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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 570

Drive-Through or Drive-By?

  1. In Antonio Bellomi’s “Port of Call,” how might the story have observed one of Bewildering Stories’ unofficial mottoes: “If you have an interesting character, for pity’s sake, don’t kill her!”

  2. In Kallirroe Agelopoulou’s “When Cars Grew Taller,” does the story overstep our guideline about plots that end with “but it was all a dream” or the equivalent? Or is the tree an allegorical hallucination that occupies a moment in the lonely tollboth keeper’s experience?

  3. In P. K. Vijayan’s “The Bastards”:

    1. Is the object of the diatribe discernible in the poem or does the author’s note provide the only clue to what it is?
    2. How might our article “Subtlety and Symbol” apply to the poem?
  4. In Sherman Smith’s “Crazy as a Woodpecker,” Elroy’s verbal antics are described as imitating Woody Woodpecker, a cartoon character, and Vincent Price, an actor.

    1. The description depends almost entirely on all readers’ being familiar with these figures of popular culture. What if the readers are not familiar with them or are less familiar with them than the author is? How might Elroy’s diction be described otherwise?

    2. Elroy is supposed to be a psychopath and paranoid, to boot. Does portraying him as a cartoon character enhance the effect or make him comical, thereby trivializing him?

    3. Elroy’s character is inspired by Jack Nicholson’s role in The Shining. Is Vincent Price an accurate analogue in terms of the time setting, namely the late 1940’s, or is the reference to him an anachronism?

    In “An Affectation Mocking Victory,” Elroy is about to be released on account of a mistaken identity dating from chapter 30:

    1. How likely is it that Elroy will be released simply because he apparently claims to be impersonating a dead man?
    2. How likely is it that Elroy will be allowed to walk away from a murder charge simply because his victim did not die immediately? There may have been no witnesses, but were there no fingerprints on the bottle?

  5. In J. J. Roth’s Legacy of the Fallen Stars:

    1. What future history does the conclusion envisage for Earth at the end of the third millennium: progressive, regressive or post-apocalyptic?

    2. What is the Taurids’ attitude towards Earthlings: helpful, benignly indifferent or hostile?

    3. The Taurids plan to return to Earth in the future. If Earthlings could know, should they consider the intention a promise or a threat?

    4. Do the Taurids have anything to do with the falling stars in chapter 1? If so, what? Are the stories of the Taurids and the Stonehenge builders integrated, related or coincidental?

Responses welcome!

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