Monday, July 17, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 193

I watched the premier of the new season of Game of Thrones just a few hours before this post was gonna go up, and I gotta say... for all that the visuals and music are still absolutely top-tier (and they are!  They're almost entirely why I'm still watching at this point!), the show is really striking out on characterization, tone, pacing, and basically everything that's not the music and visuals.  I mean, Euron is straight-up Jack Sparrow at this point, you know?  Sam somehow got stuck in a gross-out comedy flick that's being intercut with the rest of the show.  Nobody seems to care--or even notice!--that Sansa is the rightful Warden of the North.

Honestly, it's enough to make me glad that they killed off Stannis two years ago; he may be my favorite major character in the books (sidebar: my favorite minor characters are Damphair, Patchface, and Hodor; if I ever write an ASoIaF fanfic, it will be about those three traveling Westeros, and every time they encounter anyone or anything, Damphair will say something gloomy and portentous, Patchface will start singing a vaguely foreboding nonsense rhyme about it, and Hodor will say "Hodor."  About every.  Single.  Thing.), but it's kind of nice to know that the show can't miss the point with him any more.

Now!  Ponyfic!  Below!

Behind The Curtain, by Jarvy Jared

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Prince Blueblood meets with an "assistant" to further Equestria's interests.  He's discovered that several problems all seem to have a single, related cause--to little knowledge, but dangerous enough by itself.

A few thoughts:  This is a story that cloaks itself in opacity and ambiguity, and it does a nice job of leaving much uncertain without becoming a frustrating reading experience, right up to the semi-ambiguous ending (the events at the end are clear; what will happen as a result is left to the reader to interpret).  To do that, though, requires a lot of telly conversation, mostly on Blueblood's part; much of it makes sense in context, but a few bits are obviously for the reader's benefit, rather than his ally's.  The editing on the story also isn't a great strength; while it's not at every-other-sentence levels, there are enough tense slips, missed words, etc. to be a distraction.

Recommendation:  If you like puzzles without clear-cut solutions, there's a good bit of gristle here to chew in a pretty small package (3k words).  It's definitely not for anyone who dislikes not knowing what's going on/what happened, and readers sensitive to writing issues might want to give it a pass.

Daring Do and the Incomparable Incompetaur, by Twinkletail

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Daring Do travels through the most halfhearted, ineffective, and all-around insulting dungeon she's ever seen--and when she gets past its "traps," she discovers that the monster at its heart isn't much more fiendish than his lair itself.

A few thoughts:  This is a very straightforward, very predictable story; the ways in which the traps are set up are pretty obvious examples of how to comically harmless-ify a classic snare, and the major beats of the story are thoroughly expected at every turn.  But with that said, it's still an awfully cute story, told in a straightforward style which makes its visual humor mostly easy to picture in one's mind's eye.  Likewise, the characters in the story are all pretty one-dimensional, but their single dimensions are all pretty vivid and they bounce off one another well, so that's not necessarily a flaw.  As with Behind the Curtain, though, editing is well within "is this readable" parameters, but nevertheless is something of a weak point.

Recommendation:  If you like cartoonish sight gags, this has a number, and they're well-adapted to the medium.  It would also be a good choice for younger/more inexperienced readers, for whom the steps of this dance might not seem quite so familiar.  By that token, though, it's not a great pick for heavy readers, or more broadly, those seeking a lot of original and unique twists.

Lost in the Woods, by Meluch

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Big Mac gets lost and injured while traveling home from a delivery, but is saved by Trixie.  At least, that's what he tells everyone...

A few thoughts:  This is a ponification of a classic folklorish theme, and it's fit into the pony setting pretty well.  I also appreciate the tragic nature of the tale, and how it manages to keep a setting-appropriate tone without sacrificing that tragic nature.  Nevertheless, the ending was relatively weak, and (especially with Trixie herself) it does get a little too schmaltzy for its own good at times.  Plus, it invokes the name of Faust as a deity, which I'm given to understand is an automatic one-point deduction.  I kid, I kid, but in all seriousness: although Mac's struggles, both physical and emotional, are nicely balanced, the larger story does sometimes lean just a little too hard on manufactured misery.

Recommendation:  Although it's not really a "sad Trixie" story, I still think readers who dislike those will probably want to pass on this.  It'd be a good choice for anyone looking for a well-adapted, classic gut-punch fic.


  1. No, that is definitely a one-point deduction. <.<

  2. >they're single dimensions are all pretty vivid

    >editing is well within "is this readable" parameters, but nevertheless is something of a weak point

    Irony, thy name is Chris.

    1. It's really more hypocritical, tbh.

      But now that I've fixed those mistakes, nobody will ever know that my review-spellings were anything less than perfect! The only way they could uncover my horrible secret is if they somehow managed to find the comments section, which I've cleverly concealed beneath the post itself. A FOOLPROOF PLAN!

  3. I am still not over Stannis. And if the leaks I've heard are real, and it very much seems they are, then the rest of the season is only going to get worse. Which seems to be a recent trend in pretty much every TV series I like.

    At least Better Call Saul was good this year.

  4. Never expected to find my story having a review... in retrospect, it really isn't that good. I wrote it for a contest that ended up not having any other submissions, so it ended up just being something I posted for the sake of having it posted in the first place. I wasn't about to just leave 3000 words behind, after all.

    Let's see... it was written about a year ago, and I'd like to think my writing has improved since then. Though, that remains to be seen, as I've changed gears and begun work on non-pony stuff.

    Nonetheless, it's nice to see that there are some of my older works still getting read, even if I've long since moved on from them. It's a pleasant surprise to find someone favorite your story that was made two years ago, and even more pleasant to find a kind and critical response to it.

    1. Glad you liked the review! I have no doubt that two years of practice have only helped you improve; good luck with your future writing!