Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 108: All Round the Wrekin

Test cricket is back! In inimitable style, the season got under way at Headingley last Thursday with an England batting collapse and the final session washed out by rain. Happily, we annihilated Sri Lanka inside three days in the end. Mind you, it's a bit much expecting them to be able to cope with seaming pitches in northern England in May; just as it is when we get put into bat on a dustbowl pitch in India – as will doubtless happen on this winter's tour.

Oh, and there's some ponyfic to look at, too. Seven stories this week! Nothing amazing or amazingly awful, but nevertheless, here we go:

What If Socks Didn't Work Orally? by Fiddlebottoms
Empty by Inquisitor M
Twilight Verbs Article Nouns by Lapis-Lazuli and Stitch
Twilight Likes to Read, A Lot by Saakra
Heirlooms by Rocinante
Heart's Manifestation by Littlecolt
Portal by Benman

★: 0 | ★★: 4 | ★★★: 3 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

What If Socks Didn't Work Orally? by Fiddlebottoms
Twilight and Applejack
Dark/Random; 5k words; Apr 2013; Teen
Twilight Sparkle forgets to take her medicine one day and pursues a hazardous quest of holistic introspection. Milk, socks, griffin cuisine and toilet humor are contemplated.
Imagine "Lesson Zero" Twilight gone horribly, horribly wrong and you'll get an idea of what this unsettling fic is like. After the hit of the ending, I needed to read this again to find some little details I'd missed first time round. There's a little LUS, and toilet humour isn't my thing, but my real sticking point is that it's hard to believe "our" Ponyville would let things get to this point in the first place. An [Alternate Universe] tag might help. Still, I find it creepily effective enough for a three-star rating and cautious recommendation. Oh, and note the chapter title. ★★★

Empty by Inquisitor M
Luna
Slice of Life; 1k words; Dec 2015; Everyone
Sometimes the words ring hollow. Sometimes the ritual feels shallow. Sometimes it's hard to tell if the gifts we are given are from the heart. But sometimes, actions betray our feelings with a power that neither word nor ritual can capture.
As promised last time, here's a Christmas story! Unusually for this author, it's not a story you really have to work at understanding – actually, it's simple slice-of-life fluffiness. Written in 90 minutes it may have been, but it still does a pretty solid job of taking a Sad!Luna tale and giving it a nice, fitting ending. This won't haunt your dreams, but it would make pleasant reading by the fire on a cold day. ★★★

Twilight Verbs Article Nouns by Lapis-Lazuli and Stitch
Twilight, Sweetie Belle and Spike
Comedy/Random/Slice of Life; 7k words; Jul 2014; Everyone
Twilight Sparkle is getting tired of this nonsense in the papers, constantly writing things about her inane day to day activities. So she's going to do something about it...
This is really one long meta-joke, jabbing at various fandom (and particularly Fimfiction) clich├ęs. There's even a Nyx reference in here. Credit where it's due, the first chapter is a lot of fun, with a scene involving Sweetie and a roomful of soft toys a highlight. Things go downhill after that, with the story becoming less coherent and less funny, partly because it's less obviously Equestrian. The writing is variable, and "shit" shouldn't be in an E-rated fic. I'm not a big fan of the ending, and that's what finally pushed this down into two-star territory. Note that this fic's author(s; it's a joint account) used to be listed as "Lapis-Lazuli and Inky J", and a minor scene in chapter two no longer has its full impact because of the change. (Moral: leave your damn usernames alone, authors!) ★★

Twilight Likes to Read, A Lot by Saakra
Twilight and Spike
Comedy; 1k words; Jun 2014; Everyone
Twilight likes to read more than anyone should. [Experiment on the power of suggestion in literature.]
The story's description says it was written as part of an experiment, but the provided link from the long description no longer works and the author's been absent for six months, so I'll probably never know the full details of what it was. The story itself is one of those where an initially minor happening just keeps on escalating. It's mildly amusing, despite some slightly iffy writing, but the ending is a little on the dull side. ★★

Heirlooms by Rocinante
Rainbow Dash and Twilight
Adventure; 3k words; Aug 2015; Everyone
Rainbow Dash finds making her family tree harder than she thought.
This didn't go the way I expected it to. For a considerable length of time when first reading it, I thought it was going to turn into TwiDash shipping at any moment. It doesn't – but it does have a most unexpected twist. I actually quite enjoyed the first part of the story, though it's pretty tame [Adventure], almost to the point of being [Slice of Life]. The tag is really there for that twist, which you might see coming if you read carefully and make a lucky guess. It ends very abruptly, though, and the story feels a little unfinished. ★★

Heart's Manifestation by Littlecolt
Twilight, Rarity and Spike
Slice of Life; 4k words; May 2014; Everyone
Spike has eaten the book of Inspiration Manifestation. It has some side effects...
Set just after the Season Four episode, this fic deals with the aftermath – as the cover art makes clear, Spike gets what he's always wanted and is transformed into a unicorn. In spite of the single genre tag, there's a significant amount of Sparity in here, although nothing beyond what's acceptable for an E rating. The resolution is a bit too convenient for this to get more than a two-star rating, but it's a highish two. ★★

Portal by Benman
Twilight [and a human]
Human; 2k words; Aug 2014; Everyone
What if you could go to the world of your dreams? What if it meant you could never come back?
Here, we follow what happens to one man – a paramedic or similar – who does find a portal to Equestria. (Or does he?) The fic is all about a serious decision he makes, and I think it justifies his actions quite well. The problem is that the story really isn't long enough to build the atmosphere – it's a dual-perspective fic, which exacerbates the problem. At 5,000 words, this could have been tremendous. As it is, it's still interesting but feels a little truncated, and that adds a layer of frustration to the experience. ★★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: Logan does as little work as possible.

3 comments:

  1. One of these days I really do need to read one of these Fiddlebottom fics.

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    1. I still suggest starting with Six Months in July, though literally everyone got mad at me for recommending it way back when. :V Sincerely, Your Former Roommate is a good bit more mainstream of a subject.

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    2. I'll probably end up reading both of those, though I have a feeling I may regret it in the case of SMiJ. And not for quality reasons. :P

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