Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 146

I made a large pot of creamy wild rice soup yesterday afternoon, and I don't have anyone to share it with.  I thought I'd have a couple of friends over, but no dice.  My parents are busy, so I can't have them over.  I've seriously got, like, five more meals worth of this soup, and I'm going to be eating all of it.

I mean, not that that's a bad thing; soup is delicious, and now I have even less food prep for the rest of the week than usual.  Still, if you happen to be in the area, feel free to drop by.  I promise I'll feed you.

If not, you'll just have to settle for fanfic reviews.  Get my thoughts on a few, below!

What Goes Up, by PegasusMesa

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Pinkie tends the bakery while the Cakes are out, because that's what responsible ponies do.  And she needs to show them that she's responsible.

A few thoughts:  This story uses repetition of phrase to good effect, which I always like.  But I was never quite sold on Pinkie's reaction to The Situation (it would be spoilery to go into detail, but the gist of it becomes apparent well before the halfway point in this short story): panicky and control-freak-y, sure, but her sudden turn to violence was hard for me to interpret as being within her character.  For a story that's largely a psychological profile, that's a problem.  With that said, the larger situation is one I thought promising to explore, and the ending was poignant.

Recommendation:  Your appreciation of this is likely to be mostly dependent on how much latitude you give to this interpretation of Pinkie (or rather, to what extent you'll accept that this is what "Pinkie breaking down" might look like).  If you're a bit flexible/open-minded on that count, then this is one I'd certainly recommend to fans of dark character studies.

Roar, by Loyal

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Rainbow Dash kills herself because she can't fly.

A few thoughts:  If that summary seems spoilery, then I'll note that the sequel's description's first sentence (clearly visible in the "Sequel" story box on the fic's left) is pretty unambiguous on the matter; regardless, it's pretty clear from the start that this is a suicide fic.  Unfortunately, I found it pretty pat and predictable, and it doesn't really cover any unique or original ground--granted, in barely 1000 words, it was clearly intended as a depressing scene rather than a detailed examination, but still.

Recommendation:  I imagine that someone who hasn't read as many main six suicide fics as I have might find this more interesting than I did, and the pace at which the backstory is doled out was quite appropriate--as such, readers new to ponyfic might want to check it out if they're looking for something quick and depressing.  I wouldn't recommend it widely beyond that audience, however.

Iron Hearts: Book 5 - Suffer Not the Alien to Live, by SFAccountant

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The thrilling conclusion to the Warhammer 40k crossover I started reviewing here, then continued with here and here.

A few thoughts:  As usual, I'm taking the first four stories here as givens, and am neither praising nor damning this fic for what comes before it.  In any case, let's be real: if you've already read the first four books, you're going to continue on to this, the final (well, it's got a couple of sequel/side stories, but it's the last numbered one) installment.  Sad to say, I found it rather disappointing.  I think that mostly comes down to how, as of book 5 (and really, as of book 4) this is a 40k fic with ponies, rather than a ponyfic with space marines; that's not a terrible thing inherently, but I'm a lot more attached to one of those things than the other, and I like the tone ponies better as well.  I kept holding out hope that this fic would find some way to give the ponies a better fate than "slaves to insane space cultists who plan to loot their planet of all its mineral wealth, enslave the populace, and generally take what they will without regard for the inhabitants," and while the author plays with how the Chaos forces are being "softened" by their contact with the equines, nothing really comes of this by the end.  For that matter, there's a lot of things that didn't get resolved.  I was looking forward all book to finding out why the ponies never die!  It got teased, like fifty times, and then... nothing!  It wasn't the only bit of important information that got left aside, but I was enjoying the running gag-turned plot point, and was disappointed not to find out what was causing it.

Recommendation:  This is a fine book on its own, but a lousy finale.  Luckily, one of those sequel/side stories is a "several months later" fic, so there's still a chance for better closure.


  1. This is a good example of the dilemma faced when a story this long gets submitted to Equestria Daily (or anywhere else, I would guess). By the time we saw it, there were only a couple of chapters from book 1 posted. It was very amusing and showed a lot of promise. The upside for us is that we don't have that much word count to deal with, so we're not bogged down for a long time reading the entire thing or asking the author to go back through an enormous story to make various fixes. The downside is that the author doesn't get feedback on the full plot and characterization, and we have to take a risk that the story will finish satisfactorily and stay above the quality threshold. I haven't read this story, so I can't say whether I think it fulfilled what promise it had well enough, but what you're saying is a perfect illustration of the difficulty with evaluating long stories.

    1. I actually suspect (though I'm uncertain) that book five would be a more satisfying ending coming from a 40k perspective, where "crapstack status quo" is standard. But I'm coming at it from a pony perspective (which, for a story on FiMFic, strikes me as pretty reasonable), and the story basically leaves off with "Chaos now controls this world, and everything will keep getting worse, with several key plot points left dangling and questions unanswered."

      So, the quality wasn't the problem, so much as the lack of resolution. Again, there's another story that might address that, but if my read on the story is right at this point, I think it probably won't--at least, it won't address the questions that someone from a ponyfic perspective might ask.