Friday, July 11, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 44

For those of you who are the con-going types and who have some deep-seated desire to meet me in person, it turns out that I know a guy who's going to be presenting at GenCon, and he offered me a free ticket.  So, I'll probably be there!  Honestly, the whole thing was very abrupt, but I figure that I can finagle my way down to Indy for a long weekend.  This'll be my second GenCon, the first being when I was seven years old and they were still holding the thing in Lake Geneva every year, so it'll be a new experience.  I'm pretty excited about the prospect, though!

Anyhoo, mini reviews below!

Princess Cadence Takes One for the Team, by PresentPerfect

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Becoming a princess was difficult for Cadence--ponies fear change.  And until Twilight Sparkle's ascension to alicornhood, she didn't even know why her role was so important.

A few thoughts:  The author describes this as "A story I meant to be a s***fic but that became somewhat morose instead."  And it shows that this was written in haste, with a changing goal in mind.  Indeed, I'd have loved to see more done with this--an expansion on what Cadence's role meant to Luna, more about Celestia's role, and more could have been explored.  But there's still an interesting idea here, and if the presentation is scattershot and unrefined (though the writing is solid, far more so than the phrase "meant to be a s***fic" would suggest), then at least there's the core of an interesting idea beneath that.

Recommendation:  Fans of Cadence backstory and general worldbuilding/chessmastery will probably find that PP's picked at an interesting thread here, but as a fully composed story this falls short.

The Confessions of Clyde Pie, Prince of Rock, by Casca

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  All through his many years of as a husband and father, Clyde Pie carried a secret.  A secret he carried to the grave... but left behind in a note to his wife.

A few thoughts:  This is a very serious take on a very goofy premise.  As I started the story, I found that a little off-putting, especially right at the initial reveal, but it grew on me as an idea over the fic's short length.  What ended up selling me on the story, though, was that it wasn't, as I thought it would be at first, a story of loss and sacrifice, and the ending is sweetly poignant.

Recommendation:  If you like dramatic spins on funny ideas, this is a well-written, short (less than 2k words), and sad but sweet example of such.  If you find that mix doesn't play well together, though, this probably doesn't do enough to change your mind.

Chrysalis Kidnaps Rainbow Dash For 10 Minutes, by Cloud Hop

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Chrysalis kidnaps Dash--now Princess Twilight Sparkle's fiancee--as part of a convoluted bid for princesshood.  Twilight quickly demonstrates why making her angry is a bad idea.

A few thoughts:  Ahh, here's the s***fic that Princess Cadence Takes One for the Team was apparently supposed to be.  I read it because it had been stubbornly sitting around the top of the feature box for, like, a week, and... well, it's pretty much what I expected.  Actually, it's got some redeeming qualities: the writing quality is far better than I generally expect from this kind of story, and there's some nice wordplay in places ("Twilight didn't seem to think it was funny. "THIS ISN'T FUNNY!" she said, further reinforcing the idea that she clearly did not approve of the copious amounts of funny going on at the table").  But for the most part, this is a dashed-together collection of memes, character destruction, random shipping, and everything else that the use of the Random tag so often seems to denote.

Recommendation:  If you like these kind of stories, I'd say this is an above-average example of the type.  But if a story which doesn't even pretend to care about plot or characterization in favor of lowest common denominator humor doesn't sound like your thing, you should definitely avoid this.

Discord: End of Empires, by DannyJ

A few thoughts:  Long after the pony races fled south to escape the windigos, the Dragon Queen and her lieutenants follow, seeking their erstwhile subjects/slaves/food.  When they reach the long-rumored land of Equestria, though, they find that someone else has already taken control.

A few thoughts:  DannyJ does a wonderful job of balancing the whimsy of Discord with the dramatic, slightly dark story he's telling.  Further, this is a great look at the history of the dragons, which strikes a perfect balance between expanding lore and leaving hinted-at vistas.  The one thing I was less impressed with was Discord himself: while the author shows a knack for portraying him as comic yet frightening, at times he becomes far too serious; the effect is more "schizophrenic" than "chaotic."  But the off-balance bite of the last scene almost makes that worth it.

Recommendation:  This is an excellent choice for fans of history fics, and those who like dark stories that aren't full of blood, guts, and the like.


  1. Ohmygodwhatseriouslyithappenedagain?

    This is the second time in just a few days that one of my fics has been discovered and people have been saying unexpectedly nice things. First it was Decomposition getting on Seattle's Angels, now it's End of Empires here. Is someone going around pointing you people in my direction or something? I am not used to this.

    I confess, I've been silently dreading the the possibility of you one day reviewing something of mine for almost as long as I've been reading this blog, so this was a pleasant surprise for me, even if my heart did jump into my throat for a moment when I saw my name. Really, Chris, thank you for this. It means more to me than you'll ever know.

    1. Could've sworn I'd read your work before, but apparently not. Looking forward to changing that (probably next week)! :D

    2. Target locked. Deploy the shredders.

    3. >Scott is going to read my fic

      Oh, Jesus. This is going to be painful.

    4. Man, I wish I had that kind of reputation. Maybe I need to comment more often

    5. DannyJ: Glad you enjoyed! That was the first story of yours that I've read, and it was definitely a pleasant introduction to your writing.

    6. To be fair, it's also probably the best of my writing. I gaurantee you that its quality is not representative of my larger body of work. You might like Decomposition. You might even like House of Chaos. But I'm pretty sure you'd hate everything else of mine, so I'd advise against trying the full DannyJ experience.

    7. Oh hey, House of Chaos, that one cool story I've read that hasn't been updated in forever. ;)

      ~Super Trampoline, who needs to figure out a way to log on here

    8. I know. I'm sorry. I'm an idiot who took on more work that I could actually manage and started a billion other projects. House of Chaos isn't the only story of mine that's been left by the wayside. I get messages all the time about my old fics. I keep meaning to get back to them. It's just that I can never find the time. Bear with me, and I'll come out with something eventually.

  2. At least you pan the stories worth panning, Chris. :V

  3. Galacon, huh. I hope you have a good time there!

    "One for the Team" surprised me, if only because PP hates Cadance, and seeing him writing the character was odd. Then again, I guess that's what the "sh*tfic" thing was referring to.

    As per "Chryssy kidnaps Dash", that fic annoyed me for two reasons: it spoils the ending with the title (the entire joke is wasted with the "for ten seconds" bit), and it sounds like something I could write. That's... actually pretty bad, I guess. Reminds me of that latest story of mine that's still nagging the heck out of me, I suppose.

    Also, a little thing I've been wondering about -- when does a story count as a "fandom classic"? Certain number of upvotes or something? Because I would like to recommend a couple fics for reviewing, but I wanna make sure. Also I guess it's not wrong for me to ask you to review a story of mine too, is it?

    1. There's no hard and fast criteria--"fandom classics" are just stories that are recommended to me, which are broadly popular or well-known/well-regarded. That definition is deliberately vague to give me a bit of leeway, and so that potential recommends (like yourself!) don't have to worry too much about whether a story meets the criteria. If it's something a lot of people have read and enjoyed that you think I should have opinions about, I'm all ears!

    2. Because I'm evil and want to subject you to copious amounts of world building and a story that probably won't be finished for another five years, I would love to see you review the Austraeoh series, or at least the first book. :P

      ~Super Trampoline

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  5. Casca here - I've waited a day and a half to figure out what to say, but I'm still at a loss. This has been a pleasant surprise, and Confessions of all things to end up here... Thank you for the read, and I'm stoked that you liked it!

    1. Thanks for writing it! Glad you enjoyed the comments--it was my pleasure.