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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bliss Machine Lives On - Kneel Downe
"THE BLISS MACHINE LIVES ON."

CHANNEL SK1N. By JEFF NOON 2012

I've waited ten long years for this...

When my preview copy arrived in my inbox this very Monday I was inundated with messages of jealousy and congratulations. You must be so excited. You must be so happy.
You must be on cloud nine...

Nope...what I felt was...
Published 23 months ago by @OpinionGeeks

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So very, very disappointed. All filler. No killer.
I'm such a fan of Jeff Noon, so I was pretty stoked to see a new one out by him. I have seldom been as underwhelmed by a novel.
So, let me think about the reasons I like Mr Noon's work... cracking plot that leaves you eagerly turning every page with absolutely no idea where you'll end up? Nope. Virtually plot-free and predictable. Beautifully sculpted characters...
Published 20 months ago by MrBeelzeebubbles


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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bliss Machine Lives On - Kneel Downe, 4 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
"THE BLISS MACHINE LIVES ON."

CHANNEL SK1N. By JEFF NOON 2012

I've waited ten long years for this...

When my preview copy arrived in my inbox this very Monday I was inundated with messages of jealousy and congratulations. You must be so excited. You must be so happy.
You must be on cloud nine...

Nope...what I felt was trepidation and not a little fear.

We all have heroes, be they musical, artistic or sporting.
We have all felt that momentary doubt...is this a fight, an album, a book too much?
Ten long years have passed since I last held a Noon book in my hands.
Was this a bout too far?
To reach the heights you once set...to meet expectations is one thing.
To smash them is another.

Rest easy dear reader...the wait has been worth it.

Let me first say, this review will contain only the barest of plot information. I have never been a fan of spoilers. What you get will be just enough.
Here we are more interested in the style and the quality of this work.

Please...read on...

The KLEIN-ZECKER BROADCASTING signal is being wheeled out in your area soon. Utilising Fractal Wave Technology it promises to bring you an experience like never before....

Noon, like all artists of any worth, has always reinvented himself with every new work. Like Bowie he has worn many masks. The core remains but the delivery system mutates and changes.
First we had the Cyber-punk drug laced hyper reality of VURT et al...then we entered the dub-remixing period (Wordplay at it's most fluid and exciting) this was followed by the criminally underrated FALLING OUT OF CARS.
Then we had silence.
What lies within these electronic pages is the culmination of what Falling out of Cars only hinted at.

It is only a matter of months since I sat with the good man himself. Coffee was consumed. Cake may have been eaten. Outside, the weather treated us to a downpour worthy of our shared Manchester heritage.
What I found was a man reinvigorated. Alive. Excited by the future.
A man enamoured by the complexities of script writing.

I mention this because this love is pertinent to CHANNEL SK1N.

This is Noon's fourth face...a new phase and at it's heart lies the lessons learnt from ten years of trimming and re-writing. As he explained, sometimes less is more.

Let the words do the talking.

Here then is a new style. Noticeably Noon and yet stripped and clean like never before. Hardly a single word is superfluous.
What is left paints the pictures you expect.
The surreal imagery you demand.

Nola Blue is a Music Star. A sensation. An icon in a thoroughly modern world. Come with us and follow her tale.
Her transformation...

All fiction of worth is simply an explanation of a character's ultimate transformation. Be it mental, emotional or in some cases physical.
With Noon it has often been all three.
Here again, we follow the steady and inescapable progress of change.
From Beetle's fate in Vurt to the slow dissolution of Falling out of Cars, change and morphication bleed through his back catalogue like colours from a feather.

It's all here. Falling apart. Futures not yet dreamed. Imagery so sharp it will cut your mind. Hints and clues to a universe wider than the one you currently inhabit.
A cheeky nod or two to the past.
(Hobart Projections anyone?)

With Noon novels I have a well worn routine:
Read once for the experience.
Twice for the story.
Three times for the simple joy of words.

CHANNEL SK1N delivered all three in one sitting.

