A book by Jeff Noon set in his Vurt universe. Like Automated Alice, it is set somewhat before Pollen and Vurt. Stylistically, it is a bit more like Pollen than Vurt in that it lacks that kind of intense and trippy feeling behind it. On a purely technical level, it is perhaps Noon's most advanced book.

Set in the late 90's, it details the attempts of a band of math students to prevent an evil corporation's lottery-like gambling game (which, amusingly, takes the form of dominoes) from wreaking havok. The corporation's game reminded me a bit of the Borges short story "The Lottery in Babylon."

The book contains some amusing references and explanations relevant to the rest of the Vurt world, including the genesis of Vaz, Hobart, and some other stuff.

Jeff Noon's universe in Nymphomation is worth taking a close look at, outside of the literary universe inhabiting its pages. There are many concepts here that may sometimes find themselves not quite concrete until collected.

Dr. Hackle (a fictional mathematician) wrote many essays on the Hackle Maze mathematics. Some of the titles were "Twisted Hackle Paths and Other Such Wanderings," "The Trickster Virus, its Effect upon Play," "Maze Dynamics and DNA Codings, a Special Theory of Nymphomation," "Sealing the Maze, the Theseus Equation," "Lost in the Love Labyrinth," "Becoming the Maze, a Topology of Virgin Curves," and "Fourth-Dimensional Orgasms and the Casanova Effect."

Information that we can decode from the Bifurication Less Travelled, give the basic constructions that create the Hackle Maze apperatus.

"The Hackle Maze may be navigated successfully only by choosing to be lost. The best wanderers will subsume themselves to the maze, therby becoming the pathways... To play to win a Hackle Maze, all the various wanderers must actively fall in love with the puzzle. Every player is dependent on every other... In the lover's labyrinth, there are no winners without losers, this is the ruling."

Nymphomation is found to be a word, denoting a complex mathematical procedure where numbers, "rather than being added together or multiplied" are made to "breed with each other, to produce new numbers," which breeds more pathways towards the maze's goal.

A love labyrinth is a computer-generated maze in which the wanderers could actively find the centre by falling in love with the pathways. This is playing to win. Wanders (packages of information let loose in the computer's maze) can be broken up into a few different categories. Some wanderers have better chances of winning, Casanovas. They have more love for the maze, while a Backslider falls out of love with the pathways. They play to lose. There also the following species of wanderer: Chancer, Warrior, Seducer, Cartographer, Jester, Sheep, Shepherd, and Builder. Each of these act as the name would suggest.

Special Informants also patrol the maze, collecting knowledge and position. The reader of the novel will automatically associate these with the blurbflys. That interpretation may also extend, then to the world at large. Game theory. "The more you loved the maze, the more it molded to your desires. The more you hated the maze, the more it got you lost. But sometimes getting lost seemed good... All this and more was nymphomation."

But love for the maze wouldn't be quite strong enough of a description to warrant a name like the Nymphomation. That something more is detailed in Dr. Maximus Hackle's "Mazy Dynamics and DNA Codings, a Special Theory of Nymphomation." Wanderers, the bits of information, actually are found to have a sort of sex inside the machine. Previously it was found that if a piece of information needed a stronger force to navigate the maze, they simply would make an exact copy of themselves, clone. Variety being the spice of life and evolutionary process, the wanders made way to informational diversity.

"Two of them would get together, merge, and a 'babydata' would be produced... One can imagine a time when this new kind of knowledge will be put to use in the real world. For instance, we could mate everything we know about mathematics, with everything we know about flag-waving. The baby data would be the mathematics of flag-waving. A new science! But why stop our imagining so soon? Let us mate this new baby with everything known about ice cream. The result? The mathematics of waving flags made out of ice cream.... We must imagine a world filled with these highly specialized disciplines. Most will be completely useless and will soon be extinct. Others will be all-powerful. They will mate in turn. I no longer know whether to be excited or terrified at this prospect."

Many of the concepts developed in theory inside this novel, are put into effect in the actual creation of Noon's works the Cobralingus and Mappalujo. Collect your data. Blind your eyes and delve into the maze. When Jeff Noon gets his mind rolling the output is almost always worth reading. Let the Nymphomation take place inside of you.

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