Within Without

A Nyquist Mystery

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Pub Date May 11 2021 | Archive Date Apr 02 2021

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From true weird fiction visionary Jeff Noon comes the fourth book in this Philip K. Dick Award-nominated mystery series.

In the year 1960, private eye John Nyquist arrives in Delirium, a city of a million borders, to pursue his strangest case yet: tracking down the stolen sentient image of faded rock'n'roll star Vince Craven.

As Nyquist tracks Vince's image through Delirium, crossing a series of ever-stranger and more surreal borderzones, he hears tantalising stories of a First Border, Omata, hidden within the depths of the city. But to find it, he'll have to cross into the fractured minds of Delirium's residents, and even into his own...

File Under: Science Fantasy [ Go Fourth | All Mad Here | Uneasy Dreams | Borderline ]

From true weird fiction visionary Jeff Noon comes the fourth book in this Philip K. Dick Award-nominated mystery series.

In the year 1960, private eye John Nyquist arrives in Delirium, a city of a...

Advance Praise

“One of the great masters of weird fiction.”

– Adrian Tchaikovsky, Arthur C Clarke Award-winning author of Children of Time

“Noon is a fiercely urban writer. [He] reflects the energy of the rave generation: the hammer and twist of the music, the language of the computer games addict and the buzz of technology.”

– New Statesman

“Noon’s blend of quirky ideas, striking prose and imaginative characterisations establishes him as one of the most original voices in imaginative fiction.”

– Booklist

“Intriguingly textured, reliably witty and inventive, Noon’s whirling purposeful fantasy packs a full whallop.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“One of the great masters of weird fiction.”

– Adrian Tchaikovsky, Arthur C Clarke Award-winning author of Children of Time

“Noon is a fiercely urban writer. [He] reflects the energy of the rave...

Marketing Plan

- Widespread review coverage in major print and online outlets, in both the mainstream and SF/F/Horror press

- Guest posts and author interviews in online media and bookblogs

- Radio and podcast interview appearances

- Blog tours with sci fi/fantasy/horror and generalist bookblogs and bookstagrammers

- Online launch event/s

If you're a reviewer, bookblogger or bookstagrammer interested in reviewing Within Without or talking to Jeff Noon, publicist Caroline Lambe would love to hear from you at caroline@angryrobotbooks.com!

- Widespread review coverage in major print and online outlets, in both the mainstream and SF/F/Horror press

- Guest posts and author interviews in online media and bookblogs

- Radio and podcast...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780857668981
PRICE $15.99 (USD)

Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

This was my first Jeff Noon read and I have to say even though this was the fourth book in a series, it was rather fun to make up my own idea as to the events that came in the three novels before this one.

I really love the cover on this one (and the whole series). This was a perfect mystery with historical elements and a sprinkle of fantasy. If you're looking for a genre-bending novel about weird cities and its weirder inhabitants, pick this one up.

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Imagine China Mieville went to binge-read Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe books before attempting in an LSD-fuelled fever dream to rewrite Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast in the style of Kafka. That is what Within Without reads like, and I mean that fully and in every way as a compliment.
And this is how you should read the book, too: not in spurts and snatches, but in one feverish nightmare session that leaves you gasping for air, unsure if what you've just read was a dream, a memory (and if so, was it your own?) or a hallucination, and if it wasn't perhaps the best thing that has ever happened to you.

I realise that this review, so far, is not helpful in explaining what this book is about, but I honestly don't think I can. I don't think I understood it, not in the way it wants to be understood. It's like glimpsing greatness and dimly being aware that you lack the intellectual capacity to grasp it.

Let's try again. Nyquist and his friend Teddy travel to Delirium to take on a case - and the name of the town should already tell you where this goes, because they continue going down one rabbit hole after another (and the Alice in Wonderland-reference isn't accidental), in which we follow the thread of the narrative through a setting that becomes increasingly surreal, in much the same way that Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is surreal, another book from which this text has drawn inspiration. Add a dash of Kafka, and perhaps you begin to see why I am rambling the way I am.

It's brilliant. Read it. I think that's the only coherent thing I can say.

By the way, I have read and enjoyed the first in the series but not book 2 and 3 (yet - what can I say, I'm bad at series), and while I'm sure I missed some references because of that, I do think this can well be read as a standalone with no previous knowledge of the other books. You'd be missing out, but that's on you.

I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC of this book. All opinions here expressed, however, are my own.

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Jeff Noon is an ever-favorite. In his latest, Within Without, Noon plays with the universe, genre, and our expectations. A literary speculative text from an author who always offers intriguing work.

