For some reason, I've been feeling pretty brain-dead lately. The 35k words from the minific writeoff took me more than twice as long as that amount of writing should have to get through, and I've been having a tremendous amount of trouble getting myself to sit down and read--fanfiction or otherwise. Nevertheless, I've got bits of this and that under my belt, and here's what I thought of 'em! Short reviews of short stories, after the break.
And We Are Not Yet Saved, by Grey Heather
Zero-ish spoiler summary: A vignette about Chrysalis and the changelings, post-love-blast.
A few thoughts: Not a lot to say about this one; it's a humanizing but dark look at what the failure at Canterlot would mean to the changelings, as Chrysalis gathers survivors and tries to keep faith. I would describe it more as a mood piece/episode followup than as a complete narrative, but what this fic sets out to do, it does very well. The mood comes through clearly, the writing is crisp but sufficiently evocative... for what it is, I have no real complaints.
Recommendation: Readers looking for a short shot of melancholy should absolutely read this, though readers looking for something more substantial will want to try elsewhere.
Twilight Verbs Article Nouns, by Lapis-Lazuli and Inky J
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Twilight is tired of the mob of reporters (and attendant articles) which surround her ever since she came into the national spotlight. So, with Sweetie Belle's help, she hatches a plan to get them off her back.
A few thoughts: The title had me expecting something significantly more madcap than what I got; this is definitely a comedy, but it's a relatively low-key one, at least relative to the expectations I was bringing in. It was breezy enough and didn't outstay its welcome, both of which are crucial for one-shot comedies, and it managed to make a few meta-jokes which actually worked in the context of the story. On the downside, a lot of details in the writing were decidedly un-equestrian, the voicing was often weak (Brits and other heathens take note: there is no good reason for any of the main six to use "bloody" as an expletive, unless they're... I dunno, making fun of Pipsqueak, I guess?), and the resolution was a little too clean and neat to really be funny--though the end of the story got a laugh out of me, at least.
Recommendation: Those who like light comedy that takes some gentle, non-immersion-breaking fandom potshots might want to give this a look. Readers who are leery of "X Ys Z"-titled stories... well, this is better than you think, but not so much that you're likely to enjoy it. You know who you are.
The Rose, by Bradel
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Rose gave Ember a very special flower, once--a rose, which seems to be changing color for reasons Ember struggles to understand.
A few thoughts: This one left me confused, which was both a tribute to its open-endedness and an indictment of the lack of clarity at the end. Without going too far into spoilers, it's pretty clear that Ember's not in a great mental place by the end of the story, but it's not at all clear if he's making bad decisions because he's stressed and unstable, if he's jumping to all sorts of crazy conclusions and seeing everything through psychosis-tinted goggles, or if he's full-on crazy. Since he's the one telling the story, the unreliable narrator angle is heavily in play, but the reader never gets a good indication of what "really" was going on. On one hand, there's excellent ambiguity here which makes the reader think about what's just been read. On the other, I feel like I never got enough information to even have an informed opinion about what I'd read, which ended up killing the impact for me a bit.
Recommendation: Readers who like "literary" fanfics, and who have some patience for ambiguity, should definitely give this a look.
The Ultimate Alicorn, by Cerulean Voice
Zero-ish spoiler summary: A look at what would have happened if, instead of agreeing to trade her quadruple-alicorn powers to Tirek for her friends and Discord, Twilight had refused him, in favor of seeking the one thing that might give her the power to defeat him alone.
A few thoughts: I think this story was too short for its own good; a lot of things happen here, and the reasons why they happen are sometimes glossed over. The way everypony at the end reacts to Twilight, for example, seems to come out of left field (the fact that they seem to blame her for everything does, at least), and the logic behind Tirek's actions are completely unexplored. This story also gets very grim, very fast, which does a nice job of shocking the reader into realizing just how AU this is (I'm not a big gore fan, but that's an aesthetic preference; I despise gratuitous blood and guts, though. This is clearly not gratuitous, thankfully), but also does make Twi's decision seem even less understandable in retrospect. The author plays with some inner voices on Twi's part to paint that decision, but the central conceit of the story is still essentially one that the reader just has to accept.
Recommendation: In my fanfic experience, it seems there's a significant contingent of people in any fandom who are perennially unsatisfied with happy endings. To that contingent, I heartily recommend this. For more general readers, this might be worth looking at for fans of "what if?" scenarios, but will likely leave behind those who aren't willing to accept its turns (even beyond the premise) as givens.