Monday, 30 March 2015

Comic mini-reviews: main-series #29 and FF #15 (AJ/MM)

I'm still not really up to writing full-scale reviews, but since I know there are one or two people who like to know what I felt about the IDW comics, here's a very quick summary of each one. Both issues were coloured by Heather Breckel. Above are my copies: Cover B of #29, drawn by Katie Longua, and Cover Sub of FF #15, drawn by Brenda Hickey.

Main-series issue #29 wasn't bad. I have no interest whatsoever in wrestling, so I probably missed any number of in-jokes, but I still found the issue reasonably enjoyable. Ted Anderson's story was more Friends Forever in tone, really, so I'm not sure what it was doing in the main series. Jay Fosgitt's art is growing on me, and at least he didn't make a hash of Ponyville's architecture this time. ★★★

Friends Forever issue #15 (Applejack/Mayor Mare) was very nice, the best comic since the Twilight/Pinkie FF. The team-up worked well, quite a lot of the jokes were funny, Brenda Hickey's art was attractive and Bobby Curnow seems to be a pretty decent writer of AJ. The weird turn near the end will probably split opinion, but in context I think they got away with it. Recommended. ★★★★

Friday, 27 March 2015


Well, hopefully not total inactivity. But I'm not very well at the moment, so the full-scale reviews and suchlike are on hold until I've recovered. I am still reading, though: I'm a bit over halfway through zaponator's Mother of Invention, which has been intriguing and infuriating me in varying proportions since the start!

However, one bonus for those of you still with me: remember that silly little quiz I included at the end of my RCL interview? Nobody got what it was a homage* to, so: it was based on the "test papers" included at the end of sections in 1066 and All That, which has long been a favourite book of mine.

* Yes, "a". It's pronounced "hommidge" where I come from.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 50: A Bright New Dawn?

For this 50th edition of Ponyfic Roundup, I'm going to try something new. Actually, I'm going to try quite a few things new. Why? Because this selection came from Fimfiction's latest stories. I read the nine short fics that had most recently been approved when I searched on 16th March. (It was going to be ten, but one story has since been deleted.) They had to be complete, under 10,000 words, not Mature-rated and not crossovers with something I had no clue about. Also, one appearance only per author. The experience proved to be... interesting. Here, in order, are the stories I read this time:

The Lemonade Stand: A Cautionary Tale by Abbeybunny13
Love's Hand by Saacsa
Tempus Nox by DunkelWars
Waiter! by P-Berry
Sharp Wits' and Blueblood's Date by eevee1
"Beware the Pies of March..." by HarmonyCharmer
Unwanted Guests by twilightsparkle3562
Tea with The Queen by Lapis-Lazuli and Inky J
Demon's Deal by RarityEQM

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue #28

MLP:FiM comic issue #28, cover A
This is such a perfect homage
After the long, long drought, the comics are once more coming thick and fast. This week's issue is the second half of the Root of the Problem arc that began rather iffily last time around. As those who read that review will recall, I had quite a few problems with issue #27, most notably with the guest "goodies" seeming almost more unpleasant than the guest "baddies". Still, maybe Cook, Price and Breckel can pull off a recovery that will make this arc a good 'un. I've been rather unwell recently, so this will be a shorter review than usual, but let's see...

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 49: Tales from the Royal Canterlot Library

This week, Ponyfic Roundup will be looking at a half-dozen sub-20K-word fics from the Royal Canterlot Library. I've had this edition planned for quite some time now, so I had no idea at first that I'd be able to refer to my fellow RCL inductees – but, hey, I'm not complaining about that! Looking back, I've already reviewed ten RCL fics, and nine of them received four or five stars (converting to my current scoring system where necessary). I was therefore hoping for good things from these randomly-chosen stories, which in reading order were:

Mandatory Fun by FanOfMostEverything
When the Levee Breaks by Cynewulf
A War of Words - The Opening of the Guard by Georg
Desert Rose by Golden Vision
It Is My Fate To Enter Every Door by Cloud Wander
Games by CCC

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Fanfic Flashback 2: So Many Different Ways to Prey

I think it's time for another slice of self-indulgence! Today, I'm going look back at the second fanfic I ever published on Fimfiction. This rather strange piece has the distinction of having by far the fewest votes (+7/-0) in relation to its view count (just over 400) of any of my ponyfics. Possibly people just don't know what to make of it...

Cover image for "So Many Different Ways to Prey"
"Butterfly!" "!"
So Many Different Ways to Prey by Loganberry
Zecora, OCs and Others
Comedy/Crossover; 2K words; Jul 2012; Everyone
A class of somewhat restless foals are told a story by Zecora (in rhyme, naturally) about the terrible time when the much-feared Newborn Cuties came to town. How they arrived, what they did and how they were, at last, defeated is entangled with the story of a pony named Has-Been.

Even after all this time, I still like what I did with this one: 1,500 words of reasonably decent iambic pentameter, plus a long description that's also in rhyme. Zecora's rhyming isn't exactly show-style, of course, but I don't see why she shouldn't vary her metre occasionally! Even the most obvious fault it has – that of a rather rushed ending – was, in this particular case, a deliberate stylistic choice.

Its main problem is that it doesn't make as much sense as it should unless you've watched both the Newborn Cuties cartoons, which only a few people can bear to do. There are several direct references to them, plus several more indirect ones. As such, this is a niche-appeal story even by the standards of crossover fics. I don't think it's entirely devoid of interest to the general reader, but it's certainly of rather less interest.

