Kay Boyle was an activist before the word existed, back in the '30's and '40's, as well as a strong novelist on her own terms. This is a metamythic fugue of modern times -- ""mythology transcends the individuals"" and it forfeits them en route even if the message pervades every page of protest and sweet reason. Set in a prison or Rehabilitation Center in California, a number of women war protesters are penned up together -- blacks, whites and Chicanos with ""interchangeable skins,"" as well as Athena, mother of three, former professor and one-note Greek chorus here. On the faintly personal side, Athena drifts back in memory to an experience in a commune with her daughter when she was found wanting, ""asleep in a dream of peace and love"" -- no longer considered enough. She also defends the validity of Myth as the timeless and universal history of all men, all faiths and morals, good and evil -- myth with its ""element of mystery, or secrecy"" which may overshadow the present (Vietnam) and obscure the ""national countenance."" One of the troubles is that this myth is both overly familiar and scrutable. And somehow the tone is all too benign -the kindness kills and the sentiment loses its shaft.