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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 292

A Round in a Round

  1. How many and what elements in John Stocks’ “The Letter” evoke the sense of touch?

  2. Katherine M. Michaels’ “Humpback Dreams” uses an unusual poetic form, the modern villanelle. How does the form fit the meaning? What does “when I get the chance” imply?

  3. What authors or other literary figures are alluded to in Frank Minogue’s “Sonny Boy”? What might the allusions mean in the context of the story?

    A “colony clean-up team” seems to be a permanent organization, and it even has a standard operating procedure complete with a detailed checklist. What irony does it imply about colonization?

  4. Toward the end of Marjorie Salzwedel’s “City of Strangers,” rescue teams arrive with medication to reverse the effects of the black fog. Is their arrival an anticlimax? How might the story end if no cure were available?

  5. In Slawomir Rapala’s “King of Pain,” is it plausible that the Nekryans seem to have no ranged weapons, such as spears, with which they might slay or disable Iskald and liberate his hostage? What does Iskald’s strategy reveal about his character? What has he yet to learn?

  6. In “The Invisible Jew,” does Mel Waldman begin to come full circle toward rediscovering his faith as he nears death? Is this process part of the human condition, or is it a growth leap reached by wisdom?

    Bonus question: In Roger Martin du Gard’s Jean Barois (1913), Barois abandons religion for the philosophy of materialism. He writes a kind of spiritual testament disavowing in advance any recantation or deathbed conversion he might make. And of course he returns to religion at the end of his life. What are his survivors to make of his letter? Does it represent only a stage in his life? Or is he right to say that he would embrace religion only under physical and spiritual duress?

    Judaism is not only a religion, it’s a culture or set of cultures. Is it possible to distance oneself entirely from one’s native culture without embracing another?

Responses welcome!

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