Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 198

Did you know that back-to-school workshops started right away this week, instead of on Thursday like usual?  I didn't!  Specifically, I didn't know that until I got home on Sunday.  And yes, it was entirely my fault for not knowing (checking e-mail and keeping up-to-date over the summer--who does that?), but the point is that I got back from my trip to Arizona only to immediately go into back-to-work mode.  So, having not had time to put together my review of Through the Well of Pirene yet, here instead is a set of mini-reviews that I had in my back pocket in case I didn't get enough guest columns.  Enjoy, and I'll try to get myself ahead of the curve for Friday!

Apple Whine, by ringcaat

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The girls try not to let Pinkie Pie hit the liquor during a sleepover, knowing what will happen if she gets sloshed.  But not letting her imbibe leads to its own conflict.

A few thoughts:  The best thing I can say about this story is that there's nothing really wrong with it; it's got a joke, a setup for that joke, and the writing's not too shabby.  But that's kind of a low bar to clear; I kept having to stop myself from skimming ahead to see if it would move past the initial joke, and it really didn't. This is fine for what it is, but it lacks any unique or lasting appeal beyond "has ponies."

Recommendation:  If you're okay with something pretty one-note in the humor department and are of the "everything is better with ponies" persuasion, this would be fine.  But if you're looking for a strong payoff or anything particularly exceptional, you should probably give this a pass.

Cool Jazz, by Owlor

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight goes to a jazz club, seeking to understand the music--and the ponies who enjoy it.

A few thoughts:  I had a lot of problems with this fic.  Most obviously, there's the poor writing, with plenty of missing commas, typos, and the like. More frustrating to me was Twilight's blatantly inaccurate description of jazz--if one wanted to be generous, one could deem it an in-character failure of comprehension rather than an authorial one, but the presentation as-written doesn't do a good job supporting that interpretation. Then there's the the humblebrag tone of Twilight's reflections, which beyond being unenjoyable to read in the abstract is also a terrible fit for her character. Also, the story uses the word "adorkable," which I would give up half my earthly possessions to see banished from the human lexicon forevermore.  Even with all that left aside though, this is ultimately a very dull story, in which nothing in particular happens, and which ends on a note only introduced a few hundred words earlier.

Recommendation:  If you're not familiar enough with jazz to be bothered by the musical failures of this story, it's probably not nearly as bad as I'm making it out to be.  That said, I can't think of anyone I'd recommend should specifically seek this out.

Dearest Fluttershy, by Terrasora

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Discord deals with Fluttershy's mortality--but it's hard for someone with no real concept of "morality" to accept.

A few thoughts:  This story is a little inconsistent, but when it's on, it's on. Discord is pleasantly whimsical and alien, and I love what the author does with his (lack of a) sense of time. I had some issues with how exactly that was done though; Discord's whole "death is a choice" interpretation seems like an odd direction to go, and it makes him seem a lot less self-absorbed than I wanted him to be. If he'd just assumed that death was only something that happened to things that didn't matter, Fluttershy mattered, QED she can't die, that would have been a great mix of naive and egotistical.  But although there are some hints of that, it gets muddied by the specific presentation.  But this story still has some strikingly tender moments, and it shows how to set up a true dramatic moment with Discord.

Recommendation:  If you're a Discord snob ("you didn't write him chaotic enough!  He's an elemental force, not a funny-shaped Pinkie clone!"), this is on the short list of stories that might interest you by giving him a true outsider's perspective.

1 comment:

  1. I think I am completely in agreement with you on all three stories, from what little I recall of them. :B