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A brilliantly innovative and highly entertaining novel from a literary pioneer. Take a trip in a stranger’s head. Travel rain-shot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not for the weak. As the mysterious Game Cat says, ‘Be careful, be very careful’. But Scribble isn’t listening. He has to find his lo A brilliantly innovative and highly entertaining novel from a literary pioneer. Take a trip in a stranger’s head. Travel rain-shot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not for the weak. As the mysterious Game Cat says, ‘Be careful, be very careful’. But Scribble isn’t listening. He has to find his lost love. His journey is a mission to find Curious Yellow, the ultimate, perhaps even mythical Vurt feather. As the most powerful narcotic of all, Scribble must be prepared to leave his current reality behind. This edition also includes three additional short stories by Noon.


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A brilliantly innovative and highly entertaining novel from a literary pioneer. Take a trip in a stranger’s head. Travel rain-shot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not for the weak. As the mysterious Game Cat says, ‘Be careful, be very careful’. But Scribble isn’t listening. He has to find his lo A brilliantly innovative and highly entertaining novel from a literary pioneer. Take a trip in a stranger’s head. Travel rain-shot streets with a gang of hip malcontents, hooked on the most powerful drug you can imagine. Yet Vurt feathers are not for the weak. As the mysterious Game Cat says, ‘Be careful, be very careful’. But Scribble isn’t listening. He has to find his lost love. His journey is a mission to find Curious Yellow, the ultimate, perhaps even mythical Vurt feather. As the most powerful narcotic of all, Scribble must be prepared to leave his current reality behind. This edition also includes three additional short stories by Noon.

30 review for Vurt

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Birds of a feather flock together: A blue feather had landed on the stomach of the Thing-from-Outer-Space. One of his tentacles reached out for it His spiky fingers took a hold, and a hole opened up in his flesh, a greasy orifice. He turned the feather in his feelers and then stroked it in, direct, to the hole. He started to change. I wasn’t sure which feather he’d loaded, but from the way he was moving his feelers I guess he was swimming with the Thermo Fish. So to be knocked down with a feather Birds of a feather flock together: A blue feather had landed on the stomach of the Thing-from-Outer-Space. One of his tentacles reached out for it His spiky fingers took a hold, and a hole opened up in his flesh, a greasy orifice. He turned the feather in his feelers and then stroked it in, direct, to the hole. He started to change. I wasn’t sure which feather he’d loaded, but from the way he was moving his feelers I guess he was swimming with the Thermo Fish. So to be knocked down with a feather just read Vurt. If Alice's Adventures in Wonderland were written in the genre of dystopia and in the cyberpunk style it would’ve become Vurt. The novel is very extravagant and exotic but some serious holes in the plot prevent it from turning into a masterpiece.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Danie Ware

    Dear Gods. This isn't a book. It's an A1, tip-top, clubbing, jam fair. It's sandwich of fun, on ecstasy bread, wrapped up in a big bag like disco fudge... Seriously. It's a technicolour concept album, existing somewhere between Alice in Wonderland, Akira and Trainspotting. It's sex and drugs and incest and feathers and dog-fucking; it's a fractal reality that I really, really wish I'd written. I guess you have to have been there. If you have the right past - and if you've come past it far enough - Dear Gods. This isn't a book. It's an A1, tip-top, clubbing, jam fair. It's sandwich of fun, on ecstasy bread, wrapped up in a big bag like disco fudge... Seriously. It's a technicolour concept album, existing somewhere between Alice in Wonderland, Akira and Trainspotting. It's sex and drugs and incest and feathers and dog-fucking; it's a fractal reality that I really, really wish I'd written. I guess you have to have been there. If you have the right past - and if you've come past it far enough - you can identify with everything this book reveals. We've all known a Beetle, we've all known a Game Cat. We've been on the ride and we know how it eventually rings hollow, and we know how it feels when it ends. If you've had the experiences, you can follow every loop as it goes round. And as it stops. From fractal bullets to the icecream van in the middle of the post-Ramadan party, this is evocative, powerfully visual and leaves you pressed against the back of your chair, hanging on for dear life. Particularly on audiobook, and with a masterful narrator, it's not something to be missed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I was given this book when it first came out in the early 90's and was completely blown away. I re-read the book last year and it still is as enjoyable as it was 15 years ago. Noon takes the reader through the drug riddled streets of future London. Everyone is addicted to feathers. You tickle your tongue with a feather and depending on the color of the feather you go on a certain trip. If you like to eat aliens, if you worship the game cat, if you think people should mate and have offspring with I was given this book when it first came out in the early 90's and was completely blown away. I re-read the book last year and it still is as enjoyable as it was 15 years ago. Noon takes the reader through the drug riddled streets of future London. Everyone is addicted to feathers. You tickle your tongue with a feather and depending on the color of the feather you go on a certain trip. If you like to eat aliens, if you worship the game cat, if you think people should mate and have offspring with dogs, if you have ever wanted to be so close to your lover that your hair grows together for twenty feet, or if you just like early psychedelic cyber-punk, read this book. It is crazy good.

