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The sweet death of Coyote, master taxi driver, was only the first.

Soon people are sneezing and dying all overManchester. Telekinetic cop Sybil Jones knows that, like Coyote, they died happy – but even a happy death can be a murder. As exotic blooms begin to flower all over the city, the pollen count is racing towards 2000 and Sybil is running out of time.

354 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1995

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About the author

Jeff Noon

47 books775 followers
Jeff Noon is a novelist, short story writer and playwright whose works make extensive use of wordplay and fantasy.

He studied fine art and drama at Manchester University and was subsequently appointed writer in residence at the city's Royal Exchange theatre. But Noon did not stay too long in the theatrical world, possibly because the realism associated with the theatre was not conducive to the fantastical worlds he was itching to invent. While working behind the counter at the local Waterstone's bookshop, a colleague suggested he write a novel. The result of that suggestion,

Vurt, was the hippest sci-fi novel to be published in Britain since the days of Michael Moorcock in the late sixties.

Like Moorcock, Noon is not preoccupied with technology per se, but incorporates technological developments into a world of magic and fantasy.

As a teenager, Noon was addicted to American comic heroes, and still turns to them for inspiration. He has said that music is more of an influence on his writing than novelists: he 'usually writes to music', and his record collection ranges from classical to drum'n'bass.

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5 stars
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731 (22%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
April 8, 2018
I'm already a big fan of Jeff Noon and this novel has solidified it for me. Any problems of sheer enjoyment I might have had in the one that precedes it, in Vurt, has disappeared.

Maybe it's because I've learned the world and maybe it's because the pacing has improved a great deal and we're not forced to ride the storm of dreams from the PoV of a junkie.

This is more of a detective novel, quite similar to Noon's later novels.

It still showcases the world of dreams, a doggy world, men and women of shadow, androids, and plant people. :) It's still weird fiction, but it's also literary. I've never seen Persephone become a bad guy. And so many literary characters (and movie stars) dragged out of the dream to walk reality. :)

For something that was written '95, it has all the spirit of Gaiman's Sandman and the spunk of the best metafiction and the verve of what is now called the New Weird. :) He's definitely on the forefront of it all.

But how did I like this novel? It was fun and above all, super imaginative. For all of you who bemoan the lack of creativity in novels these days, I would direct you here. :)

It's all about sex and lust and sneezes and cabbies and the Law and going down into Hades and it's also about half-zombies and doggie nature. :) It's fascinating as hell. :)
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
471 reviews117 followers
March 11, 2021
I need to get more Jeff Noon into my brain, I cannot get enough of him. His books are just so much goofy fun but they're maturely written and there's serious literary references all over the place and you've never met characters like this before and the story is about stories and it is all breathtaking to behold! I'm jumping back and forth reading his older nineties stuff and his newer Angry Robot releases and I'm kicking myself in the ass and cursing out my brain as to why it took so long for me to read anything he's written. "If" we were living in a simulation and the overall program invented an author tailored made for my likes and interests I think Jeff Noon would closely resemble that author. When I was younger and wanted to be a badass I would read dark and brooding books and tell myself I didn't like to laugh but as I get older I'm more into this kind of stuff, while it sure as shit ain't directed at young audiences, it is lighthearted and fun and makes me laugh and smile and today that's appreciated.

Thank you Mr. Jeff Noon, your books have turned out to be exactly what I needed right now.
Profile Image for Andrew.
837 reviews12 followers
July 25, 2016
Enjoyed Vurt immensely and in the same way loved this...it mentions on the cover that Jeff Noon could be considered a Philip K Dick of the nineties and though given the genre of fiction that would be a pretty fair comparison some of the scope of the unreality sequences I would say border on the visions of the likes of epic fantasists such as Clive Barker.
This was a great book that merged a recognisable future with a healthy dose of unreality that at times sailed so close to the wind that it was at risk of becoming disjointed however the story telling is as such that things are only just reigned in to create a narrative that can be followed and which is enjoyable.
it's the story really of when a synthetic drug experience fights back taking unreality into the real, To be honest it's difficult to give a snappy synopsis..as such just read it you may just enjoy it.
Profile Image for Andrew.
131 reviews3 followers
August 3, 2012
Though not as quick to grab my attention from the start as Jeff Noon's first novel VURT, Pollen left me no less blown away and grinning halfway through to its happy / unspeakable climax and epilogue. The pace is more controlled, but the eventual fireworks are absolutely worth the wait.

Set in the same nymphomaniac mongrel-blasted world as VURT, but with only the barest of threads tying them together, Pollen is as finely tuned a heap of symbols and dreamworks as you'll find anywhere, especially in the sci-fi genre it stubbornly insists it belongs in. Purity of love, celebration of lust, and validation of life are blasted through with large swatches of Gaiman or Carroll-esque story worship and a tremendously unorthodox willingness toward the gross and gritty, all told via the stylish, lazy dazed writing of a competent British loony. The whole shebang leaves me looking forward to more of the author's work, confident that he's capable of growth even after a knockout like VURT.
Profile Image for Regina Cattus.
341 reviews14 followers
February 20, 2021
I finished it, but I could use a bit of a soul scrub.

