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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 505

In a Pickle

  1. In Channie Greenberg’s “Sleep Aids Guaranteed,” the narrator says: “Whereas I considered throwing the vessel against a wall and using one or more of the resulting shards to cut myself, I desisted.” — Deliberately cutting oneself is often symptomatic of a serious emotional disorder. Does the story indicate that the narrator harbors thoughts of suicide?

  2. In David F. Daumit’s “Parity”:

    1. The references to “angels” and “devils” may imply a religious or philosophical point of view. Which do you think it is?
    2. In what way is Guerre’s ultimatum to the angels contradictory?
    3. Why is Guerre’s ship under attack?
    4. Captain Guerre (‘war’ in French) and Captain Frieden (‘peace’ in German) have allegorical names. Do they act out the same roles as the angels and devils from outer space?
    5. Captains ‘War’ and ‘Peace’ engage in offstage activities of questionable military propriety, and the result, if the couple aren’t careful, might result in progeny. What do you think they might name the baby?
    6. “The angels had listened. Their simple response was to leave, as he had just seen, as he had long hoped. Now it remained to hope that, in perfect parity, the devils would follow suit.” — Why does Captain Guerre hope that the “devils” will go away and leave Earth alone?
    7. Bonus question: What would Blaise Pascal think of the “parity”? Hint: L’homme n’est ni ange ni bête... Might the same not be true of space aliens?
  3. In Scathe meic Beorh’s “Nascent Scream”:

    1. Why are the girl and the instructor not named?
    2. What does it mean that the instructor smokes heavily?
    3. Who is Rudolf Otto? Why mention him if he’s irrelevant to Quinn? What is the “dark side of God”? What are the mysterious, destructive “entities” that threaten all family ties?
    4. “Her object of focus was the prevalent jar on the table, filled with a pinkish fluid and a fetal-positioned...” — Quinn and the girl know what is in the jar; why do they not say what it is?
    5. Why do Quinn and the girl separate, never to see each other again?
    6. To what extent does the story overstep Bewildering Stories’ restriction on sentimentality, i.e. unearned emotion?
    7. What does the story imply about science and the possibiity of miscarriage or abortion? Is it favorable? Neutral? A denunciation?

  4. Responses welcome!

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