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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 435

In Medias Mess

page index
Fire and Gold
First Instructions Last
Give Them Wine
Mr. Howard Retires
Pan Am 617 Heavy
The Traveler

  1. In Sean Monaghan’s Pan Am 617 Heavy:

    1. Do we find out something about Dominic and Keyshaa that we weren’t told at the beginning?

    2. Are we told what Pan Am flight the chapter title refers to or why it’s “historic”?

    3. Technically, PanAm 617 Heavy is a complete story in itself. However, it appears to be the middle or the main conclusion of a larger work. What information would a beginning need to supply? How might the larger story end?

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

    1. What new words do the children learn? Which words might they be expected to know?

      For example, Donas does not know the word for “cow” but does know the word for “cattle”; therefore she cannot distinguish between a cow, bull and steer and presumably does not know the difference. Is this an example of inadvertent humor or does it subtly convey new information about the mores of Katera’s community?

      Likewise, Donas knows the general term “covering” but not the particular term “shoe.” Does she know the names of any other articles of clothing? What specialized words does she know?

      If the point is being made — very subtly — that Donas has never known anyone who wears shoes, sandals or anything else on their feet, what might the lack of “foot coverings” imply about the state of health in Katera’s community, particularly with regard to parasite infestations?

    2. Why does Donas decide it’s okay for her, Mak and Rani to eat and drink what their hosts serve? Is Donas’ decision a considered one or does she just yield to practical necessity?
    3. What scene in chapter 9 could indicate that the “south people” may have a dark side that Donas does not suspect?

  3. In Jerry Guarino’s “Coq-a-Doodle-Do”:

    1. By the end of the story, Joe and Barbara are francophiles. But why are the references to “French toast” and “French fries” humorous?

    2. The bald eagle became the U.S. national bird, for political and nationalistic reasons, over Benjamin Franklin’s objections. The coq became the national bird of France because of a pun. What was that pun?

  4. In Julie Wornan’s “The Traveler”:

    1. What kind of restaurant leaves the bodies of dead customers lying around under tables for hours in a time of global warming?

    2. Why do the traveler and his kind prefer to capture moribund bodies or ones already doomed rather than bodies they can occupy more at their leisure? Does the traveler ever really explain it? Do his predilections seem to contradict the travelers’ policy?

  5. In Trevor Price’s “First Instructions Last,” even if “the last A and B” had been glued together, why would it not have mattered?

  6. In Kenneth W. Harmon’s “Mr. Howard Retires”:

    1. Why might it be possible that Mr. Howard tells the store clerk the truth about his age?
    2. Why might it seem unlikely that the sheriff would come alone to question Mr. Howard?
  7. In Sarah Ann Watts’ “Fire and Gold”:

    1. The automata glided towards me, wheels concealed by her skirts, a perfect facsimile. I remembered long hours wasted when I had been rigorously schooled in the court deportment that she replicated with such ease.

      The robot’s — or android’s — style of walking was actually de rigueur as women’s etiquette at one time at a royal court. Which one? Hint: why is the world palais used instead of “palace”?

    2. Why does the King wish to escape?

  8. In Ásgrímur Hartmannsson’s Error:

    1. Is Jonas a caricature of the “passive hero”? What has he actually done in the 23 chapters to date?
    2. Might anything shake Jonas’ attitude of terminal boredom toward everything that transpires?

Responses welcome!

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