Friday, January 23, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 67

I've been sick-but-not-enough-to-really-complain-about for more than a week now--you know, the kind of sick where you feel kind of cruddy sometimes, and you know there's something wrong, but you aren't sick sick.  Anyway, what's really getting me is this dry, hacking cough I keep getting every night.  It always kicks in around nine or ten, and lasts until I manage to get to sleep.  How does that even work?  How is time-sensitive illness even a thing?  At first I thought it might be something in the bedroom, but nope; same problem, same time, even when I stayed out in the living room.  What kind of garbage is that?

Okay, whining over.  Click down below the break for thoughts on what I've been reading for fun lately.

My Little Economy Economics is Science, by mylittleeconomy

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Nightmare Moon returns and threatens to plunge Equestria into a recession with her central bank policies, it's up to Royal Econopony Twilight Sparkle and her new friends to obtain the Elements of Equilibrium and restore economic balance.

A few thoughts:  When this story is on, it is on.  Starting as an economics-themed parody/retelling of the pilot episodes, this story definitely delivers the humor, both through incongruous use of economic theory and more traditional means (the snark levels in both the character voices and the narration are wonderful).  As the story progresses, however, it progressively moves away from the source material, and I'm of two minds as regards this development.  On one hand, a straight retelling of the show with the word "economy" substituted in for "friendship" would be unbearable, and I'm very glad the author didn't feel too constrained by the work he was parodying.  On the other, this means that characters and events need to be basically self-justified, and they aren't always; Fluttershy's characterization in particular isn't internally consistent, and (toward the end, at least) doesn't really relate to her show characterization, either as a parody, a deconstruction, or a straight connection.  Without some sort of mooring, either internal or external, connective issues like this stick out.  With that said, the direction it goes is interesting, if dark, and the way the author played with show elements like the parasprites to adapt them to the needs of the narrative was always interesting.  It's also worth mentioning that the writing improves noticeably as the story goes, technically speaking; it's not all that bad at the start, but there's a definite increase in editing and structural quality in the later chapters.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for something consistently humorous, occasionally educational (at least, for those of us who aren't terribly well-versed on monetary theory to begin with), and remarkably clever, this would be a good choice.  I might caution those sensitive to AU-stuff against it, though; you'll need to give it some leeway, even beyond the titular conceit.

You're Doing It Wrong, by The Ravager

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Twilight tries to read a book, a stallion tells her she's doing it wrong.  And not nicely, either.

A few thoughts:  I went into this, based on title, description, and length, expecting a single-joke fic; what I got instead was... commentary on over-critical readers, I guess?  Except not really; it's more of a lazy strawman, and it would be hard to apply Twilight's profanity-laced "lesson" to any but the most obviously troll-y of commenters.  And in any case, it rather ruins any slice-of-life vibe, simple-pleasures-in-reading-about-ponies vibe that the story might have had going for it prior to that.

Recommendation:  I don't recommend this story; while it's not awful by any stretch, the meta- element isn't well-executed, and in its service the fic also fails to provide on a narrative level.  I just can't think of any group of readers who I would suggest specifically seek this out.

There Is No Luna, by a human

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight finally gains permission from Celestia to access her private library of banned books, and discovers a disturbing secret.

A few thoughts:  To me, the reveal lacked punch, and I'm not talking about it being given away early (it's right there in the title, after all; this story was never about surprising you on that count).  Rather, it's in how the AU tag is used to justify this being an Equestria where Luna (not Nightmare Moon/the Mare in the Moon) was well-known to be Celestia's sister prior to her return.  It's not that that's an unreasonable AU, in and of itself... but the fact that it's just implied in passing, while being crucial to the reveal making sense, bothered me.  I also have to admit to finding the opening a little slow; Celestia's library of banned books is remarkably banal.  That said, I did enjoy the unique premise, and the story did a great job of leaving open some questions about whether Celestia did the right thing by (in effect) telling Twilight, and what Twilight will--or can--do with that knowledge.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for an interesting exploration of an unexpected idea, this will fit your needs nicely... as long as you're willing to accept that Equestria's history is changed to suit the needs of the plot.


  1. Econ was my major, so I have to read that first one (once I get back to reading, that is. I've been putting off Present's latest fic for almost three weeks now)

    1. If it makes you feel any better, I've been putting off a lot of things lately. I still haven't seen A Brony Tale or Rainbow Rocks. Hell, I've been putting off Dirty Dancing for my entire life

  2. Without even reading it, I suspect that second one might be about nice guys, fake geek girls, or something otherwise tumblr-related. Just a hunch.

    1. My immediate assumption was it's about that "mansplaining" thing all the kids are doing these days

  3. Just out of curiosity, what made you read that second fic?

    1. I thought it was going to be a silly little pick-me-up! Sometimes a man needs to read a jokes-in-the-title fic!

      Then, of course, it turned out it wasn't that, anyway...

  4. Well, you know I can never resist a story about the economy...

  5. Well, it's nice to see My Little Economy is back. For a brief and frightening time, the story vanished, along with a half-dozen or so other little and cute takes on the AU of the Elements of Equilibrium. I really wish he'd bring them all back, but I'll settle for this one. I still think it's a hoot to look at Equestria as an economic system.