Monday, January 14, 2013

6-Star Reviews Part 126: Daring Do and the Shiny Crystal

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

On Saturday, the radio station I was listening to played It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, following which the show host came on, said he loved that song so much that he was going to play it again, and did precisely that.

It was a strange and wonderful moment.

Below, my review of Unlucky Roll's Daring Do and the Shiny Crystal.

Impressions before reading:  And so we hit our first Daring Do 6-star.  I haven't read a lot of Daring Do fanfics, honestly; I don't know why, they just don't often seem to grab my attention.  Is there a word for story types or genres that you don't so much dislike, as which fly completely under your radar?  Anyway, this claims to be a random/comedy, which as a rule are easy to write, but hard to write well.  Hopefully it stays funny.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A typical Daring Do action sequence, only with spaceships, lasers, zombies, space dinosaurs, and explosions.

Thoughts after reading:  My thoughts about this story are similar to my thoughts about many random/comedies.  The first thousand words or so are ridiculous and funny, precisely as stories of this type are meant to be.  Unfortunately, it keeps going.

The problem is that, although there's a fair amount of humor packed into this story, there's really just a single overarching joke: crazy stuff that borrows from the MLP universe, despite making no sense within that context.  Which is a fine, funny joke, but one which can grow stale easily.  As I said, the story did a good job at the start of shepherding the joke along, with plenty of action, as well as an abundance of writing style and situation/characterization parody (a deliberate overuse of exclamation marks and a black-and-red alicorn with an "evil-colored" mane, by way of respective examples).  Things start to fall apart with the introduction of a pair of singing villains, however.

Simply put, the (relatively) lengthy song sequences were too slow and too dull for the story.  Likewise, there are a few jokes in the latter part of the story which, rather than being delivered rapid-fire, are stretched out or repeated in ways which slow the pacing of the story.  By the middle of the story, it's easy for a reader to start skimming ahead.

For the most part, the writing quality is of the "deliberately over-exuberant" variety, and has a well-executed parodic style.  There are some regular punctuation problems, however, and occasional slip-ups with tense or word selection which are obviously not intentional.  That said, the story is entirely readable, and there is some genuinely clever language scattered throughout.

Star rating:  ☆ (what does this mean?)

Although there was plenty of comedy, poor pacing in the latter part of the story was a problem.  That's a major issue when one's story is literally nothing but a precariously connected series of setting, character, and linguistic gags, as random/comedies typically are.  That said, there are some very funny bits to this story, and the fact that the author never once had the characters break the fourth wall sets this above the majority of such stories by itself.

Recommendation:  Anyone looking for something quick and entertaining to read could do far worse; this is a ten-minute story that will probably get a few chuckles out of anyone willing to give it a chance.  But in the end, it's not much more than that.

Next time:  My Little Alicorn, by InsertAuthorHere


  1. Wait.

    Linguistic gags?

    As in, gags about the study of language?

    Or did you mean gags involving language?

    Wordplay is okay, but if there are legit gags about stuff like morphology or syntax...

    I would not be able to contain my nerdgasm.

    Lines like, "The pressure mounted behind her tongue, the sounds forcing herself through her throat as she turned short, low gutturals into long, consistently high-pitched alveolars, crushing the beauty of the words under her tongue, every pretence to euphony shamelessly discarded as the syllables twisted around them like bad similes around concepts." really just make fanfiction worth reading, imo.

    1. I was thinking linguistic gags more of the "fun with umlauts" variety, actually. But if you come across a story such as the imaginary one you've quoted, please let me know.

  2. I actually rather liked this one, despite it being one overly-long joke. I guess I just have a higher tolerance to randomness than you do.

    And at long last, "My Little Alicorn" is next. I don't know whether to be giddy or sobbing. May the clubbing session go smoothly and I not get washed too much with the story's blood...

  3. I avoided Daring Do fics for quite some time, as I wasn't particularly fond of the episode that spawned her. I think I've added some to my to-read on fimfiction since then, but still haven't read any not writeoff related because backlog.

    One thing I'll say though: this story has the worst cover image ever.

