Friday, September 8, 2017

Fandom Classics Part 227: The Mane Makes The Pony

To read the story, click the image or follow this link.

It's fantasy football time again!  It's actually also real football time; the first game of the season will have just finished by the time this post goes up.  I'm feeling pretty good about my team; I'll be starting three Cardinals (David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, plus I'm spot-starting Carson Palmer while I wait for Andrew Luck to get healthy), so I don't even have to worry much about conflicts of interest between my real team and my fantasy one!

Okay, that's enough fantasy sports; I'll talk about it some more sometime, no doubt, but I harbor no illusions than anyone cares.  Instead, let's move on to my review of Merlos the Mad's The Mane Makes the Pony, below the break.

Impressions before reading:  The story's description is vague enough that it's hard to say what specific direction this story will take, but the cover art and story tags clear up the general intended tone well enough; a somewhat silly story about Pinkie getting Rainbow Dash's manecut.  That seems like a solid enough basis for a comedy, and there's plenty of room for escalation in that premise.  On that basis, I'm hoping for good stuff!

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A mix-up at the spa leaves Pinkie with a radically new haircut.  Her reaction is... subdued, and her friends seek to help her.

A few thoughts:  There's not a lot to talk about when it comes to plot, in this case.  That's not a good or bad thing; it just reflects that the plot is mostly a vehicle for the humor.  It's fair to say that the author captures an episode-appropriate vibe in terms of both the premise and the general tone, though Merlos the Mad clearly recognizes both the differences between written fiction and a TV show, and that his target audience isn't the same as the show's (nominally) is, and tailors his approach appropriately.  That's all to the good.

But sadly, the writing and pacing are letdowns.  The particular approach that the author took to this story could work well in a short story, but doesn't hold up well over nearly 30k words--especially when so many of those words are extraneous.  The story has a tendency to explain things that are obvious in context, sometimes two or three times ("'Alright, let me go get my sister,' Aloe quickly said, then, when Hans shrugged, she angrily added, 'warten sie hier, ich holen meine schwester!' Roughly, she had told hans to wait there, she would go and fetch her sister'"), and to go into excruciating detail about what each pony is thinking, even as it gives us all the dialogue and physical cues necessary to infer that same information ("'Oh dear, I hope Pinkie Pie will be alright.' Fluttershy cringed inwardly somewhat, worrying profusely over her friend's well being").  This is a story that could easily have cut five thousand words without sacrificing a single joke, plot point, or piece of dialogue.  Frankly, I think chopping 10k without affecting anything important might not be impossible.

And the story itself is too ephemeral to support that kind of dullness-inducing padding.  The Mane Makes The Pony is, in the author's words, "a good place to put meta jokes that don't fit in my other stories, which are a little less goofy."  And this is true!  But the humor here suffers from that classic pitfall of comedy; it over-explains every single joke, running its setpieces into the ground and refusing to let its one-liners stand without the narrative throwing in an elbow-nudge and a "hey, yageddit?"  The pacing suffers as a result, with awkward spacing between bits of levity, and a general slowness to the entire work which is antithetical to what its tone and content are trying to accomplish.

Star rating:

This is not a terrible story.  It's not offensive, it's not full of inappropriately nonsensical plot points, it doesn't dwell on crudeness in place of actual humor... it doesn't do any of the things terrible stories do.  But it's a joke vehicle which can't deliver its jokes in an effective manner, and a would-be breezy story which bogs down at every turn.  It's not terrible, but it's a story of limited goals, and it fails to effectively accomplish those.  So: one star.

Recommendation:  Unless the idea of a piece of humor is more important to you than the execution, this probably isn't one worth specifically seeking out.

Next time:  “Princest Is Wincest,” It Said, by cleverpun


  1. That next title, good god. I've not read it and I don't know if even a 5 star recommendation would sway me to do so.

    1. From what I recall, off the top of my head, the title refers to graffiti found in Canterlot. So I expect it's one of those stories where fandom memes are approached head-on by the show characters, seriously or otherwise.

  2. I'm disappointed that the German has 3 mistakes in only 7 words, and only one of them could be attributed to the character getting it wrong instead of the author. I hope none of them try to speak any more German than this one excerpt.

    1. Google Translate is about as close as most American writers get to German or French. (Raises guilty hand) I'm determined to cheat, and have a little list of our Latin/French/German writers in case I have dialogue that needs checked.

      (Quietly adds another name to the list)

    2. In the author's defense, the speaker is supposed to be "rusty." But if they aren't the kind of mistakes someone trying to bluff their way through a half-remembered language would make...

  3. I've read about half of this story, and your complaints feel true to my experiences as well. I don't really remember many specifics, but I do remember being bored, and that's probably why I stopped.