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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 471

Riding the Waves

  1. In Mike Florian’s “Storm Variations”:

    1. Bewildering Stories normally considers numbered sections to be more trouble than they’re worth and recommends using our standard separator (* * *). What is the potential disadvantage in numbering sections? Why might an exception be warranted in “Storm Variations”? In what way or ways might numbered sections be advantageous in this case?

    2. The story introduces several characters involved in separate actions all taking place at the same time. How does the author make it easy to keep track of who is who and what is going on?

    3. The ending is a confluence of “happy endings” that may strike the reader as implausible or at least strangely coincidental. It would be a mistake to assume the author didn’t plan for that. Read the story as a cautionary tale: what might its moral be?

  2. In Charles C. Cole’s “The Cryptid in the Break Room”:

    1. What might the moral of the story be?
    2. How might the story be read if it were classified as a special case of the essay, namely a memoir?
  3. In Robert G. Gilland’s “Drifter Train”:

    1. Does the girl seem to age suddenly and unaccountably? Or is the narrator’s initial perception mistaken? Or does he have a perverse fixation?
    2. What indicates that the entire story may be a dream sequence? Does “Drifter Train” overstep the Bewildering Stories’ guideline frowning upon conclusions that say or imply “but it was all a dream” or the equivalent?

    3. The story concludes with an “open ending.” How do you feel about it? What might the “larger story” be?
  4. In Gloria F. Watts’ “My Twin Sister Louise”:

    1. Is it possible to surmise that “John” might exist only in the narrator’s imagination?
    2. Assuming that “John” really exists, why might we doubt the narrator’s account of his complicity in murdering Louise?
    3. How would the story be changed if the last paragraph were omitted? How might the story go beyond the formulas of good and evil twins and “crime doesn’t pay”?

Responses welcome!

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