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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 440

Too Many Cooks

  1. In Graham Debenham’s “A Matter of Time”:

    1. Eddie fits into the society and momentous times of two generations earlier as easily as if he had always lived there. Might he not be at least a little surprised?
    2. Is it plausible that no one would notice Eddie’s futuristic wristwatch and new shoes?
  2. Is Alex Tozzi’s “Meal for a Monster” a story or a vignette? What other endings might it have?

  3. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “An Original Thought”:

    1. Is the “Thought” really a thought or is it something else?
    2. Does the story overstep Bewildering Stories’ guideline against plots that end “but it was all a dream” or the equivalent?
  4. In Mark Kertzman’s “The Mississippi Company”:

    1. The extended chase scene, where Jon pursues Ravi, is carefully orchestrated. How does it build tension between chapters 17 and 20?
    2. Is the confrontation between Jon and Ravi in chapters 17 and 18 entirely plausible?
    3. Ravi can kill Jon and the story can continue. But how? If Jon kills Ravi, the story ends abruptly and inconclusively. What turn do you expect it to take?
  5. In Ché Frances Monro’s “Wild Type”:

    1. Corona selects Jim for his “genetic information.” Aside from being conveniently isolated in desolate country, is Jim special in any way or would anybody suffice under the circumstances?

    2. Corona’s sisters decline Jim’s offer of further contributions on the grounds that “no new information would be gained.” That is not necessarily true. What better reason might the sisters give?

    3. The story can be characterized as a joke without a punch line. What other ending might it have? How might it be written as a comedy?

  6. In Mary B. McArdle’s Give Them Wine:

    1. In chapter 14, Donas returns from the plantation to find Rani dressed like a fashion plate. What is the style of her new clothing? What century does it recall: 17th? 18th? 19th?

    2. Donas and Lionel have young-love feelings for each other that are, understandably for their age, mostly lustful. Lionel shows concern for Donas’ safety but only as much as he would for anyone’s. Do he and Donas feel anything more? Would more be a nice touch or too much, too soon?

    3. Lionel tells Donas not to go alone to the cotton fields because of wild animals and savages affectionately known as “the Lonely People.” He notes: “We had several women killed before we realized they required escorts.” Why might Lionel’s people — especially the women — have been so incautious in the face of obvious danger?

    4. What does Donas’ and Lionel’s relationship imply about the customs of the South People? Is there any contrast with Katera”s commune, or do we know too little about it to make any comparison?

    5. Aside from Perce’s death in what amounts to a traffic accident involving incidental characters, recent chapters have been devoid of dramatic tension. The South People seem to be complacently incurious about:

      1. the post-apocalyptic events that seem to have thrown their culture back to a frontier era;
      2. the kind of culture that preceded theirs and the origin of the Storytellers;
      3. the land beyond the river and the strange visitors from the northwest;
      4. Katera’s commune, which is relatively nearby;
      5. Why Katera has not pursued Donas, Mak and Rani.

      Ignoring the synopsis — which gives the story away and needs to be shortened — what turns would you expect the story to take?

Responses welcome!

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