    1. "Whip and Wing" and "The Sisters Doo" are both very good fics, and better than the two 6-star Daring Do ones.

    2. Sir, you obviously don't understand subliminal messages and the true meaning of art! I spent more than three minutes in Microsoft Paint creating this masterpiece of a cover image! Your blatant disregard for my aesthetic self-expression shall not go unanswered!

      (In all seriousness though, it's kinda supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. I mean, I think mine is actually more sensible and low-key than most existing comic book covers.)

    3. Tongue in cheek I can get and appreciate. :) That's what I was hoping was going on.

  4. Hmm. I don't know who this "Unlucky Roll" is, but he sure sounds like one sexy devil!

    Jokes aside, thank you very much for your review. I was aware that this kind of humor can become tedious quickly, so I tried to keep the story short, but it looks like my efforts still left room for improvement after all.

    However, what I'm really embarrassed of is not this, but the "regular punctuation problems [...] and occasional slip-ups with tense." I think grammar errors are generally the mark of a sloppy writer who doesn't respect his readers. I guess in the future I'll have more than one proofreader (all the more since my English is flimsy at best).

    Again, thank you for your time!

    1. Just something I wanted to pick up on:

      There are plenty of things that can imply disrespect for an author's readership, but there's an important line between implication and fact. I don't think it's fair to label an either yourself or another author as disrespecting his readers when the same author is using a proofreader/editor at all.

      You clearly have a developed (meaning as mental as the rest of us) sense of humour, so I can't know how tongue-in-cheek your statement is, but I find the general trend of perfectionism to be a disturbing one. It's not disrespectful to make mistakes, only to not care about them (and even that isn't necessarily disrespectful if you're completely honest about it).

    2. Maybe I worded my opinion poorly. Grammar errors happen; I like to think that I'm above average at grammar in my mother tongue, but even then I make mistakes, and I know it's not the end of the world.

      However, when you reach the point when your readers/critics are pointing out that your errors are regular, and distracting them from the actual writing, I think you're doing it wrong. By default, whenever you're publishing something, you're also declaring that you take responsibility for the ten or fifteen minutes of the life of your potential readers it takes them to read the story. If you think my works are stupid, cheesy, boring, unoriginal, forced or badly executed, then I'm truly sorry, but I honestly tried my best; however, grammar is independent of talent, and I could've easily avoided it if I just asked an additional proofreader to check it.

      I'm by no means a perfectionist, but it's so easy to avoid complain-drawing bad grammar that I think everyone, including myself, owes it to their readers.

    3. @ Scott

      idk. I agree with the general sentiment, that doing your best to avoid mistakes is really the important thing, and that a work having imperfections is not necessarily a sign of disrespect or carelessness on the author's part. And I don't want this to sound dismissive, but sometimes people are just really bad at proofreading and can't help it (and editors can help, but editors can miss things too). It doesn't mean that they don't respect their readership enough to put in a proper effort. If there are a lot of slipups, though, that might be a sign that you need a more careful proofreader. lol.

      On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with striving for perfection or even holding yourself to the highest possible standard. Perfectionism is only unhealthy when it fails to account for subjectivity, when it keeps you from moving on, or when it interferes with the ability to admit that you've made a mistake. That is, there's a difference between, "I made this as good as I possibly could, but there were still mistakes, so I fixed them and learned from them" and between "I made this as good as I possibly could, but there were still mistakes and ohgod what is wrong with me?".

    4. Glad you were glad for the review, Roll! If it's any consolation, I wouldn't have pegged you for a non-native speaker based on the story; although there were some problems, there was nothing really systemic, nor any of the common verb errors I'm used to seeing from those who pick up English as a second language.

  5. "Things start to fall apart with the introduction of a pair of singing villains, however."

    Oh, god. I'm glad I didn't read this because that would have given me a fit. Why do people make their villains sing? There's nothing humorous or terrifying about villian songs, they're just stupid. And what is it with writers trying to put songs in their stories as their characters were in a broadway musical? This is the wrong media for that.

  6. My Little Alicorn. Can't wait to see what you make of that and its sequel.