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I started watching the new
Okay, mostly I just thought the testicles bit was the most hilariously awkward (intentionally so, anyway) thing I've seen on TV in years. What can I say? Sometimes, the lowest common denominator is all right.
Let's (hopefully) move away from "lowest common denominator" with the review, though. My thoughts on PatchworkPoltergeist's Somewhere Only We Know, below the break.
Impressions before reading: This is an old one, coming from the summer after season one had aired (and early in that summer, if I remember right). I have fond memories of it, but I've noted in the past that stories I liked don't always hold up well to inspection. Still, I don't know that I've ever heard anything really negative about this story, which, given how well-known it is, is probably a good sign.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: An old farmhorse dreams her way through her day--her life--as she imagines a world where all her friends are near, and she's free to run... and to fly.
Thoughts after reading: Although this is tagged as a [sad] story, I'm not sure that's how I'd describe it. I'd call it a thoughtful story, and while thinking about the premise can be sobering, the setting isn't intrinsically one of depression and despair.
However, I suspect that many readers will--that many do--have a much more visceral reaction than I did. The difference lies in how much one humanizes Dash in this story. To borrow a line from Cold in Gardez, "ponies are people." However, this story is about a horse in the real world, and how the reader reacts to Dash's "real life" is going to depend in large part on how much they humanize her.
To its credit, the story works whether one views Dash's "real" life as horrific or merely as the unenviable but not inhumane or unreasonable lot of a farm animal. In either case, the emphasis here isn't on Dash's misery, but on the disconnect between her dreams and reality. And that disconnect is very well realized.
The fic also does a great job of using the narrative voice to convey the nature of the liminal elements of the dream-reality segments. Hints in the early going that could easily become comically overdone ("Bad things like that don't happen here") are not lingered over, which makes them both less likely to break suspension of disbelief, and also more effective, than heavier-handed writing would have done.
Where the narrative voice does fall short, though, is in utilizing Dash's voice. There's some effort to differentiate that voice between the Equestria and real life segments, but Rainbow Dash has a pretty distinct voice--one which doesn't consistently come through in her thoughts or inner inflection, even in the Equestria bits. Given that the conceit that this is Rainbow Dash is an important (though not a directly stated) element of the fic, this is a noticeable problem. But with that said, I didn't find it a significant detraction to my enjoyment.
Star rating: ★★★★☆ (what does this mean?)
Although there are some issues with Dash's mentality and internal voicing (at least, in "Equestria"), Somewhere Only We Know is a well-written look at the disconnect between fantasy and reality, one which practically demands that the reader stop and think about what s/he's read.
Recommendation: Since I haven't mentioned it yet, I guess I should say that there are some formatting issues with this story, at least where I read it (on FIMFiction), though nothing that impinges on readability--occasional extra breaks between paragraphs, mostly. So... if that's the sort of thing that really bugs you, there's that. For anyone else, though, this is certainly worth reading as a short but affecting tale of escapism.
Next time: Hiccups, by shortskirtsandexplosions