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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reader’s Guide for "Yesterday Was Monday" by Theodore Sturgeon

Summary:

Although yesterday was Monday, Harry Wright wakes up, walks to work, and finds out it's Wednesday.  Somehow he's lost a day.  Folks talk of actors and set builders, but Harry just wants to do his job, only a short guy's already doing it.  Harry is actually one of the actors, but he doesn't get it.  "Wednesday isn't a time," they explain; "it's a place."  When Harry asks about Tuesday, they point the direction and their hand disappears.  The play, they say, is for "Ones who may be amused."

The producer  says actors like Harry are "sending requests for better parts. Listening carefully to what I have to say and then ignoring or misinterpreting my advice.  Always asking for just one more chance, and when you get it, messing that up, too."

Questions:

  1. What are some cliches people say about time?  Which has Sturgeon literalized here?  
  2. List at least two that the story thwarts our expectations of reality.
  3. What about Harry Wright, an ordinary mechanic, makes him right for this experience?
  4. Who might the producer represent?
  5. What might it mean that your life is an amusement for someone else?
  6. What does it mean that Harry has to label himself differently than he's used to?
  7. Harry arrives in his own time/place.  Will everything be the same for him?
  8. Instead of talking about time, what does Harry say towards the end of the story that shows his perspective is skewed?  Why might he have stumbled over his words?
  9. What advantages might there be to reframing how we see the world?


Selected Bibliography (ISFDB):


  1. Unknown Fantasy Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr.
  2. Masters of Fantasy, ed. Martin Harry Greenberg, Terry Carr
  3. The New Twilight Zone, ed. Martin H. Greenberg
  4. The Mammoth Book of Fantasy, ed. Mike Ashley
  5. The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century, ed. Harry Turtledove, Martin H. Greenberg
  6. Microcosmic God, ebook

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