New Treasures: Gogmagog and Ludluda by Jeff Noon and Steve Beard

New Treasures: Gogmagog and Ludluda by Jeff Noon and Steve Beard

Gogmagog and Ludluda (Angry Robot, February 13, 2024 and December 3, 2024). Cover art by Ian McQue

I had a fruitful trip to the local Barnes & Noble last week. I brought home the latest issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog, as well as a nice assortment of recent-ish trade paperbacks. In the mix was a new novel by the team of Jeff Noon and Steve Beard, Gogmagog, with an intriguing cover that grabbed me immediately.

I dipped into Gogmagog as soon as I got home, and I found it delightful. It’s the tale of Arcadia “Cady” Meade, a 78-year-old retired sea captain, who’s about as crusty and entertaining as they come. She’s hired by a young girl and her robot guardian to take them down the river Nysis, past treacherous shores peopled with strange plants and robots — and haunted by the spirit of a terrifying river dragon.

Gogmagog is the opening volume in a two-book set. The closing book, Ludluda, arrives at the end of the year. Feast your eyes on the wonderful matching covers by Ian McQue above, courtesy of

[Click the images to gog at bigger versions.]

My May book haul at Barnes & Noble

Sam Reader has a fine review at the Ancillary Review of Books, A Ride Up the River Weird.

Gogmagog [is] a postapocalyptic quest fantasy about a perilous voyage up a strange and polluted river… Noon and Beard’s tandem gifts — bizarre ecosystems for the former and a preoccupation with occult history for the latter — turn a familiar story into a vibrant and beautiful tale of survival in a world that has moved on… its narrative of desperate people, lost souls, and sinister gods strikes a bizarre and beautiful contrast that creates something far more vital, emotionally resonant, and vibrant than that familiarity might suggest.

Haunted by the disaster that befell her final voyage on the River Nysis, washed-up riverboat captain Cady Meade lives an uncomfortable but stable existence collecting her pension in a decaying port town. A polluted stretch of water haunted by Faynr, the decaying spirit of a great dragon, the Nysis is home to numerous dangers both animate and inanimate, requiring skilled river pilots. When she’s sought out by a strange young woman named Brin and her robot companion Lek for their own journey up the Nysis to the city of Ludwich, Cady immediately recognizes the start of an adventure and accordingly hides from them. To Cady’s dismay, both the gods and fate have other plans for her…

As they travel up the haunted river, Cady and her crew encounter hostile wildlife, eccentric locals, long-dead spirits, and a twisted cult. At the center of it all is a sinister shadow whose presence only grows the further upriver they go: a shadow known as Gogmagog… It’s a beautiful, strange, and occasionally nightmarish adventure story given a sense of vitality, urgency, and vast history… Noon and Beard populate the area with all the puffball hiveminds and dark cults their hearts desire. The authors do an excellent job of fleshing out the ecosystem of the Nysis’ decaying environs, an interconnected web of strange flora and fauna built on layers of long-dead ruins and toxic mutations, haunted by the decaying spirit of a dragon and full of shipwrecks and unexploded bombs. It’s a deranged, acid-tinged travelogue that never drops the sensation of movement.

The river is a place of grotesque beauty, but also one of melancholy. There’s a sense of abandonment that hangs over the river lands. The people in the various towns and cities along the river feel like they’re barely hanging on, remnants of a previous time… Jeff Noon and Steve Beard move from strength to strength along the river Nysis, creating a world of unnerving and unsettling detail atop familiar structures, exploring what happens to the lost souls caught in the aftermath of epic ages and global conflict. While the Juniper’s twisted voyage is far from finished (Ludluda, the concluding volume, drops later this year), on its own it’s a beautiful, strange, and occasionally nightmarish adventure story given a sense of vitality, urgency, and vast history by its authors.

Jeff Noon and Steve Beard collaberated on one previous novel, Mappalujo, published by Tickety Boo Press in May 2016.

Back cover to Gogmagog (left) and Mappalujo, by
Jeff Noon and Steve Beard (Tickety Boo Press, May 5, 2016)

Jeff Noon is the author of the the Nyquist Mysteries (A Man of Shadows, Creeping Jenny, Within Without, and the Philip K Dick Award nominated The Body Library). He won the Arthur C Clarke Award for Vurt, and the John W Campbell award for Best New Writer.

Steve Beard is the author of Digital Leatherette (1999), Meat Puppet Cabaret (2007), and Mappalujo (2016) with Jeff Noon.

Gogmagog was published by Angry Roboton February 13, 2024; Ludluda will arrive from the same publisher in December 3, 2024. Gogmagog is 353 pages, priced at $18.99, and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover art for both books is by Ian McQue.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

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i love the Nyquist books, so i might have to check this out, thanks for the heads up! it took me a bit to get through A Man of Shadows with all the crazy time stuff, but it hooked me. i have never read Vurt even though it’s Noon’s most well known.

Last edited 25 days ago by silentdante

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