It's never ideal jumping into an established universe part-way down the line, but I don't think I would have like this much more if I'd read the previous books. Main issue; it's bloody creepy.

First creepy thing. The obsession with sex. Sex with anything that moves, and some things that don't. Because clearly if there was a miracle drug that allowed you to have sex with anything... and have children from that sex, everyone would be doing it. At least, Noon thinks so, resulting in a world full of dog-human hybrids and... corpse-human hybrids. There's also some dodgy stuff with a technically ancient being in the form of a child which was.... yeah....

Second big creepy thing is how little the fact Shadows can basically **possess** people is addressed. Even when it comes to essentially possessing corpses and restricting the resident's free will....

Thirdly, lots of unpleasantly described and improbable amounts of snot. Like, no, everyone in a city sneezing would not result in snot literally everywhere, that doesn't even make sense, particularly since most people were either indoors or wearing masks. Dumb *and* disgusting.

Besides the ick, the writing style is painful to me, though I'm sure it's meant to be quirky or fancy or something, but it mostly just drags. There's also a scene at the end which has a strong (bad) deja vu feeling like the author pasted and copied the same passage a few times and changed a couple of words, but not in a clever way.

The characters aren't even particularly engaging but that's par for the course.

I guess the idea of someone creating the world of imagination and making it so everyone can go visit stories and wild dreams is sort of interesting, but I was not particularly impressed by the execution.

So no, wouldn't recommend. Admittedly, I am tired and busy which may be colouring my review a little darkly, but the icky creepy factor (and **not** in a mind-bending or fun horror way) alone makes it a no from me.
Profile Image for Rachel Adiyah.
103 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2019
Vurt deserved a much better sequel than Pollen; it was a post-modern surrealist, simulated-reality science-fiction classic the day it first hit the shelves. I gave it five stars for total excellence.

Pollen is just...well, let me say that it lost me in the first ten pages when Jeff Noon started to write about "the doggy people". I mean, really? Doggy-people? "Puppy-girls"? And then the genetic medication that allows conception between species...that's not bad sci-fi, but that it is used for the living to conceive with DEAD PEOPLE is not science-fiction, it's science-fantasy. Sorry, folks, but a corpse cannot birth a living child from its grave.

This book is loaded with so much crap that I got to the halfway point and literally thought I was going to throw it out my window. Jeff Noon just really screwed his own series with this book. Luckily he went on to write other novels, including a totally different series.
Profile Image for Leisha Wharfield.
127 reviews5 followers
July 22, 2008
"And Boda vanishes into the curve of a shadow that falls from the side of a rubbish ship that catches soft light from the moon that floats high and serene over the water that laps at the side of the canal that leads into the city of Manchester."

What more needs to be said? Bold strides into fantasy verify that this is indeed the genre fiction that my peers in the Creative Writing department have warned me against. Arrogant, even flip sampling from classic myths, strange characters, impossibly convenient plot twists, okay, but this is a story about being in a story, conventionally, with characters who are not quite as helpless in their appointed roles as, say, Peter S. Beagle's hero in The Last Unicorn.
57 reviews
March 24, 2022
Charon boatman of the lake of the dead, the best dead lake rowboatman of all time. He's taken more people more miles, to stranger places, in stranger times, with less hassle, less fish jumping in the boat, with slick flicks of oar, deeper pockets full of cash, with fewer capsizings, fewer return trips, fewer living passengers, fewer refunds, along the same fukin river and lake, and with more gravitas, for more obolus and with more depression to show for it than any other rower i could ever imagine.

doggoRoboVurtShadowPlantHumanBOY synchronised sneezing resulting in a 'nasal hiroshima'
Profile Image for Terry Pearce.
293 reviews29 followers
July 15, 2017
Started off really well, but completely lost the plot. Much less well-written than Vurt, and ultimately a lot less interesting. I'm starting to think Noon is much better at setting out scenarios than progressing them. The opening sequence is moody, gripping and intriguing, but by the time we've left the reality tracks completely towards the end, I stopped caring and only just made it over the line (and I was skimming towards the end tbh).
Profile Image for Varvara.
162 reviews18 followers
August 9, 2020
I loved the idea, and the execution was quite nice, but either the translation is a bit awkward, or I’m too ace for this, so when the mystery of Persephone and her deadly pollen was solved the plot and the writing became a bit dull.
Profile Image for Nemo ☠️ (pagesandprozac).
879 reviews411 followers
June 29, 2022
i've read some weird ass books dealing with every trigger under the sun, only to read this book and find out my ultimate squick is snot. snot.

