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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 319

Sideways Around the Dragon

  1. In Zachary Ash’s “Napoleon in Rags”:

    1. The story is basically timeless, but historical allusions bridge ancient and modern times. What cultural reference indicates that Sarah’s story takes place after the year 1934? What else suggests a time some thirty years later?
    2. Sarah learns to “see the illusion.” What happens to those who want to see something else?
    3. In what way is the carnival a metaphor for art? How can it be seen as more than that?
    4. What is meant by “think sideways”?
    5. What elements make the story a philosophical tale in the mode of magic realism?
    6. Explain how the title fits the story. In that regard, what does the story have in common with Bob Dylan’s songs “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Desolation Row”?
  2. What is the function of kissing in Gary W. Crawford’s “Gangrene”? What happens that seems to make the foul odor disappear?

  3. Sean Hower’s “The Road to Edo” is set in medieval Japan. What limits does the setting place upon language? That is, to what extent may the characters speak 21st-century English, and what kinds of expressions and turns of phrase might the author of such a story want to avoid?

  4. In Jonathan J. Schlosser’s “Of Snow and Steel”:

    1. Why does Ethan not kill Keen by some other means than fire?
    2. Why does Ethan not launch a pre-emptive strike against the attackers before they can terrorize the family?
    3. Judging by allusions to events outside the story, the episode is evidently a chapter from a longer work. Is it a complete story in itself or a vignette?
  5. In Steven J. Blander’s “A Bewitched Man,” in what ways do the man and the “witch” need each other? Why might one think they deserve each other?

  6. In the Introduction to Tala Bar’s “Lunari”:

    1. What mnemonics might readers use to distinguish between male and female character names?
    2. In what ways do all the male characters seem to be weaklings or somehow abnormal?
    3. What do all the female characters have in common? In what way is Mira an exception to the female stereotype?
    4. Which talent of Mira’s might the reader suspect will turn out to be important to the group? How does the author indicate its possible importance?
    5. The adjective “ancient” can refer to a live person or live fictional character only ironically, i.e. as someone who should have died of old age long ago. How might Lilit be described as being both a mythological figure from the distant past and a live character in the story?

  7. Responses welcome!

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