The Squares of the City is a science fiction novel by John Brunner.
The protagonist, Boyd Hakluyt, is hired as a consultant by the government of Aguazul, a nation somewhere in Latin America; they're having some traffic control problems in their shiny newly-built captial city, Vados. As the story progresses, he has his eyes opened to the social and political issues underlying the problem — and also becomes aware that the citizens of Vados are being subtly manipulated by some external force.
This novel contains examples of:
- Banana Republic: Aguazul.
- The Chessmaster: The chess-motif-laden novel appropriately has one as the villain.
- Chess Motifs: All over the place.
- Constrained Writing: As explained in an afterword, the plot is based on a chess game (specifically the 1892 world championship game between Wilhelm Steinitz and Mikhail Chigorin), with key characters representing various pieces and their interactions representing their positions; when a piece has the potential to take another piece, this is echoed in the story with one character being under threat from another, and when a piece is taken, the corresponding character is "taken out of the game" by death or imprisonment.
- Double-Meaning Title: "The Squares of the City" both refers to the city's public spaces and implies the metaphor of the city as one big chess board.
- Egopolis: The new capital city, Vados, is named after the current head of state, President Vados.
- For Science!: The motivation of one of the villains; for him, it's all about getting to try out his techniques in real-world conditions, and never mind about fiddly ethical considerations.
- Gambit Roulette: Even called out in-universe, when a character wonders how humans could be so easily manipulated that they can be predicted.
- Human Chess: The leaders of the city play it.
- Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc: Discussed in-universe. Hakluyt briefly ponders that his arrival seems to have triggered a sequence of violent events, but concludes that it's more likely that his being employed by the city, and the unrest, were both caused by the political problems plaguing Vados.
- Subliminal Seduction: Used to manipulate the population.