Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How I Picked the Fics I Picked When I Picked Fics

Go on, say that ten times fast.

Now, it's no secret how I pick stories for the Fandom Classics: people recommend them to me (which you can do anytime! I have plenty to get through the next couple of years, but more suggestions are always welcome, and if several people are asking about the same fic, it's more likely to make it to the head of the list), and I keep a list of what the next five-ten fics will be based on spacing out genres, lengths, authors, and the like.

But what about the stuff for mini-reviews?  Well, it's a mix.  Some of it is stuff that's been recommended to me, but doesn't fall under even a very generous definition of "Fandom Classic."  Sometimes it's something I see another reviewer recommend, or just talk about it a way that piques my interest.  And sometimes, it's just something that grabs my attention on its own.  So for the last couple of mini-reviews, I kept track of how, exactly, I came across each story, why I decided to read it, and what the results were.  Click below the break for a look at how Chris picks "Chris Fics!"

And say that one ten times fast, too.

Stories From Round 158:

Undeliverable, by ocalhoun
Why I picked it:  ocalhoun is one of those authors who I'm convinced has written something great that I just haven't read yet.  You know the type: you read several of their stories, and you don't really love any of them... but you see enough talent hidden behind poor plot decisions and subject material that doesn't interest you personally to believe that, if you keep looking, you'll find the fic they've written that's right for you.  Anyway, it was on this basis that I was paging through his oeuvre a while back, and settled on this fic as a good bet: a character I like in Derpy, a writing style I'm amenable to in the form of letter-vignettes, and a proofreader credited (which is pretty much never a bad sign).

Did it deliver?:  Not per se.  As I said in the review, "this doesn't really feel like a story to me, but it's an interesting piece of writing."  That said, it also did nothing to disabuse me of my impression that ocalhoun can write good stuff, so it wasn't exactly a disappointment.

Promised Land, by Obselescence

Why I picked it:  I saw an intriguing review of it somewhere (this was a while back; I couldn't tell you offhand whose it was) and threw it on my RIL list.  While scrolling through that list, the cover art caught my eye, and I picked it ahead of the other 200-odd stories on there pretty much solely for that reason.  Well, that and because, at about 7000 words, it was the right length for reading while drinking a large cup of coffee, which I was in the process of brewing.  Look, these reasons aren't all going to be deep.

Did it deliver?:  Absolutely.  The description is confusing, and that confusion is well-paid off in a story I found highly engaging.  Not bad for a story I picked off my list almost at random!  Granted, the fact that it was on the list in the first place wasn't random, so... thanks to whichever reviewer pointed me at this!

Fly Hard, by Aragon

Why I picked it:  I had read the original version of this, written for a secret santa event, and enjoyed it, so I figured I'd like the slightly more edited version even better.

Did it deliver:  It was basically the same story, but with somewhat fewer writing errors.  So... yes.  Yes it did.

Stories From Round 159:

The Corner of (Our) Eyes, by Daemon McRae

Why I picked it:  This story caught my eye more than a year ago, when I saw it... somewhere.  Probably on the front page, in the updates section of the Feature Box (the system works!).  Anyway, eye-catching cover art and an interesting premise (a horror-monster take on why Derpy's eyes are all a-google) got me interested, and when I saw that the story had finished, I dove in to see if the wait was worth it.

Did it deliver:  This isn't a story I enjoyed as much as I wanted to, but it did at least deliver what was advertised.  I just wish it had been a more "Equestrian" tale.

Wonder-Breezies, by Metool Bard

Why I picked it:  Like ocalhoun, Metool is an author whose stuff I keep coming back to to find that elusive Great Story.  With Mr. Bard, I've consistently found that I love his premises, but often find the presentation... not so much lacking, as simply workmanlike.  That said, I came across this story by scrolling through stories with the "breezie" tag.  Why the breezie tag?  Why not?  Little bastards don't have enough stories about them; for all that their single episode was lackluster, I kind of like them.  Anyway, given a funny-sounding premise and an author I was predisposed to read stories by, this one got read.

