Monday, May 29, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 187

Over the weekend, I got around to posting a couple more pieces to my microfic collection.  So if you didn't already see it, go take a look at Bantam Tales, and enjoy a Carrot Top jokefic and/or a dark story about Tirek's fate!  Or, if you haven't read all my fics in there yet, feel free to read some or all of the other stuff, too; it's all unrelated, so feel free to pick and chose whatever looks good.

Speaking of picking and choosing whatever looks good, let's do some reviews!  I read 'em so you can make marginally more informed decisions about whether or not to do the same, after the break.

How I Became the Sea, by GeekySonic

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  While visiting her brother near the seashore, Rainbow Dash encounters a mythological creature: a hippocampus.  She soon discovers that it's not the only thing living beneath the waves, though...

A few thoughts:  This is an AU fic, and unfortunately, I didn't ever quite figure out what the point of its AU-ness was.  There are a lot of seemingly random changes thrown in here with no obvious purpose, such as (as we see at the end, and to name one example) a pony from the show inexplicably not being born until about 200 years after Dash.  The romance (yes, this is a romance) is also very abrupt, with Dash and the hippocampus developing an emotional connection with no obvious impetus, not to mention at lightspeed.  And on top of all that, the narration is doubly problematic: first, because it doesn't sound much like Dash, and second, because it's full of telly exposition.

With a laundry list of complaints like that, you might assume I didn't much care for this story.  But, while it would be fair to say that I consider it a flawed work, it was still one that I found intriguing.  Although the exposition might be clunky, there's a fascinating lore which the author doles out about hippocampi, and the pacing of... well, everything but the romance, really, is stellar.  The way the reader keeps discovering more about the denizens of the deep and their abilities and connections mirrors Dash's own ignorance, and is presented in a way which kept my attention throughout.  There are a lot of good ideas on display here, in the end.

Recommendation:  All that said, I can really only recommend this to fans of worldbuilding, and those looking for/accepting of some of your more breakneck shipping conventions.  For those, though, I suspect this has a fair bit to offer.

A Party For... Divorce?, by lord_steak

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Carrot Top asks Pinkie Pie to help her celebrate her emancipation from her husband.  Pinkie Pie can't fathom why anyone would want to celebrate breaking a vow.

A few thoughts:  A straight drama, this story suffers immediately from turning Pinkie Pie into a terribly serious, mopy, and rather straightforwardly analytic character, which... well, is a real stretch when it comes to Pinkie.  More broadly, there are a lot of writing issues here, with editing problems, tense slips, and general telliness in both narration and dialogue.  The story also never really explains why Pinkie is so angry and depressed (rather than just uncomprehending) of the whole idea.  It does have a few hints of a strong comedy around the edges (some of the dancing around Pinkie's "adult" parties and Mrs. Cake's scandalization at discovering that they're a thing, for example), but a lot of this felt rather malicious toward the idea of finding cheer in life's worse moments, which makes the choice of main character feel terribly ill-informed to me.

Recommendation:  If you can envision Pinkie in the role I described and don't mind weak writing, this might be worth a look, but I'd only recommend it for those predisposed to view divorce in an absolute negative light.

Rarity Does Her Taxes, by Coyotek4

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  On a rainy day, Rarity sits down to do her taxes--as Sweetie Belle watches on and makes conversation.

A few thoughts:  A pure SoL fic with a lightly amusing but not "comic" bent, this story wanders through Rarity filling out (or rather, attempting to fill out) her forms, as her sister asks questions, and the two digress into speculation about pony names, homographs, and the like.  It's a pleasantly low-key story for those who enjoy that kind of thing (I do, myself), though I did find that the choice to use present tense tripped me up a few times; it's a narrative style with plenty of uses, certainly, but this is not a story that benefits from a sense of immediacy.  Nevertheless, the ending is appropriate and rather cute, as befits the rest of the fic.

Recommendation:  For SoL fans, this is a strong recommendation.  For others, this might be worth considering if you enjoy seeing Rarity get frazzled, but probably doesn't have enough going on to appeal outside of its target audience.

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