Archives for posts with tag: The Cipher

I remember when Kathe Koja burst onto the science fiction, fantasy, and horror scene with her jaw-dropping stories. A masterly visceral stylist, Kathe fearlessly explores the dark underside of creativity. And reality.

I wasn’t surprised to learn The Cipher also won the Bram Stoker Award, conferred by Horror Writers of America, and was named by io9.com as one of the Top Ten Debut Novels That Took the World by Storm.

When you dive into this selection in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle, be sure to leave the lights on. –Lisa Mason

For more information about Kathe and her books, go to http://kathekoja.com

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15 so you must act now! Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

As I was preparing the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle for Storybundle.com, I noticed that two of our authors had some startling things in common (other than being multiple award-winning, brilliant stylists and Philip K. Dick Award Finalists, of course).

Kathe Koja, who wrote The Cipher, and Elizabeth Hand, who wrote Aestival Tide, both grew up Catholic, are interested in the theater, and write science fiction and weird fiction.

I was intrigued and invited them to a Question-and-Answer. I grew up a Unitarian-Universalist but my great-grandparents in Europe were Catholic. Whatever your background, you’re sure to find this Q&A with Kathe and Liz as fascinating as I did.

Lisa Mason (LM): How did growing up Catholic affect your imagination as a child?

Kathe Koja (KK): It’s an extremely visual religion—not just the ceremonies, but the iconography, the saints and their various identifying symbols (St. Lucy with her plateful of eyes, who could forget that?), and the whole streaming pageant of heaven and hell art; think of Bosch. And the crucifix itself is a tremendous icon.

Elizabeth Hand (EH): For me, it was the storytelling element—the fact that there are all these great stories in both the Old and New Testament. From an early age I didn’t take (most of) them literally, but I loved the stories themselves. I went to Catholic elementary and high school, and then Catholic University (the latter not for religious reasons), so I had a long time to absorb and observe this stuff. And having to sit still during Mass gave me a chance to daydream and observe closely everyone around me, two habits which are crucial to writers.

LM: How has that affected your writing?

KK: Those visuals fostered an ability to think in symbols, which is very helpful. And growing up Catholic provides a kind of cheek-by-jowl daily acceptance of mysteries, or it did for me anyway: the impossible is real, they insist, nothing is too strange to be true. So for a fiction writer, that’s pretty fertile ground, pretty useful affirmation. And all the repression and absolute authority gives you something to push against, so that’s useful, too. It teaches you in the end that you must think for yourself.

EH: I was fascinated by the sense of ritual, though in my own work I’ve drawn on ancient pagan and mystery religions (which the Church did as well) rather than Catholic liturgy. I also was terrified by the notion of the apocalypse, and that definitely has played into a lot of my novels and stories.

LM: You’re both interested in the theater. Did the ceremonies, the religious costumes, the pomp and circumstance awaken your interest?

KK: No, but they make a jolly example.

EH: I’m not sure it did—I was more drawn to theater in and of itself. When I was in sixth grade, the eighth graders did “Macbeth,” and I was completely captivated. A few years later, my mother began taking my sisters and I to the American Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, CT, where we’d see whatever was playing in repertory for the entire summer. It was wonderful.

LM: Does theater play a part in your writing?

KK: A huge part. My most recent novels—UNDER THE POPPY, THE MERCURY WALTZ, and coming in November, THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE—are all about theatre, the story of two men who share their lives onstage and offstage. Love is a kind of performance, as life is a kind of show.

And I write and direct for my performance ensemble, nerve. Our next production is in January, an adaptation of DRACULA with no fangs and no blood. http://gonerve.com

EH: Oh, yes. My first novel, Winterlong, featured a Shakespearean troupe whose diva was a talking chimpanzee, and also riffed on “Twelfth Night,” a play I’ve been obsessed with since I was seventeen. I spent decades trying to capture that play’s magic in my fiction, and finally succeeded with Illyria.

LM: Kathe, are there Catholic influences or imagery in The Cipher?

KK: None there consciously, but you could call the Funhole hell, if you had a mind to, or one of its portals, in the absence of any presence but the self, as Nicholas suggests somewhere along the way down. I think it’s Dante who wrote “There is no sky in hell.”

LM: Liz, now that I’ve started reading the bundle, this may seem like a silly question, but there it is. Catholic influences or imagery in Aestival Tide?

EH: So much that’s under the dome in Araboth is a corruption of some sort of formal religious belief, especially fundamentalist beliefs. The Compassionate Redeemer is actually a monster loosed in a perverse ritual, and the Orsinate is a corrupt theocracy. Then there’s the Church of Christ Cadillac, whose adherents wear hubcaps on their heads. But there are also elements borrowed from ancient Greek and Roman ritual, so it’s all a pretty catholic (lowercase c) mix.

LM: Yes, catholic, lowercase, is a word in and of itself. Webster’s Tenth defines it as “comprehensive, universal, esp. broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests.”

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

Check out Kathe Koja’s interview with Jeff VanderMeer for Weird Fiction Review about The Cipher and writing weird fiction at http://weirdfictionreview.com/2012/05/interview-kathe-koja-and-the-weird/.

I won’t reprise the interview here. Please do visit the link to read the real deal.

