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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 335

Now You See... What?

  1. Nick Allen’s “The Poker School” is a morality play about courage and solidarity in the face of oppression. Since schoolyard bullying is usually violent and sometimes even leads to murder, does the confrontation with Jezza seem convincing or contrived?

  2. In Tom Underhill’s “Smile”:

    1. Tammy thinks she’s badly treated and resents her family and schoolmates. Is she right, or does she represent a study in self-pity?
    2. Who is the “Artist” and what is he or she doing? Are the photographs literal or figurative?
    3. How would the story change if the photographer’s “chorus” were omitted?
    4. Might the “Artist” be Tammy herself, replaying and re-evaluating her own memories later in life?
  3. In Erik Weiss’s “Student Learning”:

    1. Why is it very difficult to take Matt Laux seriously as a pre-med student?
    2. At the end, Matt intends to stiff Missy for her $300 drug-trial payment because she didn’t show up for the last meeting with him. What other incident in the story shows that Matt is being a hypocrite?
    3. Is it plausible that as the drug-trial director Dr. Moure would not overrule Matt’s petty gesture and pay Missy for her participation?
  4. In John Stocks’ “To Waverly,” in what ways are the abstractions given a concrete reality? Which senses predominate: sight, sound, touch, taste, or the sense of smell?

  5. In V. Ulea’s “The Two Witches of Vildaretz”:

    1. Are “good witch” and “bad witch” anything more than names? In what ways is the “bad witch” bad and the “good witch” good, and vice-versa?
    2. How might the story be read as a rivalry between two sisters? How does the “sorceress” encourage the rivalry?
    3. Does the bad witch’s catlike talk make her “bad” or might the detail be an author’s veiled allusion, i.e. an in-joke, such as: the bad witch is really a cat?
  6. In Robert K. Lyon’s The Long Dark Road to Wizardry:

    1. The story is unusual in having a hidden quest at its center: neither the reader nor even Druin knows at the outset what must be accomplished. By what stages does Druin (and later as Pyre) learn what the quest is?
    2. The novel is episodic in structure, as the chapter titles indicate. Are the “episodes” independent, stand-alone short stories or do they form a coherent whole? What would happen to the character and plot development if any episode were omitted?
    3. Why might the author have deliberately avoided the model of Batman and Robin’s “dynamic duo”? Why does Breen distrust Druin (and Pyre) and only grudgingly follow his cousin’s advice? How does this character trait qualify Breen as an eventual successor to Druin?
    4. The story uses many standard fantasy elements. In what way does the story treat the fantasy genre ironically?
    5. Do women play a signficant role in Wizardry? How does the ending with Breen and Delanda differ from the opening with Druin and Sathryn?

Responses welcome!

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