Adventures in Reading

Pollen by Jeff Noon

I was so taken with Jeff Noon’s Vurt that I couldn’t wait to get started on the second book of the Vurt series Pollen. Pollen is another novel set in a futuristic Manchester, England and beyond the setting there is not much connection with Vurt. In Pollen, the cop Sybil Jones begins exploring a little too closely the murder of a half-dog, half-human cab driver named Coyote. His death leads Sybil on a case that uncovers bad cops, a cab company monopoly, a lost daughter, and a plan from a Vurt archetype that would ultimately allow the Vurt (a cyber dream reality) to consume reality.

Pollen is written in a much smoother and collected style than Vurt, but I was actually a bit disappointed by this. In Vurt the jerky writing style and interjected essays from the Gamer Cat allowed a rough and tumble feel to the reading. In Pollen Noon continues with a similar writing style and structure but allows a more fluid availability of information through Gumbo Ya Ya broadcasting over the airwaves. I do wonder between the more stinted flow of introductory material how if I would have been able to read Pollen without previously reading Vurt: I would definitely recommend starting with Vurt before diving into Pollen.

Pollen does begin to explore a more philosophical edge that utilizes the Persephone myth, and in that way actually was reminiscent of Terry Pratchett. From the Vurt dream world stories are told over and over when the Vurt is visited, but Pollen explores the actual existence of Vurt creatures. In this case, Persephone leaves the Vurt to begin hatching a plan of overlaying reality with a kind of Vurt heaven, which sounds marvelous in plan but none of it is real. Noon finds a fascinating way to intertwine virtual reality with old-fashioned Mother Nature.

Sex is something I didn’t mention when writing about Vurt, but in both novels Noon has an abundance of literal and figurative sex. He deals with sex and sexuality brashly and somewhat pornographically. The act of using a Vurt feather is equated with deep throating.

Pollen was definitely not as good as Vurt. Where I had to force myself away from Vurt, I had to force myself into finishing Pollen and nearly didn’t. Noon has created a complex world and where Vurt was very much a journey through Manchester, Pollen attempts to continue not only the Manchester journey but an introduction to the Vurt, which loses it’s abstract dream quality that was so well developed in Vurt.