Parody of Popular Culture – ChannelSK1N by Jeff Noon

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Review by Zoe Cunningham

In the 1990s Manchester-born Jeff Noon released his first 4 novels, known as the Vurt series, to great acclaim.

ChannelSK1N is Noon’s first novel since 2002. As he said in an interview on litreactor.com “Recently I woke up and realised that I hadn’t reached an audience for a long time and it was time to do so.” I thought this would be an interesting book to review here on Byte the Book, as it’s been released in digital edition only.

The story is set in the near future, and centres around a young fabricated pop star, Nola Blue, whose popularity recovers from its downward trajectory when she discovers that her skin has mutated to allow her to receive and display television signals.

Similar to many other books in this genre, current popular culture is parodied – the fact that she used to sing her own songs but is no longer allowed is referred to, as well as plastic surgery and video manipulation so that she looks “glorified, elevated, set ablaze with computerised passion”. Amongst mixed-up channels created by Nola such as “Animals on Drugs” and (my favourite) “Dirty Rock and Roll Decorators”, the central TV show is based around a “pleasure dome” where a contestant/victim bares their soul to the world through electrodes implanted in their skull – a none too thinly veiled reference to the reality TV of today.

The book is written in the typical lyrical style of Noon, spattered with new words (often composite, e.g. “skintalk”). If you only have time to read one book by Jeff Noon, I recommend Vurt, but if you read Vurt and liked it, read this.

If you’re interested in other projects by Noon, check out twitter handle @temp_user9 where he has been working on “micro-fiction” stories, published via Twitter. Or take a look at http://microspores.tumblr.com/start: 140 character “spore” stories, accompanied by images and sound.

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