Monday, October 7, 2013

Mini-Reviews Round 18

(insert lead-in here)

(no, seriously, I had to insert it after forgetting to write one up when I first posted this)

(reviews below the break)

1)  Twilight Eats a Hamburger, by PonyTom

What it is:  This mini-review's federally mandated "it's all there in the title" fanfic.  Damn you, Title IX!  Wait, that's the one that says I have to have a self-expanatorily (I don't care if that's not a word, I like the sound of it) titled story in every review set I do, right?

A few thoughts:  I didn't even make it to the titular hamburger.  The reason I picked this story up at all was because it had been floating around near the top of FIMFic's feature box for a while, but after a few pages of haphazard punctuation, unconscionable repetitiousness, and altogether too much of Spike reminiscing about that time he walked in on Twilight masturbating, I was finished.

Recommendation:  The above is probably a little too harsh, really--Hamburger isn't some pox on the face of fanfiction, it's just a poorly-executed, tasteless-but-not-"refuge-in-audacity"-tasteless take on pony carnivorism (unless it gets amazing after the first thousand words or so; I wouldn't know).  I don't recommend it, but if you are as moved by the very concept as nearly two thousand thumbs-uppers apparently were, then knock yourself out.

2)  Dear Diary, What Am I?, by Solarios

What it is:  The four diaries which Discord kept; the first from his schooldays, the last ending near his imprisonment by Celestia and Luna.

A few thoughts:  There are some interesting things here, mostly involving worldbuilding and the history of the draconequus race.  However, I wasn't impressed with the rendering of Discord.  While I took the frequent tense slips and occasional misspellings in the early entries to be an attempt to render a "youthful" writer (one which largely failed, due to the very adult-like vocabulary being used; lines like "She slithered past the other team, her wings allowing her to move so fast across the field..." don't read like a six year-old's diary), but the fact that these errors persist to the end of the piece (albeit, they drop off a bit) makes me wonder how intentional they were.  Moreover, too much of the story hinges on thoroughly unnecessary contrivances, and the first half of the story is remarkably bland, considering the direction it ultimately goes.

Recommendation:  I found the story moderately interesting, but not very well executed.  People who place more emphasis on concept than on construction may find this fic to their liking, especially if they're in the market for something that contains an unexpected (though sometimes ill-explained) take on Equestria's history, and the rules which govern its nature.

3)  A Breakfast of Time Loops, by Obsolescence

What it is:  Princess Celestia feels like there's just not enough of her to go around... until she discovers a time-travel spell, which lets there be as many of her at any given time as there need to be.

A few thoughts:  I thought the story had a rather weak opening; although the first couple of thousand words do a fine job of setting up Celestia and Luna's personal dynamic and introducing their problem, there was precious little necessity to it.  Personally, I thought that starting the story from the discovery that Celestia had apparently visited Cloudsdale without noticing it would have given the fic a stronger hook.  Once it got going, though, I found this to be quite funny.  The story keeps its characters bastions of seriousness in an increasingly absurd situation, and the juxtaposition was consistently entertaining.

Recommendation:  Anyone looking for a slightly absurd, low-key comedy that doesn't turn its characters into simple punchlines will want to give this a look.

4)  Mother of Nations, by Benman

What it is:  A sequel (or rather, an extended pseudo-epilogue) to the author's previous story, Mortal.

A few thoughts:  One of the things I liked about Mortal was that it showed an Orwellian planetary disaster unfolding through the eyes of the ponies who were willfully bringing that future about.  Nations follows up on that, taking place a few centuries later, and showing that already the world which the alicorns have created is undeniably hostile to happiness, meaning, and sanity itself.  Compared to its predecessor, this fic doesn't have nearly as much debate and moral dithering, but it's similar in the way it treats the moral quandaries facing its characters.  The story itself doesn't pass any judgments; that's left to the reader.

