Friday, June 19, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 114: Changelings, Changelings Everywhere

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

By the time you read this, I'll be in almost on my way to New York!  Visiting some friends for a few days, should be fun.  No worries for you guys; my post buffer's up enough that there oughtn't be any interruption to the normal posting schedule.  If you live in New York City, keep an eye out for me!  I shouldn't be hard to find; I'll be the guy from out of town.

Speaking of impeccably blending in, check out my review of Benman's Changelings, Changelings Everywhere, below.

Impressions before reading:  "X is a changeling" is a very popular fanfic premise, and I've read at least a couple "everyone is a changeling" stories which took that premise to its logical conclusion.  So right away, I'm hoping that this story does more than just make the title joke.  I'm given hope by the amusingly dry short summary ("Even the scenery is changelings."), and Benman's written stuff which I've enjoyed before, so I'm choosing to believe it will.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Somepony is a changeling, and today is the day their machinations are finally laid bare.  The only catch is that everypony is that somepony.

A few thoughts:  Let's start out by acknowledging that the actual story here is completely secondary to the meta-story, i.e. having some fun at the expense of the "X is a changeling genre."  And on a meta-level, this is great.  It's a silly but not overly-random bit of commentary on how overdone that particular trope is (and for those of you who've gotten into ponyfic in the last couple of years: if you think it's an overdone concept today, trust me when I say it was even more inescapable back when this was written), piling on all the most common setups.  From "deposed royal hiding from Chrysalis" to "spy gone native" to "spy who hasn't gone native" and on and on and on, odds are that if you've ever read a changeling-in-Ponyville story, the setup is in here somewhere.

Outside of the meta-context, however, it doesn't hold up as well.  The story is still funny and still coherent, thankefully--it's always disappointing to see a meta-story that forgets it's still supposed to be a story.  However, the entire story is basically variations on a single joke, and without the context of a lot of fanfic reading, that joke gets old pretty fast.  There's some nice built-in escalation, but even so, the story does get tired well before the end when approached from a ponyfic novice's perspective (or even the perspective of someone who just doesn't read a lot of changeling fics).

There's not a lot else to say, really.  The writing is solid, and although the main six don't sound much like themselves, their blase commentary is consistently funny in its own right (not to mention that complaining about them staying "in character" would be kinda missing the point, given the premise).  It's a ridiculous fic, but it embraces that ridiculousness, and that's definitely the way to go here.

Star rating:

This doesn't really fit nicely into my little star system (then again, it seems like no fics do; it's almost like reducing a story down to a single number between one and five is an inherently absurd practice!), but ultimately, I figure that this is the kind of story that doesn't translate well outside of either heavy fanfic readers or changeling fanatics, and which, while very funny, doesn't do much to expand its humorous conceit.  It's a great fic for what it is... but what it is, ultimately, is pretty limited.

Recommendation: For " heavy fanfic readers or changeling fanatics," this is an absolute must-read.  For anyone else, this might be an okay choice if you're looking for something silly, but is unlikely to do more than provide some transitory amusement.

Next Time:  What I’ve Become, by Night Breeze


  1. I remember the time I wrote a changeling story. By the time it was done it had warped into something completely different than what it was when I started.


    But seriously, changelings are one of those fun things I like to write about because they so easily capture the idea of learning who someone truly is, compared to who you thought they were. It's like a built in metaphor. Instant Symbolism - Just Add Ink! Doing so... skillfully is a bit tougher, but that's why I said "fun" instead of "effective."

    Also hey! Chris is gone! Let's throw an unsupervised party in his blog!
                        |\/|     _█_     l\/l
    ♪~WUB~♫      \\ ◖l(^∇^)l◗ //     ♫~WUB~♪
                         | └O ▒:▒└O  |

             ┏ ( ・o・) ┛┗ (・o・ ) ┓┏(・o・)┛
                         ╘[◉﹃◉]╕                            ♥
           \m/(>.<)\m/         ヽ(゚▽゚*)乂(*゚▽゚)ノ         ┌|*3*|-▀
       (┌■д■)┌ (ಥ︹ಥ)(⊙﹏⊙✿) \(^ω^\)
                  ☜=(ΘLΘ)=☞                    (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

    1. Curses! The party looked just fine in the preview, but now that I posted it the DJ is a mess! How are we going to clean this up before Chris gets back?!

    2. Trust me. DJs are almost always a mess behind those turntables, so this guy is actually a great representation of them.

    3. I believe there's a company you can call that specialise in cleaning up the remnants of late-night parties while everybody is hung over in the morning.

      Get those guys in.

    4. Whoever they are, they must be British if they "specialise" :p

      Could one of you limeys explain why you use -ise? I thought you guys hated the French

    5. American English is the one that only accepts a single standard spelling. British English actually accepts either usage. The reason that -ise tends to be preferred, however, is that many words in British English entered the language in a different way and are only meant to be spelled with -ise.

      Although -ize came first in English, it was difficult for people to remember the whole list of specific words that are only meant to be spelled with -ise, and so led to widespread adoption of the -ise spelling for every word that can be spelled that way, although there are holdouts that prefer to differentiate and use -ize when possible, such as Oxford.

      And then America just decided to do its own thing, because isn't that always the way?

  2. (╯✧∇✧)╯L-L-L-L-L-LINGUISTICS!!!!!╰(✧∇✧╰)

  3. The comment section isn't working for me on the post after this one. That makes me sad, because I was going to say something to Logan, but now I never can! HE SHALL NEVER KNOW THE BIRD-THEMED JOKE I MADE!

    Or perhaps he'll know it, like, five times. Because I tried to post the comment a lot! It just has yet to appear. Boy, wouldn't that be embarrassing.