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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 348

Like, Say It Again, Sam?

  1. The opening chapters of Bill Bowler’s The Bohemian recall the archetypal 19th-century Romantic poet: hungry, and living under a leaky roof in an unheated garret. The Romantics took the image very seriously; in what ways does the author gently poke fun at this stereotype?

  2. in Bertrand Cayzac’s “Fred’s Presentation,” Fred Looseman’s conference session seems very dry; indeed, some in his audience have a hard time staying awake:

    1. At what point does the audience wake up?
    2. What current events in newspaper headlines in 2008 and 2009 might Fred be talking about? What is the copyright date of the story? Do the astronomical amounts of currency involved seem excessive or about right?
    3. Bonus question: The name of the Italian bank is a double-entendre. In view of the bank’s operations, what connotation would you think the name has in Italian? (Please remember Bewildering Stories’ guidelines about graphic language when sending your Challenge responses.)
  3. In Diana Pollin’s “Grey Lines on White Paper”:

    1. What does the image in the title refer to besides the crossword puzzle?
    2. How do the crossword puzzle clues relate to Philip’s strange experience?
  4. At the end of Mark Bastable’s “Flick Book”:

    1. Are Vita’s visions of Paggy’s future real or hypothetical?
    2. How is it possible for Patrick — formerly Paggy — to cancel the visions that Vita has shown him and to use them at the same time?
    3. Does the story confirm or contradict one of Bewildering Stories’ unofficial mottoes: “What we perceive comes from the past; what we do goes into the future”?
  5. In S. D. Houston’s “Falling Shut”:

    1. How does the story use the premise of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray?
    2. In what ways are “Falling Shut” and Mark Bastable’s “Flick Book” alike?
  6. Is Eileen Elkinson’s “Everyday Disasters” a complete story in itself, or does it seem to be an episode in a larger story?

  7. Danielle L. Parker’s review of The New Space Opera applies a classical interpretation of the word opera, which has acquired a specialized meaning in English, namely a large musical work.

    1. Might the term “space opera” be slightly ironic? Could an equally catchy name be given to the genre of science fiction stories set in outer space?
    2. How do Danielle’s preferences differ from Gardner Dozois’? How does Danielle yet maintain fairness in the review?
  8. In Michael D. Brooks’ “Bully Factor,” how is it suggested that the haunted house protects itself through mind control? What does it imply about the house’s sense of ethics that it seems to control everybody but the bully?

  9. The title of Don Webb’s “I’m All, ‘And the Night Visitor!’” uses a colloquial California speech tag.

    1. What distinction do “I’m all” and “I’m like” make that “I said” does not make?
    2. How does the speech tag make the title partly ambiguous?
    3. Which lines mix masculine and feminine rhymes?
    4. What does the poem suggest about the limitations of history and the fate of real people?
    5. Bonus question: At one level, the poem can be read as a satire of horror literature; at another, it can be taken straight, as a glimpse of a worldview. How does the poet’s attitude differ from, say, Edgar Allan Poe’s?

Responses welcome!

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