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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 364

Oh For a Life at the Speed of c

  1. In Richard H. Fay’s “The Devourer Took a New Name,” is the villain really department-store Santas or is it something else?

  2. In Arnold Hollander’s “At a Town Hall Near You”:

    1. To what extent does an understanding of the poem depend on a knowledge of political events in the U.S. in August 2009?

    2. Two of Bewildering Stories’ unofficial mottoes state:
      “There is no story so truly bewildering as reality” and
      “Any story based on current events is out of date before it’s written.”
      They raise the question: How can one satirize events that satirize themselves?

  3. Scott Wilson’s “The Gas Fields of Mars” evokes the prose style of early 20th-century science fiction. Whose does it most resemble: C. L. Moore’s, Leigh Brackett’s, Edgar Rice Burroughs’? All three? Someone else’s?

  4. In D. A. Madigan’s “Power 2 the Peepz,” the Power Cubes are described as being relatively small, mass-produced world-wide by cheap labor, in common use, and relatively easy to reverse-engineer:

    1. How likely is it that the Power Cubes could be monopolized by any corporation or government?

    2. Even assuming that a cartel imposes price-fixing, how easily can it prevent the spread of a black market in knock-off copies of the Power Cube? Would Nikki Danger’s role as an energy-source Robin Hood be necessary?

    3. Is the center of the story Nikki Danger’s role as a counter-culture heroine or that of popular resistance to a monopoly?

  5. In Peter Cawdron’s “Serengeti”:

    1. What is “Fermi’s paradox”?

    2. Imagine Eskimo — or, in Canadian, “Inuit” — explorers transported suddenly and without preparation to the Serengeti desert or any tropical or subtropical environment. What would you expect to happen to them?

    3. “The distances were so immense that a lifetime of travel at almost the exact speed of light would barely make any perceptible difference at all.”

      Assume that the Andromeda galaxy is about 2.5 x 106 light-years distant from the Milky Way. Assume that the Serengeti travels, impossibly, at exactly the speed of light. Disregard time spent in acceleration and deceleration. It will take the Serengeti about 2.5 million years to reach Andromeda.

      1. Assume that the crew members are all 30 years old upon departure. How much will they have aged when they arrive?

      2. Assume that the Serengeti travels at 99.9% of the speed of light. About how long will it take to reach Andromeda? Again, how much will the crew members have aged upon arrival?

      3. Assume any arbitrary rest mass for the Serengeti. What mass would it have when traveling at the speed of light? At 99.9% of light-speed? At a relativistic velocity, how might the ship affect an interstellar environment?

    4. Proceed to the Challenge 364 Response...

Responses welcome!

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