i mean sure everyone thinks snot's gross, but i've read Woom for fuck's sake. i'm a hardass motherfucker when it comes to fiction. throw anything at me, i dare you. i gave 4 stars to Dead Inside and The 120 Days of Sodom, for the love of god. (or should that be, for the love of satan?)

but The Big Sneeze? The Big Sneeze broke me. it keeps cropping up in my mind and making me feel physically nauseous. (again, i've read fucking Woom, but apparently death by gang-sneeze is my ultimate squick.)

on the one hand, kudos to jeff noon for provoking such a strong response? as much as i hate it, i do respect any author who can elicit a strong emotional response from fiction, even if said response is making me want to be sick. but also the rest of the book was boring so 2 stars, sorry mate.
8 reviews4 followers
October 8, 2010
This is the first book by Jeff Noon I've read; and, I now consider myself a fan. [return][return]This is a book that I would classify as one of the 'truer' cyberpunk books out there. What I mean by that is the setting in Noon's book plays a central role in the story itself. Make no mistake this isn't some romance, western or sleuth story thrown in a cyberpunk setting. What I like so much about this story is that Noon explores the implications of his hybrid technological/drugged-up setting through the viewpoints of his characters, the society in which they reside and through the story itself. Indeed all three of these elements are symbiotically linked to the weird and unique world Noon has created. It's great to read a cyberpunk book where the cyberpunk elements actually ENHANCE the story being told. [return][return]Another wonderful thing that Noon considers in his story is the concept of balance. In particular, characters with uncanny strengths also have genuine vulnerabilities. Noon puts his characters into situations where their 'strengths' become completely benign or detrimental, while their 'weaknesses' become strengths. Noon understands when you merge a dream world with reality, rules and balance are needed to maintain the literary strength of your story. Without rules, powers go unchecked and the characters have no real conflicts. Noon does an excellent job of making his setting TRULY interesting because he respects the rules he lays out for his story and thus maintains an idea of consistency in his plot and characters. [return][return]Lastly, I love the prose and punctuation Noon uses in this book. It is rare that an author can pull off a first-person perspective that actually enhances the story. I believe Noon did this very well indeed. Even though the perspective bounces around a bit--and some of the transitions are a bit rough--Noon does a noteworthy job of handling his first-person perspectives. Noon's artistically rhythmic use of punctuation fits in perfectly with the tone of the book; and his use of simple but VERY effective vocabulary make even the most stream-of-conscience sequences easily readable. Despite the extreme setting and ideas present in this book, Noon's mastery of the English language makes this work much more timeless than less-risque works in science fiction.[return][return]Normally, I am a very harsh critic of science fiction; but Noon's work I believe to be truly exceptional. Not only are his ideas really unique and interesting, he fully explores the implications of his ideas. Also, Noon is a wordsmith. No, he doesn't rip out the fifteen letter words for even the most benign conversations. Noon is a master of simple and effective language that is riddled with subtlety. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I can't wait to get my hands on Noon's other works.
Profile Image for Nicholas Barone.
95 reviews7 followers
July 25, 2011
Pollen, Jeff Noon's sequel to Vurt, is a good read, but ultimately didn't live up to my expectations. I definitely enjoyed returning to the crazy version of Manchester that was introduced in Vurt, but the story - while good - wasn't as compelling to me as Vurt's, and the cast of characters didn't come close to Scribble and the Stash Riders.

The plot of Pollen revolves around a conflict between the vurt and the real. Certain characters in the vurt (who are the vurt representations of the characters in the Persephone/Hades myth) are tired of their virtual existence, and are attempting to take over Manchester. Opposing them are our main characters: Sybil - a shadow cop - and her estranged daughter, Boda - a driver for a taxi cab hive-mind collective.

Noon's visceral prose and witty word play is once again on display in Pollen, and the story is engaging, but compared to Vurt, it does drag at times.
2 reviews
March 5, 2015
I liked Vurt better but Pollen was still a great read. The universe Noon creates is incredibly weird and amazing, and really gets your imagination into a full sprint trying to keep up!
Profile Image for Майя Ставитская.
1,447 reviews141 followers
August 4, 2023
"Pollen" is the second, in which we are already in the reality of Manchester-which-a-dozen-years-ago-visited-Fertility, completely changing the picture of the world. By the way, did this happen to the whole globe, or did dubious luck fall to the share of the writer's homeland only, and if the phenomenon is local, then is there an opportunity to move from here to a more familiar reality, the book does not specify. The story unfolds in the scenery of one single city and suburbs as if the rest of humanity and the former life simply does not exist.

A reasonable question: "What about communications?" - here, too, remains unanswered. This is not our connected world. Yes, in 1995, when the novel was being written, the Internet and e-mail had not yet become part of everyday life, but simple mail-telegraph-telephone quite existed and it is unclear why the attitude of the world to a radical change in Fertility was not indicated in any way. This is not an empty quibble, it is important for the reader that the fantastic assumption is somehow embedded in the reality familiar to him, otherwise the fabric of the universe is spreading into rags. So, what is Fertility?

