Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fandom Classics Part 216: Twilight Hears the Narrator

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

In place of anything of substance, I will relate the following true story: I read this top 18 list of "best movie montages," because obviously I have nothing better to do with my life.  I read through the whole article, mentally preparing myself to be annoyed when Rocky IV wasn't in the number 1 spot, and already composing in my head a detailed explanation for why the Rocky IV montage is the best montage of all time (Rocky outruns the KGB--who are in a car--and then climbs a Siberian mountain in the middle of winter, in order to defeat communism!  And that's before we even get into the fact that "Hearts on Fire" is objectively the best montage song).  So of course, I get to the end, and it turns out they did put Rocky IV first overall, and all my pent-up annoyance suddenly had no outlet.

I feel like there's a lesson to learn from this, but instead I'm just going to listen to that song again.  Anyway, Stratocaster's Twilight Hears the Narrator review, below!

Impressions before reading:  On one hand, "character becomes aware of the fourth wall" is one of those "clever" ideas that everyone's already had; there are a lot of fanfics out there with that premise (not just in MLP land, either!), and most of them are pretty bad.  On the other hand, as the person who's responsible for probably 90% of the meta- stories which the RCL considers, I feel obligated to point out that the presence of a lot of bad metafiction doesn't mean that there isn't good metafiction out there, too.  Still, the exclamation mark-filled description does leave me worried that this is going to be a Random-heavy fic which lies on the shallow end of the story meaning pool.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  As the narrator begins to tell his story about a perfectly ordinary day in Ponyville, Twilight looks skyward and asks who's behind that voice which keeps talking about her life... and when his answers prove opaque, she sets out to exorcise this "ghost" from her life.

A few thoughts:  Really, there's not much to say about this fic: it's a one-joke story, stretched to 5500 words.

In this case, the joke is "Twilight--and nopony else--can hear the narrator," but don't expect more depth than that.  What I found most disappointing about the story, in fact, was that so little was done with Twilight as a character.  She's presumably the most familiar with literary conventions out of all the girls; some recursive reasoning would go a long way in a story like this.  But instead, she adamantly refuses to have a clue what's going on (I can see her being baffled by a disembodied voice claiming to be "the narrator," sure, but I can't imagine her not knowing what a narrator is), and the story unfolds in a manner functionally indistinct from if any other pony--or heck, any other character from any media--was in her place.  This level of interchangeability really weakens the effect of the story for me; with the most minimal of tweaking, it could be fit equally well to anyone, which means it's really about no one.

But that paragraph is pretty harsh, and I don't want to give the impression that this is some awful piece of writing.  Narrator may be generic and shallow, but within its self-set limits, it's perfectly amusing.  The characters quip well off of each other, various staples of the style are explored (the narrator ceasing to speak and the story being rendered in all-dialogue, the narrator forcing Twilight to do things by narrating them, etc.) and are executed perfectly competently, and the pace doesn't drag nearly as much as I would expect a one-note story of this length to.  That last bit was a particularly pleasant surprise; when I realized that there wasn't going to be much done with the premise, I thought for sure that the story would prove to be 3-4ooo words too long, but Stratocaster moves through characters and setpieces quickly enough that the repetitiveness of the base joke... well, it isn't really obscured, but it feels less belabored than it otherwise might.

I will confess to being a bit disappointed with the narration, considering the emphasis the story naturally draws to it.  The quote-narration structure is terribly repetitive, there are a lot of frankly silly saidisms ("[...]Twilight discerned" might be the most awkward), and punctuation and capitalization coming out of quotes are inconsistent.  This all might have worked if the author had done something with the narrator's ineptitude or just inexperience... but this possibility for meta-commentary is passed over, in favor of more "other ponies think Twilight's crazy" shenanigans.

Star rating:

There's just not enough here for me to rate it higher than "typical fanfiction."  Its one joke is competently executed, but that's about all I can say for it.  That's fine for what it is... but not something I'd consider a "Fandom Classic."

Recommendation:  If you get a kick out of Pinkie directly addressing the reader in stories, then the comedy in this fic will be right up your alley.  I'd have trouble enthusiastically recommending it for general audiences, however.

Next time:  Exit Through Canterlot, by TheBrianJ

No comments:

Post a Comment