15 July 2008

Automated Alice

Automated Alice
Jeff Noon (2/5 stars)
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Transworld Publishers (December 1, 2000)

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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