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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 668

Shoot That Box

  1. In Gary L. Robbe’s “Reflections Turn Away,” Miles suffers from unearned guilt due to a fatal traffic accident. How does it reflect guilt he may justly feel he has earned?

  2. In Gary Clifton’s interview, the question about “the most revealing story” implies a question of authenticity. The author says that one unpublished story of his “comes uncomfortably close to how my [,..] brain actually ticks.” Why might readers suspect that all of Gary Clifton’s writing is “revealing” in some way? Taken as a whole, what recurrent themes does it contain?

  3. In Peter Medeiros’ “Empty Hearts”:

    1. Gavin left Kamilla mainly because he felt their relationship was “play-acting.” How do Emily and Gavin engage in their own form of “play-acting”?
    2. Throughout the story, Gavin is literally Emily’s prisoner, like Babs and Martin. At the end, are Emily and Gavin reconciled, or is he suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome”?
  4. In Jack Bragen’s “Naive Purchase”:

    1. Does the “black box” show everyone the same thing? How might it hypnotize different users?
    2. How long a battery life might the device have? Are users likely to die before the battery runs down?
    3. Who might benefit from widespread use of the “black box”: burglars or other criminals? Space aliens?
  5. In Joseph Stephens” “Smith,” the author makes an uncomfortable play on stereotypes, which is precisely the point.

    1. In what way are the stereotypes ironic? What others might the story have used?
    2. At what point can the reader safely conclude that the narrator is a girl?
    3. Who are the “reasoners” in the story?
    4. Is “Smith” a children’s story? Up to what age will children think the narrator does the right thing to emulate her father? At what age do children become intellectually capable of understanding irony?

Responses welcome!


Copyright May 23, 2016
by Bewildering Stories

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