This short story by independent author Madeline Claire Franklin (The Poppet and the Lune, A Lover and its Ghosts) covers ground that is well-trodden for most sci-fi readers. A human child (Jenn) receives a robot pet/playmate (Po), bonds with it, and it in turn develops a relationship with her, urging the reader to consider whether robots can have “real” feelings or not. “Robot Pony” doesn’t bring much new fodder to this trope, but I liked the story anyway, for two reasons.
First, Jenn’s sister Amanda is originally meant to be Po’s owner. She longs for a real pony, and violently rejects the “fake” animal, leaving her sister to care for it. Throughout the story Amanda is portrayed as callous and selfish, which I found somewhat refreshing. Usually a character who values the “real” over the mechanical is perceived as warmer than one who loves technology.
The second reason I loved this story was for its ending, which I will leave you to discover for yourself; but I promise it will tug on your heartstrings enough to make this a worthwhile read.
Title: “Robot Pony”
Author: Madeline Claire Franklin
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publication: 2011, Smashwords.com (e-book, Kindle, Nook)
Author’s Website: http://www.madelineclairefranklin.com