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Dear Jerry and Don (but where, withal, is Spud?):
I won't take up your challenge this issue, though it's one of the best ones yet, but I will remark that the lady in "The Missing Person" seems to have done an outstanding job of sabotage that may be considered existential and ego-based, like the fellow in the story who sabotaged the munitions conscription by typo'ing his serial number on the assignment acceptance form.
That story does get down to existence and its problems, stripped of anything else, and I'd say there are a lot of parallels to it in this issue. In "Made It Way Up," the fellow says "I'm stuck in time. I'm only one place any second," and wants to change his environment or circumstances — perhaps.
In "Friday Night" we have a look at an existence and we find people being uncomfortable in it and wanting to change it.
In "Gaia" we find current meaning and significance, also. Cities are devastated by things other than visible warfare, and estrangement can be felt by a person moving among the multitudes; instead of a future, this story could be a subconscious to our own day-to-day experiences. The fact that Dar has the outlook of a person who works at a rehabilitation occupation lends her an ego-significance, yet she has the common problem. Being transported, she is more of a central figure, a common intelligence in a spotlight which does not reveal her to others. And how a person feels in strange situations and circumstances is viewed by several authors in this issue. It is an important consideration.
Thanks for the compliments about my story in your description of what was in the issue. I sent a story of similar merit to SF Crow's Nest and the editor didn't seem to like it; I think he was not aware of the humor that was in the story, so I'm very glad you point out that this is there. It's an important factor in my writing, in fact.
Best wishes for more issues of the same thought-provoking level.
And thank you for your own thought-provoking letter, John! Now, just a couple of things:
However, I think the merits of the Challenge are due to the quality of Ásgrímur’s vignette. The “larger story” question first appeared in Challenge 83. As I recall, you did not like that one at all. Which is quite understandable: “She Waits in the Moonlight” is stomach-turning, a horror story designed to horrify horror writers. But I rate that Challenge as among the best, because it shows how the ambiguities by which an author manipulates the reader can be used in turn by a skeptical reader, in self-defense.
Please keep the stories and letters coming, John! As you can see, you do give us food for thought.
Copyright © 2004 by John Thiel and Bewildering Stories
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