What I remember of the story:

  • female was an omniscient being (with no physical body);
  • male was a space cowboy (rounding up space junk for scrap);
  • they have philosophical discussions over a period of time;
  • he describes horses to her;
  • she asks him to describe human physical love, which doesn't make sense to her;
  • in order to experience love, she must take a human body; this means giving up her omniscience, she will no longer live forever;

Obviously it is worth it, because in the final scene he is herding their children along and the names are "Palomino" "Appaloosa" (I don't remember the rest, but all the girls are name for horse breeds), but the littlest is a boy named "Elephant" - and I think that's the name of the story too.

From a collection of sci-fi anthologies on my teacher's bookshelf--there were 17 books in all, no bookcovers, just brown paper covers with a year handwritten.

  • 1
    I am almost positive that I also read this; I remember a similar ending.Could this perhaps have been one of the stories which made up The Ship Who Sang? This is a long shot -- I don't have a copy of the book and the Kindle edition isn't available yet. The story doesn't match what you wrote exactly, but sometimes things get blurred. The Ship Who Sang is about a "brainship" (handicapped person who becomes the brain of a ship, where this ship is her body). She works with a "brawn", a regular (specially trained) person. I have some memory of introducing children at the end, like you describe
    – Basya
    Dec 21, 2016 at 8:35
  • Definately not The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey. I reread that regularly and nothing the OP mentioned is in there.
    – Bookwyrm
    Jun 13, 2017 at 3:26
  • I'm certain I read this story in the early 80's in an old issue of either Analog, Astounding or Weird Tales. My uncle (a sailor) would buy these in the US whenever he had shore-leave there and bring them back to Europe. His collection of these went back to the late 50's. I can't recall any more details than already given in the question.
    – Tonny
    Jan 28, 2021 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


The ending you describe is almost identical the end of John Varley's short story Equinoctial

“We’ll go with you. Say, what are your names?”

“Army,” said one of the girls.

“Navy,” said another.



“And Elephant,” said the boy.

The story involves the relationship between a human woman and her genetically engineered symbiotic spacesuit (symb) living free among the rings of Saturn.

“Equinoctial,” copyright © 1977. Included in John Varley's anthology The Barbie Murders aka Picnic on Nearside.

  • 2
    Varley's "Equinoctial" can be found in the collection you mentioned, among others. However, except for the coincidence of a child named "Elephant", I don't see any resemblance between Varley's story and the OP's description: no "Apaloosa", no "Palomino", no reference to horses of any kind, no omniscient being, no being without physical body, nobody rounding up space junk for scrap, nobody giving up immortality to take a human body, hardly any male characters, and it's not from a 60s anthology. But there is a child named "Elephant".
    – user14111
    Dec 17, 2014 at 4:56
  • 5
    One thing I've learned since finding this site is just how weird and unreliable memory can be. Even my own, and I've never had any reason to doubt myself before. It's not impossible that the OP was combining different stories.
    – Joe L.
    Dec 17, 2014 at 12:55
  • see scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/79613/… for more details on this story
    – Otis
    Oct 1, 2015 at 16:15

Well, it's a long shot, but trolling through the ISFDb I have found the following story:

An Elephant for the Prinkip; L. J. Stecher, Jr; Galaxy Magazine, August 1960, collected in "the 10th Galaxy Reader" (ISFDb entry).

  • Pros: Has Elephant in the title, right time frame, appeared in an anthology

  • Cons: Could not google up any info on the content of the story; there were 11 Galaxy Readers, not 17

Full text available at Project Gutenberg.

  • 3
    I just finished reading the story in the August 1960 Galaxy, and have to report the sad news that it's not the story Gail is looking for. In "An Elephant for the Prinkip" the skipper of a space freighter tells of how he transported a pregnant African elephant named Beulah from Earth to a planet on the other side of the Galaxy.
    – user14111
    Dec 17, 2014 at 1:28
  • 1
    Thanks for checking it out and reporting back! Even negative confirmation is important, in SCIENCE! Dec 17, 2014 at 1:39

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