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Titanium Dragon


TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Dec
21st
2014

Read It Later Reviews #5 – Quorum Sensing, Racing Thoughts, Ladies Don’t Freak Out, Funatics, How To Remove a Unicorn Tooth · 4:21am Dec 21st, 2014

I was terribly unproductive today, so I decided that I would at least do something of value while being unproductive and write some reviews. These are drawn from pretty variable sources – some from the heat list, some from recommendations, and one from the last write-off – but in the end I still found something worthwhile.

The stories I read today:

Quorum Sensing by Wise Cracker
Racing Thoughts by ambion
Ladies Don’t Freak Out by paleowriter
Funatics by Baal Bunny
How to Remove a Unicorn Tooth by Skywriter


Quorum Sensing
by Wise Cracker
Sad, Slice of Life

Everything has fallen apart for Scootaloo.

Her Cutie Mark will never come. The doctor said so. Her blood is just wrong.

As she stays in the Cutie Mark Crusader's Clubhouse, her friends show up. Now she has to explain that her crusade is over, and that there's even worse news.

Life as she knows it is over.

Why I added it: I found it while browsing the stories by heat list.

Review
Quorum sensing is a scientific term for biological responses to population density. Quorum sensing alters the genetic expression of an individual in response to their environment.

Tragically for Scootaloo, a genetic “defect” of sorts has made it impossible for her to ever get a cutie mark. But it isn’t because she has been around blank flanks for so long, as I was thinking it was going to play out; it is because of her exposure to the changelings.

At its heart, this is a story not so much about Scootaloo not getting her cutie mark as about accepting who she actually is, and really, honestly, it isn’t even about that – it is mostly about explaining how it is possible. Once we find out what is actually going on with Scootaloo, the whole plot gets quickly resolved as her becoming a changeling isn’t actually a very big deal to her friends.

The story is, thusly, almost entirely about world-building rather than any actual conflict. Is that a bad thing? Not at all; the world building is decent enough, but it isn’t amazing. Meanwhile, the actual emotional conflict more or less is dismissed at the end because it isn’t really so much of a curse as just being “differently able” (and used properly, at that, rather than as a euphemism for disability).

There is, apparently, a sequel, which might make this more of a single-chapter prologue… but I haven’t read it yet. And honestly, this feels more like the prelude to a larger story than something unto itself – it isn’t bad, by any means, but it didn’t really satisfy me at the end, even if the ending did make me smile a little.

Recommendation: Read It Later – this really strikes me more as a prelude to another story than a story unto itself.


Racing Thoughts
by ambion

Sex, Romance, Random

In a fantastical universe the bastard love-child of Edgar Allen Poe and T.S. Elliot got hooked on ponies.

The resulting poem, pulled through the void, is presented for your reading pleasure.

A (loosely) iambic tetrametric narrative of Twilight Sparkle struggling to understand, accept, and ultimately express, her love for Rainbow Dash.

Why I added it: This was featured by the Royal Canterlot Library

Review
A poem of variable quality, some parts of it are quite good while others are quite poor. I really didn’t like the start of the poem at all, but around a third of the way through, we see this gem:

I could think of love, longing and lust
‘til I, diminished, dead, am dust,

Unfortunately, while the poem contains several moments of excellent meter and rhyme, it is not consistently great. The inconsistent portions of the poem really threw me off and bothered me. At one point, the writer had the gall to rhyme mounting with mounting and indeed, repeats the word three times within a single stanza. Worse were the bits where the meter was off by several syllables; not only did they make me falter in my reading, but they contaminated several lines afterwards until I settled back into the rhythm of the piece.

Recommendation: Not recommended, but I’m very picky about serious poetry; if you really are desperate for pony poetry, there’s some stuff in here which you might like.


Ladies Don’t Freak Out
by paleowriter

Sad, Slice of Life

Rarity has a rather unladylike moment of panic when she thinks Spike has moved away without telling her. Twilight is amused.

Why I added it: Singularity Dream recommended it.

