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WIP Cause and Effect by Raven Studios - T - Mass Effect

Discussion in 'Games' started by throwaawy, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. throwaawy

    throwaawy Third Year

    Apr 26, 2014
    Title: Cause and Effect » by Raven Studios
    Rating: T
    Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure
    Pairing: F. Shep/Kaiden
    Status: Ongoing series
    Wordcount: +950k as of 01/14/18
    Mass Effect: Newton's First Law (ME1)
    Mass-Effect: I Remember Me (Sidestory)
    Mass-Effect: Newton's Second Law (ME2)
    Mass-Effect: First Law of Thermodynamics (LotSB)
    Mass-Effect: Second Law of Thermodynamics (Arrival)
    Mass-Effect: Newton's Third Law (ME3)

    So, this is a doorstopper. In my head I call it the "Newton's Law" series even though I haven't found any sign that that author has said as much anywhere. This is a series of 1000 word snippets broken down into various stories of the ongoing life (and possible death?) of one Jalissa Aileen Shepard. The first story covers the Colonist, War Hero, and Infiltrator training background—which I would have tried to prevent spoiling if it weren't in the author's notes right at the beginning. From there the series jumps out to the games themselves with a few side trips along the way.

    POV jumps around willy nilly, which I don't find to be a bad thing. Every chapter usually brings a new point of view, usually accompanied by a lot of navel gazing from said character, although there is a decent amount of movement along the plot.

    I personally like prequels because everybody has their own Shepard in their head, or usually ends up with one after they've gone through the game. Having an entire story devoted to finding out how this author's particular Shep came into being is always a good thing for me. Even though each chapter is limited in the word count, there's enough detail for a fairly clear snapshot and any important events like the Blitz (or anything else the author felt was necessary) are covered in multiple chapters.

    There's also some divergence and liberties taken with the plot. Anything from minor details like feel-good cameos to full outright changes to the timeline as of the start of ME2. Not enough to completely get confused, since most of them either mean very little, or there's enough build up in earlier snippets so they aren't completely lost. One in particular stands out to mind — there are effectively three Shepards (though not named so) in the story, one for each pair of backgrounds. While only our Shepard follows the main plot, the other two do not simply fall by the wayside and their relevance in the story becomes much more prominent by the time the events of ME2 take place.

    It is a fic broken up into many, MANY vignettes. So there are times that some event is covered where you wish there was more background detail, but instead it focuses on Shepard's reaction and viewpoint. In someways it's nice because each segment can be a good breaking point, or it can be an ongoing drive to read "just one more chapter" before you stop for the day.

    The author has been continuously updating since 2010 so their style has changed over the writing period. This can be good or bad depending on whether or not you like where they've gone or wished they'd started/continued in whatever manner you preferred. At the same time it seems fairly well plotted out so while there's a few moments where you wonder just what the heck they were thinking, most of the time it gets resolved hundreds of chapters or even a different story down the line. That said, there are a handful of times it seems a plot thread has just vanished for no reason.

    While I don't like a boring, invicible protagonist, sometimes Shepard really gets the short end of the stick here. I won't say she's angsty but, especially after certain events, it comes very close. This is sort of where the vignette style helps because it doesn't linger on the angst for too long, although it might pop up again later at times.

    OCs are fairly prevalent. As a universe and background expansion this is probably unavoidable. I'm putting it here because a lot of it feels like a slog to go through, however there is some payoff near the end of the ME2 campaign and the Arrival storyline.

    Overall I'd say that if the fic manages to hook you it's worth keeping up with. The author recently began ME3's campaign and has made hints that the divergence will be enough that obvious canonical resolutions may not be a thing. I'm not quite sure if a reread is in the cards, especially considering it's length, but given that I've gotten this far I'm half hoping for a big payoff. At the very least the author has been very consistent with their updates so one way or another, I have a feeling there will at least be some conclusion.

    Definitely a high 3.5+, possible 4–4.5/5 depending on how this thing turns out.
  2. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box Prestige

    Nov 16, 2009
    High Score:
    Huh. I haven't had any update alerts for this in ages - I certainly got to about halfway through the Shadow Broker arc, but I can't remember if I finished it or not. At least I know I've got plenty of stuff to read over the next few weeks!

    Anyway. I'd like to say that this is an excellent recommendation, but with the time lag between reading it and writing this, I'm struggling to recall a lot of detail. I can say that the original aspects of it come to mind far more clearly than the stations of the canon variations - much of Cause and Effect, for example, and the twists and turns with Rogers and the male Shepard whose name I can't recall, whereas I couldn't tell you anything about, say, the trip to the dead reaper.

    I know I thoroughly enjoyed all that I have read, that I was engaged with all the characters, that I liked the spin the author put on everything. The format of 1000 word chapters does occasionally result in a bit of a lull, but nothing that killed the story. This was must read stuff while was getting alerts for it. I just can't entirely remember specifics of what I liked.

    4/5, for now. I'm off to reread and catch up.
  3. Zombie

    Zombie John Waynes Teeth Prestige DLP Supporter

    Apr 28, 2007
    High Score:
    Anyone else made it through any of these? I'm a sucker for Mass Effect usually so I thought I'd give them a shot.

    I didn't like the distributed nature of this, and I feel like the author had more fun writing the side stories than they did writing the actual story. That's their prerogative. I wasn't overly impressed despite the initial review it received.