Friday, September 19, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 51

Today's post was going to be my review of The Assumption of Applejack -or- Appletheosis... until I went to type it up and realized that I'd read the wrong story again.  Stupid FiMFic authors need to stop giving their fanfics similar names; it's Daring DONE!/Daring Don't all over again!

That being the case, we're doing a round of mini-reviews today so I have time to go read the story I'm supposed to be reviewing.  And naturally, we're leading off with...

Appletheosis, by DuncanR

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A talking snake and a garden turn up near Applejack's farm one day, and said snake would very much like somepony to eat of its forbidden fruit.  Unfortunately, tempting ponies is harder than it looks.

A few thoughts:  Yaknow, if I'd just looked at the number of views when I downloaded the story, this wouldn't have happened... anyway, this story obviously has more than a few religious overtones, but it isn't preachy or offensive; it's a mostly-comic take on why the biblical serpent's offer(s) might be less than appealing to our native Equestrians.  The ending suddenly went in a direction I wasn't expecting, but although it was abrupt (both the change in direction, and the ending itself), it left me with a bit to think about. 

Recommendation:  Anyone looking for some gentle, tasteful parody may want to give this a try, though readers who are looking for straight comedy may find some of the more serious (though not really mood-breaking) moments offputting.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Blueblood discovers that virtually nostallion in Equestria except for himself has any voting rights, he sets out to change it... for the most selfish, disgusting reason possible.

A few thoughts:  A game my family likes to play with commercials is "how offensive would that be if the genders/races/ages of the characters were swapped around?"  It's fun to see what stereotypes are or aren't acceptable--at least, in the eyes of modern media.

I mention this because this story made me frown a lot more than smile, and when I tried to figure out why, it occurred to me that if this story had all the genders reversed (it'd have to be set somewhere other than Equestria for that to work, obviously, but bear with me), I'd be really offended by it.  The problem is that the impetus for voting rights is Blueblood and his lecherous buffoonery--by every indication, stallions' voting rights were a total non-issue until Bluey showed up.  If he'd been co-opting or comically trying to take over the existing voting rights movement, or if that movement had tried to use him as a political figurehead without realizing what a bad idea that was, or if there was basically any indication that anypony prior to Blueblood had given the matter more thought than, "yeah, I guess that'd be okay, but what are you gonna do?," it would have worked better for me, because that would separate the issue from the main character while still giving plenty of opportunity to poke fun at both.  Instead, this story tied voting rights indelibly to BB's perversity, and made it clear that one simply could not exist without the other.  That left a bad taste in my mouth.

Recommendation:  I'm probably overthinking this; the story's quite funny if you're not the type to get your boxers in a twist over the portrayal of voting rights for fictional equines.  So, if you aren't and you like funny stuff, give it a shot!  Oh, and if you don't mind footnotes; sadly, they're not iisaw-style, and given how much of the humor in the story is thanks to them, I can't recommend this to people reading on e-readers or other devices where getting back and forth might prove a hassle.  But if you're on a device that doesn't make reading them a chore, they're very, very worth it.

Sporkle, by Seether00

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight wakes up one morning to discover that her horn has been replaced by a spork.  She goes to demand that Discord turn it back (because come on, who else could it be?), but instead gets a history/mythology lesson.

A few thoughts:  I just told you everything that happens in this fic; what makes it worth reading isn't the plot, nor the punchline (I like terrible puns, but that one definitely wasn't worth it), but the laconic, matter-of-fact narration that pairs beautifully with silliness of the premise and situations.  There's not a lot to this story, but it definitely got me to grin.

Recommendation:  That said, there really isn't a lot to this story; it's a 1000-word timewaster, when all's said and done.  Definitely an above-average one, and worth reading if you like that sort of thing, but not something for those looking for more than a bit of idle fun-poking.

Pride, by InquisitorM

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A griffon, wounded in a skirmish with a nearby pony village, is tended by one of the mares.  There, he discovers more than he imagined there was to know about the ponies, and about the tensions between the two societies.

A few thoughts:  This is InquisitorM at his M-iest: there are some very specific things he's going to relate, and he's not going to waste time with anything else.  Moreover, readers are expected to do a lot of filling in of blanks at all points; major character developments are literally shown only via their effects, and secondhand at that.  This can be rewarding for fans of the style, but anyone looking for something to skim through will quickly find themselves lost.  Moreover, a lot of scenes require after-the-fact piecing together--a bit near the middle of the story where several ponies sort-of attack Osvald (or rather, the way it concludes) only really makes sense once some additional context on the situation is provided several thousand words later.  Although it's definitely a through-narrative, in a way this isn't so much a story as it is a series of events from which the reader can extrapolate a story once they've finished reading.

Recommendation:  This is a love it or hate it thing; if you're interested in doing a lot of extrapolating, a lot of reading between the lines, and (if you're like me) a fair bit of re-reading, you'll find a thoughtful character and culture study is your reward.  But if you don't have the patience for that, or simply don't have the interest, this is more likely to confuse and annoy.


  1. Already read, and loved, two of these. Pride's definitely one of Scott's better works. I didn't have the same issues with it that I did, say, Every Mare Needs Her Stallion. The characters just made sense and weren't confusing at all, excepting instances where further information was required, but that was obtained in a timely manner

    I can see where you're coming from with 18th Brewmare, but I was able to overlook it easily enough and just enjoy the fic. Actually, I suppose I didn't overlook it so much as derive some sick sense of humor from the whole thing. The reversal of privilege and a literal lack of class consciousness (oh, how I despise that term) just struck me as absurd. But then, I also find pony-centric racism and Over a Barrel funny

  2. I feel like Pride really encapsulates what M is all about. He's always railing against stories that tell too much, or anything at all, and he's accomplished the exact opposite more or less perfectly with that story.

    I was really miffed when The Assumption of Applejack came out because DuncanR's story had already been written for the writeoff. :B

  3. "bare with me"

    Sure. Where are we doing this?

  4. Horizon here. I've been behind on my review reading!

    That's a really interesting critique of Brewmare, and you've got a point. I certainly didn't intend it that way (and as other stories like "Mark of Destiny" hopefully suggest, I at least try to be socially conscious about my writing); there's some other discussion in Brewmare's comments about the overall moral, which might be worth reading. Regardless, were I to go back and do it again (or find a way to edit it quickly, because when I begin to rip a story apart I know it's not going to be reassembled for months), even something as simple as a few suggestions of prior unrest around the edges would be a good addition.