Friday, August 15, 2014

Fandom Classics Part 67: The Longest Night

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

If you aren't currently following City of Doors, you really should be.  But if you aren't and refuse to repent, you should at least be aware that he's recently called my attention to two new-to-me fanfic reviewers: Louder Yay (aka Loganberry) and RazgrizS57, both of whom have got a nice collection of reviews under their belts, and more on the way (no pressure, guys).  Oh, and did I mention they've both reviewed one of my stories along the way?  That's probably totally coincidental to my mentioning them here.

In case that doesn't sate your need for reviews, get one more below the break with my thoughts about Tundara's The Longest Night.


Impressions before reading:  I've got a well-documented soft spot for emotional alicorns, so I have high hopes going in.  But "emotional" can turn into "transparently artificial" really quickly, and the realm of ponyfiction is littered with stories that sailed past the Cape of Touching Sentiment and out into the open waters of the Cloying Ocean.  Stories of this sort are high-risk, high-reward, in my experience--time to see if I get lucky!

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After banishing her sister to the moon, Celestia wishes on a star that she could see Luna again... with unexpected results.

Thoughts after reading:  Sometimes it's hard to tell why a story succeeds or fails.  Other times, it's easy.  And sometimes, as is the case here, it's easy to tell why, but takes some effort to explain. 

The line(s) I would quote as evidence of what's wrong with The Longest Night is this: "'Forgive us, sister, for being so blind,' Celestia sighed, privately wishing that she could cry so she'd have tears to wipe away.  ¶ It was an almost unknown fact that an Alicorn could shed tears in sadness but once in a hundred years."  Now, the problems here are pretty clear, but defining them is a little harder.  There are the "obvious" issues--it's a very tell-y passage, and it strains credulity (both issues which are endemic to the fic)--but that's not always a bad thing.  I could see that second line could go into a fairytale-style story and fitting perfectly, for example.  The problem is that that storytelling style isn't used here; this is a story which frequently falls back on the textual style of a fairytale while using the structure and plot of, for lack of a better word, a "feels fic."

Those two don't play well together, because the latter is built on directly manipulating reader emotions ("inducing" might be a kinder word, at least for the better examples), while the former can be emotional, but also maintains emotional distance.  As a result, The Longest Night often seems like its trying to be lachrymose, but feels distinctly aloof in its presentation.

Another problem is that the story fills itself with implausible flourishes, but doesn't use them to good effect.  Rather than building a larger world out of such touches, or simply tossing them in as comedic asides, this fic occasionally makes half-hearted attempts to justify its coincidences and improbable turns (see centenary alicorn tears above), but largely lets them stand, creating an atmosphere of strained credulity.

In the end, this is a story in which stuff happens, and it's clear how the reader is supposed to feel about it.  But what's lacking is a good reason for the reader to feel anything.  Couple that with worldbuilding which ranges from unnecessary to bizarrely implausible (the presentation of how supposedly bitterly-divided armies reconcile after a lengthy conflict is... questionable), and the end result is problematic.

Star rating:


Oh, and the Ye Olde Englishe in it is so-so, if that's the sort of thing that bugs you.  That's probably worth mentioning.

Recommendation:  I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who wasn't specifically looking for some post-banishment Celestia-Luna reconciliation.

Next time:  A Dream of Dawn, by Starsong

15 comments:

  1. I'sooth, the gross misuse of Goode Englishe doth offend me mightily, else I wouldst surely partake of this tale of woe!

    Mayhaps.

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    1. I'sooth? more like iisaw, amirite? :trollestia:

      ~Super Trampoline

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  2. Can I do the Word of the Day today? Lachrymose

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    1. Ooh. Pre-empt DeftFunk at your own risk.

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    2. Crap, I don't think there's another word he can take, either. Sorry, Deft! If you're ever in Ohio, I'll buy you lunch as recompense

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    3. ლ(ಠ益ಠლ) HRRRRURUUUUUUUUUUU-naaaah.(︶ヮ︶)

      I don't feel so territorial about it anymore. Don't know why I did in the first place. Let us all partake of the plentiful bounty that is Chrisly Lexicon and learn well the joys of expanding our vocabularies. For it is written that the Word of Chris shall billow forth as an unending tide washing across the vast reaches of the internet for all to see, and cannot be impeded by the foolish notions of one.

      On this day, as the high Professor hath decreed, All shall now know of the denotation of "Lachrymose."

      I'll take you up on that lunch though, next time I'm in the area.

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    4. Deft should just come to TrotCon next year so we can all go to lunch together

      High Professor, huh? Sweet, that must make me at least 15th level! Suck it, Gandalf :p

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    5. It's interesting. I already am somewhat familiar with the term from singing in choir-- "Lacrimosa" is a common phrase in Latin Masses.

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  3. Ha! You highlighted the very section that had me running away screaming.

    Superb.

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    1. After your comment on the last review, I was thinking to myself, "I wonder what made him give up on the fic THIS time?" And then I read that passage and it aallllllllllll made sense.

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  4. I found the _idea_ of this story to be quite nice.

    The execution however... left some things to be desired =/

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  5. I will certainly be reading Logan's comic reviews, because I don't see many fandom reviewers take a critical look at the comics these days, and he seems pretty fair with them.

    >Next time: A Dream of Dawn, by Starsong

    Can you do that? Can you be reviewed by Chris twice?

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    1. Thanks! It's a little strange to me that so few people seem to review the comics now. Sure, they're not the talking point they were at the start, but the main series and Friends Forever are still IDW's top two sellers.

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