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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 490

Users’ Magical Manual

  1. In Hongping Liu’s “Into the Mountains”:

    1. In the collection of prose poems, what seem to be the objects of the theme of loss?
    2. How does the last poem, “Mountaineer,” complete the cycle begun in the first poem, “Temptation”?
    3. In what ways might the English language benefit from translations and from works written in English as a second language?
  2. In Martin Bayne’s “Exoskeletons in the Closet”:

    1. When Mark Richter and Joel Davidson first meet, they exchange names in a manner that is not quite in conformity to standard etiquette. What might the conversational style imply, especially about Mark Richter?
    2. Joel Davidson’s name seems innocuous; however, Mark Richter’s name is particularly well chosen in view of the plot. Why might that be? Hint: consult a German-English dictionary.
    3. Jude is a rather grotesque character. What elements make him essential to the plot?
    4. Why might Mark’s ultimate strategy in dealing with Joel not seem to be entirely plausible?
  3. In Ankit Govil’s “To the Pier”:

    1. The story is basically a joke at the expense of readers’ assumptions about the nature of narrators. How does the author maintain the necessary ambiguity throughout?
    2. The story is more than a joke. What does it imply about the relationship of pets and their owners?
  4. In Julie Eberhart Painter’s “The Faerie Flag”:

    1. Why does Christal come to Dunvegan castle?
    2. Does Christal’s son have a name?
    3. About how old would you say Christal’s son must be when his mother entrusts him with the Faerie flag and the instructions for its use?
  5. In Mel Waldman’s “Dark Metamorphosis”:

    1. What two details would have to be changed to make it possible to perform the play either on stage or as a radio play?
    2. What does Marvin learn about the afterlife? Is it really any different from real life?
    3. How might Marvin’s sessions with the suicide bomber play out?
    4. What are readers required to bring to the story on their own? That is, what must readers know in advance about the ways in which Marvin and his family were killed in order to understand Marvin at all?

  6. Responses welcome!

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