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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 599

A Place for Unstrangers

  1. In Henry F. Tonn’s “Rendezvous at Paul’s Place,” why might the country folk be so helpful to a stranger? How might they see the incident, from their point of view?

  2. In Sherman Smith’s “If You Say It Again...” the characters are real people. Why must the account be considered a short story rather than an essay?

  3. In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Day at the Theatre,” how do we know that the “theatre” is not a place where literal stage plays are performed? Hint: in the first stanza, a gown is described. What is the only place in which such a gown is worn?

  4. In Bruce Costello’s “Sharp Cuts”:

    1. The narrator learns a lot about his fellow tramper. What important — and customary — information do the two of them not exchange?
    2. How do we know the narrator is not going to commit suicide?
  5. In James Graham’s “Hill Walk”:

    1. What constitutes the idyllic for Peter Alexander in social, political and economic terms?
    2. “There are Earth-like planets. [...] Intelligent life there would be human-like. Not smart lizards or little green men.”

      1. Why does Peter Alexander readily accept the anthropocentric assumption that “intelligent life” would be “human-like”? Why is such an assumption a practical impossibility?
      2. Is all intelligent life on Earth “human-like”?
      3. Which is more likely: “smart lizards” or “little green men”?
    3. The Iranthans are depicted as speaking with a kind of lisp. Aside from emphasizing the Iranthans’ nature as space aliens, what role does it have in Peter’s ultimate decision?

  6. In Bertil Falk’s “A Twist in the Universe”:

    1. Jessica Smith estimates that the number of atoms in the universe is very large but finite. What conclusion does she draw?
    2. Using either one of Dr. Smith’s estimates, calculate the number of permutations and combinations of all the atoms in the universe. What might one conclude from the result?

    3. For lovers of music history: What does Scott Joplin have to do with the story?

Responses welcome!

date Copyright December 1, 2014 by Bewildering Stories
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