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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 283

Under All Colors

  1. At the end of Stevan Allred’s “The Painted Man,” Roy thinks: “For once in his life he was like me: his clothes, his hands, his face, every bit of him covered in a single color.”

    What is the significance of the color symbolism in the story?

    Note: A review editor points out that Naval officers wear “dress whites” while Marines wear “dress blues.”

  2. What is the implied moral in Bill West’s “Under New Management”? How would you react if “Sally” were “Sam” and the angel were female?

  3. How does Dwight Krauss’s “Trumpet Inside the Warehouse” evoke the atmosphere of foggy, crime-ridden, 19th-century London?

  4. Joanie Raisovich’s “The Betrayed”:

    1. Does the title give the story away?
    2. Aside from Allen, who is a snitch, what do the deportees on the train have in common?
    3. Allen’s report at the end is dramatically effective, but is it politically plausible? The verdict has already been rendered, and the gulags are apparently outside the rule of law.
  5. In Slawomir Rapala’s “Three Kings,” Iskald approaches Duke Vahan: “Perhaps it would have been a better idea to bring more guards with us, father?” he asked hesitantly.

    What in the text that follows shows that this question is out of character for Iskald?

  6. In O. J. Anderson’s “As Good as Dead”:

    1. Can David’s character be written out of the story?
    2. How could Jack Creed’s team be portrayed as individuals rather than as an extension of Jack himself?
    3. Jack Creed functions as a kind of James Bond dressed in a camouflage uniform and loaded with a staggering amount of equipment. How might Jack acquire more of a human dimension?
    4. What might the speculation about time travel lead to?
    5. Does speculation about the Zetans’ base on the Moon do anything more than make the plot of “Overkill” a loose thread?
    6. Why do the grey eminences in the “hundreds” of ‘smoke-filled rooms’ buy into the Zetans’ agenda? What’s in it for them? Or are they all Zetans themselves?
    7. What is the philosophical significance in the aliens’ purported plan to create an immortal humanoid who can go anywhere?
    8. What is really known about the Zetans? Why might it be significant that evil comes from Earth rather than outer space?
    9. How else might the story end?
  7. In Rene Barry’s “Anna Immortal”:

    1. How do Anna and Ishmael come to know one another? Have they worked together or is Ishmael a complete stranger? Which would be more interesting?
    2. The name “Ishmael” automatically reminds the reader of Herman Melville. Does the story have any allusion to Moby Dick?
    3. Might “Lucius” have better been named “Lucifer” and be done with it?
    4. Why does Lucius feel he has to kill Anna? Would Lucius be harmed if Anna became immortal? Why does Lucius choose poison or sleeping pills as the murder weapon when they’re likely to fail?
    5. Lucius talks about Anna’s love for Ishmael although Anna has just said she does not love Ishmael. Can the contradiction be resolved?
    6. If Anna can become immortal by bearing an immortal’s child, how do men become immortal?
    7. If the human woman is dying, then bearing the immortal’s child will let her live but cause the immortal to die. What if she has a cold? Is she cured while the immortal catches her cold?
    8. David knows that Ishmael will die if he makes love to Anna in her state of near death, and he leaves Ishmael’s body next to Anna on the bed. What would the readers’ reaction be — let alone Anna’s — when she wakes up next to his corpse?
  8. Bertil Falk’s “In a Rear View Mirror”:

    1. The article establishes a correlation: fiction written by world-class authors has been published in national magazines that have since folded or that seldom publish fiction any more. Does the correlation imply cause and effect?
    2. On the other hand, the New Yorker publishes what some call “bourgeois sentimentality” and yet thrives. Again, are cause and effect at work?
    3. A more general question: Is mediocrity what sells best, or is mediocrity the main thing that is sold?
    4. A more particular question: Regardless of the fiction, would more magazines thrive if they published cartoons like those in the New Yorker?

Responses welcome!

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