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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 291

To Nearby Shores

  1. What other title or titles might you choose for Randy Foster’s “Desperate Women”?

  2. What is the moral of Rosie de la Mare’s “Heavy Burden”?

  3. Is Crystalwizard’s “Best Laid Plans” a short story or a vignette? If it’s a story, what is the conclusion? If it’s a vignette, how would you conclude it?

  4. In what way does Lewayne L. White’s “Crowsong” reverse a conventional literary symbol?

  5. Is John Grey’s “It’s a...” a poem or flash fiction with line breaks?

  6. In R. R. Brooks “Xenolith”:

    1. Harold Jork is a professor of what? That is, what might his specialty be?

    2. Space aliens make human beings less warlike and more peace-loving. What motive might the aliens have?

    3. The space aliens left clues all over the world to indicate the artifact’s location in a remote and inaccessible place. Why did they not simply drop similar artifacts in plain sight in many densely populated areas?

    4. “Actually, I infected you. With that kiss. I’m sorry about hitting you on the head, but I had to delay your return by a few days. To give it time to take, to stop you from blabbing. Men are a bit more resistant than women, and somehow I knew that.”

      Is there an apparent contradiction in what Maria says and what she did? Would it have made any difference if Jork had revealed his findings?

    5. In what ways do all the characters — Maria, Jork, and the space aliens — act unethically?

    6. Maria’s argument for keeping Jork’s discovery secret is based entirely on protecting religious conservatives from the knowledge that space aliens exist. And yet extraterrestrial life — and even intelligence — has always been a staple of legend, fiction, and, in a sense, religion itself. As this story shows, space aliens are practically taken for granted in popular culture today. Is Maria’s objection realistic or does she create a false problem?

  7. How does Amanda K. Stein’s “Two Birds” differ from Jean de La Fontaine’s « Les Deux Pigeons », ‘The Two Pigeons’? Hint:

    L’absence est le plus grand des maux. — Absence is the worst of misfortunes.
    Amants, heureux amants, voulez-vous voyager? Que ce soit aux rives prochaines. — Happy lovers, would you travel? Let it be to nearby shores.
  8. In Bertil Falk’s Eucharist for a Sinless Mankind:

    1. The Betelgeusians have obeyed their Creator’s injunction not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Do they therefore think they would do wrong by eating it? But how can they know of right and wrong without a knowledge of good and evil?

      Corollaries: Is humanity’s “fall” — the knowledge of good and evil — due to disobedience or to an accident? If an accident, has humanity not disobeyed a command issued after the fact?

    2. If the Betelgeusians are truly sinless, what inhabitants of Earth do they resemble?

    3. Do the Betelgeusians live in a state of constant temptation? If not, why not?

    4. The supposedly sinless beings are made of silicon and are nourished by the sunlight of Betelgeuse. What human artifact do these beings resemble?

    5. Mother Tamara Crossfire has discovered a universe inhabited by immaterial and apparently completely sinful beings. Might the inhabitants of Betelgeuse be able to assist her in her missionary work, or might they not?

    6. Does the Pope imply that the Betelgeusians represent a moral state toward which all sentient beings ought to strive? Or does the Pope imply that the Betelgeusians are simply different, like all other “mankinds”?

Responses welcome!

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