Letter from the Editors

by Devon Montgomery and Meera Velu
Issue 2: Game

Each issue of Speculative City focuses on a distinct theme. Issue 1 we explored the grotesque, which proved to be a foray into darkness. With a focus on game, Issue 2 takes a bit of a turn and is more playful (no pun intended). Though, I think we can all agree that the best games have a touch of darkness. And in keeping with the previous issue, a similar bleak tone underlies many of the pieces in Issue 2.

When we define game, we do not limit ourselves to what one may typically expect–like Solitaire or Monopoly. Games are played in our everyday lives, from climbing the ladder at work to strategizing how to get in and out of the grocery store in record time–no one likes going to the grocery store, right? We have defined game as an activity or experience that has three distinct qualities: rules, rewards, and repercussions.

The stories, poems, and works of nonfiction presented in this issue each take on game from a unique perspective. G.G. Silverman’s “The Disappearance,” perhaps the most somber story in the lineup, examines game from the perspective of employment and abuse, and, ultimately, retribution and escape. “A Tool to Carry Us,” by Stefani Cox, is lighter in tone, but approaches the theme just as seriously by framing a game through the pursuit of survival.

Also exploring the question of survival through the lens of games is Charlotte M-G’s essay “Terms and Conditions,” which questions the long-term threats of gamifying life as we know it. This question of the dangers of saturating our lives with games and advancing technology is put into action in Black Jessop’s “Divide Zero,” where a young woman must find her escape, first within the virtual world, and then outside of it.

Interestingly, the theme of life is persistent throughout this issue. “Secret Language of Drones,” by Russell Hemmell inquires about the minds of drones. “Oh Ghost of Mine” by Zach Bartlett engages with life after death and the perpetual specter of capitalism. The stories are, perhaps, a natural response to games. Games reflect life as it is and as it could be; or simply, they provide a distraction from life. No matter how you approach them, games are inherently tethered to our existence.

We haven’t altogether disregarded the more literal understanding of a game. The featured reviews look into two tabletop board games: Mysterium and Arkham Horror. But returning to how games reflect our lives, Hilary Berwick’s essay on Arkham Horror examines how racism, echoed through the game’s foundation in H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, impacts the game’s play.

Before leaving you to get into the issue, we wanted to bring attention to the wide berth of voices and perspectives featured. Speculative City prides itself in highlighting voices that are underrepresented in genre fiction. Though it was not intentional, we are proud of the range of queer voices on display. From characters to the writers and poets, queer voices fill the digital pages of this issue.

Thank you for returning for Issue 2. Or, if this is your first dive into Speculative City, welcome. Games are an exercise in speculation, and we hope these stories will inspire you to dive into the vast possibilities of “what if.” But, never forget there are always rules, rewards, and repercussions.