A phenomenon, as a result of which not only the fertility of all biological species has increased by an order of magnitude (how do you like the idea of the prospect of having children in the number of twenty-one?), but also interspecific interbreeding has become possible and now psyudis make up a significant part of the local population. I am afraid to assume as a result of what all of them were born and why, assuming the worst, are not crowds of goat-men, sheep-men, horse-men wandering around? There are also zombies, because the dead also do not completely die, but drag themselves around the world, scattering clots of rotten flesh around.

At most stages of decomposition, they are not dangerous, they are such pariahs, but immediately after the death of a zombie, it may well be possible to snare a living woman and she will give birth to a shadow baby from him. Shadowmen have an increased capacity for empathic perception and are not affected by Wirth feathers. What the hell is this? Yes, it's still a curiosity, something like portals to many virtual worlds, the pass to which is a pen taken in the mouth (not what you thought, although it will also be, and described extremely realistically). Feathers vary in color, shade, size and texture, depending on which the effect on the recipient varies. The part of the population directly connected with Wirth are angels, they also make up the upper level of the local hierarchy, below ordinary people, cybermen (there are also such), shadows, dogs, zombies close the chain.

Всякая плоть трава
Вы, смертные, придаете ей такую важность. В смысле жизни. Честное слово, это даже утомляет. Ты когда-нибудь слышала, чтобы растение жаловалось на смерть?
Добро пожаловать в мир Вирта, созданный воображением англичанина Джеффа Нуна. Что-то невероятное, хотела сказать "невообразимое", но во-первых это было бы тавтологией, а во-вторых: как же "не", когда человек не только вполне успешно вообразил, но даже рассказал себе и нам по порядку. Хотя с упорядоченностью здесь несколько сложнее, Нун не из тех авторов, которые подробно растолковывают как мы дошли до жизни такой, что за чем следовало и к чему все это привело Своего читателя он швыряет на глубину: выплывет - хорошо, а помрет, так помрет.

За себя могу сказать, что ешче Польске не сгинела - в смысле, не только выплыла, но и разобралась с предысторией, которая в первой книге цикла "Вирт". Потому что "Пыльца" - вторая, в ней мы уже находимся в реальности Манчестера-который-десяток-лет-назад-посетило-Плодородие, полностью изменив картину мира. Вот кстати, произошло ли подобное со всем земным шаром или сомнительное везение досталось на долю только родине писателя, и если явление локально, то есть ли возможность перебраться отсюда в более привычную реальность, в книге не уточняется. История разворачивается в декорациях одного отдельно взятого города и пригородов так, словно остального человечества и прежней жизни просто не существует.

Резонный вопрос: "А что с коммуникациями?" - здесь тоже остается без ответа. Это не наш с вами мир, пронизанный связями. Да, в 1995 году, когда роман писался, интернет и электронная почта еще не стали частью повседневности, но простая почта-телеграф-телефон вполне себе существовали и непонятно, почему никак не обозначено отношение мира к радикальному изменению Плодородия. Это не пустая придирка, читателю важно, чтобы фантастическое допущение было как-то встроено в привычную ему реальность, в противном случае ткань мироздания расползается в лохмотья. Итак, что такое Плодородие?

Феномен, в результате которого не только на порядок увеличилась фертильность всех биологических видов (как вам идея перспективы иметь детей в количестве двадцати одного?), но еще и сделалось возможным межвидовое скрещивание и теперь псолюди составляют значительную часть местного населения. Я опасаюсь предполагать, в результате чего все они народились и почему, если допустить худшее, вокруг не бродят толпы козолюдей, овцелюдей, конелюдей? Есть еще зомби, потому что мертвые тоже не до конца умирают, а таскаются по миру, разбрасывая вокруг сгустки отгнившей плоти.

На большинстве стадий разложения они не опасны, такие себе парии, но сразу после смерти зомби вполне может снасильничать живую женщину и та родит от него младенца-тень. Тенелюди обладают повышенной способностью к эмпатическому восприятию и не подвержены воздействию перьев вирта. А это еще что за хрень? Да, та еще диковина, что-то, вроде порталов во множество виртуальных миров, пропуском в которые служат взятое в рот (не то, что вы подумали, хотя то тоже будет, и описанное предельно реалистично) перо. Перья различаются по цветам, оттенком, размеру и фактуре, в зависимости от которых меняется воздействие на реципиента. Часть популяции, непосредственно связанная с виртом - ангелы, они же составляют верхнюю ступень здешней иерархии, ниже обычные люди, киберлюди (есть и такие), тени, псы, замыкают цепочку зомбаки.