We can not leave without mentioning the superb and unsettling artwork by Curtis Leon Fee. Drafted in to provide covers for all of Jeff's eBooks he provides a thematic template for all Ten books.

Yes reader...TEN books...seems like we won't have such a long wait this time...

Welcome back Mr Noon.
We missed you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The return of a ground breaker, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
A very welcome return to Jeff Noon. I've been waiting in quiet expectation for the day Mr Noon started writing and releasing books again and I'm so pleased he's returned and is on such good form... This is a 5 star book but for comparison with the rest of Jeff Noon's cannon I have to drop down to 4 stars, this is no sleight on Channel Sk1n as much as high praise for the rest of his books.

As twisted and surreal as any other of Mr Noon's books, Jeff once again takes you to a world that is startling close to reality yet as far away from anything you would recognise as is possible. Taking the already blurred lines between reality shows, talent shows and journalism and blogging, mixing it all together with some bizarre biological evolutions and mutations....You know, typical Noon ;)

Jeff Noon changed the rules of speculative fiction, for me, with the release of Vurt in 1993 and the rest of the literary world has been playing catch up since. Steven Hall did a great job with The Raw Shark Texts but again, for me, nobody touches the raw weirdness of Jeff Noon
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5.0 out of 5 stars Parody of Popular Culture, 18 Aug 2013
This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
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 [...] 140 character "spore" stories, accompanied by images and sound.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing return from a visionary, 17 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
There's been a ten year hiatus since Jeff Noon's previous novel. And Noon, always on the cutting edge of the interface of literature and technology, seems to have been revivified by the digital revolution in literature (see his "Microspores" on his own blog), so that "Channel Skin" is available only on Kindle. And it is indeed a book about technologies, media, delivery systems and data flow. "We have flooded ourselves with the media in all its many forms. Our minds are now open to signals. We have become aerials".

The book is swathed in genius, wonderful linguistic and imagistic set-pieces, yet doesn't quite hold together in a satisfying whole. Its world is a media saturated one, where pop singing sensations are created by George Gold, a Simon Cowell figure, but have a very limited shelf-life and live hopelessly isolated lives to protect them from the public's insatiable demand to paw at them. But Gold himself has lost his flesh and blood daughter to the most popular reality show of the day, "The Pleasure Dome", a sort of Spandau Prison in which its sole prisoner alternates between shucking the toxic inheritance of her father and trying to reach out towards him, through the public prism of 24-hour TV surveillance. Every thought is broadcast and contestants rarely emerge with their sanity intact.

One of Gold's superannuated creations Nola Blue, develops a condition whereby her skin displays every televisual output as if it were a channel hopping screen itself. She develops an imagistic symbiosis with Gold's daughter Melissa. She shows her broadcasts from within "The Pleasure Dome", but she also channels her. There is a wonderful scene with the bereft George Gold when Nola alternates between herself and projecting the missing Melissa. But the strange thing is that although the novel ostensibly has Nola as its main character, Melissa is far more interesting, while Nola remains far more nebulous. Nola does much random travelling with no clear purpose in mind, which I found a bit frustrating. It seemed a part of the plotting that was underdeveloped.

But then Noon takes your breath away with the audacity of his creative and linguistic capabilities. "Words were written there (her forearm), blood words. They dripped red but could not be touched. George tried to: he put his fingers into the blood, feeling it to be dry, an image alone. It was the broadcast of a wound". Also the other two Noon novels I've read both have rather trite 'girl died/gone missing, search for that lost love' plots. I'm happy to report the two key relationships here are much fuller and more maturely handled; that of father-daughter with the Golds and also the Svengali to his acolyte with Gold and Nola. And then there's the fascinating relationship between Nola and Melissa who of course never meet in the flesh, yet resonate off one another's mental wavelengths.

