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Saturday, June 11, 2022

Within WithoutWithin Without by Jeff Noon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Frankly, Jeff Noon cannot be beat. When it comes to outright feats of the imagination, there are VERY few writers who can pull off a truly WEIRD, delightfully original, and thoroughly quasi-meta fiction with several hard-core levels. And he does it by writing a basic Noir mystery novel in some kind of 1960s.

It's really easy to read but it's insanely difficult to describe.

Jeff Noon somehow re-invents the fantasy genre while couching it within a mystery, throwing us into some VERY detailed and strict worldbuilding rules. (And each Nyquist adventure is in a completely different kind of reality that Nyquist has to figure out, just as we must.) It gets thoroughly wild.

In brief: we travel between the cities of Delirium and Escher. In Delirium, images of a person can be cut or they can escape. A movie star has his extra persona, his image, go missing. This is where Nyquist comes in.

The place is a paranoic dreamland and Nyquist starts hearing voices and falling under the spell of the city, and that's barely the beginning. People's whole identities are caught up in what's within them, the alter ego that sometimes comes out to play. The alters, themselves, are quite independent and rather literary. The alter that went missing is named Oberon. Nyquist's alter just happens to be a certain Gregor Samsa. And if you know who I mean, you can guess a LOT about what will happen here. And yes, it IS that wild.

And all the while, the many mysteries unfold. I cannot recommend these books enough. They're super smart, amazingly original, and freakishly glorious.

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