Review
There isn’t really much more to this story than the story summary, and consequently it is really hard to say much about the story. The story summary is exactly all that there is in the story, and it doesn’t really go anywhere with the idea, with no real resolution. This feels more like the start of a story rather than a story in and of itself; more of an idea than a complete work.

What if Rarity freaked out over Spike leaving? That’s what I wanted to know. And I still don’t know what happened afterwards.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.


Funatics
by Baal Bunny

Slice of Life

A simple exchange of gifts between the Royal Sisters becomes not-so-simple as the fun gets doubled, then quadrupled, then very nearly octupled.

Why I added it: It was written for the last write-off.

Review
Luna spontaneously decides to release a pair of balloons – one representing herself, one representing her sister – to show her love and appreciation for Celestia one morning.

In response, Celestia magics up a bush that half-represents Luna, half-represents Celestia that evening.

This, of course, means war. Saccharine, loving war as each comes up with a more elaborate thing to do for the other in the morning to show their appreciation and love, with the help of Twilight and her friends.

Everyone else loved this story. I didn’t. Indeed, my vote on this story is quite literally the reason why it got 4th instead of 3rd in the last writeoff competition. Why?

Two real reasons. First off, I didn’t like the narrative voice very much throughout a good chunk of the story. It is hard for me to pin down exactly why, but for some reason, the prose just didn’t attract me. It is pretty purple in places (which is funny, because Luna, the narrator, is blue) but I’m not sure if that is what bothered me so much as it was just the general flow of it.

The other problem was that the story is very light and fluffy, and while there is a little bit of darkness in there in the form of Luna’s self-doubt, in the end it still felt a little glurgy.

Some folks like that sort of thing, but it really isn’t my cup of tea.

Recommendation: Not Recommended, but if you want to read something which is as sweet as concentrated sucralose, you will probably enjoy it more than I did.


How to Remove a Unicorn Tooth
by Skywriter

Slice of Life

Three missing pieces, two loving alicorns, and a single stupid decision that will set young Princess Cadence on a fresh new course. Story One of the "Cadance of Cloudsdale" cycle.

Why I added it: Skywriter is a great writer.

Review
I had always wondered why it was that people criticized Skywriter; I had never read a story of his which I really had major reservations about.

The first scene of this story gave me an introduction to this entirely unwelcome experience.

Ultimately, the story consists of three parts: the start, wherein we are introduced to the idea that Cadance is missing some piece of herself, and that this is an inherent attribute of alicorns, that they, like a dragon with their hoard, have a need for a kingdom to rule.

The second part consists of Cadance being Twilight’s babysitter, and Twilight being completely adorable.

The third part consists of Cadance freaking out, fleeing, and then ultimately being told that she may or may not have a kingdom to call her own after all.

I did not care very much for the first scene of this story, though it was not bad; it was, however, terribly dry, and it felt discordant with the other two parts of the story. The first part of the story felt very stiff and formal, and while this was, I suspect, wholly intentional, it was also offputting. I suspect part of this also came from the fact that Cadance was being a perfect little brat in that scene, and bratty, angsty teenagers are rather unlikable.

The second scene, however, helped to redeem the story, and the third part of the story tied it all together and made it feel like it worked as a single cohesive unit.

Contrary to what one might expect from such a whimsical title, this story, as a whole, is actually quite serious; Twilight is present, but only plays a relatively minor role in the piece, and while filly Twilight is adorable and lends a nice air of levity to the middle of it, it definitely does not last. Don’t go into this story expecting something light, because it isn’t.

This story very much feels like the start of a series, which it is; this is the first story in the “Cadance of Cloudsdale” cycle of stories by Skywriter, and while it ends on a satisfactory note, it leaves many dangling threads for the sequels. I don’t really like the backstory given here for Cadance – I’m not a huge fan of “heir to lost empires” type things in general, something I should probably write a blog post about sometime – but it works well enough in the context of this story and gives a source of conflict and angst for the story to play from.

Recommendation: Worth reading.


