Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ponyfic Roundup 147: A Bringer of New Things

Read it Later story count: 483 (+1)

Last week, most of the stories I reviewed were several years old. This week, I'm going in the other direction. With fewer ponyfics being published now than there used to be,* I think it's more important than ever that there's good new stuff appearing on Fimfiction. So all the fics I'm reviewing in this PR have appeared since the start of 2017. Will it work? Let's see.

* Fimfiction submissions have fallen by slightly more than half since their 2013 peak.

Glimmer in the Snow by Emperor
Ignited Embers by Inquiry Tales
Can Pegasi Have Magical Surges by redtau
Cold Currents by Odd_Shot
A Heart of Cold by HMKv2
Spare Me by Fangren
A Monster Looming Over Us by Brass Polish

★: 2 | ★★: 4 | ★★★: 1 | ★★★★: 0 | ★★★★★: 0

Glimmer in the Snow by Emperor
Starlight Glimmer and Double Diamond
Slice of Life; 10k words; Feb 2017; Everyone
An Our Town origin story. Double Diamond gets himself injured while skiing, only to be rescued by a mare named Starlight Glimmer. The two talk as Diamond recovers. By the end of his stay, he becomes her first follower in Equality and Our Town is born
The first sentence of that description hooked me – I love that setup. The story has some interesting ideas about Starlight's background, too, and why she's (at this point) living alone in the desert. Some nice little touches, such as Double Diamond liking Daring Do books partly because of their shared initials. On the downside, this was written as part of a "28 fics in 28 days" challenge, and it does show. Quite a bit of exposition might have been cut in editing, and Double's thought processes late on are rushed and way too convenient. There's potential in this one, but it isn't really fulfilled. ★★

Ignited Embers by Inquiry Tales
Ember and OC
Drama/Sad; 1k words; Jan 2017; Everyone
Dragon Lord Ember is a proud and strong leader, a leader who shows her people the way to a brighter future. But her stoic nature hasn't always been there. Everyone has the tragedies in their past that make them who they are; Ember is no different
This is the author's first published ponyfic, and they get points for decent proofreading. We learn almost immediately that Ember's mother, Blaze, is dying. From there, this very short prequel to "Gauntlet of Fire" proceeds fairly predictably: Torch is angry, Blaze is gentle, Ember's character is forged. I like that what happened to Blaze isn't made explicit, but Torch doesn't seem quite right. Still, it's nice to see an Emberfic. I hope this isn't the author's last story. ★★

Can Pegasi Have Magical Surges by redtau
Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo
no genre tags given; 2k words; Feb 2017; Teen
Twilight Sparkle still remembers the awesome power she unleashed during her magical surge. But unicorns aren't the only ones with magic, and she wonders if some other pony has surged before.
The first sentence of the long description reads: "If you know where to look, the scars of Twilight Sparkle's magical surge during her entrance exam are still visible in Canterlot." I really wanted to read about that – but that's not what we get here. Instead, this starts off with an insignificant-to-the-story but nevertheless annoying error (Rainbow a Wonderbolt reserve? Not in 2017!), continues with some mildly interesting stuff about Twilight's S1-style experimenting, but then throws it all away with a horribly clich├ęd Scootaloo origin story. Oh, and it ends with song lyrics – which appear to be real-world ones and therefore shouldn't be in a Fimfiction-hosted story at all. ★

Cold Currents by Odd_Shot
OCs
Slice of Life; 5k words; Feb 2017; Everyone
On an Antarctic expedition, Crimson Silver learns that ponies aren't so bad after all.
This starts out with what seems like interesting world-building: a ship captained by a minotaur, the difference between Saddle Arabian horses and ponies, the idea of penguin settlements in the frozen south. (I'll let "Antarctic" go.) That has the makings of a fun adventure, but in fact this is a rather dull slice-of-life story, with little memorable in either dialogue or action. The exception might have been the penguins, but for the author's bizarre decision to have them speak in largely untranslated Irish Gaelic. This reminds me of when other authors do the same with Japanese, and it's no less irritating here. I don't think Odd_Shot was doing it for reasons of fashion, but still. ★★

