Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 202

As you may have heard, Equestria Daily just recently passed 800 million views.  Not coincidentally (almost certainly entirely coincidentally), One Man's Pony Ramblings just this week hit the one million views mark!  Honestly, "1/800th as popular as EqD" is a lot more attention than I ever thought analyzing people's ponyfics would ever get me.  Of course, it took me a little longer to get there than it took EqD... six years for me, three months for them... whatever, a million hits is still pretty darn cool.  Thanks for visiting, everyone!

Now, on to some reviews.  Head below the break for my world-famous reviews!  Remember: one guy clicking "refresh" a million times in a row can't be wrong.

Love Song of a Loser, by Pascoite

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  The author writes a story about Applejack.  But what he'd really rather do is talk to her.

A few thoughts:  This is tagged a sequel to the (amazing, Chris-recced, go-read-it-now) My Domestic Equestria, but can be read perfectly well on its own.  It's an odd beast, part metafiction, part confessional.  The former is played in both obvious ways (lines like "I sit there for a minute, not saying anything. Of course that’s not true, since I’m writing this, but Applejack still picks up on it" are common) and more subtly--changes in voicing or character knowledge are used to speak to the idea of the "all fiction is a lie," and this is only sometimes acknowledged.  Especially toward the end, it becomes intensely personal, and I found there was a lot to relate to here--I don't have a wife and child but the larger idea of ponyfic/life balance (and even some of the specifics) ring vividly true.  Because they are true, and whatever the narrator says, the story insists that there's truth in storytelling.  Just as the narrator wonders about the "real" Applejack, and how she differs from the Applejack he forces her to be by the very act of writing her, so the reader is invited to engage with Pascoite himself.  Who is he, the story obliquely asks?  Can he be different things to different people, without one or all being a lie?  And in the end, how can the reader know what is real, and what is "just" what the author is trying to peddle as real?

Recommendation:  An unabashed piece of metafiction that takes itself totally seriously, this story is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys some searing realism in their ponyfic--when the author talks about how he's let ponyfic impact his marital life, it's uncomfortable in the best possible way.

Liable for Content, by Sarcasmo

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Blueblood's PR ponies have the unenviable job of trying to make him look good.  Facing an impossible task, they come up with a brilliant solution: why not make everypony else look worse than him instead?  All the prince needs to do is sign off on their ideas...

A few thoughts:  I think this story ends up making Blueblood more sympathetic than it intends, to its detriment.  It's hard to feel too much glee for the trouble he gets in when he's genuinely adrift and clueless, as opposed to being maliciously negligent and/or possessed of a dismissiveness borne of arrogance rather than incapacity.  That said, if you can feel glee at his downfall, there's a nice escalation here, and the trial is patently absurd in its piling-on.  Blueblood's airheadedness and general lack of attention to the world also come through clearly in the writing.

Recommendation:  If "feeling bad for Blueblood" isn't the sort of thing you think is liable to be a concern for you, then this would be a fine choice if you're looking for an "everything goes progressively wronger" sort of comedy.

Orangeglow, by Soufriere

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  There's a new prime minister in Canterlot, one who's patently unqualified, boorish in the extreme, and has just awful hair.  So Mayor Mare does what any sane politician would do: she asks her good friend Princess Celestia just what she was thinking, allowing this to happen.

A few thoughts:  Although in retrospect it should have been obvious, I didn't realize before I started reading that "Orangeglow" was ponified Donald Trump (in my defense, the author's description isn't as clear on that point as the one I wrote).  At the risk of misreading the mood of the electorate as it intersects with ponyfic readers, I'm not sure this fic has much of an audience from where we sit, nearly a year after his election; those who remain Trump supporters are probably not going to get a lot of enjoyment out of a fic that mostly exists to mock his lack of competence, intelligence, and basic behavioral skills, and I get the sense that the general mood among those who don't support him is more horror and dismay than it is "what a doofus, let's laugh at his tan!" at this point.  In other words, this is a story that had a limited, lowest-common-denominator audience even when it was published, and it hasn't aged well.

Recommendation:  But hey, if you do think "what a doofus, let's laugh at his tan!" is still good for a couple of hyucks, then give it a go--though it does get a bit mean-spirited, so Trumpeteers probably needn't bother regardless.  Otherwise, give it a pass.


  1. On the third's description...
    "undeniably popular with some segments of Equestrian society, leaves other ponies cold"
    That's pretty nonspecific. Leaving that aside, though technically true in the sense there are more than two responses, I wonder if "leaves other ponies cold" is perhaps underplaying the reaction to the point of uselessness or dishonesty.

  2. Man, I was happy to let this thing dwell in obscurity. The only people who'd care about it would have found it anyway, though you are one of the people I thought it might appeal to. Thanks for reading.

    1. Nope, too late, now that Chris saw it you get his 1,000,000 views.

      In all seriousness, thanks for writing it; I'm glad PP and Ferret convinced you to publish it!

    2. PP had already put it in his blog, and these days, seemingly everything in the "New Stories" column also takes a turn in the "Popular Stories" column, so it had already gotten far more publicity than it warranted.

  3. Hi. I appreciate your glowing review [/s] of "Orangeglow".

    You're perfectly free to dislike it -- indeed, I don't blame you a bit. Your doing so finally fulfilled my expectation that someone would (I'd expected a more even +/- split, not 19/2). However, allow me to give some context for the story's existence.

    I upload a Mayor Mare story EVERY January 20th. As this past 1/20 happened to be Inauguration Day in the States, I felt I needed to do something Trump-related as I'd grown weary of seeing my friends' depressive meltdowns. This was my attempt at Catharsis. The fact that you and many of my other readers had to double-take to realize the subtext proves I did my job well. It's undeniably a story of its time. I never intended otherwise. Normally in my works, I attempt beauty, but this was an exception. I was having a very bad week, and not because of Trump.

    "Orangeglow" may be my worst story on a technical level, as its first half is simply me rambling about political theory. I have few regrets about its second half, but the story is still very weak by my standards. I barely cared. I've moved on. I'd say I've washed my hands of it, except my brain insists upon continuity...

    Like it or not, Orangeglow isn't going anywhere -- indeed, though he never appears again, he is referenced obliquely in at least two other stories I've published on FimFic, plus two more I've yet to upload.

    Take care and Peace out!