I realized something just recently: I don't read enough stories from authors whose stuff I know I enjoy. A lot of my fanfic reading time I devote to stuff by new-to-me authors; partly this is a byproduct of looking for new writers for the RCL to feature, and partly it's just me putting a premium on the unknown. A bird in the hand is nice, but did you see that bush over there? There're two birds in it...
Anyway, having come to this realization, I've decided that for the next week or two, I'm going to focus my reading time more (though not exclusively) on stories I know I want to read, because I know from experience that the authors of those stories write (or at least, can write) stuff that appeals to me. And conveniently enough, there's one particular author who had three short stories on my radar. So, let's have us a Pascoite-centric round of mini-reviewing! Check out my thoughts on three of his more recent stories, below the break.
For the Birds, by Pascoite
Zero-ish spoiler summary: While practicing her cello, Octavia becomes distracted by the birds outside her window. Curious, she tries to imitate a few calls.
A few thoughts: This is pure Slice of Life most of the way through; a directionless, meandering peek into somepony's perfectly un-extraordinary day. The ending twists around to a bit of a joke, or rather to a comical situation (and one I found pretty amusing, at that), but the majority of the story takes the form of a low-stakes peek at Octavia practicing in her studio while her mind wanders over this and that, with relatively little in the way of overarching theme.
Recommendation: Readers who enjoy "day-in-the-life"-style stories should definitely try this on for size, but although it's a very well-written example of what it is, I doubt it will appeal to readers who require more thematic focus or a strong overarching plot to enjoy their stories.
Dinkin' Doughnuts, by Pascoite
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Dinky is determined to make something amazing for her mother for Hearth's Warming, and while watching her mother at breakfast, has the perfect idea: she'll combine a doughnut with coffee, so that her mom can eat them both with one hoof while she trots to work! Now, she just needs to find a cook who can help her...
A few thoughts: Written in the form of a children's story, and clearly intended to be read aloud, it's safe to say that this story is, stylistically at least, right up my alley. Absolutely filled with eminently quotable lines ("A little sparkle danced across Dinky’s eyes and exited stage left. 'I have an idea.' Such words from industrious fillies never fail to strike fear into grown-up hearts, but luckily, Pinkie Pie didn’t possess one of those"), this story oozes self-assured seriousness, without feeling condescending. Also full of repetition and formulaic building-upon, I feel comfortable saying that this is best treated as a read-aloud--but in that context, I consider both of those things to be strengths, not weaknesses.
Recommendation: Fans of children's stories as a style should absolutely read this, and even those who aren't necessarily enamored with the genre will want to give this a try if they like simple-sweet adventuring with a heaping dose of heartwarming. Readers who don't appreciate construction decisions based more on storytelling conventions than literary ones probably won't find this to be to their tastes, though.
Naval Gazing, by Pascoite
Zero-ish spoiler summary: The CMC accidentally stow away on a pirate airship, and Twilight goes to rescue them. The girls, meanwhile, manage to create some complications of their own.
A few thoughts: This story is at its best when it's reveling in stupid puns, glib observational humor, and the peculiar brand of idiocy which is endemic to children everywhere. And to its credit, the story generally tries to stick to its light-sardonic comedy. At times, however, and especially in the early going, the desire to move through necessary setup or story events without dragging leads to odd scene breaks or to noticeable summarizing, though in both cases the entertainment quotient invariably picks up as soon as a new joke comes along. And heck, I'll forgive a lot for a story that that will twist itself around in order to give Applebloom a tongue-twister like "That’s the rum sum some dumb numb bum runs." I thought the last line was a bit of a letdown, personally, but it does suggest a certain Celestial competence which tales of swashbuckling crime typically omit from their conclusions, I admit.
Recommendation: For fans of goofiness and punnery, this would be a good choice. Readers seeking a high level of consistency in the humor level might find too much unevenness here for their liking, but I think those not averse to a bit of setup in between jokes might find that less noticeable.