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Dark Factory

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Dark Factory is a state-of-the-art club where reality is customizable: just scroll down the menu, and change your world. Ari Regon is the club’s floor manager, a wild card who makes things happen, Max Caspar is a stubborn and talented DIY artist. And they’re both chasing the same thing: the ultimate experience, a vision of true reality.


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Dark Factory is a state-of-the-art club where reality is customizable: just scroll down the menu, and change your world. Ari Regon is the club’s floor manager, a wild card who makes things happen, Max Caspar is a stubborn and talented DIY artist. And they’re both chasing the same thing: the ultimate experience, a vision of true reality.

30 review for Dark Factory

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike Thorn

    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 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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I love how Kathe Koja reinvents herself with every novel. Dark Factory is a fully immersive, futuristic dive into augmented reality clubbing and quite unlike anything we've read from her previously. Ari is the Factory's floor manager and king socialite. He's there to make sure everyone is having the time of their lives while seeking out ways to improve their experience. To do this, he brings on Max, a local artist who designs similar experiences, only his take place out in nature. The arrival of I love how Kathe Koja reinvents herself with every novel. Dark Factory is a fully immersive, futuristic dive into augmented reality clubbing and quite unlike anything we've read from her previously. Ari is the Factory's floor manager and king socialite. He's there to make sure everyone is having the time of their lives while seeking out ways to improve their experience. To do this, he brings on Max, a local artist who designs similar experiences, only his take place out in nature. The arrival of Max upsets Ari's boss Jonas, who fears Ari is trying to take his job and kicks him to the curb. And so we follow Ari around as he rides the waves of his popularity, jumping from club to club in an attempt to recreate what he had at Dark Factory and begins to fall in love with Felix, a talented and highly sought out DJ. In addition to Max, who keeps testing the limits of the Factory's Y reality, we meet an assertive journalist Marfa who documents it all, and various other music makers, experience designers, and rich bitch clubbers who can't pass up the thumping and bumping of the trance inducing rhythms that slide off the page and into our heads as we lose ourselves inside this weird and wonderful world Kathe has created for us. Meerkat and Kathe make an awesome team and have truly outdone themselves with the lead up to the release of this book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Korey Broderick

    Dark Factory is a literary hallucination delivered in a hurtling, blink and you miss it style full of mind-bending dark imagery verging on madness. I won’t lie. Kathe Koja’s Dark Factory was a challenging read, but only in the best of ways. Eschewing a more traditional writing style was a bold choice. But readers willing to take the journey are rewarded with an inventive tale that zigs when you think it will zag. Koja’s prose is demanding, featuring frequent perspective shifts and a sometimes str Dark Factory is a literary hallucination delivered in a hurtling, blink and you miss it style full of mind-bending dark imagery verging on madness. I won’t lie. Kathe Koja’s Dark Factory was a challenging read, but only in the best of ways. Eschewing a more traditional writing style was a bold choice. But readers willing to take the journey are rewarded with an inventive tale that zigs when you think it will zag. Koja’s prose is demanding, featuring frequent perspective shifts and a sometimes stream of consciousness narrative. It was easiest to read in spurts. Don’t expect a lot of handholding. Koja throws the reader into the deep end from the get-go. Dark Factory skirts the edges of sci-fi with a literal mind-bending, virtual reality premise. It doesn’t get cyberpunk right, but I think that’s the point. Gibson, Sterling, and Stephenson’s future of savvy street punks jacking in and hacking the big corps is so passé. This is a post-punk world, riding the cresting wave of content creators as philosopher entertainers. Everything’s coming to an end, so why not finish it all off with a mind-blowing party?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Life is comprised of experiences and bold thinking with an observant eye can lead to unique experiences to be had in Dark Factory by Kathe Koja. To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/. Dark Factory is unique mixed-reality dance club that provides those who attend with an opportunity to customize their experience and change their reality in accordance with their whims. Floor manager Ari is a man who makes things happen and seems to be the hea Life is comprised of experiences and bold thinking with an observant eye can lead to unique experiences to be had in Dark Factory by Kathe Koja. To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/. Dark Factory is unique mixed-reality dance club that provides those who attend with an opportunity to customize their experience and change their reality in accordance with their whims. Floor manager Ari is a man who makes things happen and seems to be the heart of Dark Factory’s success. A stubborn artist with a keen eye for detail, Max has made his own experience in an outdoor setting with Bitter Lake, though it’s been struggling to stay afloat. As the two men are brought together, with less than friendly feelings between them, the fate of their visions and their search for the ultimate reality experience becomes intricately intertwined and filled with industry intrigue. Playing with and expanding on the concept of reality, particularly crafting reality, was an intriguing aspect of this reading experience and the accompanying art and collateral outside the pages of the novel enhances the interactive component of it, blurring the lines of where the fiction begins and ends. The bonus content provided a deeper look at the characters presented to help develop them and while they could be read at any point, it was still an odd layout decision to occasionally have the bonus content arranged with a main text page between it, creating a need to flip between pages unnecessarily. The use of dashes in the text to shift focus between Ari and Max focused portions took a while to get accustomed to and could be rather confusing at times, particularly when the two were together, though it was a helpful visual marker to prompt readers to pay closer attention. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Can I just say, THIS SOUNDS AMAZING???!!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Belmont

