To the sender of the care package containing one hundred pounds of asparagus: your prank was not appreciated. To the remaining denizens of fimfiction, we return with our weekly installation of reviews! We were told that the site makeover wreaked havoc, but we honestly haven’t noticed. These lovely armchairs by the pool we suddenly found ourselves in when the servers went down have been too comfortable to leave. Well... except for Sessalisk.
Did you know the legal drinking age here in Mexico is eighteen? Casca and I didn’t until she ran off for the tiki bar screaming and waving her hands in the air like a monkey after a banana truck. Haven’t seen her since. Maybe that’s for the best. At least she left her review for us to post—that’s all that matters, right?
Anyways, Casca and I have sent our reviews to those back in the office. I hope Pav Fiera sees the return address; he’s always loved the beach—martinis, too; we’ve got plenty of those in our systems. Now all we need is to figure out what to do with one hundred pounds of asparagus. You should go read our reviews while we figure that one out!
What’s Under the Ground, by Sorren
When I was looking through the queue of all the other stories, this one was better than the other 90%. Sturgeon’s law and all. Despite the relatively solid prose, though, I couldn’t really enjoy it. The story starts out with a long description of Daring Do’s surroundings, and without a very good call to adventure. With a cold open like that, I thought it was asking a little too much and not giving quite enough.
There are lots of descriptions, descriptions of the temple, of Daring Do’s supplies, of her surroundings, of the rocks, etcetera, but none of them explained why Daring Do was exploring the temple. Sure, treasure, excitement, all those things, but I felt almost like we were supposed to go in and take this sort of thing at face value rather than to experience it with her as the readers.
It’s definitely an above-average story, though, and if you’re a fan of Daring Do then this one might be a keeper. Corejo:
I like this story. It’s got Daring Do. I like Daring Do. (And so should you!). Who doesn’t love adventure? Only boring ponies don’t like adventure. For non-boring ponies, there’s plenty of adventure and mindscrew abound in this story.
Before anything else, I do have to point out the poor hook in this story. As many of you know, a good hook is the most important aspect of a story; without one, a story will often go unread. But that doesn’t stop this fic from finding its footing a little further in.
If the dull, three hundred-ish word intro isn’t enough to make you close your browser tab, the story quickly picks itself up by the bootstraps and marches along with style. There are hiccups in the writing—the redundancy of information one normally finds in fanfiction and the like—but nothing that interrupts the flow of the story or the mystery within.
Give this story a go. You won’t regret at least that much.Casca:
This is a Daring Do story. From what I gather, usually there’s high risks and high rewards involved, and almost always these bear resemblance to Indiana Jones in both structure and setting. In short, adventure played straight, with ponies.
It’s funny how much of a gambit WUtG is, similar to the themes of hope, loss, insanity and choices it presents. Most of the story is Daring Do walking around in a cursed temple on her lonesome. I’d like to say that it’s as interesting as it sounds, but what surprised me was that it was interesting to an extent. The details are lush but not overbearing. The actions are consistent, and the perspective never stops moving as Daring Do is pushed by both circumstance and self to progress and act. But it’s also actions and scenery revolving around a character that doesn’t get all that much in-story establishment, and as a result, I felt some degree of detachedness to everything going on. If the descriptions and planning were mediocre, I would have panned this for being several thousand words of a pony whom I don’t care for doing things I don’t care for. But I cared, because I was interested, because it was interesting, and that counts for something.
Halfway through the fic, I was beginning to worry whether I would be disappointed, whether anything of relative import would actually happen. 17116 words is no simple investment time- nor effort-wise. But the ending actually gave me a good sense of closure, and changed my opinion of the story from “all right” to “actually worth something”.
And that’s where the gambit aspect lies. The story requires a good deal of investment from the reader, almost as much as it requires from Daring Do. It requires one to gear up and work through a first chapter in which nothing of high intensity happens. Hope flickers with paragraph after paragraph of strange, shifting tunnels and dead ends, flickering with Daring Do’s own resolve as she meets these in their narrative. There’s just enough twists to keep you from wandering off, directly related to how Daring Do loses important things one after another, yet never all at once (which I’ve only noticed in hindsight). But when dawn breaks forth, and you reach the exit of the temple, and the ending comes, you can look back on the process and say, “That was worth it”.
Well, I did, at least. Perhaps some readers will need a little push to get going. Consider this review that little push.
Sincerely, Your Former Roommate, by Fiddlebottoms
Now why on earth would there be an abandoned castle in the Everfree Forest?
If you’ve ever had an annoying roommate or even if you’ve grown up with siblings, you might laugh along in sympathy, grit your teeth in anger, or suffer from post-traumatic flashbacks.
We’ve all been there.
