Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 93

Remember that one episode with the yaks, Party Pooped?  Gotta say, the joke never got old for me; smashing stuff is a punchline that can't be repeated too much.

Anyway, now that it's over a month since said episode aired, and I realized I had multiple yak-followup fics on my read list, I figured it'd be a good time to take a look at a few and see how they hold up outside of the realm of hot takes.  Click down below the break to see some short reviews of short yak fics!

Politics By Other Means, by totallynotabrony

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Shining Armor and Spitfire talk to Twilight about her negotiations with Prince Rutherford, and the role of the military in declaration of war--even a quickly-aborted one.

A few thoughts:  This story is tagged dark, and earns that through and through by the end--not by being graphic, but through tone and black morality.  I could have handled that, by itself, but I really wish that it had been in service of a more coherent moral, or even just a more coherent viewpoint; Spitfire and Shiny never enunciate a policy which could reconcile their points (1. war should be a last resort, and 2. appeasement is naive and dangerous as a foreign policy).  The characters also tend to become very same-y in their speech patterns and vocabulary when discussing theory, and it's easy to hear the author's voice (or rather, the voice of the military philosophers being paraphrased) in lines like Shiny's, “'Politics is the practice and theory of influencing other countries. War is politics by other means, an act or threat of force to influence other countries.'”  That said, I didn't see the twist at (near) the end coming, and it really sold the tag while recasting the entire conversation--and show to date--in a chilling light.

Recommendation:  If you like your ponies cast in a chillingly pragmatic light, and don't mind some incoherence to get there, this could offer a bit-sized bit of aggressive character reinterpretation.

Yaks Not Ponies, by Metool Bard

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  During the Yak-Pony party, Celestia, Twilight, and Rutherford take a moment to have a private conversation... and to clear up the misconceptions they were laboring under.

A few thoughts:  I would call this the quintessential episode follow-up fic.  It basically acts as an extension of the final scene, elaborating on the moral of the episode and laying everypony (and -yak)'s cards on the table.  For an episode like Party Pooped, where the moral is a bit muddied, that's fertile ground, and Metool takes the opportunity to set out not just how the ponies fell short, but how Rutherford's preconceptions and inability to enunciate why he was unhappy with the ponies' hospitality lead to conflict.  In the end, though, this isn't so much a stand-alone story as it is (in the author's words) a "mini-epilogue" to the episode.

Recommendation:  This probably isn't a good choice for anyone looking for something stand-alone or self-contained; while it's certainly not incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't just seen the episode, it's just not thematically framed as an independent piece of fiction.  But if you're looking for a short follow-up/add-on to Party Pooped, this will serve very well in that role.

Declaring War?  Really?, by Tawny Flower

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  During the Yak-Pony party, Celestia and Rutherford take a moment to have a private conversation... and to discuss the real reason Rutherford was so hard to please.

A few thoughts:  Like Yaks Not Ponies, this story is more follow-up than stand-alone story.  Rather than act as a tying-up for the episode, though, it adds a chessmaster-y twist to explain Rutherford's intransigence.  It's a humorous idea, and at barely a thousand words, the fic doesn't stick around too long to wear out its welcome... but that one idea is pretty much the only thing on display here.  This is a fast, shallow story, but it doesn't aspire to be more than that.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a quick-and-light twist/reveal on the episode's premise, this will accomplish exactly that.  But if you're seeking more than a couple minutes worth of insubstanciality, this probably isn't the place to look.

Yaks Are Jerksby Avox

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After the yaks have left, an inebriated Celestia tells Twilight what she really thinks of them--not to mention, a little too much about some other subjects.

A few thoughts:  In the author's own words, this is "stupid and doesn't hold, like, any merit whatsoever."  That's a bit harsher than I would've put it, but it's true that I don't really have a lot of plaudits to throw at it.  This is a random-for-the-sake-of-random bit of character destruction, based around lewdness and general playing-against type for its own sake.  On the plus side, the author's blog from which I took his quote included this image:

...which is, in the words of the younger generation, "totes adorbs."  That's gotta count for something, right?

Recommendation:  This is the same target audience as the story I reviewed on Monday; if that seemed like your kind of thing, this probably will be too, and if not, it probably won't be.


  1. Can't believe I didn't think of this when you had that survey, but this blog needs more Carrot Top

  2. Man, how could I forget an episode title like Party Pooped? Seriously, I'm slipping. D:


  3. Ooh, these are useful recommendations. I was waiting for this post.

    After the episode came out, I initially resisted the influx of follow-up yak stories, because I expected a Princess Spike-esque slew of fix-fics based around the war joke, done in the style of those Equestrian-military-circlejerk stories that were popular a while back. I was never a fan of those stories while they were big, and as I mentioned in the comments of one of John Perry's blogs around the time, I only ever seek out fix-fics for very specific reasons as well. Now that I finally have some solid recommendations that don't sound like those things, I shall read many yak stories.

    In ten years' time, when none of us watch the show anymore and are instead all preoccupied by the far superior spin-off, My Little Yak: Conquest is Hilarious, reading yakfic after yakfic every day instead of stories about cartoon equines, I will remember that it began here for me, and I will thank you every day for this post.

    Long live Yakyakistan!

  4. The only one of those I've read is Yaks Not Ponies, and I found it much as you did -- except that I was less of a yak fan in the first place, so didn't get much out of the fic. Might give Politics By Other Means a look eventually, though, just to find out what the twist ending is.

    1. Or you could do what I did and skip to the end, then go back and change the status to unread (that second step's optional)