Not darkness, not the absence of light but living black. Maybe a foot in diameter, maybe a little more. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive, not even something but some —process. Only Nicholas and his cantankerous sometime- girlfriend Nakota are aware of this apparent warp in the space-time continuum, and they aren't telling anyone what they have found.
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Thanks to Jeanne Cavelos, not only an award-winning editor but also a goddamn NASA scientist , we were introduced to hitherto novice authors such as Poppy Z.
Not until Cavelos joined the team and changed everything. Consider the year. Nobody in this new decade seemed to give a shit about the dark and macabre.
Thus, the Abyss. I don't like to lay down edicts about horror, since the great strength of the genre is how much freedom it provides.
Horror doesn't dictate a plot, as mysteries and romances do; it doesn't dictate a setting, as Westerns and, to some degree, science fiction and fantasy do. To be a part of the horror genre, all that's required is that the story evokes strong, dark emotions - anything from apprehension, fear, terror, horror, disgust, anger, despair, numbness, loss, morbid fascination, and disturbing thrills, to awe. Horror shouldn't be predictable. It should be the exact opposite of predictable.
And it had become all too predictable. I knew that horror could do more, and that it should do more. The covers were punk rock, in your face. Not afraid to be ugly. Not afraid to make you uncomfortable. All of this can also be said for the contents found inside. These paperbacks were the real deal. Horror through and through. Psychological nightmares. Migraines mainlined into the soul.
And in that place, where we come face-to-face with terror, what we find is ourselves…. These little horror novels took off like bottle rockets. It also marked the first and only? Thank you for introducing me to the remarkable line of novels currently being issued under Dell's Abyss imprint. I have given a great many blurbs over the last twelve years or so, but this one marks two firsts: first unsolicited blurb I called you and the first time I have blurbed a whole line of books.
In terms of quality, production, and plain old story-telling reliability that's the bottom line, isn't it , Dell's new line is amazingly satisfying I hope to be looking into the Abyss for a long time to come. Burroughs, possesses a writing style unmatched by anyone else in the business.
The Cipher is her first novel, but it shines like the work of a true master. Never have I experienced something so visceral and ugly and beautiful all in one package. It is a piece of art that manages to simultaneously disgust and delight its audience. Originally titled The Funhole until its eventual publisher requested a change , Koja worked on the novel while taking care of her son, then only in preschool.
Like most children of a similar age, he tended to wake far too early, significantly narrowing available writing time. Koja stated in a recent This is Horror interview that these time restraints helped shape her into a more disciplined writer.
In those limited work periods, she learned the importance of engaging the story with her full attention. By the end of , it was finally finished. The book kicks off like a gunshot. Nakota, who saw it first: long spider legs drawn up beneath her ugly skirt, wise mouth pursed into nothing like a smile. In space? Nakota would rot differently from other people; she would be the first to admit it. Proper grammar and punctuation rules are gleefully stuffed down the garbage disposal. This is a book meant to scramble your brain.
Read just the way you process thoughts. Nicholas, our narrator, is a down-on-his-luck video store clerk. Not darkness, not the absence of light but living black. Maybe a foot in diameter, maybe a little more. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you looked at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive, not even some thing but some—process. Rabbithole, some strange motherfucking wonderland, you bet.
When the reader is thrown into The Cipher, Nicholas and Nakota are already full-on obsessed with the Funhole. We never know them pre-Funhole. Their futures are doomed from the getgo. Its purpose is to upset you in every possible and impossible sense.
The collaborative schemes of these two damaged souls will be the destruction of not just themselves but many, many others. Imagine two tornadoes merging from opposite ends of a town. Sometimes, I thought, it would be worth it to die, just to stop hearing that voice. Like an ache in the ear, like a bad tooth audibly rotting. Like a cancer that talks. However, even those in the latter category will find themselves hypnotized by its spell days after finishing it.
Its effectiveness cannot be denied. But after reaching the other side, the fear sort of makes sense. Most fear, after all, is illogical in nature. Reading The Cipher was like going through surgery. I do not exaggerate when I claim certain sections inflicted both a physical and mental sickness. A combination of cosmic ideas, unnatural sentence structure, and uncompromising characters hit me exactly the right away.
A world full of intense, frightening nightmares. I lost track of the amount of times I awoke gasping for breath, convinced I was still knee-deep in whatever madness The Cipher had injected into my dreams.
This novel possesses a sort of magic. The further Nicholas and Nakota become obsessed with the Funhole, the further the reader becomes obsessed with Nicholas and Nakota. All bodies are, in some sense; engines driven by the health or disease of their owners, jackets of flesh that are the physical sum of their wearers. But to become your disease? To become the consumption itself? He lives in Texas. To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.
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You Might Also Like More By This Author. The 20 Most Anticipated Horror Books of Editor's Picks. Our Upcoming Classes. What's Popular? August 25, - September 22, Learn how to fill your short fiction with BIG emotion. In this four week class, John will help you pinpoint an emotional flashpoint in your life and turn it into a smashing horror story.
Fun in the Funhole: Exploring Kathe Koja’s “The Cipher”
Kathe Koja born is an American writer. She was initially known for her intense speculative fiction for adults,  but has written young adult novels, the historical fiction Under the Poppy trilogy, and a fictional biography of Christopher Marlowe. Koja is also a prolific author of short stories , including many in collaboration with Barry N. Koja has also collaborated with Carter Scholz. Koja was born in Detroit, Michigan,  the second of two sisters. Koja lives near Detroit, Michigan , and is married to the illustrator Rick Lieder, who often does her book jackets.
Thanks to Jeanne Cavelos, not only an award-winning editor but also a goddamn NASA scientist , we were introduced to hitherto novice authors such as Poppy Z. Not until Cavelos joined the team and changed everything. Consider the year. Nobody in this new decade seemed to give a shit about the dark and macabre. Thus, the Abyss. I don't like to lay down edicts about horror, since the great strength of the genre is how much freedom it provides.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.