Thursday, 1 November 2018

Ponyfic Roundup 224: Light up, light up, as if you have a choice

Read it Later story count: 292 (-5)

A day late this week, but here's PR once again. As has been the case most weeks in recent months, I'm short of the five fics I'd really like to be reviewing. I don't know why I keep apologising for this, since it doesn't seem to be changing anything. Oh well, I guess some reviews is better than no reviews. One of the fics is longer than sometimes, too. Here's the little selection I have for you today:

So That's What a Wingboner Is... by Fire Gazer the Alchemist
Sundowner Season by Cherax
Basement Ducks by ocalhoun

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

So That's What a Wingboner Is... by Fire Gazer the Alchemist
Twilight and Rainbow Dash
Romance/Slice of Life; 5k words; May 2014; Teen
Twilight experiences her first wingboner
I'm not a fan of the whole wingboner concept, so bear that in mind as you read this review. Set in early S4, this fic has Twi being given flying lessons by Rainbow and having her wings do... that after Dash touches her. This could be the setup for a fun, light, silly comedy. Occasionally we get enjoyable glimpses of that, such as with Twi's feelings about reading a book about sexual maturity in pegasi – with pictures. As you'll see, though, there's no [Comedy] tag. Instead, it's slice of life with too-sudden TwiDash development at the end. The story suffers from bad LUS, which gets worse as you go along: at one point, "the cyan pegasus" appears three times in two shortish paragraphs. There's also a sudden POV shift from Twilight to Rainbow in the middle of a scene. If you're a hardcore TwiDasher you might still enjoy this, but I found it frustrating and in all honesty would have preferred all-out silliness. ★★

Sundowner Season by Cherax
Rarity and OCs
Drama/Sad/Slice of Life; 21k words; Jul 2015; Teen
With a heavy heart and an empty journal, Rarity heads north.
Cherax is Cherax Destructor, probably better known as a musician, but in 2015 she crafted this story, recently inducted into the RCL. We follow Rarity on her journey by rail, road and water to the icy north of Equestria, accompanied by lengthy entries in her journal. I used "crafted" deliberately, as the fic is very nicely written indeed, even if the prose occasionally gets too flowery even for Rarity ("equilibrate"?) and I'm not that keen on her swearing. Despite that, the prose and some truly lovely descriptions of the changing scenery make it a pleasure to read... except that the purpose of the diary veers from one thing to another. Perhaps this is supposed to reflect Rarity's fragile emotional state, but I would have preferred more consistency. It's a slow-paced tale, with a large chunk early on taken up by Rarity's meeting with Soul Searcher, an arty OC whose attitude I didn't really like – but, I suspect, wasn't supposed to. I wish Rarity herself hadn't displayed a few rather ungenerous feelings in that scene, though. Flashbacks gradually reveal some of the reason Rarity feels the need to travel, though we don't discover the real kicker until the third chapter – which adopts a slightly more direct style and explains the title – and significant mystery remains at the end. One show episode since this came out might have rendered it canon-non-compliant, but I think it avoids that problem. You can't help but admire the writing, but I wish it hadn't been quite so cagey about revealing its secrets. A top-end three. ★★★

Basement Ducks by ocalhoun
Twilight and Fluttershy
Dark/Comedy/Horror/Random; 2k words; Apr 2017; Everyone
There are ducks in Twilight Sparkle's basement, and she is sure that they are evil ducks.
With a description like that, how could a story go wrong? Twilight is concerned about the ducks and brings in Fluttershy to deal with them. But where did they come from? The fic is deliberately written in prose full of phrases like "For this fell purpose, her horn brightens yet its glow"; there's also a fun structural aspect to look for. The reveal – if such it can be called – is both out of nowhere and strangely fitting. Also, and though it's probably unintentional, if like me you've read Cheerilee's Thousand (PR 208; spoilers) you'll get another bit of amusement out of the whole "evil ducks" concept. A cross between Edgar Allen Poe and Dr. Seuss? Sign me up. ★★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: stories reviewed should include B_25's Blue Steel Railway.

2 comments:

  1. Wow. Point for point, I felt exactly the same way you did about "Sundowner Season," but I've found myself in the minority on that one. From being put off by Soul Searcher, to finding Rarity's swearing incongruous, to feeling like she kind of threw her friends under the bus, to the journal format seeming inconsistent as to whom she was writing it for and why, I was right with you.

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    1. Hey, that's about where I was, too! Though I actually kind of liked disliking SS; I felt like him being so smackable would've given a nice dimension to the fic... if it were original fiction. He (and many other things, e.g. the swearing) felt pretty incongruous in Equestria generally, and in a story that was supposed to be about Rarity specifically. Diary flubs notwithstanding, I said of this when I reviewed it that "This is a wonderful choice for readers who aren't at all sensitive to the appropriateness of character or setting choice in telling a story, and a terrible choice for readers who are," and I think that's still about where I am in retrospect.

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