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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 446


  1. In Martin Hill Ortiz’ “Head-On”:

    1. What would be a major physical symptom of detoxification by clindamycin?
    2. Why might a monopoly on citrus fruit not suffice to maintain the pharmocracy?
    3. The story seems to make a political point. What might it be?
    4. Does the story overstep our guideline against a narrator’s not living to tell the tale?
    5. How might the narration serve as a model for the description of physical action?
  2. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “Aratreea”:

    1. John has to go to Fredericksburg to “sign some papers.” Despite hearing severe-weather warnings he departs on a journey that would be strenuous even in good weather.

      Do we have any previous evidence that John is foolhardy? Is there any indication that the errand is so pressing that it must be undertaken even in the face of danger?

    2. Aratreea explains her apparition to John and Susan: “[My world was beautiful] a long time ago,” came the reply. “But now it is dying, just as I am dying, poisoned by greed, disease and neglect”:

      1. In what way in Aratreea’s statement ambiguous?
      2. What assumption do John and Susan make, and on what basis?
      3. What question or questions might they have asked?
    3. Who or what is the story about? Does it overstep Bewildering Stories’ guideline against sentimentality?

  3. In Joanna M. Weston’s “Beth’s Garden”:

    1. The narrative dwells at great length on Jimmy’s hatred for his father. But does Jimmy really hate his father or his own weakness?

    2. In his new job, Jimmy is in a position to assert emotional independence. Instead, he remains passively rebellious and follows a path of self-destruction. How might the story indicate reasons for Jimmy’s failure of will?

      Caution: the thoughts cannot be put into his head lest they give him a capacity for self-reflection he does not possess. Nor can they be made authorial intervention, which would be irrelevant.

    3. Jimmy is clearly unready to assume Beth’s role in the garden. What change needs to take place to make him more like her?

    4. Is there any evidence that Jimmy’s father is incapable of envisioning Jimmy’s pursuing a career in medicine or pharmacy? Is there enough evidence to explain why Jimmy himself doesn’t think of it?

  4. Gary Inbinder’s “Endymion” concludes:

    Endymion yawned. In his last lucid moment, he questioned whether there was anything to keep him in this world, that is to say anything better than Selene’s offer of unconscious immortality. “Oh well,” he thought, “better a diva’s comatose sex toy than an untenured community college instructor.”

    Following the rule that readers take everything literally unless they know to do otherwise:

    1. Is the conclusion comic? Is Endymion’s choice so grotesque or even absurd that the reader can shrug it off? Can we assume that Endymion will sleep off the experience, wake up, and return to his low-paying job?

    2. Is the conclusion tragic? Should we conclude that Endymion expires in bitter and cynical despair rather than return to a life of relative poverty?

Responses welcome!

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