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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 343

You Can’t Get Here From There

  1. In Mel Lees’ “Aurora Again,” who or what might Aurora be?

  2. In Julie Wornan’s “The Checkerboard”;
    1. At what point can the reader foresee how the story will end?
    2. The story makes a point about human politics and culture. Is the alternate universe of the story really very different from ours?
  3. In Joseph Grant’s “Inside the Cage”:

    1. How might the information supplied in the exposition be incorporated into the drama? In other words, how might Andrea’s backstory be supplied by dialogue rather than the author’s direct intervention?
    2. How is Judy characterized? What do you make of her insistence that Andrea join her on a double date? If Judy is no more than a dramatic foil, how might her character be made realistic?
    3. Readers can guess easily and early what kind of memory Andrea is in the process of recovering. In that light, is her acquiescence to Judy’s persistence and her date with John entirely believable?
    4. In the conversation between Andrea and John, how is John characterized: is he merely a dramatic foil for Andrea’s repressed rage? Does he have any ambiguity of character that might echo that of Andrea’s father?
    5. Does Andrea say she has mixed feelings about her father or does she simply hate him?
    6. How might the story be written by deliberately shifting the point of view by turns between all the characters but leaving Andrea viewed only by others?
  4. In Lee Morris’ “Javelin Warriors”:

    1. The two photos of the cat in the tree are effectively duplicates. Does either support the text, or do the photos undermine the verbal illusion?
    2. How might a reader view the story who has been affected by the cruel reality of cancer: as wishful thinking that is itself unintentionally cruel or as a prose poem of despair at the limitations of science?
    3. “Javelin Warriors” echoes in a general way the premise of Isaac Asimov’s “Fantastic Voyage” (1966). Asimov overcame logical problems in the film version due to the literal miniaturization of people and large objects, but he always insisted that the miniaturization process itself remains a literary device. Meanwhile, advances in medical technology have brought “Fantastic Voyage” into the realm of hard science fiction. How does the concept of “Javelin Warriors” differ in substance from “Fantastic Voyage”?
  5. In RD Larson’s “Instinctive Fear”:

    1. The plot consists of three stories: those of Jennie and her father, Travis Jordan, and General Holycroft. Are they combined successfully? What is the center of the story: Jennie and her father’s life together, Travis Jordan’s space watch, or the invasion from Mars?
    2. In light of the N1H1 “swine flu” pandemic, is it at all believable that the story concludes with a new story about bureaucratic secrecy?
    3. What happens to secrecy if Travis Jordan goes on trial? Would today’s readers not expect him to be spirited away to a secret prison under indefinite detention?

Responses welcome!

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