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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 340

The Stuff of Dreams

  1. David Smolenski’s “You’re a Big Boy Now” consists of an extended dream sequence framed by a waking reality.

    1. Are the scene transitions within the dream actually dreamlike?
    2. What can the reader deduce about Bobby’s waking life from the allegorical figures in his dream?
    3. The ending may seem ambiguous: “The boy savored the contact for one long moment before remembering that he was supposed to hug back.” Why might Bobby hesitate and have to remind himself of what he’s supposed to do? Is “Mommy” a completely sympathetic character?
  2. Doug Hiser’s “The Carnival of the Goat Man” is written entirely in a realistic mode:

    1. How does the narration achieve a nightmare quality, as though the story were a kind of waking dream?
    2. Do Bobby, in “You’re a Big Boy Now,” and Butch, in “The Carnival of the Goat Man,” learn similar — though obviously not the same — lessons from their experiences?
    3. How does the tension between Croan’s carnival and the church ladies reflect what is going on in Butch’s life? How is the tension resolved?
  3. In Ella Blackhart’s “Sirenum Scopuli”:

    1. It’s said that horror fiction often has to do with the changes of puberty. Does the story seem to fit that hypothesis?
    2. Does the story push or exceed the narrative limits of the epistolary genre?
  4. In Stephanie Scarborough’s “Seaside Sideshow”:

    1. How might the conditions of Thor’s circus act prepare the reader for his fright at Lola’s shape-change?
    2. Does Lola’s decision to take to the sea justify Thor’s diffidence?
    3. Stories of shape-changing, like Ella Blackhart’s “Sirenum Scopuli” sometimes have to do with sexuality or gender roles. is that the case in both or either of these stories?
  5. How does Julie Wornan’s “Information Theory” echo Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Vita-Nulls”? To what extent does it not go as far?

Responses welcome!

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