Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 138: I Look Into The Flames And See

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

I've officially started brewing my own beer.  Well, I've officially started brewing something, anyway; it started bubbling quite encouragingly after I left it to rest, which means I didn't manage to screw up and kill the yeast (yay!), but it's still about four weeks until we're at the point where it's ready to taste.  The best I can definitively say is that I have a large jug under my staircase which is full of something becoming progressively more alcoholic.

I'll let you all know what happens, though if you manage to figure out my home address and drop by on New Year's weekend, I'll let you try one of the first bottles.  If you're not a beer person, then you'll just have to content yourself with the fanfic review I've written!  My thoughts on Tramper's I Look Into The Flames And See, below the break.

Impressions before reading:  The first impressions I have are positive; the title is evocative, and the description is short but intriguing ("Twilight Sparkle uses a teleport spell and goes into the future. It works."), even if imperfectly phrased--presumably that should be "uses a teleport spell to go into the future" or somesuch.  Still, while I'm not familiar with the author, this all has me optimistic.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight creates a spell to travel into the future, in hopes of cementing her legacy--and seeing for herself just what that legacy is.

Thoughts after reading:  This story ends up being a lot more straightforward than I expected.  That's not necessarily a good or bad thing, but from the setup (essentially, what I just put in the zero-ish bit), I thought the climax and resolution would be a bit more wide-ranging, or at least less singularly focused on one particular point of resolve (albeit, a well-prepared one).

That focus does serve the story well in that it keeps the message (that's probably too strong, as there isn't heavy moralizing or anything here, but "theme" is too ambiguous) clear and easy to interpret, but Twilight's reactions to what she learns--and her quick turnaround, behavior-wise--suffer a certain lack of realism because they're so narrowly focused.  This might fall within the purview of "acceptable simplification for storytelling purposes," but it does make the climax feel less weighty, and the implications of her spell seem less momentous, than a richer exploration might have.

I was disappointed to see that writing was a weakness, and that in fact the (author's) description was indicative of issues in the larger text.  Although the individual phrases which make up the story's sentences are generally solid, their connecting tissue--whether that be commas, conjunctions, or other transitional phrases--was a point of repeated weakness; the story is full of sentences like "With one quick thought, her horn started to shimmer and with a flash of light, she summoned the book to her side."  More basic editing errors, mostly missing words, are also semi-regular occurrences.

Behind the shaky writing, however, lies an interesting interpretation of Twilight and Spike's relationship.  The story goes rather heavy on canon references--there are a lot of "remember such and such?"es throughout the fic--in its attempts to sell that interpretation (and sometimes, seemingly just because it can), but it's a take on middle-aged Twi that isn't too hard to buy into.  It again feels like a missed opportunity that only one facet of their relationship is really explored; not only would a fuller picture of the two of them have been interesting in its own right (that's more of a "what I wanted" than "what the story did well or poorly," anyway), but it would have give Twilight's future encounter with him (no spoilers; you saw the cover art, right?) more gravity, and allowed the two of them to express some more emotion.  The climax is a good one, but it ends up feeling mostly academic; without knowing or seeing more of Spike's emotions in particular, there's only so much drama that can be had.

Star rating:

I felt like this was a pleasant enough story on its own merits.  But it's fairly slight (at least, compared to other non-comedies about far-future time travel (and some comedies too, for that matter)), and though it had a good message, it doesn't have enough heft to deliver it with the satisfying thunk I'd have liked.

Recommendation:  Readers who are looking for a serious time-travel story which nevertheless doesn't require much mental investment to enjoy might want to give this a look; I can see it being good for distracted reading situations, especially.  Those who are put off by that kind of thematic uncomplicatedness will probably find this underwhelming, though, and readers sensitive to writing issues may want to look elsewhere.

Next time:  A Finer Vintage, by Sunchaser

1 comment:

  1. Here's one I read before! :O And apparently I disliked it, based mostly on Twilight's relationship with Spike.