Monday, January 15, 2018

Mini-Reviews Round 215

If you don't follow politics closely, then maybe you've missed some of the kerfluffle about Trump, various porn stars, and hush money.  I'm not going to rehash it here, because I have no interest in making this blog political.  So why bring it up at all?  Because one of the porn stars in question goes by the screenname "Jenna Talia."  I'd like to move that this is the best porn star name (female category), and add that it has made me giggle at least four times since I first learned this fact.

On the subject of mild cleverness, let's do some fanfic reviews!  Check mine out, below.

My Little One-Shots - A Rumor That's Not Quite What it Seems, by Phantasma Eeria

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Carrot Top narrates her increasingly desperate, depressing life.

A few thoughts:  As is my occasional habit, I thought I'd look at the newest Carrot Top fics and see if there was anything there that looked to be both interesting and complete.  This one... is complete.

To be fair, it's not the blight on the world of creative writing that that makes it sound like.  But this is very much what people think of when they picture "average fanfiction:" weak writing (both in terms of basic editing elements, and structural stuff like the prevalence of run-on sentences), piled-on contrivances, pacing more akin to a story summary than a story itself, and enforced sadness to and past the point of credulity-straining.  The story is clearly intended to be set in Equestria, but major elements feel entirely unponified, and the whole story comes off as more of an idea than a complete authorial vision.

Recommendation:  I realize that review sounds really harsh, but to repeat myself, this isn't some ridiculously bad fanfic; it's just a very typical fanfic, of the sort that betrays a bunch of amateur writing problems because--guess what?--the author is an amateur writer.  That said, it's still difficult to specifically recommend this story to any particular sort of reader.

Candy Mane's Almost-Epic Slice-of-Life Adventure, by Trick Question

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Candy Mane is the least clever pony in Equestria--even the usual Ponyville subjects can see she's a few pickles short of a peck.  But that doesn't stop her from having a very exciting day.

Well, actually it does, but only because she's too slow to realize how exciting her day is.

A few thoughts:  The first scene in this story, where Candy out-idiots Derpy, was wonderfully whimsical fun.  I wish the rest of the story had been just as good, and to be fair, the rest of the story still is good... just not quite to the heights that the opening had me expecting, at least not consistently.  The big issue for me was the way the tone of the humor wanders from its original pitch, sometimes into a memes, or to a generally more self-aware state, and sometimes into a level of mean-spiritedness that, while hardly at a level that would make me clutch my pearls, still felt at odds with the rest of the fic (in particular, someone calling her "retarded" felt very out-of-place compared to the rest of the fic).  But even if that made the story feel a bit disjointed to me, it was still funny, with an admirable dedication to depicting Candy's intellectual lightweightedness in increasingly absurd ways, before wrapping around to end on a pleasantly wholesome but still silly note.  Plus, Carrot Top always makes an ideal straight mare.

Recommendation:  If you're looking for something that's freewheelingly, gleefully ridiculous, this is a good choice.  There's not a lot of heft here, but there is a lot of mileage packed into a small package of main-character stupidity.

How Lily Longsocks Spent Hearth's Warming Eve on the Moon, by Pascoite

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  On Hearth's Warming Eve, a young filly needs to reach out to her mother who's overseas.  Luckily, Princess Luna has a pair of pegasi in mind to help Lily Longsocks reach the moon--where dreams live--and to see her.

A few thoughts:  Although this one isn't tagged Carrot Top, I was told it had a subtle reference to my fic, Going Up.  So, obviously, I had to read it.  What can I say?  It's flattering when people enjoy your stories enough to use them tangentially in their own work.

But even if Carrot Top and Derpy hadn't made a cameo, I'd still have loved this fic.  Full of playful language, both simply silly ("She’d begun raising her hoof, but a wing flick and a tongue click from Sky Stinger halted it, demanded identification, and threatened to have it thrown in the nearest jail if it insisted on proceeding") and cleverly descriptive ("he grinned the way Daddy did when the newspaper had a particularly challenging crossword puzzle"), the language used here is a real treat.  Pascoite includes plenty of rhymes and little bits of linguistic flair, which make the story fun to read aloud, and give it a great children's story vibe.  And the story itself is just the kind of warm, affirmative tale that leaves the reader feeling a bit happier for having read it then they were before.

