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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 600

Awkward Guests

  1. In Charles C. Cole’s “The Bitter Living,” Abel has few lines. Why is his presence important? How would Sinclair be characterized if Abel were absent?

  2. In Teresa Richards’ “Footprints in the Snow”:

    1. Walter sees footprints leading away from his front door. Why does he not see footprints leading up to it?
    2. Walter inadvertently puts an ironically good interpretation on a bad sign. Imagine an alternative: What might have happened if Walter had opened the door when Angus knocked? Would the consequence be tragic or comic?

  3. In Aidan Lucid’s “The Last Delivery”:

    1. The ghostly hitchhiker asks the narrator to “give up his old sins.” Does the narrator comply?
    2. The hitchhiker seems to be a vampire or demon disguised as a priest. Why a priest? Does the story appear to be anticlerical in any other way?
  4. In Jennifer Shaw’s “Orbiting Janus”:

    1. The god Janus traditionally looked backwards to the past and forwards to the future at the same time. Does “Janus” appear to have the same symbolic meaning or some other meaning in this story?
    2. The narrator is referred to once, incidentally, as “Aaron” and, occasionally, as “buddy.” Discounting the name, why might the reader think the narrator is female?

  5. In Dave Ervin’s “The Thirteenth Traveler”:
    1. What is the effect of Travis’s mutation?

    2. Linklater is said to be an agent of a “Bureau.” What is the Bureau, and what is its mission?

    3. Zachary Dean adds an element of tragedy to the story. What are the comic elements?

    4. How did Linklater get trapped in his “Groundhog Day” type of time loop? How did the story get started in the first place?

    5. What eventually happens to Linklater? Suppose he had refused his mission and never done anything at all with Travis Burbage. Would the story have ended any differently? Does Linklater’s mission logically cancel itself out?

    6. How do you read “The Thirteenth Traveler”? As a story with an earnest moral or as a spoof of the time-travel genre?

Responses welcome!

date Copyright December 8, 2014 by Bewildering Stories
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