Friday, October 27, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 207

Since I didn't say it last time: sorry for the lack of postage on Monday!  I got home late on Sunday, forgot to set my next set of reviews to post in the midst of getting everything ready for work the next day/falling asleep before I actually got everything ready, and by the time I noticed, I figured it'd be better to just put it off until Wednesday.  And then Wednesday was pre-empted to talk about the Alicorn Amulet Collaboration.  So here we are: the post you should've gotten days ago, today!  It's like reverse time-travel, kinda!

So, yeah, mini-reviews below the break.

The Siren's Swan Song, by RB_

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A pony follows a beautiful song down to the water, where he finds the creature singing it--and joins her, if only for her last moments.

A few thoughts:  This is a melancholy little piece... but it belongs to that category of fiction which never actually does anything with its melancholy.  It tells us of an event in the narrator's life, and what he concluded from it, but there's no hint of applicability, or of how this changed him, or of anything else, really.  In that sense, this is something of a "scene, not a story" fic; it tells us of an event, but it doesn't turn that into any sort of arc, nor does it actually tell us much about either of the characters in this story beyond the most superficial.  That notwithstanding, it does effectively convey its mood without getting too maudlin, and if I have questions about the average person's ability to spontaneously duet with someone they've never met singing an unfamiliar song, then it's perhaps also fair to point out that ponies do seem to break into unrehearsed musical numbers from time to time.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for a quick bit of mood writing, this is fine.  If you're looking for a more detailed exploration of the premise, this will probably prove too slight for you.

The Last Dreams of Pony Island, by horizon

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A glimpse of the nocturnal reflections of a doomed pony village far from Equestria, on the day before its demise.

A few thoughts:  A while back, horizon was part of a conga line of authors who ranked their own writing by (authorially perceived) quality, and compared it to (FiMFic-measured) popularity.  This was the story of his he considered his best work, so I figured I'd better give it a look.  And after reading it, it's not hard to see why; this is a dense read, almost more puzzle than story, which slowly paints a picture of racial tensions, geopolitical upheaval, lost love, and more.  Very little is clear at the start, and discovering even basic elements of the setting (e.g. when the tale is set) is part of the grand unraveling of the tale.  There's also an "official epilogue" written by Skywriter, which I personally appreciated (it puts everything together in a narratively and, more impressively, thematically satisfying way), but which I suspect some readers will prefer to skip (horizon himself acknowledges that Skywriter's answers are by no means the only workable ones, and readers who have their own ideas about what happened may prefer their version of events to his).  Because so much of the story is open to interpretation, it's hard to say much definitive about it--even stuff like "how 'pony' is the story?" are going to vary rather significantly based on how one chooses to interpret certain elements of the opening chapter, say.  What I definitely can say, though, is that this is a story that benefits from attentive, thoughtful reading, and that the more you put into it, the more you're going to get out.

Recommendation:  This is not a story for casual reading.  But if you're looking for something opaque, surprising, and even poignant--and especially if you enjoy piecing together stories for yourself--consider this highly recommended.  Note that although it's not written in prose (and although its structure is well-utilized), it can be read as prose by the verse-averse, so don't let that scare you away!

Clink, by Visiden Visidane

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight figures out how unicorns can cast spells.  It turns out it's simultaneously more mundane, and more theologically relevant, than she could have predicted.

A few thoughts:  For a story not tagged [Random], this is a pretty off-the-wall fic.  Based largely around senseless absurdity and character destruction, it's a classic exercise in starting from ridiculousness, then upping the ante.  "Upping the ante," in this case, both in terms of silliness and in terms of everypony's blase-ness about the whole matter.  Personally, I would have appreciated a true straight mare (or straight dragon, if it were Spike) to help ground things, but although the lack of one leaves the story feeling unmoored, it doesn't really dampen the humor.  It's also nice that the story doesn't stick around overlong and wear out its premise, though I admit that ending literally midword for no obvious reason (other than, again, [Random]) might be taking that idea a little too far.

Recommendation:  If you find shocking revelations and inappropriate reactions thereto funny, you should definitely read this.  If you're looking for anything even slightly serious, it ain't here.


  1. "Note that although it's not written in prose (and although its structure is well-utilized), it can be read as prose by the verse-averse, so don't let that scare you away!"
    Nope, that's a different thing by horizon! :V

    "Clink" was interesting and funny, but the way it kind of petered out at the end didn't work that well for me.

  2. Glad that you were impressed with my dense little puzzlebox! :)