Summary
Quorum Sensing by Wise Cracker
Read It Later

Racing Thoughts by ambion
Not Recommended, but you might be less picky about poetry than I am.

Ladies Don’t Freak Out by paleowriter
Not Recommended

Funatics by Baal Bunny
Not Recommended, but you might like it if you like sweet stuff more than I do.

How to Remove a Unicorn Tooth by Skywriter
Worth Reading

Whew! Was worried there for a moment at the end. Per Horizon’s advice a few blog posts ago, I’m trying to make sure that I find at least one story for every post which is worth reading, rather than just have me rag on a bunch of stories you’ve never even heard of.

I actually have several more review posts which are in various states of readiness, so there will likely be more of these in upcoming days. One of these is composed entirely of recommended stories, reviewing only stories from my old recommended stories list which I haven’t written reviews of yet.

And, if you’re all very lucky (or unlucky, though hopefully most of you like my stories), there may possibly be another story en route very soon featuring two of my favorite princesses (though, let’s face it, given that there are four of them, that doesn’t narrow things down very much).

Number of stories still listed as "Read It Later - Recommended": 148.

Number of stories listed as “Read It Later”: 1529

Report Titanium Dragon · 552 views ·
Comments ( 13 )

Hmm. Added How to Remove a Unicorn Tooth to my reading list. Thanks!

I’m not a huge fan of “heir to lost empires” type things in general, something I should probably write a blog post about sometime

shouldibescarednow.jpg

2667310 Read it. The whole series is nothing short of amazing. :raritystarry:

2667395
... I guess I have my work cut out for me...

2667388
Nah, don't sweat it. You just brought it to my mind. Don't worry about it at all~

Umm... yeah, got nothing to add to the QS thing. It's a fair review of the good and bad parts of it, and it was the first time I wrote a fic that was so much world-building and little story, so there's bound to be a few hiccups. It also started the sequel demand trend...

Anyway, thanks for being fair, thanks for the exposure, happy holidays.

2667648
I do plan on looking at the sequel at some point; I've got it on my list now.

Happy holidays to you as well. :heart:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

holy shit, TD didn't not recommend something

I... I don't know what to think

Also, no one is allowed to be more picky about poetry than me :|

Yeah, I tend to enjoy fun little one-note jokes like Ladies Don’t Freak Out. Though the best part is the very end when Twilight is teasing Rarity about it.

2667886
SORRY BOY-O BUT I DON'T LIKE MOST POETRY.

I like some, to be fair. But I'm not a huge fan in general. I do like what I consider to be good poetry, but... yeah. Not a huge number of poems I really consider good.

It isn't restricted to pony poetry at all, though. Just a general thing.

(Also I totes recommend stuff. I'm going to have a post soon which is ALL RECOMMENDED STORIES. Admittedly this is only because it is only being chosen off of my recommended/favorites lists and thus they're all stories I've already read and liked a lot BUT STILL THE POINT REMAINS. :V )

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

2668363
Admittedly, the poetry I like most is anything that's basically "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock". :B Which that one qualifies as.

ALL RECOMMENDED STORIES

I WILL BELIEVE THIS WHEN I SEE IT

Always a little terrifying being reviewed by smart and articulate people! Glad you ended up liking it overall; and yes, trying to write an angsty "teenager" and still make the experience of reading about her a pleasant one is a difficult balancing act!

2669152

Always a little terrifying being reviewed by smart and articulate people!

I think Twilight sang a song about that once.

And don't worry, there's plenty more to fret over, as I've not read a lot of your stuff. :trollestia:

Though, spoiler alert, one of your stories (Roaming) is in my upcoming recommended stories review post, which is drawn purely from stories which are already on my favorites/recommended to others lists, so yeah. :heart:

(Also that is terribly flattering.)

trying to write an angsty "teenager" and still make the experience of reading about her a pleasant one is a difficult balancing act!

It is. And when you fail, everyone ends up hating both the character and the person who inflicted it on them. :heart:

But it worked out in the end.

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