Pump O’Clock, and All’s Unwell
In William Blick’s “The Quixotic Slumber of Mr. Jensen”:
- How does the story resemble Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”? How is it different?
- How does the author merge external narrative and interior monologue?
In Tom Underhill’s “Branded Faith”:
- The main story is told in the past tense while the backstory is in the narrative present. What would the effect be if the tenses were reversed?
- In the end, is Brother Gable proved right? Could he have made a stronger argument to persuade the “lad” to remain and fulfill his calling?
In Nicola Somerscales’ “The Auctioneer’s Prize,” the auction “lots” seem to consist of at least semi-sentient beings captured on other planets.
- Taken as a whole, is the auction a cattle market or a slave market?
- Is Lot 20 characterized as “human” too early? How might the aliens perceive the woman?
- Jacantha and Herati easily penetrate the auctioneer’s house. In view of the auction lots, why is that implausible?
- Even if Jacantha and Herati managed to confront the human, could they do other than what they do, namely let her go?
In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Not His Last Duchess”:
- Who says “Not now!”? Normally italics would indicate emphasis, that someone is speaking loudly; or they might indicate interior monologue. Might the italics have some other purpose here?
- The narrator says “Five o’clock” in Welsh presumably to point verbally to the couple at a nearby table. What does the encryption do to the readers’ understanding of the poem?
Is Avis Hickman’s “On the Road Home” irreverent? Does “Jezza” show respect or disrespect for “Maz”? Is the word “Madonna” an anachronism?
In John E. LaCarna’s “Warning Signal”:
- Is the story a tragedy?
- What elements of comedy does the story contain? Does the attempted robbery qualify as slapstick or is it simply grotesque?
- The protagonist’s ghost has to know he can’t make himself understood to his earlier self. Since the ghost has a physical presence, why doesn’t he simply write a note?
In Peter Cawdron’s “Countdown: Three Days”:
- The time viewer is a staple of science fiction, although it’s normally used to view the past. Is there an explanation why the time viewer is so selective in showing views of the future? How might the investigation be helped if the time viewer could show the past as well as the future?
- Why does Cohen venture down a dark side road when he has every reason to suspect a trap?
- “O’Malley got Cohen a coffee while they waited. The two men talked idly as time passed” (in part 4). How does narrative normally kill time without going into detail about how it’s done?
- Is it likely that the terrorists would be armed with or use surface-to-air missiles?
- Is it likely that Cohen could survive being shot point-blank?
- The narrative suggests that the terrorists are Arabs of some sort. Is the reference ethnic stereotyping or is it the kind of thing that is a standard prop in spy novels such as Tom Clancy’s or John LeCarré’s?
- Does O’Malley approve of torturing and killing prisoners?
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