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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 480

I Hear That Train A-Comin’

  1. In James Vachowski’s “The Shareholders’ Meeting” a speech is given ostensibly by the CEO of a large company at a stockholders’ meeting, but the company is revealed to be the U.S. government and the CEO, a fictional president.

    1. The story plays a joke on the reader. What is the joke, and what does it imply?
    2. Did President Calvin Coolidge say that “the business of government is business”?
    3. What type of government ensues...

  2. In Roland Allnach’s “Conquest’s End”:

    1. What might be the “backstory” of the “Lord” and the “Lady of the Thousandfold Gossamer Veils”?
    2. What are the stages in Kyto’s realization of his purpose?
    3. Might the story be an allegory? If so, what might it refer to?
    4. At the end, Kyto seems to emerge from a dream world and draws a conclusion from the events of the attempted “conquest.” Why does the story not overstep Bewildering Stories’ guideline about plots that end with “but it was all a dream” or the equivalent?
    5. How might the same — or a very similar — story be told not as fantasy but in a strictly realistic mode?
  3. In Arthur Pinte’s “Time Lapse”:

    1. Why might the story be read as a fictional memoir? In other words, what makes it realistic?
    2. Does “Peter Spires” accept, reject or simply acknowledge the submission?
    3. The narrator intends to write a satire of The McMuffin’s editorial policy. Why does he not?
    4. What are the implications in “The dead evidently have no sense of time!”?
    5. In what way can “Time Lapse” be read as a satire of Bewildering Stories’ own editorial practice?
  4. In Tonya L. Turknett”s “Black Water”:

    1. Are the characters original or do they seem to be familiar “stock characters” from the rural gothic subgenre?
    2. Even well-worn stereotypes can transcend the status of cliché. What makes Johnny interesting? What other characters in the story earn the readers’ interest? In what way?
    3. In a scene in part 2, Deputy Randall tells Sheriff Ridley that he has discovered that the railroad tracks have gone unused for thirty years. Why might Deputy Randall’s report be a very implausible bit of stage business?
    4. Would the story be affected significantly if the railroad tracks were used infrequently rather than abandoned?

Responses welcome!

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