Jeff Noon (born 1957 in Droylsden, Lancashire, England) is a novelist, short story writer and playwright whose works make use of word play and fantasy. Noon's speculative fiction books have ties to the works of writers such as Lewis Carroll and Jorge Luis Borges. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, Noon set most of his stories in some version of his native city of Manchester.
|Born||1957 (age 63–64)|
Droylsden, Lancashire, England
|Occupation||Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter, Musician, Painter|
|Notable works||Vurt series|
Noon's first four novels, which share ongoing characters and settings, are commonly referred to as the 'Vurt series' (after the first novel). Although the fictional chronology leads from Automated Alice to Nymphomation to Vurt to Pollen, the books were originally published as Vurt (1993), Pollen (1995), Automated Alice (1996), and Nymphomation (1997). (Automated Alice connects the series to the fictional world of Lewis Carroll), serving as a 'trequel' [sic] to Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass )
Vurt tells the story of Scribble and his "gang" the Stash Riders as they search for his missing sister Desdemona. Vurt refers to a drug/shared alternate reality that is accessed by sucking on colour-coded feathers. Through some (never explained) mechanism, the dreams, mythology, and imaginings of humanity achieved objective reality in the Vurt and became "real". The book won the 1994 Arthur C. Clarke Award. There is a Vurt film in the works, but as of the date of this writing, Jeff Noon has stated on his public website that "... all has gone silent at the moment. Don’t hold your breath."
Pollen is the sequel to Vurt and concerns the ongoing struggle between the real world and the vurtual world. When concerning the "vurtual" world, some references to Greek mythology are noticeable, including Persephone and Demeter, the river Styx and Charon, and Hades (portrayed by the character John Barleycorn).
Automated Alice (1996)Edit
Noon describes Automated Alice as a "trequel" - it is a companion piece of sorts to the famous Lewis Carroll books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. The novella follows Alice's journey to a future Manchester populated by Newmonians, Civil Serpents and a vanishing cat named Quark.
The people who suffer from newmonia (pronounced the same as the real condition pneumonia), are hybrids of humans and other entities. They are mainly hybrids of animals and humans, but also of other random items such as kitchen sinks and pianos.
The civil serpents (a play-on-words of the job 'civil servant') are trying to control everything that happens in the future, and try to stop randomness. The 'Supreme Serpent' is the controller of the serpents, and hints at the fact that he is Satan himself. The writing style of Noon is very similar to that of Lewis Carroll, who Noon constantly refers back to during the novel. The narrative is full of Alice mis-hearing words, most notably worm instead of wurm, and pneumonia instead of newmonia.
There are also references to popular musical figures, with two notable characters. Firstly, James Marshall Hentrails, a sculpture made of rubbish, and who contains the insides (entrails) of a hen. This character is obviously a reference to Jimi Hendrix. The character also sings a song while playing the guitar. The song is titled 'Little Miss Bonkers', a reference to 'Little Miss Strange' by Hendrix.[original research?]
Secondly, the character of Long Distance Davis, who Alice meets in a police cell, is a reference to jazz musician and trumpet player Miles Davis.
Nymphomation is the prequel to Vurt. Nymphomation primarily tells the story of a lottery in Manchester involving dominos and a group attempting to crack the secrets of that lottery, but it also sets the background for much of the mythology found in the previous three books.
Pixel Juice (1998)Edit
Pixel Juice is a collection of fifty short stories.
Needle in the Groove (2000)Edit
Needle in the Groove follows Elliot Hill, a bass player and ex-junkie trudging the pub-rock circuit, who is invited to join a new band: fusing DJ artistry, voice and rhythm section, the group's hypnotic groove creation is augmented by a startling new recording technology. The band seems bound for success - until one of them vanishes. Elliot's subsequent search draws him into a secret history of music that stretches back forty years and into his own past. Jeff Noon and David Toop also released a CD, Needle in the Groove: if music were a drug, where would it take you, on Sulphur Records in the same year.
Cobralingus sits apart from Noon's other published works. It is part anthology of poems and part instructional textbook for Noon's style of poetry. In it, he details his regimented methods for the creation of poetic text by a style of word play which lends its name to the title. Also included are various exemplars of this style.
