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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 402

Count Past Twenty, Hold Your Fire

  1. In Mimi Rosen’s “Stormy and Grandma Rose”:

    1. Only people can be comic; animals cannot. How does the choice of a dog as the narrator add an ironic perspective to the story?
    2. What might be the implied moral in the choice of point of view?
  2. In Antonio Bellomi’s “The Bonfire”:

    1. The character of Bruno is carefully drawn. Is Dominus Picpus realistic or is he a Halloween character out of satirist Stephen Colbert’s “Keep Fear Alive” campaign?
    2. In light of the context, what is the historical precedent for the hero’s name, Bruno?
    3. Would a young reader need to know the historical allusion in order to understand the story? Or would the story help the reader understand the allusion?
    4. At the end of the story, Bruno has set his course. How might the larger story continue — and conclude?
  3. In Jacqui Pack’s “Playback”:

    1. Has Piper Elinham made a formal contract with the city for pest removal or does she assume there is one? What does the arrangement seem to be?
    2. How does this latter-day retelling differ from the medieval legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin?
  4. In Andrea Ruggirello’s “Violet”:

    1. How does the story take the subgenre of the revenge fantasy to a logical conclusion?
    2. In what way or ways are Violet and Jacqui Pack’s Piper Elinham alike? How do they differ?
  5. In Chris Kobayashi’s Man in a Dark Room”:

    1. What popular comic character has three fingers?
    2. The story is told from the point of view of ‘Adam’. Do his thoughts imply another point of view? Whose might it be?
    3. How might the author’s avocation relate to the nature of the story?
    4. If we take literally the name “Adam” — which the sketch-character logically cannot know is his — is “Man in a Dark Room” an inverse Garden of Eden allegory?
    5. Does the story transgress Bewildering Stories’ guideline that frowns upon stories that end “but it was all a dream”?
  6. In Gloria F. Watts’ “Ernie”:

    1. What detail provides evidence that Ernie’s death is not the result of a murder for hire?
    2. If the man with the “slimy voice” is not a contract killer, who might he be?
    3. How long has Ernie been away? Why is his wife surprised to discover the hat in the garage?

Responses welcome!

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