Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 142

I've been home for an entire day as I type this, and my cat still hasn't shut up.  It's a talkative beast under all circumstances, but he is not happy about me leaving him alone for weeks on end with only the attentions of my good friend who came over twice a day to pet him, feed him, and... wait, he wasn't alone at all!  What's his beef?  Regardless, he'll just sit in the doorway and stare at me, occasionally making some sort of yowl-mewl hybrid sound which I assume means "I haven't forgiven you yet, Chris."

So, mini-reviews!  Check out a few, below.

The Only Day, by naturalbornderpy

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The story of a pony trapped in a time loop, as (un)seen by one of those who resets every day.

A few thoughts:  The big draw here is the novelty of the presentation: there are plenty of stories which take the form of a journal by someone who's stuck reliving the same 24 hours, Groundhog Day-style, but I can't recall reading one where the journal is from someone who's part of that loop.  Beyond that  one piece of novelty, though, there's little else to differentiate this from other fics of its ilk (and there are a lot of fics of its ilk, even if one only considers ponyfic and not the broader world of creative writing), and the conceit that this was AJ's diary/journal never really clicked to me--too many conveniently remembered details which are only relevant from the perspective of someone outside the time loop, too many perfectly-transcribed conversations, and so on.

Recommendation:  If you're a fan of time loop stories, there's probably enough originality here to make this worth reading.  If it's a genre you aren't particularly drawn to, however, I doubt there's anything here that's likely to make you change your mind.

Special Relativity, by Melon Hunter

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After Pinkie discovers that she's definitely-maybe-possibly related to Applejack--and by extension, an Apple--she realizes that she's probably not the only pony who's part of Equestria's greatest family without even realizing it!

A few thoughts:  I love the way this story extrapolates on Pinkie Apple Pride in a sensible, believable way; I can totally see Pinkie taking a "being an Apple is good, therefore everyone should be an Apple if at all possible!" mentality.  The light-comedy here is a big selling point, and on that front, I thought a lot of the one-off jokes were excellent (Spike's heritage and Pinkie's first run-in with Carrot Top especially, the former because Rainbow abuse is always good, the latter of course that was one of my favorite parts), and the pacing of the humor was very solid.  While the repeated gags were more hit and miss, the point remains that I found this an endearingly entertaining story throughout.

The ending was both predictable and fairly straightforward--there's not much in the way of hidden depths here--but it was nevertheless a bit sweeter and more complete than I expected, and those are both things I appreciate in stories which don't stray too far from the show's themes.  This isn't a "this could be an episode!" type of fic, but it is one that borrows heavily from the show's tone and aesthetic, to good effect.

Recommendation:  Fans of humor that's more of the "smile throughout" than "burst out laughing" variety will likely find this story to their tastes, though it's worth noting that this is a fairly slight story, thematically: it does what it sets out to do, without a lot of depth beyond what's explicitly laid out by the characters themselves.

I'll See You to Shore, by Educated Guess

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A seapony--a creature straight out of myth--washes up on the shore of a small town, and it falls to the Mayor's Adjutant to tend to the wounded creature and represent his village.  And, more than that, to learn more about this strangely alluring creature.

A few thoughts:  Despite ponyfic romance mostly not being "my thing," I found this story fascinating from start to finish. Although the author sometimes lets sentences run a little long (just count the commas in the second sentence of the story, for example), the writing tone is consistent, and a good fit for the tale being told.  There's plenty of worldbuilding here--no surprise, given that the story was written for a worldbuilding prompt--but there's also a strong story to back that up, with a main character who's given plenty of blank spots for the reader to fill in, but also enough of a personality that filling those blanks in is no difficulty.   Plus, I love the ending; I have a soft spot for historical close-outs, and it was the right mix of sweet and poignant for me, without feeling to silly or contrived.  The romance itself?  Well, it's of the "mutual infatuation without any particular expansion" variety, but even though it's a central part of the story, it's at least played in an un-creepy-enough way for me to not be too put off by it.

Recommendation:  This would be an excellent choice for fans of worldbuilding, but anyone whose coming to it looking for a well-developed relationship or exploration of xenophilia will probably leave disappointed.


  1. There's something really alluring about seapony/landpony romances, likely as there's plenty of historical mermaid literature to draw from.

  2. I liked "The Only Day" but had some of the same reservations as you in that it didn't always quite ring true as a diary. It might have worked better as a hybrid where it alternated live action and diary as appropriate for the kind of information being conveyed, but it was an interesting concept in how it ended, which was just distinct enough from what Groundhog Day did to be a pleasant surprise.

  3. I listened to "I'll See You to Shore" recently, and liked it quite a bit even if the romance felt like the way it was handled might have better fit a generic wandering storyteller and the Mayor-Adjutant than her and a prince of a different species. It was at a level that worked well for a walking commute.