Ponies

Ponies

illustration by chris buzelli

Enjoy “Ponies,” a short story by Kij Johnson and the winner of the 2010 Nebula Award for Short Story.

 

The invitation card has a Western theme. Along its margins, cartoon girls in cowboy hats chase a herd of wild Ponies. The Ponies are no taller than the girls, bright as butterflies, fat, with short round-tipped unicorn horns and small fluffy wings. At the bottom of the card, newly caught Ponies mill about in a corral. The girls have lassoed a pink-and-white Pony. Its eyes and mouth are surprised round Os. There is an exclamation mark over its head.

The little girls are cutting off its horn with curved knives. Its wings are already removed, part of a pile beside the corral.

You and your Pony ___[and Sunny’s name is handwritten here, in puffy letters]___ are invited to a cutting-out party with TheOtherGirls! If we like you, and if your Pony does okay, we’ll let you hang out with us.

Sunny says, “I can’t wait to have friends!” She reads over Barbara’s shoulder, rose-scented breath woofling through Barbara’s hair. They are in the backyard next to Sunny’s pink stable.

Barbara says, “Do you know what you want to keep?”

Sunny’s tiny wings are a blur as she hops into the air, loops, and then hovers, legs curled under her. “Oh, being able to talk, absolutely! Flying is great, but talking is way better!” She drops to the grass. “I don’t know why any Pony would keep her horn! It’s not like it does anything!”

This is the way it’s always been, as long as there have been Ponies. All ponies have wings. All Ponies have horns. All Ponies can talk. Then all Ponies go to a cutting-out party, and they give up two of the three, because that’s what has to happen if a girl is going to fit in with TheOtherGirls. Barbara’s never seen a Pony that still had her horn or wings after her cutting-out party.

Barbara sees TheOtherGirls’ Ponies peeking in the classroom windows just before recess or clustered at the bus stop after school. They’re baby pink and lavender and daffodil-yellow, with flossy manes in ringlets, and tails that curl to the ground. When not at school and cello lessons and ballet class and soccer practice and play group and the orthodontist’s, TheOtherGirls spend their days with their Ponies.

***

The party is at TopGirl’s house. She has a mother who’s a pediatrician and a father who’s a cardiologist and a small barn and giant trees shading the grass where the Ponies are playing games. Sunny walks out to them nervously. They silently touch her horn and wings with their velvet noses, and then the Ponies all trot out to the lilac barn at the bottom of the pasture, where a bale of hay has been broken open.

TopGirl meets Barbara at the fence. “That’s your Pony?” she says without greeting. “She’s not as pretty as Starblossom.”

Barbara is defensive. “She’s beautiful!” This is a misstep so she adds, “Yours is so pretty!” And TopGirl’s Pony is pretty: her tail is every shade of purple and glitters with stars. But Sunny’s tail is creamy white and shines with honey-colored light, and Barbara knows that Sunny’s the most beautiful Pony ever.

TopGirl walks away, saying over her shoulder, “There’s Rock Band in the family room and a bunch of TheOtherGirls are hanging out on the deck and Mom bought some cookies and there’s Coke Zero and diet Red Bull and diet lemonade.”

“Where are you?” Barbara asks.

I’m outside,” TopGirl says, so Barbara gets a Crystal Light and three frosted raisin-oatmeal cookies and follows her. TheOtherGirls outside are listening to an iPod plugged into speakers and playing Wii tennis and watching the Ponies play HideAndSeek and Who’sPrettiest and ThisIsTheBestGame. They are all there, SecondGirl and SuckUpGirl and EveryoneLikesHerGirl and the rest. Barbara only speaks when she thinks she’ll get it right.

And then it’s time. TheOtherGirls and their silent Ponies collect in a ring around Barbara and Sunny. Barbara feels sick.

TopGirl says to Barbara, “What did she pick?”

Sunny looks scared but answers her directly. “I would rather talk than fly or stab things with my horn.”

TopGirl says to Barbara, “That’s what Ponies always say.” She gives Barbara a curved knife with a blade as long as a woman’s hand.

“Me?” Barbara says. “I thought someone else did it. A grown-up.”

TopGirl says, “Everyone does it for their own Pony. I did it for Starblossom.”

In silence Sunny stretches out a wing.

