Cypher was a sci-fi zine established by James Goddard in 1970. The publication was part of the DIY fanzine scene, self-published and created by hand using everyday materials. The white sheets are bound with three staples, and the features are typewritten. Cypher ran for 12 numbers; shown here is number 10 from October 1973.
This issue contains an interview between Goddard and J G Ballard that provides insights on his latest novel, Crash. Here, Ballard describes Crash’s subject as ‘the sinister marriage between sex and technology’. He continues, ‘Sex x Technology = the future. A disquieting equation, but one we have to face’. It is, ‘the description of an obsession, an extreme metaphor at a time when only the extreme will do’. Unlike Ballard’s earlier novels that are set within otherworldly science fiction landscapes, Crash plays out in a contemporary, urban setting. The interview reveals that this choice came from wanting to produce a novel of realism and ‘complete authenticity’.
The zine also includes a review of the novel by John Brady, titled ‘Ballard’s Autogedden’. Brady begins by citing Auberon Waugh’s infamous Evening Standard review that was headlined ‘TOO SHOCKING FOR WORDS’, using it as evidence of the novel’s ‘power and closeness to the bone’. He goes on to describe Crash as ‘one of the most important novels of the twentieth century’. Its mix of sex and technology is disturbing, Brady admits, yet it is a vital work for its head-on address of a contemporary paradox: people’s fascination with the machine, set against the disturbing facts surrounding accidents and deaths on Britain’s roads.