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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 323

Coming Up Tails

  1. Kenneth C. Goldman’s “A Pet Shop Parable”:

    1. How does the first part of the story hint that Nathaniel and his father are not what they pretend to be?
    2. What is ironic in Mr. Somers’ unspoken thoughts on sentimentality?
    3. A parable is normally a brief story with a moral. What might the moral be in “A Pet Shop Parable”?
  2. What irony is in the premise of Shawn Morrison’s “Stackers”? How does the ending double the irony?

  3. How else might Sinclair react at the ending of RD Larson’s “Waiting for Aria Rose”? In form, the story is a joke: how might it prepare the reader for the bizarre ending?

  4. What elements make Tantra Bensko’s “Daring With Monks” resemble a fictional memoir?

  5. In Katherine L. Michaels’ “My Day”:

    1. How does the sister feel about the twins’ common birthday?
    2. What age might the twins be?
    3. Are the sentiments expressed authentic or an adult projection? How might the poem avoid sentimentality?
    4. Grammatically and biologically, the speaker “I” could be a boy. But why does that seem very unlikely?
  6. In Will Gray’s “The Last Dance”:

    1. What is an NAAFI? What is ENSA?
    2. Where was Will from? What does a French polisher do? In what town in Yorkshire was he stationed?
    3. What is Eric’s nickname for Will?
    4. Stella says: “I have not tried to love you because being in love with a soldier going to war is very risky.” The phrase “have not tried to love” looks like a transposition of “have tried not to love.” Normally an editor can correct grammatical errors; why not this one?
    5. What do we learn, perhaps inadvertently, about Stella’s character?
    6. Whom does Will finally marry:
  7. In Tala Bar’s “The Controller,” Leshem and Ziv agree that the story’s time-travel premise necessarily incurs a paradox. However, the paradox promises to be useful:

    1. In what ways has the Lunarians’ future society stagnated? How might contact with the original “colonists” provide mutual benefit?
    2. Shahm venerates even numbers rather than, say, odd numbers or prime numbers. Is his attitude rational or arbitrary? What permanent feature of Lunari’s environment might make his fixation seem incongruous?
    3. Lunarians are incubated fully grown; what does that imply about their acculturation and education? Does childhood really exist in Lunarian society?
    4. The future Lunarians substitute genetic engineering for procreation. What do they substitute for sex? Does the story imply that the exchange is a net gain or loss for women generally? In a post-future Lunarian society, will males and females even exist as such?
    5. Why might one foresee that the Lunarians are in danger of going extinct?

Responses welcome!

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