    Dark Factory is my first read by Kathe Koja and it will most certainly not be my last. Her writing is so unique. I’m not sure I’ve read anything like Dark Factory before. It was absolutely mind-bending and honestly, one of the most challenging (in a great way) reads I’ve read in a while. Dark Factory is one of those books that require your absolute focus. There is no skimming or letting your mind wander. Each word is placed purposefully and if you’re not paying attention, you could get lost. If my Dark Factory is my first read by Kathe Koja and it will most certainly not be my last. Her writing is so unique. I’m not sure I’ve read anything like Dark Factory before. It was absolutely mind-bending and honestly, one of the most challenging (in a great way) reads I’ve read in a while. Dark Factory is one of those books that require your absolute focus. There is no skimming or letting your mind wander. Each word is placed purposefully and if you’re not paying attention, you could get lost. If my above paragraph worried you, let me reassure you, reading Dark Factory is very rewarding. You’ll be taken on a journey of a mind-bending plot line with fantastic characters and very unique writing. Immersive and addicting. In the end, I very much enjoyed this and was happy I read it. This is one of those stories that going in blind is best, so I’m keeping this review brief and not deep-diving into the plot. If this is a journey that sounds interesting to you, I don’t think you’ll regret taking it! Don’t miss out. Thank you to Meerkat Press for the free review copy. All opinions are my own and unbiased

  7. 4 out of 5

    Siavahda

    HIGHLIGHTS ~clubbing with virtual reality ~music that brings the house down ~what is reality anyway? ~and can we change the answer? If you know Koja already, then she needs no introduction; if this is the first book of hers you’ve considered, then no introduction can do her justice. Dark Factory is the intertwined story of Ari and Max, two very different people with – at least initially – very different views on immersive experiences. Ari is the heart of the eponymous Dark Factory, a club that uses a HIGHLIGHTS ~clubbing with virtual reality ~music that brings the house down ~what is reality anyway? ~and can we change the answer? If you know Koja already, then she needs no introduction; if this is the first book of hers you’ve considered, then no introduction can do her justice. Dark Factory is the intertwined story of Ari and Max, two very different people with – at least initially – very different views on immersive experiences. Ari is the heart of the eponymous Dark Factory, a club that uses a Santa-sack of technology to create a kind of catered reality for its patrons, a wild fantasy party that never ends and can’t be found anywhere else. Max, on the other hand, is a strong believer of meat over virtual, creating living and immediate art installations in garages and groves for people to experience in person, without Y – Y being an advanced virtual reality technology that more and more games and clubs are making use of. They’re diametrically opposed characters, and when they first meet it’s with barely-repressed hostility – but quite quickly they realise that their individual philosophies are both missing what the other person has to offer. Ari, in particular, recognises genius in Max and understands how much more they could accomplish together – and it doesn’t take as long as you’d think for Max to come to the same conclusion. I have to admit, I didn’t understand everything Ari and Max said and thought about what they saw and wanted to do, but the heart of it was the creation of experiences that are real, as real as possible – to the point of reaching for, and even creating, a new kind of reality. Woven through the narrative is the quiet but powerful assertion that people like Max – and Felix, an incredible DJ who hears a hum beneath the sounds of the world – are seeing something the rest of us can’t; are seeing, perhaps, objective reality rather than the subjective one the rest of exist in. The quest, then, if it can be called that, is Ari, Max’s, and Felix’s determination to learn how to show other people that objective reality – or even bring them into it with them. Read the rest at Every Book a Doorway!

