Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Myth of Origin

A Creation Myth provides an emotionally satisfying explanation for how the world and humanity came to be; an MOO pretends to explain some small facet of the world. The Prometheus story is a MOO for the discovery of fire; the tale of Romulus and Remus mythologizes the founding of Rome. Folktales contain many examples; e.g., the Grimm Brothers' "The Straw, the Coal and the Bean": these objects' adventures conclude with the bean literally splitting with laughter and being sutured with black thread – so "all beans since then have a black seam". Rudyard Kipling created several joyous MOOs for animals' shapes in Just So Stories (coll 1902). Lord Dunsany's "The Sword and the Idol" (1910) mythologizes the discovery of iron-smelting and Ernest Bramah's "The Story of Wan and the Remarkable Shrub" (1928) does the same for tea.

A story-form related to the MOO is the onomastic tale which purports to explain a place's or person's Name; several such anecdotes appear in the Mabinogion, some lacking their punchlines. John James's Votan (1966) is an MOO in another sense, an anti-myth reducing the Norse Aesir to Rationalized Fantasy: squabbles and killings in the mundane village called Asgard are seen as Underliers from which the Myth will grow. [DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.