A 35-year-old architect is driving home from his London office when his car swerves and crashes onto a traffic island lying below three converging motorways. Uninjured, he climbs the embankment to seek help, but no one will stop for him and he is trapped on the island, where he remains.
"Visionary of both style and substance… the literary equivalent of Salvador Dalí or Max Ernst."-The Washington Post Book World
"Ballard's novels are complex, obsessive, frequently poetic, and always disquieting chronicles of nature rebelling against humans, of the survival of barbarism in a world of mechanical efficiency, of ethropy, anomie, breakdown, ruin… The blasted landscapes that his characters inhabit are both external settings and states of mind."-Luc Sante
Fabryka bezkresnych snów to najlepsza powieść Ballarda; jedna z niewielu naprawdę kultowych książek. To bajeczna przypowieść o znaczeniu i potrzebie marzeń, magii i fantazji w naszym życiu. Przygody Blakea – bohatera książki- mogą być tylko urojeniami chorej wyobraźni, ale też mogły zdarzyć się naprawdę. To nasze życie to przecież mieszanina snów, jawy, fantazji i rzeczywistości. Marzenia są piękne. Sny bywają okrutne. Fantazja jest potrzebna każdemu z nas.
J.G. Ballard's 1975 novel "High Rise" contains all of the qualities we have come to expect from this author: alarming psychological insights, a study of the profoundly disturbing connections between technology and the human condition, and an intriguing plot masterfully executed. Ballard, who wrote the tremendously troubling "Crash," really knows how to dig deep into our troubling times in order to expose our tentative grasp of modernity. Some compare this book to William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," and there are definite characteristics the two novels share. I would argue, however, that "High Rise" is more eloquent and more relevant than Golding's book. Unfortunately, this Ballard novel is out of print. Try and locate a copy at your local library because the payoff is well worth the effort.
"High Rise" centers around four major characters: Dr. Robert Laing, an instructor at a local medical school, Richard Wilder, a television documentary producer, Anthony Royal, an architect, and the high rise building all three live in with 2,000 other people. Throughout the story, Ballard switches back and forth between these three people, recording their thoughts and actions as they live their lives in the new high-rise apartment building. Ballard made sure to pick three separate people living on different floors of the forty floor building: Laing lives on the twenty fifth floor, Wilder lives on the second floor, and Royal lives in a penthouse on the fortieth floor (befitting his status as the designer of the building). Where you live in this structure will soon take on an importance beyond life itself.
At the beginning of the story, most of the people living in the building get along quite well. There are the usual nitpicky problems one would expect when 2,000 people are jammed together, but overall people move freely from the top to the bottom floors. A person living on the bottom floors can easily go to the observation deck on the top of the building to enjoy the view, or shop at the two banks of stores on the tenth and thirty-fifth floors. Children swim and play in the pools and playgrounds throughout the high rise without any interference. Despite the fact that well to do people live in the building, with celebrities and executives on the top floors, middle-class people on the middle floors, and airline pilots and the like on the bottom ten floors, everyone gets along reasonably well-at first.
Then things change. The gossip level increases among the residents, and parties held on different floors start to exclude people from other areas. In quick succession, objects start to land on balconies, dropped by residents on higher levels. Equipment failures, such as electrical outages, lead to mild assaults between residents. Cars parked close to the building are vandalized, and a jeweler living on the fortieth floor does a swan dive out of the window. Every incident leads to further acts of violence and increasing chaos in the lives of those in the building. People begin to take a greater interest in what's going on where they live than in outside activities and jobs. As the violence escalates, elevators and lobbies on each floor turn into armed camps as the residents attempt to block any encroachments on their territory. What starts out as a book about living in a technological marvel quickly morphs into a study of how technology can cause human beings to regress back into primitivism. Moreover, Ballard tries to draw a correlation between the technology of the building and this descent into a Stone Age mentality. He shows in detail how the residents of the apartments sink back into the morass, passing through a classical Marxist structure of bourgeoisie-proletariat, moving on to a clan/tribal system, to a system of stark individuality. In short, Ballard tries to equate our striving towards individuality through technology with how we started out in our evolution as hunter-gatherers, as individuals seeking individual gains. The promise that technology will liberate the individual is not the highest form of evolution, argues Ballard, but is actually a return to the lowest forms of human expression.
