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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 494

At the Fetish Festival

  1. In Bertil Falk’s “Saga of the Murdered Bedfellow,” Sigurd mistakes the murder victim for his sister Brynhild. He identifies the victim by her clothes and assumes that Brynhild’s bracelet must have been stolen. Why is Sigurd suddenly afflicted with bias blindness? Why might the reader expect Sigurd, of all people, to be the first to see that the victim cannot be Brynhild?

  2. In Phil Temples’ “When Pigs Fly”:
    1. For the benefit of our readers for whom English is a second language, the expression “when pigs fly” is a colorful way of saying that something will never happen. Do other languages have similar expressions? How might a similar story dramatize them?
    2. What irony does the story dramatize?
  3. In Ron Van Sweringen’s “Flotation Jones”:

    1. “An arm grasped [Rosie] around the waist and she was quickly lifted away from the window without a sound.” — Who captures Rosie? Why is she not allowed to come to Flo’s aid?
    2. At the end, Rosie is forgotten. What is her function as a character in the story?
    3. What is Honeysuckle’s function in the story?
    4. In chapter 13, Mammy reports Flo’s disappearance to a “white detective” who takes notes but says little. Mammy concludes “Black didn‘t matter.” In chapter 15, the detective arrests Honeysuckle and explains why he was uncommunicative and how seriously he took Mammy’s report. Does Mammy remain bitter and fail to realize she was wrong, that “black didn’t matter” when it came to solving the crime?

    5. “Flotation Jones” has a curious mixture of styles: moments of realism dominated by egregious melodrama and dark farce. It depicts ordinary people who are made the victims of organized crime. Sex slavery — bad enough in 1936 — is, today, a major and sinister part of “globalized” commerce. Does the tone of the story fit the seriousness of the subject?

  4. In Alex Aro’s “Skin”:

    1. The story clearly oversteps Bewildering Stories’ guideline about one-word titles. Can you think of another title?
    2. At the end, the unnamed narrator tells the woman with the beautiful skin “I love my wife.” Is he serious or is he simply offering a lame excuse to avoid emotional involvement with the other woman?
    3. What kind of personality disorder is the narrator acting out?
  5. In Mel Waldman’s “I Am Your Creation”:

    1. Whom does the poem address: a literal father? A cosmic creator? Both?
    2. What emotion does the prose poem express about life? What does it imply about suicide?
  6. In Beth J. Whiting’s “Gertie and the Zombies”:

    1. Is it always possible to know who is speaking to whom?
    2. Is Gertie a zombie or a vampire? A combination of both?
    3. The story contains an extensive list of film titles. Do the references have a function in the story? Will they mean anything to readers who are not as old as Gertie, namely in their 60’s or 70’s, and who are not classic-film buffs?

Responses welcome!

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