Ultimately one's experience of the book will come down to the reader's expectations and demands for plot. Nola as I say wanders around to not much effect, except when she passes through interactions of interest.. Then she almost fades out like the white dot on old televisions when you switched them off. The engrossment comes from the language, the imagery and the envisioning of our media saturated society. For me that was enticing enough, but it may not be to everyone's taste. For fans of "Videodrome", "The Illustrated Man", "Channel Skin" represents a twenty-first century updating of these visions, while it perhaps has most in common with the subplot of Jonathan Lethem's "Chronic City" in which one half of a celebrity couple is stuck in outer space, being broadcast on a round the clock reality TV show as they creep towards inevitable death. On balance, I prefer the Lethem, but this is still definitely worth the read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish post-modern gospel, 10 Aug 2012
By 
J. Shurin "carnivore" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
Jeff Noon's Channel SK1N posits an oddly believable future, one that's heavily rooted in our own media-saturated present. The author's first new novel for a decade, SK1N is a stylish post-modern gospel, depicting the transcendence of celebrities into something even more ubiquitous.

The concept (and creation) of celebrity is one of the underlying assumptions in SK1N. Manufactured icons battle for their fifteen minutes on the top of the social standings (which are carefully measured and audited). Blandly attractive talent is recruited, trained and blurred to the point where they all become interchangeable, commercial pap; each star flaring up and then fading into its successor.

The center of the noise - or at least the focal point - is the ultimate reality show: the Pleasure Dome. The Dome holds a single person (carefully selected from a host of competitors). That person - or prisoner - then lives in total isolation, with their every thought amplified and reflected in the surface of the Dome itself. They're not just living in their own head - they're broadcasting it. As a result, the Dome has fans (cults, even) ranging from the analytical to the shamanic, looking for meaning in the Dome's every flickering move.

In Channel SK1N, the Dome's resident is Melissa Gold. She's a frustrated young artist and, after three weeks, one of the Dome's longest inhabitants. People have survived the Dome, but none have ever left completely sane. Given the length of her stay, interest in Melissa has reached a fever pitch: half the crowd has deified her, the other half waits for a bloody suicide. Although Melissa is not, ostensibly, the hero of Channel SK1N, she is its fulcrum. Despite being the ultimate victim - the martyr of a billion televisions - (and completely bonkers) Melissa ultimately has authority over her own actions. Everyone is watching her; she only watches herself. As SK1N flows from start to finish, Melissa quietly/publicly wrestles with her demons, fighting a battle that everyone can see, but only she can understand.

While Melissa is perpetually in the background, SK1N follows Nola Blue, a manufactured pop star - so heavily 'digitised' that she can no longer recognise her own image. Her Geppetto is George Gold, Melissa's father and a cut-throat music mogul in the best tradition of Simon Cowell. George finds, moulds and discards pop stars with frightening regularity - Nola is, at last count, at least the tenth of his disciples.

The beginning of the book finds Nola undergoing two terrifying changes. The first is as a celebrity: her last single, a painfully generic anthem, is a disappointment. Nola can already see - first in her mind's eye, later on television - the "where is she now?" commentary that marks the passing of her ephemeral career. She's understandably panicked. She has no connections besides George (who isn't answering the phone), an assistant (hired by George), a car (a gift from George), fans (who barely recognise her) and lovers (carefully recruited for one night stands). Nola - after spending her entire life becoming a carefully-crafted demigod - is about to be cast back down with the plebeians.

Except there's the second change. A mysterious bruise on Nola's stomach keeps growing. And interfering with her television signal. And, as it grows, showing the television. The latest digital switchover is to 'fractal waves' and it seems that Nola's picked up a virus as a result. This is, to Mr. Noon's credit, not just complete gobbledegook, but complete gobbledegook that's chucked out and then never mentioned again. The why, at least, in the non-ontological sense, is meaningless. Nola is becoming television.

With the exception of the "fractal wave" goofiness, there's very little in Channel SK1N that doesn't already exist in our own world - making the book a wonderfully flexible metaphor. The constant monitoring and ranking of Nola Blue's 'social status', the ubiquity of cameras (professional and amateur), the conspiracy theorists and mystics on sad searches to find higher truths in reality television, the fleeting nature of celebrity and the tension between artist and institutional structure.

