The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionaries
Below the neon skies of Dayzone - where the lights never go out, and night has been banished - lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.
As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city's fate. In the end, there's only one place left to search- the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.
File Under- Science Fiction A Man Out of Time | Not Alone | Like Quicksilver | Into Dusk
Jeff Noon is an award-winning British novelist, short story writer and playwright. He won the Arthur C Clarke Award for Vurt, the John W Campbell award for Best New Writer, a Tinniswood Award for innovation in radio drama and the Mobil prize for playwriting. He was trained in the visual arts, and was musically active on the punk scene before starting to write plays for the theatre. His work spans SF and fantasy genres, exploring the ever-changing borderzone between genre fiction and the avant-garde.
Author hometown- Brighton, UK
"This superb novel of light, glass and blood proves again that Jeff Noon is one of our few true visionaries."
"A disturbing and bizarre journey by one of the great masters of weird fiction."
"Every Jeff Noon novel is a wonderful, precious thing. These are bad times, and we need him more than ever."
"Style has always been Noon's strongest suit, and in creating the varied cityscapes of A Man of Shadows, his talent for hallucinatory imagery has found a perfect match. This book is absolutely drenched in arresting visuals."
"Manchester's delirious prophet returns with scripture written in shadow and light."
"Noon has written a kaleidoscopic noir novel of dizzying dream logic."
"[Noon's] prose takes you to weird and scary places other novelists don't go - a reminder why he's so revered."
"It's a stylish and distinctive vision of a world that remains morally grey and foggy, even when under Dayzone's bright artificial lights. Weirdly compelling."
"This is a beguiling introduction to a strange new world, and a trip worth taking."
"While Vurt was undeniably the in-your-face work of a brash wunderkind, A Man of Shadows is arguably even better: the product of a more mature, surer writer with less desire to awe the reader for the sheer sake of showing off his chops, and more intent on producing emotional resonances, more vivid storylines, and imparting whatever hard-earned wisdom the writer has garnered."
"Clocks and watches form a recurrent motif in this artful, eerie novel that infuses the mystery genre with symbolism and soul."
"This novel--and the double city contained within it--is an immersive and addictive experience; one that, despite the tension of the narrative, the reader will miss once it's all over."
"Wonderful and uniquely absorbing."
"An unpredictable read from start to finish." 4/5 stars
"This superb novel of light, glass and blood proves again that Jeff Noon is one of our few true visionaries." -
QUICKSILVER It was market time in Fahrenheit Court. Hundreds of people moved along the narrow aisles between the stalls, pressing against each other in their pursuit of bargains: silver cutlery, mirrors, glittering jewels, sequins, crystal jars, lanterns of every size and shape, decorative shards of coloured glass, flame burners, beads, baubles, shiny metal trinkets galore, with every object glittering under the powerful lamps that beamed down from the low ceiling. The temperature was rising steadily and a dense heat haze gathered in the roof space. Customers pushed and shoved. Flesh against flesh. Somebody fainted and was carried out: a common occurrence. A pair of buskers sang the latest street ballad "The Flames of Love", looking to put even more of a sparkle in the day. Hawkers yelled and cried, vying with each other to sell their wares: parasols, sunglasses, linen jackets and wide-brimmed hats, deodorant, perfumes. The noise was deafening around the stalls of the clocksmiths and horologists, a constant buzz of ticking, chiming and whirring. A recent report had stated that more than twenty million timepieces currently existed in the city, with more being designed, built and sold every day. People were obsessed. Members of the city''s Guild of Chronologists handed out pamphlets detailing the latest timelines. A young man passed among the shoppers dressed as Apollo, the Sun God, and a mighty cry went up at the sight. For this was Dayzone. There was no other place like it, and the citizens were proud of being part of this overheated, overlit paradise. One such was Jenny James. Her friends called her Jay Jay. She was twenty-six years old, a reporter for the Beacon Fire , the city''s main newspaper. Married but without children as yet, as she worked hard at furthering her career. Amid the noise and confusion, the light and the heat, the last few moments of her life ticked away, unseen, unheard. Her husband Leon was by her side. They were shopping for a gift for her niece''s birthday and had stopped at a stall selling kaleidoscopes. Jay Jay picked one up and raised it to her eye. She gazed first at the demonstration lamps on the stall itself, and then upwards towards the ceiling with its brightly lit neon signs and follow spots. The broken beads and fragments of coloured glass inside the tube shuffled into new patterns as she spun the instrument. The effect was hypnotic and she felt a little weak from a sudden intoxicating burst of yellow, red and orange. She lowered her sights onto a new target, a little boy who was carrying a battery-powered lantern in the shape of a star. He was so proud of his toy. The lantern glowed with a silver and blue prismatic light which, seen through the lens of the kaleidoscope, appeared to be a wheel of knives, ever turning. Jay Jay felt strange. There was a pain in her side, and she could scarcely react before a similar pain struck her in the back. Had she been attacked? She couldn''t work out what was happening to her. The kaleidoscope fell to the ground. She tried to scream, but