It’s not the way it would be, cutting a real pony. The wing comes off easily, smooth as plastic, and the blood smells like cotton candy at the fair. There’s a shiny trembling oval where the wing was, as if Barbara is cutting rose-flavored Turkish Delight in half and sees the pink under the powdered sugar. She thinks, It’s sort of pretty, and throws up.

Sunny shivers, her eyes shut tight. Barbara cuts off the second wing and lays it beside the first.

The horn is harder, like paring a real pony’s hooves. Barbara’s hand slips and she cuts Sunny, and there’s more cotton-candy blood. And then the horn lies in the grass beside the wings.

Sunny drops to her knees. Barbara throws the knife down and falls beside her, sobbing and hiccuping. She scrubs her face with the back of her hand and looks up at the circle.

Starblossom touches the knife with her nose, pushes it toward Barbara with one lilac hoof. TopGirl says, “Now the voice. You have to take away her voice.”

“But I already cut off her wings and her horn!” Barbara throws her arms around Sunny’s neck, protecting it. “Two of the three, you said!”

“That’s the cutting-out, yeah,” TopGirl says. “That’s what you do to be OneOfUs. But the Ponies pick their own friends. And that costs, too.” Starblossom tosses her violet mane. For the first time, Barbara sees that there is a scar shaped like a smile on her throat. All the Ponies have one.

“I won’t!” Barbara tells them all, but even as she cries until her face is caked with snot and tears, she knows she will, and when she’s done crying, she picks up the knife and pulls herself upright.

Sunny stands up beside her on trembling legs. She looks very small without her horn, her wings. Barbara’s hands are slippery, but she tightens her grip.

“No,” Sunny says suddenly. “Not even for this.”

Sunny spins and runs, runs for the fence in a gallop as fast and beautiful as a real pony’s; but there are more of the others, and they are bigger, and Sunny doesn’t have her wings to fly or her horn to fight. They pull her down before she can jump the fence into the woods beyond. Sunny cries out and then there is nothing, only the sound of pounding hooves from the tight circle of Ponies.

TheOtherGirls stand, frozen. Their blind faces are turned toward the Ponies.

The Ponies break their circle, trot away. There is no sign of Sunny, beyond a spray of cotton-candy blood and a coil of her glowing mane torn free and fading as it falls to the grass.

Into the silence TopGirl says, “Cookies?” She sounds fragile and false. TheOtherGirls crowd into the house, chattering in equally artificial voices. They start up a game, drink more Diet Coke.

Barbara stumbles after them into the family room. “What are you playing?” she says, uncertainly.

“Why are you here?” FirstGirl says, as if noticing her for the first time. “You’re not OneOfUs.”

TheOtherGirls nod. “You don’t have a pony.”

 

Copyright © 2010 by Kij Johnson

98 comments
Richard Fife
1. R.Fife
Well, that gives a new meaning to Unicorn chaser... and the need of one. Sad that the metaphore is not too far from the truth for young children and wanting to fit in.
Kij Johnson
3. kijjohnson
Chris, thank you for the perfect art! --Grisly, but perfect.
ChrisBuzelli
4. ChrisBuzelli
Thanks Kij! Honestly, it was one of my favorite stories that I've ever illustrated. I really connected with the sweet and twisted tale. I'd love to illustrate an entire children's book/novel version of "Ponies." I had so many great visuals swirling around when I read it.
Samuel Montgomery-Blinn
6. montsamu
Sometimes, the world actually gives you not just one pony, but ponies. Very much enjoyed this, -Sam.
ChrisBuzelli
7. John Platt
Oh, that's dark. Well done.
ChrisBuzelli
8. JonPNJ
This story made me feel sick, and I'm a horror fan. I suppose that's a compliment to the writer but mostly it just hurt and depressed me.
ChrisBuzelli
10. LesHowle
Wow, if that isn't a metaphor for what's wrong with the world I don't know what is. Powerful, distrubing story by a terrific writer.
Roland of Gilead
12. pKp
When it comes to cruelty, no fictional monster has a thing on primary-school girls. Children are monsters. I think that, deep down, we all wear the scars from the day we had to cut our own Pony.
ChrisBuzelli
14. worldweary
Terrible, terrible, terrible. This will haunt me, and its truth is so strong. I have to start repeating now "it was just a story, it was just a story..."
ChrisBuzelli
15. Robiny
Wow... that was depressing, but a perfect metaphor for how kids act in a group. Its easy to forget once you are an adult what it was like, but some kids really are that evil. I loved the commercialized sugar-sweet quality... and it really reminded me of the My Little Ponies that I played with as a kid.
Francesca Forrest
16. Asakiyume
There are two ways a story about the tyranny of the popular kids can go: you can tell a story about escape or a story about defeat. This is a VERY chilling and very effective story about defeat: the cost of acceptance is always more than it appears on the invitation, and sometimes you can lose everything and still not be accepted (as here).
ChrisBuzelli
17. Angiportus
It rang very, very true, especially the final treachery of the OtherGirls.
ChrisBuzelli
18. sniffy
Too transparent and heavy-handed for my enjoyment. My sentiment at the end was "oh what a clever author", rather than "oh what a clever story". I'm a fan of Kij's, and maybe I need to lighten up, but there it is.

