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Vurt [Hardcover]

Jeff Noon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Amazon

If you like challenging science fiction, then Jeff Noon is the author for you. Vurt, winner of the 1994 Arthur C. Clarke award, is a cyberpunk novel with a difference, a rollicking, dark, yet humorous examination of a future in which the boundaries between reality and virtual reality are as tenuous as the brush of a feather.

But no review can do Noon's writing justice: it's a phantasmagoric combination of the more imaginative science fiction masters, such as Phillip K. Dick, genres such as cyberpunk and pulp fiction, and drug culture.

If this tickles your fancy, you should definitely consider the sequel to Vurt, Pollen, or Noon's lighter and more accessible Automated Alice, a modern recasting of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

From Publishers Weekly

Noon's highly stylized, virtual-reality inspired first novel has won raves and the Arthur C. Clarke Award in Britain, eliciting comparisons to William Gibson, Anthony Burgess and Lewis Carroll, among others. But though it is original, vivid and powerful, it's not as revolutionary as the fanfare suggests. Noon gives us a future (or perhaps just other) Manchester, England, where nearly everyone is hooked on "Vurts"-hallucinogenic designer drugs, administered with feathers, that send users into virtual worlds. Vurt isn't any old future drug, though; these worlds have a reality of their own. Users can meet up in them and share the experience, and they can even "exchange" objects or people and bring Vurt items back to the "real" world. Scribble, a member of a small gang of "young hip malcontents," the Stash Riders, has lost his beloved sister, Desdemona (don't ask how beloved if you're shy about incest), to a black-market Vurt, getting in return a shapeless alien he dubs "The Thing-from-Outer Space." Determined to find another copy of the "English Voodoo" Vurt in order to return and trade the Thing back for his sister, Scribble and his pals score illegal Vurts, run from the cops, fight among themselves, trip out on feathers, kill a cop, go to ground, become estranged and regroup. Some die, and all suffer, before Scribble gets his chance. Noon keeps a brisk pace, with the many Vurt-trip sequences, awash in Alice in Wonderland-like images, never so long or involved as to bog the story down. His bizarre, psychedelic future feels like no other, and the startling alloy of pseudoheroic genrespeak and neo-Beat freewheeling rhythms proves a unique and perfect medium for such a hallucinatory tale. There's little of Gibson or Burgess here, though. The story has neither the shock value of A Clockwork Orange nor the cyberpunk nihilism of Neuromancer. Noon takes his material (though not his characters) less seriously than Burgess, Gibson and most other SF writers. His future world isn't meant to be believable, or even cautionary, but merely colorful and engaging (which it is)-and that takes some of the bite out of the book. Nevertheless, this is an audacious fantasia, exhibiting a narrative daring and command few new writers can boast, sweeping the reader along as though it were a Vurt feather-trip itself. 75,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

William Gibson meets Lewis Carroll in this novel of future England, a time when humans, robots, virtual beings, and their various crossbreeds coexist and, as their primary recreation, indulge in drug-laced feathers that induce a virtual reality state known as "the Vurt." Living on the edges of this strange new world are narrator Scribble and his scruffy gang, the Stash Riders. After a mysterious feather named "Curious Yellow" causes Desdemona, Scribble's sister and lover, to become trapped in the Vurt, Scribble becomes obsessed with rescuing her. His quest for another Curious Yellow takes him on a vertiginous journey through the squalid Manchester streets and deep into the shadowy depths of the Vurt. Humorous, horrific, and wildly original, Vurt is an imaginative triumph. Highly recommended.
--Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Upon small press publication in the UK, Vurt won kudos as an ingenious 1990s hybrid of A Clockwork Orange and Neuromancer. With its stateside publisher prepping it for major publicity, Noon's first novel seems poised for bestsellerdom. Vurt's twenty-first-century Brit narrator is Scribble, who recounts his days in a ragtag band of junkies, hooked on the black market virtual reality thrills accessible by orally ingesting "vurt feathers." Fueling Scribble's addiction is his search for one particularly lethal feather, labeled "English Voodoo," into whose thrall his sister Desdemona has vanished, perhaps irretrievably. Along the way, Scribble discovers a featherless pipeline to the vurtworlds inside his own bloodstream, lands at the doorstep of a legendary vurt master known as the Game Cat, and almost loses himself to the vurt's seductive pleasures. Although Vurt lacks the hard science foundations of other cyberspace gems and often strays into fantasy, Noon elevates it considerably with penetrating, street-smart prose, an irresistible story line, and strikingly original ideas. Those attractions may win it mainstream as well as sf fans. Carl Hays

