Nymphomation, by Jeff Noon cover image

Nymphomation, by Jeff Noon
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Black Swan
Published: 2001
Review Posted: 8/19/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Nymphomation, by Jeff Noon

Book Review by Edward Lunn

Have you read this book?

Manchester, Friday night, Nine o'clock in good old 1999. Lady luck's twirling dance a thousand tightly held bones of chance. It's domino time!

Jeff Noon's fourth novel, a prequel to his previous three, kicks off in game week 40 and is set in near future Manchester and is in many ways recognisable as normal modern day, from students, curry houses, yobs and beggars, to drugs, underground culture and re-vamped retro music. But all is not as it seems and escalating further from normality. The root cause appears to be the emergence of the annodomino game run by a mysterious Mr Million.

The game is a weekly lottery which is on a trial period of a year and confined to the residents of Manchester. The book is based around this lottery in the weeks leading up to the end of its trial year and follows a group of maths students aided by their tutor. A messed up, complicated bunch themselves, they set about on a crusade to unlock and expose the secrets of the annodomino game in a race against time. They have until the end of the year when the game goes nationwide.

A more sober offering compared to his earlier work in so much as the setting is less fantastical, but in true Noon style culminates with a frantic finish and a large dollop of whacky themes. Belying his visionary plots, Noon's novels tend to have a very down-to-earth base which lends cohesion, in this case a lottery game and a group of maths students trying to decipher its puzzles. Then from these roots pour forth a whole mental institute of near possible future politics and near impossible future technological, bizarre ideas, all mixed into the curry sauce with some hard edged back to basics, grotty realities of life.

Here the ground works are laid for his fictional world, including early appearances by characters who later become major players. This makes the book a must for fans of his previous work, "Vurt" and "Pollen," but also a good starting point for newcomers, especially as it is a prequel.

One thing I particularly like in his writing is that he doesn't preach on about the state of the world that his characters live in. For example you have hoboes who rent official begging holes, cops sponsored by a large burger company, the transient link between the real and virtual worlds, synthetic man-made creatures and corporations above, even dictating, the laws, yet the story is not a vessel for these ideas. You are made aware of all these aspects gradually and they are not key to the plots, rather to the general make up and atmosphere of his world and the personalities, mind sets of its characters. It is the people who inevitably get on with life that make the story.

Another original, gritty masterpiece with Irvine Welsh-like twists and addictive prose. This is a more accessible novel as he has partially curbed his organic writing style, which in the past has threatened to spiral out of control, and a great introduction for those new to the work of this often overlooked author.
Nymphomation, by Jeff Noon on Amazon

Nymphomation, by Jeff Noon on Amazon

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