Thanks for the comments on Wednesday's post--I haven't added anything because, as I already mentioned, I don't have a lot to add. The whole "the rights holder takes control of your story and everything in it" sounds pretty ominous, though; does that mean that if you write a story with an OC and then later try to write a sequel to said story, you could be sued for copyright infringement for using your own character? I don't really know what the ramifications (both practical and, as in my example, somewhat fanciful) are; I took a class that covered copyright law back in college, but 1) that was mostly in regards to music, and 2) virtually the only thing I got out of that class is that, if you bring a piece of sheet music within twenty yards of a photocopier, FBI agents will burst down your door, throw you in an old-timey dungeon without even so much as a phone call, sell everything you own, and make a gift of your wife to the original rights holder. Or something like that.
Anyhoo, all the stories and my impressions of them, after the break. Well, not all the stories, but... look, you know what I mean. Onward!
1) Applejack is Full of Squirrels, by shortskirtsandexplosions
What it is: Applejack has been kidnapped by squirrels, who've replaced her with a "completely undetectable" squirrel-powered robot, the better to locate and obtain a holy acorn before it falls into the hands of the evil chipmunks.
A few thoughts: So, I really like squirrels. I put out food for them in the backyard, I watch them every day through the window in the living room, and they have a funny way of making my day. I also like stories that peddle in comic melodrama. So, a story about squirrels and chipmunks (I like chipmunks too--there are a pair who come to the backyard, and they're super fun to watch because they get so jumpy around the squirrels, even though the squirrels never seem to notice them) and their epic shadow war is right up my alley.
This is one of those stories that's just stupid, through and through, and it revels in its stupidity, even as the frequently nonsensical plot and random explosions are belied by SS&E's usual level of quality wordsmanship (that is to say, dense and overwrought--it seems an ill fit at the very beginning of the story, but when the rodents start laying on their ridiculous backstories, it starts to feel much more appropriate). And let it never be said that I hate stupid things. Well, that I hate all stupid things, anyway.
Recommendation: Did you know that when I was in high school I wrote an RPG system for playing as squirrels? Think Bunnies and Burrows, only with a lot more human contact and a secretive race of drow-like "dark squirrels." Sadly, the computer it was saved on died, so all I have left of it are a few pages of notes. Maybe I'll try to reconstruct it someday.
Anyway. If you are as fond of cute furry rodents as me, this fic is sure to put a smile on your face. Even if not, fans of zany ridiculousness and robot-pony fights will probably find this to be an amusing short story.
2) The OC Support Group, by M1ghtypen
What it is: After mixing up what day the villain support group is supposed to meet, Lightning Dust ends up attending... the OC support group.
A few thoughts: This strikes me as one of those stories that just doesn't know what it wants to be. It starts out focusing on humor, albeit in an inconsistent way; it lurches between meta-comedy (though not the "address the reader" type, thankfully) and physical comedy without cleanly melding the two. Some of the scenes and ideas are pretty good, actually--the various alicorns who were so sure that they were long-lost prince(sse)s or what have you--but a lot of these jokes were played very one-note: here's the character, here's what's funny about him or her, and now on to the next one. Nothing wrong with that, but a little choppy and unconnected for my taste.
The story then transitions to Lightning battling her inner demons and generally takes a turn for the dramatic, though, and it was not a comfortable fit with the first part of the story. Sure, Lightning's alcoholism is suggested almost from the start, but to suddenly go from a "confound these ponies, they drive me to drink!" vibe to emotional breakdowns and rehabilitation just didn't work for me.
Recommendation: Well, there are some funny bits in the first half, though it's all somewhat awkwardly paced. I kind of enjoyed it, though, and if you're looking for a goofy but not too off-the-wall bit of light meta-humor, this might be worth a look. Beware mood whiplash in the second half, though.
3) Somepony Else's Story, by OtterMatt
What it is: Vinyl Scratch goes to a bar, talks to the bartender... and that's about it.
A few thoughts: This story is told from the POV of the bartender, and as the title implies, it's not really his story; he's just a scene in a larger drama, one that we're mostly not privy to.
That's probably a good thing, because the larger drama looks suspiciously like the kind of TaviScratch pablum that I'd skip over without a second thought. By showing a small bit of that story from an outside angle, the author manages to invest some interest into a tired premise. Said bartender is an interesting character, and his observations about his bar and bar tending generally are some of the best parts of the fic.
Recommendation: This is a good one for readers looking for a short slice-of-life story that uses an interesting twist of perspective, but which isn't at all gimmicky or reliant on "shock twists."
4) Edited By, by TheBandBrony
What it is: Twilight suffers a case of writer's block, brought on by a sense of literary inferiority. Spike tries to help.
A few thoughts: This story is funny enough on its own merits, but I suspect a lot of writers and editors will see themselves in Spike and/or Twi's only slightly exaggerated dance of self-criticism and lack of self-awareness, and attempts to help without destroying an already fragile ego (the exchange to which I related best? "'Twilight, you just gestured to your entire paper.' 'I know, that's where the problems are.'"). The ending was a bit much for me, though; I realize that nobody wants to read an in-depth editing session, but having Spike instantly solve everything by pointing out one awkward phrase was kind of a letdown.
Recommendation: This story will probably appeal more to people who are active in writing, either as writers themselves or as editors/pre-readers/whatever. Still, it's got plenty of inherent low-key comedy to appeal to all readers.
5) The Trials of Elizabeak the Brave Little Chicken, by BronyWriter
What it is: Stare Master, as told by the titular escaped chicken.
A few thoughts: Like Applejack is Full of Squirrels, this story peddles heavily in militant, over-dramatic critters. Chickens are not a species I have any particular attachment to, however. More to the point (that point being to offer some useful commentary, if I'm remembering right), this story doesn't have any of the plot-based absurdities of SS&E's story; it's just Stare Master, told from an unexpected, and comically grandiose, point of view.
While that was funny enough at first, it is kind of a one-note joke. Well before the cockatrice is ever encountered, I was beginning to find the story a bit dull, and the adjective-heavy writing style did nothing to mitigate that. Every time I began to move into skimming mode, however, some particularly funny insight or in-character observation, such as Elizabeak describing the CMC as "One horned pony, one bird pony, and one useless pony," would pull me back in.
Recommendation: There's not much to this story beyond the inherent appeal of Elizabeak as a narrator, but it's not bad for all that. Anyone looking for a story which does a take on an episode, yet doesn't resort to simply retelling the events therefrom without embellishment, might find this to be to their liking.