  4. 4 out of 5

    sil

    I don't leave books unfinished very often, but I just couldn't bring myself to keep reading Vurt. Noon's cyberpunk drug-culture epic strives to describe a psychedelic future/alternate Manchester, but fails quite obviously - halfway through the book, his cast of characters have yet to spend more than a few moments in the eponymous cyber-drug-world. In addition, his characters are wooden and, despite their depressing hijinks-filled lifestyle, largely uninteresting. I didn't care about them, and th I don't leave books unfinished very often, but I just couldn't bring myself to keep reading Vurt. Noon's cyberpunk drug-culture epic strives to describe a psychedelic future/alternate Manchester, but fails quite obviously - halfway through the book, his cast of characters have yet to spend more than a few moments in the eponymous cyber-drug-world. In addition, his characters are wooden and, despite their depressing hijinks-filled lifestyle, largely uninteresting. I didn't care about them, and the potentially rich tapestry of their world wasn't sufficiently embroidered to make up for it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I honestly don't what to think about this book. On the one hand, it's like a jazz festival that mixes Naked Lunch with Trainspotting. Add an alien feast, nanobot robot cooks, robodogs, The New Weird, and a vast dreamscape that goes from heaven to hell, from arty cafes to cop busts, to licking feathers to get high, to an outright possible reference to Tammuz and Geshtinana with an incestuous bent, and I STILL don't know what to think about this book. It has a clear jazzy style that jumps all over t I honestly don't what to think about this book. On the one hand, it's like a jazz festival that mixes Naked Lunch with Trainspotting. Add an alien feast, nanobot robot cooks, robodogs, The New Weird, and a vast dreamscape that goes from heaven to hell, from arty cafes to cop busts, to licking feathers to get high, to an outright possible reference to Tammuz and Geshtinana with an incestuous bent, and I STILL don't know what to think about this book. It has a clear jazzy style that jumps all over the place easily, filling in backstory in a fun way, but at the same time, there are so many odd references to a world so alien and just like a drug-filled afternoon, that I can't quite say it was comfortable at all. And yet it was very creative. I loved the virtual meta moments, the way it felt like a mix between Matrix and Strange Days years before those movies were ever made. It also felt like Existenz in a HUGE way. Again, this was written long before that, as well. So here I am, looking at the genuine article, the haze of the utterly strange and fascinating and brilliant, and I'm wondering if I even like it. On one hand, I will absolutely respect it and give it major props for existing and to myself for having read it, but I can't say that it was all that pleasant. However, I have also said the same things about China Mieville and Vandermeer, so it may be a tolerance thing and a mood thing rather than an exacting approbation or me being amazed. Of course, I could be both at the same time. :) Love, and hate. Or beauty and ugliness. My reaction fits quite well with the contents of the book, from imagery to spelled-out themes. So perhaps this was the whole point, to begin with.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Vurt started with a cool premise. A future Manchester UK filled with an assortment of new species of human, a new social structure, and, the central feature of the book, a new drug/game/escape from reality called vurt. One of the problems with the book is that vurt is vurt. Through the entire plot, we're left kind of fuzzy as to what it actually is. People take feathers, and ... well we're not exactly sure what happens. They see things differently, but sometimes act parts out in the real world. Vurt started with a cool premise. A future Manchester UK filled with an assortment of new species of human, a new social structure, and, the central feature of the book, a new drug/game/escape from reality called vurt. One of the problems with the book is that vurt is vurt. Through the entire plot, we're left kind of fuzzy as to what it actually is. People take feathers, and ... well we're not exactly sure what happens. They see things differently, but sometimes act parts out in the real world. Sometimes the others they are with in the real world are there, sometimes they are each experiencing their own thing. Is it a drug? Is it a game? Is it real? These things are never really addressed, and as a result a lot going on in the book is confusing. The author plunges us into the middle of a futuristic cyberpunk world and never explains any of it to us. It's assumed that we're caught up on what's going on. While parts of it reveal themselves to us bit by bit, much of it is a mish-mash of future sounding words and images that don't really make sense. That however is not the major flaw in the book. While the setting could have used some explaining here and there, the plot of the story was still clear enough to follow. I got what was going on, even if I didn't understand everything in the world. The book's fatal flaw was in the characters. While they were certainly vivid, outgoing, and memorable, they were also flat and acting without sensible motivation. As the plot progresses and secondary characters are risking their lives, helping, or loving the main character, there is no expiation as to why the go out of the way to help him. Even when character motivation is attempted, it's done poorly. One character claims to be aiding Scribble (the lead) for his brother. While we know his brother, and their story, there is no link between what he does for Scribble, and the brother. A new character is brought into the group at the beginning of the story, Scribble treats her poorly, and she puts her life on the line to help him be reunited with his sister. The character interactions remind me of a table top role playing game. "You all are in a group, it doesn't matter why, but you have to help each other. Even if it goes against what you think you're character is, in the end, you help because that's what keeps the game, and my plot, moving forward." Speaking of lacking development, the main love story is dull. The only thing it has going for it is the incest factor. That makes it moderately interesting, but only in a socially deviant sort of way. There's no warmth between them, we don't know WHY he loves her so much (other than that she's hot), and there is little growth between the two of them. Even though it's central to the story, we no little about her other than that she's the main character's sister, and she's hot. I'm sad I didn't like this book. I love the genre and I liked the premise. Unfortunately, the book is more like a fireworks display than anything approaching a good read. Some flash and bang, pretty pictures, but little logic from one scene to the next. If you'd like your home game of shadowrunner to be a book, this may be alright for you. If you want exciting scene after exciting encounter with no rhythm, reason, or rational, you may like the book. If you're looking for a good story, a well constructed world, and dynamic characters you can care about, stay away.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Dunbar

