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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 423

A Bowl of Living Water

  1. Michael Lee Johnson’s “Kansas” is a study in symbolism. Superficially, the poem describes an abandoned farmhouse and recalls the people who once lived in it. What is the poem really about, and how can you tell?

  2. Lou Antonelli’s “Black Hats and Blackberrys” has fun with the theme of time travel.

    1. What elements of comedy can you find in the story?
    2. What makes the story a serious cautionary tale for today’s world?
  3. In Cheryl W. Ruggiero’s “Designer Deities”:

    1. What does Nick do that shows his character is consistent throughout the story?
    2. In what way is Nick’s name symbolic of his character? Does the story seem to employ any other name symbolism?
    3. Jen takes pains to reassure the orthodox that her “designer deities” do not compete with any other deity. Point taken; what purpose do the designer deities accomplish?
    4. What is the significance of the first appearance of the woman in the tan raincoat? Of her second appearance, without the raincoat?
    5. Nick’s bowl is emblematic of his character. What might the woman’s ancient coin represent about her?
    6. What might be the symbolism in Nick’s offering the woman a drink of water?
    7. “Open” endings fail if they leave the reader to do the author’s work and write the story mentally by themselves. Why is the open ending of “Designer Deities” successful?
  4. Nick Lewandowski’s “I Eat the Body Electric” can be read in a number of ways:

    1. Is the story straight-up “cyberpunk” or is it a spoof of the genre?
    2. Is it a horror story?
    3. Is it an ironic love story?
  5. In Thomas Lee Joseph Smith’s “The Exam”:

    1. Even if readers know little or nothing about martial arts, why might they not take the tests seriously?
    2. What “exam” does the narrator fail?
  6. In Albert J. Manachino’s “Morning Encounter,” readers know immediately that the space alien will choose the dog as the most intelligent specimen of Terrestrial life. How does the author make it plausible that the dog’s owner is surprised by the alien’s choice?

  7. Does the conclusion of Henry F. Tonn’s review of Spinetingler imply that the magazine also publishes erotica or does it imply the contrary?

Responses welcome!

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