Dark Factory

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Welcome to Dark Factory! You may experience strobe effects, Y reality, DJ beats, love, sex, betrayal, triple shot espresso, broken bones, broken dreams, ecstasy, self-knowledge, and the void.

Dark Factory is a dance club: three floors of DJs, drinks, and customizable reality, everything you see and hear and feel. Ari Regon is the club's wild card floor manager, Max Caspar is a stubborn DIY artist, both chasing a vision of true reality. And rogue journalist Marfa Carpenter is there to write it all down. Then a rooftop rave sets in motion a fathomless energy that may drive Ari and Max to the edge of the ultimate experience.

Dark Factory is Kathe Koja’s wholly original new novel from Meerkat Press, that combines her award-winning writing and her skill directing immersive events, to create a story that unfolds on the page, online, and in the reader's creative mind.

Join us at DarkFactory.club. The story has already begun.

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About the Book

Recent Press & Endorsements

“In breathless, careening prose, Koja captures minds that see a thousand worlds at once, lives lived at 150 beats per minute, and the complicated, messy reality that lies beneath the endless search for the perfect night out. This is sure to delight fans of Jeff Noon and mind-bending speculative fiction.” –PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Some writers are born to spin tales from the shadows. Kathe Koja is one such author. Dark Factory is a unique and esoteric experience. A journey into the throbbing heart of creativity itself. Where we find kisses and cuts. A fantastic story.” – S.A. Cosby, NYT bestselling author of Razorblade Tears and Blacktop Wasteland

“There isn’t anywhere I wouldn’t go with Kathe Koja, and the seams of reality are no exception.” – Sarah Miller, author of Caroline and The Borden Murders

 “Visionary. Stunning. A near-future vision of clubbing culture that takes us beyond virtual reality but, at the same time, presents an intimate look at the life of artists. Koja proves once again that she is a master of her craft.” – Alma Katsu, author of The Fervor and The Deep

“Koja writes like she’s an entire collective of artists, senses in overdrive, voracious for the next hit of art that will push them–and us–over the edge. This is pure energy, a glow-in-the-dark vision of a new kind of writing.” – Daniel Kraus, NYT bestselling author of Bent Heavens and The Living Dead

“Dark Factory is a wickedly original and wild book—a steadily evolving mystery, an ecstatic search for beauty and reality, a confrontation with our need to tell and be told stories—all borne of Koja’s endless curiosity and dexterity.” – Lindsay Lerman, author of I’m From Nowhere and What Are You

“You don’t read Dark Factory so much as slam dance your way through its glittering labyrinth of art, tech, danger, and lust. Meticulously envisioned and impeccably performed, this book lives and breathes far beyond its pages, providing an experience more akin to experimental theater than traditional literature; once again, Koja drags fiction kicking and screaming into the future, where it belongs.” – Maryse Meijer, author of The Seventh Mansion and Heartbreaker

“Koja has redefined the possibilities and limits of literature with Dark Factory–a thunderous, all-consuming tour de force executed by one of our finest and most skilled creators. This is not a book. This is an unforgettable and transformative experience.” – Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

 “‘You can dream while you’re awake.’ She’s done it again: with Dark Factory Kathe Koja spins a nighttime world fully realized and revelatory, all while reaching new linguistic highs. And how many books have you read that made you want to dance?” – Tom Cardamone, author of The Lurid Sea, Green Thumb, and Night Sweats: Tales of Homosexual Wonder and Woe

 “Dark Factory reminds us that Kathe Koja is not only a great writer, but an important one. Bolstered by inventive audiovisual supplements, the book is both intimate and epic, an ensemble genre-bender that envisions new possibilities for the novel as narrative form. This is a daring work of multisensory and multimedia immersion, an exemplar of Koja’s career-long commitment to dissolving boundaries—between genres and delivery systems, between body and mind, between story and reader, between virtual and real. This is a propulsive, wickedly funny literary party; enter the Factory, lose yourself, and dance.” – Mike Thorn, author of Shelter for the Damned, Darkest Hours, and Peel Back and See 

Excerpt from DARK FACTORY

“Ari! Hey Ari, how’s it going?”

“Hey,” his nod to the skinny DJ on the bench opposite Jonas’s office, blue glass walls half-covered with overlapping Dark Factory posters, the effect is like peering into a paper aquarium. “It’s going good. Tight.”

“I just got in from Chromefest, I played some crazy-great shit,” the DJ digging into his bag, a dangle of fake gold giveaway charms, too many stickers, TOOT SWEET, U DONT REDLINE U DONT HEADLINE, pulling out a mix stick. “Got a minute?”

