I've just read Margaret St. Clair's short story "An Old Fashioned Bird Christmas", available on the Internet Archive. In the setting of this story, mention is made of an organisation (a company?) called PE&G, which seems to have something to do with electrical power. Does this refer to a real-life company, or some other reference that contemporary American readers would have understood? Are we supposed to guess or figure out what the letters P, E, G stand for?

For that matter, does it relate somehow to the name of Mazda,

their operative?

To me, the name Mazda suggests a car manufacturer. Is her name supposed to indicate that she's working for a company? Or is it just a slightly outlandish-sounding woman's name?


1 Answer 1


In context, 'PE&G' appears to be an intentional misrepresentation of PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric), a major supplier of power for California.

Note her explicit concern for Pacific electricity consumption...

"Why, last December after your old-fashioned Christmas sermons, power consumption was off 27% all along the whole Pacific slope, and it didn’t get back to normal until late February. People just didn’t use much electricity."

As to the name of the main female character, the punch line is that her name relates to the Ahura Mazda.

  • Ah, I saw Mahurzda but didn't make the connection with Ahura Mazda. The ending of the story seemed more like Celtic Britain, with druids and the "new heresy" of Christianity, than Zoroastrian Persia.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 10:10
  • 1
    Throughout the story she remarks how much she loves light (as is appropriate for Ahura Mazda!) and even prays to Mithras, making the Zoroastrian connection quite explicit.
    – user135790
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 10:54
  • @Randal'Thor There is a mythological connection between the Hebrew mythos that birthed Christianity and Zoroastrianism, so the connection between Celtic Christian Britain and Zoroastrian Persia isn't that far-fetched.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 11:12
  • +1 Not to be confused with Portland General Electric. :)
    – Lexible
    Commented May 3, 2021 at 22:29
  • Nor to be confused with PSE&G but that is on the east coast of the USA.
    – Skooba
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 14:25

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