Did it deliver:  I was rather disappointed that the humor was, while conceptually solid, often presented in ways which muted its impact.  So even though I thought the story wasn't bad, this didn't come out quite the way I was hoping for.

Hero of the Day, by Gravekeeper

Why I picked it:  This was a recommendation (more or less; it was more of a "Gravekeeper wrote a story I love but he's never gonna finish it, here's a story he just wrote that's complete, you should read it").  I was in the mood for a comedy a short while thereafter, and decided to give it a go.

Did it deliver:  It was a "fine for what it is" kind of story, which was fine with me right then--I just wanted something funny and over-the-top, which is what I got.


  1. > Undeliverable, by ocalhoun
    > Did it deliver?: Not per se.
    Well, I'm not surprised.

  2. That bit about ocalhoun kinda reminded me of Present, though my issue with him isn't quite the same. I've actually enjoyed several of his stories, and he's even on a shortlist of authors whose stuff I'll read based solely on seeing their name. However, I've never "favourited" any of his fics, and that really bugs me 'cause I feel like I should have. I'm just waiting to read that one fic of his that'll finally make the cut! For all I know, he's probably already written it, but I don't read enough anymore

    "...and threw it on my RIL list."

    Breezies don't get enough stories, but what little I've read have been great. I mean, who didn't like Rise?

    1. I don't read much stuff just to read it, so any of PP's stories I have read are usually because he asked me to pre-read for him. That said, the three that stand out in my mind are these:

      "Persephone" It's very short, and nothing really happens in it, but it's full of atmosphere and does a good job characterizing these two.

      "So Her Legacy Will Endure" This follows a character who never even speaks in canon and barely appears in the background a handful of times, but it characterizes her and her two friends (also, to varying degrees, background characters from canon) wonderfully, giving them nice idiosyncrasies that fleshed them out nicely. The plot's not terribly original, but the characters sold me, the jokes worked, and it was fun.

      "A Puzzle Unsolved" If you're not at all familiar with the crossover material, the ultimate meaning might be lost on you (I had to have PP explain that to me), but this is a tragedy on multiple levels, but by perception only: there could be a "happily ever after" but for constraints on both characters, and only one knows everything that's going on.

      PP writes mainly two things: random weirdness and strong character pieces.

    2. Oh, trust me, I know. I've read enough of his fics to have learned that

      The only one of those I have read is A Puzzle Unsolved. I still haven't seen The Avengers or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I used to have some of the original comics from the early-mid 60s (back when Tony Stark wore the MK II). Will I be able to get by on that?

    3. Oops, that should be "haven't read"

    4. If you know who Agent Coulson is, then you'll be fine. If you don't, then... this isn't exactly a spoiler, since the story's structured with the assumption the reader does know. He's occasionally sent on missions that he knows will get him killed. I don't know the mechanics of how he comes back to life, but he has to assume a new identity each time.

  3. I have wondered how you pick the mini-reviews. Thought it'd be a mixed bag, and so it is.

    "Why the breezie tag? Why not? Little bastards don't have enough stories about them"

    All sadly true, but if you want overlooked character tags, you should try the Seabreeze tag. Excluding the four fics that are rated Mature, he only has [i]sixteen[/i] stories in total, and the whole lot doesn't even top 100,000 words. That's the lowest count for a character tag on the entire site; even Matilda has more stories and words than that.

  4. The credit for Promised Land, according to the Big Master Review List, lies with either City of Doors, myself, or Soge, and I kinda feel like it's not me. Then again, your review isn't listed there, so, uh...

  5. Ooh! Whip and Wing is on the shortlist!

    I'm always excited when a title I recognise is up for review.

  6. Evil Belle? One I've not only heard of, but actually read, for a change! I know what I think of it, so I'll definitely be intrigued to find out your opinion.