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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 865

Unfitting the Crime

  1. In Matthew Tenwick’s The Laughless:
    Gelos was a minor deity in ancient Greek mythology and personified laughter. What kills Dionysus is this story? What is the “pathogen” that Gelos intends to spread? Whom will it kill? For what purpose? Is the story a grim cautionary tale about alcoholism? Something else?

  2. In Arthur Davis’s The Slave Markets of Ultar:

    1. List the events in this chapter according to the internal chronology of the narrative.
    2. What is the function of Logan’s visit to the slave market in chapter 2? If it were omitted, would anything else be affected?
  3. In Gregory Thompson’s Release: A Miner’s Sentence Ends:

    1. At what point is the miner’s real name — Fadden — revealed? Why is it used? Is it mentioned again?
    2. Why might the miner’s wife, Zoe, and their daughter, Hadley, appear as avatars on a screen during their visits? Why is Fadden not allowed to meet them in person?
    3. Is Fadden’s 50-year sentence real? Or is it a virtual one, like his prison? What has Fadden done to terrify the political establishment and incur such a severe sentence?
    4. How might Fadden’s real body — or any prisoner’s — be preserved pending release? Is the warden’s story of an “accident” believable? Are the miners sentenced to virtual life imprisonment or is it perpetual? What is supposed to happen to Fadden when he declines the “contract”?
    5. What does the story reveal about real and subjective time in any imprisonment?
  4. In Natan Dubovitsky’s Near Zero, Chapter 28:

    1. In what way does the opening image of childhood play recall Yegor and his daughter, Nastenka, in chapter 23? How do the parent-child relationships compare in the two chapters?
    2. Igor Chernenko’s apartment suite is described as resembling Russia itself in post-Stalin times. How does the image depict international relations? The general mood of the citizenry?

    3. What motives do the “Krokodilers” and the “Tolstoyans” appear to have in common?

    4. In Igor’s story of his childhood tantrum, the image of winter changes. What might it have to do with the depiction of Igor’s egregious opulence at the beginning of the chapter?

Responses welcome!

date Copyright © July 27, 2020 by Bewildering Stories
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