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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 429

All For Thinking Out Loud

  1. In Ásgrímur Hartmannsson’s Error, Jonas continues to find disappointment in television and radio programming. Up to this chapter, has Jonas ever read anything beyond package labels and signs? Might one surmise that he is functionally illiterate?

  2. In Mary B. McArdle’s Give Them Wine, do we hear Donas thinking for herself at her age level, or do we hear the author doing the thinking for her?

  3. Is Viacheslav Yatsko’s “The Professor’s Murder” culturally strange to North Americans in any significant way? To the British? Are there any references or depictions that might seem slightly “exotic”? What scenes are comic? Are any scenes farcical?

  4. In Sean Monaghan’s “Pan Am 617 Heavy”:

    1. Disregarding the synopsis and the reference to the Pan Am airline, what are the first indications that the story is set in an alternate universe?
    2. What would happen if the opening sentence “Dominic knew Keyshaa wanted Miterall dead” read simply: “Keyshaa wanted Miterall dead”?
  5. In Douglas J. Swatski’s “Multi-Man”:

    1. What does the story imply as a theory of memory?
    2. Should the ending be taken as progress or as irony? What information might be lost by “culling faleshoods and traumas” from a historical record, and why might that information be important?
  6. Hampton Burt’s “How Young Splabbid Killed the Snord” is obviously a riff on Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”:

    1. What is the linguistic basis on which the two poems “make nonsense make sense”?
    2. What form of neologism is used in “Jabberwocky” but not in “Splabbid”?
    3. What seems to happen in the poem? Can you summarize the plot?
  7. In William T. Hammann’s “Retire First”:

    1. The story is, in effect, a one-scene radio play with two characters. Why does only one of the characters have a name?
    2. Employed people have three weeks’ annual vacation, which is generous by current North American standards. How does it compare to annual vacations in European countries?
    3. Assessment errors affect less than 40 people out of 13 million every year. Is the chance of error greater or less than that of winning a 6/49 lottery?
    4. Mr. Stinson overlooks a few questions:
      • How is the length of pre-employment “retirement” determined? Isn’t it arrived at arbitrarily?
      • What prevents him from amassing enough savings in “retirement” to have a better standard of living when “working” than the relatively meager one provided by the dole?
      • What would happen to him if he refused to “work” when the time comes?
  8. In Channie Greenberg’s “Suboptimal”:

    1. What actually happens? Can you summarize the plot?
    2. What might the story imply about possible motives for violence in professional sports, especially hockey?
  9. Carolyn Kephart’s “The Kind Gods” depicts pagan warriors. Does their concept of the afterlife affect their value of life and death or is it the other way around?

Responses welcome!

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