Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fandom Classics Part 70: Twilight's List

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

Over the past few years, I seem to have developed a weakness for tattoo-themed reality competitions.  I mean, I keep watching them, and while I'm usually only half paying attention, they're still something I keep up with.  There's just something horrifyingly compelling about the idea of people being willing to get themselves permanently marked by contestants of uncertain skill, working under strict time limits in a foreign, unfriendly setting.  Getting a tattoo is one thing, but getting one on a reality competition is a whole different level of dedicated/idiotic.

So, yeah.  That out of the way, let's move on to my review of kits' Twilight's List, below the break.

EDIT: Because I can't figure out how to put multiple spoiler tags in the text without one overwriting the other's text, the rating today is unspoilered.  Just a heads-up, if you're one of those "don't want to see it until I've finished reading the review" folks.

Impressions before reading:  Honestly, my first impression isn't a good one.  "Twilight has to go on a date with somepony for reasons," sounds like the kind of setup of a story that works fine for people just looking to enjoy a bit of shipping, but which doesn't necessarily hold up for anyone outside of that group.  Then again, that might just be prejudice from seeing that kind of setup abused one several far too many times; there's no reason this couldn't be more than a transparent attempt to pair two ponies, after all.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When she was a filly, Twilight made a list of One Hundred Things Every Filly Should Do.  Now, only one item remains unchecked: "Go on a date, obtain first kiss."  So she decides to see if one of her friends can help her add a final checkmark.

Thoughts after reading:  The most interesting thing here is the ending, so let's start by talking about everything else.

Although the writing is good on a technical level, Twilight's List is padded to the extreme.  To its credit, the padding is often readable, if not necessarily engaging, but this is at its core a short story stretched out to novel length.  From blow-by-blow details of Dash's stunts to multiple digressions about cloud-mechanics, this story is full of asides and fluffery.  Some is genuinely interesting (cloud talk is something I always enjoy reading about), and a few bits are genuinely boring, but most fall into the middle category of "fine for what it is, but ultimately unnecessary."  As a result, this story feels slow, despite the whirlwind nature of the romance in question.

And that whirlwind romance is clearly the main attraction here.  Ultimately, a reader who isn't a shipper at heart can be forgiven for feeling left out to dry by a narrative that takes the potential for mutual romantic interest between any (all?) of the main six as a given.  To the author's credit, though, the characters still feel recognizable throughout.  Even beyond easy identifiers like Twi's slavish devotion to her lists, Twi and Dash both are easily recognizable whenever they speak or act, and the minor characters are handled equally well.

What I really enjoyed about the story, though, was the ending.  Unfortunately, major spoilers there.  If you aren't worried about knowing how this fic concludes, click the link below.  Otherwise, let me just say up here that, although it ends on the obvious (or rather, preordained) note, the way the story resolves has some pleasant surprises.

Star rating:   ☆ (what does this mean?)

While this ultimately is a "ship fic" first, second, and last, with the attendant character assumptions and aggressively romantic focus, it's a well-written one that puts enough of a unique stamp on the romance to stand out, while also throwing a few SoL-worldbuilding bones to more general readers along the way.

Recommendation:  If you're into TwiDash, this will probably be right up your alley.  If you're not a shipping fan, you don't need me to tell you not to bother.  For the rest of you, this might be worth a look for readers who don't mind a plodding narrative and some common-to-the-genre character assumptions.

Next time:  Life on the Frontier, by Starwind Dood


  1. Chris, both "show/hide" buttons just reveal the spoiler text, not the star rating

    I'm gonna guess it's a two. No way it's higher than a three. Regardless, not my kind of story, and it doesn't have a strong enough recommendation for me to read it despite that

    1. Huh; I can't seem to get two spoiler tags to play nicely together. I''m gonna go ahead and un-spoil the rating for this review, I guess.

      Good to know there's one more thing I can break.

  2. I'll have to share this with kits. :) This is high praise for a shipfic, and your criticisms barely touch the actual shipping!

    Trivia: this is one of two fics I own in physical copy. (The other is The Spiderses.)

    1. Fun Fact: I can only listen to readings of The Spiderses (has that always contained the definite article?). I absolutely cannot read it myself. I suppose that's part of the humor, but I struggle to the point that it becomes more frustrating than funny

    2. The article has always been there, yes.

      And obviously you require enlightenment. Go read the Swooty Bell Adventures.

    3. Weird, for some reason I'd always thought of it as just Spiderses

      I remember the first chapter of Swooty Bell from TrotCon, and later read it on deviantArt. Haven't read the additional chapters, though. Not sure I could do that and retain my sanity

  3. Unrelated to ponies: I love Inkmaster. I mainlined all four seasons while I was on this deployment. They haven't updated the drive with the new season yet, so I'll have to catch it when I get home.

    Unrelated #2: When are you reviewing the Outside Insight fics?

    1. If, may be a better question that when.

    2. Sadly, M is right: if am I reviewing the Outside Insight fics is no. I'm not planning to review them all, but a whole bunch have wormed their way onto my reading list in one form or another, and I'm reading those (along with everything else I read). In fact, you'll hear what I thought about a few tomorrow!

  4. I didn't remember that ending. Or the clouds thing. In fact, there's a lot of this story that I've forgotten. I remember liking a lot, and I remember putting it heads and shoulders above most other shipfics I've read, but for some reason it just wasn't memorable to me. That's really weird. Normally, when I like something a lot, it really sticks out in my mind. I'm not sure what that implies.