Friday, September 16, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 150

I have fifteen minutes to write this intro before I have to be out the door.  Luckily, I'm just forty seconds in, and I'm more than halfway done :P

Get some mini-reviews, below the break!

(I wrote them earlier.  They're not on a next-fifteen-minute deadline.)

(Dang, turns out when I said I was halfway done, I lied.  Okay, time to wrap this up.)

The Fool's Gambit, by derpyland

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Rainbow Dash comes up with a brilliant plan to save Scootaloo from certain death using nothing but her wits.  Those, and a dead squirrel.

A few thoughts:  It's obvious from the get-go that this is some sort of imaginary or otherwise consequence-free setup, so I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that this is, in essence, a story about metagaming.  A little more development of Twilight would have been nice--the explanation at the end might be believable, but I would have liked to see some more evidence of that plan--and voicing is so-so for Dash, but the plot is simple and appropriately silly.  Also, this is totally the sort of thing I could see one of my players trying, so points for that.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for some light comedy with a generic D&D theme (don't worry, no stat blocks or class comparisons here), this is a perfectly fine choice.  But despite the metagaming theme, don't expect anything here that merits much reader scrutiny; this is a simple tale for casual reading, and doesn't hold up well to any more literary expectations.

Minuette Sleeps Her Way To The Top, by Lise Eclaire

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Except she's, like, actually sleeping.  Geddit?

A few thoughts:  I could say "this is one joke stretched to 2000 words, and it's that she's getting promoted because she's asleep instead of because she's having sex with her bosses, which is what the phrase 'sleeping your way to the top' usually means."  That would be accurate... but it's also unfair to this fic, which is somewhat better than that description makes it sound.  This doesn't really play up the double-entendre at all, instead using it as a jumping-off point for a goofy little scene of pony and/or office incompetence.  It doesn't hold up to a modicum of thought, but it's breezy and cute for all that, with a well-delivered escalation that never gets too dramatic for its content.

Recommendation:  If "breezy and cute" sounds good to you, this is probably a good choice for a few minutes of idle amusement.  If you're looking for anything more than that... well, it's not here, but you really ought to have guessed that from the title.

Final Draft, by Post Script

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Nightshade is the best pony ever!  She can save the world without breaking a sweat, everypony loves her, and every one of her stories has a happy ending.  So why isn't her author writing about her anymore?

A few thoughts:  An unapologetically meta- story about what happens to the OCs we leave behind as we grow and (hopefully) improve as authors, Final Draft is at its best when it comments on that growth.  The story itself is pretty straightforward, and never fully commits to taking advantage of being told from Nightshade's PoV--we hear things from her perspective, but never in a way that leaves any essential facts in doubt or open to interpretation.  And without getting into details, the ending missed a couple of great opportunities to comment on the independence, or lack thereof, that the characters we create have from us as authors.  Still, this does manage to be a coherent look at its character and her meta-biography, and I enjoyed it on those merits.

Recommendation:  There aren't a lot of mind-bending twists or turns here, so this isn't one for the psychological thriller crowd.  It might be a good choice for readers intrigued by the concept of where our old characters go, though--although that may be well-trodden ground for stories in general, this is still an interesting glimpse of the same, from a uniquely "brony" perspective.

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