You really can only get away with outright allegory if you're writing a religious text.
ChrisBuzelli
19. Torrey Podmajersky
Gross and lovely and wrong and all too true.

Well done Kij! Kind of. I mean. yeah.

::shudders::
ChrisBuzelli
20. Angiportus
I should have said that this one put the "gory" in "allegory". And, yes, it can work outside of religious contexts. Anyway some people just about make a religion out of seeking the approval of certain human beings...and trying to force everyone else to do the same.
For me it reminded me of how there was just no pleasing some people I've known; whatever I did they wanted more...and also, that quote of Kipling about if once you pay Danegeld you will never get rid of the Dane. Translated into modern terms that means don't let whoever it is get a foothold on you or they will never get off.
How I wish I when young had never let anyone even look askance at any of my "ponies". But the day I showed them the point of my horn was the day I began to live.
ChrisBuzelli
21. BroVinny
Wow. It's amazing how something so brief can be so disturbing. I doubt I'll sleep well tonight.
Joe Iriarte
22. JoeIriarte
Horrible, and perfect. I followed the link from my inbox because of how I loved "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss." This story bears little resemblence to that one, except in this: I'm glad I read it.
Tamara Allen
23. tamaralynn
I read the comments first, and originally considered NOT reading the story because I'm far from a horror fan, and even the illustration was creepy. But I considered past exposure to Kij Johnson, and decided to go for it. It wasn't as bad gory-wise as I expected based on the comments, and I'm glad I read it.
lanyo lanyo
24. lanyo
This was awful. Thank you for reminding me why I hated kids when I was one.
Kerly Luige
25. Celebrinnen
Tears. At least almost. This is so sad. This is so sad as a story and also how exactly it reflects the world and its cruelty.
Kate Lundell
26. Lundell
Hm. It was rather shocking, reading about cutting the Ponies' horns and wings, but the run-on sentences (this and this and this and this...etc.) kind of lost the effect for me. I think it was also because Sunny wasn't real enough; there's no pain when her wings or horn is cut off. Her flesh smells/ looks like cotton candy. Personally, I think it would be better if you added some pain from Sunny- emotional/ physical/ whatever. :) Otherwise, I thought it was an interesting read.
ChrisBuzelli
27. Dogpatch
Dogpatch
dresserelizabeth@gmail.com

DEPRESSING, CRUEL, but perhaps a too real depiction of today's youth in too many cases. (Not that yesterday's grown-ups were any better.) The writing is good, the subject questionable and the art beautiful.
ChrisBuzelli
28. Whiteorca
Disturbing, in the sense that it takes something as commonplace as children cruelty to the high ground of allegory, and brings it crashing back with a single, commonplace phrase. I enjoyed it, despite it managed to haunt me.
Leigh Butler
29. leighdb
Yikes. I guess no one walks away from Omelas in this one.

Chilling, and effective.
Gina 'Oz Pound
30. KawaiiOz
The sad thing about this piece is just how truly acurate this actually is. I remember similar sorts of things growing up. And it's amazing what you'll do to try and fit in, but even when you have and you've given up those things that make you unique...you're still not OneOfUs!

Its beautiful in a tragic way, and its meaning wonderfully portrayed.
rob mcCathy
31. roblewmac
I think the heavy-handedness took me out of the story. "Top girl" and "other girl" scream "this story is about evil girls" and then it is I did'nt care much.
Now if you read it aloud with a bunch of kids. then it might work.
ChrisBuzelli
32. J55
I think it was great because it wasn't just about kids, but specifically girls and how they give up their power to fit in and then when they need it, poof, it's gone.
Binyamin Weinreich
33. Imitorar
This story reminded me very much of "Mariposa" by Nancy Springer, collected in "The Fairy Reel" "Firebirds". Only this story was much more brutal and didn't have a happy ending. A touchingly sad truism.

