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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 449

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Which works in this or previous issues in this quarter do you think qualify for the Quarterly Review? For the Mariner Awards? Write and let us know.

page index
Chris Castle, Speech Bub
Gerald Heys, Man of the Woods
Margaret Karmazin, Coitus Interruptus
Allen Kopp, Phiz
Bill McCormick, And the Beat Goes Phut
Dan Reed, Boys from the Neighborhood
  1. In Allen Kopp’s “Phiz”:

    1. The word “Phiz” is used as a proper name. As a common noun it is a slang term for “face.” Does anything in the story suggest a connection? Might there be another interpretation?
    2. What, exactly, is the “Nonpareil”? Its original meaning is, more or less, “there’s nothing like it.” Is it used as the name of a vague deity or of something else?
    3. What does the ending of the story imply: acceptance? Eternal imprisonment? Something else?
  2. In Chris Castle’s “Speech Bub”:

    1. Does the character name Mark Edgeworthy have an encrypted signficance?
    2. Why is he called “Bub”?
    3. Is the character really mute? What is the significance of his communicating only by writing?
    4. Is the narrator ever addressed by name?
    5. At what point does Bub leave the narrator? What recognition has been achieved?
    6. How might the story be read as a companion to the author’s “Four Masks”?
    7. Bonus question: The story parallels to a large extent the plot of the film The Mighty (1998). In what way are the plots of “Speech Bub” and the film practically mirror images of each other?
  3. In Margaret Karmazin’s “Coitus Interruptus”:

    1. Are the communications devices realistic, mildly futuristic or pure science fiction?
    2. What might be done with a “passive chip,” namely one that secretly transmits information?

    3. Certain demographic projections indicate that — barring natural or self-inflicted catastrophes — the human race may go extinct in a fit of absent-mindedness as early as the 31st century. What aspect of the story seems to bear out that prediction?

  4. In Bill McCormick’s “And the Beat Goes Phut”:

    1. Does Spark’s vocation as a musician have anything to do with Ibrahim’s confession of techno-terrorism?
    2. Do the terrorists’ objectives seem to have anything to do with radical Islamism or al-Qaïda?
    3. Why would Ibrahim and his co-conspirators each agree to confess their complicity to a stranger? What is the traditional way of claiming responsibility?
    4. Does Spark — or the story — reach a conclusion?
  5. In Dan Reed’s “Boys From the Neighborhood,” Joe’s nemesis is Korean. Is the oligarch’s ethnicity necessary to the plot? Does it square or not with the editorial “When East Isn’t East”?

  6. In Gerald Heys’ “Man of the Woods,” the orangutan, according to Malay legend, can speak but doesn’t, for fear of being given a job. Does it matter whether times are good or bad, whether unemployment is high or low? Might the orangutan be on to something that the young zookeeper hasn’t figured out yet?

    1. Responses welcome!

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