So Many Different Ways to Prey probably suffers a bit from its plain old Comedy/Crossover tags; really, it's a Random/Dark/Adventure/Comedy/Crossover fic at least, but I couldn't quite bring myself to abuse Fimfiction's tagging system to that extent! It also has a Joyce Grenfell reference, which I'm sad if unsurprised that nobody has picked up, and one of my worst ever last-line puns. Which is saying something! :D

I really, really need to do a reading of this one at some point.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Terry Pratchett

I would love to have some wonderful thought to place here, but sadly I don't. All I'll say, as a writer on a much lower plane myself, is that Sir Pterry helped to convince many, many people of the power of storytelling. Even had he done nothing else, for that alone he would have been a great man.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 48: Past Sins special edition

It's taken me long enough, but I've finally read the last of the traditional "Big Three" ponyfics – the others being Fallout: Equestria (PR 5) and My Little Dashie (PR 7). I really liked the former despite its manifold flaws, but didn't have a lot of time for the latter. This time round, it's the story that's the main reason Pen Stroke has more followers (not far short of 7,000 now) than anyone else on Fimfiction. Does the story justify its enormous popularity, or has time moved on since it was published? Well...

Past Sins by Pen Stroke
Twilight, OC, Nightmare Moon and CMC
Sad/Dark/Slice of Life/Alternate Universe; 202k words; Aug–Nov 2012; Teen
The "Children of Nightmare" cult attempts to bring back Nightmare Moon as a separate entity from Luna – but their spell is interrupted, producing the alicorn filly, Nyx. Can Twilight protect her from others, and from herself? This is easily the most famous alicorn OC in the fandom, and thankfully it's not a bad one; some people hate Nyx, but I quite like her. However, characterisation in general is mixed: Twilight's is the best; other characters' is less impressive. The writing is generally quite decent, though it's noticeably worse towards the end. The story is probably too long, but it contains sufficient interest to make it worth reading. I disagree with both those who claim it to be the greatest ponyfic of all and those who find it a major disappointment. ★★★

Read on for more thoughts, with spoilers aplenty from here on in.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Comic review: MLP Friends Forever #14: Luna and Spike

MLP Friends Forever #14, main cover by Amy Mebberson
The cover, as ever, lies. Sadly
It's been a while, hasn't it? More than two months, in fact! Thanks to another port strike in the US, IDW's comic schedule has been really messed up lately. Thankfully, they've now taken the decision to print their commercially viable titles (obviously including MLP) domestically, so things should calm down a bit. Anyway, this time we're back in Friends Forever territory, with writing duties handled by Jeremy Whitley and artwork by Agnes Garbowska – the same team, in fact, who did FF #13, though that's a distant memory now! Read on...

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Season 5 coming 4th April – official

And here's the proof! This is the new – and pretty spoilery – S5 trailer (via Entertainment Weekly) that includes clips from the season premiere, very brief animatics from another ep, interview snippets with Brian Lenard (Hasbro executive director) and Meghan McCarthy... and, right at the end, the release date. Well, whaddaya know? IMDB was right about something for a change. Roll on Easter Saturday!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Ponyfic Roundup 47: Quick March

It's Ponyfic Roundup time again, so don't let me stop you. This week, I'll be reviewing fics under 1,500 words. Since they're so short, I've been able to get through twelve of the things this time. No five-star or one-star fics in this little lot, which was a bit of a disappointment. Keen-eyed readers will notice that this is the second week running I've reviewed a Blueshift piece; I didn't originally intend to, but I've been meaning to read this particular fic for ages and it turned out to qualify here.

I'm going to try putting a list of the fics I'll be reviewing above the break, so here goes:

Abandoned Sanctuary by Titanium Dragon
Chompers by SpaceCommie
Flying on Wings of Support by Manaphy
Living for Today by Minds Eye
Marmite Showers by Blueshift
Running by Wanderer D
A Spoonful of Sugar by Thornwing
Still a Better Love Story Than Twilight by meme-asaurus
Trains are Magic by RainbowBob
Tuesday by Bok
Twilight Sparkle and the Nothingness at the End of the Universe by Super Trampoline
What Happens When Stuff Happens by ThatWeatherstormChap

Monday, 2 March 2015

UK PonyCon 2015 tickets are now on sale

I've been waiting for this news! The UK PonyCon 2015 team have announced that tickets are now on sale for this year's convention, which will have the theme "Space". This will be at the Mercure "The Grand" Hotel in Leicester city centre for the second year running, though this time round the con will have the whole hotel to itself, not just half of the place. As in 2014, the con is scheduled for the second weekend in October, which this year means the 10th and 11th.

Adult tickets
Earlybird weekend: £25
Standard weekend: £30
Standard one-day: £18
VIP weekend: £70

Child tickets
Earlybird weekend: £10
Standard weekend: £15
Standard one-day: £8

Family tickets
Standard weekend: £70
Standard one-day: £40

Adult = age 13+; Child = age 5-12; under-fives free. Family = 2a2c or 1a4c.

The VIP ticket price includes priority entry, priority seating at main stage events, VIP lanyard, goodie bag (including some VIP-only items) and con T-shirt.

Here's the official website's tickets page, including links to the online shop and a nice, clear FAQ section. Given my very positive experience last year, I have a great deal of time for this con; it's definitely the 2015 pony convention I'm most interested in. Subject to my health playing ball for a change, I thoroughly intend to attend UK PonyCon again this year, so I hope to see some of you in Leicester in seven months' time!