What, When, and Why
Bill West’s “Beside the Pearl Fountains” does not end with “And the couple lived happily ever after.” Why not? What would happen to the story if it did?
In Yuvi Zalkow’s story about men and JoLans:
- How many levels of characterization does the story use? What are they?
- What is the function of the meta-commentary? What would happen if it were removed?
- What does the space-alien allegory tell us about the hapless hero’s relationship with his estranged wife?
João Ventura’s “Disgrace”:
- Is it a story or a vignette?
- Does Councilor Ahrmag have a moral conflict, or is he a victim of circumstance?
- How might “Disgrace” serve as a beginning of a larger story? A middle? An ending? How would the stories differ essentially?
Mary B. McArdle’s “Veil”:
- If we define sentimentality as unearned emotion, how might the poem — despite appearances — qualify as sentimental?
- What is the “larger story” implied in the poem?
- In what way is “Veil” similar to João Ventura’s “Disgrace”?
In Nick Allen’s “Summer Fate”:
- What is the pun in the title?
- £2 may seem like a little high as a price for a carnival fortune-telling. What might justify it?
- Why does the customer get cold feet after entering Shahnaz’s tent? Does she recognize Shahnaz or not?
- Why does the customer insist on having her fortune told after Shahnaz resists?
- The ending implies that Shahnaz is a lawyer. Why is Shahnaz’s question to herself incongruous?
- What do you think of Shahnaz’s revenge? Might her question about the customer’s children be interpreted as a veiled threat?
In Bertil Falk’s “The Saga of the Cattle Killer”:
- How do the characters’ names differ from those in Tala Bar’s “Lunari”? Which set is easier to keep track of? What mnemonics might a reader use who is unfamiliar with names in Hebrew or medieval Scandinavian?
- At what point in the story might the reader guess who the perpetrator of the “cattle killings” is? What is the real mystery that Gardar has to solve?
- Gardar makes the onlookers take an oath. Even though oaths are sacred in the culture, is it realistic? What immediate purpose of Gardar’s does it serve?
- When Gardar spurns the beauteous Sigryn, is the reason he gives an evasion? How might it be directed at Sigryn herself?
Copyright © 2009 by Bewildering Stories
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