  8. 5 out of 5

    BookNerdsBrainDump

    Short Take: The book is the experience is the book is the experience… (*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*) Good Morning, my beloved nerdlings! Today I’m bringing you something a little - well, actually a lot - different than my usual goose bumpery fare, but first, I have to take you all back in time for a quick minute… Picture it: West Virginia, 1991. I was a horror-freak nerdling about to graduate with high school, when with a limi Short Take: The book is the experience is the book is the experience… (*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*) Good Morning, my beloved nerdlings! Today I’m bringing you something a little - well, actually a lot - different than my usual goose bumpery fare, but first, I have to take you all back in time for a quick minute… Picture it: West Virginia, 1991. I was a horror-freak nerdling about to graduate with high school, when with a limited budget and even more limited options I bought a paperback copy of The Cipher. Before that, I had only been able to find King & Koontz, and although they did scary well enough, they both were always optimistic, with mostly-happy endings and precocious dogs and charming small towns. Ms. Koja’s little black paperback (is that a song? It should be a song, right?) was something altogether different - bleak, nihilistic, taking place in a grimy city whose inhabitants are short on hope and happiness, and nothing ever gets better. Duckies, my developing mind was BLOWN. So when I was offered an ARC of Dark Factory, I went in ready to feel the pain, you know? But this was something entirely different. The eponymous Dark Factory is a nightclub, where Ari, the club’s “creator” mixes cutting-edge virtual reality tech known as “Y” with carefully curated sounds, sights, and even smells to allow guests to experience a world unlike any before. Meanwhile, Ari’s sometimes-friend Max is of the “go outside and touch some grass” mindset - he has devoted all of his resources to creating Bitter Lake, a sort of woods tour where customers can don bear masks and wander the trails, finding stashes of apples and honey. But when Max and Ari both realize the limitations of their creations, and decide to work on a little project together… well, I won’t spoil it here. Besides, it’s not even really the point of the book. You see, in Dark Factory, there’s not a lot of action. No gore, no fights, no crazy supernatural evil entities from beyond the world. Instead, what Ms. Koja has given us is something stranger and more subtle. This book is told through the eyes of both Max and Ari, but in both cases, the style is EXTREMELY stream-of-consciousness. Sentences can run on for a page or two, almost every character is only known by a first name (and so many of them seem to flit in and out of scenes) and every sight, sound, smell, and store sign is noted. It can be challenging to stay immersed, to find the actual events within the mountains of minutiae, and I’ll admit, I was struggling a few times to stay with it. But then it hit me - the reason I am so simultaneously captivated and irritated by this style is because it is exactly like the inside of my own head, which is a constant high-speed monologue of everything I’m seeing, hearing, smelling, thinking, overthinking, stressing, imagining, and whichever stupid earworm has taken up residence. Ostensibly, Dark Factory is a treatise on creating, what makes an idea a good one, and how to get others to most fully experience the thing the way the artist intended. But what it really is, in my opinion, is the author doing exactly that: she puts us deeply into the minds of her characters, creating an immersive, sumptuous, lyrical experience with no headset required. There are also hints of something mystical going on, an absolutely marvelous love story, a heartbreaking loss, and some shady legal wrangling, but at times the story almost feels beside the point. It’s all about the experience. The Nerd’s Rating: FOUR HAPPY NEURONS (and some soba noodles, duh)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Missy (myweereads)

