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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 543

The Protheth of Protetht

  1. In Marian Brooks’ “Tree Incarnation”:

    1. The personification of the oak tree as “Brenda” suggests an allegory. What might the tree and its surroundings represent in human terms?
    2. How old is the tree?
    3. The boy’s baseball cap might bear any logo and the prose poem would remain intact. What might the logo’s particular signficance be? Hint: it is okay to go outside the poem itself to find the answer.
    4. The tree imagines being reincarnated as another tree. Does the tree imagine its future existence as ideal?
    5. If you knew you had to be reincarnated, as whom or what would you want to return?
  2. In LaVerne Zocco’s “Miss Whitson’s Highest Wish”:

    1. Are Miss Whitson’s strange “urges” psychologically plausible? Caution: “psychologically” includes abnormal psychology.
    2. What, in particular, attracts Miss Whitson to the cases of Isobel Fox and the Black Dahlia rather than to “ordinary” crime stories?
    3. Does “Brother Demas” drop any hint early on that he might have some connection with Miss Whitson’s recurring dream?
  3. In Yuliya Klochan’s “The Definition of Perfection”:

    1. Why might Maria’s “perfection” treatment fail?
    2. What does Maria actually do at the end of the story? Whatever she does, why is it paradoxical that she does so “silently”?
    3. How might the premise qualify “The Definition of Perfection” as an android story?
    4. What does Maria finally realize is the definition of perfection? Hint: Maria plays God with John’s personality. What can you give a supreme being who has everything?
  4. In Thomas Lee Joseph Smith’s “Methinks He Protesteth Too Much”:

    1. Would pouring even a 64-ounce Slurpee into a gasoline reservoir have any real effect on the gasoline?
    2. Do the incidents have any particular progression?
    3. How does the narrator’s family feel about his “protesting”?
    4. Are the “protests” entirely implausible? Do they seem to express any particular need?
  5. In Jason C. Ford’s “Eclipse at the Gates”:

    1. Who might be “the men renowned for hiding face”?
    2. What might the “book of lies” be?
    3. What might the “creed” be?
    4. What might the “gates” be?
    5. Does the poem refer to anyone or any group in particular or to hypocrisy — or something else —in general?

Responses welcome!

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