Friday, December 19, 2014

Mini-Reviews Round 63

There's a special kind of fear one can only feel in a classroom full of young students: the moment when all the kiddies suddenly gasp and shriek while you were in the middle of saying something, and you have an instant of panic while you try to remember if you just accidentally let slip a curse word or sexual innuendo.  Then you find out that you just have to add "about a week ago" to the list of phrases that modern music has ruined.

Kids, man.  Anyway, a few short reviews of stuff I've recently read, below the break.

An Earth Pony Thing, by Mudpony

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Alula is thrilled to be Diamond Tiara's girlfriend, but that relationship is threatened when she offends Diamond, and she doesn't even know what she did wrong.

A few thoughts:  This story does a lot of things nicely.  It doesn't overplay the puppy-love relationship between its two principal characters, it has an interesting idea about earth ponies at its core, and it doesn't overplay the drama in the story.  The one area it falls flat in a little bit is point of view: Alula's views are mostly informed story elements, rather than a naturally introduced ones, and a lot of what she learns is introduced as narrative fact, rather than truly being through her perspective.  Still, the views and lessons themselves are both interesting, and good fits for the story.

Recommendation:  I'd recommend this to someone looking for something with a lot of light touches--there's some romance here, some worldbuilding, some slice-of-life, and some drama, but none in more than gentle doses. 

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Octavia has a breakdown over her toothpaste... or rather, with her toothpaste as the catalyst.

A few thoughts:  There are a lot of stories that take this general approach to Octavia's character--that she's both repressed and depressed, as a result of her musical life choices (and pony reactions to them).  What makes this stand out is the dramatic yet remarkably real way she handles those feelings here.  There's no instant resolution, no two-minute pep-talk that solves everything, and the emotional climax is well set up.  The biggest weakness is the writing, though that may be at least partially personal preference; Cloud Hop uses an effusive, purple-tinged, and frequently overwrought style, where I felt that a bit more starkness would have made Octavia's plight and actions stand out.

Recommendation:  In the fourth paragraph, Octavia's toothbrush is unironically referred to as "her tooth-cleaning apparatus."  I think a pretty good test of whether you'd enjoy this story or not is how you react to that kind of over-phrasing: if it doesn't bother you much, then you'll probably find this to be an unusually believable take on this interpretation of Octavia.  If it does bother you, though, then this story is probably not for you.


  1. Damn kids... Seriously, the Disney music's not bad enough, they have to go and listen to this crap too?! I feel so old now

    Adding both of these stories, 'cause apparently I'm not far enough behind on everything! Stupid twelve hour shifts...

  2. Oddly, the only thing I know about that song is that the lead rapper was arrested for gun charges in New York yesterday. I literally just read about it in the newspaper and then BAM sudden relevance on the internet!

    1. Life has a way of throwing weird coincidences like that at you.

  3. Both pony stories are very nice (and I upvoted). The Rap clip (and I left the word 'music' out intentionally) was less so.

    Ahh, for the days when Elvis gyrating on TV was considered 'edgy.' Now we have... this. Am I just getting old, or are kids today really dumber than dirt?

    1. I have evidence:

      That I was dumber than dirt when I was a lad back in the 1970s. My father worked as a newspaper photographer, y'see, so everything my sibs and I did got documented either in still photos or on silent 16-millimeter film. Looking through those albums or watching those movies now makes me recall exactly how much of a pill I was for that entire decade... :)


  4. Ugh this review just makes me want to delete that entire story. It was an experiment in descriptive writing and it didn't work and the rest of the story is kind of crap too and I'm surprised you didn't point out how octavia's romance with the artist makes *absolutely no sense*.

    1. Eh, it could be good with some proper editing. And yeah, the " romance" might not exactly be the best, but it could certainly be worse.
      And besides, the fic does get kinda good once you're past the way too sluggish and kinda pointless start, in my opinion; the base idea is one worth exploring, it just needs some polish.