Equal parts poetry and hard SF, this book proves why a Jeff Noon novel is well worth waiting for. One of 2012's must-reads. (And 2013, and beyond...)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So very, very disappointed. All filler. No killer., 30 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
I'm such a fan of Jeff Noon, so I was pretty stoked to see a new one out by him. I have seldom been as underwhelmed by a novel.
So, let me think about the reasons I like Mr Noon's work... cracking plot that leaves you eagerly turning every page with absolutely no idea where you'll end up? Nope. Virtually plot-free and predictable. Beautifully sculpted characters who develop/change/mutate beyond all recognition over the course of the text? Not a chance. One maudlin protagonist and a couple of hastily sketched bit players. A semi-hallucinatory journey through realms both sublime and mundane? More like an endless mush of driving through rain-filled suburbs and watching hours of bad reality tv.
At his best, Jeff Noon blends literary creativity with a cracking good read. At his worst - and this, along with Falling Out Of Cars, is definitely his worst - he reads like a bad undergraduate creative writing assignment.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return., 9 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
The late eighties had cyberpunk, the nineties had dance culture and this decade has media, media, media and the snake eating its own tail. Tapping into the hopes and fears of a subcultural generation as deeply as ever, Noon's latest book follows the misadventures of Nola Blue, a perfect pop product moulded by svengalis who inadvertently transforms into something new...

Poetic and sparse-rich, Channel SK1N left this longtime Noon fan very grateful and satisfied. Look forward to a re-read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Mr Noon..., 5 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
Channel Sk1n is Jeff Noons first novel in 10 years.

I fell in love with Jeff Noon's work after having a copy of 'Vurt' thrust upon me as a must read in 2000 by my then boyfriend, now husband, who really wanted to be Scribble. I was hooked from the first line and have avidly read everything (all now available on Kindle, for a rather low price in my opinion) by him ever since. 10 years I have waited for Channel Sk1n, it was worth the wait.

The story of Channel Skin is set in a Jeff Noon imagined possible(?) future, but the story is drawn from the modern day of technology and our sad preoccupation with stardom and fleeting celebrity, manufactured music industry and obsessed followers of voyeuristic real life TV.

I could gush and coo over this book for hours but I dont want to give too much away with reference to the meat of the plot, or its characters, I'll let you come across those when you read it yourself :)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Situationism for the masses, 8 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
If you found 'Society of the Spectacle' by Guy Debord an impenetrable morass of high minded ideas and marxist deconstruction then you will thank your lucky stars that Jeff Noon has written a handy 21st century alternative.

Channel Sk1n blends situationist ideas in to something that us mere mortals can understand. The story revolves around a central female protagonist ala 'Falling Out Of Cars' but I found this new book to be more accessible.

Highly recommended for Noon fans and for those who want to explore ideas of media, mediated experience, reality, religion, signal and noise, the ghost in the machine etc.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid at all costs, 16 Jan 2013
By 
William Stevens (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Channel Skin (Kindle Edition)
Short, plot-free and full of filler. Those are the nicest things you can say about this novel. In fact, it isn't even a novel. It's a short story which has been padded out with junk text and odd spacing. This alone makes the fact it costs almost a fiver outrageous.

To make matters worse, Noon seems to have spent his ten-year hiatus watching David Cronenberg's Videodrome. There are few ideas in Channel Sk1n and those there are seem to have been lifted from that film, one which most of the natural readership will have read.

The desire for cutting edge prose sees a bunch of neologisms thrown, but the author seems to have spent so long doing this he was unable to expunge the cliches and lazy writing to be found in between the words he invented.

What little plot there is rotates around how terrible the music industry and reality TV is, themes which were getting stale a decade ago.

If this had been released for free, it might have stood up as an interesting writing exercise, but at over 4 for what can't be much more than 100 pages of actual story, it feels like a complete rip off.

It gets one star because Amazon won't allow a score of zero. Noon has written good books, very good books and it would be a shame if this overshadowed them.

All that's left to say is - death to Channel Sk1n! Long live Videodrome!
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Channel Skin by Jeff Noon
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