Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 184

I try to occasionally look through the "new stories" list on the FiMFic main page; it's not the best way to find great stories in terms of raw numbers, but it is a good way to catch new authors who haven't had a chance to get eyes on their works yet.  That said, there are the usual pitfalls with this method of story searching: barely-coherent writing, weird fetishes... and stories with totally opaque descriptions.  Take this short description, which I came across this afternoon:
Rainbow Dash thinks that Paladins is a rip-off of Overwatch. Sunset Shimmer begs to differ.
I don't know what Overwatch is/are, nor how paladins could be said to be a ripoff of anything, but I'll assume this statement makes sense if only I had some key bit of background or cultural insight.  Then there's stuff like this one:
Giratina goes to Equestria
Where it's obvious the author expects me to know who "Giratina" is... except, of course, I don't.  Which isn't the author's fault (if anything, it's nice that they're so up-front about who is(n't) the target audience)--but yeah, obviously I'm not going to read a story where the premise leaves me floundering like that.

But here are some older stories that I did read, all of which were fundamentally comprehensible to me!  Head down below to see what I thought of 'em.

May I Axe You a Favor?, by MisterNick

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The heartwarming tale of how the Cake family acquired Sugarcube Corner and become Ponyville's premier bakers.  Also, axe murder!

A few thoughts:  This story tries to draw comedy from how matter-of-fact its killer is, with mostly strong results: the sheer disconnect between the acts described and the characters' blase-ness is effectively absurd.  The problems with this story are mostly in the lack of escalation (once the axe-murdering is introduced, it doesn't really ramp up its ridiculousness any further), and more damagingly, in the writing.  This is one of those stories that's clearly been run through a spellchecker, but which has a lot of other basic writing errors in terms of comma use, sentence construction, and so on.

Recommendation:  Despite those flaws, this did still get a grin out of me, and would be worth a look for readers who enjoy the use of over-the-top grimdark as a vector for humor.  But be prepared for shaky writing, and in any case, this certainly isn't for any reader who's put off by the premise.

Pie Family Weirdness: The Secret Origin, by Thought Prism

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The tale of Pinkie's ancestors--and of how certain members of the Pie family picked up some of their more unusual attributes.

A few thoughts:  In contrast to the story I just reviewed, Weirdness also takes a dark premise (selling oneself into demonic slavery), but uses it seriously, to craft a family origin story.  That's not to say there's not a fair share of comedy here--a lot of light humor is drawn from how the demon at the heart of this is more of a "9-5 evil" than a true blackheart--but that's definitely not the overall tone of the story.  Rather, this is about love (or at least, affection) borne of a horrible circumstance.  I personally found said circumstance, and the Stockholm shades it threw over the rest of the story, to disturbing to really enjoy this story, but to the fic's credit, this is neither shied away from, nor played in a disrespectful manner, and the ending is surprisingly touching considering the setup.

Recommendation:  If you like your demons of the affable sort and don't object to the premise of love between master and slave out of hand, consider this is highly recommended doomed romance/explainfic.  A few of its revelations (that is, the specific explainfic elements) are brought up late and feel almost tangential, but then (title notwithstanding), they're the secondary element here.

The Timestone, by Bachiavellian

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Star Swirl the Bearded, determined to aid the newly-installed Princesses of Equestria for as long as he can, develops a way for them to contact him five times, even in the distant future.

A few thoughts:  This is a terribly poignant fic, building as it does such a pitiable yet noble yet also still human (pony) picture of Star Swirl.  It's true that it's a very quick-paced story, though the workings of Star Swirl's spell make this necessarily so; nevertheless, it does pack a lot of high emotion into a very small space, and sometimes that quick abutment can make the work feel breathless.  For my part, though, I thought this was appropriate, considering what his ultimate fate is ultimately shown to be; these events should feel dramatic and even too closely spaced.  It's a great example of narrative supporting writing style, and a sad but stiff-upper-lipped ending caps it nicely.

Recommendation:  If you enjoy a bit of history-fleshing, and if you like your sad stories of the "stoically dealing with the consequences of our choices" flavor rather than the "here's some sad stuff NOW BE SAD" variety, consider this highly recommended.


  1. Stoicism. That's the secret to good sadfic.

    Also how was that in the new box when I read it like two weeks ago. c.c

    1. "But here are some older stories that I did read"

      Because it wasn't in the new box.

    2. ...It's like people expect me to read things.

  2. I wonder if canon will ever actually explain what happened to Star Swirl? Going by secondary sources, it's said that he disappeared, and we know that he did regular time travel, and that book by Amy Keating Rogers even implied that he went to the present time of the show at least once. But she's gone now, and I don't know if the new writers will ever pick up that thread again and do something with him.

    And that makes me sad.

  3. Every time someone reviews one of my stories, I feel like I've won the lottery. Especially if they liked it. :)

    1. Glad I could bring you exactly as much happiness as a life-changing monetary payout!