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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 307


  1. Explicate the image of “told” in the first line of Oonah V Joslin’s “Last Laugh.”

  2. Sarah Ann Watts’ “The Edge of the World” is a post-apocalypse story. What does the apocalypse appear to have been?

  3. Sarah Hilary’s philosophical tale “Skywatchers”:

    1. What does the story imply about UFO stories and space-alien myths in general?
    2. Do the references to the four points of the compass have a cultural significance? If so, what is it?
    3. “East” is very critical of her colleagues, especially “West.” Can the others not be equally critical of “East’s” passivity?
  4. In Katherine Sanger’s “In a Pickle,” young Mandy would seem to be on her way to a colorful career as a mad scientist. Rather than turn Mandy into a pickle, what adventures might you devise for her?

  5. Can you think of a different ending to Pete Sierra’s “The Never-Ending Memoirs”? Pete says the story is a satire on both memoir-writing and psychiatry. Is it obviously a satire?

  6. In Thomas R. Willits’ “The Donor Syndrome”:

    1. What is Renford’s motive in “donating” practically his entire body? He is supposed to have been a successful businessman; do readers have reason to doubt his sanity?

    2. Why does the Donors, Inc. contract appear to be illegal?

    3. Why does Donors, Inc. pay top dollar for donated organs? Why not cut costs by murdering homeless people or preying on the poverty-stricken in the Third World?

  7. In Slawomir Rapala’s The Three Kings:

    1. Who are the three kings?

    2. Is the Epilogue to a true epilogue or is it an untitled final chapter? How might chapter XIII be subdivided into shorter chapters? Is The Three Kings itself a coherent story or an outline of several stories all strung together?

    3. How does Iskald’s death justify settling the long-standing feud between King Diovinius and Aezubah?

    4. Iskald is a veteran of the Viking war and has spent his entire life in training as a soldier. In Nekryah, he marches into hostile territory with a company of select guardsmen led by his top generals, including Aezubah. And then Iskald is picked off by a rioter’s thrown rock simply because he’s neglected to put on his helmet. Readers expect Iskald to be bold, but can they accept his being unaccountably and uncharacteristically careless?

    5. King Diovinius can hardly be unaware of the popular hostility to the Lyonese. Is he then remiss in his duty as a host by neglecting to order the garrison in Ffay to escort Iskald and his party to Arrosah or by neglecting to send troops for that purpose?

    6. Is it just that King Diovinius scolds the townspeople? Or does his reproach make him appear pathetic and weak?

Responses welcome!

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