Monday, June 2, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 39


It's the last week of school, and it seems like every day I'm finding out something new that I either need to do before class lets out on Friday, or that needs to get done before I can get on with Summer.  Somehow, the end of this year is a lot more hectic than last year.  That's not how this is supposed to go; it's supposed to get easier as you go!

So, yeah, mini-reviews below the break.  Enjoy three short thoughts on three short fics while I go back to stressing.

Heart is Where the Home is, by Skywriter

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  In the wake of a home-destroying tragedy, a moment of reflection.

A few thoughts:  Barely scraping in over the thousand word mark, this is more of a setup and twist than it is a complete story.  That said, it was for me a much-needed bit of contextualization for Twilight's tree getting blown to smithereens--the setup provides the needed gravity, while the ending puts that gravity in context.

Recommendation:  Although it's not a meta story in the sense of having a bunch of fandom references or fourth-wall breaking, this story functions almost entirely on a meta level; it's about how people reacted to the library being blasted.  I only really recommend it to people looking for something to sate their need react after watching Tirek do his thing--for anyone else, there's not really anything to read for but the twist, and while it's a nice one, it loses its punch without that meta reaction--but for them, consuming this is likely to be a quick but satiating.

Groundbreaking, by Augiedog

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight finds out how libraries are grown in an earth pony village.

A few thoughts:  Like Heart, this story was pushed out immediately following Libraryageddion.  This is a complete story, which can function independent of the fandom zeitgeist post-episode, but it does show some flaws which I attribute to the speed of production.  Granny Smith is a bit uneven--at times, her dismissal of non-earth pony magic seems more like outright racial hostility, which I'm pretty sure Augie didn't intend (a casually racist Granny Smith might be interesting to explore in another fic, but not in this one, focused as it is on getting Ponyville put back together), and the racial dynamics of the event as a whole don't seem to support the message of mending and making right which the fic is premised on as well as could be hoped.

Recommendation:  Still, as a slightly sweet slice of life fic, this delivers, and brings a pleasing dose of earth pony power headcanon along to boot.  Folks looking for something along those lines won't be disappointed.

Bad Horse's Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Young Colts and Fillies, by Bad Horse

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Uncle Bad Horse tells children's stories (two, as of this review).  Of course, being a sarcastic, cynical ass, they have a special flavor to them.

A few thoughts:  When did twisted fairy tales (and the like) become a thing?  I have the impression that they were something that started in the 80s or 90s, but for all I know comic takedowns of such stories have been common forever.

Anyway, this is Bad Horse's take on the genre, and it's a pretty good one.  The narrator's voice is vivid and oozes negligent, almost benign contempt.  My only real problem with these is that they have absolutely nothing to do with ponies; more than that, the narrator's tone, hobbies, and life view being so totally at odds with the show for no comic gain (there's no humor (to this point, anyway) mined from the idea that BH is such an ill fit for the world in which he supposedly lives) that it can easily drive one to distraction.  For the two stories I read, I mentally replaced "dam" with "woman," along with a few similarly small internal edits, and found my enjoyment radically improved as a result.

Recommendation:  If "not pony enough" isn't a thing that bugs you overmuch, by all means check this out.  Even if it normally does, you might want to give this a look if you particularly like bedtime story snarking--it's really so un-pony that it's easy to ignore the occasional suggestion that it might, in fact, be an MLP fic.  If you are specifically looking for some ponyfic, though, this is definitely one to steer clear of.


  1. Already read (and enjoyed) Groundbreaking; I actually liked casually racist Granny Smith. I'll add the first fic, because Skywriter. While I love Bad Horse's work, I think I'll pass on it this time around. I've simply got more than enough reading material at the moment, so it being incomplete and apparently "not pony enough" are sufficient excuses for me (plus, I've recently read a couple other fics of his, so I'm not exactly BH deprived). Maybe I'll come back to it later if I ever run low on ponyfics, but that doesn't look to be happening anytime soon

  2. "When did twisted fairy tales (and the like) become a thing? I have the impression that they were something that started in the 80s or 90s, but for all I know comic takedowns of such stories have been common forever."

    It definitely predates that; Rocky and Bullwinkle's Fractured Fairy Tales were around in 1959.

  3. Hey, Chris. I figure that now's as good a time to ask as ever, so did you get my recommendations for fics to review? I never received a reply email from you, so I'm not sure if you got it.

    1. I just looked through my inbox and didn't see anything from you--assuming you sent it to, I might have accidentally deleted it or done something equally boneheaded (I wouldn't put it past me).

      If you don't mind sending it again, I'll be sure to get back to you as soon as I see it!

    2. The past and future are equally deserving of our indignation

  4. Yeah:

    I tried to squeeze a third meaning out of the title with "Groundbreaking"--there's still ground that needs breaking between the various races and classes of ponies, and Twillight in her new role as Princess of Friendship as well as her old role as a student happy to learn anything anypony's willing to teach her is the perfect agent to begin breaking that ground--but it could've used another run through the word processor to bring that out. Ding-dang self-imposed deadlines! :)