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Pony Story: Antipodes

08 Mar

A single pony fan fiction post! What madness is this? Next I’ll be posting about non-pony stuff again. Also, this will mark having a post every single day this week from Sunday to Saturday. Man, I did have a boost of energy at the beginning of the week. This one was written the day before it goes live, but pretty much everything else was written last weekend or early in the week.

Antipodes by PK

The sense of time in this story is a bit off. At about the 20% point of the story the characters comment it’s been a week or two since the start, but only two main things have happened and it feels like only two or three days have passed. There’s been no real sense of time passing as they travel or any smaller encounters as measure-marks. Plus, when they get into the city controlled by a evil overlord plot, they run into a resistance that apparently accepted a high-level official turning traitor to join them pretty much instantly. That would never happen, no matter how bad things for the resistance have gotten. It all adds to a feeling that the author had a much larger story in mind, but either forgot to flesh it out or didn’t have the skill/energy to actually put in all the necessary details for it.

This story is a great example of the difference between a copy edit and a proper full structure and flow editing pass. Line by line, or paragraph by paragraph, the writing quality is pretty good. Decent word choices, no huge problems with grammar or missing words or anything of that nature. Just as a whole it fits together very poorly. Nothing directly contradicts itself, but I often got the feeling I had missed something, or that things had been rushed. The ten thousand years since the end of the world thing started to bug me as well. It is barely acceptable as the sweeping backstory for some epic fantasy or space opera, but here it is just jarring. A water pipe system would not last that long. When they get to the surface they meet other ponies they all speak the same language. All of our spoken and written languages on the planet would fit in a ten thousand year period. Heck, in the last few hundred years the English language has become nearly unrecognizable (look at the original text of Shakespeare). Plus, my main problem with a lot of post-apocalyptic settings, civilization would certainly have rebuilt itself in that amount of time.

Okay, the comment earlier comment about well-constructed scenes may have been premature. Noticing the author doesn’t seem to have a good sense of physical environment in the story. Or at least the continuity of things and positions of the characters. About the 30% point we have our two main characters on a staircase about to be crushed by falling debris, a flash of fire from the current deus ex machine that burns away all the debris, then they pass out and wake up on a hilltop (I think). Later it is sort of revealed that it was a teleport, but I went back and forth through that scene a few times after reading it and I could not figure out what had happened. I get no real sense of the scenery around the characters from the author’s writing. Environmental details come and go without any impact on me, the reader. In the previous mentioned ‘city of evil overlord’ I honestly spent most of it wondering if they were underground or not! Mostly (in hindsight) because they got there by a teleportation platform that they fell through and the teleportation was described as falling down a long physical tunnel. Even with them floating near the sides and being pushed back with a magic force field. So if you are above ground, then fall down a long tunnel, of course I’m going to think you are not underground.

Then we hit the pacing/time problem again. One of the characters gets overwhelmed and breaks into tears and wants to give up on everything. Which would be a touching moment at the halfway point after many horrible trials and struggles. However, at this point in the story a single bad event has happened that they more or less were spectators that got fast-forwarded through. No real interactions or choices on their part at all that didn’t feel like scripted plot devices, and even those were rare. I get the feeling that the author has seen/read a lot of adventure/post-apocalyptic type stories and likes the genre. They even seem somewhat familiar with most of the elements and tropes of such a story, but they don’t seem to have any deeper understanding of how all those pieces fit together. So the author is just using a checklist of all the tropes and hoping just stacking them together will have the same effect like it does in all the stories they are trying to emulate.

And I still don’t get why our main characters barely think about going home, and never once try getting back there. A home that they know pretty much for a fact is dying of thirst because their water system is busted beyond repair. But, nope, stories like this have a world-spanning quest of redemption of some sort. So that’s what our main characters do once they are away from home. They don’t even decide to give up, they pay lip service to wanting to get back home one or twice, but everything they do pulls them further away. They don’t even give up on it, a ‘home is already dead’ feeling would be a awesome fatalistic feel to a story like this. The whole ‘home is dead, but we might be able to make someplace else better’ vibe would have improved this immensely.

And lastly, the mechanic main character is a plot device. Ten thousand year old broken machine with missing parts? Bing. Fixed. No tinkering, no trying to figure out how it works, just a bit of plot-device magic and everything is shiny new. No matter how big or complex. In fact, all the magic and tech is like this. It just does whatever the author needs to be done with no real consistency. Chapter 19 is where I finally gave up on the story. The writing had been going downhill in quality from the first few chapters and I couldn’t stand it anymore. The straw that broke the pony’s back was one of those ‘confronted with the manifestation of your deepest fears’ situations. Powerful and effective if it involves characters the reader has come to know and care about, with lots of character building during the story up to that point to draw on for context and depth. Not characters that are basically plot devices and a single event that was basically a summary of a situation that was the only thing to happen in the story so far.

I could go on at some length about the flaws in this one, but I won’t. First, the story doesn’t really deserve it. It’s not exactly a crime against literature or anything. It’s just below average in quality. Second, I shouldn’t spend that much time and effort on something I didn’t really like. Just make a mental note of what I think went wrong and use it, like a lot of the other stuff I get from reading fan fiction, as a tool to improve my own writing. The major lesson in this one is pay attention to physical surroundings and scene to scene continuity.

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3 Comments

Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Books 2014, Ponies, Reviews

 

3 responses to “Pony Story: Antipodes

  1. Pascoite Fics

    March 10, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Interesting take. I’m not going to bad-mouth the story, because I’m around the author frequently and because, well, I haven’t read it. And I don’t plan to. I’m a slow reader, and the opportunity cost of spending the time on it would be prohibitive. But I will say I’m familiar with the feeling of coming across a story which I feel has a completely undeserved reputation, and then when you compare the thousands upon thousands of views, upvotes, and glowing comments they get against the many wonderful gems lost in obscurity… It can be very frustrating as a writer.

     
    • Griffin

      March 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Well, I can’t really speak about whatever reputation it has. There is stuff to like in there under the writing style (or lack of skill if you aren’t feeling generous). Just keep telling yourself that popularity is pretty much random chance and has very little to do with the quality of the product that is popular.

       
      • Griffin

        March 10, 2014 at 11:53 am

        And, I just read another review, apparently the writing quality and characterization gets better later in the story. So the second half of the story seems to avoid several of my biggest complaints. So if you can push through, it might be a more enjoyable read.

         

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