Monday, July 25, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 143

It's a lot harder to make time for reading at home than while on vacation, which is to say: the last book of Project Horizons is kicking my butt.  I still plan to get it reviewed this week, but it might be a close thing at this rate.

In unrelated news, Present Perfect recently linked to this moderately-interesting analysis of "Best pony, as told by Fimfiction."  Why only "moderately interesting?  Because it doesn't analyze Carrot Top's stories?  Who cares the average rating of a story with Nightmare Moon in it is higher than the average story featuring Scootaloo?  What I--and by extension, everyone else--really wants to know is where Ponyville's premier produce pony fits into all this!

Just one more in a long list of carrot-snubs.  Ah well; get some mini-reviews, below the break.

Arcadia, by Blueshift

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  For all her life, Lyra has dreamed of a mysterious terror.  With each dream, it approaches ever closer.  Today, it is nearly upon her, and somehow, she knows that when it reaches her, it will be the end of her life as she knows it.

A few thoughts:  A ton of extra credit points to Blueshift right off the bat, for using a Renaissance-era painting for inspiration (both thematic, literal, and meta!) in a manner both accessable and engrossing.  The one weakness here is that the dilemma which eventually unfolds is massively contrived, to the point where it's hard to ignore.  But the writing is beautiful, and the ending poignant enough to be moving, even if the moral isn't one I particularly agree with.  That's the mark of a good story: it can tell you something you don't believe without leaving you disappointed or unfulfilled as a reader.

Recommendation:  This is one of Blueshift's serious stories, so don't go in expecting a bunch of random goofiness.  But anyone looking for something thoughtful and touching should absolutely give this story a try.

On the Historical Significance of Battle Lederhosen, by MrNumbers

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Applebloom's Uncle Studel comes in to Ms. Cheerilee's class to talk about some history.  Some of it might even be true.

A few thoughts:  And here's the goofy lark of a story you all thought you would get from Blueshift!  Although there's exactly zero depth here, it's full of well-delivered classroom humor, nuggets like
     Scootaloo waved her own hoof in the air. “If he can't punch Diamond Tiara, can I?”
     “No! Nopony is punching Diamond Tiara.”
     Much to Diamond Tiara's chagrin, the class echoed with a dim 'awww' of disappointment.
as well as plenty of variations on "old people saying ridiculous and/or inappropriate things," so if you find that sort of thing funny, there's that.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a few thousand words of silliness and some amusingly exaggerated portrayals of Ponyville's youth, this will deliver.


  1. That analysis is mildly interesting, but also mildly concerning. According to it, there are apparently stories on fimfic that are nearly 10 million words long, which seems... unhealthy. No one should develop carpel tunnel syndrome from a single pony fanfic.

    Also Arcadia sounds intriguing. From your description, I'm not sure it's something I would actually like, but still. Intriguing. Perhaps I'll check that out too.

    1. I think you're mistaken on the word-count front: 10^6 is one million. To date, no story has broken 2.5 million, and only one's broken 2.

      The collected works of Rainbow Dash Flying East just breaks 3, though.

    2. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that SS&E has more than 10 million words spread between his alts.

    3. ...Right. Because 10^6 isn't ten with six zeroes after it, it's one with six zeroes after it. I knew that. Man, that's like one of those mistakes accountants make that end up accidentally bankrupting entire companies. Or a mistake chemists make that ends up getting slightly more atoms in their moles than they wanted. Now I feel dumb.

    4. Don't forget that Fimfiction counts 'smart quotes' as a word, so

      Twilight said, "Ouch!"
      is 5 words in smart quotes.

    5. Wait, it counts smart quotes but not dumb quotes? What? Why? That seems like bad string handling to me. What about smart single-quotes/apostrophes?

    6. Arcadia's good. I might have to check out Lederhosen. I've actually had one of MrNumbers' fics in my queue for over two years now! I only added it because the title contains one of my favorite words: demesne

      All that data (plus Bad Horse's own research) has me thinking one could write a program to crank out popular fics. Grammar doesn't appear to be important enough that it would be an issue, and a computer could spew out hundreds of thousands of words matching what readers like. The trickiest part would probably be making the stories coherent. Maybe the user could break the story down into logical segments. Create an outline and the computer fills in the rest!