Within a few pages of the story, I thought this might turn out to be very similar to a Bentley Little book. Little, nominally a horror writer but often a social satirist, often takes a situation like this and shows how people collapse under the pressures of modern life. My belief was not born out, however, not because Ballard doesn't take certain situations over the top but because he imbues his work with a significant philosophical subtext that Little would never write about. Bentley Little is all about focusing on the over the top, outrageous incidents of humanity's decline, whereas Ballard is more interested in serving as a preacher on anti-humanistic technology, thundering out a jeremiad concerning where we might go if we do not take the time to think very carefully about the society we wish to create.
"High Rise" is a dark, forbidding tale of woe that is sure to get a reaction from anyone who reads it. There seem to be few out there who can deliver such devastating blows to our love of technology as Ballard does in his works. This author is often referred to as a science fiction writer, but "High Rise" works just as well on a horror level. So does "Crash," when I think about it, although the cold, detached prose of that book is not present in "High Rise." Whatever genre Ballard falls into, this book delivers on every level.
Porównywana z „Imperium słońca” szokująca wizja naszego świata i ludzi wkraczających w wiek XXI.
Mała rewolucja jest tak skromna i grzeczna, że początkowo prawie nikt jej nie zauważa. Ale już wkrótce lekarze, inżynierowie, menedżerowie podpalają swoje domy, przewracają swoje volva i bmw, a w końcu podkładają bomby. Dlaczego stateczni obywatele postanowili zniszczyć swoje dotychczasowe życie? Dlaczego sięgnęli po terror? Odpowiedzi szukamy razem z narratorem, psychologiem Davidem Markhamem, w londyńskiej dzielnicy klasy średniej. Wraz z nim ulegamy stopniowo fascynacji anarchią, uwodzi nas charyzmatyczny pediatra, fanatyczny guru buntu, i z niedowierzaniem przyjmujemy jego wyjaśnienie: przyczyną przemocy może być brak przyczyny.
Nie ma silniejszej motywacji od nudy, sugeruje Ballard, terror jako protest przeciwko przyszłości, w której nic się nie będzie działo. „Ludzie millenium” to wizja absurdalna, groteskowa, ale i niepokojąca. Czy wiemy, czego naprawdę chcemy? Potrzebujemy poczucia bezpieczeństwa czy tęsknimy za napięciem, stresem, niepewnością? Przepowiadany przez autora „Imperium słońca” symboliczny scenariusz destrukcji wyrasta z wyobraźni pisarza zafascynowanego nieuchronnością katastrofy, ale jest też precyzyjną i beznamiętną analizą społeczeństwa u progu kryzysu, ludzkości u progu nowego tysiąclecia. Czy nasz bunt dla samego buntu jest rzeczywiście tylko kwestią czasu? Cóż, nie wszystkie przepowiednie się sprawdzają.
"Where to start? So much has been written about the Pangbourne massacre, as it is now known in the popular press throughout the world, that I find it difficult to see this tragic event with a clear eye."
Shortly after eight on the morning of June 25, 1988, the thirty-two adult members of an exclusive residential community in West London are brutally murdered, and their children abducted without so much as a trace. Through the forensic diary of Dr. Richard Greville, Deputy Psychiatric Advisor to the London Metropolitan Police, the brutal details of the massacre that has baffled the entire police department unfold. "There seems scarcely room for even a single fresh hypothesis," writes Greville, but he has a few ideas of his own, and pursues them with determination despite repeated discouragement from his superiors.
In this powerful and compelling novel of suspense, J. G. Ballard, acclaimed author of _Empire of the Sun_ and _The Day of Creation_, has spun a tale, at once thrilling and disturbing, which challenges our most cherished assumptions about the relationship between parents and their children.
