Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 89

Remember to pop over here and answer a few questions for me, if you're so inclined!

If you haven't done so already, don't forget to set your clocks one second back!  Wouldn't want to be late to any important appointments, after all; leap seconds always play havoc with my scheduling.  Hopefully I've got everything ready, and this post will go up at the usual midnight hour rather than at 12:00:01.  I'd hate to leave you waiting for your mini-reviews!  Which, incidentally, you can find below the break.

Records of an Academy Disaster, by Fahrenheit

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When Spitfire's called to Canterlot, she leaves Fleetfoot in charge with specific instructions not to burn down the academy.  Yeah, like that's gonna happen...

A few thoughts:  A big part of the appeal here is in the presentation; the majority of the story takes the form of mocked-up letters to and from various ponies leading up to the titular disaster, and reading through the various letters (rendered in different fonts and styles--everything from personal correspondence to end-of-the-world form letters) is fun in itself.  But they also combine to form a story which... okay, the story is pretty secondary to the comedy here, though the final chapter does do just enough with Fleetfoot's revelations about herself and Spitfire to lift this beyond just being a series of jokes.

Recommendation:  Anyone interested in a solid comedy with a well-used and -executed gimmick should give this a look.  Make sure you read it on-site, and preferably on a decent-sized screen, though; the images don't translate well to phone or e-reader.

Kafka-esque, by Noir de Plume

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Cadence's childhood friend and would-be lover--an alicorn named Chrysalis--leaves Canterlot to find the long-lost Crystal Heart... but comes back a monster.

A few thoughts:  The meat of this story actually takes place post-A Canterlot Wedding, as Chrysalis comes to realize what's happened to her, and what she needs to do.  That all is interesting, and there's a lot of interesting worldbuilding about the changelings here.  But the storytelling device used to introduce all that information takes the form of a narratively too-convenient "reverse griffon" who basically acts as a lore mouthpiece.  I have to say, as well, that I had a lot of trouble reconciling Chrysalis's voice in canon with this story's explanation for her mental state at that time.

Recommendation:  This is one of those stories that's probably best thought of as a means to communicate a bunch of worldbuilding in a few thousand words--and that worldbuilding's mostly pretty interesting.  That's really the only draw here, though.

The Lord and the Stallion, by StalkerPony

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A pony comes to an inn one night, seemingly The Stallion, a figure of legend.  The locals ask him to prove his identity by braving a cursed tower... and he accepts their challenge.

A few thoughts:  I really wanted to like this story, but it's got a lot of issues.  Editing is a not-insignificant problem, for starters.  The Stallion's desire (of which I can't say much without spoilers, but it's revealed near the end) doesn't seem to mesh well with his comportment prior to the start of this story, and even allowing for the fairytale-style conceit, the reason for the townspeople sending him off was shaky.  All that said, the ending is a strong one within the context of its genre, even if the road to get there is rocky.

Recommendation:  Fans of traditional storytelling styles (I used "fairytale" up above, but that's an imperfect description; a more precise one would be spoiler-y) may want to give this a look for the well put-together conclusion, but it's probably not for more general readers.


  1. Based on the title, I was expecting The Lord and the Stallion to be a shipfic. Haven't read one of those in awhile

    Academy Disaster sounds good; I'll add that one to the list (which hasn't been shrinking nearly as fast as I'd hoped)

  2. Records of an Academy Disaster is one of my favourite comedies on the site. It really deserves more readers.

    1. Okay then. It goes on the list. You will be judged accordingly.


    3. Not exactly my preference for comedy, but I can always appreciate something so well constructed. Gimmicks are fine so long as the author stays aware of the gimmick and doesn't overplay it. This is a fine example of getting that right.

      Not a favourite, but it gets a thumbs-up from me.

    4. And I totally knew it would aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall along!

  3. "Academy Disaster" is a fun story. I liked it, but I did find that the cast of characters was large enough and many of their appearances come and go so quickly that I had a hard time keeping straight who everyone was and what their role was supposed to be.

    As with any of these stories that survive on an unusual gimmick, it derives most of its enjoyment from that uniqueness, but once spent, that uniqueness is gone. That is to say, I liked this story, but if the author did another in the same format, I'd probably pass it up, as it will have lost the charm that helped cover up a pretty thin plot.