The Engine begins with Noon using an existing text and then applying different 'filter gates' that edit the text into something new. Examples of these gates include 'enhance' which creates elements of beauty in the text, and 'ghost edit'; this kills the text and calls up a ghost to haunt the text.
Falling out of Cars (2002)Edit
Falling out of Cars is a road novel set in a near-future world where information-based civilization is falling apart. It follows the journey of Marlene, Henderson, and Peacock as they drive around England on a mission to gather fragments of a mirror that may be at the heart of the world's affliction. Falling out of Cars is the record Marlene keeps - or tries to keep - of her quest to flee from her past. Despite her daily dose of Lucidity, Marlene is gradually succumbing to the malady, and it gets harder and harder to distinguish dream from reality, hallucinations from events.
217 Babel Street (2008)Edit
217 Babel Street was a collaborative project between four authors, Susanna Jones, Alison MacLeod, William Shaw and Noon. Only published online, this collection of short stories is set in a fictional British apartment building and features stories about the lives of each inhabitant, to which each author contributed. No longer available online.
Channel SK1N (2012)Edit
Channel SK1N follows popstar Nola Blue on a journey of transformation as she begins to pick up signals on her skin. It was published as a DRM-free ebook.
Novels and novellasEdit
- Vurt (1993), ISBN 1-898051-03-8
- Pollen (1995), ISBN 1-898051-11-9
- Automated Alice (1996), ISBN 0-385-40808-0
- Nymphomation (1997), ISBN 0-385-40812-9
- A Man of Shadows (2017), ISBN 085766669X
- The Body Library (2018), ISBN 0857666738
- Creeping Jenny (2020), ISBN 9780857668400
- Within Without (2021), ISBN 9780857668981
- Needle in the Groove (2000), ISBN 1-86230-091-7
- Falling Out of Cars (2002), ISBN 0-385-60296-0
- Channel SK1N (2012), ASIN: B008RZD9ZI
- Slow Motion Ghosts (2019), ISBN 0857525611
Short fiction collectionsEdit
- Pixel Juice (1998), ISBN 0-385-40859-5
- Cobralingus (2001), ISBN 1-899598-16-2
- Mappalujo (2002) - co-written with Steve Beard, currently only available online
- 217 Babel Street (2008) - co-written with Susanna Jones, Alison MacLeod and William Shaw, originally only available online, now no longer available
- Woundings (1986), ISBN 1-870259-00-9
- Vurt - The Theatre Remix (May 2000- the show ran for three weeks)
- Somewhere The Shadow (May 2001- the show ran from Thursday 3 May - Saturday 26 May)
- The Modernists (June 2003- the show ran from Wednesday 11 June - Saturday 21 June )
- Dead Code - Ghosts of the Digital Age (BBC Radio 3, 2005)
Reported works in progressEdit
A film adaptation of Creeping Zero was expected to go into production in 2012. It may come to screens sometime in the future. The feature was based on the short story of the same name published in Pixel Juice. The film was to be directed by Billy O' Brien (director and writer of Isolation (film))
Jeff also publishes "microfictions" set in Sparkletown under the pseudonym @temp_user9.
- Micro Spores - Official Microspores project site.
- The Ghost On The B-Side - Jeff Noon's Remixing Narrative Manual.
- Guardian Books Podcast: Science Fiction Now and Tomorrow - Jeff Noon on The Guardian Books podcast, Jan 2012.
- What The Hell Ever Happened To... Jeff Noon? - An update on Jeff's current projects as of November 2011 from the author himself.
- Sam Leith's Top 10 Alternative Realities: The Guardian. - Noon in The Guardian's Top 10 Alternative Realities.
- Interview with Jeff surrounding Channel SK1N release, London Calling.
- Spike Magazine link collection for Jeff Noon
- The Modern Word: Jeff Noon–An introduction to Jeff Noon and his works
- Mappalujo–A writing game devised by Steve Beard and Jeff Noon
- Language is a Virus - Cobralingus Engine - Metamorphiction Process by Jeff Noon
- Origins of a Dub Fiction - by Jeff Noon
- Radio interview of Jeff Noon on Bookworm, April, 1996
- Jeff Noon at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database