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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 492

Waiting on the Gator

  1. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “Flotation Jones”:

    1. Does May speak any differently from the other characters?
    2. May’s explanation to Oggie Phelps is plausible, but why does she really shoot him?
    3. What is the function of Wheatie in the story? Does the make a wise decision to remain sitting on an alligator in the rain rather than return to the White Palace? What does Tucker think of it?
    4. Would the shark fins be visible at night?
    5. “Midgets” in pirate costumes might be comic-opera funny if they weren’t really pirates. What might be the function of their relatively short stature? Could it be referenced in some other way? And have seagoing pirates ever worn uniforms?
  2. In A. J. Grace-Smith’s “La Nouvelle Cendrillon”:

    1. The title means literally ‘the new Cinderella’ or, perhaps more precisely, ‘a latter-day Cinderella’. While the title is accurate, prospective readers may reasonably presume that the story is in French. Can you think of an appropriate title in English?
    2. The story is not a retelling of “Cinderella” although it borrows elements such as the clock and shoe. Could the shoe be replaced by something else? Is it needed at all?
    3. Whose thoughts are represented by the text in small caps? By the text in italics?
    4. When does Lillia kill her father, and why? What strange power does she seem to have?
    5. How many literary allusions can you find in the story?
  3. In Suzanna Stanbury’s “On Pitch Lane”:

    1. What is a “BRI”?
    2. Is the narrator male or female? Is “Angelica” the narrator’s name? Does his/her victim have a name?
    3. Why might neither murderer expect to escape being apprehended by the police?
    4. Is “On Pitch Lane” a story or a vignette? Or might it be a chapter in a longer story?
  4. Both “La Nouvelle Cendrillon” and “On Pitch Lane” exemplify the subgenre of the “revenge fantasy.” How do they differ in terms of means and motivation?

  5. In Mel Waldman’s “A Place of Desolation,” what does a cosmological chicken-egg question have to do with human suffering?

Responses welcome!

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