Monday, June 26, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 190

In case you missed it, my inaugural Seattle's Angel's post went up over the weekend!  Head over there, and you can read my and RedSquirrel's fic recommendations (contrary to what the blurbery might suggest, I didn't actually select all four of the fics we featured), including one story that's never been reviewed anywhere else--even here!

And if that isn't enough reviewing for you, have some more reviews!  Specifically, reviews of the mini- variety, which you can find below the break.

Kill Phil, by TheAshenKnight

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Pinkie Pie is a secret assassin, and has just been handed the most difficult assignment she's ever faced: take out Philomena, Princess Celestia's phoenix.  Specifically, it's a difficult assignment because phoenixes are 100% immortal--hard to kill what can't die.

A few thoughts:  I was hoping this would really revel in the ridiculousness of its premise, and maybe deliver some biting dark humor.  Unfortunately, although Pinkie does have some good Pinkie-ish dialogue scattered throughout, the tone of the piece just doesn't work; the fact that she's a hitmare is played straight, and casual murder is never really reconciled with (or even played against!) her personality and characterization.  It's also a somewhat disjointed fic, though to be fair, I was expecting some of that considering that it is tagged Random.

Recommendation:  If you're interested in some silly conversations and a brief glimpse at how to fail at assassination repeatedly, this might well tickle your fancy.  It's not for anyone who's expecting anything to really be done with the "Pinkie's a contract killer" premise, though.

I Dream of Apples, by Dan_s Comments

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A young man, out for a stroll after losing his job, finds a magic lamp.  Inside is a genie--a genie in the form of a gorgeous, blond-haired woman named Applejack.

A few thoughts:  Sadly, the story's narrator is totally insufferable; a pretty typical example of a first-person designated hero, he's a snappy, snarky, quick-on-his-feet military mind who can magically intuit all sorts of useful information which he has no obvious way of knowing.  There's some potential in the idea of a doomed romance facilitated by Discord, and I can even see some readers enjoying his comeuppance (though it felt like far too much of a "take that" for me to appreciate, personally), but the protagonist naturally permeates everything about the fic... and that means that when the protagonist is (unintentionally) unpleasant, so's the story itself.

Recommendation:  If you have a high tolerance for SQUIDs (thanks again, JohnPerry!) and want to see a character out-clever his situation, consider this story.  Otherwise, definitely pass on it.

Behold, the Princess of Thorns (Also Fainting), by MidnightDancer

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Roseluck incidentally, accidentally invents a technically-new form of magic.  And "new magic" comes with an automatic wings-and-horn upgrade.

A few thoughts:  This is unabashedly a ridiculous comedy, full of quick setpieces for the sake of a joke.  Personally, I think a lot of those jokes are pretty funny, but a lot of them are also dependent on the reader finding "Twilight's still not too thrilled about Celestia making her an alicorn without any warning" amusing.  Take this exchange:

     Roseluck paled. [...] "I... I seriously did not mean to do that."
     Twilight nodded. "I know. But you did! And as Celestia taught me, actions have consequences! Don't be so gosh-darn good at something unless you want your body warped and twisted and large amounts of responsibility put in your lap!" She lit her horn, deftly snagging Roseluck in her levitation as she wove the ascension spell.
     Panicked, Roseluck pedaled her forelegs uselessly against the magic. "W-What?"
     "Cs get degrees," Twilight deadpanned
Well, that and the "Roseluck faints a lot" joke you were probably expecting from the title.  The story ends on a rather lackluster note, it must be said, but I'll give it full credit for hitting its key comedy concepts a few times, then wrapping up before it gets old.

Recommendation:  Did you find that quoted bit funny?  If so, you'll probably enjoy the rest of the fic; even when it's not on that particular topic, the comedy quotient remains similar.  If not, you don't need me to tell you not to bother.


  1. Oh, Snarky Quippy Underdeveloped Irritating Douchebags. I'd either missed or completely forgotten that, and was thinking the D stood for Discord. Now I know it doesn't. Boo. :P

  2. "A steely glint was in his eyes, and from down the hall there echoed an eagle’s cry."

    I don't think you know what an eagle's cry is like...

    1. Yeah, in the movies, they always loop in a Redtail Hawk's cry for an eagle's, because eagles sound stupid.

    2. Hey, no point in letting a little thing like reality get in the way of what it should be, right?

    3. "because eagles sound stupid."

      To me, that's like saying Superman looks silly wearing underpants on the outside: I think they're both badass enough to get away with it.

      Then again, nature don't care what cinematographers think, so meh.

      Icy Shake pretty much sums it up: whatever makes a good illusion. I generally regard movies in the same way I regard enthusiastic toddlers: some of them are fun to have around (at least for a while), but they'll believe anything and say anything, so for goodness' sakes don't get your facts from them.

      On some days, I wonder if I'm being cynical enough.

    4. I'd just like to say I think Superman looks better with the underwear. Without it, there's just too much near-solid blue in the design, and some of the replacements if anything look sillier, like the New 52 kinda zig-zag belt, or Man of Steel's... kinda texture changes and maybe subtle shade shift?

    5. And to get back to where this all started... I know perfectly well what a (bald) eagle sounds like, we've got plenty around here (and they were a downright nuisance bird where I went to college). The fact that it was an eagle's cry, and not a redtail's, is actually a subtle call to appreciate the unknown treasures instead of blindly taking in that which is well known--which is, after all, SA's MO.

      Also, redsquirrel's afraid of hawks.

  3. Hmm, tried the last one out because I still don't like the way that happened. But everything was too diluted by the fainting to carry much unless you really like that aspect.

    Also, I thought people had stopped doing the "capitalize the E in earth pony" (but not P in pegasus, A in alicorn, or, presumably, U in unicorn) thing. The capitalization is a pet peeve on its own, but worse in the E only form because the difference is distracting and it's earth-as-in-soil, not the planet, anyway.

  4. Also, congratulations on your inaugural, Chris! Fits right in. I don't always go from the reviews to the fics, but the Seattle's Angels reviews are still fun to read in their own right.

    And of course, between that, this blog, and the Royal Canterlot Library, you are now that much closer to controlling all pony fiction on the Internet. All hail Carrot Top, I say.

  5. Still haven't gotten to that round yet, but I'm working my way towards it! I expect to add at least a couple extra stories to my list.