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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 430

Once a Sheep

  1. In Vivian Rinaldo’s “Nannie’s Cat”:

    1. What is the significance of the title? What is the function of the cat in the story?
    2. Nannie lives and dies alone. Why is she not lonely?
  2. Phillip Donnelly’s “Shep’s Last Day” is a fable with an unstated political moral. What is the moral?

  3. In Paul Lang’s “The Druid,” the narrator dies. Bewildering Stories officially frowns upon endings that logically prevent a narrator from telling his own story. Why might an exception be warranted in this case?

  4. In Mary B. McArdle’s Give Them Wine:

    1. Ter feels unable to accompany Donas and the other children in their escape. What might happen if he did go with them?
    2. Chapter 4 ends with an epilogue. How might the information be conveyed by the characters rather than by a direct intervention from the author’s point of view?
  5. Ásgrímur Hartmannsson’s Error has so far been an exercise in slowing time to an almost imperceptible crawl, with occasional fits and starts:

    1. If this is Jonas’ life after he loses his official identity, what would his normal life have been like?
    2. So far, Jonas’ actions describe a descent into paranoia: Jonas has very little contact with is mother; his only friend puts him in contact with the underworld; and the Bureau of Personal Information Protection is the most sinister figure of all. At this point can you imagine a way out for Jonas?
  6. In Bruce Memblatt’s “Dinner with Henry”:

    1. Much of the narration consists of simultaneous actions. There are a number of ways to indicate them, but the coordinating conjunction “as” is overused in the story, and its repetition becomes obtrusive. What grammatical variations are possible?

    2. All the characters in the story besides Mr. Simpson are strange in some way. Readers will surmise that Henry himself must be equally strange but will wonder how. What hints can be found about Henry’s nature before he encounters “She” in the greenhouse?

    3. In the conclusion, “Alarm” and Mr. Simpson disappear from the story, and the characters seem to forget about their employer, “She.” As Henry realizes, the topic of conversation has changed. Does the conclusion lack coherence? Or does it imply that “She” might appear in a way appropriate to each member of the household staff individually? Or does it suggest something else entirely?

  7. In Viacheslav Yatsko’s “The Professor’s Murder”:
    1. “Olga sold all her property and emigrated to Israel. At least in one respect the polygraph was not mistaken.” — Why might Olga emigrate? What incident does “the polygraph” refer to?

    2. Does the narrative provide enough clues to enable the reader to follow Alex Larin’s reasoning in the conclusion? Or does the solution to the mystery seem to come from a related story largely unknown to the reader?

Responses welcome!

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