    First let me say I REALLY wanted to like this book. Hell, there are several reasons why I didn't want to NOT like this book, not the least of which are: - It was recommended by a friend whose opinion I respect - I feel like I've hated on all the books I've read so far this year - It is highly rated among fellow Goodreaders (like all of the other books I've hated on lately) Seriously, that last one really gets me. I've never had such a bad streak of books. Wool, Southern Reach, Casual Vacancy, and no First let me say I REALLY wanted to like this book. Hell, there are several reasons why I didn't want to NOT like this book, not the least of which are: - It was recommended by a friend whose opinion I respect - I feel like I've hated on all the books I've read so far this year - It is highly rated among fellow Goodreaders (like all of the other books I've hated on lately) Seriously, that last one really gets me. I've never had such a bad streak of books. Wool, Southern Reach, Casual Vacancy, and now Vurt. It makes me wonder what the fuck is wrong with my taste? Am I that picky? Am I that out of touch? Am I just too fucking stupid to grok the depth of these works? Have I lost my seat at the Cool Kids Table? What the fuck? Anyway, part of me would be content leaving this book two stars and a four word review: What. The. Actual. Fuck. But instead I’ll give it the good ol’ college try. Here goes... Vurt is a near future, sort-of-cyberpunk, dystopia where people escape reality by entering - via different colored feathers tickled upon their throats - a shared dream state known as the Vurt. The story is told through the eyes of Scribble, a member of a gang of Vurt junkies known as the Stash Riders. Scribble has entered the Vurt so often and has such talent with it that he’s able to go there without the use of a feather. This leads to a majority of the book sounding like the escapades of someone on an LSD trip as retold by a paranoid schizophrenic. I spent half my time with this book trying to figure out what was reality and what wasn’t. Of course, that’s a kudos to Noon, as it perfectly inserts us into the mindset of such a fucked up character, but it makes the reading more work than pleasure. The effect would be perfect for a short story, but over a 300+ page novel it is just too much. The closest thing I can compare it to is this: Imagine reading the novelization of Inception where the rules and logic of the dream world are never explained and the dreams therein make little to no sense. Sounds good, right? The characters. Let’s talk about them for a second. I couldn’t relate to any of them. Perhaps I’m not British enough. Perhaps I haven’t done enough of the right drugs. Perhaps - and I think this may be it - they are just shit. There was a single character I felt a touch more than nothing for and she disappears before the halfway mark only to make a brief and inconsequential appearance toward the end. Awesome. Scribble - the eyes through which we see this world and the obvious protagonist - let’s talk about him. He’s a junkie. You feel for him initially because he lost his lover in the Vurt and is trying to find her. Then you realize that this lost lover is also his sister and, surprisingly, you just don’t care for him that much any more. Could I ever care about a main character in an incestual relationship? Sure, if you give me a million words spread across five books and your name is George RR Martin. The Beetle - the leader of the Stash Riders. A horrible human. I was endeared to him in the opening pages as he was careening the Stashmobile through the streets of Manchester because he reminded me of Nux from Mad Max: Fury Road - “What a day! What a lovely day!” Of course that all ends when they get to their apartment and he starts being physically abusive to his friends and fucks a girl that’s not his girlfriend loud enough for his girlfriend to hear. How sweet. He semi redeemed himself by the end of the book, but I stopped caring about him long before that happened. Mandy - the previously mentioned not girlfriend girl that has about as much depth as a rain puddle in the midday sun. Seriously, I’m lucky to have remembered her name. Bridget - Beetle’s girlfriend. She’s abused and cheated on by him and I’m rooting for her and then she disappears. Mr. Noon, if you’re only going to endear us to a single character, how about you make sure they stick around to have their story told? Thanks. The world. Hmmm. Well there’s the Vurt, a shared dream state that I couldn’t care less about. There are dream snakes apparently both inside and outside of the Vurt. What’s a dream snake? Good fucking question. What else? Oh, there’s the ‘Thing from Outer Space’, which isn’t really from outer space, but is instead an amorphous, tentacled creature that crossed over from the Vurt. There’s people that fuck their sister. And people that fuck dogs. And people that are half human and half dog that masturbate robot dogs, so that’s cool. Oh, and don’t forget, this is cyberpunk! How can you tell? Well, because Noon throws ‘robo’ in front of random nouns (like robodog) and calls regular old dreadlocks ‘droidlocks’ because IT’S CYBERPUNK, MAN! And finally the plot. Scribble lost his sister/fuck buddy in the Vurt. He trips balls for 300+ pages to bring her home. The end. Should you read Vurt? Probably. I’m obviously missing the point with this book and I’m in a small minority with that. That’s fine. If anything I’m learning that the average rating a book is granted via thousands of reviews is one of the last metrics I should consider when determining what to read next. Go get feathered up and see for yourself.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Berko

    Insane unapologetic fiction. Where in the shit do ideas like this come from? I had an absolute blast reading this and was time after time amazed at how different this is than most everything else out there. I had read the description and had a pretty good idea it was going to be something I would like but I was in no way prepared for just how original and entertaining it turned out to be. Prevalent drugs and weird sex stuff and out there content throughout made this a winner for me from page one Insane unapologetic fiction. Where in the shit do ideas like this come from? I had an absolute blast reading this and was time after time amazed at how different this is than most everything else out there. I had read the description and had a pretty good idea it was going to be something I would like but I was in no way prepared for just how original and entertaining it turned out to be. Prevalent drugs and weird sex stuff and out there content throughout made this a winner for me from page one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    It's inevitable. If a reader (me in this case) has read 41 books by the end of October, invariably one will count as the dumbest. And so with two months of reading left in this year, I have my nomination for that illustrious designation. [It was in the house ; I was tempted ; don't shame me] It's inevitable. If a reader (me in this case) has read 41 books by the end of October, invariably one will count as the dumbest. And so with two months of reading left in this year, I have my nomination for that illustrious designation. [It was in the house ; I was tempted ; don't shame me]

