Monday, February 2, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 68

So, how about that Super Bowl, eh?  Brady and/or Wilson sure did do enough to win!  And Gronk/Lynch's catch/run in the 1st/2nd/3rd/4th quarter really sealed the deal.

...Look, I'm typing this up on Saturday afternoon, and I probably won't get come back to update it between the end of the game and posting time; just fill in the appropriate reaction.  With any luck, it was less of a snooze-fest than last year's drubbing.

So, on to mini reviews!  Below the break, just like usual.

The Principal of Superposition, by HazardPony

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  While taking her (unusually light...) apple cart to town, Applejack is approached by Twilight, who wants to deliver a short lecture.

A few thoughts:  This story has pacing issues: the gap between setup and reveal is stretched out to accommodate Twilight's lecturing, AJ's annoyance and deliberate riling-up of Twi, and a couple of other details, to the point where it's more relief than reward when the payoff (such as it is) finally comes.  On the other hand, the idea of Twilight's behavior is pretty funny, and the other ponies' revelation at the end was worth the wait.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for something funny and just a little bit mean-spirited, but still in the tone of the show, this would be a good selection.  But if you don't much care for sloggy middles, this is probably a poor choice.

Thy Words, by Lady Grey

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Luna invites Twilight to tea, but between unstated issues both magical and linguistic the event is more awkward than friendly.

A few thoughts:  I'm very fond of stories which make use of Luna's archaisms as a plot point, particularly when those involve language, and especially when the author understands what s/he's doing with the language.  That was all the case here, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed it.  That said, it was a distracted, detached enjoyment--the problem is that there are several things that happen, or are explained, in this story, but none of them really tie together well.  The language, Twilight's fear of magic, her realization of what kind of friend she is... these all could work together, but in this story they seem more like individual ideas which have wormed their way into the same teatime.

Recommendation:  Fans of "slice of life" in the truest sense--stories which are in no way beholden to a cohesive theme--will want to check this out, and readers who love stories where Luna doesn't mangle her thees and thous should definitely give it a try, but those looking for thematic cohesion will probably be disappointed.

Ocean, by Church

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight Sparkle and five friends sail toward the sunset.

A few thoughts:  This was an strange story, almost more word-painting than narrative, but one I found charming despite its faults.  Those faults being, primarily, that the ending was a little too ambiguous for my tastes, and that the aforementioned word-painting tended to ebb and flow (heh) throughout; there were some beautiful passages, but they'd too often be followed up with a tone-breaking anachronism or poorly-phrased aside.  When this story hit its mark, though, it was a real pleasure to read, and as a more experimental piece, I enjoyed the idea even if the execution came and went.

Recommendation:  This would be a good choice for readers looking for something artistically ambitious, but less so for those who value successful execution over concept, writing-style-wise.

What We Wanted to Do, by Cold in Gardez

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The CMC hold a press conference to explain the latest issue of the Foal Free Press.

A few thoughts:  I'm not usually much for sexual comedy in pony stories, but this one trades heavily on implication and misunderstanding, rather than gross-out jokes or anatomical humor.  And it is hilarious.  The situation (or rather, the realization of just what has happened) builds nicely, escalating to some pretty ridiculous heights while building naturally on itself.  The structure alternates between flashbacks and the press conference, and the latter is where all the best lines are, but the two parts go nicely together.

Recommendation:  It's a Cold in Gardez comedy, and most of you can probably figure out whether you'll like it based on that alone.  For the rest, though, I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a humorous story that doesn't have to resort to ninjas to constantly top itself, and who doesn't mind a story which (although basically clean) is ultimately all about the sex lives of ponies.


  1. Oh yes, I read "What We Wanted to Do". Quote myself:

    I can't picture a filly who grew up on a farm (which does keep animals) being kept this ignorant about these matters. Especially when her sister is this bad at lying of all kinds.

    Also, are we to believe that every single filly and colt in Ponyville is being kept completely and utterly in the dark about these matters? Not even an "it's what you do with your special somepony, and it's a thing between the two of you" brush-off? I feel that this story escalated a little too far in the interest of comedy, shattering my suspension of disbelief - and yes, even (perhaps especially) a comedy needs that suspension to work.

    In short: Good idea, but this was one turn of the screw too many for my taste.

    1. I agree. However, it seems my suspension of disbelief is stronger than yours and therefore can beat yours up in a fight.

      As for the Principle of Superposition, I'm thinking meh.