Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 62

I'm about two-thirds done reading the writeoff fics as I type this, and they're the usual entertainingly mixed bag.  There's a wrinkle this time, though; at the end, there's also going to be a "guess who wrote which stories" side-vote, and I am absolutely clueless.  Even for the authors who entered whom I think of as having a fairly distinct style (Augiedog Baal Bunny, Bad Horse) or who I figured I could just slot as the author of whatever my favorite story was (Cold in Gardez), I'm still drawing blanks.  Eh, maybe the easy ones are all bunched up at the end.

Anyway, I've also read a few non-writeoff things recently, to clear the palate a bit.  Have my thoughts on those things, below the break.

Late Fees, by MrNumbers

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Caramel tries to return a slightly-overdue, slightly-completely-destroyed book to the library; Princess Twilight is not amused.

A few thoughts:  This story has some funny moments, and the way Caramel manages to keep digging a bigger hole for himself gives it a nice buildup.  I also liked the tone of the opening, which does a nice job with understatement.  That said, there are some pretty significant punctuation problems, and wordflow is a constant issue.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for something light and funny, and maybe just a little less ephemeral than your average "Pony verbs noun" story--and if you don't mind some technical shortcomings--this would be good for short diversion.

We'll Dismember You For It, Wholesale!, by Chuckfinley

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Gilda and Trixie are in the business of making bodies disappear--a business for which there's fair call in Fillydelphia.  This is one of their stories.

A few thoughts:  I think what I found so off-putting about this story wasn't the grotesquery of it all--there's plenty of that, mind, but it made for a kind of perversely consistent anti-Equestria which I found worked for me.  No, my issue was that the main characters don't talk or act anything like Gilda or Trixie.  Sure, they're physical characteristics are the same, and they make a couple of references to Ponyville and toss the odd "dweeb" or bit of third-person into their speech, but the foul-mouthed, comically sociopathic, morally malignant main characters here are so far removed from the characters they nominally are supposed to be (and not, as with the setting, in a particularly parodic way) that they were a constant distraction to me.  I'd have liked this story a lot more with a pair of OCs as the leads--or at least, with Gilda and Trixie, rather than a pair of unconvincing action-antihero doppelgangers.

Recommendation:  If you can handle the gleefully horrific tone (or better yet, if that's exactly what you're here for) and don't mind some pretty massive character assassination in the name of fitting a role, there's a lot here to like.

Changeling, by CCC

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight discovers that Rarity is a changeling, and rushes to tell Celestia.  It turns out Celestia already knows.

A few thoughts:  In many places, this felt less like a fanfic than it did like a crack theory told via mouthpiece.  But I'll give it this: it was a really fun crack theory, and Celestia's calmly explaining everything to Twilight was consistently entertaining for me.  The punchline fell flat, but that's evaluating it as a story, and I'm pretty sure that's ultimately the wrong metric to use; this is a 1500 word blogpost with some character trappings to make it more readable.  And in that context, it's quite enjoyable.

Recommendation:  Don't read this expecting anything more than a ridiculous bit of "just stupid enough to make sense... but not really."  If you go into it expecting that, though, and if that's something you're interested in in the first place, it's quite fun on its own merits.


  1. Well, you sold me on that last one! :D

  2. "Sure, their physical characteristics are the same..."

    Also sold on that last one, partly due to its length. I have almost zero time nowadays for ponyfiction :(

  3. "This is a 1500 word blogpost with some character trappings to make it more readable."

    Perhaps I should go into more stories with this mindset because man, the disappointment stings.