From Kirkus Reviews

Noon's hardcover debut transforms the world of virtual reality into ``vurt,'' a playland of psychedelic fantasies anyone can explore without cumbersome helmets or control gloves. Scribble and the Stash Riders are a gang of British punks who regularly steal ``feathers,'' which, when applied to the back of the throat, deliver the user into seedy virtual adventures. But this brave new world of entertainment isn't user-friendly, and when Scribble and his sister Desdemona share a dangerous yellow feather to enjoy incestuous sex, the fantasy ends with the young girl disappearing into a virtual no-man's land while Scribble is left to confront reality alone. The plot, which follows his attempts to rescue his sister from this wonderland of forbidden pleasures, seems as aimless as the Stash Riders' lives: an endless cycle of theft, violence, sex, and vurt. But Scribble's destiny transcends the frequent, bloody clashes between the Stash Riders and the police, because he possesses the ability to enter vurts at will. He switches from one fantasy to another, until the reader is no longer sure what reality is. Desdemona remains unattainable, but Scribble's final confrontation with the creator and supervisors of vurt leads to his own virtual ascension among the future masters of the universe. Like Scribble's feathers, Vurt leads to a wild and kaleidoscopic ride, but fails to entirely satisfy. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


"Surreal."--the New York Times

"A virtual wonderland."--Vanity Fair

"The mainstreaming of cyberpunk."--the New Yorker
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