“Got a meeting,” with a shrug, a smile, his public smile—

but inside the office no Jonas, only his spoor: smudged steel water bottle and empty NooJuice cans, Causabon trainers new in the box, a white dinner jacket hung on the back of the hulking recliner, and between the piles on the blue glass table that is Jonas’s desk two burner phones, both vibrating like wind-up toys: Ari takes up one, then the other, neither are numbers he knows. Also on the desk is a flat delivery box stacked with t-shirts, new streamlined design, and “Y makes the logo move,” Jonas at the door, slamming the door, Jonas wearing last summer’s t-shirt, black and sleeveless beneath a clear plastic wrap jacket; with his thick hair sheared at the sides he looks like a brand-new cleaning brush, Ari hides a smile. “Lee thinks it’s too subtle. What do you think?”

“Not if it moves,” an answer and a parry, Jonas likes to test everyone, Ari most of all. “Chockablock thinks of everything.”

“And overcharges for everything too. Wear it around, see what people say,” and as Ari drapes a shirt around his neck, “I know it’s your day off, but I need you in the box tonight.”

“Just me?”

“You and whoever else I stick in there. Be good, or it’ll be Lee.”

“I don’t have a problem with Lee.”

“That’s not what she says.”

“Then that’s her problem.”

“True . . . Got a smoke? Darcy’s after me to quit,” Ari offering one of the black blunts he gets from the boys in the clubs, Jonas rooting in the desk’s mess for an ashtray and “Jesus,” Jonas’s shrug half-annoyed, “Lee said that some woman gave birth on the floor last night? To an actual baby? What a mess.”

Ari laughs—“The Factory’s first natural-born citizen”—and after a moment Jonas laughs too: “Your brain, Ari, your fucking brain,” pulling out his real phone, a quick dictating bark, “Lee, find those baby people, give the baby free admission for life, make a big deal out of it—”

—as Ari exits in a puff of smoke and a flutter of posters, past the still-waiting DJ, two runners toting scent canisters like oversized silver bullets, another runner wrangling a wobbly rack of boxed NooJuice, provided to the production in exchange for placement, another of Ari’s ideas that Jonas approves, Jonas drinks half a dozen cans of that swill a day. Lee drinks it too, though Ari knows she hates it; sometimes he catches Lee studying him when she thinks no one can see.

In the performers’ lounge he slips on the new t-shirt—a little loose across the chest, he likes his shirts tighter—smooths back his hair, then heads for the black-and-white NOT AN EXIT sign over the loading dock doors: a delivery van rolling out, another just backing in as he sidesteps between them and out into the street, Neuberg Street, his streets. A teenager, the first time, he came here to drink cheap lager and fuck and dance to loud music with boys, he still fucks and dances but Jonas has taught him something about wine, so he drinks that instead now, chilled and white, it pairs nicely with the blunts . . . Sixteen then and wide open, new to the scene, new to joy: his look changed, his slang, even his walk, more swagger, more aware of his body as he roamed past the schnapps bars and phone stores and ancient brick alleys, the corner charging station shaped like a top hat where the boys hung out, flirting and sparring in the noise of sidewalk speakers and the whirring purr of the trains, the muezzin’s call floating over avenues of beech and linden trees, the black-washed façades of the remodeled industrial flats, the cafés hot with espresso and frothing oat milk, the clubs’ 4AM aroma of lager and latex and Club-Mate, dancing panting bodies, moisturizer and tobacco and tears . . . And now he lives in one of those expensive industrial flats, he has everything he wants in this world, almost everything.

The October sky is overcast as a tarnished mirror, heat still radiating from the pavement; he stops at a Kaffee Kart for an iced espresso and “Your shirt’s cool,” says the freckled barista, as Ari records her reaction for Jonas’S eventual benefit. “Dark Factory, it’s like life if life was perfect, I’d go every weekend if I could. You go a lot?”

“I go every night. I work there.”

“You work at Dark Factory? Oh cool! What do you do?”

And Ari smiles, because there is no name for what he does, what he is, what Jonas needs most, what Lee for all her stats and apps and 24/7 devotion can never be: the bridge between the Factory and the world, a native of both because “I’m the ambassador,” he says, and lifts his cup to toast—the barista, the Factory, his job, himself—as a sudden gust of steam surrounds him, like a saint’s silver halo, or a personal storm.

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About the Author
Kathe Koja

Kathe Koja writes novels and short fiction, and creates and produces immersive fiction performances, both solo and with a rotating ensemble of artists. Her work crosses and combines genres, and her books have won awards, been multiply translated, and optioned for film and performance. She is based in Detroit and thinks globally. She can be found at kathekoja.com.