/mlp/ Fanfic Reviews

Save the Records

FimFiction Link - Short ID: 240003/save-the-records

Published: Jan '15

Review in No. 40986675
This is a narrative about music, jazz records, and nuclear war. The plot is simple: After a nuclear apocalypse, a griffon delivers a wild, freewheeling monologue while offering vinyl records to a crowd of survivors. It's clear from what the griffon says that the author's real intent is to meditate on the meaning and importance of music. What good is music when bombs are falling? Why does music matter, anyway? As the conclusion makes clear, the griffon does think music matters and does think it's worth preserving, even in the face of disaster.

The prose tries hard to be poetic. On average it's good. There are times when it works well, and then the results are frenzied, vigorous, and compelling. But there are also times when it doesn't, like the sentence that starts, "Can’t live without it duct tape." It's stream-of-consciousness, which is hard to do, and it wandered too far for me. It stopped being interesting about fifty words in but meandered on for a hundred more.

The story's most obvious gimmick is that each paragraph is accompanied by a chord. The chapter title announces the key as E flat (so the major scale is Eb F G Ab Bb C D). The first paragraph is Eb6, a I chord with an added sixth, so Eb G Bb C (not I in its first inversion; this is jazz, not classical). The second paragraph is B7 (B D# F# A#, or because this is a bVI7 chord, Cb Eb Gb Bb). (Weirdly, the author claims in his notes that both this and Bb7 (Bb D F Ab) are V7 chords. He's also mistaken about Db7, which is bVII7 but which he thinks is vii°7, D F Ab Cb. But these mistakes don't affect the story itself.) The chords are modeled on the chord changes of Ike Quebec's version of the standard, "Blue and Sentimental," (linked in the story's long summary) so they actually make music if you play them. But will you? It takes extra effort that most people won't put in. And, like a lot of fics where the author suggests a soundtrack, there's no telling that the music will evoke the same feelings in you that it does in the author.

There are some references to real-life jazz (Gene Hoofa=Gene Krupa, Benny Goodmane=Benny Goodman, etc.) sometimes not even ponified (Bird, Buddy Rich, Satin Doll). These aren't explained, so you'll have to know something about jazz to catch these allusions.

And on the subject of being ponified. This is not. This story has hardly anything pony in it at all. You could substitute "people" for "ponies" everywhere and "black people" for "griffons" everywhere and the story would make near perfect sense. (The notes say that, "The storyteller’s griffon heritage is an ode to the negro musician and his struggle in a music industry that has historically been controlled by rich whites.")

For me, this was a 6/10. If you like jazz or unusual prose, it could be a 7/10.