READING: VURT by Jeff Noon

Just finished VURT. My first Jeff Noon book, and now I have to read them all. Noon is in the tradition of my favorite trippy writers, notably Tim Powers and now Michael Faber, with homage to Borges, Pynchon, Farina, and of course Lewis Carroll.
What Noon says
“But the main thing about how Vurt came to be, is that when Steve asked me to write a novel, I’d actually started to write a play called “The Torture Garden.”‘ And The Torture Garden is a novel written in 1899 by a guy called Octave Murble. He was a kind of anti-authoritarian, anarchist kind of figure — a bit like de Sade, but not as mad. Basically, he wanted to bring down the authorities, and he did this through satire. The Torture Garden is a garden in the middle of a prison, where every Tuesday, the bourgeoisie can go along and watch the prisoners being tortured. The garden is described incredibly well. It’s beautiful. And the actual tortures are written about in a very lovely way — reminded me a lot of Ballard when I read it.
And I’d wanted to do this as a play ever since I read the book, but I couldn’t work out how to do it. And then, I was reading a textbook on virtual reality, and the introduction was by William Gibson. It was only about a one-page piece, but in it, he just throws away this line, which says that some of the characters where playing a game called “the Torture Garden.”
And then it suddenly clicked to me that the Torture Garden is in virtual reality — the rich people could visit virtual reality to experience this torture. And that’s when I started to think this is what I could do to make this a play, and also make a play about virtual reality, which no one had done at the time.
So I put this idea to a director I knew, and he was into it, so I started to write the play. About half way through it, Steve turns to me in the bookshop where we were working, and says, “Write me a novel.”‘ So, I started to write this novel, and forgot about the play. But it kind of grew out of the play, the novel did. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I finally finished the novel and went back to the play, there was so much in the play that went into the book. ”
VURT– Music Noon listened to while writing
Ambient Dub
Higher Intelligence Agency
Original Rockers
Guerrilla in Dub
What is Vurt about?
Some Australians run a gaming site called Vurt, and they say:
“Jeff Noon is perhaps one of the more iconoclastic SF writers of the era.
To call Noon’s fiction cyberpunk is akin to calling anything by Terry
Brooks readable. His writing is apocalyptic in feel, describing a gritty
futuristic world in which dream meets reality. His first book “Vurt,”
covers the searching of Scribble for Desdemona, superficially a
traditional love story. But it has a twist: Desdemona, Scribble’s sister
has been lost to the shadowy world of “Vurt,” a psychedelic reality woven
from the desires and dreams of the populace, only accessible by vurt
feathers, drugs of mind-weirding quality.”
What Noon readsNoon’s top 10 favorite works of ‘fluid fiction are
Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll, edited by Martin Gardner
Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter
Digital Leatherette by Steve Beard
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Rock Springs by Richard Ford
The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus
The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven by Rick Moody
Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath
A Humument by Tom Phillips
I’ve read Borges, Carrol, Plath, and Ford, and some other Rick Moody, so this list can keep me going for a while.
Why am I going on about this?
Wonderul fresh point of view, powerful writing, sharp edge. The man’s got something.