Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 212

The best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers.  I don't get people who complain about 'em; it means not having to cook or eat out for, like, a week solid.  How is that not great?  On an unrelated note, have some mini-reviews, below the break.

Professional Courtesy, by Rainbooms Inc

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Celestia's suggestion that Luna meet up with a fellow moon-deity seems to have gone less well than anticipated, if the arrow in Luna's flank is any indication. 

A few thoughts:  I'm of two minds about this one.  On one hand, it's well-paced, reveals the details of what happened at a great pace, doesn't lose all its humor if you know most or all of those details in advance, is generally good at being funny without destroying its own premise for the sake of a joke, and has the decency to wrap up before it gets stale.  On the other hand, this is the definition of a one-joke fic, the dialogue (while humorous) is rather farther afield from how the princesses might conceivably talk than I can swallow, and is generally an ultra-shallow, imminently forgettable piece of fiction.  On balance, it's good at what it is... but "what it is" is setting the bar pretty low, and if it clears it comfortably and with above-average form, it's still not exactly a stunning leap.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for something short and silly, this is a significantly above-average piece of comedy in the "post-event revelation" genre.  If you're looking for anything more than a zero-depth bit of moderately OOC humor, give this a pass.

Those Who Live Forever, by Moose Mage

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  When a young Twilight Sparkle unexpectedly passed the entrance exam for Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, it meant there was one fewer spot available for everypony else.  This is the story of the last pony out.

A few thoughts:  This is a quietly heartbreaking story, all the more so because neither of the parties affected by Twilight's success are either particularly aware, nor embittered, by what's happened.  But more than that, it's a story about class; about how some of us can afford to fail, while others are limited by circumstances to a single shot at success.  And when that chance doesn't come through... well, Moose Mage shows us that the result can still be happiness, and even satisfaction.  But it's the definition of unfair, and the fact that that unfairness isn't entirely anybody's fault makes this fic uncomfortable in all the right ways.

Recommendation:  If a light-touch exploration of the kind of subtle tragedy that happens every day sounds intriguing to you, consider this highly recommended.

Lux y Obscurum, by RomanCandle

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Following the union of the three tribes, there's worry among the non-unicorns--as long as one species controls the sun and moon, how can there be equality amongst the tribes?  In response, the leaders and their advisors hit upon a radical solution.

A few thoughts:  The debating is the big draw here, though calling it "debating" may be overselling the arguments; all the leaders are more-or-less on the same page, and they need to puzzle out a mutually acceptable solution to a problem they all recognize.  And the way they do so is refreshingly free of forced drama, even if the actual dialogue is slightly stilted at times.  Beyond that, this is a fine bit of lore and a princess origin fic (don't act like that's a spoiler), but there's not a lot more here than that.  Still, if "a bit of lore" is what you're after, this fills in its chosen corner of Equestria's history quite well.

Recommendation:  If you aren't intrinsically interested in "where Celestia and Luna came from" fic, this probably doesn't have enough else to win you over.  But if you're looking for a bit of backstory and a pinch of politics, this delivers both well.


  1. One of your reviews motivated me to actually read one of these for the first time in ages. Sadly, I didn't enjoy it.

    Those Who Live Forever is, to me, about a blinkered mother who seems utterly focused on infecting her daughter with a brain disease. The hero in it is the daughter who survives her mother's insanity without being bent by it and becomes content with what she has rather than what she is told is best for her/what she deserves.

    From a critical perspective, the story is 95% contrivance to justify the pretense of a tragedy that isn't even the real tragedy anyway – being stuck with that mother was. Someone else in the comments mentioned idiot balls and I agree with him: they abound.

    1. I'm not sure I can buy into that interpretation, because I didn't see any evidence of the mother inflicting anything upon the daughter. She frames it very much in terms of maximizing choices; her daughter should be in a position to chose what she wants to do with her life, rather than having avenues closed off to her before she's even old enough to start making choices for herself.

      From what I read, I imagine her mother would be just fine with her deciding to work at the restaurant after graduating from CSfGU--because she'd be in a position to do that because she wanted to, rather than because it was the best of extremely limited options.

  2. When I saw the description of "Those Who Live Forever," I knew immediately what you were referring to. And I'll agree that it's a good story, with the points you bring up. But especially after a little bit of distance and reflection, it seems like it went through a lot of hoops to force the result it needed, and that mars it a bit in retrospect--even if you assume April and Miranda are on the same page.

  3. Maybe I'm just sentimental today, but Those Who Live Forever really struck me. It was such a sad look into something that so easily could have happened. The inevitability of it all throughout really felt well done. Thanks for that recommendation, Chris.