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The fourth novel in his Nyquist series, Within Without, is Jeff Noon firing on all cylinders and exhibiting true mastery of his craft. He is one of those rarified authors who can inextricably tie together worldbuilding, story, and character. While you can read them in any order, once you meet Nyquist in his 2017 debut A Man of Shadows, you’ll want to grab them all. Nyquist is the noir detective you may not have known you were missing in your reading life.

The first novel follows the orphaned John Henry Nyquist who grew up in Dayzone, a city that is terrified of the dark neighborhoods that lie a train ride away through the hallucinatory terrain of Dusk. Solving this first murder mystery will require Nyquist to travel within the strange landscapes of commoditized time itself and come to terms with his fraying sanity.

The second novel, The Body Library, picks up with Nyquist traveling to the city of Storyville where stories themselves become the centerpiece of reality. How do you know if you are the main character in your own story or only a passing participant in someone else’s tale? What happens when storytelling has real power?

Its follow-up, Creeping Jenny, has Nyquist heading to his birthplace, Hoxley-on-the-Hale, in search of his past. Every day of the year a new Saint is selected and the town’s inhabitants, who find comfort in understood rituals, must adhere to the rules of the day. Nyquist and the reader are thrown into the deep end from day one navigating this bucolic village meets simmering horror while once again trying to solve a series of murders. For the first time in the series one of the characters, the earnest Teddy Fairclough, will be assisting Nyquist on his further adventures.

You’ll know immediately that you’re in for the wildest ride yet because Within Without is taking you to a city named Delirium and the small town at its heart named Escher. This is a story about boundaries, being caught betwixt and between them, and all the symbolism and imagery that comes with borders internal and external. Every chapter unveils a new element of this mysterious city like a marvelously strange revelation. You’re in for the most mind-bending and philosophical Nyquist experience to date. You’ll uncover the enigma behind asymmetrical ladybugs. You’ll meet Vince Craven, a popular movie star whose image has gone missing, and have an audience with the gelatinous Royal Highness King Edwyn III King of Freemantle. Square Circle Square Circle will have you thinking about it long after you’ve put that ingenious chapter behind you. You’ll run into Gregor Samsa from Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Mr. Hyde and Alice Liddell and Miss Havisham. Did I mention the cartoonish black holes peppering the cityscape? Much beyond that and we get into spoiler territory. You should experience Within Without with all the delight of sinking into the carefully orchestrated madness that Noon constructs here with his trademark flourishes of wordplay. The Inception-like journey of this novel leads to a satisfying and elegant ending that feels well and truly earned.

I cannot wait for more.

** Thank you Angry Robot Books and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased review **

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I’m never really sure exactly how to review the brilliant mind that is Jeff Noon. The Nyquist novels are amongst my favourite reads ever, yet if you ask me to explain why, explain THEM I really struggle.

This is a series you experience rather than read. I always feel like I’ve gone a bit mad at the end of them and the nights are full of odd dreams every time. Surreal, intuitive and insanely plotted, Nyquist’s world is a world like no other.

In Within Without, Nyquist is literally in Delirium, where the borders are fluid and your inner life comes to, well, life. In this crazy place he must find a glamorous image, save a friend and try to hold onto his sense of self. Aside from that I can’t tell you anything.

Unique in his writing style and with an imagination that blasts past almost anyone else’s, if you are looking for that read like no other, then this author and this series is for you.

My brain hurts.

Highly Recommended.

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The wizard of weird, Jeff Noon, in his fourth Nyquist mystery, provides a fun romp through Delrium, a portal to an infinite number of strange lands that are inhabited by ghosts, magicians, supernatural entities and literary characters including Alice in Wonderland and Mr. Hyde. This was a well written and easy to read novel. I highly recommend this novel and all the other novels

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A fabulous book. A heady mix of genres, including science fiction, fantasy and noir, this is better than the previous Nyquist novels. I didn't think it possible but Noon manages it very, very well. There are many literary influences on show here - including Peake, Kafka, Chandler and even some Mieville - and yet, through a style all of his own, Noon gives some entirely new and exciting. At times experimental, this fits in with the character and the writer. Read this. Read it now.

An incredible book, and I'll be waiting on the next.

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The John Nyquist series is extremely inventive: the subject matter is the matter is stories itself, the genre is noir mystery and fantasy and this latest installment really divides into those two genres. The first half sees our hard-boiled detective following leads to break open his latest case in a new and bizarre cityscape. Noon is not concerned with world-building but rather city-building and the urban landscapes he creates are dark, warped and mysterious and Delirium is no less any of these.

The second half slips into more of a fantasy land led by magical rituals. With this change, we see less dialogue and more stream of consciousness style narration, which really takes the reader inside the crazy world Nyquist has landed himself in.