  10. 4 out of 5

    graycastle

    This is such a smart book, but for some reason doesn't have the recognition that it deserves, at least not in literary circles. It speaks intelligently on hybridity, drug culture, game culture, created communities, fantasy spaces, writing as escape...it's just crazy good. I had a prof who called this a "game narrative," one of the first novels to use the conventions of video games as part of its narrative strucure, which is, trust me, extremely cool. I have a big love for this novel, and recomme This is such a smart book, but for some reason doesn't have the recognition that it deserves, at least not in literary circles. It speaks intelligently on hybridity, drug culture, game culture, created communities, fantasy spaces, writing as escape...it's just crazy good. I had a prof who called this a "game narrative," one of the first novels to use the conventions of video games as part of its narrative strucure, which is, trust me, extremely cool. I have a big love for this novel, and recommend it heartily.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    So, 23 year old me gave this 4 stars. 37 year old me gives it 3. I remember not being able to put this down, but I must have been in a weird book phase at the time. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it this time through - but I did have to put it down from time to time to wrap my brain around what I just read. Also, the disjointed nature of reality vs Vurt is sort of cool, but it caused me to start losing interest at a couple points because I was not sure what was going on. I think a special type o So, 23 year old me gave this 4 stars. 37 year old me gives it 3. I remember not being able to put this down, but I must have been in a weird book phase at the time. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it this time through - but I did have to put it down from time to time to wrap my brain around what I just read. Also, the disjointed nature of reality vs Vurt is sort of cool, but it caused me to start losing interest at a couple points because I was not sure what was going on. I think a special type of reader would appreciate this book. What type of reader that is exactly . . . I am not sure!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    3.5 stars Well, if most cyberpunk were more like this, I would be more enthusiastic about it. This was fun. And it reminded me of so many other books that I have read during my Science Fiction & Fantasy project. Like A Clockwork Orange, oh my brothers! I also kept thinking about Gravity's Rainbow, just because of the way things flowed and characters entered and exited, only to return at odd moments. But mostly, it was like going Through the Looking Glass with Alice, where Alice is actually Philip 3.5 stars Well, if most cyberpunk were more like this, I would be more enthusiastic about it. This was fun. And it reminded me of so many other books that I have read during my Science Fiction & Fantasy project. Like A Clockwork Orange, oh my brothers! I also kept thinking about Gravity's Rainbow, just because of the way things flowed and characters entered and exited, only to return at odd moments. But mostly, it was like going Through the Looking Glass with Alice, where Alice is actually Philip K. Dick. I absolutely loved it when Scribb showed up at a club called the Slivey Tove and there was a White Rabbit doorman. That was when my Lewis Carroll suspicions were confirmed. And the dogmen made me think of The Island of Doctor Moreau (and in Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series, what they called the Stripclub of Dr Moreau). The layers of reality were both confusing and intriguing--just trying to keep track of where Scribb was could be challenging. (Just like the Queen of Hearts said, you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in one place). I haven’t had much luck locating the other two volumes (Pollen and Automated Alice), but I intend to keep searching for them. Book 315 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

  13. 5 out of 5

    RG

    This was amazing!! No idea how to explain it but in simple terms, society or some of society taste these different coloured feathers for different dream responses. The Vurt is this dreamworld, but separating the real world from this fantasy dream world becomes the difficult part, not only for the characters but also for the reader. Funny, smart, transgressive, literary, bold, complex and weird. The writing was exquisite for me, and I was lost in my own Vurt whilst reading this. Loved the charact This was amazing!! No idea how to explain it but in simple terms, society or some of society taste these different coloured feathers for different dream responses. The Vurt is this dreamworld, but separating the real world from this fantasy dream world becomes the difficult part, not only for the characters but also for the reader. Funny, smart, transgressive, literary, bold, complex and weird. The writing was exquisite for me, and I was lost in my own Vurt whilst reading this. Loved the characters, the plot although complicated and strange, for me was quite easy to follow and disect as you became more engrossed into the world/story. I havent read anything this original for a very long time. Mr Noon requires more attention as a writer, although alot of his last works are very hard to find. Would reccomend this to any avid scifi reader, or anyone wanting a challenging thought provoking mind warped rewarding read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Bizarre and bracing. Shared virtual realities induced by partially ingesting colored feathers?! So strange, and strangely compelling (and in parts repulsive). This has got some of the feel of A Clockwork Orange, with some Gibson-esqe cyberpunk vibes where, if you're not careful, you may lose yourself like Alice down the rabbit hole. Fun, yet jarring and exhausting, with a disjointed narrative lucid one moment and untethered the next. Bizarre and bracing. Shared virtual realities induced by partially ingesting colored feathers?! So strange, and strangely compelling (and in parts repulsive). This has got some of the feel of A Clockwork Orange, with some Gibson-esqe cyberpunk vibes where, if you're not careful, you may lose yourself like Alice down the rabbit hole. Fun, yet jarring and exhausting, with a disjointed narrative lucid one moment and untethered the next.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andy Carrington