    “Everything starts in darkness. All creation myths begin in chaos and the void.” Dark Factory is Kathe Koja’s original genre bending novel. It takes place in a state-of-the-art club where every visitor can alter their reality to suit their needs making each experience unique. The club’s manager is Ari Regon who is infamous for the worlds he creates. He hires Max Casper, a talented DIY artist. Together they wish to create the ultimate true reality experience but not all can be achieved so simply. I “Everything starts in darkness. All creation myths begin in chaos and the void.” Dark Factory is Kathe Koja’s original genre bending novel. It takes place in a state-of-the-art club where every visitor can alter their reality to suit their needs making each experience unique. The club’s manager is Ari Regon who is infamous for the worlds he creates. He hires Max Casper, a talented DIY artist. Together they wish to create the ultimate true reality experience but not all can be achieved so simply. I am a huge fan of Kathe Koja’s books. I have thoroughly enjoyed the likes of Cypher and Skin. When I heard about Dark Factory I knew I had to try it. With this entirely new concept, the author brings an ultimate experience to just for the characters but for the readers too. There is an interactive experience available when you visit the online website whilst reading. Truly a unique way of story telling within this world of the Dark Factory. The story itself takes place in the night club that is one of its kind and has a reputation for being so. The relationships between characters like Ari and the owner of the club is full of tension from the get go. Once Max is hired and has to work alongside other club employees we get to meet some characters with rough exteriors and alterer motives. The drama soon begins to grow as betrayal and love comes into play. The fate of Ari once he’s fired from the club and desperately trying to recreate what he had at Dark Factory is one of many twists within this novel. A truly unique story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It is quite different from the author’s original works and yet she manages to bring this dark world to a new reality with her signature story telling. Many thanks to @meerkatpress for the arc and opportunity to be part of the experience of the Dark Factory.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    I have no clue how to describe "Dark Factory" but I do know that it's a brilliant piece of writing. If you're a long time Koja fan then this book is for you because all of her different genres seem to have coalesced into a masterpiece. The mystery and madness of the Funhole is here along with the deep cut philosophy of what art or, in this case, what "immersive experiences" should look like. The futuristic vibe from the third act of "Christopher Wild" is found in the virtual Y space vs the meat I have no clue how to describe "Dark Factory" but I do know that it's a brilliant piece of writing. If you're a long time Koja fan then this book is for you because all of her different genres seem to have coalesced into a masterpiece. The mystery and madness of the Funhole is here along with the deep cut philosophy of what art or, in this case, what "immersive experiences" should look like. The futuristic vibe from the third act of "Christopher Wild" is found in the virtual Y space vs the meat space of real life. Koja has one upped anything that Zuckerberg thinks he's trying to accomplish. And, The Poppy, the original performance space, now found in Dark Factory and at Bitter Lake and in the metaverse of Birds in Paradise. And Ari and Felix are Istvan and Rupert reincarnated.. There is so much going on in this book and I'm sure that they'll be complaints about "Dark Factory" being too much but it worked for me. Ari and Jonas and Max and Marfa and Felix and Genie and a slew of others have led me to a place that I'm not sure I quite understand and I'm not sure I'm supposed to understand. All I know is that I follow the music and the magic and I go down a path to find a world that will stay with me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mae

    Thank you Meerkat Press for letting me read and review this book! Firstly, I love the immersive content online, that is shared with a qr code in the book. That's so fun and different. Also, I enjoyed the art throughout the book. The characters were interesting and the story was great, though it took me a little bit before I was hooked. When I was though, I really had a fun time reading Dark Factory. I definitely feel like I'm right there in the story. 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you Meerkat Press for letting me read and review this book! Firstly, I love the immersive content online, that is shared with a qr code in the book. That's so fun and different. Also, I enjoyed the art throughout the book. The characters were interesting and the story was great, though it took me a little bit before I was hooked. When I was though, I really had a fun time reading Dark Factory. I definitely feel like I'm right there in the story. 4 out of 5 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Hamel

    This feels very experimental and original, which sometimes made it feel like a challenging read. I received an ARC for free and am leaving this review voluntarily.

  13. 5 out of 5

    CorrieGM

    I got this e-book in exchange for a review. First of all I have to tell you I am 64 years old. It is more than 40 years since I was in a nightclub. I know role playing games only by name, not from experience. So I think the story was even more strange to me than to people of, say, 20, 30 years old. Apart from the strangeness and not understanding : I liked the book very much. I liked Ma, who did not realize what made him different from other poeple. I liked Ari, with his keen nsight, although even I got this e-book in exchange for a review. First of all I have to tell you I am 64 years old. It is more than 40 years since I was in a nightclub. I know role playing games only by name, not from experience. So I think the story was even more strange to me than to people of, say, 20, 30 years old. Apart from the strangeness and not understanding : I liked the book very much. I liked Ma, who did not realize what made him different from other poeple. I liked Ari, with his keen nsight, although even he missed a lot. I may be 64, but I did like the exuberant behaviour of the guests very much. The ending was sad, though I could see it coming. 3,5 starts is not possible, so I will make it 4. And it should be 4, I realise, because I loved the bonuses. Not always the bonuses itself, but the fact that you could click on a bookmark and would be sent to another part of the book. And return easily. The links to the website did not work very well though on my e-reader (I bought a new one last year). My e-reader could not show the websites in color, a pity.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tkach

    I'm DNF'ing this book. I took a break from it as I was not really enjoying it and came back and found more of the same. It has all of Kathe Koja's magical prose and is beautful to read, but I did not like the characters in general and did not connect with their motivations. I found the story did not grab me and the subject matter was not for me. Was I spoiled by reading Bad Brains, the Cipher and Skin within just the last couple of years, probably yes. Those were all 5 star reads for me. I MIGHT I'm DNF'ing this book. I took a break from it as I was not really enjoying it and came back and found more of the same. It has all of Kathe Koja's magical prose and is beautful to read, but I did not like the characters in general and did not connect with their motivations. I found the story did not grab me and the subject matter was not for me. Was I spoiled by reading Bad Brains, the Cipher and Skin within just the last couple of years, probably yes. Those were all 5 star reads for me. I MIGHT come back to this if someone can convince me that the last 50% of the book is so mind blowing that I cannot miss it. Thankfully, I have wonderful signed copies of Kink and Strange Angels waiting for me next.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steve's Book Stuff

