I’ve been pondering the criticism of stuff I liked vs criticism of stuff I don’t like. Or more precisely, what kinds of things I tend to put in my reviews. It seems that reviews of even stories I liked are, by volume and/or wordcount, more about the flaws of a story than the strengths. I’ve noticed in in other people’s reviews of things in general, not just pony stuff. It just seems much easier for people in general to talk about what is wrong with a piece than what we liked in it. At least in any comprehensive way. I think about this from time to time. This time around it was prompted by the PresentPerfect stories I had in yesterday’s post. I liked all of the stories I read, but if you read the reviews you might get the impression I didn’t like one or two of them if you weren’t paying close attention to catch the one line of praise in five lines of complaints in at least one of them.
Part of it, for me, is that I don’t have any training or practice in analyzing things deeply. I can usually point out what’s wrong, but for some reason I find it nearly impossible to compliment a story in precise terms. I usually know what I like and can point it out, but not nearly as precisely as I can point out what went wrong in a story. No real insight here. Just me rambling about something that has been rattling around in my brain for a day or two. A reminder that I need to think a bit more positively and do my best to articulate the good things in a story as well as the bad.
I liked this a lot more than I expected. I’m a huge fan of the xcom games, both the original and the (proper) remake that this story is based on. So I had some doubt that this crossover would pull off the combination of xcom and pony. It wasn’t quite as good a mix as Fallout: Equestria was, but I’d call this a close second. It did a good job of taking the basic xcom plot/setting and sprinkling in the pony stuff. If you like some scifi with your pony, this is a story I would recommend. If you really like xcom, I’d also recommend this. Aside from one exception, the story bits told in reports and scientific observations were handled quite well. The one exception was a huge info dump that I think was nearly as long as all the previous reports put together. I ended up just skipping through the last half of it because it was all just exposition with no story or character development.
I would give a warning that the pacing might be a little slow. For about 2/3rds of the book it’s almost a slice of life where nothing really happens. Well, most of it. We do get scenes of danger and action, but pretty much everything involving Twilight Sparkle is just sort of meandering fluff. Which is somewhat the point. The contrast between the almost enforced bland slice-of-life the humans make sure to surround her with contrasts nicely with the life-and-death horrifying struggles of the human race fighting against the aliens outside of Twilight’s experiences. The last bit of the story suffers from almost the opposite. Lots of stuff happens at once and the plot just gets crammed at the reader like it’s trying to make up for the majority of the story being fluffy.
I’d highly recommend this one if you don’t mind video game crossovers. Not sure how much someone who doesn’t know xcom would enjoy this, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be completely lost. I’d give this the highest compliment a video game crossover can get, at least from me. I not only enjoyed the story, but it made me want to play the game. In fact I ended up playing xcom while reading a good portion of this. Which is how I discovered how awesome the Long War game mod is. So that’s a double win in my book.
A mini sequel to Stardust. Not nearly as good as the previous story, even taking into account the brief nature. It isn’t bad, just a little flat. The time loop trilogy by Eakin did this subject so much better. Still, not a bad story. Just reading it right after Stardust was perhaps a mistake. Comparing really good to pretty decent.
Pretty good. Dusk Guard crossover with Stardust. No reason to read unless you like the Dusk Guard. The story is basically a single action scene. If you liked Stardust and you like the Dusk Guard stories, you should give this a read. If neither of the above is true, you should not read this.