This installment of the Nyquist mysteries had a lot more action and traditional detection in it which I enjoyed. I enjoyed the second half less so but overall this was yet another wild twist in the takes of Nyquist, demonstrating Noon's innovation with plot, story and genre.

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Jeff Noon has been one of my favorite writers ever since his debut novel Vurt came out in 1993. Recently, Noon has been writing a series of surreal detective mysteries, focusing on his detective figure, John Nyquist. Each volume places Nyquist in a different bizarre setting, and the novels are more about their mind-blowing environments than they are about plot or character. It is less a matter of solving a case for Nyquist, than of soaking up the environment like a sponge, and being twisted into strange new shapes as a result. I reviewed the first Nyquist novel, A Man of Shadows, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2073665192">here on goodreads</a>. It was set in a city, one half of which is always brightly illuminated daytime; the other half of which is always dark and nocturnal. The second Nyquist book, The Body Library, was set in a Borgesian city of words; the third, Creeping Jenny, in a British small town where the inhabitants performed different bizarre rituals for each day of the year.

Within Without, the fourth Nyquist novel, takes place in the cities of Delirium, a place of multiple borders, and Escher, where everybody is inhabited by literary characters (Gregor Samsa, Edward Hyde, Alice) who seek to engulf and control them. In Delirium, you cannot go two blocks without being held up by a barrier, subject to bureaucratic scrutiny, searched, and compelled to show your passport and perhaps slip a bribe to the border guards. In Escher, which seems to be a pocket inside Delirium, life seems to consist in a series of drunken gatherings and masquerades; everyone is constantly muttering to themselves -- or rather, their muttering is not themselves really, but the literary characters hidden within them and who seek to escape. Escher itself leads to the ultimate border, separating the Yeald, separating the world we know from a mirror realm in which the constant rustle of language will drive you crazy, unless you are somehow shielded by one of the Sentine, the native inhabitants, who are able to filter this endless language into the coherence of stories.

A border, like a biological membrane, both separates and joins. It keeps the outside away, but also offers a path by which the outside can come insde. When the Sentines, the inhabitants of the realm beyond, the realm of pure language, cross over into the everyday world, they become beautiful images, creatures of pure glamour. Magicians are able to attach these images to physical bodies; and the people with these attachments become pop stars, with irresistible charisma. But the Sentines also have wills of their own, and they do not always enjoy being so attached...

By summarizing the book's premises in this way, I fear I am making it seem more schematic than it actually is. To the extent that subgenre distinctions are useful at all within speculative fiction, Within Without seems to me to really be science fiction (rather than either a mystery novel or some sort of fantasy or magic realism), precisely because its underpinnings turn out to involve this underlying and fairly rigorous logic of personalities composed of insides and outsides, internal voices and external coverings, all of which are mapped onto regions of a carefully delineated space. But all this is a retrospective reconstruction, which I was only able to work out (and I have merely given the barest outline here) after finishing the novel. It is sort of a secret structure, grounding what otherwise would seem to be the sheerest extravagance.

That is to say, the process of reading the novel does not feel schematic or predetermined at all. Rather, from page to page the experience is one of dizzying twists and turns. You have a sense of pure delirium (as the novel itself instructs us, with the name of its first city). The narration is in the third person, and sticks closely to Nyquist's point of view. And despite being a detective, Nyquist is passive and mostly clueless, as he stumbles from one crazy, destabilizing encounter to the next. The book reads like a cross between the metafictional displacements and linguistic games of Noon's evidently favorite authors (Kafka, Borges, Lewis Carroll; perhaps Calvino as well) and the roller coaster peaks and dips of an LSD trip (neither a bad trip nor a good, ecstatic one, but rather a lateral series of disorienting torsions and shifts). And all this is conveyed in dazzling prose: Noon's style is rich and overloaded, though in a way that retains enough of its pulp/genre roots to ever become obliquely experimental. I think that one of the reasons I love to read Noon's novels is precisely -- if I can put things this way -- how literary it actually is, without ever feeling "literary" (in the conventional and -- to me -- pejorative sense).

All in all, Within Without summarizes the themes and the feelings of much of Jeff Noon's work throughout his career (going back to his early masterpieces Vurt and Pollen). It both both offers the reader a wild and unpredictable ride, AND slyly proposes a sort of sciencefictional model of the psyche in an age of celebrities and incessant media distraction.

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My thanks to Angry Robot and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this science fiction novel.

Jeff Noon continues the adventures of John Nyquist, private eye, in the fourth book of the series Within Without. The title is a pun, maybe, a clue possibly, for the tale which involves a famous singer actor in the 1960's hiring Nyquist to find a missing person, the actor's missing image. Nyquist and his sidekick travel to the town of Delirium to begin the search. And everything from the start goes weird.

