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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 461

Hotfooting It

  1. In Lisamarie Lamb’s “Travelling West”:

    1. Is there any hint before the conclusion of the story that Janet West may not be entirely truthful?

    2. Bewildering Stories often receives “revenge fantasies,” usually but by no means always about wives’ feelings about husbands or women’s feelings about men in general. Is this such a story? Is there another such story in this issue?

    3. What does the story imply about the difference between reality and fiction? What might be inferred from it about the place of fiction in reality?

  2. In euhal allen’s The Bridge: a New Beginning, chapter 1 has thus far introduced briefly so many characters that readers might be able to keep track of them by taking written notes and constructing family trees. How can the story be read, let alone enjoyed?

    The proliferation of characters in chapter 1 presents a knotty problem in narrative structure, especially since the characters seem to be acting simultaneously. Can you think of a different strategy?

  3. In Bill Bowler’s The Shepherd of Zakhbaal:

    1. What might be the significance of Colonel Shepherd’s daughter’s intrusion into the briefing room?

    2. At what time are the space travelers put into cryogenic sleep?

    3. The spaceship lifts off at 0600 hours and passes the orbit of Pluto at 1430 hours, presumably Earth time. Pluto’s orbit is highly elongated, but let’s assume an average distance of about 40 astronomical units from the Sun:

      1. At what percentage of the speed of light must the spaceship travel, on average, to go so far so fast?

      2. Assuming a relative velocity of zero at launch from orbit, can the spaceship reach the orbit of Pluto in 8½ hours without exceeding the speed of light?

      3. How much time has elapsed aboard the spaceship when it reaches the orbit of Pluto:

        Bonus question: The Andromeda galaxy is about 2½ million light-years from the Milky Way. How much time elapses aboard a photon as it makes its way from Andromeda to our eyes or telescopes? Answer here.
      4. Assuming that the spaceship has a rest mass of 100 tonnes, what relativistic mass will it have upon reaching the orbit of Pluto? If it remains in the plane of the ecliptic, might its gravitational wake affect the orbits of the outer planets?

      5. Assuming a linear acceleration starting from zero at Earth orbit, how many Earth gravities will the ship and its passengers be subjected to?

    4. The “Lifeboat’s” supposed purpose is to scout out “Planet X” as a refuge from an impending doomsday apocalypse. But Planet X is 160 light-years from Earth, and Colonel Shepherd himself says the expedition is a one-way trip. What’s the point of the expedition? What might Colonel Shepherd not be telling us?

  4. In James Graham’s “The Poetry of John Clare”:

    1. The Enclosure Acts effectively abolished the commons and made the land private property. Might some of the commons, at least, have been preserved by being made Crown lands? Why wasn’t this done in the early 19th century? Is the abolition of the commons at the center of John Clare’s poetry?

    2. The conclusion of the essay contrasts the Enclosure Acts with Soviet communism. What’s the point? Do the abolition of the commons and the imposition of communism constitute contrasting utopian ideals? Is no compromise possible?

    3. Some readers remark that the essay is tendentious and espouses an “agenda.” If so, does the author say what it is or only imply one? What is the essay about: John Clare and his poetry or something else? If so, what?

Responses welcome!

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