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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 360

No Flag On the Play

  1. How might Shae Davidson’s “By the Lake: the Trees, Singing” be an image of a historical view of life?

  2. Both Jaleta Clegg’s “Glutton’s Purgatory” and Robert E. Keller’s “The Great Alien Mind” might be seen as dramatizations of mental derangement. Which of the two might qualify as horror fiction?

  3. In Daniel Shebses’ “The Deathalator”:

    1. Is the “deathalator” a common “X-Phone” application or does Mike Devlin alone happen to come into possession of a unique, semi-supernatural portable actuarial device?

    2. Aside from the farcical scene with the piranha-like goldfish, “Goldie,” where Devlin’s antics are interrupted by a friend, does he actually do anything but play with his unusual toy? Which characters take the initiative in the story? What are their motives? Does Devlin’s chronic inaction appear to make him emotionally paralyzed?

    3. Sports stories are culturally encrypted by their very nature: their audience is restricted to the countries in which the sport is played and, within them, to the readers familiar with the game. For example, Stefan Brenner’s “Andy’s Innings” is clear to fans of cricket, but North Americans can understand the story more or less well in terms of baseball. Does the long football sequence in “The Deathalator” put the story culturally out of reach to all but American readers?

    4. The author goes to great lengths to refer to the player Omar McGenty as a brute, even “thuggish.” But is McGenty actually depicted as such? Does he do anything illegal or out of the ordinary for a player of his capacity and in his position? What purpose, then, do the character’s background and the author’s commentary serve?

  4. In Channie Greenberg’s “The Husband Remaking Machine”:

    1. The story is a conservative morality tale. How does it differ from William Tenn’s classic comic version of human remodeling, “Child’s Play” (Astounding Science Fiction, 1947)?

    2. If the wife remodels her husband, will he still be the same man she married? Might she find it less trouble simply to look for someone else?

    3. Why might one say that the wife, in deciding not to remodel her husband, does the right thing for the wrong reasons?

    4. Bonus challenge: Write a story in which the wife changes one thing about her husband and then witnesses the consequences. You may opt for either tragedy or comedy.

  5. Bertil Falk’s post-apocalypse poem “Afterwards” uses the term “radiac,” which is actually an acronym. What does it suggest? Could another expression be substituted?

  6. In the book review, Danielle L. Parker claims to read more than 500 pages “at a single sitting.” A sitting clearly constitutes fairly uninterrupted reading, but we’re not told how long it is. Pick a number, say, eight hours and estimate Danielle’s reading speed.

  7. In Gabriel S. Timar’s The Hades Connection, chapter 24, George Pike has another in a series of almost obligatory sexual liaisons. Is there any development in the depiction of women in Hades, or do they all run to a type? Of all the women depicted in the story up to chapter 24, which is the only one that seems to be more than a cardboard character?

Responses welcome!

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