The Empty City

Back in the mid 80's, Andrew Looney wrote a short story called "The Empty City", which was published in Calvert - his college literary magazine. It was one of the first things he ever had published, and marked the beginnings of what he thought would be a career in writing.

In 1987, he wrote another story, entitled "Icehouse," in which he described a world where everyone was playing a game with little pyramids... and that's when he started becoming a game inventor as well as a writer. While continuning to write stories set in this universe, he and his friends also starting to create actual games that could be played with actual pyramids.

In 1991, Andy weaved these and many of his other little stories together into a short novel, called The Empty City -- and we published a few hundred photocopied ("Kinko's-style") copies of the book to sell through our tiny little hobby game company, Icehouse Games.

Years later, after reforming as Looney Labs, we started publishing a weekly webzine and one of our very first bits of regular web content was publishing the full text of The Empty City online one chapter each week between October 2nd 1997 and August 12th 1999. (August 12th is also the day that we signed off on the final drawings to start making the mold for the new injection molded pyramids we finally started getting into game stores the following year.)

At the very end of 2002 (as our Holiday Gift) we finally published an actual paperback edition of The Empty City, now filled with beautiful illustrations by Alison.

Buy it!


Chapter Index

1 It's morning and there's tension between Jim and Jennifer
2 The Four discuss plans for the evening over a game or two of Icehouse
3 All about the Asylum and the people who live there
4 All about Dollars to Donuts
5 Denise dines at Dollars to Donuts
6 The men from the NRC question Doug in the elevator
7 The men from the NRC question the old couple in apartment 1016
8 9:05 pm: The Four visit the Asylum
9 The old couple in apartment 1016 reads this week's issue of the Weekly World News
10 9:47 pm: The Four get a booth at Dollars to Donuts
11 9:57 pm: Torrence kisses up
12 The man and the woman in apartment 1016 confront their fears
13 Bert visits the dining car
14 A case of spontaneous combustion
15 11:31 pm: The Four knock at the door to the Android Sister's apartment
16 All about the Android Sisters
17 Paul realizes that he left the bomb on the subway
18 The NRC men question Torrence
19 1:20 am: The one about the penguins
20 1:20 am: A high stakes Challenge on the subway station platform
21 Torrence sees Bert and Dave through the windows of the subway
22 1:55 am: The Twins conduct an engineering survey of the subway tunnel
23 The Four enter the Saturn Cafe
24 Music at the Saturn Cafe
25 Maria watches Dave from the kitchen of the Saturn Cafe
26 The Four make a run from their pursuers
27 Maria takes the rest of the night off
28 Torrence and Maria meet outside the Saturn Cafe
29 3:13 am: Torrence doodles on the placement while having coffee with Maria
30 Denise enjoys a chocolate shake at the Henderson Diner
31 Torrence and Maria seal themselves up in his bomb shelter bedroom
32 4:03 am: The Four deliver the Bomb to the Android Sisters
33 Breakfast
34 Jim remembers a dream and a harsh reality
35 Jim has a couple of really bad dreams
36 Appointment at Ten
37 Jim sees a Martian on the subway
38 Jim asks his housemates about the Children of Mars
39 Jim asks the Four about the Children of Mars
40 Jim stumbles in on a gathering of the Children of Mars
41 Jim realizes that Dave is a Martian
42 Bill tests out his new Time Machine
43 This chapter is a short story entitled "The Empty City"
44 The eponymous short story, which no one ever understood, is explained
45 Pauline shows her new sculpture to Torrence
46 Bill learns that his time machine isn't a complete failure after all
47 Dave first meets the Martian Princess, at the Saturn Cafe
48 Bill experiments with the Time Shifter
49 Dave and the Princess go out for pizza
50 a little chapter that reflects my dislike of the telephone (and my love of the answering machine)
51 The Princess takes Dave to meet her father, the Emperor of Mars
52 Torrence and Maria go out for Ice Cream
53 Dave sees something strange in the night
54 The Princess tells Dave about Alyson
55 Bill returns from the Future
56 The Android Sisters discuss the Atomic Bomb and what to do with it
57 Jim replies to a personals ad
58 Dave is summoned to a late night meeting with Doctor Cool and the Emperor of Mars
59 Doug notices an interesting classified ad in a second hand newspaper
60 Jim also notices an unusual classified
61 It's Friday afternoon in the offices of the NRC, and someone's just noticed a classified
62 Wendy reports on a phone call
63 Doug has an idea for something to do with an Atomic Bomb
64 Jim gets a reply to his response to a personals ad
65 Bill tells the Three about time travel policy
66 Doug robs a bank with an Atomic Bomb
67 The bomb squad arrives
68 The Four discuss Doug's attempted nuclear holdup
69 Jim's first date with Rhonda is a disaster
70 Jim writes a short story, entitled "Wishing Well"
71 Dave sees a ghost again, then has a terrible dream
72 Jim gets a phone call from his ex-girlfriend
73 Christmas comes to the Federal Penitentiary
74 The Android Sisters throw a big New Year's Eve party
75 Dave journeys to Mars on the wings of a dream
76 Pauline imparts some dating wisdom to Jim, who's on the prowl
77 Umberto and the Twins wait for Dave to show up
78 Jim gets a phone call from the girl he met in the bookstore
79 Jim and Lisa dine at an upscale Polynesian restaurant
80 It's the morning after, and Lisa has to leave
81 Jim regains his composure
82 Jim dreams of being at the train station
83 Dave receives a strange black package in the mail
84 Jim stumbles upon a rift in the Television Barrier
85 Dave regrets throwing away the strange black package
86 Jim gets rid of his pesky television
87 Peter finds something really cool in the trash room
88 Dave and the Martian Princess have an argument
89 Seagulls and Horseshoe Crabs
90 Pauline lusts after Peter's mannequin
91 Jim overhears a couple arguing on the subway
92 Pauline falls through a hole in the floor
93 "Visions of the Martian Civilization" opens at the Teldman Gallery
94 Jim buys a camera
95 Jim takes photos of a long haired lady named Lori
96 Jim teaches Lori to play Icehouse, at the Saturn Cafe
97 Dave and the Martian Princess share a tense meal at the Saturn Cafe
98 Jim watches his girlfriend sleep
99 The Princess gives Dave a cardboard box containing some of his things
100 Dave gets home early