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If you like reading in-detail, stream-of-consciousness reviews, be ye advised that PresentPerfect has finally finished his six-part review of Project: Horizons. According to the google doc I just pasted it into out of morbid curiosity, his review runs a whopping 44,193 words. Normally this would be a case where I'd say something like "frankly, you're better off just reading the story and deciding for yourself," but given that the fic in question is 1.7 million words, a short novel about it is still a significant potential timesaver. Plus, PP's irreverent summarizing is really funny in its own right (plus plus, he curses like a wounded pirate and/or 14 year-old Call of Duty player).
Or you could just read my review of it. It's only 3311 words, which I believe means that it's over 13 times better :B And if even that's too many words for you, try my significantly shorter review of Blueshift's Two Peas in a Pod, below the break.
Impressions before reading: Although I haven't read this story before, I think I already know the back-half punchline (probably from someone else's review), and if it's what I think it is, ehhh. We'll see. Anyway, it's Blueshift--an author for whom I've been tempted in the past to simply describe the random comedies of as "Blueshiftian" because of their consistently, effectively madcap tone and frenetic pacing--so I feel like I have a pretty good sense what I'm in for, and it's not something I particularly dislike.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Twilight Sparkle and her brother are secretly peas, animated and given pony form by an itinerant wizard. But in the wake of the changeling invasion, Celesia is preparing to cast a spell that will nullify all shapeshifting magic in Canterlot; with her terrible secret about to be revealed, what can she say?
Thoughts after reading: Yeah, that's the extended pun I thought I was in for. It was awful, but to be fair, it was that special kind of aggressively dumb that wraps back around to amusing in its sheer forced-ness. That's one of the staples of Blueshift's random/comedy-tagged fics. Indeed, and just as I feared, I'm having trouble thinking of much to say that can't be sufficiently summarized by the statement "It's a Blueshift random/comedy."
On the downside, that means: plenty of missing commas; the occasional british phrase coming out of a canon character's mouth; really, really dumb jokes for which all narrative logic is gleefully sacrificed; and inconsistent tone. The last bit's the only one that really needs expanding upon, and it's rather more pronounced here than in some of Blueshift's other comedies; the first scene in the story is basically serious slice-of-life (plus plothook), the middle section is absurdist comedy, and the end is dumb puns. While there may be a straight line through the events, the three parts don't really connect, tonally.
But to the good, we have: a lightning-quick pace which keeps the narrative (such as it is) from bogging down; an ability to resist self-awareness in a patently absurd tale; and really, really dumb jokes for which all narrative logic is gleefully sacrificed. You'll note that that last one popped up in the "downsides" list, too; Blueshift's willingness to throw away any sense of the "story" as a coherent work with internally consistent characters is a weakness in the sense that it makes for a weaker story, to be sure, but there's a perverse appeal in seeing the author pause the story for a few hundred words to set up "Twilight wet the bed until she was eleven." Like some of Mel Brooks' more... out there gags, they're funny not just despite not belonging, but also because the don't belong.
★★☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
I don't know that this is a great story--in fact, I'm quite certain it isn't--but it's entertaining on its own merits, and if it doesn't succeed in being anything more than a sometimes bizarre, sometimes incredibly forced, but nevertheless entertaining piece of writing, then it's fair to say that it's probably at least achieved its goals.
Recommendation: This would be a good choice for fans of absurdity, over-the-top-ness, and jokes which trade on their own repetition. In other words? If you like Blueshift comedies, read this, and if not, don't.
Next time: Savage, by Ese Wey