In Japan, Tanabata is a summer festival, based on a widely varying legend about two lovers who are now stars in the sky, parted by the Milky Way, flowing like a river across the heavens. And who better to carry messages between them than a clever otter? Leaving aside the sad fate of the river otter in Japan, “On the Banks of the River of Heaven,” by Richard Parks gives us yet another variant in a reading on Podcastle that’s just right for a sweltering summer evening.
For three years running, the Rain God has prevented the Bridge of Birds from forming to allow the the Sacred Cowherd, Kaiboshi, and the Holy Weaver, Asago-hime to meet on the appointed seventh day of the seventh month. They had been parted because they were neglecting their duties, but now they are moping so much, neither are doing their duties after all. The Lord of Heaven is not pleased. Otter takes up the quest to do something about it.
Otter is an engaging character (though it’s kind of hard to go wrong with an Otter). I also enjoyed how well the story captures the tone of a folk tale.
Sweet. And it’s the title story of the author’s next collection.