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Vurt is the first novel in the Vurt series, written in 1993 by author Jeff Noon. Both Noon and small publishing house Ringpull's debut novel, it went on to win the 1994 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and was later listed in The Best Novels of the Nineties. The 20th Anniversary Edition also comes with three indirect sequel short stories under the collective name Fallout from the Dream Palace.

SynopsisEdit

BackgroundEdit

PlotEdit

In searching for English Voodoo, the Stash Riders gang have Mandy make contact with Seb, a black market vurt dealer who also works at a local Vurt-U-Want which dispenses legal blue vurts (the use of which comes with adverts - called 'advurts' - and even closing credits). However, Mandy's anxious trade with Seb results in her returning with only blue vurts, along with a single illegal black vurt. The gang is not impressed, but still engage with the black vurt (labelled Skull Shit) as a group. When Bridget expresses her desire to rather not take part, Beetle still forces the vurt into her mouth (Scribble describes this as 'face rape' but feels too weak to reprimand Beetle for it). In the vurt world, the group intentionally experience physical and emotional pain and confusion until Scribble realises he is within the vurt world (similar to lucid dreaming, except the confusion it results in - a nightmare-like state called 'the Haunting' - forces the group to be painfully 'jerked out' of the vurt world). Beetle angrily demands to know who caused the vurt to end, which Bridget takes the blame for despite knowing it was really Scribble's fault. This later leads to Beetle openly having sex with Mandy and the breakdown of Bridget's relationship with them both. The gang are later antagonised by police officer Murdoch who comes by after complaints from their neighbours, but the Thing is hidden from her and she is unable to make any arrests.

The next day, the gang travel to Bottletown, an impoverished suburb where the bottle banks have continuously been allowed to overflow along the streets since the local council no longer maintain the area as it is now exclusively inhabited by criminals and undesirables. Here they meet Beetle's friend and former vurt dealer Tristan, in hopes Tristan has contact with another dealer known as Icarus Wing, the latter of which Seb advised Mandy to seek out. At the same time, they meet Tristan's girlfriend Suze, whose hair entwines them together. Tristan no longer sells vurts or has contact with Icarus, but listens to Scribble recall his experience losing Des; within the English Voodoo vurt world, Des had tasted a yellow meta-vurt called Curious Yellow, which resulted in her disappearance, and the arrival of the Thing. Tristan believes that Des and the Thing are of equal worth in their own worlds, despite the gang's perception that the Thing is simply a useless monstrous blob. He also advises that whilst it is Curious Yellow that Scribble ultimately needs, death in a yellow vurt world also kills that person in the real world, and Des may in fact be unrecoverable. Scribble is adamant that this is not the case, as he has secretly been experiencing Des calling out to him in the real world, though he fears these may be hallucinations.

Returning back to their van where Bridget and the Thing remained, the gang find the vehicle set ablaze by the Bottletown youth. Beetle opens the smouldering remains, but finds that Bridget and the Thing are not within. Scribble and Beetle share a sombre moment of mourning after Scribble is found indulging in vurts for escapism. Scribble finds that Suze has lent them their robodog Karli for comfort. Mandy soon returns, proclaiming that she has found Icarus Wing; she has discovered his name within the closing credits of official pink (pornographic) vurts, and together they find him in his darkroom constructing additional vurts from a strange mist, supplied to him by the Chimera Corporation, and using a dreamsnake as a forging tool. Icarus allows Mandy to inspect the raw vurt through the mist, but she is unable to see anything. Icarus hints that he is able to analyse the mist due to vurt flowing through his body; he also insists that Scribble is similar, ever since he was bitten by a dreamsnake as a teenager. Scribble denies the implication, though possibly only to appease Beetle, who detests such "hybrids." After Icarus' prized dreamsnake is threatened, he hands over an English Voodoo feather to the gang.

Returning home in a stolen car, the Scribble gang - including Karli and a young girl neighbour called Twinkle who is eager to join the crew - use the English Voodoo and within the vurt, Scribble finds the world in which his sister vanished. However, Scribble can sense that the vurt is not the same as before and that the feather is in fact counterfeit. Regardless, their time in the vurt is brief as they are forcibly awoken by Murdoch, a second 'flesh cop', and a shadowcop, who have tracked their stolen car, and are now attempting to arrest the Stash Riders for the illegal vurt and for previously harbouring the Thing, which is classed as a contraband "live drug." The arrest becomes violent as Beetle manages to shoot dead the second cop as well as incapacitate the shadowcop with his pistol, and Karli mauls Murdoch's face and fingers.

