Back in the mid-1960's I read a short story about a small group of humans that were being held captive by an alien. The alien forced them to play some sort of game, but didn't tell them the rules. Each move involved one of the humans doing something that had serious effects, like someone dying, or being changed into a monster. In the end, by sheer luck, the humans won the game. The last line of the story was from the alien: "Let's play 2 out of 3"

The story was probably from Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and or Amazing Stories, but maybe from somewhere else.

  • Yes, it would have been from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I was in junior high school at the time and I read sci-fi magazines from the news stand in the grocery store. They were 35 cents a copy, I think. I remember those two magazine titles distinctly, but none others. Nov 19, 2017 at 12:32
  • I remember the titles, so I probably read them at one time or another. If it wasn't on the news stand, or in periodicals section of George Weekes public library in Hayward, California, it was not available to me... ;-) Nov 19, 2017 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


OK, I found it: "The Game", Neal Barrett Jr., Amazing Stories, July 1963, P 53.

Summary from the story's front page:

The terrified colonists did not know the rules, nor the Player. They saw the Penalties come screaming back, dead or dying. And remorselessly the being in the alien wood commanded them to keep on playing...

Not a story with a happy ending, but after reading it again, I can understand why it left an impression on me 50 years ago.

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