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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 331

A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

“A tree is known by its fruit.” — a Bewildering Stories unofficial motto

  1. Bewildering Stories normally recommends rewrites of submissions containing too many run-on sentences. Why did we not do that with Jerry Vilhotti’s “Don’t Stand on Ceremony,” where almost every sentence is run-on? What is the effect of the style? How does it fit the action and characterization?

  2. In Jeff Baker’s “Darwin’s God”:

    1. The story is a ‘philosophical tale’ and as such is a kind of dramatized essay with social as well as philosophical implications. What does the father’s character and peculiar way of speaking imply about the social context of the concepts he discusses?
    2. Does anyone really care about the birth and death of the universe other than as cosmological theories or as metaphors for human birth and death?
    3. If the physical principle of life is “Eat and be eaten,” can any kind of transcendental afterlife be considered life at all?
    4. Gabe’s characterization of Jesus is accurate as far as it goes, but “preaching love and tolerance” is thin gruel and gives Jesus very short shrift. Never mind the posthumously added authority claims: what does Jesus say about love and personal authenticity? Is the latter-day fear of death relevant in any way to Jesus’ message about life?
    5. Bonus question: How does C. S. Lewis deal with the idea of personal and cosmic extinction in his classic novel Out of the Silent Planet?
    6. Bonus question squared: How does the theology in “Darwin’s God” differ from that of Teilhard de Chardin? How does the cosmology resemble that of Frank Tipler’s Omega Point theory?
  3. In Diana Pollin’s “Extreme Makeover”:

    1. Does the story contradict or complement Jeff Baker’s “Darwin’s God”?
    2. If the stage dialect were simplified, the story would be easier to read, but at what point would it begin to lose its comic touch?
  4. Aside from the territorial struggle, does Elliot R. Dorfman’s “The Future of Mankind” have anything to do with human beings? Is the story a parody of something else? If so, what?

  5. What elements of comedy can you find in John W. Steele’s “Beyond the Island”? The “biker dude” is seen from the point of view of the narrator, Brian Mudd: what is the biker’s function in the story to date?

  6. In recent times, stories about chronic, debilitating memory loss have become frequent. Compare Joanna Cannon’s “Roses in December” with John Stocks’ “George.” What is needed to make the story more than a clinical account and give it an emotional impact?

  7. In Wayne C. Peake Jr.’s “Willow’s Creek,”:

    1. What is the narrator’s tragic flaw, if he has one? Does his reluctance to follow his sister Amelia’s instructions seem plausible in view of his feelings about his father?
    2. The narrator stops for a smoke and, later, for tea with his sister while on his way to visit his mother on her deathbed. What does his procrastination tell us about him?
    3. To what extent is the plot a mirror image of that of Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

    Responses welcome!

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