'The world, without rain, is drying up. Rivers are a trickle and we see the shrivelling of the species far from its sources and headed lemming-like for the sea. Time has burst its dams and seeps inside the race-structure with bizarre results A strange and rather wonderful book full of haunting landscapes, phantasmagoria and disaster that clangs on the mind. An impressive novel at any level. Its obscurities and surrealist flourishes only heighten the dreamlike atmosphere.' Guardian
This is the third of Ballard’s informal quartet of books that nod in cursory fashion toward the elements. Like the others, it might be described as a science-fiction novel of the sub-genre ‘disaster’. But like every other Ballard novel it is so much more.
When toxic waste dumped into the oceans is cooked into a molecular layer that prevents evaporation, drought inevitably follows. Not the parched summer of an English countryside, but the blistering furnace of a tropical desert. Society collapses, draining away as quickly as surface water. It is a stark contrast to the amniotic lushness of The Drowned World.
Across this parched landscape a small group of characters play out their lives. They are the usual collection – a mixed bunch of misfits whose casual acquaintance in normal circumstances brings them close together when their inner landscapes become an outer reality. We are shown brief, bright glimpses, like the painful glancing reflections of sunlight from a mirrored surface. And if we dare to approach that mirror, we will see something of ourselves.
There are moments in the book when you can wish a tighter editorial control had been exercised. Some descriptions fail because the language gets in the way – there are only so many time you can use ‘river bed’ in a paragraph before it becomes obtrusive. On the whole, however, the writing shimmers like heat from a baked landscape, offering glimpses and mirages, distortions of a reality that show truths with an unrelenting harshness.
It is also a poetic work. The images and themes are displayed and developed with a concentrated intensity that prefigures the direction Ballard takes with some of his middle period work. Whilst it would not work as a poem, it does show what a poetic sensibility can bring to prose. It certainly makes me look forward to the next book in this chronological re-read of Ballard’s work.
J.G. Ballard is best-known, perhaps, for his autobiographical non-genre novel Empire of the Sun. While he has written other non-genre works, the bulk of his writing is science fictional-more or less. Ballard is a writer who defies easy categorization: even his most speculative books can't be fitted neatly with a genre label, and his non-genre works all contain fantastical and speculative elements.
The Drowned World (brought back into print by Millenium's SF Masterworks line) was Ballard's first major published novel. For Ballard enthusiasts, it's a fascinating read, for it prefigures many of the themes that pervade his subsequent books: planetary/ecological disaster, entropy, the devolution of human nature, a preoccupation with the roots of violence. For those who aren't familiar with Ballard, it's a good introduction-more accessible and less transgressive than some of his later work, yet full of the arresting surrealism and hallucinatory brilliance of language that are hallmarks of his writing.
The Drowned World posits (presciently, as it turns out) that the world has been overwhelmed by a catastrophic greenhouse effect. It differs from our own impending disaster in that it's natural rather than man-made. In Ballard's scenario, violent solar storms have depleted the outer layers of Earth's ionosphere; as these vanish, temperature and solar radiation begin to climb, melting the polar ice-caps. This enormous outflow of water carries with it tons of topsoil, damming up the oceans and entirely changing the contours of the continents, drowning some parts of the world and landlocking others. At the same time, the increased radiation produces freak mutations in Earth's flora and fauna, initiating a new biological era reminiscent of the Triassic period, in which reptiles and giant tropical plants were the dominant forms of life.
The harsh environment and a decline in mammalian fertility have drastically reduced the world's human population. Still, life goes on, including survey expeditions sent out to map inundated areas for possible reclamation. The novel focuses on one of these expeditions, which for several years has been exploring the series of giant lagoons that used to be Europe. The expedition's personnel have been at it so long that the activity has ceased to mean very much; daily, they sink deeper into lassitude and indifference. Also, some of them have begun having strange dreams, of a primeval swamp dominated by a huge burning sun that pulses to the rhythm of their own heartbeats.
These dreams, it turns out, aren't random occurrences or signs of stress, but the first warning of a much deeper process. Human beings, responding to stimuli embedded in their genetic makeup billions of years earlier, are beginning to devolve. The dreams aren't dreams at all, but memories of the primeval ooze from which life first emerged. As the Earth is moving back through geophysical time, the dreamers are moving back through "archaeopsychic" time, recapitulating in reverse each of the stages of human evolution. Is this an odyssey toward a new Garden of Eden? Or does it presage the extinction of humankind?
