Top positive review
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A fantastic `trequel'
on 2 July 2006
`Automated Alice' is simultaneously a `trequel' [sic] to Lewis Carroll's two `Alice' books and Jeff Noons earlier `Vurt' novels, following the adventures of Alice as she climbs through a clock's workings and gets transported into fantastic adventures in modern day Manchester. Taken purely as an adult sequel to `Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and `Through The Looking-Glass' this is a fantastic achievement, with Noon brilliantly aping Lewis Carroll's style and sharing a love of puns, wordplay and nonsense with Harry Trumbore's internal illustrations matching the style of Tenniel's original pictures. Noon has great fun introducing Alice to such modern day concepts as computers and quantum mechanics while skewing things in typically nonsensical fashion (so civil servants become Civil Serpents while the Cheshire Cat is transformed into a chameleonic Quark) while the device of Alice hunting down missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle drives the story in much the same way as the chess game drives `Through the Looking-Glass'.
When read as a sequel to Noon's earlier shared-world novels `Vurt' and `Pollen' however the book takes on an additional resonance, with Alice's earlier appearance in `Pollen' given additional background while the plotline takes in the `disease' responsible for the merging of humans and animals in the Noon's future world, with plenty of sly winks towards the feather-accessed Vurt.
Read either way this is a fantastic novel, filled with bizarre imagery, wordplay and metafiction, but to really get the most from it you should read both Noon and Carroll's earlier works first.