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Automated Alice Hardcover – October 8, 1996

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Jeff Noon's previous novels, Vurt and Pollen, have attracted a cult following with their psychedelic science fiction creation of the realm of "Vurt"--a region defined by illusion, dream and drug-induced fantasy. Noon has now decided to link up with an imaginative precursor by introducing Lewis Carroll's Alice as the protagonist in a new adventure that draws on Carroll's through-the-looking-glass inversions of reality, and adds a Jeff Noon menace and edginess absent from Carroll's Wonderland. Alice finds herself in 1998 Manchester when she enters an old grandfather clock, and soon becomes the prime suspect in the puzzling "Jigsaw Murders." Noon emulates Carroll's crazy wordplay throughout, and even adds his own illustrations inspired by those of John Tenniel, the famous interpreter of Alice.

From Publishers Weekly

If Lewis Carroll had sent Alice off on an adventure into the future, what might it have been like? Noon (Pollen, 1995) answers this question in his wild and farcical third novel. Puns, riddles, numerical puzzles and cockeyed literary references abound in this tale of Alice's trip through her Great Aunt Ermintrude's clock into an unlikely alternate-universe version of Manchester, England, circa 1998. Among the many strange characters Alice meets are her termite-driven, robot "twin twister," the Automated Alice of the title; Captain Ramshackle, a Badgerman and Randomologist; and a Crow-woman/scientist named Professor Gladys Chrowdingler who puts cats in boxes that may or may not render them invisible. Alice soon finds herself involved in the investigation of a series of murders. The victims are discovered with their body parts carefully rearranged and pieces from a jigsaw puzzle on their persons. Because the pieces come from her own jigsaw of the London Zoo, Alice soon finds herself under suspicion and on the run from the Civil Serpents, who themselves may be trying to cover up an even darker crime. Lewis Carroll's odd sense of humor doesn't appeal to all readers and neither will Noon's, but Noon does a fine job of imitating Carroll while adding more than a dash of his own postmodernist sensibility. Will Alice find all of her missing jigsaw pieces and return to the 19th century? Only the Radishes of Time will tell. Line drawings by Harry Trumbore.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (October 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517704900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517704905
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Noon was born in Manchester in 1957. He was trained in the visual arts, and was musically active on the punk scene before starting to write plays for the theatre. His first novel, Vurt, was published in 1993 and went on to win the Arthur C. Clarke Award. His other books include Pollen, Automated Alice, Nymphomation, Pixel Juice, Needle in the Groove, Cobralingus, Falling Out Of Cars and most recently Channel Sk1n. His plays include Woundings, The Modernists and Dead Code.

For more info either visit
or Jeff's website

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on November 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Automated Alice is a sequel to Lewis Carrol's two books about Alice. Instead of going down a rabbit hole or through a mirror, in this book Alice travels through a grandfather clock to Manchester England in 1998. However this is not the Manchester of our experience. It is a world populated by half-humans who ride on mechanical horses. Its computers are powered by termites called Computermites. Her adventures in this strange world bear enough resemblances to the original stories to make this an enjoyable sequel. Alice must figure out the puzzle of how to get back to her own time with the help of a parrot that speaks in riddles and an automated Alice with a termite brain. There are some wonderful word plays and mathematical concepts in the story. It is a short enjoyable tale that should please Alice fans of all ages. If you haven't read the original stories, skip this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mm on January 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Automated Alice as a sequel to the Lewis Carroll Alice books is an excellent idea, but unfortunately a poorly executed one. The plot is overly simplistic and the alternate world Noon describes is flat and never truly came to life. Noon does conceive of many strange creatures and landscapes, yet his descriptions are facile and never succeed in drawing the reader in to the world he is striving to create.

Noon tries very hard to make the his descriptions incongruous and intriguing, very hard to make Alice and her dialogue quirky and funny - so hard in fact that the reader can spot the joke (so called) from a mile away and is left trudging through page after page of obvious and uninteresting tedium. The word play, while somewhat clever, is excessively used, and really comes across as repetitive self indulgence on the part of the author as though he were saying "Ho ho, look at me, I'm so clever" to a group of 6 year olds. An author shouldn't have to tell us he is clever - show us!

I wanted to like this book. I loved the concepts. That's the problem - Noon's ideas are good in theory, but as the execution plays out it is extremely disappointing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sophie Earp-Fulton on March 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you've read any other Jeff Noon, you'll realise there are a ton of 'Alice' references in his writing. Being a BIG fan of Carroll's stories I enjoy picking up on these, and when I saw Noon had written a follow-up to Carroll's Alice stories, I was admittedly wary, but intrigued.
Clearly the reviewer who wrote a wonderfully detailed review three sentences long has no idea who Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson was, or any concept of use of nonsensical verse, and probably not much appreciation for any sort of wordplay. Honey, you're missing out.
'Automated Alice' is a lovely tied-in sidetrack to the worlds of 'Vurt' and Noon's other novels. If you like either Noon or Carroll (or even better and highly probable - BOTH), chances are you'll like this. It's playful, very funny, and means only well. Don't overanalyze it, or take it too seriously - it's a fun read, and particularly good if you want to kill an hour but not with anything heavy-hitting that requires a high degree of cranial chewing. That's not to say there's nothing to analyze, but you don't have to to enjoy it. After all, that's what fiction's for.
I'm sure if Carroll was alive, he'd have a chuckle at this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gypsi Phillips Bates VINE VOICE on July 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
Alice, of Wonderland fame, is visiting her Great Aunt Ermintrude and very unwisely lets her parrot, Whippoorwill, out of his cage. Whippoorwill flies into the grandfather clock, and Alice (dragging her doll Celia with her) climbs in after him but ends up in the future--1998 to be exact. The future is populated by people that are mixed breeds of animal and human, and is ruled by the frightening Civil Serpents. To return to her own time, Alice (and her now automated doll, Celia), must find Whippoorwill, her missing jigsaw puzzle pieces, solve the Jigsaw Murder of which she's been falsely accused and hopefully, discover the proper usage of the ellipses.

While Automated Alice promises much in it's early chapters, Noon is unable to deliver more than the occasional clever wordplay. The plot is unfulfilling, almost contrived at points. He tries hard to create the same bizarre feel that Carroll's books have, but is unsuccessful; instead Automated Alice feels frantic and unintelligible. The idea was great, but the delivery was poor.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian Parker on July 23, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alice in Wonderland has "inspired" a number of hacks to produce poor material, from movies to books to video games. Here, Jeff Noon manages to avoid re-treading the surreal cliches in which most "tributes" indulge.
This book is a cross-pollination of Lewis Carroll's universe (from whence Alice originates) with Jeff Noon's universe (the setting of Vurt, Pollen, etc.) Noon (who has a distinctive style of his own) does a fair job of emulating Carroll's writing, but emphasizes the puns and wordplay that make Carroll's books so delightful to adults. Although it's a quick read, you're rewarded if you take the time to enjoy the wit.
Unlike many other Alice-"inspired" work, Noon has well-developed plot and a strong central theme he writes towards, one that is enhanced by the allusions to Lewis Carroll. The "Automated" Alice of the title is a robotic Alice; the differences and interactions between Alice Liddell, Alice "in Wonderland," and "Automated" Alice are used to form an interesting central metaphor.
I recommend this book highly. It's clever, fun, and intriguing.
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