Jeff Noon was born in 1957 in Droylsden, just outside Manchester: a typical arty kid in a boring unarty suburb. As such he painted, trashed about with 'experimental' bands (including Manicured Noise) and arty theatre groups, had a student play performed which won the Mobil Prize (Woundings, a piece about the Falklands War) and got himself a playwriter's residency at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre for eighteen months. After this he decided to pack in music and painting and concentrate on plays, and took a part-time job at Waterstone's bookshop to support himself. While he was there, a friend with an independent publishing company asked him to have a bash at writing a novel. The novel was Vurt. It won the 1994 Arthur C. Clarke award for science fiction, and ensured cult status and an end to crappy bookshop jobs for Noon.

Noon writes what the critics call 'stimulant-based' writing, but he invents his own drugs and then spins worlds about them which are convincing and amazingly inventive. In Vurt, virtual (or vurtual) entertainment consists of other people's dreams fed directly into your head like an acid trip, via a feather which contains a recording of the dream. The Vurt universe is gradually taking over the real world and the boundaries between the two are increasingly blurred. In his following three books, Pollen, Automated Alice (his take on Lewis Carroll) and Nymphomation, he explores the Vurt idea further. Since then he's written Pixel Juice, a selection of short stories; Needle in the Groove, another Manchester story written in an experimental dub stylee; and Cobralingus, in which he gets even more experimental and starts writing poetry using the same sampling and filtering methods. (see enth's excellent wu on The Cobralingus Engine) Noon can be brilliant, and he manages to play clever tricks with language and ideas and realities while still maintaining a darn good plot, which is some stunt. He can get a little pretentious at times, but the good novels are passionately written, disturbing and well worth reading.

Bibliography:

Also in the following collections:
Random Factor, 1997; Intoxication, 1998

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