In Kir Bulychev’s “Half a Life,” the alien spaceship may represent a flying gulag or any totalitarian regime. What does the story seem to predict as the eventual fate of the Soviet Union and the wrongfully imprisoned?
In Marina J. Neary’s “Hugo in London,” the story is mostly about Kip, Wynfield and Diana. Victor Hugo’s role is sometimes pathetic, and he acts mostly as an observer. But is Hugo really a non-essential character? What does he add to the story?
In J. Scott Hardin’s “The Needle”:
- Why might the name ‘Lucifer’ and the symbol ‘666’ be considered cultural or historical anachronisms? If they are, does it really matter?
- In the story, the rich man has a name: Ezra. Why does the Biblical account not cite a name?
- Is it likely that Ezra — or anyone else — would ever forget meeting Jesus? What constitutes entry into the Kingdom of Heaven? Does Jesus say that wealth is an absolute impediment to it?
Ron Van Sweringen’s “Finding the Way Home for Christmas” has a bittersweet ending. It leads nowhere but to ‘closure’ for Virginia; what larger story does it imply for Maxie?
In Ryan McGrail’s “The War of the Chalk Golems,” Nick and Eddy are not exactly friends, but what do they learn about each other, and what leads them to make common cause?
In A. Frank Bower’s “Rebooting,” what, exactly, is the problem, and what is the resolution?
In John Stocks’ “Mozart’s Requiem,” is a knowledge of Mozart, the Requiem or the Salzburg cathedral necessary for an understanding and appreciation of the poem?
Bonus question: Bertil Falk’s “Sotielkareh” parodies aphorisms quoted out of context. Herakleitos’ (Heraclitus’) sayings are often gnomic, but was that all the pre-Socratic philosopher had to say? How does Margo Vishvendu’s later career suggest she might have made a better choice by pursuing and expanding her childhood ambition?
In Don Webb’s “Taking Notice”:
- What decisions do the students have to make about conducting their research projects? Do you agree with their choices?
- The students’ reports are based on historical facts or historians’ conjectures. Do you agree with the conjectures?
- In the group’s view, what obstacle does language present to historical research, aside from vocabulary?
- Why does Peter feel he and Jed are reconciled?
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