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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 310

If You’re Going to San Francisco...

  1. In Michael E. Lloyd’s Observation Three, the Domans’ telepathic communication — or advanced technology, take your pick — gives them almost godlike powers with respect to human beings.

    1. In what ways are Domans and humans alike?

    2. How do the Domans avoid conflict? Why do they not need a “Truth Delta Analysis”? What keeps them from lapsing into a state of static conformity?

    3. Do Carla’s feelings for Toni imply that the Domans are missing a bet and that love and sex might be a good thing after all? Would telepathy make it impossible?

    4. Does anything other than an other-worldly sense of morality prevent the Domans from brainwashing Earthlings en masse and turning them into smiling zombies with flowers in their hair?

    5. The Domans give Salvatore advanced technology that will enable him to save Venice from sinking beneath the sea. Could the same not be done for New Orleans, even if it’s only to plant the suggestion that the city be ceded to the Dutch?

    6. Don’t the Domans — despite their good manners — effectively give up on Earth as a hopeless case?

    7. How might the Domans react if a less scrupulous rival interstellar race showed up bent on turning Earth into a kind of Belgian Congo, complete with missionaries?

    8. Toni and Maelene function in the novel primarily as tourists. Are they indispensable to the plot, namely the political ramifications of the Domans’ prospecting for minerals on Earth? What would happen if the couple and their sight-seeing were removed?

    9. Not to give anything away, but at the end, Toni and Maelene agree it would be a splendid idea to cultivate their own garden. And one surmises they’re much less the worse for wear than Candide and Cunégonde. The question is, though: what do they intend to plant? Not literally; figuratively: how might the Domans’ visit help make Earth a better place to live?

  2. In Gary Inbinder’s “The Unanswered Question”:

    1. What, exactly, is the unanswered question?
    2. Will the aliens come to “flush Earth down the drain” after Bud Hicks breaks his vow of silence? Or need they bother?
    3. Does Kant’s antinomy have any real effect? That is, either way you slice it, must the universe be seen as a cosmic toilet bowl, or can it be seen as something else?
  3. In Rebecca D. Elswick’s “What’s Yours Is Mine,” does Brittany actually murder her father or is the case ambiguous? Put another way: Is Brittany a murderess or an opportunist?

  4. Is the moral of Mark Dalligan’s “Green” that sex is the best way to get a gardener to garden? Or is it something else?

  5. Is Katherine L. Michaels’ “The Accident” funny or sad? Since only human beings can be tragic or comic, what would be needed to make the story one or the other?

Responses welcome!

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