Over the course of eighteen days, the gang disbands to evade arrest. Although Mandy stays with Beetle, Beetle becomes overly-reliant on a blue vurt called Tapewormer, and Mandy becomes disillusioned with their lifestyle. Scribble, however, renames himself "MC Ink" as he takes on a new role as disc jockey at a nightclub, with Twinkle and Karli as his small entourage. He too has lost his love for vurt feathers, and is experiencing hallucinations at an increasing rate. Eventually Mandy and Beetle re-enter Scribble's life as Mandy is concerned by Beetle's addiction, and together they miss their glory days as a group. Scribble is initially reluctant, even going so far as to injure Beetle with extremely loud music. Later that night at a after-party for the event Scribble had performed in, Scribble finds his hallucinations are distorting much of his time there, and encounters a gentlemen he discerns is actually Game Cat. Game Cat explains that the hallucinations are actually a form of Scribble's ability to enter the vurt without feathers, confirming that Scribble's dreamsnake bite has put vurt in his blood. Shortly after Game Cat leaves, Murdoch enters to apprehend the Stash Riders, but after a short chase they are left in a stand-off in a nearby alley. After being startled by some of the nightclub patrons (some of which are human and dog hybrids, possibly reminding her of the trauma inflicted upon her by Karli), Murdoch and Beetle are both shot but ultimately left alive, whilst a stray bullet kills Suze. Scribble is helpless during the conflict as the stress and fear cause him to uncontrollably enter and eject from the vurt world.

At Scribble's new home, Scribble helps Tristan cut the hair that joins him to the corpse of Suze. This, along with seeing the state Beetle is in, convinces Scribble to also take a Tapewormer feather and use the vurt world to live out a different past, in which Des had never vanished, and thus Mandy had never been met. In this reality, Des' deal with Seb gets them a yellow feather that they all enjoy. However, the use of this false meta-vurt brings the Game Cat to interrupt Scribble's wish fulfilment, as the Game Cat warns that this has alerted the "Sniffing General", and advises Scribble to abandon this fake reality to return to the real world. Game Cat reveals that his brother is Tristan, and would he like Scribble to take care of him in Suze's absence; in return for this, Game Cat gives Scribble a silver vurt feather.

CharactersEdit

  • Scribble: The protagonist and first-person narrator, member of the Stash Riders gang, searching for his lost sister.
  • Desdemona: Scribble's sister, lost in the vurt world after taking the Curious Yellow meta-vurt feather.
  • Beetle: The driver, muscle and unofficial leader of the Stash Riders.
  • Bridget: Shadowgirl, fellow Stash Rider and Beetle's lover.
  • Mandy: The newest addition to the Stash Riders.
  • The Thing From Outer Space – a creature from the vurt-world unintentionally exchanged for Desdemona.
  • Game Cat: The near mythical being who knows and shares information on vurt in his "Game Cat" magazine published in the real world.

ChaptersEdit

  • Part One
    • Day One
      • Stash Riders
      • Flesh Techniques
      • (Some Serious) Skull Shit
      • Game Cat I
      • Sleepless
      • Game Cat II
    • Day Two
      • Wearing Dangerous Smiles
      • Jam Mode
      • Down the Bottle
      • Herbal Haze
      • Game Cat III
      • On the washing of droidlocks
      • Torchers
    • Day Three
      • Blue Lullaby
      • Game Cat IV
      • It felt so good
      • Snake Scissors
      • Game Cat V
      • An English garden
  • Part Two
    • Day Twenty One
      • Contaminated with bass
    • Day Twenty Two
      • Slithy Tove
      • Heavy Losses
      • Game Cat VI
      • On the cutting of droidlocks
      • My first words
      • Tapewormer
  • Part Three
    • Day Twenty Three
      • Feathered up
      • Game Cat VII
      • Ashes to ashes, hair to hair
      • Gun Stroke (suffering from)
      • An ideal for living
      • Karmachanics
      • A room in England
      • Game Cat VIII
      • Ashes to ashes, feathers to hair
      • Coming in colours
      • Turdsville
      • Das Uberdog
      • Flare
      • Death for life
    • Day Twenty Four
      • An end to fasting
      • A curious house
  • Part Four
    • Day Forever
      • A life of surprises
      • The old lady

EditionsEdit

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