Friday, November 18, 2016

Fandom Classics Part 188: Dear Idiot

To read the story, click the image or follow this link.

Every time I see something of The Descendant's on FiMFic, it makes me sad because he's been gone going on half a year and, given his level of involvement and all-around friendliness, I have trouble imagining that he just got bored and left the community.  I really hope I'm wrong; I want him to be happy and healthy.

In any case, he left behind plenty of great fics (and several more I've mini-reviewed).  Is this old (circa 2012) piece be up to his usual high standard?  Click below the break to find out.

Impressions before reading:  As those links to previous stories of the author's ought to suggest, I have high hopes for this going in based on who's writing it.  However, I'm not sure that his usual purple-ish prose is a good fit for a letter written by Celestia.  It'll be interesting to see if he's able to adapt his voice and/or find ways to make said letter "sound" like her.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Celestia, in the grips of a doughnut-fueled sugar rush, writes a letter to Blueblood, detailing exactly what she thinks of him.

Thoughts after reading:  Since it's been a while since I've reviewed a TD story, let's start by going over some of his quirks as an author.  As with many of his stories, little bits and pieces of his own vision of Equestria work their way into the fic, and while these elements add depth, they can also be a bit jarring, coming as they do without context outside of "other stories by The Descendent."  Stuff like Twilight being called "the Designate," or references to the Well of Souls, permeate this story, placing it firmly within the author's oeuvre.  While none of these are particularly inappropriate, their combined effect might make this story less effective to someone reading a story of the author's for the first time--it's a lot of little "wait, what?" moments waiting to trip that reader up, and in a short comedy, those trip-up moments can easily disrupt a story's pace.

But that's not to say that these moments are inappropriate in and of themselves; only that they're, well, authorial quirks which take a bit of getting used to, and that this story perhaps isn't the best one to get used to them with.  Meanwhile, TD does, in fact, dial down his Victorian-ish prose somewhat, holding on to a few grandiloquent turns of phrases (I particularly liked "foaming salacity" while largely adapting his tone to what might be considered "semi-formal," in style if not in tone.  In case the title didn't give it away, "formal" is certainly not the tone of Celestia's missive.

The humor here mostly lies in Celestia laying into Blueblood over his financial, behavioral, and sexual proclivities, and most of these hit their intended marks well.  The story does a good job avoiding explicit crudity while still throwing in plenty of conceptually crude sexual humor, and the disconnect between concepts and phrasing (that "foaming salacity" line I mentioned liking is in reference to his enjoyment of his favorite porn mag, for example), and works in a few more thoughtful passages to break up what would otherwise be a simple stream of invective.  It's a well-balanced mix of insult, reflection, and digression, all wrapped in a consistently amusing tone.

That said, it would have been nice to see a bit more depth to those reflective bits.  Or rather, a bit more of a suggestion that Celestia might have some hope, or at least some plan, for Blueblood.  As-is, the story may contain a "I hope you will change" or two in its conclusion, but it holds out precious little hope of that actually happening.  By its nature, such a letter can't really tell us what happens after it's sent--indeed, the open-endedness is a selling point of the format--but this letter does end up feeling a bit more shallow than it needs to.  If there was more of a suggestion that redemption was a goal, more than a pipe dream (or alternately, if Celestia expressed despair more than distaste), that would have given the whole fic a bit more weight.  As-is, it's a fine, funny bit of writing, but it really isn't much more than the reductive description promises.

Star rating:

This is an amusing story, which mixes a variety of humorous types effectively, and--although it may be an ephemeral pleasure--is a pleasure to read nonetheless.

Recommendation:  As I said in my comments, this probably isn't a great choice for a first TD fic, but readers looking for something with a keen sense of comic viciousness won't be disappointed.

Next time:  What if: Rarity from The Three Sisters met with Chrysalis, by WandererD


  1. This is still one of my favorites. :D Probably the classiest "Drunklestia" (emphasis on the quote marks, there) you could ask for.

    Have you done Three Sisters already? :O

  2. I hope he is well and happy, and that someday he'll finish Zenith.

    1. Given the lack of logging into FiMFic for over four months, it seems unlikely you'll even see more of Zenith.

    2. Likewise. I wish I were in a better position to say I'd noticed him gone, but between my own diminished involvement (someday I may have time to actually read fics again... if nothing else, hopefully I can catch up on things I'm tracking over Thanksgiving) and the hardly unusual pattern of still being around for a while before leaving but not broadcasting much, it's easy to miss.

      I hope, whatever he's up to now, he's enjoying himself, and life all around.

  3. Just read this one. It was OK, but definitely not one of TD's better works. Kinda surprised you gave it three stars, honestly. That's about what I'd rate it (if EqD still had star ratings), but not on a "fandom classic" scale

    Also, you misspelled the author's name once, but that's kinda his fault :p

  4. This has been on my RiL list for ages, so I skipped the detailed review for now. Maybe I'll actually get round to it at some point soon! It's a real shame that TD is (apparently) no longer active, and I can only hope that the reason is a happy one.