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I'm officially going to be at MLP-MSP! I don't actually know if I'll be able to be there on Friday the 6th (it'll depend on work), but I decided that I might as well get a badge now while the early-bird special is still going. Hopefully I'll get to see a couple of you there.
Click down below the break to read my review of Artimae's Spitfire's Day Off.
Impressions before reading: I know I read this when it went up on EqD about two years ago; I don't remember much beyond the broad strokes. That doesn't exactly speak to wow-inducing unforgettability, but it's not really much on an indictment, either; two years is a long time to forget a short story, and a fic can be good even if it's not arrestingly memorable. On a less memory-based note, I am a little worried by the tense slide in the description, but hopefully that's not representative of any issues with the story proper.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: After a rookie hits a sore point, Spitfire has a part-choreographed, part-real blowup, then goes to the spa to take a much-needed break... and to reflect.
Thoughts after reading: After having read it again, I have to say: this fic is just as unmemorable as I didn't remember it being. Now, that does imply a certain level of competence (I'd remember something awful), which is definitely present here; other than the occasional misused word (e.g. "their eyes deadlocked," where "locked" was clearly intended), this story is well-edited, and conceptually is totally unobjectionable. Those are good places to start... but they aren't enough.
What this story lacks is any cohesive purpose (while there is such a thing as an "intentionally purposeless" story, this is not an example of such). It does nominally center around Spitfire's relationship with her grandfather, but this is handled in a remarkably superficial way; superficial enough, in fact, that it's easy to read this story as "Spitfire takes no joy in her work save for the vicarious pleasure of doing what her grandfather presumably wanted," which I'm sure was not the intended message. It's not the inescapable conclusion to which the reader is drawn, either, but the point is that Spitfire's motives are basically opaque throughout the story, which makes it hard to care too much about her (grand)parental issues. Unfortunately, the story simply doesn't address motives beyond the most basic, which leaves her nearly as blank a slate at the end of the fic as she was at the start.
There's also the fact that what development there is doesn't relate in any obvious way to her spa trip. There's nothing particularly wrong with the setting, but the fact that it's only tangentially related to the "meat" of the story seems like a poor choice. If it was in some way obvious that Spitfire needed, or would benefit from, a break, that would be one thing, but here, the effective suggestion is that a short nap would have had approximately the same recuperative and psychological effect. Speaking of naps, the stilted, unnatural dialogue in Spitfire's dream was no doubt intentional, but I found it to be excessively overwrought, personally.
Star rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
Between the lack of development and the mostly irrelevant setting, there's not much substance here. That said, it's not a particularly offensive or unlikeable story. It's simply not one which is likely to have much impact on the average reader, long- or short-term.
Recommendation: Readers with a particular interest in Spitfire stories, or who are looking for some light, unchallenging SoL reading, could certainly do worse. I wouldn't recommend this, though, to anyone looking for anything more.
Next time: The Fires of Friendship, by Ponydora Prancypants