Vurt by Jeff Noon

by

Author: Jeff Noon

Title: Vurt

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1993

Number of Pages: 342

Geographical Setting: Fictional Manchester

Time Period: an alternate current reality

Series: Related books by Noon: Pollen, Automated Alice, Nymphomation

Plot Summary:

“A young boy puts a feather into his mouth…”

With Vurt, Jeff Noon creates a world where the walls that separate the real from the unreal are dangerously permeable. This strange, dark, wet Manchester, England has been warped and shaped by the the Vurt, a hallucinogenic, drug-induced shared reality. By sucking on the color-coded feathers, users are able to fall into the Vurt… Not all feathers are legal, and some are downright dangerous… It was on one such trip, riding on an English Voodoo, that Scribble lost his sister, Desdemona… the love of his life. He woke up with an amorphous blob, “The Thing From Outer Space”, swapped out from the vurt world in place of his sister.This is where we find our narrator, Scribble the writer. He’s desperate to find his sister, no matter what lengths he must take. With the rest of his companions, Stash Riders – Beetle – their leader and driver, Bridget – the shadow girl, and Mandy – the newcomer.

The world is surreal, poulated with all sorts of people – humans, shadows, dogs, and robos, and all at various levels and mixtures. Both drugs and technology are almost magically fluid with the functions of everyday life in this warped version of Manchester. Except for the small “interjections” of the Game Cat, who gives added insight to the Vurt world, little is done to explain the workings of such things. Things simply are, and Noon’s unique use of language and “lingo” really immerses the reader in this world. The pacing wavers between swift and almost manic at times, as danger seems to lurk around every corner as the Stash Riders peruse their quest and the next score.

Subject Headings:

Brothers and Sisters — Fiction

Virtual reality — Fiction,

Appeal: closely observed, introspective, strong secondary characters, vivid, eccentric, atmospheric, dramatic, dangerous atmosphere, lyrical, dark imaginative setting, colorful, inventive use of language, bizarre situations, strange trip, drug-induced, psychedelic

terms that best describe this book: Strange, lyrical, vivid

Similar Authors or works (fiction):
Lewis Carroll and the Alice Books: Carroll is arguably the largest influence on Noon’s work. Both are loving wordsmiths, fascinated with visiting strange worlds.

Only Forward, Michael Marshall Smith: Strange, alternative sci-fi world with a man on a bumpy and often confusing ride through different worlds and realities, searching for a lost person.

Dead Girls, Dead Boys, Dead Things by Richard Calder: elements of paranoia, complex styles, bizarre situations and a lyrical narration.

Similar Authors or works (non-Fiction):
High Anxiety: Cultural Studies in Addiction by Janet Brodie and Marc Redfield: explores the history and ideological ramifications of the modern concept of addiction, references to Vurt, examining Scribble’s character.

Aspects of the Theory of Syntax by Noam Chomsky: Appealing to reads interested in language and theory.

Morrissey’s Manchester by Phil Gatenby: Manchester is an essential backdrop to Noon’s work. While inspired by Manchester’s The Smiths, Morrissey’s Manchester is a loving introduction and thoroughly researched guide to the city that is so important to the world of Vurt.

Name: Chris

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