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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 416

Pristine Plastic Bottles?

  1. In Marina J. Neary’s “Inside the Rotten Apple,” the author says she deliberately uses stereotypes for comic effect. How many can you find, and what are they?

  2. In Danielle L. Parker’s “Death King,” Capt. Jim Blunt has a reputation as a tough and skillful operator. And yet his reputation does not seem to precede him. In the story to date, in what ways has Blunt used the element of surprise to gain the upper hand on his adversaries?

  3. In Ásgrímur Hartmannsson’s Error, what peculiar fascination of Jonas’ might suggest possible employment for him? How might it be either honest or illicit?

  4. In Cleveland W. Gibson’s “From Behind the Green Door”:

    1. The poet rhymes the same word: “rule.” Why is it permissible to do so in this case?
    2. Descriptive or interpretive poetry based on visual artwork is very difficult to write; such poetry seldom stands on its own. Do you think this poem succeeds as a kind of impromptu multimedia collaboration with the artist? If so, what are its merits?
  5. In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Clear Sailing”:

    1. Do the line breaks make up for the absence of punctuation? Would standard punctuation help or distract the reader?
    2. How does the poem rise above the level of a paean to bottled water? What do the references to Wales and Mars tell us?
  6. Kenneth Weene’s “Apple Pies and Elephants” shows that distant extinctions can have parallels close to home. At the end, ‘Suze’ is arrested and subsequently vanishes, thereby becoming a kind of desaparecida or an Orwellian “unperson.”

    1. Does anything else in the story suggest that personal or mass extinctions are official government policy?
    2. Does the ending come out of the blue, or does the story reveal a naive narrator slowly becoming aware of a shadowy and sinister reality?
    3. If the air is as bad as described, why don’t the characters have to wear breathing masks all the time?
  7. In Natalie Lang’s “From the Beginning”:

    1. How does the author hint that the young girl’s party might have been somewhat wilder if the girl had been, say, three years older?
    2. What is gained by telling the story from the girl’s point of view rather than by including her parents’ viewpoint omnisciently?
    3. In what ways do the author’s point of view and the young girl’s overlap? Do they seem to come into conflict at any point?
    4. Viewed as a story rather than as a memoir, “From the Beginning” raises questions, such as:
      1. The girl calls Adam a “pig.” Why might this be viewed as self-reproach? What is her main complaint about Adam? Is it entirely fair? What would have happened if he had appeared at the door to greet the girl’s mother?
      2. Why did the girl engage in what she must have known would be seen as rebellion? Is there something more to the story than we’re told?
      3. Why does a kind of tragic mode predominate in a story that is actually profoundly comic?
  8. In Richard Ong’s “The Sleeping God,” young Julio goes on a forbidden quest beyond the borders of his village. After he is sent on his way by Ghotta, he enters another, larger story.

    1. What is the larger story?
    2. Could the larger story be handled in any other way than by the pilot’s backing and filling and entering items of common knowledge in his logbook?
    3. Why might it seem implausible that the village is actually located on the Moon?

Responses welcome!

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