Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 36

I've been holding off on sharing this, since the author wanted to keep a low profile until he'd made sufficient progress.  But now...




Once the hype has been gotten, feel free to click below the break for a few short-form reviews of a few fanfics that've recently come across my plate.

Fahr Drill, by MyHobby

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  As the Chief of Ponyville's fire brigade, it's Big Mac's job to train in the new recruits.  Unfortunately, those recruits are Snips, Snails, Truffle, Pipsqueak, Featherweight, and Spike.

A few thoughts:  There's not a lot to say about this story, really.  It's short, simple, and delivers the humor promised by the premise--nothing more, nothing less.  It's got a couple of really funny lines, and generally doesn't drag.  It's also fair to say that it's not a particularly memorable fic, falling more into the category of "extended skit" than "story," but within that context, it does exactly what it sets out to do.

Recommendation:  This is an excellent time-waster fic: the sort you read in an idle five or ten minutes, or when you're looking for a quick jolt of unchallenging humor.  Readers looking for such will find what they're looking for here, no doubt... though it's also fair to say that those looking for anything more probably needn't bother.

Cutie Mark Crusaders Security Officers!, by Bad_Seed_72

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Iron Will's security team falls ill right before his return engagement in Ponyville, he's forced to seek local talent on the fly.  And, as it happens, the Cutie Mark Crusaders (plus Babs, who's visiting) are available that afternoon...

A few thoughts:  Iron Will is easy to write well: his brand of aggressive braying translates easily to comedy.  Nevertheless, my overall impression of this story is that there's not a lot of coherence here.  '72 (is that a birth year? Ah, that makes me feel young!... no, wait, it says on her user page she's 22.  Aaand back to feeling old) does some nice things with the setting (how could Sweetie Belle plus a can of mace not be adorably humorous?), but a lot of things seem to be dropped into the story completely out of left field (e.g. the bit about Mr. Waddle at the end), or are forgotten partway through despite being emphasized in the early going (e.g. Fluttershy)--the overall effect is almost of stream-of-consciousness.

Recommendation:  Folks looking for the kind of humor promised by the title will find it here, but people expecting much setup, or payoff for what is set up, will be sorely disappointed.

A Letter to the Griffon Emperor on the Matter of War, by Wages of Sin

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The titular letter, in full.

A few thoughts:  Let this stand as a lesson about the importance of editing: in the first paragraph, Twilight says that "...we must reject your offers to 'accept our unconditional surrender.'" Having read this a couple of days after downloading a copy and thus, not having the premise fresh in my head, I was briefly under the impression that this story was about Twilight trying to figure out why the Griffons were surrendering unconditionally to Equestria, and explaining that the ponies weren't going to blow them up with rainbows or send an army of alicorns or whatever.  Pity, that--I think I'd have liked that story better.  This one is serviceable, and does have a nice bit about how Twilight would handle loss toward the end, but most of its thousand-odd words are spend explaining why Equestria would win a hypothetical war.  Frankly, outside of any larger context, I don't find population comparisons inherently interesting.

Recommendation:  This one might have just put me in a bad mood because at the beginning I thought I was going to get something more amusing than what I actually read.  Readers who are interested in the egghead equivalent of smack-talk may well enjoy this, despite my not being impressed.

Daring Dam, by Shortskirtsandexplosions

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A.K. Yearling is suffering from writer's block and/or ennui, so she spends a day with her friends, Twilight and the girls.

A few thoughts:  This story's biggest selling point is the twist at the end, which is a very meta-development, but is both serious and story-appropriate--a rarity among metafiction sadly.  The journey to get there isn't painful by any means, but it does dither a surprising amount for a relatively short (8k words) story.  A certain amount of languidity (languidness is correct, I think, but languidity sounds so much better) is necessary to communicate Yearling's mood, but I found that several conversations dragged significantly longer than I felt was necessary.

Recommendation:  That said, I still definitely enjoyed this as both a mood piece, and as an excellent example of non-comic metafiction.  Folks looking for that will find it here.


  1. Replace LMFAO with Daft Punk and this is me right now. Seriously, so friggin' excited about Jetfire's sequel! I might even re-read the original when the new one's done, even though there's a bunch of other crap I wanna do

    I've had a pretty productive day in terms of fanfic reading. I think I read something like 80,000 words worth. Not alot, but certainly more than I usually read. Now to undermine my progress by adding even more fics to my queue!

    Oh, and this was really weird: I actually quit on a Blueshift fic! Maybe I was just in a weird mood or something, 'cause normally I love his work. I didn't read much, so maybe it just started poorly, I dunno. Anyone read Flutterdragon? Should I give it another shot?

  2. A fic by SS&E with dragging conversations. Huh. Who knew?

    (I am being sarcastic, for the record.)

    1. It wasn't too bad. Actually, it kinda worked in this story

  3. I'm with you on "languidity". Fuck convention, hail neologism. :V

  4. Sorry you didn't like A Letter to the Griffon Emperor on the Matter of War.

    1. Well, obviously it's entirely your fault :P

  5. Fahr Drill was alright. It didn't really tickle me like a lot of comedies I've read do. I couldn't tell you why. In technical terms, I didn't really have anything to complain about, hence why I never left a comment on that story (I don't like making useless comments). Still, I didn't really take anything much away from it. It's the kind of fic that I'll give a like but not a favourite, which is exactly what I did.

    Cutie Mark Crusaders Security Officers! is on my read later list. I still haven't got to it yet. No idea when I will.

    A Letter to the Griffon Emperor on the Matter of War I honestly didn't like very much. I didn't hate it or anything, but there were just so many little annoying things it did. The main one that got me was how little sense it made for the griffons to be posturing and threatening war if they're apparently so outmatched. It just didn't make sense. Plus, I think I only laughed once, and that's not enough for me in a comedy. It's probably the most harmless fic I'll ever downvote, but I just didn't find much to praise about it.