At first glance, Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was, recently released by Mason Jar Press, reminded me of the similarly titled 1927 Science Fiction work best described as urban dystopia. Despite the similarity of title, stories in the new anthology seem more human, and, yes, less broken.
Editor Dave Ring’s forward tells us that “queer people often acquire community in cities through a process of becoming lost and then found.” The press blurb describes Broken Metropolis as “explorations of the edges of urban fantasy through queer narrative written for readers who are familiar with being unseen in the media they love.”
“City of Cats” by Victoria Zelvin is one of my favorite explorations. Why? Well, I like cities and cats, but I am also fond of magical realism. One moment of this story we are walking in a city full of feline graffiti; the next, we have been cat-a-pulted into a lesbian bedroom where two lovers gaze into a green algae lamp bubble connected to the rest of the building. In fact, it is “an interior power supply running from apartment to apartment like pipes.” It runs along the outside of the building too “like a neon spider’s web, and connects over the street with the pink algae light tube from the neighbors.” Back to the cats, they propel us right into a deus-ex-machina finish.