Monday, May 5, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 37

Before we dive into the reviews,  couple of Chris-related tidbits for you all.  First, remember that minific thing I mentioned a few posts back?  Well, it just finished up, and I took home second place!  You can go read the stories and see the results here; there's some great stuff in that mix.

Second, I've taken some old bits of flash-fiction and short-form writing, and compiled them into a single collection.  If you want to see ten tiny stories from me, check out Bantam Tales, which includes my story from the above event along with various other bric-a-brac I've produced over the past few years.

Now, with that all out of the way, let's dive into some mini-reviews!  Below the break, as always.

The Terribly Taxing Tribulations of Twilight Sparkle, by Blueshift

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  It's tax season in Ponyville, and Twilight takes her responsibilities as a taxpaying citizen very seriously--unlike some ponies.

A few thoughts:  If you've ever read any of Blueshift's comedies before, you know what to expect here: sheer ridiculousness from start to finish, with an admirable willingness to place the joke ahead of any plot coherence, characterization, or anything else that stands in its way.  The introduction of this one felt a little weak to me; the entire first scene could have been cut without losing much of anything.  Once this one got rolling, though, it was stupid fun, plain and simple.

Recommendation:  Who doesn't like stupid fun?  I like stupid fun!  Anyone looking for something quick and goofy, and who doesn't mind a slightly slow start and a distinctly British sense of whimsy should give this a look.

Riddle of the Ages, by Phil Srobeighn

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight tries to solve a Laffy Taffy riddle.

A few thoughts:  This is one of those "joke's in the title description" stories: Twilight can't figure out one of the oldest riddles in the book, and if you've ever read fanfiction you can pretty much figure out where it goes from there.  Now, that's not to say this is a bad story: if you can tolerate the premise, then Mr. Srobeighn does a very servicable job with the writing.  Still, between some meme-dropping and a bit of risque humor involving Spike and Rarity, this one ended up not working for me.

Recommendation:  Do you know why these kind of stories keep getting featured?  Because people like them.  Look, you all know who you are (sometimes, I'm one of you), and if you're looking for something short and solid which faithfully delivers exactly what it promises, this will tickle that bone.

Trixie Lulamoon, Prodigy, by Akumokagetsu

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A young Trixie sets out to prove her genius by solving a Rubick's Cube.

A few thoughts:  Hey, another "joke's in the title cover art" fic!  This one occupies an uncomfortable middle ground to me: the fic tries to work in some Trixie backstory (and not a tortured past!) and build on her character... but it's also about a pony playing with a Rubick's Cube, something I can't possibly take seriously.  The ending was at least solid, but I felt like it lacked the stinger that would have helped sell it.

Recommendation:  This, too, delivers what it promises.  If you don't mind mixing a bit of character-building with your joke concepts, this might be worth a look.

Void, by Jorofarie

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Luna floats through the emptiness of the universe until, somewhen, she finds a friend...

A few thoughts:  This story blends epic scope with personal, relatable conflict and desires in a way I found very appealing.  The way the story makes use of time, and manages to establish scope despite its brevity, is very impressive.  However, there is a certain amount of buy-in required of the reader: the Celestia and Luna in this story bare little resemblance to the ones in the show for most of the fic's length, and while that's addressed, it's still essentially something one needs to accept as the entry price for reading.

Recommendation:  I highly enjoyed this story, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a grand-scale tale of creation and kinship.


  1. Wait, wait, wait. Were you just calling for a stinger ending? Seems I recall that you hate stinger endings...

    1. Yeah! What gives, Chris?

    2. A stinger, in the case of a short comedic work based on a single extended joke, is basically an extra punchline--when (as in this case) the story doesn't end with a punchline, it gives the fic a more definitive ending (ironically enough).

      A stinger in a story in which a conflict's resolution matters in any way should not have a stinger, in my opinion, because it robs the story of that resolution.

      It's possible I'm just a grumpy old man, but those are my two cents.

    3. Makes sense, but what about an extended joke comedy with a meaningful resolution? Of course, a joke stinger mightn't necessarily undermine the resolution, but it'd have to be one that did. I can't think of an example off the top of my head, so maybe such a work would be purely theoretical (that is to say, maybe I'm spouting nonsense)

      One of you writer-types (why do I find that funny?) should come up with something

  2. Heh, figures Bad Horse wrote Keepers. Based on his "review", I'm guessing (hoping) he plans to flesh it out. Also, Bob wrote A Simple Prank?! In retrospect, it makes sense, but I didn't expect him to write anything. See, Bob, even when we don't know it's you, we still love your work! Hope writing that helped you get your groove back

    Kinda glad I'm not adding much this time; I just went 24 hours without Internet, so I'm behind schedule with regards to, well, everything. Just Void this time, since I read Tribulations last week

  3. "Void" had:

    Drifted to the "oldest story" postition in the submission stack at EqD, and those are the stories I always pick to review. Talk about swept away: I mean, it's got all the stuff I liked about Olaf Stapledon's cosmic 1930s SF novels without all the stuff that made me return those books unfinished to the library. Finding stories like this one is why I love being a pre-reader! :)