A Heart of Cold by HMKv2
Flurry Heart, Daisy and Lily
Dark/Tragedy; 2k words; Jan 2017; Teen
Flurry Heart interrogates an innocent pony for information
I'm not a fan of "Tyrant Flurry" stories as a rule, but I gave this one a shot. It's the first fic by a writer new to Fimfiction, and I appreciate their willingness to try something different – witness the character tags. There's a silly-but-somehow-funny reference to one of Pinkie's songs, too. Sadly, the story itself is rather ridiculous, reading rather like some of the duller "Tyrant Celestia" fics from days of yore, right down to the alicorn becoming wildly angry if she's called by anything other than her new, self-chosen name. Another proofreading pass would help, but it's just too over-the-top. ★

Spare Me by Fangren
Discord, Sombra and Tirek
Equestria Girls; 1k words; Jan 2017; Teen
It's not everyday that somebody gets released from Tartarus State Penitentiary. Best to give them a good sending off, if they'll let you.
As we find out very quickly, it's Discord who's deemed to be reformed now. He's represented here as an older guy, not a high school teen, and I think this suits him. His exchanges with Sombra and Tirek are entertaining, and Discord's voice is above average – not perfect, but better than in most fics. The ending is a little disappointing, but it's an original idea and generally decently executed. I like it enough for it to slip into the three-star bracket. ★★★

A Monster Looming Over Us by Brass Polish
Applejack, Apple Bloom, OC and Other
Adventure/Comedy/Dark/Mystery; 11k words; Jan 2017; Everyone
Applejack is having problems large and small, ranging from unruly foals to the possibility of enormous vampire fruit bats lurking in Sweet Apple Acres.
This hits you straight away with a vast opening paragraph – never the best look. Still, that isn't representative, and we then settle in for a mildly amusing, rather choppy look at the still-fraught relationship between the Apples and the nearby bats. We even get a thestril [sic], though only in the form of a kite. There are heaps of show references (the chimera, Petunia and "flying feather", for example) but more problematic are the even more frequent references to past events involving the main OCs – what's a "Zap-O-Lantern", for example, and why does one pony have serious hydration problems? This reads like a sequel, but the author provides no indication that it is one. As a standalone fic, it's perhaps worth a look if you're desperate for bat-related hijinks, but otherwise it's just too confusing to rate very highly. ★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: finally, it'll be my long-promised Spotlight on Vinyl and Octavia: University Days.

8 comments:

  1. Points for Tartarus State Penitentiary. :D That alone is enough to make me want to read that.

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    1. :D I'm glad you liked the name. I figured Tartarus had to exist in the human world somewhere...

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    2. Add me to the "liking the name" group, too. :)

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  2. "With fewer ponyfics being published now than there used to be"

    I find this both fascinating and disturbing. Fascinating because I'd like to know what factors contributed to that drop. For instance, whether it ties in with anything major happening in the show, such as Twilight's ascension or the creation of the Friendship Castle.

    Disturbing because it suggests pony fandom is on the decline. If it is the case that a lower output of fanfics is a symptom of lower general fandom interest, then I'm saddened too. I don't want the ride to slow down. At the very least, I want it to remain steady and stable long into the future, a lasting candle rather than a brief firework.

    I'm probably reading too much into it, but still, it makes me wonder. You look at the episode list on Wikipedia, and the number of people watching the show seems to have declined in roughly the same timeframe. :(

    "So all the fics I'm reviewing in this PR have appeared since the start of 2017. Will it work?"

    Darn, only one good egg? I know this is hardly representative, but not much of a first impression, huh? LOL.

    That said, Spare Me does look interesting.

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    1. I'm planning a post touching on that very topic, so I won't try to ramble too much in this comment. The graphs in Fimfiction's stats section give an idea of how numbers correlate with time, though:

      http://www.fimfiction.net/statistics

      Darn, only one good egg?

      Plus a couple more that could be polished into being such – but yeah, it's disappointing. I'll probably do a PR like this again later in the year, and with luck things will be better.

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    2. Cool. Can't wait to see either post. :)

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  3. Hey, this is Odd_Shot here, author of Cold Currents. I've just discovered your little blog, and ya know... it would have been nice to have been at least messaged that my story had been reviewed. I appreciate the review, but in the future, maybe, just maybe, ya know... linky? I haven't known about this for five months.

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    1. Hi. I'll respond properly via Fimfiction PM when I have time. It's a fair point, though I've been burned in the other direction in the past! Also, I noticed I'd made a small typo in your name, so that's now fixed.

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