Monday, January 9, 2017

Fandom Classics Part 195: Whip and Wing

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

Circle your calendars, kiddies: on January 25th, Logan is doing a set of Carrot Top-themed fanfic reviews.  It seems that another reviewer has finally seen the light, and has come to recognize the Best Pony when they see her.

That, or it's because I recommended half a dozen Carrot Top-centric fics to him.  Could be either, really.

Speaking of things which could be either, head down below the break for my review of Fernin's MLP and/or Indiana Jones fanfic, Whip and Wing.

Impressions before reading:  Best I can tell going in, this is a Jones/Do team-up facilitated by an amulet which lets you dimension-hop.  The description seems pretty pulp-inspired, which I think is the right way to approach a true crossover like this, and a thriller with an action focus plays to both characters' strengths in any case.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Indiana Jones races to recover the mysterious Medallion of Light, an artifact said to allow one to "cross the worlds in a single step," before the Nazis or local thugs can get their grimy hands on it.  Meanwhile, Daring Do races to recover the mysterious Medallion of Shadow, an artifact said to allow one to "cross the world in a single step," before cultists or Ahuizotl's minions can get their grimy hands/claws/paws/hooves on it.  When both of them touch their respective Medallions at the same time, they quickly discover just what it means to "cross the worlds."  Now, it's just a matter of getting back home...

Thoughts after reading:  The thing which this story does well, above all else, is to capture to caper-ful twisting and turning of the better Indiana Jones movies.  Whip and Wing has plenty of action, both combat and racing/escaping/going-over-waterfall-ing, but keeps its descriptions quick and clear enough to be tense and exciting, rather than dull and draggy.  And the frequent ally/villain flips are very appropriate for the genre--many are barely set up or are obvious from the start, but they create a manic energy though sheer number which melds well with the style of the story.

As befits an action/adventure of this sort, characters are built largely on archetypes, with just enough fleshing out (or, at least, a mannerism or two) to make them memorable.  For the most part, this works fine, keeping the pace quick by using characterization shortcuts.  But it does get ridiculous in places, nowhere more so than with the Nazi commander who literally takes time out during an interrogation to silently reminisce about how much he used to love setting his sister's dolls on fire.  Thankfully, he's more the exception than the rule--though that isn't his only over-the-top "look at me, I'm eee-vil!" moment.

Another thing that brought me up short was the level of violence in this story.  In the description, the author says, "there will be some violence in this story, but nothing more than you would expect to see in an Indiana Jones movie."  Given that those movies feature things like faces melting off and still-beating hearts being ripped from chests, maybe I should have been more ready for the death toll exacted over the course of this story... but I wasn't.  Part of the disconnect was with how many of those deaths occurred in Equestria, and were perpetrated in cold blood by the locals.  Murderous Nazis are an easier sell than murderous ponies, and I found Equestria's depiction here a little too "human" for my taste.

I'm of mixed opinions about one of the most interesting ideas in the story: that Do and Jones start experiencing each others' memories, without even realizing (immediately) that those memories aren't their own.  On one hand, it's a fascinating idea, and the way it's executed works nicely (additionally, it gives the author room to explore some of the differences in attitude between Jones and Do re. adventuring--something which does pay dividends later on).  But unfortunately, the story never really does anything with it: there's no payoff or explanation at the end, even one as simple as "the Medallion blah blah blah magic."  Other story elements do with little or no explanation, but these largely fall into the tangential-to-the-characters category (e.g. what the cultists were hoping to accomplish if their plan had gone aright).  The memories, on the other hand, are set up as a major plot point, and while they're used to push the plot forward a couple of times, there's still a feeling of being left hanging by "the end."

(Speaking of "the end:" the story ends with a comic epilogue/framing device.  It left a very sour taste in my mouth, personally, feeling far to self-aware and self-negating for my liking.  That said, it's easily enough ignored)

The story is heavy on quips and conversational humor, which are mostly executed well.  A few of the jokes get a little too meta for their own good, but the larger portion fit the tone one hopes for when one hears the words "Indiana Jones," helping to keep the story feeling buoyant rather than grim (as the body count rises) while still maintaining a consistent tone throughout the fic, rather than feeling like a comedy and an edgefest awkwardly cohabitating.  Fernin does a wonderful job of keeping this feeling like a single, coherent story, despite the varied ground it covers.

Star rating:

I waffled between two and three stars for this fic, but ultimately decided to go high on the basis of entertainment value; this is a story that's easy to enjoy on its own merits, and which could appeal to a wide subset of readers.  As rollercoaster ride-style writing goes, it's a very solid example, and although it's not without its flaws, that counts for a goodly bit.

Recommendation:  This is very much Indiana Jones in style and content.  If you're looking for a rollicking adventure full of magic and evil Germans, this is the story for you.  But if you want a more FiM-tone experience or character nuance, it's probably not quite what you're looking for.

Next time:  The Incredibly Dense Mind of Rainbow Dash, by Chengar Qordath


  1. "It seems that another reviewer has finally seen the light, and has come to recognize the Best Pony when they see her."


    Three stars sounds about right, though I'd have erred towards four rather than two because I remember it as being darn entertaining, and also because the Pratchett-esque trap-setter was a funny and welcome concept (even if it felt like he wandered in from another fic).

    1. I also would have given four stars.

    2. (and @ Sammy): I think this reads somewhat better as an Indiana Jones fanfic (with ponies) than as an MLP fanfic (with Jones); it really does capture the tone and pace of the better movies. But to do so, it ends up jettisoning some fundamental elements of the Equestrian setting--and for the parts of the story set IN Equestria, that's a problem. So, as a Jones fanfic, four would feel about right to me; as an MLP or true crossover, I'm feeling about a "enjoyed it despite some minor flaws," personally.

      Also, trapsetter is the best character in the story.

    3. Fair enough. I'm in complete agreement: definitely more Indiana Jones than MLP, especially the violence.

  2. Ooh, next week's story is one I actually know! I'll have to hand in my "Ignorant of the Most Basic Ponyfic Knowledge" badge at this rate.

    Also, thanks for the plug! I'll get to Best Pony at some point, but Carrot Top's edition will definitely happen as scheduled. (I've already written two reviews for it, just to make sure. There should be a few more, though.)

  3. Besides anything else... that is a *really* good cover image.

  4. Yeah, this is the only Daring Do fic I've read that really captures the madcap pace and almost constant escalation of the original Indy trilogy.