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Vurt is a feather--a drug, a dimension, a dream state, a virtual reality. It comes in many colors: legal Blues for lullaby dreams. Blacks, filled with tenderness and pain, just beyond the law. Pink Pornovurts, doorways to bliss. Silver feathers for techies who know how to remix colors and open new dimensions. And Yellows--the feathers from which there is no escape.

The beautiful young Desdemona is trapped in Curious Yellow, the ultimate Metavurt, a feather few have ever seen and fewer still have dared ingest. Her brother Scribble will risk everything to rescue his beloved sister. Helped by his gang, the Stash Riders, hindered by shadowcops, robos, rock and roll dogmen, and his own dread, Scribble searches along the edges of civilization for a feather that, if it exists at all, must be bought with the one thing no sane person would willingly give.

"As hip and breathless as William Gibson, but spiced with dark humor and the horrible realisation that Noon knows of what he writes....Vurt is passionate, distinctive, demanding and enthralling�first-time novelist Noon has started with a bang."�The London Times.

342 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1993

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About the author

Jeff Noon

61 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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Displaying 1 - 30 of 644 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,846 followers
August 8, 2021
Getting what one desperately needs has hardly ever been such a mind boggling, confusing, psychedelic trip.

Drugs are amazing plot devices and how Noon plays with the idea in a minimalistic setting, just using strange protagonists with weird ideologies keen on getting hooked on as hard and extreme as possible, possibly reflecting about stuff I don´t know or care about, and generally creating a disturbing and somewhat meta work that has no similar literary equivalent, it´s just so strange that one doesn´t really know what to think about this piece after finishing it.

Did one miss something, shouldn´t there be much more explanation with exposition and worldbuilding, is this just high brow blown up entertainment or something really deep? I don´t know, I can´t say, because it´s written in a way that makes it impossible to make certain and definitive evaluations of the quality, I just can´t judge if I don´t know and that hardly ever happens. Cough arrogant Austrian cough

It´s definitively not that beat poet, beatnik generation road trip garbage, far better, because one notices the competence of the author who is, if his biography is correct, more high on literature than mind altering hallucinogens, but again, what is it? I guess everyone has to find out on her/his own and it would interest me if the bad rating of some of his other works are because of the complexity of what he writes or because he finally came too close to fantastic realism and poisoned his art like many before him.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,376 reviews12k followers
February 22, 2023

Vurt - novel as unending hallucinatory, wild, intense fever dream. Full Disclosure: I relished reading every single page.

How did Noon do it? In an interview, the British author recounts pouring fifteen years of personal frustration into his writing the novel, letting the burning and channeling just happen. Noon also cites reading lots of J.G. Ballard when he was young and being struck by Ballard's very personal, distinctive voice. When Noon read Ballard it was as if he entered Ballard's mind. And that's what he wanted to accomplish with his own writing: to have every single sentence be distinctively his, including his own take on how technology, dreams, music, drugs and the whole 1990s rave scene can penetrate our flesh.

Jeff Noon goes on to say he thrives on mixing literary genres in with surrealism and what's considered avant-garde. As a hater of conventional novels, he wanted to cut out the middle and jam different elements together within his story, invent new ways to tell his tale, recognizing much of the newness blossomed from his mad ideas.

Mad ideas? They gush, drip, stream and flutter off each page. Taste a handful of hits:

In this futuristic world, the drug of choice turns out to be a substance on various kinds of feathers. The potency runs from low-level legal Soapvurt where the user goes to live in a neat and tidy house and gets to interact with famous soap opera characters (seems like the whole world is hooked on Soapvurt) to illegal superpowerful feathers like Black Voodoo that propel you to a parallel reality where you will experience either ecstasy or a nightmare so frightening it will drive you into madness.