    Author Kathe Koja takes us into the world of dance clubs and immersive events in a book that questions our perceptions of reality. Can our minds be channeled through “manufactured” experiences that allow us to access altered states of being? To explore those ideas Koja gives us this book, and its accompanying website, which features music, displays, and snippets of writing and quotes from characters in and around the story in the book. The book itself is set in a near future, and follows four mai Author Kathe Koja takes us into the world of dance clubs and immersive events in a book that questions our perceptions of reality. Can our minds be channeled through “manufactured” experiences that allow us to access altered states of being? To explore those ideas Koja gives us this book, and its accompanying website, which features music, displays, and snippets of writing and quotes from characters in and around the story in the book. The book itself is set in a near future, and follows four main characters - Ari Regon, Felix Perez, Max Caspar, and Marfa Carpenter. Ari is the public face of Dark Factory, a dance club specializing in providing a wholly immersive experience. Guests wear “tiaras” that allow them to blend virtual reality with lights, projections and music. Ari, a gay grown-up club kid, has a knack for finding ways to crank the guest experience up to the next level, and has made a successful career creating new experiences. He is at a new peak at Dark Factory. As the story begins Max is attempting, though with little success, to do something different - he is trying to build shows that “manufacture” reality. He wants to provide immersive experiences too, but he relies on elements of nature and the world around us. He wants his experiences to be real. When Max finally lets Ari introduce him to the Dark Factory, something clicks that alters his perceptions about what is real. Ari sets Max on a path to putting his new perceptions into a virtual experience - initially as a game. Together they hope to turn the game into the next level immersive experience. When Felix, a successful DJ, enters the picture he builds off of the dance club experience Ari has created. His mixing work at the Dark Factory drives guests to altered states and causes a sensation. It also causes the authorities - the “cappies” - to step in, resulting in the shuttering of the Dark Factory. Marfa meanwhile, is a somewhat mysterious reporter who uncovers secrets of the monied interests that are trying to leverage what Max, Ari and Felix have going on. The storyline has plenty of twists and turns, building to Felix performing a streamed live show that may just alter reality for millions. As for my reaction to the book, I’ll give you the good and the bad. Good points: Koja’s writing is excellent, very descriptive and it draws you right in. I found the concepts the book explores intriguing, and the characters for the most part interesting. Most of the chapters were followed by “bonus content” which helped provide background and fill out your understanding of the main characters. The last bonus section is Max’s “notes” on curated reality, and it’s brilliant. Bad Points: The storyline is a bit muddled and overly long. The book is episodic, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the episodes didn’t build on each other the way I expected. A large number of characters float through the book and it can be difficult at times remembering who is who. At points in the book the descriptions around gaming or virtual experiences rely on a lot of jargon which can make for challenging reading. Rating: Three Stars ⭐⭐⭐ NOTE: I received an advanced copy from LibraryThing and Meerkat Press. I am voluntarily providing this review. The book became publicly available on May 10, 2022.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Abi Walton

    I adored Under The Poppy and thought I was going to enjoy Dark Factory just as much but I didn’t. I think overall this could have been a great 150 page Novella. I got to the half way point and felt it was done and then couldn’t bring myself to read the rest. I skimmed the last potion and didn’t enjoy it. I think it was just too abstract for me and I didn’t understand what was going on and I can do that for a certain amount of pages until I think what’s the point? Overall glad I finished it but d I adored Under The Poppy and thought I was going to enjoy Dark Factory just as much but I didn’t. I think overall this could have been a great 150 page Novella. I got to the half way point and felt it was done and then couldn’t bring myself to read the rest. I skimmed the last potion and didn’t enjoy it. I think it was just too abstract for me and I didn’t understand what was going on and I can do that for a certain amount of pages until I think what’s the point? Overall glad I finished it but didn’t give me anything I wanted from a book

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    Everything about this concept appeals to me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Minnick

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barry Hill

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gil Roth

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Seidlinger

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Dean

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pop Bop

  26. 5 out of 5

    Megan Brotemarkle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meerkat Press

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

  29. 4 out of 5

    La

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex (The Bookubus)

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