    Can't stop thinking about those yellow feathers... Can't stop thinking about those yellow feathers...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    I appreciate the vivid visuals and fast paced action, but could have used some of the drugs the author must have been tripping on to enjoy this book a little more. Female characters in this book are less than people and more like objects. Well actually everyone is pretty much like a game avatar with a minor blip of a back story before you go tripping down the rabbit hole. It's a book where you need to just enjoy the visuals and the journey and not worry about anything else like, why and who and m I appreciate the vivid visuals and fast paced action, but could have used some of the drugs the author must have been tripping on to enjoy this book a little more. Female characters in this book are less than people and more like objects. Well actually everyone is pretty much like a game avatar with a minor blip of a back story before you go tripping down the rabbit hole. It's a book where you need to just enjoy the visuals and the journey and not worry about anything else like, why and who and motivations, they don't live here. Think like Alice in Wonderland blended with the matrix, throw in some boondock saints action and tons of star trek lense flare while taking place in the movie contact when she's talking to the alien.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    I hit the incest part and went NOPE. Plus the whole book is one loooong drug trip or the gang looking for more drugs. And the point is to save some guy's sister (that he's having sex with...) from a virtual drug world. And... no. I'm just so not into it. I hit the incest part and went NOPE. Plus the whole book is one loooong drug trip or the gang looking for more drugs. And the point is to save some guy's sister (that he's having sex with...) from a virtual drug world. And... no. I'm just so not into it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sam Reader

