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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 678

Is Rusty the New Orange?

  1. In Andy Tu’s “Point of No Return”:

    1. JT does what Bella asks, although ungraciously. Why does Bella lose her temper and attack him?
    2. What kind of story would the boys and girls have to cook up between them that would satisfy a police investigation of Bella’s death?
  2. In Deborah Rochford’s “Two Proposals”:

    1. The winter weather is strongly emphasized, but it isn’t there just for the scenery. What is its function in the plot of the story?
    2. Considering Mr. Lawson’s age, would he gain more by investing in Josh’s youthful talent and enthusiasm or by taking an immediate pay-off? Which would Susan prefer?
  3. In Charles C. Cole’s “The Mechanical Engineer”:

    1. What movies or TV serials are cited or alluded to? What kinds do they seem to be?
    2. What early clue might indicate that Mr. Roy’s garage will play an important part in the story?
    3. Why did Mr. Roy forget about the ice? Why might Mrs. Roy’s suitcases be orange in color?
    4. Is Mrs. Roy a real person in the story or is she a simulacrum? Can readers question the reality of other characters in the story?
  4. In Bill Kowaleski’s “Intelligent Designers”:

    1. Why might the Sirians seem less intelligent than their technology suggests they are?
    2. How long can McDermott realistically hope to keep the Sirian aircraft and pilots a secret? Does he really need Jennifer and Peter? Can they trust McDermott? Is Jennifer loyal to the spirit of science or are she and Peter self-serving sell-outs? Or does Jennifer have a real ethical dilemma?

    3. The Sirians are said to have faked the fossil record of human evolution. Even if the Sirians could do such a thing, why would they go to so much trouble? Does the story suggest that the theory of “hard” creationism is due to space-alien “one-percenters” having too much time on their hands? Even if it’s true, what difference does it make?

    4. “We’re [someone else’s] property” is a time-honored topic in science fiction. What other stories can you cite that use it? Hint: You needn’t limit yourself to science fiction. In what way does the book of Genesis use that premise? Do all creation stories use it? If so, why?

  5. In Edward Ahern’s “Listen to the Deaf Man Sing”:

    1. What might indicate, at the outset, that Stephen is well-known or even famous?
    2. What is Karen’s function in the story? Does she affect Stephen’s career in any way?

    3. Stephen Allan himself acknowledges that his speeches are effective for their style alone and are practically devoid of content. What orators or speakers can you think of — aside from the classic example of Adolf Hitler — who might resemble Stephen? What accounts for their success?

    4. Nobbs says that Stephen’s speeches have caused suicides, which makes him guilty of manslaughter. Is Nobbs’ assertion accurate or is it an empty threat? Who is Nobbs, anyway, and what, exactly, does he need Stephen to do for him?

    5. At the end, why does Stephen not explain what the “lethal risk” is in listening to him? Is he able to explain it?

    6. Bonus question: In what way does Stephen Allan differ from John Cage in Gore Vidal’s satirical novel Messiah?

Responses welcome!

date Copyright August 8, 2016 by Bewildering Stories
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