endlessly amusing in its own right.

Of course, smart writing only takes one so far, if the story proper isn't up to snuff.  However, the plot which Rummy Business follows is both amusing and engaging.  This is a classic example of a "behind the scenes" fanfic, showing how a particular scene or episode from canon (in this case, the events of The Best Night Ever) came about, but it doesn't tie itself to closely to the episode in question.  Instead, it tracks its primary characters faithfully, and uses its ties to the show as both setting and accent, rather than as a raison d'etre.

Although this ties into what I said above about the writing, the character voices were excellent throughout.  Trotter, both as narrator and in his dialogue, displays a charming and very readable combination of high class self-importance and good humor, along with that touch of dullness desperately masked by an extensive education which is the hallmark of upper-class twits everywhere.  He and his fellow Canterlotians (Canterlotites?  Canterlotists?) make a nice contrast to the Ponyville contingent when they do enter into the story, and show that Cloud Wander is equally comfortable writing in the affected style of his main character and in the voices of the canon ponies.

Frankly, there's not much more to add.  I have nothing negative to say about this story.  I loved it.  It is an intelligent comedy, yet extremely accessible--a rare enough feat on its own--and a wonderful farce of a tale to boot.

Star rating:   (what does this mean?)

I'm not sure what to put here without repeating myself, so I'll do exactly that: this is a brilliantly clever and endlessly amusing bit of writing, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Recommendation:  Between its brevity, its wit, and its ability to meld show moments with a distinct and engaging storyline, this is a story I'd recommend to almost anyone.  I would especially point those who adore wordplay and smart writing in its direction, however.

Next time:  The Hiccups, by uSea


  1. Very enjoyable, the sort of light hearted/anti-serious fun that’s always a pleasure to read. I haven’t read anything by Wodehouse but I could get a sense of his style based on what I've heard from others (I'll be picking up one of his books after I finish the current one I'm trudging through). Cheese is particularly enjoyable (I could imagine a voice every time he talked, a sign of strong dialogue).

    The only real compliant I had (besides the occasional use of using non-speaking verbs for dialogue), was that the ending felt rushed and the jokes weren't quite as good (I didn't find either the drinking song or the whole "let's use letters for words" dialogue funny, but actually rather annoying).

    I'd like to point that the above is minor. This was easily the most enjoyable fanfict I've read since Moonspire. I can back Chris on recommending this one.

  2. For anyone wanting more Jeeves and Wooster inspired pony fic, I recommend Canterlot Follies. Sadly unfinished, and unupdated since April, I still enjoyed what is there a great deal.

    Now off to check out Old Blooey!

    1. Yesss, Canterlot Follies! I do hope that updates again someday. Although even if it never did, I'd probably still recommend it to people, because there's certainly a good deal of enjoyment to be got from what's already there.

      Blooey's going right to the top of my to-read list. So far I've read everything you've given five stars to and not regretted any of it. Thanks for the review as always, Chris.

  3. It's a rummy business, going out your door. :V

    So I must ask: how much Jeeves and Wooster have you watched, good sir?

    1. Watched? Why, none at all! I didn't even know there was Jeeves and Wooster to watch! But it sounds like something that merits immediate investigation.

    2. Featuring the inimitable combination of Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster. :3 Don't miss it!

  4. All of my yes. In fact, this was the fic that got me to start reading Jeeves and Wooster, and I love it even more for that.

  5. This story's:

    Been in my "top five ponyfics" for months now, yes, because of the near-flawless Wodehouse vibe, but also for the six or seven paragraphs in the middle of the story where Barney arrives at the Gala and gets his greeting from Princes Celestia. A perfect little island of calm in the midst of the madcap hijinks...


  6. Very funny, and jolly good fun just to read, but bit does touch on a few too many of my pet peeves to be so gushing as our host.

    Not that any of it marks down the story itself (apart from the letters for words, as already mentioned), but the show-plot weaving thing already bored me to tears long ago. I'm also going to buy a bottle of Nukie-Brown and keep it on ice in case I ever meet someone who actually thinks it's clever of humorous to have the Gala song actually BE a song, just in case I have the raging urge to glass them.

  7. Author here *waves hooves*: thanks everypony for the kind remarks. I worked harder on this story than any of my others, so it's good to know that there are folk who enjoy it.

    Regarding the writing style, when I submitted this story to Equestria Daily, I included a warning to the pre-reader that I was deliberately imitating Bertie Wooster's quirky style: his use of slang, his chucking in the odd lump of schoolboy Latin and his tendency to use unnecessary abbreviations. I admit I pushed the latter gag hard in the penultimate chapter for what I hoped would be humorous effect.

    For those interested in Jeeves & Wooster, I suggest "Right Ho, Jeeves" as a good place to start.

    1. Thank you for dropping by to comment! Personally I wasn't bothered by the abbreviations, though I admit I found the ATG parody disappointing.

      "Right Ho, Jeeves" is NOT one of the stories I've read, though. Sounds like something I'll need to look up...

  8. I'm very surprised that this story only got 300ish views on FIMFiction, especially because it was featured on EqD. Was this story hosted somewhere else?

    The author deserves far more notice considering the high quality of his writing. I just read his latest work, "Gummy Tries All Day Long," and it was also one of the best stories I've read.

    1. Originally, when I submitted the story to Equestria Daily, I hosted it on GoogleDocs. It got promoted to "6-star" pretty quickly, so I was pleased. But I enjoy the interaction on FIMFiction, so I decided to move this, and my other stories, there.

      As for views, I try not to look at the numbers too much. There are a lot of fanfics out there and my little stories are part of the crush. I enjoy writing these stories, and I'm happy that there are others that enjoy reading them.