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Noon, Jeff

(1957-    ) UK author whose first publications as an sf writer comprise the Vurt sequence comprising Vurt (1993; exp as coll 2013), Pollen (1995), Automated Alice (1996) and Nymphomation (1997), all set in various versions of a Near-Future Manchester irradiated by Cyberpunk marriages of the human and non-human, all tales being told in a slapstick gonzo, Mean-Streets idiom and featuring a driven (though occasionally tangled) narrative line. Vurt itself is a reality-shifting Drug and/or Videogame, which destabilizes the Perceptions of the cast, who may be accessing one Virtual Reality world, or many. Vurt won the 1994 Arthur C Clarke Award; Noon also won the John W Campbell Award for best new writer in 1995. Pollen (1995), set a few years later as Vurt more and more deeply infects rain-drenched Manchester, moves edgily and Equipoisally towards the modal depictions of the City normally found in Urban Fantasy (as defined in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy). Automated Alice makes explicit the structural parallels between Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865) and the toxic realms within Manchester, though the tale itself segues into realms distant from this Earth, or sf. Nymphomation treats the giving and taking of reality states in terms of a television lottery game based on dominoes whose values shift surreally.

The themes and metamorphic moves of Vurt can be detected in both the short pieces assembled in Pixel Juice: Stories from the Avant Pulp (coll 1998) and in Needle in the Groove (1999), though not Falling Out of Cars (2002), even though the Disaster that has inflicted Britain – a kind of information plague that falsifies all visual messages – again has recourse to an underlying drug-based rational, not dissimilar to the reality-creating drugs in much of the work of Philip K Dick; and once again evocative of Lewis Carroll through a ubiquity of mirrors that are, and are not, portals. The book ends in riffs of disintegration. Something similar might be said of the John Nyquist sequence beginning with A Man of Shadows (2017), set in a futuristic (but possibly not exactly Near Future) City, where noir routines and postmodern turns (see Postmodernism and SF) juggle with each other in a complex Time Opera. The detective John Nyquist "plays" or games and/or is governed by these surreal conjugations of reality; in The Body Library (2018), he finds himself in Storyville, a world patrolled by "narrative officers" who cannot control the tendency of inhabitants to jump storylines. In Slow Motion Ghosts (2019) a different detective, Henry Hobbes, investigates the seemingly mundane murder of a singer-songwriter; his investigation takes him to the West of England, and into occult matters. [JC]

Jeff Noon

born Droylsden, Manchester, England: 24 November 1957




John Nyquist

individual titles




Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 22:35 pm on 16 January 2022.