The book is filled with allusions and illusions, literary and sensory. The characters are a pastiche of the cast in a film noir, the actor who's not telling all he knows, the nightclub singer with secrets, the mysterious importer, magicians and others. The story goes in places that you don't expect nor even thought to expect. The book has a rhythm that might be hard to find, but patience and knowing that what is odd early is nothing to what is coming later. The writing, the imagination, the ideas poured onto paper and formed into this book just make you want to keep reading.

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The term “bordering on madness” is one everyone will be familiar with, and might well have used themselves without really thinking too much about it. Jeff Noon seems to have thought about it a lot though, if the peculiar nature of the city of Delirium is anything to go by. It’s a place of borders, varying in permeability and construction; some physical, some magical, some internalised, all winding their way through the city and the minds of its inhabitants. At a time when the topics of borders and mental health are on a lot of people’s minds, it’s a clever and timely marriage of two seemingly disparate themes. The theme of liminality, of the effect a border has on something’s state as it goes from being a thing that WAS there to a thing that IS here, makes for extremely fertile ground here.

There’s a wealth of interesting and entertaining ways Noon chooses to use his setup. The very first border that Nyquist crosses, for example, is the one into the city itself, and is in the form of an eery green mist known as Fontanelle. Taking its name from the soft spot in a baby’s skull, it perhaps implies that the only way to get to the city is to go out of one’s mind, or even that someone - or something - else’s mind has to be entered. There is as much mystery woven into the nature of the setting itself as there is in the plot, which sees Nyquist attempting to track down the missing sentient image of a film star (and is every bit as beguilingly strange as it sounds).

This investigation unfolds through what feels almost like a series of vignettes - although given the nature of the setting, perhaps “episodes” is a more appropriate term - which vary considerably in their tone. Encounters with the strange inhabitants of the city make up plenty of them, as do struggles with borders, and there are amusing moments of farce, chilling encounters that test Nyquist’s sanity and bouts of introspective questioning to stretch his mental fortitude to its limits. While that might seem like it might lack cohesion, this isn’t the case at all - Delirium is a modern-day Wonderland, with gleefully madcap moments sitting comfortably side by side with body horror and witchcraft.

Accompanying Nyquist on his investigation is newcomer Teddy Fairclough, last seen in previous novel Creeping Jenny, and whose backstory is recapped with laudable brevity. He’s a welcome and likeable presence, with the two playing off each other well; Teddy is bright-eyed and keen, whilst Nyquist is the world-weary gumshoe who really has seen it all. Certainly in the earlier part of the story, the feeling of isolation that Nyquist has had to contend with before is less of an issue thanks to Teddy’s presence, and for all that Nyquist chides him (and himself, for bringing him along), it’s clear from the start how important the younger man is to him.

With his now customary skill, Jeff Noon has once again turned the detective novel on its head whilst simultaneously turning it inside out. Within Without is yet another unique prospect from a mind replete with off the wall ideas and engaging premises, and is sure to please fans and baffle unsuspecting newcomers in the best way possible.

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I have no idea what I just read—but I love it—but I love it. [with apologies to The Weeknd]

Within Without is unlike any other book I have ever read. It’s like Dark City, Tenet, and Alice in Wonderland had a baby. Then dropped that baby in a 6D black rabbit hole.

A noir detective named John Nyquist is searching for a client’s lost image. Like a living NFT stolen from blockchain. Sounds simple, right? It’s not. The first city John visits is Delirium. The city has border crossings everywhere. Was this Europe before the Union? Then, he finds an even stranger city called Escher.

Throughout the book are literary Easter eggs. This is a book that can be read again and again. Each time new insights will be found.

I love genre mashups. The erudite author of Within Without, Jeff Noon, is a master of it. This is a noir, science fiction and fantasy mashup. But its intelligence and wild, almost bizarro, feel, puts it into another category. If you liked Trainspotting, you will love the drugged feeling of the world built here. Okay, I give up. I just can’t explain this book in words.

My best advice is not read this book if you are looking for traditional noir. But do read it if you are looking for a book that will take you on a wild ride that follows few writing rules. But it still succeeds in pure entertainment. 5 stars and a favorite!

Thanks to Angry Robot and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Do you enjoy Sci-Fi that has no intention of behaving like traditional Sci-Fi? Belly up to the psychedelic salad bar, me loverlies. A detective has accepted an assigment which causes him to plunge into a quest. In comes the Mad Hatter. Each level he has to ascend has its own difficulties. Easter eggs are dropping like napalm in his footsteps. Lewis Carroll, Escher, HA! No more advance giveaways, children. Read it for yourselves, if you dare. My thanks to the author and NetGalley for a complimentary copy.

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