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Pollen, by Jeff Noon Book Review | SFReader.com
Pollen, by Jeff Noon Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Crown Publishing Group Published: 1996 Review Posted: 8/7/2005 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10
Pollen, by Jeff Noon
Book Review by Edward Lunn
Have you read this book?
Manchester, May the first and the start of spring, traditionally a bad time
for sufferers of hay fever, (this year a bad time to have a nose).
Coyote has a snout as he is half human half dog (preferably 'Alsatian' in his
opinion) and is waiting besides his old-fashioned black cab out in limbo on
the outskirts of Manchester. Waiting for an illegal and unorthodox fare and
the start of a journey whose consequences will later be known as an early
skirmish in the looking-glass wars.
A mysterious sequence of events is about to unravel bound inexorably to a
pollination phenomena which threatens to engulf the precariously poised city
of Manchester in a carpet of pollen.
Jeff Noon's second novel, after his defining "Vurt," is set sometime after
his first book again in his native Manchester. Here we get an insight into the preceding history that culminates in the
chaotically rich imagination fuelled and often disturbing state of life,where necrophilia brings about an evolutionary step, dog-men clash with
humans, who despise shadow people, who all loathe the un-dead and above them
all in an increasingly porous parallel world the virtual powers crave
dominion over the Earth.
Fast paced from the word go this novel unveils complex plots which merge
and distill in the brain effortlessly. Noon's talent for planting ideas like
seeds into our minds with raw imagery and then nurturing them into a
multi-faceted, extremely screwed up Eden that makes you want to sneeze
as it ripens into a climatic finale is un-putdownably compelling.
The author invites you into and then locks the door on a messed up future
where pures, dogs, robos, vurts, NVL's (non-viable life forms), shadows and
every conceivable mongrel of the above wrestle to rise above the detritus of
social stigma and circumstance. Add megalomaniacs, virtual beings and
telepathy with a spot of necrophilia, floraphillia and sex-crazed fecundity
10 victims and the outcome is chaotic surrealism to say the least.
Despite the absurdity and magnitude of all these crazy ideas the characters
and this Manchester retain something very real in them. The X-cab company
led by Columbus smacks of corporation and communism, while mind reading and
thought police crop up along with there moralistic dilemmas.
The mash of species lends to social divisions and class "wars" that can be
found in real life Manchester and anywhere in the world today. Despite the
fact that in this world very few of the people are actually human "pures",
their problems certainly are. There is also buried amongst the
undergrowth a lot of compassion and inner-strife in the characters amid the
harsh climate of the unreality were they reside, and even time for an
unlikely love affair between Coyote (dog-man) and Boda (shadow-girl, one of
the X-caber hive) that takes a further twist that could only happen in one
of Noon's twisted worlds.
The story is told through the narrative of Sibyl Jones, a shadow cop but
jumps between the other main characters as their stories converge. His style is truly original and highly experimental, while being easily
understandable and thoroughly enjoyable. Ingeniously you are introduced to all the major "sci-fi" elements very
subtly, rarely affecting the flow of the story, yet alluded to often enough
that you arrive at the explanations just as you were developing the
At times the text borders on contemporary poetry when minds are being
delved into and the tension builds but it works, trust me. A class alone
whose radical ideas, writing style and grotesque imagery (check out the
Persephone sex scene) are hard to attribute to any particular outside
The dismembered lucid flow from one obscure scenario to the next is
obviously reminiscent of the dream state and is littered with references to
Lewis Carols Alice, quoted as one of his literary luminaries.
Pollen is a must for fans of high action (and I don't mean lasers and spaceships) and
messed up futures that despite being inconceivable, are horrifyingly, humanly
possible. Followers of Gibson, Sterling, K Dick and Burgess (Clockwork