Recommendation:  If you enjoy children's stories or heartwarming material in general, consider this one highly recommended.


  1. "As is my occasional habit, I thought I'd look at the newest Carrot Top fics and see if there was anything there that looked to be both interesting and complete."

    Uh huh. Given that, and judging from your choice of first fic to review, you have a very interesting idea of what constitutes "interesting". Maybe I'm picky, but at times like this I really do wonder what you were expecting, going in.


    Tut, tut, Chris. For ironic shame.

    "How Lily Longsocks Spent Hearth's Warming Eve on the Moon"

    Haha! I remember commissioning this one for The Obselescence Memorial Jinglemas Twinglemas Secret Santa Sendoff: Part 2 Edition! (That's lifted directly from the blog title, by the way). Petrichord organized last year's secret santa event as tribute to the founder, Obselescence. I heard about it through blog alerts from other users. I'm frankly puzzled you didn't see fit to mention the origins, given how they must have shaped the fic. Then again, since not everyone knows the full origins, allow me to invoke "why back in my day" here...

    When it came time to make our own requests (we had just a week to do so), I deliberately chose two characters who were both relatively obscure in fanfiction AND who were both characters I liked very much: Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail.

    There was also the option of sending in specific details so that we didn't end up writing something we didn't want to write (for instance, I asked that I not be asked to write about characters introduced after Season Five, simply because I was less familiar with those seasons), so I sent - to indicate what I did not want to write - those details off too.

    We had until 8th December last month to submit all of the requests, but I figured mine out and sent it off almost immediately. With no idea as to what the result would look like, (it being a secret santa project, after all!), which of course is the fun bit.

    On 23rd December, the anthology of the Jinglemas 2017 fic was published. I knew as soon as I'd read Pascoite's answer to the challenge that it was going to be a hit once it was published separately from the main Jinglemas 2017 fic anthology. (Which, for some reason, is still up: it should have been deleted a while ago, according to the event rules.)

    The style reminded me a lot of many other "written for children" fics like "In the Place the Wild Horses Sleep" by Lucky Dreams, and "Ditzy Doo and the Blustery Day" by uSea. Admittedly, I haven't read as much of Pascoite's work as I should have done, but I gather second-handedly that it's also characteristic of some of their work, such as "Dinkin' Doughnuts" (which was written for a secret santa project back in 2015, just to raise the aptness levels).

    And of course, somehow the wires got crossed and the details I'd sent to indicate what I did not want to write ended up in my commission to Pascoite, hence such confusion over why, if I didn't want characters introduced after Season Five, I'd made a request specifically for Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail.

    Anyway, the Jinglemas 2017 an secret santa event was a huge blast. Pascoite got his entry featured on AND on Equestria Daily, naturally. We got 36 entries, at least half of which have been published independently since then.

    1. He did say it was "complete". >.>

    2. With many other fics, I look for reasons not to add to my RiL. But with Carrot Top, I'm always just seeking a reason to give it a chance.

      Thanks for filling in about Jinglemas! Pasco included a bit about the secret santa in his author's notes, but more background's always good to have. Sadly, I didn't find out about this one until it was too late (and almost certainly couldn't have participated anyway), but I do love me a fanfic secret santa.

  2. Correction: "and secret santa event were a huge blast".

    I mention this mainly because both Pascoite's fic here and "Candy Mane's Almost-Epic Slice-of-Life Adventure" were both Secret Santa entries. I wasn't expecting a behind-the-scenes retrospective, of course, but it seems odd not to mention their origins at all. Keep in mind, for instance, that - given their finished quality - we had only two weeks to get these fics done.

  3. Thanks for the review, Chris. This was a blast to write, though I barely got it in before the deadline. As soon as I figured out how the dragon was going to help them, I just knew I had to throw in a "Going Up" reference. Not to mention it perfectly fits the tone.

    1. You're very welcome; it was a pleasure to read!