С раскладом примерно разобрались, только нужно еще уточнить, что вирт прежде только виртуальный, постепенно набирает силу и отвоевывает куски подлинного мира, на уровне реальности, данной в ощущениях воспринимаясь как своего рода промежуточное пространство, бардо или лимб. Действие романа начинается, когда шофер черного такси собакочеловек Койот берет пассажиркой девочку лет одиннадцати, которая сидит сзади, надвинув капюшон, по пути они переживают нападение зомби, которые в лимбе проворны и опасны, а когда благополучно доезжают, то в оплату немыслимой суммы на счетчике (тариф прикручивает за каждую опасность сотни фунтов), пассажирка дает ему фиалку. Которую устройство считывает как первосортную карту оплаты.

Напоследок девочка, представившаяся Персефоной, дарит водителю поцелуй, тут-то ему и приходит конец. И больше он не увидится с любимой девушкой Бодой (от имени языческой богини Боадицеи - прошедшие инициацию киберлюди, сознание которых сращено с интеллектом их машин, меняют имена, а Бода водит грузовик Тошку). Персефона (вы уже вспомнили богиню плодородия и супругу Аида из греческого пантеона?), оставив Койота с прорастающими сквозь плоть цветами, движется куда там ей надо было, рассеивая вокруг споры аллергенной Пыльцы. Смерть водителя оказывается неожиданно резонансной, псы устраивают митинги протеста и нужно назначить виноватого, которым-которой шеф перевозчиков находит удобным назвать Боду.

С этого дня девушка с Тошкой в бегах. По официальным каналам расследование смерти Койота ведет инспектор-тень Сивилла, много лет назад потерявшая дочь. Девятилетняя девочка сбежала из дома вскоре после того, как их бросил отец, она обвинила в распаде семьи мать, и поиски не дали результатов. Сейчас я совершу страшный грех в глазах спойлероненавистнков, но не могу отказать себе в удовольствии (шепотом: Бода, в прежней жизни Белинда - дочь Сивиллы, тоже не без некоторых теневых способностей). И теперь уже мать пойдет на все, чтобы спасти свою найденную девочку, которая впрочем ведет себя по отношению к ней как та еще мерзавка.

В общем, всего столько, что экскаватором не разгрести. Но при этом читается с интересом, особенно когда начинаешь врубаться в здешнее мироустройство. Имей Нун мужество закончить историю примерно на двух третях от объема, когда вразумительный сюжет кончился - было бы идеально. Но он принялся наворачивать психоделику на уже исчерпавшую себя фабулу и это было изнасилованием трупа. Вовремя остановиться - тоже искусство.

#ЛитРес, английская литература, киберпанк, биопанк, виртуальность, психоделика, детектив, вирус, материнская любовь, Джефф Нун, Вирт #2, перевод Антона Скобина, АСТ
Profile Image for manuti.
298 reviews74 followers
August 25, 2011
Para la lista Libros 2005-2006. 12 libros al año, ya tenemos libro para Junio.

Este libro de ciencia ficción, es la segunda parte de Vurt, y aunque pueda leerse de forma independiente, no lo creo muy recomendable. La historia desvela algunos porqués del mundo que podía adivinarse en Vurt, y que estaba muy relacionado con una especie de universo tipo Matrix al que se entra por medio de plumas , que se pueden interpretar como drogas, o como enlaces de red, o como quieras, tampoco se molesta en explicarlo mucho.

Como complemento a Vurt es interesante, pero creo que el primer libro era mejor, al menos por la novedad del futuro que planteaba, un ciberpunk psicodélico alejado de los tópicos americanos. En el Archivo de Nessus hay reseñas a Vurt y a Polen, al que por cierto le dan una puntuación más alta que a Vurt. Otro cosa rara es que los libros los edita Mondadori que no tiene en su catálogo mucha ciencia ficción que digamos.

Lo que sí ha sido es una lectura muy apropiada para la primavera, con mi propia alergia y la de los personajes del libro en plena efervescencia.

Los libros tienen web oficial de Vurt y Polen.
Profile Image for Lucas Hargis.
Author 3 books30 followers
November 23, 2013
Jeff Noon's "Pollen" is written in a very nebulous, stream-of-consciousness POV. It's one of those writing styles that requires you to chew on them for a bit until you figure out how to activate the flavor crystals.

The world is dense and brimming with layers, hybrid human/animal/plant characters, and a mutliplicity of 'dimensions'. The pace is a bit of an accordion--compressed in quick action one moment, then stretched out with leisure the next.

Pollen straddles the line between fantasy and sci-fi and definitely addresses issues of dealing with reality vs escapism, finding your place in a rapidly changing world, and deciding which things are important in life.

Poor Coyote is a very likable character, yet we lose him so early in the story. Boda takes over the storyline. She is bad-ass but likeable--and she's on a mission. Even though her shadow-cop mom is the narrator, Boda is the character who carries the story. As for that wicked little girl Persephone--well, she can keep her flowers to herself as far as I'm concerned.

