Monday, October 30, 2017

Fandom Classics Part 234: Shipping Sickness

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

It's #234!  That's exciting, right?  I mean, I think it's exciting, and you wouldn't presume to contradict me, right?  Right?  Right!  So, excitement had!  And having been had, let us continue on to our 234th installment of the Fandom Classics series; check out my thoughts on Skywriter's Shipping Sickness, below.

Impressions before reading:  Skywriter is an author I've had a lot of good luck with; ctrl-f his name in the Fandom Classics or Mini-Reviews tabs up above, and you'll see that he's pretty consistently produced stories I've enjoyed.  The tag combo here (romance, comedy, and random) isn't one that really sells me personally, but I'm guessing that the pitfalls of that particular combination (nominally serious shipping in a story which otherwise contorts its internal logic for a joke, a series of non-sequiturs being passed off as a "story," etc.) aren't going to be on display here.  I could go either way on the description's promise of puns; I love 'em, personally, but only when they don't come at the expense of the story.  Here's hoping.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight Sparkle animates half of the furniture in Ponyville to help her act out her visions of how her friends, family, and social circle ought to romantically interact, but gets some surprisingly cogent advice from her bedside table.

Thoughts after reading:  This story is two things.  First, it is a pun vehicle.  And second, it's a piece of meta-commentary.  Both of these things are individually well-executed, but I can't help but feel that they combine to be less than the sum of their parts.

For me, the biggest problem is that the two elements aren't really integrated.  The meta-commentary on fandom shipping, and on what makes romance work in writing, exists more-or-less independent of the zany hijinks Twilight perpetrates, and doesn't really matter to the story's conclusion.  Great metafiction mixes a compelling story with an equally thoughtful piece of exterior commentary.  This is a story that has a few hundred words of exterior commentary tossed in, which could be excised entirely without really damaging the narrative and without requiring more than superficial suturing to accommodate its loss.

But on the other hand... the funny stuff is still funny.  The promised puns are groaningly amusing, and the punchline at the end is just the right kind of not-worth-it.  It's true that the broader humor of the piece is built around a certain level of character destruction and generally playing fast-and-loose with Twilight's personality, but not to such a great degree that the fic can't be enjoyed as a piece of random humor.  And the commentary on romance in fiction is excellent advice, its earnestness nicely undercut by the absurdity of the circumstances of its delivery.  So the constituent elements are enjoyable, if a little uneven.  The real question is, what do they add up to?

Star rating:

To me, this story felt a little bit like getting a salad that had vinegar poured over half of it, and oil poured over the other half.  It's not awful, but it would have been nice if you could have gotten a well-mixed vinaigrette over the whole thing instead.  As-is, this is a slight joke vehicle with a tone-shift sidebar in the middle.  For all that, it's still perfectly enjoyable... but it doesn't manage to be anything more.

Recommendation:  If you, like me, think that a bunch of furniture puns (the story opens on this front by having Twi introduce "Shining Armoire" and "Princess Credenza," and things somehow just keep getting better/worse from there), this story is worth checking out.  If you're looking for a terribly cohesive or thematically coherent piece of writing, it's probably one you can pass on, though.

Next time:  The Three Whooves, by Paleo Prints


  1. This might be the shortest review you've ever written. c.c

  2. I'm almost certain that should be "Shining Armoir." ;-)

    1. See how hard that was? Now you know what trouble it gave Chris.

    2. Actually, I believe that in Britain they do spell it with a u. And also with the r-ending reversed, like they do with "theatre"s. So, "Armourie," though they pronounce it "Armefree."

    3. Better just make it "Armouire", to cover all your bases. :B

    4. Does Cadence have a pet name for Shining yet in the "Of Cloudsdale" series? If not, you may have discovered it. :V

    5. Let me just leave this here from Loganberry's story :

      “The armoury Armare armour armoire, amour Armor?” said Cadance, absolutely deadpan.

  3. Please be aware that you missed Horizon's epic Never The Final Word semi-sequel to this story.

    (Ba-dump-dump Tish!)