Thank you for the correction, datlow. I read "The Fairy Reel" and "Firebirds" at the same time, so they're associated in my head, and I sometimes forget which story I read in which anthology.
ChrisBuzelli
34. missallen
Animal mutilation and brutality, thinly disguised as social commentary. This story really made me want to vomit.
James Hogan
35. Sonofthunder
Yeah. I also want to throw up.

I do want to disagree with you, Lundell @ 26 though. The lack of description of pain or emotional sorrow and the description of "cotton candy" made it all the more sickening. Which I think was its desired effect.

I suppose you did a good job, Kij, because while I can't say I "like" this story, it certainly affected me. I don't think I've ever had a story make me feel so physically ill before.
ChrisBuzelli
36. Robert Hewes
I have to agree with several other comments on this story. It made me feel absolutely sick to my stomach. I normally don't comment on the posted stories, but this one still haunts me nearly a week after reading it.

My daughter loves 'real' ponies and can't help but think of this story whenever the topic of horses and birthday parties comes up...just cruel and haunting.
J. Martin
37. gyokusai
Great theme, great execution—I was already terrified after the first paragraph. “Ponies,” I think, isn’t only about little girls, it’s about all of us. By the way, those commenters who think that allegory, or parabel, has no place outside religious texts: you might want to take a stab at reading what’s widely known as “literature.” It’s rewarding stuff, I swear! Try short stories by Kafka, as an appetizer—but don’t gobble them up all at once, albeit short they’re not easy on your stomach.
Kate Lundell
40. Lundell
I see what you mean, Sonofthunder @35. It becomes very inhuman without those things. I guess it didn't exactly hit me, when I read it. I felt a mostly "ok...." because there didn't seem to be a real point. Let me rephrase: to me, if the point of a book/movie/etc. is to scare people, it isn't a good story. For some reason, I was expecting something different from that when I read this. I guess it's because I'm a horse lover.
ChrisBuzelli
41. SashaNova
Ever since I read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING I've been struck by the juxtaposition of the innocent and the grotesque in the scene where Gawaine and his brothers butcher the unicorn. This story recaptures that stunning strangeness perfectly while effortlessly spotlighting modern childhood and the timelessness of peer pressure. Bravo! Keep your ponies whole, people!
ChrisBuzelli
42. Naamah
I really love the illustration to this one.

The story was disturbing and effective, and sad.

I love the idea of turning it into a children's book of some kind; I think it would probably horrify them terribly, but remembering what my childhood was like, I think some children need that kind of horrifying. Sometimes that's all that can get through.

I can't help but want to see a piece about the girl and pony who refuse completely, that explores the cost of that, because it DOES cost to refuse. It's worth it. I never cut my pony. We just have scars from the others.

Lovely metaphor.
Rick Lemon
43. rick.lemon@gmail.com
Really? This was a good story? Because we don't blink at stories about mutilation anymore? Sometimes it's not worth digging in the pile of feces to pick out the prize.
Robert Watson
44. Beanpolewatson
That was different than anything that I have ever read. I loved it! There was a lot of truth in there. I hope it was not a reflection of personal experience.
Heather Bryan
45. Dicey
This was wonderful, sad but still very good. When I first looked at the title I wasnt sure if I wanted to read it. Still this is the first story Ive read off of tor.com and Im impressed. Good Job. =]
Ellen Datlow
46. datlow
@ Imitorar
"Miraposa" by Nancy Springer was published in FIREBIRDS not THE FAERY REEL.

@Kij--Brava--I'm glad you didn't flinch (although I did).
Jamie Brindle
47. Mazeman11
Wow, good story! The touches of sugar coating (like the ponies not
bleeding) and realism (like the girls playing on the Wii and listening
to Ipods) really jarred in an effective way. Deliciously nasty.
ChrisBuzelli
48. Teka Lynn
Lord of the Flies meets My Little Pony. YOWZA.

