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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 394

Coming Unstuck

  1. In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Gooseberry”:

    Neville deliberated over his choice, unaware that he had no choice; it was predetermined and there was little point in his wasting all this time deciding; but then, there was very little point in trying to explain this to clients — gooseberry preserve it had to be.
    1. Neville’s dithering is carefully described as pointless. Won’t DJ put in his appearance no matter which pot of jam Neville opens?
    2. If all of DJ’s clients’ choice of jam is predetermined, are their wishes irrelevant? Or is the matter of predestined choice a red herring?
  2. How do you feel about Walter Giersbach’s “Angel in My Coffee Cup”:

    1. So true! All we have to do is accept guardian angels.
    2. Maybe Morgan is on to something. How does she know about guardian angels?
    3. A sweet fairy tale.
    4. Morgan and her grandfather are hallucinating.
    5. The mended coffee cup proves that only angels matter and people are irrelevant.
  3. Danielle L. Parker invites discussion of “Shallalu” and asks a few questions:

    1. ‘I feel the story doesn't finish as strong as it starts. At what point do you think it begins to lose steam?’
    2. ‘How might the ending be strengthened? Can it be done without writing a completely new story? Or can you propose a new ending that would fit the first half?’

    Danielle adds:

    ‘I feel the best of the Blunt stories are more than simple entertainment: “Reaper,” “Death King,” “Dream Miners” and even “Thief” and “The Embrace of the Four-Armed Houri” have something to say. “Tower” tries, but I’m not sure it makes it. “Shallalu” is the one that just doesn’t seem to make it at all.’

    [Your managing editor] A cautionary note: remember the case of Theodor Storm, which I love to cite. He prized his poetry and dismissed his novellas as trifles and pastimes. But he esteemed his poetry as no one else has since while his novellas have long been considered masterpieces of the genre.

    Intention is irrelevant. Is Danielle right in her assessment of “Shallalu”? Can you, the reader, see something in it that she doesn’t?

Responses welcome!

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