LORNA KNIGHT specialized in textiles at Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh. She spent ten years teaching design and technology in middle schools in the UK before setting up a business designing and making lingerie and running workshops teaching a wide range of sewing skills from both the couture and high street fashion worlds. Lorna also writes regularly for Sewing World magazine and has contributed to many sewing books and other fashion publications. Her previous books include The Sewing Stitch Bible and The Dressmaker's Technique Bible.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Tools and equipment
As with any craft, it is so much easier to complete a task if the right tools are on hand. Whether you are cutting fabric, paper patterns, or threads, there are appropriate scissors for each case. The same applies to needles, pins, and those more obscure gadgets that speed up the process and improve the finish. Use this chapter to select the necessary tools to help with your sewing projects.
Essential equipment
As with any craft, specialist tools help in achieving a good result. While a needle is the minimum requirement, there are numerous useful tools, gadgets, and materials that can make a sewer's life easier.
8 Work surface
A flat surface at a workable height, such as a table or worktop, is a fundamental part of a sewing room. Although you can cover the floor with a sheet before laying fabric over it for cutting out, most work needs a handy surface to prevent your knees and back from aching.
There are some tools that may seem like luxury items, but after you've used them you will not be able to understand how you managed to sew without them.
3 Serger
These useful machines are for neatening raw edges and giving clothes a professional finish. However, they also perform many other decorative functions and, although not essential, are a great asset.
Needle know-how
The needle is the principal piece of sewing equipment-- you must have one if you want to sew! Originally whittled from bone or wood, needles are now made from high quality steel in sizes for every application.
Anatomy of a needle
Can't thread your needle?
• Cut the thread at an angle. This makes it easier to fit through the eye.
• Place a piece of white paper behind the eye of the needle to make it easier to see the hole for the thread to go through.
• Use a needle threading wire or gadget. There are many of these on the market (see below), ranging from a simple diamond-shaped wire on a handle, to tiny hooks that pull a thread length through the eye.
5 Is your needle skipping stitches?
• It is important to choose the correct machine needle for each task. It saves time and produces better stitches.
• Embroidery and metallic needles prevent the threads from breaking or shredding, which means that you don't have to keep rethreading the needle.
• If you need to change the type of needle while there is still some life in it, don't discard it. Make a needle cushion with segments for different sizes and types of needle. Write the information on the cushion with a fine permanent pen or embroider it by machine or hand.
• Use a magnifying glass to read the size on the body of the needle.
• Replace needles frequently; don't wait until they bend or break. As the needles dull, they will cause skipped stitches and may even damage the fabric.
Simple storage bags
You will need:
• A mix of plain and patterned cotton fabric in the same weight
• Ribbon
• Thread for making up (a contrast color looks attractive)
Threading your needle
One of the hardest tricks to learn when beginning to sew is how to thread small-eyed needles.
Choosing needles
It is important to select the correct needle for the task in hand whether for hand sewing or machine sewing. Neat hand sewing is easier to produce with the correct size and type of needle and, although machine needles may all look the same, their subtle differences tailor them for particular threads or fabrics.
Pin pointers
Pins are vital for preparing fabric to sew. Use them to secure a paper pattern to material for cutting out, to hold two pieces of fabric together in a mock seam to check the fit, or to hold pleats or hems in place before stitching. Whatever you use pins for, make sure they are sharp and rust-free.
Working with net or tulle
Use safety pins rather than standard straight pins when working with net or tulle. To divide a large section of net for gathering into a Full underskirt, use safety pins to identify the sections as standard pins will fall out.
Perfect pins
A weighty alternative
When pins cannot be used--the fabric may be too thick to penetrate or pinholes will permanently damage the material-- weights are a good alternative. These might simply be kitchen weights or, for large soft furnishing projects, a brick in a wool sock. Use the weights to prevent a paper pattern from moving when you cut out the fabric, as shown right.
Transform a brick into a fabric weight
A large weight is useful for drapes and large soft furnishing projects. Add padding to the brick as shown to protect the fabric you are sewing. The handle makes it easy to move around.
Top tips for pinning
• Discard all bent and rusty pins.
• Keep a box or container for old pins and needles. When it is full it can be thrown away safely.
• Some pins have large plastic heads. Do not iron over these, as they melt!
• Use small-headed craft pins when pattern making. Large-headed pins can distort measurements that are critical to achieving a perfect fit.
• Do not sew over pins. Even if pins are placed across the seam it is not safe to stitch over them, as pins and needles may break and shatter, throwing up tiny pieces of metal. Simply remove the pins as you reach them.
• Attach paper patterns to fabric with pins placed within the pattern boundary. In this way you will avoid cutting them with scissors. It might not be a problem to the pins but it may well damage the scissor blades. Also, when pinning delicate fabric, the body of the fabric can't be damaged when pinning within seams.
Perfect your pinning technique
Everyone has their own preferences when pinning, but you wilt need to choose different methods for different tasks.
Pinning for beginners
If you have been sewing for years, pinning comes naturally. Beginners may find it more difficult. Simply put the pin through the fabric, then fold the fabric close to the point and bring the pin back to the surface.
Great gadgets
Specialist gadgets and tools are available to make sewing tasks easier. Some of these are well known and easy to get hold of; others are more obscure, but make a real difference when tackling sewing problems. When you find something new, share it with your sewing friends.
17 Decorate plain fabric with a daisy foot
Bobby pin tube turner
If you do not have a dedicated tool to turn through a narrow tube, try this neat trick with a bobby pin. With a bit of practice, it is easy to make fine straps or button loops.
Cardboard tube seam roll
Use a cardboard tube for pressing narrow sleeves and legs of pants. You will need: a long cardboard tube; an old clean wool blanket or a length of 100% wool fabric and cotton sheeting.
Handy improvised tools
In addition to specialist tools, there are lots of everyday items you can use to help you when sewing.
A 100% cotton or linen dishcloth is a good alternative to a pressing cloth. Simply place it over a seam or hem to protect the fabric from the iron.
Panty hose
When sewing with springy, decorative threads on a serger, the thread may sometimes get caught beneath the reel. To prevent this from happening, cut up a pair of panty hose into lengths of about 6 in (15 cm) and slide a piece over the reel of thread. This holds the thread just close enough to stop it falling off and becoming stuck.
Pressing points
An iron is an essential sewing aid. It helps to produce a smooth, crease-free finished garment, and controls fabric edges and folds to make sewing tasks easier.
Which iron should I use?
The most common types of iron are listed below. Make sure you are using the best iron for the sewing task in hand.
Board of ironing?
There are three key points to consider when choosing an ironing board:
Buy a height-adjustable ironing board. Correct height is essential for comfort, and there will be occasions when you might prefer to sit rather than stand.
Ironing boards vary in length and some are wider than others. If storage space is not an issue, a longer and wider one is more useful, as it gives a larger surface, not just to iron on but to cut out on, too.
Cover your board with more padding and new fabric if it only has a thin layer over the mesh. The extra depth helps draw steam through the board and the padding reduces the chance of lines and ridges of seams or hems showing on the right side.
Everyday p...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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