                      "A young boy puts a feather in his mouth..."                       I found this book at random, which, for some reason, makes sense. It just feels right that my first introduction to Jeff Noon would be at completely random, a completely accidental collision with the insane genius behind...well, Jeff Noon books, as Noon lacks a genre he can be pigeonholed into other than maybe, say, science fiction. And since at its core Vurt is about a bizarre, sometimes                   "A young boy puts a feather in his mouth..."                       I found this book at random, which, for some reason, makes sense. It just feels right that my first introduction to Jeff Noon would be at completely random, a completely accidental collision with the insane genius behind...well, Jeff Noon books, as Noon lacks a genre he can be pigeonholed into other than maybe, say, science fiction. And since at its core Vurt is about a bizarre, sometimes macabre, often tragic series of accidents, it makes sense that while looking for another book whose name was lost to me I somehow stumbled upon a brightly colored book. The book's spine read, in descending order, "JEFF NOON - VURT - Crown", and at first I thought it had to be a pen name. I also hadn't seen a book this brightly colored before. Intrigued, I took it to the desk, figuring if I was about to read something tawdry or mundane, at least it was tawdry, mundane, and trying to be interesting in some respect.                            By the time I was walking home, I'd opened the book and found...well, a bizarre mix of abstract visuals, Irvine Welsh-style grit, well-disguised gnosticism, slang, and the feeling that one has left an electronic dub soundtrack on and one does not know where. The first chapter alone whiplashed between mood, tone, and sometimes even genre at dizzying speeds. After that, the book swirled into a rabbit hole of horror, black comedy, and what's best described as "post-cyberpunk" if it could be pigeonholed into a genre at all. By a third of the way through the book, I found it weird but engaging. By two-thirds, bizarre and a little uncomfortable. And by the end? Well, I'll leave that up to you. Suffice it to say, the book may be ten shades of cracked-out-- and it is-- but it's well worth a read, and one of those books that I've wanted to own for years but simply haven't gotten the chance. I heartily recommend you own this book. In fact, if you don't have another tab open to Amazon looking for a good edition of this right now, I strongly suggest you do. Why? Well, read on... "WELCOME TO ENGLISH VOODOO. EXPECT TO FEEL PLEASURE. KNOWLEDGE IS SEXY. EXPECT TO FEEL PAIN. KNOWLEDGE IS TORTURE." - Opening scrawl of English Voodoo "Mandy came out of the Vurt-U-Want, clutching a bag of goodies..." - Scribble (opening lines)                                           Vurt begins with Mandy coming out of the Vurt-U-Want to the waiting van of the gang she rides with, the Stash Riders. Led by the charismatic, brutish driver named Beetle, the Stash Riders are a group of addicts living on the government-supplied "dripfeed" that allows them a squalid apartment and money enough to buy the hallucinogenic virtual-reality feathers known as "Vurt" that the entire country (or perhaps the entire world) is hooked on. Vurt comes in both legal and illegal varieties, the illegal kind running the gamut from severe terror bordering on snuff experiences (black) to vurts where it is completely impossible to "jerk out", or exit the experience before it gets too dangerous, possibly leading to death (Yellow). Scribble, our (highly unreliable) narrator, has lost his sister Desdemona to a weird hybrid feather, a so-called "Knowledge Vurt" known as English Voodoo, and to a yellow feather located inside Voodoo entitled Curious Yellow. When Desdemona disappeared into the Vurt-world, Scribble received a strange tentacled mass known as The Thing From Another World that speaks in an untranslatable language and seems to manifest mouths at random along its body. It also has a feather addiction.                                       Vurt, you see, is not as simple as it looks. While it promises something halfway between virtual reality and a hallucinogenic experience, it winds up being something more like a dip into a dimension modeled on the collective subconscious, a place where dreams are actually reality and where various odd creatures and denizens dwell. With the entire world doing Vurt, things have become rather tangled, with several new breeds of sapient life popping up, some of it hybridized with other forms. Vicious Vurt-spawned creatures called Dreamsnakes sometimes escape into reality to cause havoc and attack the populace. The one voice of reason amongst all the chaos (even the cops are vurted-up and partnered with sinister ghost-like Shadowcops) is the writer of an underground 'zine who goes by the name Game Cat, a jazzy sort of fellow who lets people know what feathers are dangerous and which people should avoid outright.                                     But what Scribble wants is something far beyond what he might be able to feasibly grasp, and it becomes more obvious that whatever game he thinks he is playing, the real board is far more complex and incomprehensible than he understands. Before he can even think of swapping The Thing for his (almost too) beloved sister, Scribble will have to match wits with corrupt cops, brave a den of human-dog hybrids, fight a frighteningly-determined cop with a fractal gun, and finally learn his true nature, something no one is truly aware of.                                     Now, before getting into the setting or anything like that, there's something that needs to be addressed. It has long been a point with reviewers and critics that Vurt is considered cyberpunk, and it is the opinion of this blog that that is, in the most intellectual term one is able to muster, hooey. While there are similar themes, the main one being the way humanity uses virtual (or Vurtual) reality to escape their everyday problems, Vurt actually takes a few weird paths to eventually get to where it's going, and none of them are actually about technology. Rather, the book presents a kind of inverted cyberpunk with biopunk elements...instead of things taking away humanity and leading to more problems with humanity, it's a very human element that's taking away people's humanity and ability to interact meaningfully in the world. Because it's essentially peoples' subconscious dreams that are causing the world to fall into more and more disarray, the exploration takes a more nihilistic route.                                  A lot of the other innovations in the world are biological, too. A gun shoots a bullet that turns people into spirals and causes their entropy to increase. A flower clock sheds and regrows petals to tell the time. And somehow there are numerous levels of interbred races, including one that combines all the possible combinations at once, something biologically impossible with current technology and utterly painful to think about, considering three of those races are "vurt", "robot", and "dog". The closest things we get to actual technological advancements, other than the aforementioned robos, are nanites used to clean hair and a kind of soundwave that causes addiction and feelings of euphoria, sometimes to the point of pain. Even then, a lot of this innovation is relatively ignored in favor of spotlighting the centerpiece to everyone's life, that of course being the vurt feathers.                                        However, despite being nihilistic and ultimately a Faustian tale with some bits of the Orpheus myth and the Hero's Journey welded on to it, Vurt manages an almost cheerful tone. An early scene sees Scribble and Mandy trying to get the Thing into their apartment from the van and being questioned by their neighbor, a repressed old woman, and it makes an excellent bit of uncomfortable comedy. There are also some interesting and kind of lighthearted scenes with Peaches, the star of several "pornovurts" made by reclusive designer Icarus Wing. For a dystopia where sections are literally paved with jagged broken glass, it's surprisingly bright and actually kind of a cool place to live, once you can forget the population is on several different kind of drugs, fighting with each other, screwing over "pure" humans, and liable to be bitten by snakes from a dream dimension.                                    Another interesting thing about Vurt is the way exposition is handled throughout. Instead of being handled by long narration or context or advertisements, the world-specific exposition is handled through the dispatches from Game Cat strewn throughout the book. The Cat is incredible knowledgeable about the world, and their exposition throughout helps to fill in the missing pieces about vurts, the various races of future Manchester, allowing the reader to better understand what's going on. And even with Game Cat offering a look at the various things going on in Manchester and the world outside of it, there's a reason why so much of the world is left undescribed, and that is for the simple reason that neither Scribble nor any of his friends really care about the world being described. To them, what's important is the vurt and rescuing Scribble's sister/lover.                                  And finally, Vurt is a good example of the drug narrative, in the style of something like Trainspotting or Naked Lunch or Requiem for a Dream, though closer to Trainspotting in its humor and characters constantly trying to escape addiction and dealing with withdrawal. Scribble even gets a regular job and proves to be quite good at it, though he's dragged back through the dirt and into his old unsympathetic self by Beetle, the nastiest and loudest addict in the group (following on with the Trainspotting analogy, he's Begbie). However, it subverts this a little, in the way of drugs being a transcendence and salvation, rather than something that drags someone closer to self-destruction. Or maybe it splits the difference, as at least one person's self is destroyed by the feathers. Either way, it takes an interesting turn.                              But the book isn't without its foibles. The main characters sometimes lack some crucial empathy, partially because they've been desensitized to reality and partly because they're just terrible people willing to do what it takes to get them their next big fix. The relationship between Scribble and Desdemona is actually an incestuous one, making the entire quest a little squicky and putting Scribble's narration further into the unreliable zone. Also, the abstract nature might be a little much, with the book slamming violently between hallucinations, nightmares, flashbacks, and dreams at rapid pace.                               But in the end, you should read this book. It's a classic of modern science fiction, it's an amazing, vivid read, and despite its twisted and sometimes brutal nature, it's incredibly readable and well worth your time. Find this. Buy this. It's recently come out in a tenth-anniversary edition with a completely unnecessary introduction by critically-acclaimed Angry Robot mainstay Lauren Beukes.  And now, I leave you with one last comment: John Barleycorn must die NEXT WEEK Pollen by Jeff Noon AND THEN Book: A Novel by Robert Grudin Child of Fortune by Norman Spinrad