Recommended for: Those who love jacked-up & unique writing styles. Lovers of sci-fi/fantasy hybrid action who don't mind a little rehashed, modernized mythology mixed in.
Profile Image for Albert Myburgh.
88 reviews8 followers
March 27, 2018
The first half of this book was great reading with intriguing characters, good mystery and well paced and just weird enough to make it even more interesting. The second half of it was absolute and utter waffling nonsense. It lost its momentum so suddenly and completely that I even lost any connection I may have had with the characters up to that point.
Instead of events unfolding where the reader could unravel the mysteries behind the story one simply gets exposed to page after page of mind-numbing conversations between characters in which the logic behind the mysterious events in Manchester are explained to death. It has one of the most hilariously unconvincing scenes I have ever read in a story. John Barleycorn requests of Sibyl, who at this point is just a shadow spirit residing in her daughter's body, to have sex with him before she leaves. She agrees without any real motivation and simply because the plot needs it to happen in order for it to proceed.
I am giving it two stars because the first novel in the series, 'Vurt', was really good and I still think Jeff Noon is a great author. However, now I will have to pretend that I haven't read this book which won't be too difficult since it was not memorable at all.
Profile Image for Kerry.
519 reviews73 followers
January 2, 2008
I find it really difficult to decide how I feel about Jeff Noon's work.

His future is loud and crazy and colorful and horny. And that's good. And he introduces a lot of interesting concepts. And to a large degree, he works within these concepts. However, things are so . . . just, weird, that it's hard to guess what is going to happen. On the one hand, I love to be surprised, but on the other, it feels like cheating when I don't think that I've been given enough material to be able to anticipate a resolution. I mean, it seems like he's making shit up as he goes along, you know? It's interesting, and it seems to follow a logic of its own, I guess, but the reader doesn't have enough to work with to verify such a thing.

I read Vurt and Nymphomation years ago, so I don't remember the particulars of the plots. However, I do remember that in both cases, things were going along great, I sort of understood how the world worked, and then at the end, BAM! Some sort of convenient, space-alien resolution that came out of nowhere. Interesting, but again, I feel cheated.
July 15, 2022
After reading Vurt I was hooked on Jeff Noon's alternate Manchester universe. I had to keep going and I was not let down by Pollen.
The psychonaut dream continues. Pollen does not disappoint if you're still dying to sink your teeth into more of this world after reading Vurt. It answers a lot of the questions about his universe raised in the first book.
It's a manic adventure through parallel dream worlds. However in this book the antagonists are far more threatening and powerful.
Pollen is seeping out the Vurt and people are dying. But why? Well the antagonist tells us in a long speech at the end of the book, and it drips with intrigue.
There is no one quite like Jeff Noon. This is a lyrical feast for the senses, a free trip. The imagery is so intense that I had to catch my breath at some points. Like being sucked down a rabbit hole into a brilliant new future where everything just comes alive with meaning.
On to Automated Alice now.
Profile Image for Marley.
129 reviews114 followers
July 20, 2010
It's more like a 3.5, but I definitely don't want this looking like it's on the same level as Vurt, which I like more and more as I look back on it.

Some very cool hallucinatory plunging back into this whole Vurt world, terrifying floral invasions, '90s drugged out British anarchy, and the amazing dirty conceit of how exactly all these hybrid posthumans came to be, but the last 40 pages are so are something of a letdown. Little too much "clap your hands for Tinker Bell!" in the end, and the big bad turns out to be a paper tiger. I don't consider that a spoiler so much as a warning.

I'm glad I read this, because it definitely gave me a Vurt flashback at certain points and made me giggle in that hallucinogenic way, but I'm hoping there's other Jeff Noon I like a little more than this one that isn't Vurt.
Profile Image for Bartek.
165 reviews4 followers
January 2, 2015
Nie znam nic Noona, nie czytałem "Wurta", ale po "Pyłkach" miałem wrażenie, że jeśli termin "new weird" zostałby wymyślony wcześniej, to właśnie dla niego.
Powieść jest męcząca w podobny sposób, jak powieści Dicka, tu akurat wydawcy należy przyznać rację w kwestii hasła reklamowego z okładki. Może i "Pyłki" można uznać za przejaw postmodernizmu w SF, ale chyba tylko w polskim SF są jeszcze powieści nie będące takim przejawem.
Wszelako, jak ktoś lubi z fantastyki smoki i inne pierdoły, to niech raczej to omija.
Profile Image for Cam.
82 reviews1 follower
January 4, 2014
I am so mad I spent like 3 days working on this piece of garbage. It started off as fun cyber-noir with some body horror and a mother-daughter plot that could have been really touching and interesting but it was just like that one dude at the party who won't shut up about his weed and boobs and it was just so boring and disappointing. Idk why I stuck it out; spite probably. But basically I finished and found ymself thinking "What the fuclk was even the point of this?"
74 reviews
December 21, 2021
The book starts with a nice linear narrative, but quickly shifts gear into the type of surrealism that David Lynch would be proud of.
Not the easiest to read and get your head around and I had to reread the ending as I didn't grasp it first time.

