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

The Lemonade Stand: A Cautionary Tale by Abbeybunny13
Derpy, Cheerilee and Others
Comedy/Slice of Life; 2K words; Mar 2015; Everyone
Two OCs set up a lemonade stand and have a slightly annoying day. This has the potential to be a fun, lightweight piece of fluff, and technically it's not too bad. Unfortunately, I couldn't believe Derpy's characterisation for a moment, Equestrian inflation seems out of control (25 bits for a glass of lemonade!), there's no explanation for one of the OCs' close friendship with a Mane Sixer and the ending is very abrupt. Very nearly a two, but not quite. ★

Love's Hand by Saacsa
Fluttershy and OC
Romance/Slice of Life/Human/Anthro; 9K words; Mar 2015; Teen
An 18-year-old combat-training-obsessed human finds himself in an anthro version of Equestria. This isn't really likely to make me reconsider my aversion to Anthro stories, largely because of its almost hilariously Gary Stu protagonist. (He's quit smoking twice already, he comes within an ace of defeating 11 timberwolves by himself, Fluttershy falls passionately in love with him...) Add in a really weird, out-of-nowhere Scootaloo origin story and this is another one to pass on. ★

Tempus Nox by DunkelWars
Celestia and Luna
Tragedy/Sad; 2K words; Mar 2015; Teen
Another "Celestia's thoughts as she banishes Nightmare Moon" story. This is at least better than the previous two fics, in that it's a straightforward tale that actually makes some sense in Equestria. However, it's not particularly good either; I can't really remember anything about it beyond what's in my notes. I suspect the author is German, given the use of the word "podest" (pedestal) on two occasions. Given that, the English is decent, other than the all-too-common mangling of Royal Canterlot Grammar. ★★

Waiter! by P-Berry
Rainbow Dash and Other
Alternate Universe/Human; 3K words; Mar 2015; Everyone
The title pic gives this away: a human diner finds a tiny Rainbow Dash in his soup. (The story is told in first person by a waiter.) I kept hoping that this was going to become hilariously ridiculous, despite the lack of a Random tag, but that never happened. A lot could have been done with Rainbow in this situation, but not much is; instead, the diner reacts in ways I found hard to credit. The writing is okay, but the story isn't as interesting as it could have been. ★★

Sharp Wits' and Blueblood's Date by eevee1
Blueblood and Other
Romance/Slice of Life/Alternate Universe; 1K words; Mar 2015; Everyone
This does exactly what it says on the tin. Apparently a sequel to a story I haven't read, which might have explained why (beyond the AU tag) a) Blueblood cares in the least about Wits, b) he actually behaves vaguely gallantly some of the time and c) Twilight appears from nowhere late on. Just too many problems elsewhere, though, notably Full Stop Before Closing Quotes Disease and a horribly clunky line of exposition from Wits. ★

"Beware the Pies of March..." by HarmonyCharmer
Twilight, Pinkie Pie and Spike
Comedy/Random; 4K words; Mar 2015; Everyone
Twilight is shocked to find that Pi Day (14th March, ie 3.14 in Amerispeak) is a time when everypony hides in terror from Pinkie. The best story I've read so far this week, and it's genuinely entertaining most of the time until the rather laboured final section. Quite a few problems, though: AJ calls Twi "pig" for no obvious reason, there are a couple of intrusive references to our world and there's one bizarrely incomplete sentence. (Also, the Author's Note is way too long.) ★★★

Unwanted Guests by twilightsparkle3562
Twilight, Celestia, Luna, Cadance and Tirek
Dark/Slice of Life; 2K words; Mar 2015; Everyone
Tirek, imprisoned in Tartarus, is visited by the four alicorn princesses. I was interested to see what the interaction would be like, but it's all a bit vague and very tell-y. Tirek's past friendship with another being is intriguing, but left virtually unexplored, which was disappointing; that could have made a story on its own. Twilight seems a little OOC at times, too. ★★

Tea with The Queen by Lapis-Lazuli and Inky J
Celestia and Chrysalis
Slice of Life; 3K words; Mar 2015; Everyone
Celestia invites Chrysalis to take tea with her. As with most Celestia tea stories, there's lots of slightly dull detail about blends and preparations, but despite a lot of telly-ness and some rather awkward lines (one about Spike stands out) this gradually started to grow on me, and there was some intriguing, lightly-sketched Celestia backstory late on. Worth a look, and with sharper writing might have sneaked a four. ★★★

Demon's Deal by RarityEQM
Diamond Tiara and Snails
Dark/Comedy/Anthro; 1K words; Mar 2015; Teen
An aged-up, anthro Diamond-Tiara-as-succubus tries to tempt Snails into selling his soul. I'm not a big fan of stories that age up foals just so they can get away with being sexy, so this made me a bit uncomfortable. It also suffers from FSBCQD quite badly, and there's a truly cringe-inducing line from Snips very near the end that's even lampshaded in-story. Not awful, but I have no particular desire to revisit this world. ★★

Right; at the end of that little experiment, I ended up awarding two three-star ratings, four twos and three ones. Not the best result, but I don't know what I was expecting, really. Even the one-star stories here had something about them that could have appealed to me in other circumstances; I didn't read anything that was a complete train wreck. On the other hand, perhaps only one story – Tea with The Queen – really felt like a true (if roughish) diamond, and that was by an author (or two!) that I already knew of.

Next week: Patience is a virtue

10 comments:

  1. For a random selection of new stories, that's actually better that I'd expect.

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    1. I'm well known for being kind in my ratings, though. Some of these were borderline, and when that happens I tend to round up.

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  2. Interesting that the only two three-stars you gave out were to authors I've heard of previously. I was impressed by Harmony Charmer's My Sweet Baby from MMDGC. (LL&IJ, coincidentally, deleted their entry some time ago.)

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    1. I'll give My Sweet Baby a look. Eventually...

      And yeah, I was hoping that I'd find that someone I knew nothing about had written a really nice story, but it didn't happen. I think the last author to do that to me was Everyday, with Cutie Mark Crisscross.

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  3. "Add in a really weird, out-of-nowhere Scootaloo origin story"

    Out of curiosity, what was it exactly?

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    1. Spoiler alert!


      An underage Fluttershy was raped 11 years ago, and Scootaloo was born from the resulting pregnancy. Fluttershy, because she couldn't take care of her child, dropped Scoots off at an orphanage, but kept a "distant watch" on her progress. The truth is revealed in this fic when Scootaloo is saved from a timberwolf attack and clings to Fluttershy because she "looks so much like mommy".

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    2. 11 years ago? How far in the future was the fic set?

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    3. She's supposed to be 25 in the story.

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    4. So that would make Scoots, what, 6 in the show? And that's being generous. How... odd.

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    5. Yeah, that would have certainly throw me off the story completely...

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