Hats off to you, Kij, you did it again. I'm traumatized for life, mind you....
ChrisBuzelli
49. Heather McDougal
I started telling my 11-year old daughter about this story and she burst into tears and begged me to stop. I didn't even get very far! That's how close to the bone it is.
ChrisBuzelli
50. Dr. Cox
Adults can be like the girls in this story!
Cory Skerry
51. pussinboots
Excellent (as always) but in return for making at least fifty people want to vomit, you should write a companion. I really want to read a parallel story about the girl who says screw you and happily rides her flying candy-flavored pony into the sunset.
ChrisBuzelli
53. Kellyoyo
Terrific allegory, but I can't help but feel that the real story starts now.
LaShawn Wanak
54. LMWanak
Daaaaaang. This is one cold story! Love the audio version!
ChrisBuzelli
55. DDanvers
Excellent story. I love the blend of the sweet and ordinary and dark. I didn't see it as being about little girls at all but about the species.
ChrisBuzelli
56. Edward Cheblingbanks
The first word that comes to mind is just, "terrible". Not the girls, or the gore, but the writing. It's technically sound, but it just seems derivative (I'm reminded of "The Lottery" or "The Whicker Man"), over the top, and as others have said, "heavy-handed". I get the theme, I get the reason it was written (ostensibly), it's just... not good. To me, it looks like it's trying too hard to be both shocking and cute while denouncing consumerist clique-ish culture. I'm honestly just rolling my eyes at this. But then, I'm likely not the intended audience. Maybe for young girls, this has more resonance. To me, it's just drek that's not worth reading.
ChrisBuzelli
57. Lorac625
Really great writing - I really liked the other story,too. I know all about the cruelty of children; once I got 'Raid' sprayed in my face for the 'cooties'. I guess the previous poster must have had such a lovely childhood he just can't relate. Also, I want to yell "Go,Sunny!". Animals generally are smarter than humans !
ChrisBuzelli
58. Dianella
The writing was very emotive, and a great concept. I am glad I read it. But... I can't say I enjoyed it.

Chilling, and all too true. Still being young myself, I can't help but wonder - have I cut my Pony? If I haven't - when will I?
ChrisBuzelli
59. Talitha Kalago
Lots of negative comments on this one!

I’m surprised, because you know what’s going to happen from the flyer at the start of the story.

Anyway, I remember things like this from childhood. If you wanted to be in you had to break something or destroy something. Usually another kid in class. I was in the out crowd and they rained hell on us ponies.
ChrisBuzelli
60. Jed Pressgrove
It's like Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" with more emphasis on consumerism and class. Very derivative but interesting.
ChrisBuzelli
61. JJS
Okay, it's an interesting story, but I'm not moved by it in the way so many people here seem to have been. I came here to read it because I believe this is the story that was nominated for a Nebula, or some such award, but I think this is the wrong story. Sorry, but I don't think it's worthy of a nomination. The story's not deep, it's facile, I'm not illuminated by it, and I don't understand what everyone sees in it. It reads like a writers worshop improv with the subject being the toy "My Pretty Pony."
ChrisBuzelli
62. JennyReads
I'm here because of the Nebula awards too, and Kij always writes so vividly, you never forget it. I can still completely picture Spar (last year's Hugo nominee), much to my chagrin. :)
ChrisBuzelli
63. sammy8
A lot of people seem to think the girls represent children, but I think they represent parents. I think the ponies are the parent's children, and the story is about what parents do to their kids so that the *parents* can fit into their cliques. Then, the children give up the last of their gifts so that they can fit in with their friends. Why else would Topgirl say "Ponies pick their own friends"? Thoughts?
ChrisBuzelli
64. Lorelaine
Every parent needs to read this story. NOT to their children. But to themselves so they know the need to empower their children to take the path of wholeness.
Elyse Guziewicz
65. brainz4christ
This is an excellent story and it's allegory is strong. Wonderful social satire. I read this because of it's nomination for the Nebula- it deserves it!.
ChrisBuzelli
66. DigitGidget
I think I'm in love. This is great.
Kathleen B
67. stampeyb
finally got past the first sentence after the Hugo nominees were announced. great story. I was reading through my fingers the whole time.
ChrisBuzelli
69. Sadina
Powerful. Thank you for sharing.
ChrisBuzelli
70. K`shandra
Well, I absolutely see why this was nominated for a Hugo...but while I haven't read any of the other nominees yet, I just can't see myself voting for it.

