Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 210

I dunno.  I'm just tired, man.  Here, have some mini-reviews, below the break.

Mistakes Best Not Remembered, by Sorren

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Following her return to Equestria, Luna confronts the spiritual remnants of one of her most unforgivable mistakes... and those affected aren't mollified by the passage of centuries.

A few thoughts:  I love the message here, that there's more to earning forgiveness than just feeling bad and saying you're sorry--not everyone can be so magnanimous, least of all the dead.   It's an important message that children's entertainment (such as, say, My Little Pony) sometimes forgets in its rush to remind us of the importance of making amends.  Beyond that, the word use is suitably evocative, painting a clear, grim picture of both the castle, and the events which led up to this tragedy.  And make no mistake, it is a tragedy, in the classical sense: a story wherein the hero fails due to her tragic flaw.  This fandom hasn't produced very many great tragedies, and it's a pleasure to see someone who knows what to do with the genre.

Recommendation:  This story is heavy on emotional appeals, so readers who find those to be cliche regardless of in-character appropriateness will want to give this a pass--as will those reflexively averse to "sad Luna," for that matter.  But for anyone looking for a complex emotional message delivered with clarity and weight, this offers a glimpse of someone suffering, and being forced to accept that their suffering isn't a panacea.

Morality and Baked Goods, by SkyeSilverwing

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When a gingerbreak cookie comes to life at Sugarcube Corner, the girls find themselves unexpectedly confronting a question of ethics.

A few thoughts:  While there's a definite style to this story, I found that the way it was executed was generally a weakness rather than a strength.   Notably, it turns Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Twilight all into distressingly identical Spocks for the sake of preserving said style.  Plus, it seems to use nonstandard capitalization almost at random before stopping halfway through the story.  The story itself is of the "ask a big question" variety, but I can't say it actually evoked much of a "made me think" reaction from me, because it treats everything so casually. Twilight literally "solves" the moral dilemma by first arbitrarily declaring that the ability of something to say "I feel ____" is the defining feature of heart-possession(?), which is itself the defining feature of life itself(?!), then looking at some crumbs and arbitrarily declaring that they don't meet this criteria.   I mean... that's not even a case of the details getting in the way of the big picture.  This story doesn't hold together well enough to even ask a question coherently, never mind suggest an answer or direction of consideration.

Recommendation:  There's an interesting idea at the heart of this, and I like how Pinkie initially approaches it--it's surprising, but still fits her character, I think.  But unless you don't actually care about how the story deals with that interesting idea, this probably isn't worth specifically seeking out.

Customer Service, by Petrichord

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A pony goes to Flim to make an illicit purchase--and Flim makes sure that he doesn't change his mind partway through the sale.  After all, a good salesman knows how to keep the fish on the hook.

A few thoughts:  I don't have anything bad to say about the quality of the writing in this piece, or how it looks inside a skilled drug-dealer's psyche and picks at his methods and ability to read people, but I do struggle to call it an MLP fanfic. This feels to me like a story that would definitely be better if it weren't about ponies, and that's a problem.   I can buy Flim and Sunset's characterizations, but there's nothing in either of them that's particularly necessary to the story being told--the story may inform their characterizations, but I don't think it adds anything uniquely personal to either of them.   And of course, the drug angle--the particular one used, if not the concept itself--has no grounding in the setting.  In other words, my opinion is that this isn't just a story that could have been about humans, but one that should have. 

Recommendation:  That said, I still think it's a good story, with a pleasantly dark-comic tone.  If you're not easily put off by "not pony enough," this would be worth looking at.

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