Recommendation:  This story can't be read independent of Mortal; if you haven't read that and aren't sure if you want to, I previously reviewed it here.  For those who read that story and were left wondering what Twilight had wrought, this... well, it won't fill in nearly enough blanks for you, truthfully.  But as a continuation of the ideas laid out in that fic, I greatly enjoyed Mother of Nations.

5)  Royal Decree, by Starswirls Beard

What it is:  Twilight is tired of Rainbow Dash always crashing around in her library.  And now that she's a princess, she can really do something about it.

A few thoughts:  Okay, first off, this fic uses "Beatrice" as Dash's middle name.  I didn't it realize until the moment I read that, but somewhere along the way I've become extremely attached to the fanon that her middle name is "Miriam" and seeing the author get this WRONG made me irrationally annoyed.  Is this what Taviscratch people feel every time someone writes a fanfic where those two aren't dating?  I don't like it.

Anyway, the fic itself didn't do much to win me over.  It's a skit more than an actual story, and despite being only 1200 words, it feels long.  I feel like this is a 200-400-word joke that was blown up and dragged out in order to try and make the leap from "anecdote" to "postable fanfic."  Whether that's what actually happened or not, I was ready for the "punchline" long before it was delivered.

Recommendation:  HER NAME IS RAINBOW MIRIAM DASH AND I WILL FIGHT YOU IF--er, pardon me.  Anyway, this story's fine if you're looking for something short and skim-able, and is probably best read when distracted (say, while watching TV), so that it's not as noticeable how drawn-out the joke is.


  1. It took me a minute to realize why today's post looked so wrong. You forgot the lead-in, or whatever it's called! How do you expect me to read reviews without you telling me they're below the break or offering some amusing anecdote?

    I'd always thought of RD's middle name as Miriam too, though I never considered where I'd learned that. It's like some a priori truth. A quick Google search suggests it originated in Bobcat's fics

    1. Oopsie! Let's throw something up there so the title doesn't look so naked and alone, eh?

      And Bobcat was indeed the origin of the Miriam middle name (I miss that guy), though Thanqol also helped popularize it and several other people, fanfic authors and non-, helped spread it thereafter.

  2. Miriam is the worst middle name ever. Merriwether is SO much better. (Also Destiny, but no one uses that except me. Also Elizabeth.) Fuck this fandom, I swear.

    Also Chris why did you read that first story? :| You should have taken my advice.

    1. Merriwether is terrible; it throws the stress pattern of the name off entirely! Destiny is also awful, in that Destiny is just a terrible name. What's wrong with classics, people? Were there not enough nice, normal names to go around?

      Elizabeth provides a nice stress pattern, but does mean you're eliding two vowel sounds between -bow and E-, so even if I weren't already committed, I'd say it's a less phonetically appealing option than Miriam.

    2. A note to any Destinys (or Destinies, or, heaven help us, Destenees) who may read this blog: I'm sure you're wonderful people, and rest assured I don't hate you. Your parents just made a terrible mistake, that's all.

    3. "Merriwether" is a pun and also a reference to the show, if you like those things. Destiny is great because it fits her perfectly. And Elizabeth is good because it is original and not goddamn Miriam. Also you're wrong, there's a w sound in there ("bow" ends in a vowel, but that becomes consonantalized with the introduction of the e afterward).

    4. I associate the name "Miriam" in English with Sister Miriam Godwinson of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, so the name does not have good associations for me. Deirdre, perhaps. Corazón, maybe. But Miriam?

    5. "Miriam" suggests great strength and rebelliousness, as well as charisma and a connection to water. That sounds a lot like Rainbow Dash to me! Meriwether would be more appropriate for the ever cheerful (except when she's not) Pinkie Pie

      Destenee can be Twilight's name. It fits with her being transformed into an alicorn, as well as certain fan depictions of her

  3. Our brother is falling prey to his inner fanboy. It is the darkness that lives in all of our hearts, and we have all struggled with it. Now, he must face the Miriam vs. Beatrice issue alone. Do not weep for Chris, for overcoming this is what will make him strong.