The Arthur C. Clarke Award is given a book judged the best science fiction novel first published in England. The first award was handed out in 1987 to Margaret Atwood for “The Handmaiden’s Tale.” This novel by Jeff Noon won in 1994.
In a future Manchester, England a gang calling itself the Stash Riders are hooked on feathers. They’re a combination of drugs and a virtual reality world known as the Vurt. They come in colors with the mildest,Blue, that takes you to Pleasureville all the way up to Curious Yellow which is extremely dangerous.
Stephen is better known as Scribble because he’s a writer and the narrator of the novel. He lost his lover who happens to be his sister Desdemona when she got trapped in the feather. In exchange an alien came back that the group nicknames The Thing From Outer Space. He’s determined to get her back. He needs to get another Curious Yellow feather he can get into so he can exchange The Thing for Desdemona.
He searches through Manchester for the Game Cat who is the guide to the different colored feathers and what they do as well as the man who knows each character. The search takes him through dance clubs of the future where the big star is a half man, half dog known as Dingo Tush. Scribble was his DJ for a while. Towards the end of the book he ends up in a part of town populated by dogs and runs across the Uber Dog.
In the Vurt he goes between dreams and reality sometimes never knowing which is which. There are robodogs and shadowcops and shadowsnakes. He’s also being chased by the female cop Murdoch who keeps trying to arrest him.
I was surprised at the pace of the book. A lot of Cyberpunk is easily bogged down but this one really moves. It’s definitely not for everyone especially those easily offended by foul language and bizarre incidents. If you’re looking for something very different you might want to check this out.