Maybe that's because I don't have a Pony, either.
ChrisBuzelli
71. DonPhelippe
Congrats on the Nebula. Also, many *MANY* expletives and bad words towards your way, totally in a good manner and without any kind of offense. Very nicely done.
ChrisBuzelli
75. Rye
I think the first sentence is a key: "The invitation card has a Western theme." Consider the horn as a clitoris and the wings as labia. In that perspective, this story may show African female genital mutilation (FGM) disguised in Western terms.
ChrisBuzelli
76. Unbeknownst
Hmm..."Western Theme"..."Diet Coke"..."Red Bull"..."Crystal Light"...something tells me the author may not be talking about little girls, though only the author can say for certain. "OneOfUs" could easily represent any group wielding "power" over any other person/group. This could be the story of social interactions among school children, or power play among neighbors and community housing organizations, or race relations in America, or politics in _INSERT COUNTRY HERE_, or international relations, or--my personal favorite--corporations and "free market" competition. While the story is emotionally moving, I think its most compelling and potentially enduring aspect is that it is a template for describing many real world situations.
ChrisBuzelli
77. DoktorZoom
Goes great with the 'My First Lottery" playset!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
78. tnh
"Mom bought some cookies and there’s Coke Zero and diet Red Bull and diet lemonade."
Ouch.

Edward Cheblingbanks @56, are you sure you get this story, and that it's a denunciation of "consumerist clique-ish culture"? If so, can you comment on Barbara's voice in the story?
ChrisBuzelli
79. diony
I read this as part of my Hugo packet, and ow ow ow. I didn't *like* it but oh it is spot-on about the things women do to one another and to themselves. And not just women. Well done and so painful.

tnh@78: Yes, that line hit me really hard. It says so much.
ChrisBuzelli
80. ChristinaH
Oh my god. That was heart-wrenching and vivid and painfully true. Congratulations on the well-deserved Nebula.

The fact that Sunny wouldn't give up her voice for anything was the part that hit me the hardest. And I disagree with another commentor - the cotton candy blood and the fact that Sunny just endured the cutting without fighting or showing a lot of pain made it so much more sickening.
ChrisBuzelli
81. Laika Pupkino
Oh gosh. The juxtaposition of the cutesy-poo imagery and the starkness of the story, the baldly allegorical names ...... made this very memorable, disturbing and unique. Hmmmmmm, what can I steal from this?
ChrisBuzelli
82. Brianna Cole
It was really disturbing. I loved it.
ChrisBuzelli
83. Rat
Creepy and very disturbing. I was led here by a commenter to one of David Gerrold's Facebook posts, and I wasn't disappointed. That story hit me right between the eyes.
ChrisBuzelli
84. Singular
You don't have a pony. Horror at it's finest.
ChrisBuzelli
85. Mark Stackpole
1) 'My First Lottery" playset! Good one DoktorZoom.

2) I gave this story to my son. His reaction: "Girls are mean."
ChrisBuzelli
86. Cindy Beverly
All I have to say is holy shit that was a powerful story. I have two little girls and that story just terrified me. Well done.
Mary Turzillo
87. maryturzillo
I saw it as a cautionary tale. The little girl sacrifices what is precious and irreplacable not just to herself, but to one who is dear to her and who depends on her, a victim who submits willingly, for the approval of vain and fickle others, and after the sacrifice is made, she still doesn't get what she wants. The wickedness of the girls in the in-crowd is a given, but the POV character makes a seriously bad decision, and it's done for vanity and the acceptance of the crowd. However, it might be a bit horrific for a child. Or maybe not. It might be just right for a child, might teach a child to avoid sacrificing for a silly goal. (I loved the genital mutilation interpretation, though -- brilliant, and maybe an example of vain sacrifice.)
ChrisBuzelli
88. elizabeth thompson
I think Sammy8 at post 63 raises a good point, and in general, the magic of this story, horrible as it is, is that it can have so many interpretations.
ChrisBuzelli
89. Ace Hamilton
Is this what Lisa Frank's nightmares are like?
ChrisBuzelli
90. lynette Aspey
I read this to my eight-year-old. Happily, she was with the "pussinboots (51)" crowd. Her synopsis: -- The story was kinda sad and I wish Barbara had said "the gang sucks," and she flies off with her pony. There's hope for us yet.
ChrisBuzelli
91. a. mouse
So, in this story, the barbarians (Barbara) can only fully participate in Western consumer culture, (become OneOfUs), if they neuter through abortion, contraception, sterilization, etc. (cut off the wings and horns) their child-bearing aged women (represented by the flying unicorns -- Sunny, the sun, the source of life) so they can use them for consequenceless sex (join the party) in a heteronormative world (you can only come if you have a pony/woman that you've neutered and silenced).

