Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fandom Classics Part 197: A Teacher With No Class

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

According to my FiMFic "Reviewed" bookshelf, I've now reviewed just shy of 23 million horsewords.  Factor in stories not on FiMFic, and that probably gets a bit higher, though it's mostly shorter stories from the fandom's older days which aren't on that site.  Further, FiMFic claims to contain 2,075,243,567 combined horsewords as of my writing this.  In other words, I've read significantly more than one out of every 100 words published on the site!

Or to put it another way, nearly 99% of the fandom's fanfiction has managed to elude my gaze.  Hmm, that doesn't sound nearly as impressive.

However you slice it, here's my latest attempt to claw away at the ever-growing ponyfic chasm which yawns before me!  My review of Kavonde's A Teacher With No Class, below.

Impressions before reading:  I have a soft spot for Blueblood, and the setup seems to lend itself to easy comedy--which, in a comedy-tagged story, is a good thing.  Also, the author had at least one RCL-worthy fic in him, which is always a good sign.  There's not a lot here that screams "incredible story," but there's nothing that doesn't say that either, and enough saying, "you'll probably enjoy this" to make me feel positive.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Cheerilee's class is excited that a royal is coming to speak to them, but it turns out it's not any of the ones they were hoping for.  Though to be fair, Blueblood doesn't seem to be much happier than they.

Thoughts after reading:  This is a classic piece of lesson/comedy which splits its attentions between entertaining dialogue and communicating a character arc--the latter, in this case, being "Blueblood comes to terms with what a ponce he is."  That's a setup that can easily fall int the "fine, but unmemorable" category, but Teacher does a couple of things which help it stand out from the pack.

First of all, there's the simple matter of the quality of the writing.  Kavonde has a knack for spinning similes (e.g. "Cheerilee's melodic voice cut through the noise like a silk machete"), and uses rapid-fire dialogue well, effecting the babble of a class full of children.  Additionally, this helps keep the pace up during comic exchanges, while providing a welcome contrast to the more sedate portions of the story.

Second, there's Blueblood himself.  Without getting too far into spoilers, this is a self-loathing take on his character, not wholly dissimilar from a story I previously reviewed, Glory.  Unlike that (rather depressing) fic, this one initially uses his failings as a simple punchline, before diving in a bit to how someone must feel when they're perfectly aware of all those failings.  It's a pleasant bit of depth in a story that could have been paper-thin, and it gives the back half of the story a significant impetus.

That said, the way that that depth is introduced and then expanded on is rather lacking.  Essentially, Blueblood is reduced to monologuing the entire thing, and while the first burst of that is well set up, this story gets heavy on exposition via one-sided dialogue in its back half.

There's also the matter of unresolved story elements.  Some of these (Diamond Tiara's schoolfilly crush on Blueblood) are minor enough notes that they don't really demand closure, even if touching on them one more time before the end might have been nice.  But the story ends on a blatant sequel hook which, without knowing at least a little more than we're given, can't really stand alone.

But even if the story events don't fully resolve, Blueblood's character arc does.  He even gets to write a letter to Celestia at the end!  Ah, 2012.  To be honest, I miss those letters.  In any case, my point is that the story's character still completes his journey, and ultimately, that's what's most important.

Star rating:

The comedy here is mostly in the first half, but the transition to something more introspective is clean and well-prepared enough that one isn't left wondering where the jokes went partway through.  All in all, this is a fine example of mixing goofiness with a lesson.

Recommendation:  Although not a single main-six pony makes an appearance in this fic, I'd still call its approach to storytelling "show-tone."  Readers looking for that kind of humor and sincerity will definitely want to check this out, though those wary of sequel bait and soliloquies might approach it with a bit more caution.

Next time:  Gazing to the Ocean of the Sky, by David Silver


  1. Darn it, Chris. Stop reading so much. You keep this up, and your eyes will explode.

    Seriously, though, that's a heck of a tally. Soon, there'll be a pony word for every person on the planet. Hopefully, you're keeping on the good side of Sturgeon's Law for the most part?

    And, of course, don't worry about the 99% stuff. Apart from the obvious (Sturgeon's Law; who the hell would devote 24/7 to reading all that anyway; and the minor fact that it's physically impossible), numbers are but what you make of them. :)

    As for the fic itself, I don't remember being that impressed by it. I'd have said two stars at most. Something about an adult blowing up in front of a bunch of kids in class must have rubbed me the wrong way, I guess, and the therapy session in the second half seemed unconvincing.

    Then again, I must have read it years ago, so maybe I'm missing something. I certainly feel bad that I don't remember a line as good as that "silk machete" simile.

  2. Oh shit, Gazing to the Ocean? :O I've wanted to read that forever now!

  3. I quite liked ATWNC, though it was a couple of years ago so I can't remember the full details. Annoyingly, I can't recall whether the sequel hook irritated me -- possibly it was long enough ago that I was expecting said sequel actually to appear!

    And ooh, next week's looks interesting. In line with my usual policy of fandom ignorance, I missed this entirely when it came out, so I have no preconceptions beyond what I see on its title page.

    1. I'm a little bit surprised by the selection as a "Fandom Classic" of a story that was completed less than four months ago, admittedly. But I guess we'll see!

    2. Although GtoTOotS ("guh-TWO-toots," as we in the biz call it) has only been finished for a few months, it was first recommended to me quite a bit before that, by multiple people as it continued.

      In fact, there's another story on my short list that was only recently finished, too! Though it's a LOT older than Silver's fic...

  4. Great blog! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and the information are well written. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made.
    Paddle Wheel Flow Meter

    1. I regret that you find only the blog easy on the eyes and not its illustrious author, but the lack of a portrait does, I suppose, mean we all have to wallow in our own assumptions about his rugged handsomeness.

      I, too, am oddly fascinated by the selection of something by David Silver as a fandom classic. I guess I don't have a sense of how popular he is. I have read probably 3 or 4 of his stories, and they all have the same pervasive problems, but maybe he's improved since then? The last one I read, "A Changing Perspective," did show some promise.

    2. Well, his big claim to fame is creating the pony RPG system for the Pathfinder game.

    3. Ah. That explains his popularity as an author.

      No, wait, it doesn't.