Friday, October 10, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 54

Hey, FiMFiction finally got bookshelves!

...Aw man, now I've got to stop using "favorites" as "tracking" and start actually using these, don't I?  Man, that sounds like work; I finally got all the mini-reviews into a header-linked page this week, and now I've got more going back over old fics to do?  Man, life is suffering, man.  Man.

So instead of doing that, I'm going to type up some mini-reviews!  Short takes on fanfics I've recently read, below the break; bookshelf-work TBD.

The Adventures of Sweetie_Belle.jpg, by Dash the Stampede

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The titular .jpg goes on an adventure with Apple_Bloom.png and Flightless_Chicken.gif to earn their shortcuts

A few thoughts:  When it comes to "wacky premise" stories like this, I think there are three categories of fics: those that use their bizarre twist to fullest advantage, going so far off-the-wall that one can't help but laugh; those that settle for making a few metajokes and substitute "random" for "humor;" and those that don't offend, but also don't really do anything more than advertised.  This story falls firmly into the last category; it embraces its premise, throwing around computer-name/environ "jokes" with willful abandon, but that's pretty much the only draw here.  It's a short enough story (about 2k words) that I wasn't bothered by the fact that it was a one-note joke, but frankly, it could have been cut down a lot even from there; the humor is in the premise, not in anything else.

Recommendation:  If you're intrigued by the title, this is a very competently executed crackfic.  If you don't think this kind of story is your thing, though, you're almost certainly right.

Breaking News and Weather, by Pineta

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A series of newspaper front pages from the days immediately following Dash's first sonic rainboom.

A few thoughts:  This isn't a "story" in the traditional sense, although a loose narrative does emerge as it tracks school and public reaction over the course of a week or so.  Instead, it's a set of headlines and stories (or more often, story blurbs) which don't just reflect on the nominally central story, but offer a variety of asides and peripheral humor.  Although I ended up skimming several of the articles, my general impression was still positive; much like a newspaper, one can read just the headlines and get the gist, or one can read the whole article if they're interested.

Recommendation:  Because of the way this is set up, I don't recommend it for e-ink screens.  For computer/tablet readers who are looking for something a little different, though, this would make a fun bit of faux-reporting.

Concessions, by Chuckfinley

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Trixie and Gilda are war profiteers.

A few thoughts:  This is one of those stories where I just can't wrap my head around the idea that everything's happening in Equestria (or rather, the world of which Equestria is a part).  The premise is that Trixie and Gilda have traveled to this destabilized warzone and are robbing government installations, trying to avoid getting shot, and are cursing up a storm while generally representing the worst impulses of humanity.  Now, I will grant that they do this in a very entertaining, readable way, but I got hung up on the fact that this basically feels nothing like MLP, not just in terms of tone, but actual setting.

Recommendation:  If thematic and conceptual fit aren't a big deal for you, then this might be worth reading as a dark-comic heist story.  If those are at all stumbling blocks for you, though, this probably isn't going to work for you.


  1. I'm loving the new bookshelves! I've actually got eight of 'em now (there's some redundancy). Everything's so organized, and my reading list looks smaller now. It's pretty much the best change ever

  2. Wow, 2 of 3 I've actually read! This is a rare occasion.

    I pretty much agree with you on the last two stories for exactly the same reasons. "Breaking News and Weather" didn't offer a lot in original and compelling narrative, but the delivery method was refreshingly unique, and the bits of other articles you get to see are cool at times, particularly the one about a labor dispute, which gets almost as continuous a story arc as the feature. My only complaint about the rainboom storyline is that it's a little too homogeneous, getting opinions from mostly city folk who don't live too far from Cloudsdale. At least from a perspective standpoint, the kids' newspaper was a nice departure from that.

    "Concession" was an amusing read, but it's one of those stories where the only connection to MLP was the imported personalities, of Trixie and Gilda in this case. It was also more profane than I prefer in my ponyfics, and the ending felt a little directionless. Given the author's name, it's unsurprising that this one struck a very Burn Notice feel, but I never got the impression that they had a far-reaching plan in place until the after-the-fact explanation at the end, and then it's unclear what the payoff is, money for the sake of money, or was there ever a goal in mind? It also struck me as oddly convenient that that particular treasure happened to be there and that they knew about it without ever letting on beforehand that they had a bigger score in mind. Still, if you don't read too deeply into it, it's definitely an amusing story.

    1. The idea of:

      A My Little Pony/Burn Notice crossover is so appealing to me that I've tried and tried and tried to like "Banishment Decree." But it's too dark: I've never managed to make it past chapter 3...


    2. Mike, Chuck is now doing an officially sanctioned spinoff of MrNumber's The Demesne of the Reluctant Twilight Sparkle that promises to be Banishment Decree Lite.

      ~Super Trampoline

    3. Unfortunately:

      I find that I still have the same problem with it as I had with the original "Banishment Decree"--Gilda in these stories is nothing but a highly-skilled thug and is nowhere near as interesting a character as Michael Weston.