Just a few pony things I've read recently, and have decided to comment on. Click down below the break to see what I've been reading, what I thought of it, and what today's word (for deftfunk) and silly typo (for the rest of you--I do hate to disappoint) proves to be.
Twilight Finds a Book of Puns, by Troll
Zero-ish Spoiler Summary: After reading a book of puns, Twilight feels compelled to use them.
A few thoughts: I read this because Present Perfect blogged about how it was full of puns. Well, he may be a stick in the mud, but I adore good punnery! A good pun can build vocabulary, lighten the mood without being raunchy, and entertain, all at once! They're like the steak of comedy; always a good decision (though the analogy does break down when one realizes that a well-done pun is the goal, while a well-done steak is a crime against humanity (bovinity)).
Sadly, there's not much in the way of well-done puns here. Despite its brevity, this fic resorts to recycling puns with depressing frequency (read: at all), and most of them weren't terribly funny. Moreover, most of them are just homonym replacements--a good pun adds an extra layer, such as imparting additional information or forming a secondary reference. At the very least, a pun ought to tie directly to one's situation ("water you doing" is only funny if one's conversation is at least vaguely water related) , but Twilight can't always manage even that.
Recommendation: Pretty much the only draw here is the puns (the story itself is an afterthought at best, nonexistent at worst), and they're not terribly impressive, even in a "bad pun" way. Somehow this has twelve hundred upvotes, but don't ask me to explain it.
Glory, by Rune Soldier Dan
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Blueblood knows that nothing matters, because he can't possibly make a difference no matter what he does. Still, when the fate of Equestria is at stake, he has to try to make a difference--even if he knows he can't.
A few thoughts: I thought this story offered a very interesting take on the kinds of circles depression can lead one into; the idea that "if I invent something, it doesn't matter because someone else would have done it later anyway" seems a classic example of something that might be obviously fallacious, but can sound true in your more vulnerable moments. I absolutely loved the way that Blueblood addressed (and didn't) his ennui throughout the story. Add to that a light but succulent dose of worldbuilding and a strong meshing of internal drama and setting, and there's a whole lot to like here. Pretty much my only problem was that I had a lot of trouble matching "Prince Blueblood, the aristocrat ninny" to the stoic indifference of the main character in this story; the author does try to tie the two together, but the few sentences explaining the connection between his behavior here and in The Best Night Ever weren't enough for me.
Recommendation: That said, I still really liked this one. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in a short but honest (and ultimately, hopeful) story about overcoming self-doubt.
Twilight is Doomed, by Akumakegetsu
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Twilight tries to un-stick herself from a double-sided piece of tape.
A few thoughts: This is one of those thousand-word, joke's-in-the-premise (not the title, this time!) fics which are so common out in the wider world of fanfiction. Sadly, there's not a lot to elevate it. The punchline did answer a question that I was resigned to having go unanswered--that was nice--but the rest of the fic is a remarkably slow crawl to get there. Physical descriptions are often needlessly complicated, which lends the whole affair an overwrought air. Couple that with the inherent predictability of the story, and it felt like a bit of a waste.
Recommendation: This one's tagged incomplete, though whether by accident or because Twi's going to continue to be doomed in future installments I don't know. In any event, I don't plan to continue following it, and while it's by no means awful, I'd only recommend it to readers specifically intrigued by the premise.
Small-Town Charm, by Cold in Gardez
Zero-ish spoiler summary: One day, Twilight Sparkle wakes up to find Ponyville--and her bed--infested with giant star spiders. This doesn't seem to bother everypony else nearly as much as her.
A few thoughts: To quote myself talking about another fanfic, "This story is one of my favorite kinds of comedies: the kind that has a completely absurd premise, which is treated totally seriously." I love the blase reactions which fill this fic, and rather than being repeated ad nausium without variation, here they're gently varied from pony to pony, not to mention leavened with wonderfully funny dialogue (“'Well, it’s like Granny Smith says. You can let a foal go through life afraid, or you can lock her in a dark room with a thousand spiders until she stops screaming.' Applejack put her basket under another tree and lined up for a kick. 'She’s just full of folksy wisdom.'") and some genuine thoughtfulness at the end. Indeed, one thing that I really loved about this story was that it made me laugh, but it also slipped in a bit of reflection which neither detracted from the comedy, nor derailed the story.
Recommendation: This might be my favorite CiG comedy to date, and I would unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone looking for something funny, which is built around a single "joke" (lots of spiders, and nopony cares!), but transcends its one-note description to offer a little bit of everything in a mere 4k words. I guess arachnophobes might find this too willies-inducing to enjoy, but it's a wonderful story regardless.
A post-reading glance at the comments shows that arachnophobes apparently make up a large portion of the readerbase, though (along with readers who seem to have found that having a thoughtful moral made it impossible for them to enjoy or recognize the comic exaggeration of, say the line I quoted above), so maybe I'm off-base in my assessment. But for my money, this was one of the best fics I've read in a while.