Today is Groundhog Day. I’ve been holed up in a coffee shop in New York all day, and for the past several hours all that’s been visible out the window is static-thick snow; I can’t imagine what a groundhog, with its slush-eye view, would see. Now Groundhog Day, the movie, is a rather IF-like conceit: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try forever until you win the story; perhaps no movie except Run Lola Run has been the source of more IF comparisons. So really there was no better day to officially relaunch SPAG!
We’re biased at SPAG, in that we’ve worked for several decades(!) now toward the preservation of IF; but we believe that interactive fiction is one of the most dynamic artforms out there now. Never before have there been so many authors working in so many different forms, pushing the limits of what IF can be and how it can reach people. The medium truly is, in the perhaps regrettable words of the New York Times, “having a moment”; and we want to be there to help shape and document it.
For our relaunch, we’re bringing you a mini-issue, containing:
– a SPAG Specifics entry by the ever-thoughtful Victor Gijsbers!
– a brief review of the Year that Was by your editor-in-chief!
– The letter from the editor you’re currently reading. Mathematically speaking, that means my verbiage takes up a whopping two-thirds of this issue, so without further editorial ado I’ll turn it over to the part you’re really here for.
SPAG has been a one-man show for most of its existence, an era that ends today. If you’d like to get involved in SPAG on the editorial level, please get in touch! Here’s who you’ll be working with, either way:
Editor-in-Chief: Katherine Morayati
Katherine Morayati is an IF author and critic; her credits include Broken Legs (second place, 2009 IF Competition) and a swath of other, smaller works and reviews. In her other life, she’s a music critic who writes as Katherine St. Asaph and helps run a mini-constellation of blogs.
Managing Editor: Matt Carey
Matt Carey is a longtime IF follower and the author of a number of acclaimed (pseudonymous) works, both parser and Twine; he’s also the former editor of the science-fiction zine Labyrinth Inhabitant.
Senior Editor/Webmaster: Dannii Willis
Dannii Willis is the previous editor of SPAG, the maintainer of Parchment and the developer of Kerkerkruip. He hopes to one day produce a work of IF himself, but for now his creativity is directed toward the ones and zeros of technology.
CALL FOR PITCHES!
The next full issue of SPAG will come out in April! and its theme will be: Society/Preservation/Text/Adventure. Interpret this theme as strictly or as loosely as you’d like, and feel free to deviate, or not, as you will. Some ideas, to guide you — perhaps you’ll think of more:
SOCIETY: Interviews with IF figures, prominent, niche or otherwise interesting; guides to setting up IF-related events in your city; outreach; coverage of local events; parts or whole of the IF community, whether writing or dev communities; compelling personal essays if you’ve got those sort of chops.
PRESERVATION: The storage and rediscovery of older IF works, either within the IF community or Internet archival efforts; the canon, and everything surrounding; efforts to re-release adventure and/or IF works; replayability/rereadability.
TEXT: IF’s crossover into other literary forms, such as poetry, flash fiction, scriptwriting or traditional hypertext; the art and science of writing IF prose; IF in translation; books and IF; static fiction authors’ involvement, hypothetical or not, in IF.
ADVENTURE: Puzzle design; design tutorials; IF and the graphic adventure community; experimental IF; adventures in the still-largely-uncharted land that is commercial IF; generally, a catch-all for whatever weird, niche or enthusiast ideas you may have.
OTHER, NON-THEME STUFF: Did I mention “design tutorials”? We want those. Another thing we want: traditionally, since its inception in 1996, SPAG has run reviews of interactive fiction, particularly the entrants in the annual IF Competition. It’s never been the only contender in this arena; Usenet gave way to IFDB gave way to forums and blogs. So to avoid spewing into a flood of spew, we are going to look for two specific kinds of reviews:
- SPAG Specifics. In-depth reviews of a piece, preferably about one salient aspect. Why is this good? How does it work? Victor’s piece, in this mini-issue, is a nice guide.
- Super-brief capsule reviews of the comp field. Fun is good, irreverent is good, supportive is good. Christopher Huang’s Breakfast Review is the crème de la crème (in coffee, with a pastry) of this sort of thing; while I don’t advise you rip off his gimmick, that’s what we’re looking for here.
Send all pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a brief bio of yourself, and writing samples if you prefer. Also appreciated: a rough sense of word count (we’re an online publication and flexible, but we’re probably not gonna run 50,000-word novellas, nor 140-character tweets, unless stated above) and an estimated time of completion (aim for February or March, leave time for line edits, follow your gut.)
We highly encourage submissions from experienced IF critics as well as newcomers, and we are particularly interested in applicants who are under-represented in IF writing. However, all are welcome, including those who have previously expressed interest in writing for the website. To paraphrase a call for submissions from one of my old haunts: We are not so interested in anything you have ever written anywhere ever. All we care about is how well you can play our game.
There’s really no place to plug social media links while maintaining the flow of an article, so I’ll put it here: we are on Twitter, at @spagazine! Follow us, retweet us, swell our numbers to the trending heavens.