Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mini-Reviews Round 104

I am beyond sick and tired of the reflexive "I don't know" as the response to all teacher queries.  I know public education is supposed to be free, but I am seriously, like, two hundred "I don't know"s (that works out to about three days) away from creating a swear jar.  Make the little devils pay a dollar every time they say "I don't know" without even pretending to think about the answer.  Y'all weren't like that, were you?  Actually, I don't even care how you answer that, just don't say "I don't know."

Anyway, a few short reviews, below the break.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Five years after her return, Princess Luna has fully embraced Nightmare Night.  And for the upcoming one, she's got a few simple requests for her research team.  Requests that really oughtn't threaten the safety of the town of Bridle Falls, but sometimes research doesn't go in quite the direction you expect.

A few thoughts:  One more Halloween-ish fic before we move on!  This one has a pleasantly silly tone to it; despite a premise that could easily feel too dark, Drefsab keeps this firmly in an "amusing comedy" tone throughout, and that consistency makes the story much easier to enjoy than a less uniform tone would have.  However, the Foundation itself feels like a missed opportunity; there's hints of SCP, MIB, and probably some other acronyms as well, but a lot of basic things about it are left totally ambiguous.  Is the Foundation secret, and if so, how secret?  Is it actually under Princess Luna's control, or is doing her Nightmare Night stuff a minor side-project?  Just what is their purpose, anyway?  An event-based story like this doesn't need to go too in-depth with its explanations, but I found I didn't have enough to even visualize what the Foundation was supposed to be.  The story doesn't feel terribly "pony," either, at least in its construction; a lot of the voicing (frequent, albeit mild, swearing) and tech would feel more at home in a different setting.  That said, the tone is very much in keeping with Equestria.

Recommendation:  Readers looking for something silly and light, and who don't mind a rather vague setting, might want to check this out (or, if they insist on keeping their reading "seasonal," at least add it to their reading list for next year).

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Daring Do, in search of a bit of relaxation between adventures, goes to see the start of the breezie migration with her assistant--and, to her surprise, Fluttershy.  Unfortunately, Ahuizotal may still be licking his wounds from his latest defeat, but hell hath no fury like a mother scorned...

A few thoughts:  This story tries to set up as the prequel to a lot of episodes, introducing Fluttershy's interest in breezies, her friendship with Tree Hugger, and more.  Most of these fit well enough, but they largely feel unnecessary; like extra flourishes which "explain" things from the show which already made perfect sense.  The voicing, especially for Fluttershy, is a little questionable as well (I can't imagine her leading into a fact about breezies with a 'Get this...'" for example).  All of the characters are used to good effect, however, including the original ones; Ahuizotal's mom is a consistently entertaining doting babbler, the two breezies whom the group befriend play their single joke over and over to great effect, and so on.  And I'd be remiss not to mention that this fic gives Daring Do a pet tarantula who scouts around for her, and it's the best thing ever.  Seriously, what's not great about an investigatory pet tarantula?  Nothing, that's what.

Recommendation:  Give this a shot if you're interested in a fairly straightforward, by-the-books adventure which redeems itself with a lot of good character-based humor and solid characterization.

Words Unspoken, by wille179

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A series of brief scenes, showing the death (some of them canon-comparable, some episode-rewriting, some completely off-the-wall) of various characters.

A few thoughts:  Each micro-chapter (most of them are under 200 words) consists of two elements: the character's last words, including who says them to whom, and a short scene showing the death.  As the profusion of tags might suggest, these stories run the gamut from borderline crackfic to dramatic to downright dark.  Interestingly, the author starts with several of its sillier entries, but regardless, this is best viewed as a set of concept pieces rather than a "story," per se.  

Recommendation:  If the idea of "last words in a variety of styles" appeals to you, this is certainly worth a look.  It's probably not one for bingeing on, though; despite the wide range of tones, I don't know that I'd want to read all sixty-odd chapters in one sitting (even if the total is only about 12k words).  That said, if you decide to give this a try, make sure you make it to/skip to the last chapter; "Fireball" might be my favorite scenelette.


  1. From what I recall, I mainly tended to answer "I don't know" to questions which were specifically directed at me (questions directed to the room as a whole were generally much more convenient to just stay silent for if I didn't have an answer) and to which I neither knew the answer nor expected to be able to derive the answer within about fifteen seconds. The main exception I can think of to that pattern was in cases where the question was directed to the whole room but nobody provided an answer, in which case I was somewhat more likely to engage in something resembling prolonged brainstorming.

  2. Nah, I was that little asshole who always corrected the teacher (seriously, where do they get the gall to be wrong when dealing with impressionable minds?)

    Other than that, I didn't participate much. I was the quiet kid in class. That kinda changed in college, though, when I got super involved in the philosophy discussions

  3. Eh, I guess I was a bit of a mix. On one hand, I constantly marvelled at the stupidity of my fellow students and enjoyed getting as much stuff right as possible, but only as long as it didn't take any effort. School was nothing more than one long run of being shamed into compliance, so it's natural that I complied as little as I could possibly get away with – I had no reason to do more.

    If I said 'I don't know', it was definitely a matter of passive aggressive resistance, and there was plenty of that, because screw being forced into school to rot for my childhood.

    1. "... but only as long as it didn't take any effort."

      This right here. By the time I got to college, I had no clue how to study because I hadn't really done it before (aside from the cram-the-night-before-an-exam method)

    2. I graduated (engineering degree), and I still have no idea how to study for an exam, or even what such a thing should look like. I mostly went to classes, did assignments, and somehow graduated.

  4. I always knew the answer. Always. And eventually realized that did not endear me to my fellow classmates, so I shut up after answering the day's first question.

    Anyway, Chris reviews an SCP crossover! I'm totally gonna... add that to my RIL because it's long and I don't like doing things. D:

  5. "what's not great about an investigatory pet tarantula?"

    Nothing, beyond what's wrong with tarantulas in the first place. :B

    Kids are definitely much more likely to say "I don't know" when put on the spot. That's the classic answer when you're grilling them about something they did wrong. And that's all my son will answer when he's in trouble. Maybe if I got madder about the "I don't know" than whatever answer he eventually gives...

  6. I was a bit of a smug know-it-all in school, so I can't recall that I ever said that in answer to a teacher's question... even when I actually didn't know.

    I do tend to use the phrase quite often nowadays... often followed immediately by, "...and neither do you."

  7. I had something of a reputation as "the smart kid", and people expected me to know, including the teachers, my classmates, and me.

    Thing is, that meant that getting a questing right meant nothing, while getting a question wrong meant public embarrassment. And so, while I had the answer in my head most of the time, I wouldn't say it, unless the teacher asked me specifically. And even then, it never turned out well, it just usually didn't turn out poorly.

  8. I always had an answer when I was asked something, but I wasn't asked many things; from middle school onwards, I had no good teachers, and thus had no respect for them and no enthusiasm for my classes.