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J.G Ballard

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  • J.G Ballard

    Just wondering what people think of his work.

    I really enjoy his writing, and although it doesn't seem to me there's a great variation in the themes and style of his stories, there's something about the way he writes that no other writer touches on... I find him quite a challenging read at times.

    I remember reading a comment of his on science fiction- he said although he tended to get lumped in along with other sci fi authors, the difference was they wrote about outer space and the future, he was more interested in inner space and the next five minutes... 8)

  • #2
    I've read a fair amount of his books and enjoy them quite a lot. Sometimes his cynicism wears a bit heavy, so I have to be in the right mood. The Drowned World and The Crystal World are two of my favorite's by him. I'm glad I read Crash too, though I'm still unsure whether or not I actually "liked" it.
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    • #3
      I've read a fair bit of Ballard's work. He does have a very dim view of humanity and its foibles. His more autobiographical work is actually rather harrowing, seeming even stranger than his fiction, complimenting it and filling in a lot of detail and background.

      He has taken on the struggle with modernity in a way that rings truer than that of most of the mainstream British authors, getting acclaim for piddling around in their comfortable British Middle Class Culture goldfish bowls. His goldfish bowl was cracked and emptied a long time ago, leaving something rich and strange in its place.

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      • #4
        I remember posting a similar query on the old board a few years back, which drew some great reminiscences from MM. It'll be there in the archive, somewhere!
        I agree with AndroMan about Ballard's autobiographical work: "Empire Of The Sun" and the amazing, translucently sad "Kindness Of Women" explore the wellspring of his vision with unblinking clarity and honesty.
        Contemporary writers whose new work you wait for with eager impatience, and snap up when it hits the shelves. Who tower over the postwar British novel in their achievement and influence. Michael Moorcock. Jim Ballard. Can't think of many others in that league.

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        • #5
          Anyone interested in seeing a new interview with Ballard, along with a picture of Ballard and myself together, should get the coming issue of ARTHUR, the LA based 'underground' magazine. I've contributed a short introduction to Ballard for that issue.
          Ballard and I became friends in the very early sixties. We shared a similar dismay with modern literary fiction and were interested in finding ways of writing about our experience in a way not coloured either by what had become generic modernist fiction or, for that matter, generic sf. I have never found him pessimistic, I must say. He has always had a great deal of common sense and while his vision can be a little grim, his insights are pretty original. His notion that the middle class is essentially the new slave class is backed up by an awful lot of evidence, it seems to me. I'm still very proud that we published so much of his best work in New Worlds. That work remains amongst the best fiction produced in the last fifty years, in my view.

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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          • #6
            Haunting - at his best, absolutely haunting. I haven't read nearly as much as I should have done - some thing that I intend to put right starting pretty soon having been prompted by this thread. I've got a couple of short story collections, which I've had for ages, and some of them really stay with me, long after putting the book down. The only other author's stories that can do it in the same way is Phil K Dick.

            I've read Crash and some of his other, more avant garde stuff. Not easy, but worthwhile. I was appalled when I heard that a film was to be made of Crash, because I couldn't see how they could do it justice - indeed, I thought they would probably miss the point entirely, and would either cut out the sex and keep the death, or keep the sex and cut out the death.

            And then I discovered that it was to be done by Cronenberg, and I thought - actually, he could do it well. And he did. I thought he did a marvellous job, as evidenced by the fact that it was banned in numerous cities and towns and caused a great scandal all over the place for a while.

            I have recently discovered that his 'Complete Short Stories' was published a couple of years ago, and have since been seized with an irrational desire to own it and read it cover to cover. I've not read any of his biographical stuff yet, but I think it is about time I did. My thanks to the contributers to this thread for reawakening my interest in his work.

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            • #7
              Since I'm currently reading, and thoroughly enjoying, The Ice Schooner, I have to ask Michael if his love of Ballard's The Drowned World was in any way an inspiration to this book of the opposite extreme of climate holocaust?
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              • #8
                I just got The Drowned World out of the library

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                • #9
                  You mean the main character going north instead of south ? Yes, there was an oblique reference there to The Drowned World. Not much else, though. It was Conrad who was the chief inspiration. But then Graham Greene got his moody isolated central characters from Conrad and Greene was a big influence on Ballard. I think we both started reading Conrad around the same time.
                  The Drowned World, The Crystal World and The Burning World (aka The Drought) form a trilogy which pretty much wound up a particular phase of Ballard's career, before he began to write a much more idiosyncratic
                  fiction. The Atrocity Exhibition repreents another phase and Crash,
                  High Rise and Concrete Island another. Empire of the Sun and The Kindness of Women are autobiographical, still bearing much of the same magic. Later books are largely satirical, aimed at modern culture. All these phases contain books of considerable substance. Some are more substantial than others. That said, his work represents one of the most admirable careers in post-war English literature. Some believe that he is the best living English writer.

                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                  The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                  Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                  Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                  The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                  Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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                  • #10
                    As I said, you and he both, man. No bull.

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                    • #11
                      I was browsing in Borders, in Cambridge the other day, and what did I come across, but the Collected Short Stories of JG Ballard. Paid up my nineteen quid for it without a second thought. One thousand pages of some of the best short stories around, as far as I'm concerned.

                      It's by my bed - and I am reading one or two a night - it wouldn't do to rush them - last thing before hitting the sack. There is enough there for two months.

                      There is something about collected editions that gives me a particular pleasure - I'm not sure why. It's the same with Mike's Eternal Champion omnibus editions. Something about having them all there between two covers.

                      Of course, the only thing you have to be careful of, when reading JG Ballard last thing at night, is the dreams you get afterwards.........javascript:emoticon('8O')

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                      • #12
                        ARTHUR, the alternative newspaper to which I, Steve Aylett, John Coulthart, Alan Moore, David Byrne and others contribute, is running a good interview with Ballard in its current issue.

                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For much of my wellspent youth I wore a moody expression, kept a a copy of The Terminal Beach collection in my pocket and listened to John Foxx's Metamatic on endless repeat.... I even got around to putting The Terminal Beach (short story) to music.

                          I have since ditched the moody expression but the Ballard is still on the well thumbed list. I love the way he has evolved as writer (as has our beloved Mike), holding on to significant themes but changing styles and exploring them in new and consistently invigorating ways....
                          Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
                          Bakunin

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                          • #14
                            I finished reading the Drowned World, it was excellent. Pretty weird as well. I think I'll have to search out some more of his books.

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                            • #15
                              Mike,

                              How can we get a hold on a copy of ARTHUR?

                              Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                              ARTHUR, the alternative newspaper to which I, Steve Aylett, John Coulthart, Alan Moore, David Byrne and others contribute, is running a good interview with Ballard in its current issue.
                              The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

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