The story is written in a series of back and forth notes between Celestia, Luna and Discord, several thousand years before the start of the series. This sounds like the setup for some serious drama, but it leads to much more silliness instead. Living with other people can be a huge pain, whether it’s by having terrible, messy pets; eating the food you bought for yourself; or even purposefully doing things just to tick you off. Never does this come across more clearly than through these notes.
There are heaps of immaturity on all sides. They are passive-aggressive like it’s going out of style, and, at one point, Luna even degenerates into drawing an enormous butt and claiming it’s Celestia’s. How could anyone not love that? Corejo:
Oh, man. This story. This story knows what it’s like. There’s always that one person you meet (whether an actual roommate or friend/acquaintance) just like this. This story grabs you by that experience and thrusts you into one of extremes, never straying too far, nor staying too close. The story’s perspective is done very well, and captures the essence of what it is to have a roommate. But if you’ve never had this experience, it plays out so well that you feel it regardless.
Ever wonder what immortal demigods might do when living together? This is a ridiculous look into just that. It’s over-the-top, but through what it’s relating to, feels so natural.
And then there were Moons. Lots of them.
There is nothing revolutionary about this story in terms of depth, but there are definitely more laughs than most could ever dream of getting from something so simple.Casca:
There’s not much I can say about this one, except that I found it pretty amusing, and I’m, uh, the one who suggested it to be on this week’s feature, so there’s that.
The format, via post-it notes, is novel, and half of the amusement the story provides comes from what’s unsaid because of the limitations of the format. One fills in naturally the results of Discord’s disorderly habits, Celestia’s annoyance, Luna’s eyes rolling and whatnot, and this happens because the jokes are simple enough for the fill-ins to be done without much effort, and the author includes enough clues for us to fill it in ourselves without being fed. It’s active participation from the reader which brings life to the story; if you happen to have a brain of stone, there’s probably not much for you here.
This is also downright silly. Anyone who takes Luna’s banishment and Discord’s imprisonment very, very seriously - hint: if you believe in the New Lunar Republic, or make anthems for them, or whatever - is going to be pretty irked. But fie, fie I say, and let the rest of us hobbyists have our fun. That’s what this story is. It’s short, silly and fun. And that’s good.
A Long Night’s Day, by LunaUsesCaps
Engaged in a game of chess
This story takes a peek into the psyche of Cadance and Luna, their personalities and their motives. The rock-solid dialogue shows that the writer has an excellent and interesting grasp of the two characters. Luna says some things that are rather melancholy, but they never cross the line into mopey or overwrought, a pitfall of many of the stories that dabble with the idea of immortality. Underneath her pensiveness lies hope.
Cadance is no slouch herself, her lines belying both a wry sense of humour and her relative inexperience. Throughout the story you can see a light, but skillful, hand touching upon these issues.
There are some editing issues with this one for sure, but anyone interested in reading a thoughtful tale about colourful pony princesses should not be disappointed. Corejo:
Concise imagery is oftentimes a hard mechanic for fics to pull off, but boy does this story go against that grain. LunaUsesCaps shows a fine mastery of penmanship in his initial chapter of A Long Night’s Day on this front. The intro scene wraps you in its arms and holds tight.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Long Day’s story progresses at a reasonable pace, one that lets everyone settle down with their favorite hot beverage and enjoy the story being told; it feels natural. In this beginning chapter we are given a short but well-rounded snippet of the story to come that will leave you begging for more.
A Celestia/Luna origin story has yet to intrigue me beyond casual perusal. I have a feeling that will change as this story unfolds.Casca:
I should probably start off by saying what I didn’t like the most: the way the first chapter ended. It came across as muddled due to lack of clarity with attributing pronouns, i.e. tagging actions with “She” when there’s more than one of them in the scene.
Okay. That’s out of the way; now for the rest of it.
A Long Day’s Night is a promise. It starts off with a wise Luna and a Cadence capable of feeling something other than tiredness or desperation, and some rather clever dialogue with a lot of nuance and implications exchanged. It continues with the reveal of conflict, an interesting take on Cadence’s thoughts on being useless oft the rescued rather than the rescuer, and then breaks to a nicely established scene of Celestia and Luna right after defeating Discord - not without cost. There’s another interesting take on a certain creature, and then the aforementioned muddled ending, which, while muddled, is also intriguing.
I mean, the author handles his dialogue, character and descriptions well, and it shows promise, but there’s not enough of it to see whether it’ll stay that way during periods of intense conflict or careful build-up. Promise, though, is still promise, and it’s that which gets this into today’s feature.
You all done reading? That’s good. It’s nice to see people enjoying great stories they may not have even known existed. That’s why we’re here—to protect and to serve get wasted on martinis.
We set the asparagus adrift; Nietzsche said Belligerent Sock’s tracking device was pinging out in the Arctic. I hope our little raft makes it to him.
As for Casca and I, we’ll be relaxing in the pool. Log on and go to our group page to send us your feedback on this episode of Seattle’s Angels!