Definitely not the Science Fiction some of the blurb on the cover might lead you to believe it is. Not sure when to file it....Acid-Punk or surreal dystopian
Profile Image for Dennis Cooper.
98 reviews4 followers
August 8, 2013
I read Vurt many years ago. I'm quite pleased that I waited quite some years before I read Pollen. I've enjoyed both books immensely. Out of the two Pollen is definitely the more weird/surreal. However the more weird it got the more compelling it became. Some would probably find too strange but if you want something different. I would give this book a go.
Profile Image for P..
2,416 reviews81 followers
October 18, 2014
I found the prose... turgid. Clearly it is supposed to be an exciting weird and sexy adventure but Noon spends so much time going on and on and not letting the story fly. Now I'm afraid to go back to my (much loved) copy of Vurt to compare.
Profile Image for Deb.
27 reviews3 followers
March 20, 2015
A fantastic world served with genetic cocktails and beefy beasts... that barely veils Noon's fascination with dodgy sexy scenarios :-/
Profile Image for Jonny Illuminati.
143 reviews3 followers
January 11, 2019
It took me a long time to get through this one... Not bad, but it couldn't hold a feather to Vurt.
102 reviews8 followers
September 16, 2014

John Barleycorn must die...


                           Allow me to discuss the nature of a series of books. A series is a very careful thing. Especially when escalation is involved. It's fine to do sequels for the books, or even have to break up one book into a trilogy. But when writing a volume that is something of the conclusion to the whole mess, there are two very specific guidelines: First, that the book actually make some kind of sense, and second, that it actually concludes things in proper order, not some incredibly hallucinatory sequences that make the whole thing feel like some kind of horrid sideshow where the main plot isn't ever involved. 

                             Now, as Pollen stands alone, it doesn't necessarily have to follow these two guidelines. In fact, it's entirely free from these two guidelines, because it takes an entirely new story in the same universe, with entirely new characters. But in following the escalation patterns on from Vurt and presenting a world where the bleed-through between reality and Vurtuality has reached critical mass, Pollen's job would be to explore the bleed-through and conclude with some kind of cohesion. Instead, in telling its story, it gets too into the hallucinatory nature of the events, completely ignoring a cohesive story at certain points for an abstract and kind of aggressive surreality, culminating in a game of hot-potato with a black beetle representing groundedness in reality, and something of an anticlimax. 

But there's more than enough rope Pollen is giving me. Why am I having trouble? 

More, as always, below.

"Three for a clean and sexy death."

- Boda

                      Manchester, in the far future. The entire city transit network is run by a company called XCab, a cybernetic cab service employing networked drivers and their AI-infused cabs across The Map, a huge network that contains every street and intersection, allowing drivers to get anywhere. However, for those that don't necessarily want to play by XCab's rules, there's a rogue network of black-cabbers, a group who drive too dangerous, who can brave the restricted zones overrun by zombies, who take the jobs of questionable sense and legality in an effort to make some kind of a buck off the only career they have.

                       One of these black-cab drivers, a dogman named Coyote, picks up a little girl with directions to drive her deep into the heart of restricted territory. He's not given much knowledge of who the fare is or anything else that goes on, but he's the kind of dog that's paid not so much to ask questions as he is paid to get things to places as fast as he possibly can. The story follows Coyote through the streets, braving zombie attacks and outrunning police as he brings Persephone, his fare, to her intended destination...

 Only to receive a flower as payment and promptly start sneezing like mad.

                       And this is where the plot actually kicks off. Coyote's death from his sneezing starts a "sneezing sickness" as flowers begin to sprout all over Manchester. People from all races and species begin to die off as the pollen count rises, causing almost near-constant hay fever for everyone. Well, almost everyone. The small subset of people unable to take trips on the hallucinogenic Vurt feathers, the disabled souls known as "dodos" who can't interface with the subconscious dimensions that exist just to the right of reality, those people are just fine and wondering why their friends are dying in a plague that plays a little too much on the ideas of flower sex and snot fascination. 

                       Thrown into this conflict, this otherworldly plague, are two people. Sibyl Jones, a "Shadowcop" able to read peoples' thoughts and astrally project herself, who becomes embroiled in the case after examining Coyote's body; and an Xcabber named Boda (short for Bodiceaea) who becomes the plot of an assassination attempt due to her association with Coyote and Sibyl. With the aid of pirate radio DJ Gumbo Ya Ya, the two of them must find out why Vurtuality is bleeding into reality, and what it has to do with plans to introduce a "new map" to realign the city both psychically and physically with the Vurtual world. But there are forces massing against them, forces both in the flowers and in positions of authority, and if Sibyl and Boda are to get to the bottom of this, they will need to face death, an ancient Satan figure, a man made out of orchids, and finally something dark within themselves.

