Friday, February 27, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 71

"One deceptively springlike winter day, Brewmaster Dan walked home from the brewery, sat down to dinner and said, 'Boy, there are some fat squirrels out there.  They're running all over the place.  I think I should brew a Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale.'  Deb agreed and so another beer legend was born."

That quote comes from the label on New Glarus Brewing Co.'s Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale, a semi-seasonal regional beer which is a personal favorite of mine, both because it's a a good mix of hoppy and drinkable coupled with a pleasant aftertaste, and because I seriously love that quote.  I read it out loud every time I drink one in company.  I'm having a beer with dinner while I begin to type this up, and so I thought I'd share.  Cheers!

Now that we've got that out of the way, click on down to see what not-for-Fandom-Classic-ing fanfic reading I've been up to lately, and what I thought of it.

The Stormclouds Beneath Your Hooves, by Scramblers and Shadows

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  An elderly Rainbow Dash isn't about to stop doing what she loves just because some ponies think she's too old and feeble to take care of herself.  She can clear the skies above a vineyard just as well as ever.

A few thoughts:  This story doesn't make a perfect connection between its protagonist and the Rainbow Dash from the show; the vocabulary used, even accounting for age and change, is somewhat (though not distressingly, I hasten to add) at odds with what one might expect from her.  What the fic does very well, however, is get into how she might think--complete with somewhat-unreliable narrator--about herself and her life when her body starts to reach the point where it can't accommodate her lifestyle.  This is a story that doesn't really go anywhere you wouldn't expect from the premise and Sad tag, but the presentation of that premise is excellent, and that's really what carries it through.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a well-conceived piece about the tragedy of aging which uses character perspective to good effect, this is worth checking out.

Muskrat Love, by Alaborn

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Fluttershy writes a song about her animal friends, muskrats Suzie and Sam.

A few thoughts:  This story's probably only of any interest at all if you have a deep and abiding fondness for that charmingly bizarrely-belyriced classic, Muscrat Love.  Well I do, so I enjoyed reading this.  But without that specific source of pleasure-taking, there's really not much here to recommend.  The writing's solid enough from a technical standpoint, but the "story" is basically a few thousand words of showing how Fluttershy came up with the song, and got it on the radio along with a few horse and music puns.  There's no conflict, no forward impetus... just some stuff that happens.  But dangit, I still enjoyed it.

Recommendation:  I'd only recommend this to fans of Muskrat Love (the song).  To the rest of you, I'd recommend Muskrat Love (the song); it's weird, but it's a good, sweet kind of weird.

Echo, by Eskerata

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Vivid Color is a famous artist whose dreams have lately been haunted by gibbering masks, leading him to seek the help of Princess Luna.

A few thoughts:  The reason for Vivid's dreams is clever--in fact, it's the best part of the story.  And if the resolution is abrupt, it's at least still kept fairly believable.  But where this story struggles is with its protagonist himself.  Unfortunately, Vivid is a snarky, insufferable, gratingly clever-in-quotation-marks drain on reader empathy.  I suspect the author was trying to give him a strong personality (which is necessary for the ending to work), but this comes through primarily as an unending stream of bragging and showing-up as Luna passively lets him steal center stage.

Recommendation:  Though definitely not one for those sensitive to questionable OC execution, this might still be worth a look for readers who aren't too distressed by that and who particularly like their stories to have original and unexpected reveals.


  1. Honest, I read that as Hamster Love. Brought back memories of Dr. Dememto.

    Echo was very insightful, if a little clumsy in spots. Well worth the read. There's a little twinge in my heart to read about RD in her old age, since old age is so much closer to me now... :)

  2. Make sure you listen to the Captain & Tennille version of Muskrat Love.

  3. re Echo: Argh. A SQUID OC is about as much of a dealbreaker as the cool dream worldbuilding is a draw. Now I have no idea whether to read it or not. D: