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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 462

Crash But Don’t Burn

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

    1. The spaceship has traveled 160 light-years in 18 months. Assuming steady acceleration and deceleration, at what speed was it traveling at midway point, i.e. 80 light-years from Earth?

    2. After the disaster to the spaceship, Omar Jones goes through the motions of survival. On the planet he faces what appears to be new dangers. And yet he experiences — or shows — little or no emotion. What would you normally expect from a character in his situation?

    3. The first two chapters introduce eight characters, not counting Omar’s family. All but Omar are killed or disappear at least temporarily. What function do they serve?

  2. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “The Well Wisher”:

    1. Why may the reader reasonably assume that Hansel Morgan can summon help immediately?
    2. Investigators will come looking for Hansel. Assume they arrive daily in groups increasing in size by arithmetic progression (1, 2, 3...). How long will it take before a full SWAT team shows up? A battalion of National Guard troops? How long before the dogs have eaten so many investigators that they’re too fat to move?

    3. What should the wicked witch do?

  3. In S. J. McKenzie’s “The Gruagach and the Milk Stone”:

    1. What is a gruagach, exactly? What is murrain?
    2. Does the story reach a conclusion or does it seem to transcribe an open-ended legend? What might be the moral of the story today?
  4. Sasha Kimi’s “The Green Bug Bites” depicts the collision of science and popular sensitivities. Does the story seem far-fetched? Might the author’s professional qualifications make it seem more plausible?

  5. In Jewel Beth Davis’ “The Glow Boy”:

    1. At the end, someone — possibly Susannah — says, “We need to find the email address for the Dalai Lama. Pronto.” The reference to the Dalai Lama is left unexplained. What might its significance be?

    2. E-mailing the Dalai Lama is:

    3. Susannah leaves hurriedly, hoping to escape before Blooze realizes what Susannah has said. Is Blooze slow on the uptake or are Susannah’s words too obscure for anyone to understand?

    4. The story is:

  6. Julie Wornan’s “A Black Cat in a Garden” was originally titled “A Black Cat Glimpsed Resting at the Edge of my Garden.”

    1. What title would you prefer? Can you think of a title that would be accurate and might attract prospective readers?
    2. How might the poem be read as being about someone other than a cat, i.e. as an implied fable?

Responses welcome!

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