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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 293

That Confounded Bottle

  1. Is Tiffany Andersen’s “My Cell” prose fiction or a prose poem? If fiction, what are the story elements? What justifies the ending?

  2. In Tim Simmons’ “Body of Water,” why can Jack Sheppard not possibly conclude that Grayson Thorne’s bottle of Xanax is evidence that Thorne killed Sarah? At what point does Thorne discover that the bottle is missing?

    The Assyrian water demon Hudor Diabolos resorts to making a pun in English to justify reneging on his bargain with Grayson Thorne. How else might the story end in order to justify either skepticism about or distrust of the supernatural?

  3. What historical events are alluded to in Tim W. Burke’s “Our Confounding Father, Benjamin Franklin”? What modern events or developments are satirized?

  4. In Slawomir Rapala’s “Darkness Before Dawn,” part 1, Iskald is recaptured and subjected to the torture we have come to expect from the slaveowner, Isla. Surprisingly, perhaps, the details are relatively skimpy. Since Iskald has already endured more than four long chapters of unrelieved sadism, should readers feel disappointed? Or can we look forward to even more punishment that Isla might be saving up for us?

    An injury to his left eye would never quite heal and just as he would have a slight limp in his right foot for the rest of his life from the flogging he received at the hands of Tetoy, Iskald would never regain full vision in that eye.

    That is not a “foreshadowing,” it is an abbreviated “flash forward.” Does this narrative device constitute an anticlimax and make the action irrelevant? Or does it express a form of determinism whereby past, present, and future are immutably fixed? Or is it simply an intensifier that adds another permanent disability to Iskald’s injured heel and, presumably, the scars from his hourly whippings?

    In part 2, how is Laela characterized by her speech? In view of Iskald’s condition, Laela also seems rather lubricious; her fascination may be considered a bit abnormal, but is it entirely implausible?

  5. Responses welcome!

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