Department header
Bewildering Stories

Challenge 426

Some Say in Ice

  1. Bertil Falk’s “The Exploits of Erle Stanley Gardner” describes a few of Gardner’s plot formulas. Do any of these formulas seem familiar in other genres, e.g. comic books, film, television... medieval romances? What might a writer deduce from them about the relative importance of plot and character?

  2. In Rene Barry’s “The Children of Arnborg” up through chapter 3:

    1. Emma’s account of the Arnborg “family history” constitutes a story within a story. How might it be told as narrative rather than as dialogue? What structural adjustments might make it something other than extended flashbacks?
    2. How might the plot be developed as a “private eye” story or a “police procedural” without vampires?

  3. In Ilan Herman’s “Seven Degrees of Bogus”:

    1. The ending is of the “double mirror” kind and can theoretically be repeated indefinitely. Does the title nonetheless suggest a practical limit to the chain-letter paranoia the story depicts? What might the ultimate ending be: a chaos of confusion or a frozen, static world where everyone is watching everyone else?
    2. In part 4, who might “Stephaney [sic] Myers” be? Are there other in-jokes based on names or characters?
  4. In Lesley Mace’s “Attic”:

    1. Who or what might “Grace Poole” be?
    2. If the poem is interpreted conventionally as a depiction mental illness, what kind of affliction does it portray?
    3. Or, if the poem is interpreted as a kind of ars poetica, is it too brief for what it does?
  5. In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Armchair Observatory, December 11, 2010”:

    1. What does “potential” refer to: the meteorite or the implied subject of “look up”?
    2. Does the line break in “the dust of / man,” which follows immediately the unbroken “the dust of Earth,” add anything to the meaning?
    3. Bewildering Stories normally does not accept inspirational literature; other websites specialize in it. Why might we make an exception in this case?
  6. Lee Di Cintio’s “Beloved Son” is in form an extended joke. Its meaning depends on one word: “stake.” To what extent is the joke entirely visual? That is, why might listeners — rather than readers — be completely baffled if they could not read the story but, instead, heard it recited orally?

  7. In Resha Caner’s “Nostalgia”:

    1. To what extent is the story a joke on circular logic? How would it change if the characters were people rather than machines?
    2. How does the story relate to Karlos Allen’s “Comparative Literature” in issue 425?
  8. In John W. Steele’s “The Endless Night”:

    1. We learn early on that the protagonist’s wife’s name is Martha, and yet she does not appear in the story. We learn much later that the protagonist’s name is William Becker. What might be the point in systematically omitting his name and referring to him only as “the man”? Do the three men at the church have any reason to ask him what his name is? Do they tell him theirs?

    2. According to Adamas, what happened to Becker on the ski trail? How long has Becker been searching for John Thule?

    3. Who is John Thule? Does the character have a function other than to carry a name alluding to the medieval “ultima Thule,” i.e. beyond the end of the world?

    4. The churchmen say the name of their location is Purgatory. Since Adamas is given the appearance of a folk devil, does Becker therefore seem to have set off on a trek to Hell? But Purgatory and Hell are places of exile and represent degrees of condemnation. Does William seem to deserve his fate? Martha does not appear to share it. Why might that be?

    5. Since “The Endless Night” takes a third-person point of view it does not transgress Bewildering Stories’ guidelines against illogical endings, especially those in which a narrator dies before he can finish his account. However, does it transgress the restriction on stories that end with “but it was all a dream” or the equivalent and thus logically cancel themselves out?

    6. In view of the epigraph, what might the story have in common with that of Job? How does it differ? Does the story express more than a primordial fear of death?

  9. In Matthew Baxter’s “Nero’s Ghost,” John W. Steele’s “The Endless Night,” John Grey’s “These Winters,” and Rebecca Lu Kiernan’s “Impact Rocks” what purpose does extinction serve?

    In general, how do any of the works in this issue relate to Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice”:

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

Responses welcome!

Copyright © 2011 by Bewildering Stories
What is a Bewildering Stories Challenge?

Home Page