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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 188

Shooting for the Moons

  1. As Juleigh Howard-Hobson’s welcome message says, her “Soldiers by Night” has a thematic resemblance to Steven Francis Murphy’s “Sharpshooter,” in issue 184:

    • What do Hugh, in “Soldiers by Night,” and Vannoy, in “Sharpshooter,” have in common? How do the causes differ?

    • What narrative devices do both authors use to show the main characters’ internal conflicts?

    • In both stories the main character comes into conflict with others. With whom is Hugh in conflict in his immediate setting? With whom does Vannoy come into conflict? Both characters are lonely; with whom do we empathize more? Or do we empathize with both equally but in different ways?

    • What is the function of the rifles in both stories?

  2. Normally, we take expressions literally unless they’re commonly understood as figurative or obviously intended as such. Why do we take the opening of Mark Spencer’s “The King” as figurative? Does anything happen at any point in the story that might make us do a double-take?

  3. In Erik Weiss’s “Granted Wishes,” the Cave Dweller seems to be a combination of Cassandra and Oracle. She seems to be bound to the nature of the wish itself regardless of its consequences. Thus, she is obligated to grant selfless wishes even though she knows they will cause harm that the wisher and even she cannot foresee.

    The Cave Dweller is calm — at least at the outset — and her personality is marked by equanimity. But isn’t she cursed in some fashion? How else might her personality be portrayed?

  4. In Jeff Haas’ “Immortality Street,” Professor Wasiolek exclaims that he has been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. We’re not told what he means in terms of biochemistry, of course, but considering the professor’s inspiration and the ending, his choice of words can be seen as having another meaning, as well. Can you explain the humor? Do you really want to?

Responses welcome!

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