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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 535

With All the Virtual Toppings

  1. In the excerpt from Artie Knapp’s Living Green, what might it mean that Thurman takes off his coat and bow tie and hands them to his father?

  2. In Irene Maschke’s “The Outage Effect”:

    1. Is Angie liable to be served a virtual pizza?
    2. In this day and age, Angie’s situation is grotesque but not absurd. How might she be affected psychologically by physical isolation, namely loneliness?
  3. In Lisa Douglass’s “The Bird,” the story ends with: “She thought about it and it struck her that you can love a thing that that can kill you.”

    1. Why does Lily use “you” as an indefinite pronoun rather than think “She could love a thing that could kill her”?
    2. In what way does Lily’s thought also apply to her mother?
    3. What is the function of Lily’s father in the story?
  4. In Andrew Sacks’ “Martin’s Reward”:

    1. Martin thinks of two ways to return the wallet. Might there be a third option?
    2. In what way might Martin fit the profile of an “unsub” according to the TV series Criminal Minds?
    3. Martin has a full-blown tragic flaw. What is it?
    4. How might the story play out if, at the end, the readers discover that:
      • Martin is innocent and wrongfully convicted of the murder?
      • Martin is a liar and that his self-congratulation is delusional?
  5. In Anthony Santulli’s “Trump Card”:

    1. What might the numbers with colons represent? Are they time stamps or something else?
    2. Can the “cards” be shuffled to reflect a coherent internal chronology?
    3. Does the last line — “Nothing ever really changes anyway” — overstep our guideline about stories that end “But it was all a dream” or the equivalent; that is, stories that logically cancel themselves out?
  6. In Noel Denvir’s “Track Zero”:

    1. What is Rory’s function in the story?
    2. What is the function of the telephone call that comes at just the wrong time?
    3. Rule out time travel: what might explain Jim’s finding a memory card with music he doesn’t remember composing?
    4. What does Jim say that raises serious doubts about his abilities as a composer?
  7. In Charles C. Cole’s “Hitchhiking Memories”:

    1. In what time frame do the incidents recounted in the memoir take place? At what point in history might they have ceased to be plausible; that is, when did hitchhiking become too dangerous?
    2. Do the incidents form a kind of thematic progression of any sort?
    3. Does the memoir consist of a compendium of untold stories? How might any of them be expanded in fiction?
    4. What hitchhiking memories do you have? Interpret “hitchhiking” broadly, as travel; you needn’t have been on the road with your thumb out.

Responses welcome!

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