Dy namic duo

Jeff Noon and Steve Beard on Map­palujo’s jour­ney from word game to bookshelf

SFX - - Red alert -

It was orig­i­nally de­vised as a col­lab­o­ra­tive sto­ry­telling method. Now Jeff Noon and Steve Beard have turned their work Map­palujo into a novel. Us­ing the tech­nique, the two au­thors al­ter­nated chap­ters of the book, which each take some kind of lead from the work of a par­tic­u­lar cul­tural icon rang­ing from Kraftwerk to the Spice Girls.

“It’s been a true meet­ing of minds in two stages,” Noon tells Red Alert. “First, the ini­tial ex­per­i­men­tal phase where we passed ideas back and forth be­tween us, and then the more con­ven­tional craft­ing stage. We were al­ways sur­prised at the events, char­ac­ters and images that ar­rived, as the process seemed to re­lease hid­den ideas that we would never have come up with had we been work­ing separately.”

Set in the fic­tional city of Lujo, it harks back to the heady dream­scapes of Noon’s 1993 de­but Vurt, as the story cen­tres around the bat­tle be­tween global en­ter­tain­ment com­pany Zeno and op­po­si­tion group the Rene­gade An­gels. “The book is re­ally about masks, and how we make them, choose them, wear them, dis­card them, force them on other peo­ple, and so on,” ex­plains Noon. “It starts with Joe Pren­tice, a mask sales­man who goes a bit crazy one day, and ends up cre­at­ing a rebel text, which is then picked up by other char­ac­ters in later chap­ters.”

As its ti­tle sug­gests, Map­palujo also in­di­cates an in­ter­est in cartography. “Clas­sic fan­tasy nov­els tend to come with maps of the strange worlds they are set in,” says Beard. “We’ve done a clas­sic bit of world- build­ing with Map­palujo, but it’s as much a map as it is a world. In fact, it’s a map of it­self, in time­honoured Bor­ge­sian fash­ion.”

Map­palujo by Jeff Noon and Steve Beard is avail­able from Spec­tral Press on 15 May.

Jeff Noon, one half of the team be­hind Map­palujo, back in 1995.

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