In Charles C. Cole’s Threadbare and Alone, the story avoids the “dead narrator” guideline by taking the form of a diary. How much of it could be performed on stage as a single-character monologue? What might the stage setting look like? What actress would you cast in the role?
In Ljubo Popovich’s The World Moves in Reverse, what phases of life does the poem describe, and in what order? Can you find patterns in the imagery?
In Channie Greenberg’s Atypical to Grant a Speculative Fiction Publisher:
- Is the poem directed at publishers in general or at one in particular?
- Can you parse the title grammatically?
In Keith O’Neill’s Badlands:
- Androids like “86” are made to look and function as much like humans as possible. Why? What does the disguise imply about the relative number of androids and humans? In what way does the ratio change?
- Is it implausible that an android might function sexually? Isaac Asimov gives this function to at least one of his androids. Which, and in what novel?
- What is the function of Oliver in the story? Why is he given that name?
- Why would human beings manufacture artificial simulacra of themselves? Is such a thing beneficial or pathological?
In Jerine P. Watson’s The Chicken Lady:
- Does Rose Ann have a history of cruelty or a violent temper?
- Rose Ann’s killing her cat is described in minute detail. Does the scene warrant a reader advisory of extreme violence?
- Rose Ann and Ethel have appeared regularly at the bank. Why does the teller not recognize Rose Ann and, especially, the wig? Is it plausible that the bank employees’ disorganized reaction to the robbery can be attributed solely to drunkenness?
- What mental aberrations afflict Rose Ann? Is she depicted as pathetic, despicable or dangerous?
In J. C. G. Goelz’s Responsibilities of Being a Man:
- Kelvin’s knife first appears in part 1. How and why is it used? Who causes Kelvin to recall the incident, and why?
- The titanium rod first appears in part 2. What is its purpose?
- Do the readers need to know what position every character plays on the football team? In part 5, how might Jimmy’s and Kelvin’s play be described more economically?
- Are Kelvin’s and Sterling’s difference due entirely to social status? What gives Kelvin reason to suspect Sterling’s intentions with regard to April?
- In part 6, how does the videogame reflect a difference in personality between Kelvin and Jimmy?
- In part 7, what seems to happen at Peckinpaw? Is Kelvin bent on violence? Does he propose a peaceful resolution?
- In part 8, the epilogue is written 25 years after the events. Is it superfluous or integral to the story? If it were omitted, would readers miss it and wonder what happened to Kelvin, Jimmy, and April?
What is a Bewildering Stories Challenge?