In some ways, The Drowned World is not a very satisfactory novel. It's episodic and rather slow, and its various parts don't always seem to mesh. Starting as a biological mystery, it veers suddenly into a bizarre Heart of Darkness scenario, complete with a mad white hunter and his hordes of native soldiers, and then returns with equal abruptness to the speculative concerns of the beginning. Too, Ballard is more concerned with setting and atmosphere than with character and verisimilitude. The protagonist, Kerans, is a cipher; many of the other characters are the merest sketches. The logistical issues that most speculative fiction writers toil over-where the expedition gets food, for instance, or how it purifies water-are never addressed.
Yet Ballard's vision of planetary and psychic change, as well as his brilliant descriptions of the altered earth, possess a surreal consistency that lifts The Drowned World beyond its structural peculiarities, making it a work of real power. One can feel the heat, see the jungles spilling over the roofs of the inundated hotels and apartment buildings, hear the screams of the iguanas and the giant bats. These oppressive, hypnotic images have the solidity of something very deeply conceived; they seize the reader's imagination in the same way that the devolutionary dreams seize the psyches of the book's characters. Perhaps it's no accident that these characters and their struggles seem shadowy by comparison to the vivid landscape in which they move. This is part of Ballard's message: humankind is impermanent, but time and nature endure.
ZATOPIONY ŚWIAT to debiut powieściowy Ballarda. Ta książka, wydana po raz pierwszy w 1962 roku, zdobyta z miejsca uznanie krytyki i czytelników. Stanowi ona pierwsze ogniwo ballardowskiej wizji świata, rozwijanej w późniejszych utworach. Wizja ta nie napawa optymizmem. Bohaterowie Ballarda nie mają złudzeń co do przyszłości. Po latach walki o zachowanie dawnego stylu życia, rezygnują, postanawiają przystosować się do nowych warunków, choćby miało to oznaczać dla nich nieuchronną zagładę. Trudno zgodzić się z tego typu postawą, ale nie można jej negować, bowiem świat opisany w powieści Ballarda może stać się niedługo naszą rzeczywistością.
There’s something wrong with Estrella Del Mar, the lazy, sun-drenched retirement haven on Spain’s Costa Del Sol. Lately this sleepy hamlet, home to hordes of well-heeled, well-fattened British and French expatriates, has come alive with activity and culture; the previously passive, isolated residents have begun staging boat races, tennis competitions, revivals of Harold Pinter plays, and lavish parties. At night the once vacant streets are now teeming with activity, bars and cafes packed with revelers, the sidewalks crowded with people en route from one event to the next.
Outward appearances suggest the wholesale adoption of a new ethos of high-spirited, well-controlled collective exuberance. But there’s the matter of the fire: The house and household of an aged, wealthy industrialist has gone up in flames, claiming five lives, while virtually the entire town stood and watched. There’s the matter of the petty crime, the burglaries, muggings, and auto thefts which have begun to nibble away at the edges of Estrella Del Mar’s security despite the guardhouses and surveillance cameras. There’s the matter of the new, flourishing trade in drugs and pornography. And there’s the matter of Frank Prentice, who sits in Marbella jail awaiting trial for arson and five counts of murder, and who, despite being clearly innocent, has happily confessed.
It is up to Charles Prentice, Frank’s brother, to peel away the onionlike layers of denial and deceit which hide the rather ugly truth about this seaside idyll, its residents, and the horrific crime which brought him here. But as is usually the case in a J.G. Ballard book, the truth comes with a price tag attached, and likely without any easing of discomfort for his principal characters.
Cocaine Nights marks a partial return on Ballard’s part to the provocative, highly-successful mid-career methodology employed in novels such as Crash and High Rise: after establishing himself as a science fiction guru in the 1960s, Ballard stylistically shifted gears towards an unnerving, futuristic variant on social realism in the 1970s. Both Crash and High Rise were what-if novels, posing questions as to what the likely results would be if our collective fascination with such things as speed, violence, status, power, and sex were carried just a little bit further: How insane, how brutal could our world become if we really cut loose?