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    4 Stars Vurt is one crazy weird and wild ride. A perfect setting for a David Cronenberg movie…Heck maybe even a little strange for him. This book is even more out there then John Dies at the End. The book is a blend of science fiction, the New Weird, and Cyberpunk. This is not an easy read as I found it difficult to keep tabs at times and by the nature of the story itself things are not always clear. I applaud this novel and its vision, I just had problems with the characters themselves. I never b 4 Stars Vurt is one crazy weird and wild ride. A perfect setting for a David Cronenberg movie…Heck maybe even a little strange for him. This book is even more out there then John Dies at the End. The book is a blend of science fiction, the New Weird, and Cyberpunk. This is not an easy read as I found it difficult to keep tabs at times and by the nature of the story itself things are not always clear. I applaud this novel and its vision, I just had problems with the characters themselves. I never bonded with or really cared about any of them and that makes it tough to love the book. I ended up skim reading the middle third of this book as things were not holding my interest. No matter what the shortcomings are this book is so bold that it needs to be read to be appreciated. I hope that as I progress further into this series that I will come to love it. This book probably warrants a reread at a later date. I loved the writing style of Jeff Noon and the story as a whole. A snippet that gives a small synopsis of what this drug induced book is about: “Only a chosen few get the Haunting. They are the edge riders. Those strange people who can't make their minds up; just what am I? This is their question. Vurt or real? The Haunted are of both worlds; they flicker between the two, like fire flies. What are they? Insect or flame? Both! Believe it. The Haunted are special. They just don't know it yet. The Cat's advice to them; resist the don't know it yet. The Cat's advice to them; resist the temptation; don't jerk out. Jerking out is giving in. Giving up. Giving up on your true vocation.” A unique and wildly entertaining ride!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Levon

    Pretty out there, and fairly well-paced, but ultimately a conventional structure, with unsympathetic characters, wrapped in a very unfamiliar future world. Hard to get along with the writing style - too gonzo for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Malum

    Take Trainspotting, Neuromancer, and maybe a bit of A Clockwork Orange and boil them in a pot with a heavy dose of surreal insanity and you will have an idea of what Vurt is like. Certainly not the best cyberpunk (drugpunk?) book I have ever read, but certainly one of the most unique.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason Young

    It's been 15 years since I read Vurt the first time and it somehow holds up. The perfect blend of Gibson's cyberpunk and Irvine Welsh's drug fueled grime remixed on Noon's Mancunian turntables. Not for everyone. It's been 15 years since I read Vurt the first time and it somehow holds up. The perfect blend of Gibson's cyberpunk and Irvine Welsh's drug fueled grime remixed on Noon's Mancunian turntables. Not for everyone.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ren the Unclean

    This is a very strange book that stands somewhere between cyberpunk and an altered reality novel. It is written from the perspective of Scribble, a member of a gang that spends their time doing Vurt feathers, which are a means of entering a virtual reality experience that is presented as a drug induced shared hallucination. Vurt is written in a very disjointed way, which gives you the impression that it is actually being written by Scribble. It is the story of his quest to find his sister who got This is a very strange book that stands somewhere between cyberpunk and an altered reality novel. It is written from the perspective of Scribble, a member of a gang that spends their time doing Vurt feathers, which are a means of entering a virtual reality experience that is presented as a drug induced shared hallucination. Vurt is written in a very disjointed way, which gives you the impression that it is actually being written by Scribble. It is the story of his quest to find his sister who got lost inside a Vurt when she was swapped for a strange thing called the Thing, which is a creature created entirely from the Vurt. This book is really good and the writing is really well done and engrossing. I will definitely be picking up some of Jeff Noon's other books, hopefully they will be as good as this one is.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mon

    Maybe I'm just not a steampunk/ cyberpunk reader. Noon's novel is so consistently confusing and random it's more like a piece of abstract art with no context. Since it is extremely dialogue driven, I found it hard to reflect on the visual and conceptual setting, a large part of what makes up a good sci-fi. Imagine being constantly told what is happening and not where, when or why it is happening. The characters are constantly stoned and as a result hard to differentiate, there simply isn't enoug Maybe I'm just not a steampunk/ cyberpunk reader. Noon's novel is so consistently confusing and random it's more like a piece of abstract art with no context. Since it is extremely dialogue driven, I found it hard to reflect on the visual and conceptual setting, a large part of what makes up a good sci-fi. Imagine being constantly told what is happening and not where, when or why it is happening. The characters are constantly stoned and as a result hard to differentiate, there simply isn't enough room for them to do anything constructive or develop as an individual. Most of the time things just happen without explanation, perhaps a metaphor for a bad trip like what the novel is advocating against.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    This book begins with this stunning sentence: “A young boy puts a feather into his mouth”... This boy took a “Vurt” feather (a drug) that gives him access to an alternative reality. Then the reader is immediately immersed in a futuristic Manchester. He discovers Scribble, his gang of feathers addicts (the Stash riders) and a bunch of weird creatures (dog people, mechanicals, shadow girls…). Jeff Noon’s fiction is a “vurt” dream with flashes images, distorted realities. It is also a dark dream wit This book begins with this stunning sentence: “A young boy puts a feather into his mouth”... This boy took a “Vurt” feather (a drug) that gives him access to an alternative reality. Then the reader is immediately immersed in a futuristic Manchester. He discovers Scribble, his gang of feathers addicts (the Stash riders) and a bunch of weird creatures (dog people, mechanicals, shadow girls…). Jeff Noon’s fiction is a “vurt” dream with flashes images, distorted realities. It is also a dark dream with a lot of blood, violence and even incest. It took me a couple of attempts to finish this novel. I like Jeff Noon’s creativity but his story doesn't always make sense. I may be wrong, but I think the author just wants to confuse the reader with this weird story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Philipp

