Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 166

I've been spending rather too much time over the past couple of weeks on a new-ish browser game, Age of Rivals.  It's a two-player game similar to Seven Wonders (the boardgame) in design.  Pros: short (about 15 minute) matches, no pay-to-win, no complicated deckbuilding, plenty of tactical decisions that you can make and then feel smart about when they work.  Cons: I never draw the cards I need :(

Anyway, that's what I've been doing instead of being productive, now you know.  I still managed to read some FiM fics, though!  And let's go ahead and make this a comedy edition, because why not?  Everyone needs a little funny in their life.  Check out my reviews, below the break.

Editorial Mandate, by LightOfTriumph

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A.K. Yearling's editor gets some bad news from his "favorite" author.

A few thoughts:  Despite being a tribute to the (real life) author's editor--an awfully sweet thing to do, by the way--this story is more about poking fun at the G.R.R. Martins of the world than about poor spelling and grammar.  I found it an amusing little jaunt, with a few clever callbacks to canon and some good use of histrionics.  I'll admit that it's rather unpolished, editing-wise, but (although I doubt it was intended) the out-of-story context for this piece made those flaws feel appropriate in a weirdly meta way.

Recommendation:  This is more scene than story, with a denouement that, while sweet, doesn't exactly bite.  So with that in mind, it's not a great choice for those looking for a lot of plot, but may well tickle the fancy of readers who enjoy a bit of silly screaming and sweetness mixed together.

An Audition for the Eventual End of the World, by PhycoKrusk

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Lightning Dust applies to join the Crepúsculo/Sparkle family.  Who are holding auditions for a new family member.  Which is definitely a thing families do.

A few thoughts:  This is a sequel to the author's excellent, RCL'd Anypony for a Doomsday?, and without having read that first, you'll be totally lost.  Luckily, if you have good enough taste to read my mini-reviews, you presumably also keep up with the RCL and its devilishly handsome reviewers (wink).  Anyway, this is another scene-n0t-a-story, using the family dynamics set up in Doomsday to riff a bit on fandom writing conventions, show plotholes, and its own characters.  It doesn't really go anywhere, but as a bit of riffing, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Recommendation:  This cannot be read stand-alone, but if you're looking for more Doomsday-style humor, consider this as an aimless but comedically on-point follow-up.

Happy Hour, by Vivid Syntax

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Big Mac, Braeburn, Soarin, and Caramel meet up for their regular poker game.  

A few thoughts:  There's really only one or two jokes per character, here (e.g. Braeburn is a walking, talking double-entendre), but they're played hard enough to the hilt that they're fairly entertaining despite their one-note-ness.  To stick with the named example: the entire first scene is Braeburn doing the whole "describe an innocent activity so that the person listening thinks you mean gay orgies" schtick, but the sheer fact that it keeps that up, non-stop, for 845 words takes it back around the horn from cringeworthy to actually kind of funny again.  There's a lot of that here: a joke you see coming a mile away, that isn't all that funny to begin with, but done often enough and sincerely enough that eventually you can't help but smile.

Recommendation:  If humor through persistence isn't your thing, don't even bother with this fic.  But if you like a story that will beat its jokes so far into the ground that they come out on China, and which does so with a willful glee, this would be a fine choice.

The Lamia, by Cold in Gardez

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Despite the fact that Ponyville's newest resident is a member of a species which preferentially subsists upon the the ponies they lure into having sex with them, Rarity is determined to give her new friend a fair chance.  After all, isn't giving creatures second chances what the girls do?

A few thoughts:  As is so often the case with CiG comedies, this story places its characters in an absurd situation, then forces them to treat it seriously.  The direct parallels drawn to characters like Starlight Glimmer and Discord help ground this fic, while not detracting from dangerous ridiculousness of the "pony-eating monster chilling in Ponyville" premise.  As is also often the case with CiG comedies, the best lines are all straight lines from the dialogue; the author has a knack for deadpan, in-character humor.  And, given light treatment of the premise, the faux-letter to Celestia and anticlimactic end felt like a perfect fit.

Recommendation:  Although this isn't a graphic fic by any means, this is a story that gets a lot of mileage out of "Lamias have sex with stallions, then eat them"--readers who are squeamish about that premise might consider looking elsewhere for their ponyfic needs.  But if you enjoy straight takes on silly ideas, this is a good pick.

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