The Riders are a gang of illegal Vurt junkies: Beetle (the leader), Mandy, Bridget, Twinkle, and the tale's narrator, twenty-three-year-old Scribble. The novel follows the month-long odyssey of these Vurt users in their city of Manchester. Through all the Stash Riders' moves, curves, swerves and highs, Jeff Noon zooms at turbocharged full-throttle. The English language on speed.

Scribble lugs around a talking, feather imbibing blob that appears to be combination giant octopus and oily psychedelic slug he calls 'the alien' – and for good reason: this creature plopped in our world from the world of Vurt to maintain cosmic balance. That's right, Scribble's sister/lover Desdemona became trapped inside Vurt some time ago and something from Vurt had to take her place. Scribble attempts to travel to Vurtland with the alien by way of a rare Curious Yellow feather in order to rescue Desdemona via a switch, blob for sister. Scribble's desire to effect this switcheroo serves as the major drive and focus of Vurt.

“Broadcasting from the store wall, working his mechanisms; flickering lights in smoke. And then the flash of orange; an inpho beam shining out from the shadowcop's eyes. It caught Mandy in its flare-path, gathering knowledge.” One of the freakier elements in Jeff Noon's phantasmagorical tale: law and order shadowcops appear to be part flying android, part metaphysical mist creature capable of reading people's minds, exactly what Vurt junkies operating outside the law don't need.

“Dreamsnakes came out of a bad feather called Takshaka. Any time something small and worthless was lost to the Vurt, one of these snakes crept through in exchange. Those snakes were talking over, I swear. You couldn't move for them.” Thus speaketh Scribble. And Scribble should know since a dreamsnake once sunk its fangs into his lower leg. Result: Scribble always carries around something of the Vurt in his blood.

“Bridget must have the same feeling; she was looking daggers at the new girl (Mandy), smoke rising from her skin, as she tried her best to tune into Beetle's head.” Bridget is a real human girl but with special qualities including the extrasensory ability to read other people's minds which makes her a shadowgirl. One thing's for certain: it bodes well Bridget is a bona fide member of the Stash Riders since, in the bugged out turf of this futuristic England, a gang needs all the powers it can muster.

“Murdoch's gun roared and flashed, but the dog was first, knocking her off her feet. The shecop was on the floor, Karli on top of her, biting at her face.” Oh, yes, the Stash Riders must square off against their ultimate nemesis: a real flesh and blood shecop by the name of Murdoch. And Murdoch isn't the kind of cop to give up when she wants to make a kill in the name of law and order. As for Karli, we're talking a dog critter that's pure android. Ah, yes, echoes of Philip K. Dick.

“A perfect split, straight across the middle. Sometimes it happens like that, once in a thousand matings. He was human from the waist up, dog from the waist down. He placed his fur-covered legs down on the floor, sitting on the bed, with the Karli in his strong arms.” What! How can such a half-half being have come into existence? Are we rumbling through a far distant futuristic England here, as in after nuclear war? No answers are provided; Jeff Noon leave it all to one's imagination.

“THE HAUNTINGS. This is the bitch incarnate. Once that ghost has got hold of you, you just gotta go with her. Back to life, back to the boredom. That's how you feel right? Except that the Haunting isn't a bad thing. What? What's that, the Cat's saying? Haunting isn't bad? Man, the Cat's losing it! Listen up, kittlings.” Scribble's narrative is punctuated by dreamy, vaporous quotes from GAME CAT. Who and what is this shadowy presence? You'll have to read the entire tale to fathom the mystery.

If what I've highlighted here grabs you and you're moved to pick up a copy of Vurt then I've done my job as reviewer. However, if you choose to take a pass then it might be best if you return to Anthony Trollope and pretend our everyday world is the only world that counts as real.

British author Jeff Noon, born 1957
Profile Image for Danie Ware.
Author 52 books177 followers
November 28, 2014
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.

Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,462 reviews3,611 followers
November 22, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Jim.
56 reviews2 followers
December 17, 2007
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.
Profile Image for sil.
85 reviews
May 19, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,099 followers
April 7, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Chris Dunbar.
74 reviews6 followers
June 28, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Nathan.
80 reviews3 followers
December 15, 2010
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.
Profile Image for graycastle.
41 reviews
June 6, 2007
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.
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
471 reviews117 followers
February 25, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Nathan "N.R." Gaddis.
1,342 reviews1,370 followers
October 27, 2020
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]
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,195 reviews114 followers
November 26, 2019
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.
Profile Image for RG.
3,092 reviews
October 12, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,983 followers
September 8, 2015
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!
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,920 reviews386 followers
May 4, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews258 followers
February 25, 2014
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!!!
Profile Image for Kat.
24 reviews
June 10, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,630 reviews433 followers
June 14, 2015
-¿Buscando el hype de género? Pues hay, hubo y habrá bastantes opciones.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Scribble y sus amigos, a quienes acompaña una criatura alienígena que ocupó el lugar de la hermana de Scribble mientras estaban puestos de vurt, son casi capturados por la policía de Manchester mientras tratan de conseguir plumas con las que colocarse. La droga vurt, las plumas, crea un estado alterado de conciencia que permite ver realidades ajenas a la propia y, además, de forma colectiva, pero lo hacen mediante unas características que varían según el color de la pluma y además tiene efectos palpables, fuera de ese momento onírico e ¿irreal? sobre el entorno presente. Scribble hará todo lo posible por encontrar a su hermana.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Rachel (Kalanadi).
733 reviews1,434 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
November 7, 2017
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.
102 reviews8 followers
September 8, 2014


"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...


- 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


Pollen by Jeff Noon


Book: A Novel by Robert Grudin

Child of Fortune by Norman Spinrad

Profile Image for Martin.
295 reviews10 followers
January 7, 2023
What is Vurt? Vurt is a dream in a feather that anybody can share. It is also a book about a dreamer running around with the Cthulhu-like junkie on his back, looking for his sister/lover (one person). So yeah, it is complicated.

Jeff Noon keeps being compared to Philip K. Dick, but I don't think that is a good comparison. Yes, both of their worlds are crazy and unique, but meanwhile, P. K. Dick is a genial, schizophrenic storyteller; Jeff Noon is more like a melancholic poet, sad but still full of colours. If something, I would compare him to Irwine Welsh because Stash Riders are nothing but junkies looking for their next fix.

This was my second read of Vurt, and I felt the same tingling in my brain as my first time. I read this way back in the past as a young (maybe too young) vurt-hungry boy, and I can see how many topics affected me. I always loved New Weird - almost poetic stories in extraordinary words where sci-fi and fantasy mix freely. Of course, I could complain about the fragmentation of the main story, about new characters appearing when it is most convenient or about the weird motivation of the incestual main character. Still, I just cannot keep out nostalgia from my rating. I'm sorry people, but these five stars are personal.
Profile Image for Mon.
179 reviews203 followers
September 17, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Laura Brower.
94 reviews16 followers
December 4, 2021
This was really something. Seems to be in the tradition of weird sci-fi like Harlan Ellison but with a Northern England Mancunian vibe running through, seems like something that's rife for an edgy film adaptation and kind of weird that it's not had one (I'm imagining Human Traffic but directed by David Cronenberg). My only true issue with it is that it's a little long, which is true with a lot of brave experimental first novels (I'm guessing this is a first novel), but at the same time there's a joy in seeing a writer unload so many ideas all at once like it's their one and only chance.
Profile Image for Byron  'Giggsy' Paul.
275 reviews33 followers
June 27, 2022
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, fourth read 2022-JUN
195 reviews2 followers
February 22, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Jason Young.
Author 1 book13 followers
January 9, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Penny Reeve.
15 reviews34 followers
August 22, 2016
Incredible. Like reading a dream. A very weird, very uncomfortable dream.
Profile Image for Malum.
2,286 reviews131 followers
December 2, 2020
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.
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