Friday, August 26, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 147

That was a long review on Wednesday--relatively speaking, anyway.  Let's make up for it with a few short reviews--relatively speaking, anyway!  Check them out, below.

Small Stick Diplomacy, by SecretAgentPlotTwist

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Celestia makes the decision to end Equestria's centuries of diplomatic isolation.  Only, it turns out that the outside world isn't at all what she expected.

A few thoughts:  This is a lot like an HFY (Humanity, F*** Yeah!) story in tone and structure--you know, the kind that are all about how pitiful and backwards the ponies are compared to HUMAN MIGHT AND TECHNOLOGY.  Except... there aren't any humans.  Instead, their role is played by a group of ponies who split from Equestria long ago and have grown and developed over the years.  That distinction does make this story feel a bit less self-aggrandizing and petty, but the other problems of the genre remain: this is basically 3500 words of "Celestia sucks, actually," and the fact that it's couched in nominally polite language doesn't really change that.  

Recommendation:  This is the kind of story best enjoyed by those looking for someone (in this case, Equestrians generally and Celestia specifically) to be taken down a peg.  Approached from that mindset, it does a fine job, while not getting too condescending or vicious, and can be fairly recommended to those looking for such.  I wouldn't recommend it outside of that specific readership, however.

The Lost Treasure, by Gulheru

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  What if Gilda had seized the Idol of Borias, instead of saving Rainbow Dash and Pinkie?

A few thoughts:  I'm honestly surprised I haven't seen more AU fics with this premise, and there are a few really nice things about it.  The depictions of Griffon Royal Guard-equivalents are interesting, and what Twilight doesn't know makes for a more interesting story than the one I was expecting.  Unfortunately, this story is let down by lackluster writing and stilted dialogue.  This passage is pretty typical of the writing and voicing issues:
     Twilight nodded profoundly. “That is correct. It was me who persuaded Princesses Celestia and Luna to cease any contact with Griffonstone and the griffon race.”
     “I was suspecting as much,” Gilda revealed, her tone antagonistic. “Your actions were ostracizing to our nation greatly, Twilight Sparkle, you are well aware of that. Yet, as you can indubitably notice, we have prevailed even without your tampering and meddling!”
...and as you can see, between the odd saidisms, strange choices of adverbs, misused words, and more, there are a lot of issues.  I believe the author isn't a native English speaker, but... well, that doesn't really make much difference from the reader's perspective.

Recommendation:  If you can handle an entire short story with prose the quality of the quoted passage, then this is actually a rather interesting scene which doesn't overplay its angst.  But only if you can handle that prose.

Numberography, by ph00tbag

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Clover the Clever tells her children a bedtime story: the story of how her mentor, Star Swirl the Bearded, learned how to count past four (or eight, with a friend's help).

A few thoughts:  There are two distinct parts to this story, which are woven together.  The first is the legend, and it's a quite pleasant read; told in the manner of a just-so tale, with a much-appreciated vein of humor running through it (also, I really like the explanation for why ponies count in base ten).  The other part is Clover telling the story.  Sadly, this is generic-daww pablum at its worst: Celestia and Luna (yes, they're Clover's children) tick off every "child listening to a bedtime story" cliche in turn, and are generally a disappointingly trite, "cute-for-the-sake-of-cuteness" addition to a story that didn't need them.

Recommendation:  If you enjoy just-so stories, this is worth reading, even if you chose to skim through the setup and interjections (they are entirely skim-through-able).


  1. "If you can handle an entire short story with prose the quality of the quoted passage..."

    The quoted passage filled me with a strong desire to hunt down the author and curb-stomp him, so I think I'll give the story a pass.

    1. Scribbler had a reading of it, which I guess helped paper over the prose, since I didn't notice that too much, but I wasn't much of a fan substantively, either.

  2. I didn't think I'd like Numberology as much as I did. Thanks for pointing me to it.