Welcome to Spooky Action at a Distance, an IF/SFF review. This blog is a joint project between Arkady Martine and Cat Manning, covering exciting new writing in the disparate-but-overlapping narrative circles we love and work in. There’s so much cool stuff being published in both speculative and interactive fiction right now that it can be easy to miss exceptional, exciting work.
Cat: Arkady and I have had many conversations about how speculative fiction and interactive fiction speak to and can influence one another profoundly and productively. Interactive fiction takes up many of the same themes that SFF is interested in, and SFF plays with structure in ways that feel distinctly new. Even so, we aren’t yet really talking to each other as creative communities. We can learn from one another.
At the same time, we both became aware of the real need for more short SFF fiction and interactive fiction reviews — places to have conversations about the abundance of excellent, compelling, and diverse SFF & IF being published today. However: both of us are writers, and there are genuine ethical arguments against reviewing in the same space one is writing in. I don’t believe that this always has to be the case, and I’ve reviewed interactive fiction before while writing my own — and Arkady reviews for Strange Horizons (though mostly novel-length work.) But it was a concern we were both aware of — and combined with our growing interest in having our communities talk to one another …
… we came up with the idea of working together on an exchange: a review trade where we each explore the rich offerings in a field which we’re interested in or enthusiastic about, but isn’t our primary genre.
Spooky Action at a Distance comes from the idea of quantum entanglement — how two particles can interact in such a way that the state of each particle cannot be described independently. They don’t touch, but they mutually influence each other across a distance. Interactive fiction and speculative fiction both have porous boundaries. Our fields are constantly being redefined: as we create and innovate and complicate genre boundaries. Arkady and I want to acknowledge and explore the common threads in IF and SFF — it’s well past due.