Author Archives: Seth

“The Cipher”, Kathe Koja

I wrote this in an email and now I am leveraging it as Content. Sorry to the email recipient, I did not mean to make this a blog post, it was meant for you but now everyone gets it — I hope the sharing greatens it. Anyway:

One of my favorite novels, ever, is The Cipher by Kathe Koja, a 90s grunge horror killshot about a man (written expertly by Kathe who, afaik, is a woman) in love with his ex, Nakota, an edgelord punk who looks for meaning in things that are horrific and strange and intrusive. The two discover a hole in their apartment’s chemical closet — a hole that is black, strange, and apparently bottomless. They call it the Funhole and they investigate it, despite its obvious and increasing power and danger. But really the novel is about their relationship as lensed through the Funhole – Nakota wants to go near it, to go into it, our protagonist just wants Nakota to love him, but the Funhole chooses him and Nakota can’t stand it. “Love is a hole in the heart” is the last line of the book.

Is this a bleak, nihilistic condemnation of love? Yes? No, no, absolutely not. The book is so good! It is alive! Nakota and the protagonist’s relationship is miserable and broken, but it makes the book sing! We, the reader, find interest and attention and thrill and life in the book because their love, their fucked up arguably abusive certainly malformed love, is what brings meaning to what would otherwise be a Ligotti-ish drudge through the miserable lives of miserable people encountering a horror. I am not a moralist, I do not read a book and say “these characters had a bad relationship, so the book is bad”. I would never want to live like Nakota and the protagonist. But their relationship is the filament which burns at the middle of the book and that is why it cannot be nihilistic. It is not the laughing abyss of the Funhole which dominates the book. It is the feeling and intent created by the bond between two people. It does not matter that so much of this feeling and intent is ugly and ‘toxic’, what matters is the assertion that even in the face of a cosmic nothing, love is the thing that matters to these people. It is ultimately the assertion of a human experience over the alien.

Majestic creature.

In the mirror I resemble a hairy dumpling with legs. I have a cut on my left foot so I hop like a stork. Asthma lately, I wheeze. There are no cockroaches in my new apartment, but once when I stood up too fast black spots crawled over my eyes and I bellowed “GNATS” and crashed into the ottoman.

terrible crossovers

For a thing recently I had to come up with the worst crossovers I could imagine so here they are.

A bad final season can’t erase the legacy of this HBO darling, which dives deep into the lives of guardsmen, sparrows, and street children caught up in the distribution of the city’s favorite vice: milk of the poppy. Winter is coming, so is local stickup man Omar Littlefinger. When you come at the King, you best not miss in A SONG OF ICE AND WIRE

On Labor Day, 1959, four young boys set out to locate the corpse of missing schoolmate Ray Brower, from which they contract a virulent strain of weaponized influenza which kills them and 99.4% of the human species. It’s Stephen King story you never knew you didn’t want: THE STAND BY ME

United under the God-Emperor Aslan, the forces of Narnia have conquered the known world. But when a playful kangaroo accidentally drop-kicks Aslan’s emissary down a well, his armies of apes and centaurs march on a tiny polity at the edge of the empire. In the face of impossible odds, Winnie, Piglet, Tigger and all the others must ripple their abs and form a phalanx, because the future of animal civilization is at stake in THE THREE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD

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Please help me get in touch with David Mace

I have recently become obsessed with a British writer of 80s technothrillers named David Mace. His work is sharp, painful, politically forward-looking (Nightrider features a multicultural egalitarian polycule of a starship crew) and venomously opposed to the political systems behind the sleekly amoral techno-military complexes which drive the plot (Nightrider never lets us forget that living in a multicultural egalitarian polycule doesn’t absolve you of the violence you’re doing). He vanished from the publishing world in the 90s, and he must be past seventy by now. I would love the chance to speak with him or to at least send him a fan letter. Unfortunately, his website is offline.

I am not active on social media, so I would appreciate it if people would help pass this call onward. If anyone, anywhere has a way for me to contact David Mace, I would be terribly grateful.