Dy namic duo
Jeff Noon and Steve Beard on Mappalujo’s journey from word game to bookshelf
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.