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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 553

Spiral’s Center

  1. In Sherman Smith’s Two Blind Men and a Fool, chapter 14: “Where Am I to Go?”:

    1. In the previous 13 chapters, what motivation and means can be found for Elroy’s manipulating Herbert Mann to purge Stella, Henry and now Earl?
    2. The hospital administrator expels Earl for not following non-existent “rules.” Mann says in effect that he has been doing the Navy a favor by accepting Earl as a patient in the first place, because Earl was in the Merchant Marine, not the Navy. Today one would expect an administrator like Herbert Mann to be dismissed for several reasons, including law-breaking and dereliction of duty. What were the rules governing Merchant Marine eligibility for Veterans Administration hospitalization and benefits at the time of the story, namely 1945-46?

  2. In Walter Giersbach’s “Scouting Alternatives”:

    1. Can a hallucination — be it Jocelyn Broome or Jason — have a hallucination?
    2. Does the story overstep Bewildering Stories’ guideline about plots that end with “but it was all a dream” or the equivalent?
  3. In Channie Greenberg’s “The Need for Staid Midlifers to Write Bizarro Texts”:

    1. To what extent does the essay seem to be a memoir? What might lead readers to think it might not be one, at least not entirely?
    2. In either case, how does the essay bear out Bewildering Stories’ motto: “There is no story so truly bewildering as reality”?
  4. In Grove Koger’s “Treacherous Waters”:

    1. What do the “demons” seem to be? Why might they have appeared 150 years earlier?
    2. What is the function of the reference to the folklorists? What have the “demons” done to Hodson and to the town itself?
  5. In Prashila Naik’s “Dream Woman”:

    1. In what ways does Rajat find Shreya both attractive and unattractive?
    2. Rajat has nothing to offer Shreya but his love. What kind of love is it?
    3. What is the function of the plump schoolboy in the story?
  6. In Mark Bonica’s Spiraling In, chapter 13:

    1. In this final chapter we hear all the life forms on the planet Rogue in Year 825: Driscoll, Persephone, Demeter — and even the microbes that have been seeded in the terraforming project. Which speak in which sections of the chapter?

    2. In light of the conclusion, how do Demeter and Persephone fulfill their mythological roles?

    3. Driscoll says he thinks he is alone with his version of Persephone’s “programming.” Is he really alone? How does Persephone’s reaction to it explain her and Driscoll’s “marriage” in chapter 10 and her death, in chapter 8?

    4. Summarize the events in chronological order, beginning with Year 817 and ending with Year 843. Could the story be written without omitting Demeter’s part?

  7. In Stephen Ellam’s “What Might Have Been”:

    1. What is the relationship between the “queen” and the narrator? What is the relationship between a Queen bee and worker in reality?
    2. What does “supersedure” mean?
    3. What and where are “Storrs” and “Lapidoth”?
    4. Who was the “Merovingian King” and how is his “sting” protective?
    5. What does “run a comb through your wings” imply?
    6. Why are the last two stanzas set off as separate sections? Do the separations seem to be needed?
    7. The poem implies a love story. What might it be?

Responses welcome!

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