Short Story Review: “Great Light’s Daughters” by Patricia S. Bowne

2 of 5 stars.

Creation myths are often strange tales, if not very strange tales. However, they’re also often a reflection of the culture from which they arise, showing the priorities if not social construction.

This tale is a creation tale for an unexplained culture. A Father Sky style god leaves for an undefined spell while his 7 daughters who are to be spinning clouds into light slack off and cause a bit of mayhem before discovering color and including that into their light. One invents rainbows along the way.

For world building, the strong gender roles in the society are clearly hinted, as is the perception of duty. The lack of consequences for slacking off is a surprise. So, too, is the lack of names for the 7 daughters. One would expect the names to be aspects of light or different minor types of light. The lack of names leaves the daughters nearly indistinguishable as they are called “oldest”, “second oldest”, “second youngest”, and “youngest.” The middle 3 don’t matter apparently.

While creation myths tend to have bizarre elements, and idioms tend to have bizarre turns of phrase [such as “fine as frog’s hair”], this creation myth also contains a quirky, nonsensical idiom in its repeated use of the phrase “fine as hen’s hair.” Repeating an image and action in myths is common, but not the use of idioms. Myths try to explain the unexplained by tying to what is solidly understood–such as what women’s work is. They don’t tie it down to something just as abstract when there are plenty of “fine” materials for comparison.

This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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