Monday, March 6, 2017

Fandom Classics Part 203: It's Elementary, My Dear Rainbow

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

So, I wrote a story for the original fiction writeoff over the weekend.  I tried something different this time around, and I'm pretty sure my story is going to completely tank in the voting.  But hey, at least it won't screw up my ponyfic stories score, right?  I'll be Chris: that guy who writes nice pony stories, and who's terrible without that crutch.

So yeah, if you want to read some not-ponyfic, give the writeoff a look.  Vote for a few stories, see if you can figure out which one is mine (I won't be telling until after voting's over, but if you guess right, I'll give you an as-yet undetermined fabulous prize!), and all that jazz.  But first, head down below the break to read my review of bats' It's Elementary, My Dear Rainbow.

Impressions before reading:  Well, I've had good luck with Holmes crossovers/homages/parodies in the past, and bats is definitely a capable writer.  The fact that this claims to be the "remastered" version is probably also a good sign, since that can only mean improved editing.  But with that said, the plot does read like a particular kind of idiot ball-filled romantic comedy that I've rarely taken much pleasure from: the "here's an obvious situation, let's panic about it until we come to a resolution... then STINGER TWIST!" variety.  Hopefully I'm wrong about that!

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Rainbow Dash and Twilight wake up in bed together with no memories of what happened yesterday.  Twilight decides to use LOGIC to figure out the presumably perfectly sensible, innocent reason for this.

Thoughts after reading:  Well, "STINGER TWIST" is a bit strong, but otherwise my pre-reading impressions were pretty spot on.  And after thinking about how best to discuss this, I believe I'll start by describing this story in the most negative way possible, and then spend the rest of my review walking that description back.

This is a story which is dominated by constant, annoyingly repetitive and functionally identical asides about how sexy Dash and Twi find each other, as they go through an interminable "meet each of the main six in turn" plot.  At the end, they find out that it wasn't what it looked like  (of course), but that they want to date anyway (of course).  The whole story is an exercise in seeing how much patience a reader has for reading a description of Dash blushing at Twilight's "shapely behind" for the twelfth time in a row, and how able they are to suspend their disbelief that everypony is much more concerned about compromising positions than about a day's worth of lost memories with no obvious explanation.

Okay, now let's back that up.

First off, there's the "meet each of the main six" element: it's obviously a sorely overused fanfic arc, and at least two of the girls (any two except Pinkie, really) could have been cut minimal rewriting and without any harm to the narrative.  But with that said, each of them were perfectly adequately written, and they do provide a vehicle to set up a crucial brick joke that is both important to the story, and is pretty funny.  Even past that one joke, though, the story has a good humor-to-story-advancement ratio; leaving aside the bit which I'll be addressing in the next paragraph, there's a reasonably brisk pace here, buoyed by just enough comedy to keep the reader firmly in "accept the silliness" territory as they read.

On the question of the shipping, meanwhile, this comes down to it being a "for shippers only" fic.  That's not the worst thing in the world to be, but it does mean that people without an inherent appreciation for TwiDash will find a lot of this is effort put in with no reward.  Those frequent blush moments, the fact that Twilight and Dash's romantic interest is treated as a foregone conclusion, that its consummation is considered inherently rewarding (as opposed to something which the reader needs to develop an investment in) from a narrative standpoint... these are all clear and obvious flaws to the fic when approached by a neutral reader (nevermind someone who actively dislikes main six shipping), but are non-issues for the reader steeped in and accepting of shipping conventions.

And as for the total blase-ness with which the memory loss is treated... well, that would bother me a lot in a piece of real world-set fiction (if for no other reason than because everyone completely failing to be disturbed by "hey, I wasn't drinking or doing drugs, and yet at least the last 12 hours have just spontaneously disappeared from my life!" seems so utterly implausible), but Equestria's a rather different kettle of corn.  Fewer roofies and more non-malignant magical options to explain the even, most likely.  I still find the characterization aspect of this unbelievable--that it simply isn't anyone's idea of the most important thing going on here--but it's not nearly as story-destroying as it arguably would be in another setting.

Star rating:

Ultimately, this is a story I didn't really enjoy.  I think a significant majority of readers won't really enjoy it, either.  But I also think it's an excellent choice for the sizable minority who fall into its target demographic, and that--while it may not rate as a terribly entertaining fic for the rest of us--it also isn't particularly bothersome or noxious in its assumptions or presentation.  It's a perfectly acceptable story, in other words, which a fair chunk of people will react to very positively.  That may not be for me, but it's also not exactly a terrible thing to be.

Recommendation:  If you aren't a shipper at heart, don't bother.  If you are, and if you want to see a stock plot executed with above-average aplomb and plenty of The Moments You Came Here For, give Elementary a try.

Next time:  The Mare Who Once Lived on the Moon, by MrNumbers


  1. I dunno, that sounds like an excellent and worthwhile story to me. :V

  2. I can enjoy me some TwiDash, but the operative word is, I believe, "can" rather than "automatically." Sadly sounds like this one might not do enough to get me there.

  3. Sounds like yet another story that had some good and funny ideas in it but just had to force in a shipping angle to the detriment of the rest of the story.