VanderMeer had a New York Times bestseller last year, The Southern Reach Trilogy, in which his characters explore a mysterious forbidden realm, ostensibly a wildlands, that defies explanation and transforms all who venture into it.

Rather like the Funhole in The Cipher! If you enjoyed VanderMeer’s trilogy last year, you must read Koja’s classic in the Philip K. Dick Award Storybundle.

In the interview’s conclusion, Kathe touches on how growing up Catholic affected her childhood sense of wonder. That remark lead to the Q and A between her and Elizabeth Hand that follows.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

You Must Watch This!

Here is Kathe Koja’s comprehensive video interview with the Lovecraft Ezine panel. Kathe talks about The Cipher, attending the Clarion science fiction writing workshop and how that encouraged her and boosted her confidence, meeting Harlan Ellison and her thoughts about authors, their reputations that precede them, and their writing.

I cannot possibly reprise this excellent interview. You must watch it yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07sXBJlvidc!

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

Creative people are often multi-talented. The great abstract artist Paul Klee played classical violin in a symphony orchestra. The award-winning actress Glenn Close sings as a soprano in the opera. One of my two favorite Surrealist artists, Leonora Carrington, wrote novels and plays (my other favorite is Remedios Varo).

We should not be surprised, then, that Kathe Koja, whose book The Cipher appears in the Philip K Dick Award Storybundle, writes and directs immersive performance events with her ensemble, nerve. This immersive performance group explores new avenues of fictional experience with words, movement, dance, puppetry.
Any place can be a stage.

I will say no more.

You must watch this at http://gonerve.com

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

You must watch this! Kathe Koja’s haunting book trailer for The Cipher shot on location in a gritty industrial complex in Detroit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07sXBJlvidc

The Cipher, of course, is a title in the The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

THE CIPHER is Kathe Koja’s classic, award-winning horror novel: the story of Nicholas, a failed poet, and Nakota, his feral lover, who discover a strange hole in the storage room down the hall: “Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive.”

At first it’s a curiosity, a joke – the Funhole. But then the experiments start. “Wouldn’t it be wild to go down there?” says Nakota. Nicholas says no—but from the first, they’re not in control. And the experiments turn to obsession, and violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.

Book cover illustration

The Cipher was the winner of the 1991 Bram Stoker Award as well as a Finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and was named one of io9’s Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm.

Here’s The Cipher trailer, shot on location in a gritty industrial complex in Detroit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5O3LxoJl0g
Here’s Kathe’s video interview with the Lovecraft Ezine panel about The Cipher, writing, authors and their reputations, inspiration, and encouragement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07sXBJlvidc
And be sure to check out Kathe’s interview with Jeff VanderMeer about The Cipher and weird fiction at http://weirdfictionreview.com/2012/05/interview-kathe-koja-and-the-weird/.

Kathe Koja is an award-winning writer whose novels range from horror to YA to historical. She creates immersive performance events with her ensemble, nerve.
http://www.kathekoja.com/blog/
http://gonerve.com

“Combines intensely poetic language and lavish grotesqueries.” – BoingBoing
“This powerful first novel is as thought-provoking as it is horrifying.” – Publishers Weekly
“Kathe Koja is a poet … [T]he kind that prefers to read in seedy bars instead of universities, but a poet.” – The New York Review of Science Fiction
“Her 20-something characters are poverty-gagged ‘artists’ who exist in that demimonde of shitty jobs, squalid art galleries, and thrift stores; her settings are run-down studios, flat-beer bars, and dingy urban streets [a] long way from Castle Rock, Dunwich, or Stepford, that’s for sure.” – Too Much Horror Fiction
“Unforgettable … [The Cipher] takes you into the lives of the dark dreamers that crawl on the underbelly of art and culture.” – Locus
“[Kathe Koja] has been likened to Franz Kafka, Clive Barker, Don DeLillo, Marcel Proust  . . .” – Dark Echoes
“An ethereal rollercoaster ride from start to finish.” – Detroit Free Press
“[The Cipher] is a book that makes you sit up, pay attention, and jettison your moldy preconceptions … Utterly original.” – Fangoria
From Booklist:
Koja’s debut has yet to lose one iota of impact. It’s a marvel of bleak economy: Nicholas, going nowhere in his video-store-clerk job, discovers a foot-wide black vortex in an old storage room of his apartment building. His caustic sometime-lover, Nakota, christens it “the Funhole” and begins inserting experimental items: a jar of insects (they combine and mutate), a live mouse (it is ripped apart), a human hand from the morgue (it reanimates), and, finally, a video camera, which records a self-eviscerating figure of awe-inspiring dreadfulness—Koja only teases its description. Nakota becomes obsessed with the Funhole (a place of “blood and sex and revelation”) and is driven mad when it is Nicholas, not her, whose flesh becomes gloriously infected. The grungy, sweaty two-person drama, delivered in Nicholas’ vulgar ramble, widens to include additional viewers of the videotape who become fast new acolytes. Seemingly influenced equally by Clive Barker, David Cronenberg, and a particularly distasteful nightmare, this entry into the body-horror canon carries with it the kind of fatalism horror readers prize—it’s going to end badly, for sure, but just how badly?. . . Well worth rediscovering, if you’ve got the guts.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.