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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 303

Call the Cops

  1. In Emanuele Pettener’s “Grassona,” in what way do Tommaso and Grassona reverse roles from the social norm?

  2. In Pavelle Wesser’s “Think You Know?,” what is Steve not supposed to think about? What must he avoid knowing?

  3. Is Catfish Russ’s “Silent Moon” entirely implausible? What else might the fictional Cernan and Schmidt do? What might the consequences be?

  4. In Matt Shaner’s “The Shadows”:

    In the back, by the monitoring station, a betting pool is run as to the number of deaths each night. [...] Technically it is illegal

    “Technically”... well... What is your reaction to the “death pool”?

  5. How might Slawomir Rapala’s “Heritage,” part 3, be written as a stage play or film scenario?

  6. Aeros’ “The Eve of Wayward”:

    1. What unusual details of local color does the author add? Are they completely encoded or only a little strange? How do such details suggest a “backstory”? Is a prologue necessary?
    2. How would the meaning of the story change if the setting were on Earth rather than another planet?
  7. As a general rule, names ought to enable readers to identify characters. In Bertil Falk’s “Bias and Vanity,” the names are obviously borrowed from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and spelled backwards.

    In Jane Austen’s work, the names are common and gender-specific. In “Bias and Vanity,” names such as “Thebazile” or “Enaj” are quaintly futuristic and are not obviously gender-specific. The story has a lot of characters, and difficult names can be hard to remember.

    When readers encounter long or unpronounceable names like “Mahkciw,” what might their reaction be? How else might the author have named the characters?

  8. Resha Caner’s “Captain Bob Presents...” can be considered a double story: Nick as a child and Nick Drake as a galactic smuggler.

    1. How else might the story of Nick the child proceed in order to dispel his disillusionment with Captain Bob?
    2. Does anything explain Captain Bob’s choice of career as a performer in children’s shows? In a futuristic setting, is it plausible that his props would be so obviously “fake”?
    3. What is the function in the story of the smelly, slimy space aliens aboard the Queenfish?
    4. Does the glowing vial have any function other than as a kind of souvenir or good luck charm?
    5. To what extent does the intervention of Captain Bob the space alien depend on coincidence?
    6. Do Nick Drake and his mission seem worthy of Captain Bob’s self-sacrifice? The Carelians’ legalism is, for them, a matter of life and death; does it justify Captain Bob’s acting as a Christ analogue? If so, how does Nick Drake respond to him? Do we have reason to think Drake won’t continue smuggling contraband and thereby jeopardize the Carelians?
  9. In Robert H. Prestridge’s “Homecoming”:

    1. The spaceship is named the Mark Twain on account of a double coincidence of dates. Does the coincidence justify borrowing the author’s name for this particular spaceship?
    2. Why is the significance of Buzz Metzger not explained when or shortly after his name is first mentioned? What is the effect of Hayak’s wondering why an unidentified person has been mentioned? Is anything accomplished by the delay in revealing to the reader who Buzz Metzger is?
    3. Is it plausible that Annie would refer to her father as “Buzz Metzger”?
    4. Stauffer’s embezzlement and sabotage are expectably discovered sooner rather than later. To what extent is Hayak implicated other than by negligent oversight? In what way does Hayak’s hijacking his own spaceship make him an accomplice in Stauffer’s crime?
    5. Does the advice of Hayak’s grandfather include taking Annie on a one-way trip in a doomed spaceship?

Responses welcome!

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