Jeff Noon

Infobox Writer

imagesize = 150px
name = Jeff Noon
caption =
birthdate = birth year and age|1957
birthplace = Droylsden, Manchester, England
occupation = Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter, Musician, Painter
notableworks = "Vurt" series
influences = Jorge Luis Borges, Lewis Carroll
website =

Jeff Noon (born in 1957 in Droylsden, Manchester, England) is a novelist, short story writer and playwright whose works make extensive use of wordplay 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 recent relocation (around the year 2000) to Brighton, Noon set most of his stories in some version of his native city of Manchester.


Noon's first 4 novels are part of a series sharing ongoing characters and background, commonly referred to after the first novel as the 'Vurt' series.In terms of publishing history the Vurt sequence runs: "Vurt" (1993); "Pollen" (1995); "Automated Alice" (1996) (itself simultaneously a 'trequel' [sic] to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass", both written by Lewis Carroll), and Nymphomation (1997) - however, in terms of fictional chronology of characters and settings the Vurt sequence runs: "Automated Alice"; Nymphomation; "Vurt" then finally "Pollen".

"Vurt" (1993)

"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 color-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. Evidently 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 "Of the Vurt film, all has gone silent at the moment. Don’t hold your breath."

"Pollen" (1995)

"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)

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', an obvious reference to 'Little Miss Strange' by Hendrix.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" (1997)

"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)

Pixel Juice is a collection of 50 short stories.

"Needle in the Groove" (2000)

"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 40 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" (2001)

"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.

The "Codex" edition of the book was illustrated by Daniel Allington and has an introduction by Michael Bracewell, explaining the "Cobralingus Engine".

"Falling out of Cars " (2002)

"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)

Noons latest work is "217 Babel Street". It is a collaberation of four authors, Susanna Jones, Alison MacLeod, William Shaw and Noon. It is only available online and is a constantly updated collection of short stories about a fictional British apartment building. It has stories about each person who lives in the apartment building, which each author can contribute to.


Novels and novellas

* "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
* "Needle in the Groove" (2000), ISBN 1-86230-091-7
* "Falling Out of Cars" (2002), ISBN 0-385-60296-0

hort fiction collections

* "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, currently only available [ online]


* "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 )

Radio work

* "Dead Code - Ghosts of the Digital Age" (BBC Radio 3, 2005)


* "Woundings" (based on the play), known as "Brand New World" (USA) (1998)

Reported works in progress

Apparently, Noon is working on a script/ screenplay for a film entitled "Divine Shadows" with director Husein Alicajic. Although Noons' input is not known at this time, he has been credited on both imdb and [] with writing credits. However, the film is in currently labeled as being 'in production'. Husein Alicajic's webpage also lists this film as 'in production', and quotes the films production company as Wild Bear Films [] .

The idea for the film won the "ZTudio What IF? Award for Best Un-Produced Screenplay" in 2001. According to "The Producers' and Directors' Guild of Victoria" [ website] , Husein secured an option deal whilst in New York.

However, as of early 2008, the films information has been removed from This would suggest that the film did not receive a green light, and pre-production stopped.

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Un-Official website]
* [ The Modern Word: Jeff Noon] –An introduction to Jeff Noon and his works
* [ Mappalujo] –A writing game devised by Steve Beard and Jeff Noon
* [ 'Vurt: The Comic Remix'] –A comic adaptation of a passage of "Vurt"
* [ 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]

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