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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 324

On a Prayer and a Wing

  1. In Kim Rush’s “The Impossible Case”:

    1. How many references are there to the sense of touch? To senses other than sight?
    2. Is “The Impossible Case” a story or a vignette?
    3. How might one argue that “The Impossible Case” is a variation on “It was all a dream”?
  2. Which is the theme of Oonah V. Joslin’s “The Writing Room”:

  3. In L. Roger Quilter’s “The Tidy Ghost of Rook Manor,” how might the differing interests of Billie and Katie explain the “open” ending to the story? How might one write a supernatural ending to the story? A natural one?

  4. At the end of Robert N. Stephenson’s “Yellow Dresses,” George wonders whether Janice likes rain. What will he have to do to find out, in addition to asking her? Has he missed his chance?

  5. In Graham Storrs’ “Skyball”:

    1. Addiction to the “skyballs” might be read as a satire on religious fanaticism. How does the story put limits on that interpretation?
    2. In light of the source of the skyball affliction, how is Professor Lyle’s attempt at cosmic communication ironic?
    3. In light of the way in which people characterize the skyballs’ nature and purpose, how is Professor Lyle’s experiment also ironic?
    4. How does “Skyball” fit into the tradition of alien-invasion stories in “Space Aliens as Metaphor”?
  6. In Michael D. Brooks’ “Wind Rider”:

    1. With what narrative techniques does the author convey the impression of speed and rapid-fire sequences of events?
    2. What is the relationship between Mason Adams and his ship’s computer? What is the computer’s role in the pilot’s daredevil stunts?
    3. Mason Adams flies from Mars to the Sun and back again with slingshot passes around Earth, Mercury and Venus. What fraction of the speed of light will Adams’ spaceship have to average in order to complete the trip in “a few hours”?
    4. Assume that Adams’ spaceship masses 10,000 metric tonnes at rest. Calculate the tidal stresses it will put on the Inner Planets and Earth’s moon as it passes them at relativistic speeds.
    5. Considering the spaceship’s initial impact with the Martian atmosphere at an interstellar — rather than an interplanetary — velocity, is it reasonable to conclude that Mars has no inhabitants? Publicity aside, is this trip really necessary?
    6. Why might this story be considered nostalgic in today’s science fiction? Why might it also be considered a breath of fresh air?
  7. In Tala Bar’s “Lunari”:

    1. Is it plausible that the future Lunarians do not know that other suns exist beyond the three surrounding their planet? Does their ignorance serve any dramatic purpose? How are the future Lunarians better suited to space travel than the original settlers?
    2. How does the “Controller” implicitly explain why the original colonists contact the future Lunarians that they do rather than those of an earlier time?
    3. Is contact with the original colonists necessary for the future Lunarians to demand that the Controller abandon its policy as a benevolent dictator?
    4. Is cross-time communication really necessary to the story? Aren’t there really two stories in “Lunari” rather than one? What other possible stories are suggested in the conclusion?
    5. Why is the story’s premise logically impossible?
    6. What astronomical condition makes the planet’s existence physically impossible?

Responses welcome!

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