Return the Salute
In Oonah V. Joslin’s Plastic Nightmare, what does the poem decry over and above plastic pollution?
In P. K. Vijayan’s He Wrote Her a Love Poem, what realization does the narrator come to regarding both himself and his supposed beloved?
In Roy Dorman’s Up Out of the Swamp:
- Why does Gwen not shoot or stab her abusive boyfriend?
- Would the story change materially if Tony did not reappear as a zombie?
In Matthew McAyeal’s Across the Wall:
- What might the twin sister on the western side of the wall have experienced?
- How likely is it that Heidi would have been too young to know she had a twin sister? At what age were she and Marlene separated? Why was only Marlene visiting relatives in West Germany?
In C. Q. March’s Thicker Than Blood:
- In what ways does the story depict conditions particular to World Wars I, II, and III as well as the “proxy wars” in between?
- When Isabel’s brother Arndt said he was “Presbyterian,” was he joking or was he speaking ironically or literally? How and why did Isabel cover for his desertion?
- To what extent does the story illustrate Natan Dubovitsky’s “Without Sky”?
In Charles C. Cole’s Soldiers Need Orders:
- The story is told in the narrative present tense rather than the past tense. Why? (Hint #1: Turn on your TV set. Hint #2: The author’s bio page has a two-part bibliography. Why?)
- In Chapter 5, in what manner do the female characters exit the scene? How do they set the tone for the conversation between Schiavelli and Cody? What physical positions do the two men take?
- How does body language reflect the characters’ respective moods? What is the role of hands and feet in the scene?
- What conflicts — actual or potential — does the dialogue recapitulate and foresee?
In Joseph Cusumano’s Roman Holiday:
- Angelica Brivio is propelled into an alternate universe where she awakens as Fia Donati. Is Angelica disoriented appreciably? Do any of the other characters — including her husband, Arturo — notice any but minor personality changes?
- Who builds the nuclear bomb? How likely is it that the on-off switch would go unnoticed?
- What historical commentary is implied in the resistance group’s being formed by “Judea” and “Germania”?
- In our timeline, what prevented Rome from establishing a European empire in the sixth century?
- Is a world-spanning empire possible, let alone practical? Is “Roman Holiday” a cautionary tale or a satire?
- Does “Roman Holiday” overstep Bewildering Stories’ “dream story” guideline?
In Robin Helweg-Larsen’s Where Do They Go?
- Does the poem distinguish between sleep and death?
- How might the story “Roman Holiday” inadvertently propose a partial answer to the crow’s question? Why is it only partial? (Hint: Do you remember who or what you were in a previous incarnation? If not, why not?)
What is a Bewildering Stories Challenge?