Women (like Sunny) who want to be able to speak out (keep their voice) after being sexually neutered (had their horns and wings cut off) and who try to flee the culture (make a break for the forest) are trampled to death by other nuetered and silenced women (ponies).

That seems about right to me.
Nikki McCormack
92. Neyska
Reading this is like watching a train wreck. You know what is coming, but you just can't look away. It sticks with you so intensely that you have to share it with friends and family, throwing them at it like sacrifices on an alter just to try and cleanse your own soul. Great job!
ChrisBuzelli
93. Macon Mixx
Congratulations on your Nebula award! I found my way here circuitously, by way of being a brony (adult fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic). I hope you don't mind the comparison, but you put our most grimdark fan authors to shame! This work is frightening both in its literal content and its metaphorical interpreation. But, sometimes society needs a shock to its system. Great work, Kij. Thank you so much for sharing.
ChrisBuzelli
94. Diane Purkiss
I thought this was one of the best stories I've read in years, and I did NOT think the meaning/s detracted from its impact. I thought an added layer was the way 'growing up' is often a euphemism for betraying and even destroying the loyal supports of childhood, including once-loved toys - most older girls find My Little Pony embarrassing, wish they'd never loved it or loved their parents or homes or hobbies... and part of the ToyStory 2 idea that children cruelly abandon toys doesn't fully address WHY.
ChrisBuzelli
95. Delia
I came here expecting something extremely thought provoking and haunting, but it's just another peer pressure story. I'm surprised it's so popular... I don't have compassion for Barbara or anyone who allows themselves to be manipulated by TheInCrowd. Maybe it's because I've been homeschooled since 3rd grade, but I just don't get this mentality. A child who doesn't know that giving something /so big/ up isn't worth being popular has been severely faulted by their parent(s).
ChrisBuzelli
96. STU Lok1
This shit disturbed me just want to say. But other than that it was interesting i have to say i did enjoy it and have not read anything else like it
ChrisBuzelli
97. Ksy
This is probably my favorite short story ever, and maybe even my favorite story, period.
ChrisBuzelli
98. Chauvet
Being a brony, the first thing that came to my mind was 'g3'.

Seriously though, this is scarily poignant, and full of depth. Well done.
ChrisBuzelli
99. Bad Horse
It's well-written, but here's my problem with it: The story's only reason to be is as social commentary. But it doesn't make you think. Just the opposite: It's so one-sided and over-the-top that it fills your mind with horrific images that prevent you from thinking.

Direct, unambiguous moral judgements are fine, when the moral judgement isn't what the story is about. Or when the story represents "the other side", the side of the argument that society doesn't usually see. But if a matter is really so clear that you can render a clear moral verdict, and almost everyone agrees with you, it didn't merit a story in the first place. Usually it means that the matter isn't so clear and you're oversimplifying.

- Bad Horse@fimfiction.net
ChrisBuzelli
100. Crystal Reich
I have to disagree with Bad Horse (Dr. Horrible allusion? Love it!). The story perfectly captures the squeamishness and horror of giving yourself over to arbitrary social rules. It also captures the chagrin of realizing that the sacrifice was not worth it. That is what gives the story merit. Also, the fact that nearly everyone can relate to the story doesn't take away it's merit. Who came up with that rule?

Overall, very disturbing, very real, beautiful, heartwrenching visuals -- really great writing.

I t's interesting to read all of the different interpretations. I agree with all the people who are correct, and disagree with all the people who are incorrect. :)
ChrisBuzelli
101. theboss
i cant describe what im thinking in words but...........WOW
ChrisBuzelli
102. Theodore Kanbe
I would say that I did not like the ponies who came for us when we were sleeping. They were big and glowing and when the yneighed it was with an incredible laughing noise like that of a pious devil. Andrea raised her hand to defend us and was cut down; blood everywhere. I rose up and screamed the scream of a man uncut from reality. The ponies rose on hooves and defeated me.
ChrisBuzelli
103. Blackpaintisabsorbative
All girls should read this. As for me, I will never cut my pony.
ChrisBuzelli
104. Kensington
Powerful, disturbing, horrible, wonderful. Thank you.
Chat Rooms
105. chatrooms
Agree with @Kensington

Very powerful story, I got chills

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