Monday, May 30, 2011

Ponies, by Kij Johnson

Kij Johnson’s Ponies recently won the Nebula Award for best short story (actually tying with some other story that isn’t available online to read). I first became interested in reading this story after Teddy Rose reviewed it earlier this month. It sounded really interesting and the review was favourable, so I saved it, then after hearing it won the award, I didn’t want to wait anymore.

After the end of the story, the first words that came to mind were, Holy Crap! and, What just happened? The story was fantastic. I couldn’t believe the ending for a minute. When they describe the Ponies, they’re all very much in the My Little Pony vein. They’re brightly coloured with sparkle and shine. That’s how I was inclined to picture them, with their little girl owners running around, both wanting to have friends. It’s just such a crazy, sad and shocking story.

I liked how this place (with little girls who can only be friends if they have a Pony and only if that Pony is like all the other Ponies) takes bits of our contemporary lives to make the story seem more real. They have Wiis, Rock Band, Coke Zero and diet Red Bull. They also don’t use names; they seem to have user names based on their position in the social group. Barbara, the main character, is the only one with a real name. The names make me question whether this is happening “in real life” or if it’s happening virtually.

I can see why Ponies won the Nebula Prize. It’s incredible. Kij Johnson draws on our lives now to create the lives of little girls then. It’s something I can almost see happening, though I hope it never does. It’s a short, short story, only three pages when I printed it out. Ponies packs a punch for just three pages. I think it’s worth the time to read. I’m also interested in seeing what else Kij Johnson has written.

Sidenote: The artwork is from Chris Buzelli. It goes very well with the story. has a gallery of his work, with a link to his website and bio.

Thanks to John Mutford for hosting Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set.


  1. Well, that's 2 glowing reviews. Okay, I've bookmarked it.

  2. OMG this one left me shaken. Thanks for sharing.

  3. John, I hope you like it.

    che, I don't think it's for the faint of heart.

  4. I just read it, and good God, that was disturbing. A good metaphor for how youngsters are expected to sever parts of themselves to fit in.

  5. Ahab, it's a crazy, punch in the face sort of story, but in a good way.... ish.