Friday, May 22, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 84

The random tag isn't usually my favorite; while there's certainly such a thing as a good random story, the tag is more often being used to describe stories which lack cohesion for the sake of lacking cohesion.  So, how about a trip through three random-tagged stories that I've come across recently?  Check them out, below the break.

I Loath Having to Make My Literary Work Meet the Public's Taste, by McDronePone

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A budding author submits his story to Equestria Daily the "Equestrian Tall Tales" leaflet, and finds himself re-writing his magnum opus to appease its editor.  And not just once...

A few thoughts:  This story has some really clever moments, but they aren't terribly well supported by the story itself.  I get the impression that the author was trying to simultaneously show that the editor was being petty and unreasonable, and that the author was being over-sensitive and blind to his own shortcomings.  The result, however, is more neither than both; the original story really is trite and bland, and some of the editor's suggestions genuinely help... but other suggestions are useless, the author is clearly portrayed as a self-important prima-donna, and the story-within-the-story doesn't really improve (or get worse) as it goes along; it just changes a bit, going from trite to pointless and from bland to bizarre.  That doesn't diminish the humor of some of the parody-ing of the gap between what authors want publishers to do and what publishers actually need to do, but it does rob the fic of a lot of the punch it might have had.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a bit of meta-literary sniping, this is funny and pretty harmless.  If you're looking for a more pointed skewering, though, this isn't going to jab so much as tickle.

"Cumin," Sighed Rainbow Dash, by GroaningGreyAgony

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  It's a title-joke fic.

A few thoughts:  The secondary joke is a meta-joke that cumin isn't actually pronounced "come in."  Of course, being the dense yet erudite fellow I am, it didn't even occur to me that the title joke was the joke until the story got to the meta-joke; the meat of the fic (i.e. the first 800 words or so of this 1k work) are probably a lot funnier if you aren't being dumb like me.  Still, there's not a lot here beyond that singular bit of humor.

Recommendation:  While it isn't bad for a "joke's in the title" fic, and while it does have the courtesy to recognize that that joke doesn't make sense in context, I'd still only recommend this to someone looking for a short, silly bit of fluff/filler.

Shedding Anxiety, by Just Horsing Around

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Sweetie Belle finds out just what she, and every other unicorn, has to look forward to when she grows up, horn-wise.

A few thoughts:  This story doesn't stand up to even a modicum of thought, but that's not particularly a bad thing in this case--Shedding Anxiety belongs to the venerable "come up with a ridiculous idea, then spend a thousand-odd words explaining it" genre.  It does rather less with that ridiculous idea than I'd have liked, though; the idea that unicorns start regularly losing their horns when they grow up is ripe for insane leaps of logic, while this story mostly sticks to the practical (relatively speaking).

Recommendation:  Readers looking for a funny and compact bit of ridiculous "worldbuilding" will find what they're looking for here, though those looking for a truly mind-melting experience will be underwhelmed, and those who enjoy the the sensation of thinking "that makes no sense... but it fits the facts perfectly..." won't be satisfied, either.


  1. And now a random microfic by SeeVee, titled Baker's Doesn't

    "There are too many ducks here," said Twilight Sparkle.

    "Quack," said Rainbow Dash.

    There were no breadcrumbs, for bread is actually bad for ducks, due to it's lack of nutrients. Instead it is much better to feed them oats, or if you think they deserve a special treat, grapes, cut in half so that they can easily get at the actual fruit part.

    "Yum," said Rainbow Dash.

    And the Giving Tree was happy.

    1. Could use some work. Proper spelling and grammar take on much greater importance in a fic so small. Your misuse of an apostrophe in "it's", for instance, sticks out like a sore thu- OH MY GOD, RAINBOW DUCK IS EATING ME! AND NOW SHE'S ADDING SOME KIND OF VINAIGRETTE! HONEY, MAYBE?! I GUESS SHE ALWAYS DOES DRESS IN STY-AAAUUUGH!

    2. If only there was some way to edit posts, but alas. Such dreams are an impossibility. My hubris was my downfall.

      RIP, ProfessorOats. Your ability to notice spelling and grammar errors will never be forgotten.

  2. Obviously, I elevate Random stories to a high artform, and by reading none of them, your review slate suffers. :V

  3. I get the feeling I'd like bits of all the stories you review here, but that I'd also find them rather frustrating. And as far as the second one goes, I really have had enough versions of that particular phrase to last several lifetimes. (Though given the author, I might check it out anyway at some point.)

    As for the Random tag, that annoys me a bit, too. I think part of the problem is that many authors interpret "Random" to mean "doesn't have any logic to it at all". Possibly it would help if a different word than "Random" were used, but it's probably too late to change that now.