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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 547

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  1. In Sherman Smith’s Two Blind Men and a Fool:

    1. In chapter 6, Elroy is an orderly. In what ways does he have the power of a hospital administrator?
    2. In chapter 7, what are the elements of dramatic tension between Earl and Brooks?
  2. In Mark Bonica’s Spiraling In, chapter 4: The reader has already begun to realize, as of chapter 3, that the chapter titles refer to the internal chronology of the story and that the chapters follow in thematic rather than chronological order. Of what use is chronology anyway? To take an extreme case, what kind of calendar might be used by an analogous character such as Robinson Crusoe?

  3. In Piyush Pandey’s “Reality Check”:

    1. Is the narrator disillusioned because of or despite his illness?
    2. How would the poem differ if the narrator were well rather than ill?
    3. What difference would it make if the narrator had a serious illness rather than a cold?
  4. In Marian Brooks’ “Snug as a Bug”:

    1. How does the story differ from most “spousal revenge fantasies”?
    2. How does the story differ from Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”?
    3. Do the unusual events of the week have a causal or thematic connection to Myron’s transformation?
  5. In Ian Cordingley’s “To the Horizon”:

    1. The story might qualify as a “post-apocalypse” tale. What does the “apocalypse,” if that’s what it is, seem to consist of? What seems to be its cause?
    2. How many times does the word “old” occur in the story? How often does it occur with a favorable connotation?
    3. What is the role of Dawson’s horse, Pathfinder?
    4. The story concludes with a snort. What might it imply?
    5. Why does Dawson feel ambivalent about becoming a pioneer on another planet? How might the story be read as a cautionary tale for science fiction writers? Is the title hopeful or bitterly ironic?
  6. In Emily M. Peters’ “Experiment Failed”:

    1. What might be the identity and motivation of the “unsub” (unidentified subject) who kills Karla’s mother? Does either one matter?
    2. Karla does not think she hates her mother. Is she right? What does she hate?
  7. In B. Z. Niditch’s “Along the Volga,” we find an allusion to Picasso’s “peace dove”:

    Painters on greensward shores
    wait for Picasso’s dove.

    A Review Editor observes that the “dove” was created for the Soviet “peace congresses” in the 1950’s, when the USSR was oppressing the captive nations of the Baltic and Eastern Europe. Is there any indication in the poem how “Picasso’s dove” is to be understood? Is it simply a generic symbol of peace?

  8. In Charles C. Cole’s “Undead Rendezvous,” the undead stalk the night because an airplane has spilled a cargo of goo, which has accidentally come in contact with the victim. What other effects might the accident have had? Can you think of other ways to create zombies within the confines of the story?

  9. In Don Webb’s “The Flying Dutchman of MacKinnon Hall”:

    1. Why do the students not need to bring dictionaries to the exam?
    2. In what way do the students misuse their dictionaries?

Responses welcome!

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