point to Gardner Dozois
In the most recent issue of Locus (requiescas in pace, Charles Brown), Gardner Dozois reviewed Clockwork Phoenix 2 and had this to say about me:
[. . .] Marie Brennan’s “Once a Goddess” (sort of a fantasy version of Ian McDonald’s “The Little Goddess”) is also good [. . .]
Which I bring up because that made me go poking around online, which led me to discover that the aforementioned story is available full-text online. So of course I read it, and it turns out that Dozois is precisely right, perhaps even more than he realized; McDonald’s story is based on the same Nepalese religious tradition, the Kumari Devi, that inspired my own piece.
McDonald plays it closer to home: “A Little Goddess” takes place in near-future Nepal and India, whereas I ran off to a secondary world and an invented tradition only modeled on Kumari. Also, since he’s writing science fiction and I’m writing fantasy, we (unsurprisingly) have fundamentally different approaches to the divinity of the goddess’ avatar. But it was interesting for me to see the places where we intersect, the shared issues of life after divinity — blessings, marriage, and so on. And without giving spoilers, I’ll say that McDonald’s ending is the one I originally intended for “Once a Goddess,” before realizing that just wasn’t the kind of story mine wanted to be.
I definitely recommend his story. It was published June 2005 in Asimov’s, and nominated for a Hugo (in the novella category — it’s also a lot longer than mine). Follow that link above to read it on the magazine’s website, and if you’ve read my story, I’d be curious to know how you think the two compare.