As Bewildering Stories’ first line of defense, so to speak, Jerry sometimes has to return submissions with the reminder that stories normally have a beginning, middle and end, though not necessarily in that order. And yet we’re not averse to incomplete stories that seem interesting. Ásgrímur Hartmannsson’s “Catnips,” for example, in issues 93-94 is almost all middle. And we may have to hold a Second Story Contest unless Julian Lawler comes through with a conclusion to Battle Seer.
In this issue, we have two stories that seem to be incomplete, but are they?
Sergio Bayona’s “Grandfather’s Trip” may be a vignette. But is it, really? Does the ending make it a complete story by implication?
The visit itself presents something of a puzzle. Who is the boy, and what does Grandfather talk to him about?
How might the little girl play a more integral role in the story than as a surrogate for us, the readers? How might we find out more about the grandfather’s feelings and motivation?
Finally, the Grandfather recreates H. G. Well’s time machine, but where does he go with it? To the past or to the future? Thereby must hang a tale!
Thomas D. Reynold’s “I Know You Can Hear Me” is not really incomplete: rather it is a model of narrative compression, alluding to the beginning and middle of a “larger story” even as it provides an ending.
A fairly large short story or a novella might take advantage of the potentially rich stage setting: interplanetary war and espionage. Who, exactly, is the “mole” who has infiltrated the “academy” and befriended the top-gun pilot he now means to destroy? What is the tactical situation, and what are the mole’s motivations that bring him to this final act that is one of both loyalty and betrayal? What will happen to him?
Thereby, too, hangs a tale, but it’s one that the poem induces us, the readers, to write mentally for ourselves.
Contributors and readers can never complain they’re “out of ideas.” Bewildering Stories and our Challenges abound with them.
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