    Man, that was good Bliss Wind. I took another gulp, full lungful this time, head was spinning and I loved everybody in the crush all of a sudden. Caressed my way to the bar and ordered a glass of Fetish. The dark spicy afternotes hit my palette, causing sparks, and I was floating, hot. Slithy Tove system was playing The Ace of Bones. Original pressing by Dingo Tush, but this was the hard (hard!) remix, cooked up by Acid Lassie, and it was dancing the crush to a frenzy. I turned around, leaning m Man, that was good Bliss Wind. I took another gulp, full lungful this time, head was spinning and I loved everybody in the crush all of a sudden. Caressed my way to the bar and ordered a glass of Fetish. The dark spicy afternotes hit my palette, causing sparks, and I was floating, hot. Slithy Tove system was playing The Ace of Bones. Original pressing by Dingo Tush, but this was the hard (hard!) remix, cooked up by Acid Lassie, and it was dancing the crush to a frenzy. I turned around, leaning my back against the bar, just to view the scenes better. I was gazing into a dub mirror. That’s the kind where you only get the best bits looking back at you. It was that splendid mix of Bliss and Fetish, dogmusic and crush-dancing; makes you feel like a star in your own system. If Philip K. Dick would have grown up during the high-time of Jungle and the heyday of British electronic music he would have probably written Vurt. It's PKD's mind-and-reality altering drugs together with the UK's now-disappeared counter-culture. It makes for great reading that is surprisingly understandable, as soon as you "got" that the feathers are the drug, and that what happens in the Vurt can be carried over to our reality (like Freddy Krueger's hat in Nightmare on Elm Street, or an entire reality in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said) you know the basics, the story itself is relatively straightforward that sometimes meanders too much for its own good...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Josen

    First of all let me just say this isn't my usual type of book so it was definitely a different experience for me. Because of this I felt like there wasn't enough world development in the beginning for me to really understand what was going on. Basically the book is about the protagonist, Scribble, trying to find his sister, who was lost in the Vurt. There's incest, bestiality (but is it really bestiality if they're half human?) and as I just said, half humans/half animals. Also an alien that you First of all let me just say this isn't my usual type of book so it was definitely a different experience for me. Because of this I felt like there wasn't enough world development in the beginning for me to really understand what was going on. Basically the book is about the protagonist, Scribble, trying to find his sister, who was lost in the Vurt. There's incest, bestiality (but is it really bestiality if they're half human?) and as I just said, half humans/half animals. Also an alien that you can cut pieces off of and eat (while its alive) because its also a drug in itself. I can appreciate the book for what it is and even tho' this was different for me the author kept me intrigued and reading. I will say that the last 1/3 of the book was the most interesting part of it and I couldn't put it down. I did like it but I probably won't reach for this type of book again. :)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Byron 'Giggsy' Paul

    Reminds me of William Gibson meets Philip K Dick. I really don't know what to say about this one, but I just read it a second time, and suspect I'll read it once more someday. If it sounds interesting to you, just go for it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it first read 2009-DEC, second read 2011-DEC, third read 2014-SEP Reminds me of William Gibson meets Philip K Dick. I really don't know what to say about this one, but I just read it a second time, and suspect I'll read it once more someday. If it sounds interesting to you, just go for it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it first read 2009-DEC, second read 2011-DEC, third read 2014-SEP

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ruby Tombstone Lives!

    Page 121 - Not sure I can be arsed finishing this. I'm not enthused about picking it back up. I find the idea of a drug experience being administered via sticking a feather down your throat to be a bit unlikely. Certainly it seems impractical. The feather would surely get all soggy? It just doesn't sound like something that would happen. Page 121 - Not sure I can be arsed finishing this. I'm not enthused about picking it back up. I find the idea of a drug experience being administered via sticking a feather down your throat to be a bit unlikely. Certainly it seems impractical. The feather would surely get all soggy? It just doesn't sound like something that would happen.

  30. 5 out of 5

    P.A. Baines

    I started this book with high hopes, especially considering the rave reviews. I like writing that pushes boundaries and isn't scared to express itself in new ways. Cyberpunk often does this. Vurt, however, did nothing for me. By the time the end arrived I just wanted it to be over. Try to imagine a mix of Inception, Existenz, and The Matrix, written by Cheech and Chong and directed by Tarantino, wrapped in soft porn, and you should have an idea what to expect. At some point the author breaks the f I started this book with high hopes, especially considering the rave reviews. I like writing that pushes boundaries and isn't scared to express itself in new ways. Cyberpunk often does this. Vurt, however, did nothing for me. By the time the end arrived I just wanted it to be over. Try to imagine a mix of Inception, Existenz, and The Matrix, written by Cheech and Chong and directed by Tarantino, wrapped in soft porn, and you should have an idea what to expect. At some point the author breaks the fourth wall and tells us that it is a "love story". Unfortunately, he missed out the word "incestuous". He does seem obssessed with perverse sexual attraction. This book is full of it. Even the big finale didn't work for me. I was actually laughing during what should have been a dramatic scene. What I liked: - Nothing really. I was going to say that the writing was inventive, which it was, but it irritated me more than entertained. A lot of it came across as corny rather than clever. What I didn't like: - Plot. A simple idea stretched paper-thin. This would have worked better as a short story, especially considering the lack of plot and character development. - Characters. A bunch of gang members moving between virtual worlds. With no redeeming features and zero character development, I honestly felt nothing for any of them. - Prose. The cyberpunk sub-genre prides itself on being hip and inventive, but this often supersedes clarity and depth. If I could compare it to cinema, it would be an MTV production with more style than substance. There is some good cyberpunk out there, but I didn't enjoy this one. - Swearing. I don't mind the odd well-placed swear-word, but this was full to overflowing. To me, a swear counts as a "tell" because the author can't or won't show the character's emotion. Lots of blaspheming. This was disappointing. - Content. Incest, bestiality, porn, rape, murder, substance abuse. Not pleasant. Summary: I can see that some people might like this, even if it's only because they believe they "should" like it. Unfortunately, it did nothing for me.

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