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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 233

Stars and Thunder


  1. Now that we’ve come to the end of Andy West’s “Meme,” what do you really think of Memmet?

    1. Do you believe Memmet’s story of self-replicating memes, or is Memmet a smoothie who’s putting one over on Alan and us readers?
    2. Is the “Paradox Letter” a useful example of pernicious memes or is it an easy exercise in critical thinking?
    3. Are memes real “cultural viruses” or are they a superfluous metaphor that will eventually evaporate in a fog of vague irrelevance? Or something in between?
  2. If you were going to make a film of Bob Brill’s “Ride the Whirlwind,” whom would you cast in the role of Djaminko Pooch?

  3. Cynthia DiSciullo’s & William Zigmont’s “Grant and Juggling Ant” is a story for both adults and children. As such, is it really accessible to children?

  4. In Beverly Forehand’s “Skin Deep,” how does Chuck the Demon — unnamed in the story — steal the scene from Bunny?

  5. In Gary Inbinder’s “Zotheca”:

    1. Is the primary audience young adults or seniors? Both?
    2. It doesn’t really matter why Aarlu can’t return his pets to Earth, but what practical considerations might make it impossible or inadvisable to do so?
    3. Walt Trizna’s “Elmo’s Sojourn” goes into some detail about the nature of Elmo’s time-space generator, which is essential to the plot. Would it have helped “Zotheca” any to add similar details about space flight?
  6. In the film series Alien, the alien life-form is a wasp-like creature that uses humans as incubators. In the remake of The Thing, the alien is a kind of shape-shifter that takes over human beings. Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris features a sentient planet that taps into the minds of visiting scientists but creates manifestations they may not particularly want to see.

    In Gustavo Valitutti’s “The Ein,” the aliens are not hostile at all; they are — or appear to be — ultimately friendly.

    1. Don’t the Ein pose a conundrum? How can they become human and at the same time remain the Ein?
    2. Do you think it is psychologically realistic that the old settler could accept the Ein as replacements for his deceased wife and son? What adaptations might he have to make?
    3. Why is the little boy named Job, rather than the father?
  7. The girl in Rebecca Latyntseva’s “Stardust” is portrayed as uneducated by her spelling and punctuation.

    1. Is the girl’s apparent lack of education realistic in terms of the story? Does it matter?
    2. What is the point in having the girl’s thoughts expressed in such an unconventional form?
    3. What role does science play in the girl’s world view? Might a philosophy or religion provide an equally effective image of her humaneness? If so, what would it be?
    4. What, in the story, might justify the young mother’s love for her baby? Her own mother seems to have provided a poor role model; do you think it is unrealistic or inspiring that the girl creates a good one?
    5. How does the metaphor of “stardust” contrast with that of memes?
  8. How does Donna Gagnon achieve sound effects that complement the text in “Light Before Mourning”?


Responses welcome!

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