Friday, May 15, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 83

Before we dive into mini-reviewing, it's time for another look at how the NHL/Fanfic Playoffs are shaping up!  The second round is over, and that means it's time for an updated bracket:

Now with a shiny new bracket; click for full size!  Also, check the original post if you need a reminder what each team/story pairing is based on, and check here for the round-one recap.

In the most depressing result for me personally, the Wild (My Little Denarians) were swept by the Blackhawks (Fallout: Equestria), including three of four games where we just needed one goddamn bounce... anyway, the bottom of the bracket saw plucky overachiever Calgary (Past Sins) finally fall back to reality against an Ducks (My Little Dashie) team that's turning out to be probably the most complete team in the playoffs.

Over in the East, Tampa Bay (Friendship is Optimal) looked like it might be getting ready to blow a commanding 3-0 series lead, but eventually put away a feisty Montreal (DoAM) in six.  And on the other side of the bracket, the Capitals (The Celestia Code) really did blow a commanding 3-1 series lead, letting the Rangers (Fall of Equestria) take the last three games to win the series, including a heartbreaking overtime clincher in game seven.  Sorry iisaw; when I paired your story with Washington, I probably should have mentioned that the team isn't just an exciting one to watch with a enigmatic Russian superstar anchoring it... it's also a team with a long and storied tradition of choking in the playoffs.  On the plus side (gotta find your silver linings wherever you can), my Wild losing and the Rangers advancing means PresentPerfect is still on track to see his Fo:E vs. FoE Cup final.

Now, with all the housekeeping done, let's head below the break for some thoughts-on-fanfic goodness!

Starswirl and the Purple Terror, by ValdimarGreen

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Starswirl just wants to be left alone.  Unfortunately, a time-traveling purple unicorn wants to watch her idol at work, and she knows where (and when) he lives.

A few thoughts:  Although it's got a little timey-wimey stuff, a few bits and pieces of worlbuilding, and some other odds and ends, this is really a comedy, first and foremost.  And judged on those grounds, it's a little hit-or-miss.  Some of the character play is good, but plenty of conversations drag on in circles, and the minor characters are pretty disappointing or caricaturish (particularly Celestia, who ends up cast as a half-mad tyrant in what I assume was an attempt to make her seem "zany").  Still, the author does land a fair number of gags, both of the physical (without spoiling too much, Starswirl literally tosses a child out a tower window with utter nonchalance at one point, and it's hilarious), and the dialogue-driven.  Again, not all of them land, but enough do that I didn't feel like my time was wasted.

Recommendation:  The writing on this is more than a bit rough around the edges, and although it's perfectly readable, I wouldn't recommend it to people with an aversion to editing errors.  Beyond that, those looking for something silly, and who aren't too caught up on spot-on characterization, might enjoy this.

Horn Marrow, by Sapidus3

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Twilight's brother needs an emergency marrow transfusion, all of his family get tested to see if their a match... and Twilight finds out something she'd never been told.

A few thoughts:  I thought this was just going to be a "Twilight is adopted" (spoiler alert, I guess, but come on; it was clear from the start where this was going) fic, but then it got... strange.  Unfortunately, I can't say a lot of good things about this besides "it's got a lot of novelty;" the writing is mechanical and comma-deprived, the pacing lurches about (Twilight's dying brother basically gets forgotten through the middle of the fic), and if there's plenty of originality here, it's also fair to say there's more "strange" than "clever" to it.

Recommendation:  I'd only recommend this to people specifically seeking a unique take on Twilight's family history.

The Symposium, by Orbiting Kettle

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Shining Armor and Celestia observe, from behind the safety of a nice, strong, shield spell, as the decennial philosophical forum (quite literally) rages around them.

A few thoughts:  This really needs a random tag, I think; it's mostly an excuse to make a bunch of jokes about different schools of philosophy ("A charge from the pragmatists dispersed the last core of solipsists, their attempts to disbelieve their rivals out of existence meeting with bitter failure").  Of course, I thought those jokes were pretty darn funny, and I like that the author was able to weave a bit of Equestrian history in around those jokes without dragging down (or dragging out) the proceedings.

Recommendation:  For those looking for something short and silly (and who know at least a smidgen about the various schools of thought at play (war)), this is a good choice.


  1. Baby tossing's inherently funny. I might be biased, though, considering I'm not fond of the little buggers

    You feeling okay, Chris? I've been noticing more typos lately, though I haven't been pointing them out. All that fanfiction must be rubbing off on you :3

    The Symposium's hilarious! Been a few weeks since I read it, but I think my favorite part might've been that bit with the nihilists. Mocking nihilists (and relativists) is another thing that's always funny

    1. I was thinking of becoming a nihilist once, but due to the current state of the world I decided that in the end it wouldn't really make a difference.

      Also my favorite line of The Symposium was, "That is a decontextualized ... overly simplified straw pony representation of AAAAAAAAAAAH...," because unlike you fancy shmancy ponies who understand philosophical satire, I'm most entertained when things degenerate into mindless screaming.

    2. Okay, I'll bite. What's with the mocking nihilists? I rather considered it was the only worthwhile baseline to start understanding reality from.

    3. Nothing against nihilism itself. I've just found that nihilism and relativism are the go-to positions of lazy, dishonest pseudo-intellectuals who refuse to take part in anything resembling meaningful discussion. Plenty of 'em in intro-level philosophy courses, but they didn't seem to make it much further than that

  2. Oh, sure. When Starswirl thows children out a window, it's hilarious, but when I do it, it's apparently a "felony". Double standards much?

    1. But in all seriousness, I think I might check out Symposium.

  3. I'm not a big fan of hockey, but from what I do know of it, my guess is that in the end no one will win because they'll realize friendship is more important, and decide to go out for pizza instead. Or shaved ice. Whatever hockey players eat.

    1. If hockey's anything like I remember it being, no one will win because they'll realize their shoes are lethal weapons. Can't play on a bloody rink

  4. Wahaha! :D

    Oddly, you've sold me on Horn Marrow. :B

  5. C'est la vie... but I've got to admit that losing to the most odious MLP fanfic of all time is just a bit unpleasant. ;)

  6. So if the blog didn't upgrade on Monday, does that mean Chris didn't have anything interesting or uninteresting to say?