Extra Content – 1996
Again, this started as an idea for a play. Never written, just an idea jotted in a notebook. I’ve always been fascinated with the “Alice” books of Lewis Carroll, and especially Martin Gardener’s “Annotated Alice”. This book was resting on my workdesk one day, when the title transformed in my mind, into “Armour-plated Alice”. A corresponding image came to me then, of a steam-driven Alice doll. The title changed again, to “Automated Alice”, and the image softened, to become an exact replica of Alice, a robotic Alice. I made a few notes, and forgot about the idea.
After Pollen, I was a bit worried about what to do next. I’d actually started a third Vurt novel, but I wasn’t getting into it, it felt like I was repeating myself. I didn’t want people to know what to expect from me, and also I wanted to extend my audience a little. The “Automated Alice” project seemed perfect to do that. Alice of course had featured in both of my previous books, especially in Pollen, where she appears as a very sick, dying child. I felt it was time to rescue her from her fate, bring her back to life, in my own peculiar way.
I was nervous about writing this third “Alice” book, but from the very first page I felt that Lewis Carroll was there to help me along. In the opening poem I’d written the phrase about saving Alice from the “ravages of time”, and a voice in my head told me to change it into the “radishes of time”! That’s when I knew, it was going to be alright.
by Jeff Noon