Monday, October 6, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 53

Time for some short reviews of some of the stuff I've recently read for fun!  Click on down below the break for your latest dose of the unending juggernaut that is One Man's Pony Ramblings.

Hello, My Name Is, by LoyalLiar

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Right before the invasion of Canterlot is supposed to commence, a changeling suddenly finds itself completely magic-less and unable to change its form to blend in... and "laying low" is not an option.

A few thoughts:  There's a lot of good comedy in this story, centering around just how oblivious people (ponies) can be; all the story's best moments revolve around how highly visible this changeling is, and how aggressively everypony fails to notice anything out of the ordinary.  Also, stupid puns!  I love stupid puns!  But what I wasn't as happy with was the characterization of the main character himself: although his murderous, mean-spirited tone was sometimes comical, I found that more often it took the story to a darker place than I was comfortable with for what is, at its core, an absurd comedy.  Joking about how much better "Limited Liability" (the pony he was replacing) got at his job after he was replaced is one thing; casually tossing out that the real LL is presumably already dead moved the tone rather farther afield than I was happy with.

Recommendation:  If you don't mind your comic stories on the dark side (as distinct from dark comedy; this is fairly light comedy with some very dark trappings around it), then you'll probably find this a nicely humorous jaunt.

Fugue State, by horizon

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Lyra can't stand the musical numbers that pervade Ponyville; the ensemble songs which materialize out of nowhere and overtake everypony in range, forcing them to sing and dance and occasionally horribly injure themselves.  Bon Bon doesn't see why it's such a big deal; she thinks they're kind of fun, herself.

A few thoughts:  This story is weird, and I mean that in a good way.  I liked the idea, and I liked that the author did more with it than "what if those songs were really happening, ha-ha, wouldn't that be something?," and instead thought a little bit about how ponies might react to that if it were a constant in Equestrian life.  I'm kind of uncomfortable with how it resolves, though.  I get that the emotional ending made sense, but being in a song-center like Ponyville still seems like something that regularly threatens one's very life in this vision of Equestria (we hear about several serious injuries from previous musical numbers, and Bon Bon nearly breaks her neck), and everyone just kind of seems okay with that.  They could have made the decision to take that risk for the love of music or somesuch, but instead that whole issue seemed to get ignored at the end in favor of the mental/emotional angle.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a good treatment of a sorta-silly premise, this story delivers.

Ruled by Sin, by Pearple Prose

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The tale of how one dragon rose to rule his breatheren, but overreached his immense power.

A few thoughts:  This is worldbuilding, through and through; there's no pretense of a standard narrative here.  Instead, what you get is a fictional biography.  I'm amenable to that kind of thing (biographies can be good, even great!), but this one suffers some problems.  First of all, it's very symbol-laden (the titular dragon is literally named "Sin," after all), which somewhat interferes with the straight-history storytelling style.  Second, the story ends very abruptly, and I found it unsatisfying in its whimper-conclusion.  With that said, the worldbuilding is clearly the draw here, and that was interesting and portentous without fail.

Recommendation:  While this story is only for fans of lore, it does hit that note strongly and effectively; to that specific audience, I'd suggest giving this a look.


  1. Aaaaahhh! My read later list was finally down to twelve!

    1. Twelve? You were lucky to 'ave only twelve! 'Fore I came here, I had twenty-seven fics in my queue, each longer than t' last

    2. Well, when I say "twenty-seven", I of course mean for that day. Every morning, I 'ave wake up at six, read sixteen-hour day, pay each author for the privilege, and then come here so Chris can thrash me to sleep with 'is spelling errors — if I'm lucky!

      (So happy someone got what I was going for, by the way)

    3. I used to dream of 'aving twenty-seven! Every morn, I'd have to wake up, read the shortest couple of stories from the sixty or so in me list, come over to Chris, and he'd give me three more to read, if I were lucky! God help me if a contest t'were finishing and declaring winners at the time, or John Perry found something good while workin' up at the old feature mill!

    4. Thank you! Thank you, everybody! I'll be here all week!

  2. For the record, I *definitely* wasn't intending Fugue State to imply that musicals were deadly — occasionally dangerous, yes, but the worst *actual* injury we ever see or hear about is Bon Bon's twisted ankle, and Lyra's dry-heaving at the train station (which itself was a symptom of her fighting off the spell).

    My author headcanon is that, in a world where friendship is such an immense force, the power behind musicals is making a specific effort to prevent anything traumatic from happening as a result; there's the occasional minor slip like the twisted ankle, but by and large Lyra really *is* overreacting. Which isn't to say that she doesn't have a point, but so does Bon Bon (or at least the story needs that to be true to work), and the story's about finding a genuine reconciliation between those.

    At any rate, glad you enjoyed it!

    1. For what it's worth, I completely adopted your headcanon. I still need to write that story about a pony whose special talent is interpreting background music.

      ~Super Trampoline