the sound caught in her throat. She could hardly breathe. Her stomach burned and when she put her hand to the pain her fingers came away smeared in blood. She stared at the redness, so bright under the myriad flickering lights and flames of the market hall. Her body jerked instinctively in order to escape her attacker. It was no good, there was no escape. She collapsed to the ground. Her husband stood there frozen for a few moments, still in shock at Jay Jay''s sudden violent movement. Then he bent down to her. He saw the blood, the cuts in her flesh, and could hardly believe it. She was shaking badly. Her clothing was stained crimson in many places. She cried out for him, for his help, and her hands reached for him. Her fingers tightened around his. He felt he was holding onto everything that was dear and precious. And then Jay Jay''s body convulsed one final time and lay still. His wife was dead, Leon knew that. He could sense it. The market hall was silent around him; nothing else existed. His entire world had closed down to this tiny space where the love of his life lay, unmoving. He touched her face gently. By some means he thought this would rouse her from sleep. The silence continued. And then a carriage clock chimed on a nearby stall, which set all the other timepieces in motion, and the noise of the market rushed into the vacuum. People gasped and moved away a step or two. An older woman cried out in alarm. The little boy with the lantern hugged his father''s legs in fright at the scene before him. The word went out, whispered at first. Quicksilver. Quicksilver. And then louder, passing from person to person in the crowd, spoken in fear. Quicksilver, Quicksilver, Quicksilver... The autopsy revealed five separate stab wounds in the victim''s flesh. And yet, out of the many people they interviewed, the police could not find a single person who had seen anything at all out of the ordinary. Leon James could only state that one moment his wife Jennifer was alive and well and laughing happily at his side, and the next she was lying on the ground, the blood flowing from her. No one had seen her being attacked. No one had seen her attacker. The weapon was never found: only its evidence, the wounds it had made. Here, in this city devoted to light and light only, where no shadows existed, no darkness, a murderer had struck in the middle of a crowded space and slipped away undetected. It didn''t seem possible. Yet it wasn''t the first such incident. Quicksilver, Quicksilver! The terrifying word travelled through the streets as the news spread. Another victim, another killing. The city''s clocks ticked on as ever. Part One DAYZONE A STATION CALLED MORNING Nyquist stepped down from the train. His fellow travellers either stared at him or avoided him completely as they hurried along the platform, leaving him there, a man alone in a crumpled blue suit and a slanted hat. Smoke from the steam engine filled his lungs. The sky burned fiercely, magnified by the glass panels of the station''s roof. Close by, a team of workers were sluicing the carriages down with hosepipes, creating a rainbow effect as the water met the streams of light from above. The air sparkled and danced. Nyquist was feeling the heat already as he made his way to the ticket barrier. It had been a while since daylight had touched him. It was difficult to tell how long precisely, difficult to count the days and the nights because of the way he lived, the nature of the jobs he took on, the way that the city worked. It was easy to get confused. A soft mechanical voice intoned from a nearby speaker column: "On your arrival in Dayzone please ensure that all necessary precautions are taken. We hope you..." Nyquist had heard it all too many times. He strode on, pausing only to look up at the large clock in the central dome of the concourse. It was twenty-five to nine. His own wristwatch read twenty-two minutes past eight. Thirteen minutes slow. He shivered a little before adjusting his watch. He felt better just doing this simple act. Fixed. In place. Many people around him were doing exactly the same thing, changing their watches to the station''s time: it looked like a ritual, so many fingers turning so many winders on so many dials, simultaneously. Nyquist got himself cleaned up in the gentlemen''s washroom. Braving the mirror, he pressed at the bruise on his face, causing the skin to move around the cut, a livid purple. He thought about covering it up with a sticking plaster but decided against it. The mark was all he had to show for the case: the only payment received. He walked back out onto the concourse and bought a three-shot coffee from a kiosk, most of which he had drunk by the time he got to the car park behind the station. It took him a while to remember where he had left his vehicle. A ticket for overdue stay was stuck under the windscreen wiper. He tore it loose and threw it on the backseat along with his jacket and his hat. The car was baking hot and even with the engine going and the fan sending out cool air, there was little relief. It was an old model in need of repair, or better still replacement. Nyquist felt the ache in his ribs where the punches had landed. Day and night, it was getting worse. The stale air inside the car started to move around a little. He looked at the dashboard; the dial read sixteen minutes past one. Nyquist groaned, wondering where all the hours kept going to. He checked his own watch again and used it to change the dashboard clock. Seven minutes to nine. That was better. Everything synchronised. Time to get the day started. He had one more job on the cards, searching for a missing teenager. He had to hope this one came good. The family had told him that the girl had lately become terribly afraid of the dark. Well, there were a lot of them around, these sufferers, and Dayzone was the place for them. Nyquist drove out of the station''s car park.
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