It's hard not to like any book when it's read by [a:Mark Oshiro|5183642|Mark Oshiro|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1361575297p2/5183642.jpg] of Mark Reads
– and he's read [b:Twilight|41865|Twilight (Twilight, #1)|Stephenie Meyer|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361039443s/41865.jpg|3212258]
so I suppose I could put that to the test. Sometimes chapter by chapter reviews, sometimes YouTube narrations, sometimes a mixture of the two. Flushed from his recent Hugo nomination, he was asked to read the short story, [b:Ponies|18473762|Ponies|Kij Johnson|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|15268747]
(a Nebula winner itself), from fellow Hugo nominee [a:Kij Johnson|110153|Kij Johnson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1220146486p2/110153.jpg].
Mark manages to get so into any story he's reading, and the dark themes of this one were always going to play with his mind. Barbara has a pony (think My Little Pony but with wings, a horn and they can talk) and the time has come for her 'cutting out' party so she, and her pony, can be accepted by THEOTHERGIRLS. Like any ritual to join a group ruled by peer pressure, there's a strong element of bullying. And that's where the horror starts for both Barbara and Mark as he's as in the dark about the story as we are.
Short though the story is (the YouTube video clocks in at just over 10 minutes, and that includes a lot of Mark's own shock and thought processes), it's an exploration of peer pressure, group bullying, social expectation and the need to join a group that doesn't really want you, and you might not even be comfortable in. Fantastically narrated, as usual, and that might have coloured my view of the story somewhat too...