Short Story Monday: Ponies by Kij Johnson

Short Story Monday: Ponies by Kij Johnson

Illustration to story by Chris Buzelli

I read another Nebula nominee today, “Ponies” by Kij Johnson, available on-line here at It’s an awful little story, not because it’s badly written, but the end made me cover my mouth in horror.

In this world, every girl has a pony with wings, a unicorn horn and a voice. A time comes, as the girl gets older, when she and her pony are invited to a cutting-out party, where the girl has to cut out two of her pony’s three gifts. It’s more like cutting a doll; it doesn’t seem to physically hurt the ponies. Barbara and her pony Sunny are looking forward to their cutting-out party, but what happens is just devastating.

I understand that it’s a story about growing up, about the pressures to fit in and the tendency for girls to be downright cruel at times, but I almost wish I hadn’t read it. It’s well-written but so disturbing.

1,255 words 11/17/10

5 out of 5 stars

John hosts Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set. Head over there to see what he and others have been reading.

I read “Ponies” on-line and the above is my honest opinion..


  1. anachronist

    You got me insterested – I don’t like short stories but I think this one is worth attention. Thanks for visiting my blog btw~! It’s always lovely to see your comments!

  2. Wow, what a powerful review. You wrote it without giving it away, just making my imagination run wild. As an animal lover, perhaps I shouldn’t read it but I am so intrigued.

    I read a complete gem of a short story!

  3. I do not think it’s disturbing in the least. It’s an overt, heavy-handed, soap box bullying story that I’ve read a hundred times. The fantastic elements are not needed at all. The story would work just as “well” if the pony were plastic. The overtness of the story negates any disturbing qualities it may have had for me.

    1. I guess I have to agree somewhat. After all, for me to get the story’s message it does usually have to be pretty blatant. I don’t think that it would work as well if the pony were plastic, since a plastic pony wouldn’t be able to say no, she didn’t want to fit in that badly. (Not that that worked out for her.)

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