                     I suppose I should begin at the end, as it were. It seems like the easiest place to explain everything that's wrong with this. So. About fifty pages from the end of the book, there's a sudden veer into a hallucinatory underworld involving a new style of feather, a green feather, known as "Juniper Suction". Suddenly veering into hallucinatory territory isn't something new for the Vurt series, though this was technically second in publication after Vurt, but the difference between Vurt and this is simple: Where Vurt was somewhere grounded, the last fifty pages of Pollen become a mess with very little grounding in reality. You have two people inhabiting the same body, riffs on greek myth, some minor allusions to necrophilia...and none of it hangs together well, if at all. This entire digression also solves the plot in a roundabout sort of way when a more direct version without the odd underworld digression would have served the purpose so much better and easier. Furthermore, nothing seems particularly resolved by the character the digression serves to introduce to the plot, one John Barleycorn. While he does a bit at the end that helps clean things up, for the most part he could have been lifted out of the plot entirely and not much would have changed. In the first part of the book, he serves as a red herring. In the later part of the book, he serves as an odd ally, but not one that really adds much to the story.

                     Adding to this is another huge problem: Pacing. Pollen, as a book, never seems to get to where it wants to go, and certainly not where it needs to go. I'm reminded of the concept of the "idiot plot", a plot where, if everyone's brain was working the way it was supposed to, the plot could be solved in a manner of moments. Pollen's plot is a lot like this. The objectives are very easy, and not much stands in the way. The one thing that does stand in the way is the increasingly convoluted plot that doesn't seem to care much where it's going or why. It takes the shape of a film noir-- one of the narrators even goes from a first-person viewpoint-- but that doesn't really help things. When nothing is explained, and when there's still no one who knows what in God's name is going on, you don't have a good noir. You have a sub-par attempt to do David Lynch or someone equally as mind-screwy. Coupled with a plot that goes absolutely nowhere, this makes for a slow book, where everything should be going somewhere, but just...isn't.

                       And that leads me to the last point. In Vurt and Nymphomation, there was a sense that things were grounded. That there was somewhere to stand. That everything made sense on some level. Unfortunately, in Pollen, this is not the case. The story spends its time spiraling into flights of fancy, something that only sort of makes sense since reality is breaking down. Where in Vurt, these were welcome and kind of cool, with the caveat that reality was important, Noon threw most of that out the window for Pollen, instead deciding to spend time on what Shadowpeople are like, an unsettling secret involving a Zombie (a human-corpse hybrid, since everything in Vurtchester is pretty much plug-and-play), and the aforementioned underworld journey, which looks very cool, but in the end amounts to a way to quickly set up a deus ex machina to end the book. It should probably be said that no, this is not how you write things, and overall, it cheapened the book's otherwise strong and very weird plot. There is no grounding, Noon just flings people into the air and expects them to come down all right. 

                        There are some good points, of course. The flowers add a nice bit of body horror, and there's a certain squick factor that works in the book's favor when describing the flower plague and the oddly sexual nature of sneezing. The odd flower-based nature of the invasion from Vurt is handled very well, and the vivid surrealism does actually make for some good images, my favorite being the flower-man who can arrange his petals into any shape he wishes to take on anyone's appearance. 

                         But in the end, there just isn't a lot to recommend Pollen, and a lot to warn someone away. It's confusing, convoluted, and frequently up itself. The squick parts aren't really all that good, just kind of gross. The plot is best left unmentioned after all of this. And it's kind of a disappointing close to Jeff Noon's trilogy. So avoid this book. At all costs. Pirate it if you have some kind of morbid curiosity, but avoid. Strong avoid on this one.

And so concludes the trilogy. Remember, anything else by Jeff Noon is good, but please don't ever read Pollen.


- Pattern Recognition by William Gibson


- The Void-Captain's Tale by Norman Spinrad

- Child of Fortune by Norman Spinrad

Profile Image for Martin.
295 reviews10 followers
January 14, 2023
Did you know that with enough conviction and small help from a dream virus, you can fuck and impregnate anything? Dogs, robots, dead or even flowers. Yeah... I also didn't know that until now. But thank you, Jeff Noon; I needed that information.

Pollen is the second book in Vurt series from Jeff Noon, and it is incomparably better than Vurt itself. Instead of fever driven dream, we now have a (more or less) concise story with (more or less) likeable characters. Of course, it is still Jeff Noon, so don't expect anything normal, or you will be bashed in your head with necrophilia, dendrophilla, raping statues and golden showers. But it finally feels much more comprehensible; Jeff Noon improved as an author. I was interested in all the stories of shadow cops, radio host junkies, pollen flu and taxi network (like copied from Cyberpunk).

The only drawback is the very confusing final dream sequence. It was very hard to follow what the hell was going on in the end section and the motivation of all the characters. Well, I suppose it's very challenging to write about a person in the person in the dream who possed a dream-eating bug to defeat the imaginary devil who is killing your real zombie child with pollen fewer. But I loved the book nevertheless. - On to another book in the series.
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