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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 542

Merrily Down the Stream

  1. In Mia Tijam’s “Quartered in the Sunset”:

    1. Can you find name symbolism in the story?
    2. What methods might be used to decrypt the story from surrealistic to realistic mode? What is the result?
  2. In Paulette Smythe’s “Simon’s Spectacles”:

    1. What role does Simon play in the story? Is he really necessary? Would the story change significantly if the narrator simply bought a fresh pair of magical reading glasses in the store across the street?
    2. What kinds of visions does the narrator have when wearing the spectacles? Can the visions be explained naturally or do they seem to have some supernatural content?
    3. What image of the narrator emerges from the story?
  3. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “Swimming the Amazon,” what is the significance of the way in which J. L. survives the sinking of the River Queen?

  4. In Danielle N. Gales’ “Hope in the Long Dark”:

    1. What special attraction does the planet Elysium have for Karen and the colonists besides being habitable? What is the function of the Althaea Corporation in the story?
    2. What is Karen’s and Rachel’s relationship? Why does Karen leave Rachel? Why does it matter that Rachel is a passenger on another ship bound for the same destination?
    3. What is the dramatic function of the mysterious “dead zone” in space?
    4. Do the flashbacks need subtitles or is the narration easy enough to follow?
    5. What is the function of the male characters in the story? How do they contrast emotionally with the female characters?
  5. In Bertil Falk’s “An Interstellar Tryst”:

    1. Does the title give the story away?
    2. The story is related to several others featuring Billie Occasion. Is it necessary to be familiar with them in order to understand Billie’s method of spatio-temporal displacement?

    3. Billie Occasion’s name is a pun on “bilocation.” Does the name Carolus Rex have any symbolic significance? The name Sigourney Nagy?

    4. Sigourney gives Billie Occasion a tour of the generation ship. What is the ship’s purpose? Can its inhabitants realistically expect to continue to travel through the galaxy indefinitely without making planetfall?

    5. What more might the Earthling voyagers expect after they come to make the space alien’s acquaintance?

Responses welcome!

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