Cocaine Nights asks a question better suited to the ’90s, the age of gated communities and infrared home security systems: Does absolute security guarantee isolation and cultural death? Conversely, is a measure of crime an essential ingredient in a vibrant, living, properly functioning social system? Is it true, as a character asserts, that “Crime and creativity go together, always have done,” and that “total security is a disease of deprivation”? Suffice to say that the answers presented in Nights will be anathema to moral absolutists; the world of Ballard’s fiction, like life in the hyperkinetic, relativistic 1990s, abounds with uncomfortable grey areas.
On the surface, Cocaine Nights is a whodunit and a race against time, but as it proceeds – and as preconceived conceptions of good and evil begin to dissolve – it evolves into a thoughtful, faintly frightening look at under-examined aspects of 1990s western society. As is his wont, Ballard confronts his readers with some faintly outlandish hypotheses unlikely to be embraced by many, but which nonetheless serve to provoke both thought and a bit of paranoia; it’s a method that Ballard has developed and refined on his own, and as usual, it propels his novel along marvellously.
Cocaine Nights doesn’t have either the broad sweep or brute impact of the landmark Crash, but it retains enough social relevance and low-key creepiness to more than satisfy Ballardphiles. As is often the case in Ballard’s alternate reality, it’s a given that his most appealing, human characters turn out to be the most twisted, and that even the most normal of events turn out to be governed by a perverse, malformed logic; that this logic turns out to be grounded in sound sociological and psychological principles is its most horrific feature.
David B. Livingstone
The opening sequence of J.G. Ballard's The Crystal World, in which Dr. Edward Sanders begins his journey through Cameroon to visit his friends, Max and Elizabeth Clair, is reminiscent of Graham Greene's Journey Without Maps or the film "The African Queen." Ballard does a wonderful job of portraying a Cameroon which is still inhabited by a relatively large number of European colonizers, although his characters have a tendency to be more altruistic. Sanders runs a leper colony while the Clairs have set up a clinic in the interior of Cameroon.
The characters who aren't altruistic are somewhat shady. Sanders gets involved with the gun-toting Ventress while still on the first leg of his journey and later meets the mine-owner, Thorensen. Although Sanders talks with each man individually, neither really reveal anything of this history, although it becomes clear that their destinies are tied to each other. Similarly, Father Balthus, a priest who is questioning his beliefs, is seen more as a shadowy figure than as an individual. Part of this shadiness is Sanders apparent inability to firmly connect with any of the characters he comes into contact with, including Louise Peret, the American journalist with whom he has an affair, and the Clairs, who are such good friends he will brave the rigors of travel to see them.
As the first leg of his journey ends, Sanders begins to suspect that all is not right at Mont Royal, where the Clairs have their clinic. During his brief stay in Port Matarre, Sanders sees some exquisite crystal work which seems to have come from the interior, near Mont Royal. The appearance in the harbor of a man whose body has been crystalized confirms that something strange is going on and Sanders, along with Louise, begin their journey to Mont Royal, he to see his friends, she to find out what happened to her colleagues.
The second part of the novel takes place once Sanders has arrived in Mont Royal. By now he knows the secret, that the jungle is turning everything in it to crystal. This change effects organic and inorganic objects equally, and a thin crystaline shell covers the river. Neither Sanders nor Ballard seem to be particularly interested in what is causing the crystalization, although Ballard does create an esoteric explanation which does not seem particularly likely.
Although Sanders is the thread that ties everyone's stories together in Mont Royal, he actually seems to have little sustained interaction with any of the other characters. Instead, he spends enough time with each of them to heighten the air of mystery about them without shedding any light on their histories, motives or the strange occurences in the jungle. It is of note that the most interesting character Sanders deals with, who gives him the most information, is one of the most minor characters in the novel, Kwanga.
While Ballard manages to evoke the setting of colonial Africa, his story and the characters are not particularly compelling. The Crystal World is definitely a novel written in the 1960s, and although the drug culture is not explicit in the novel, the book does have an hallucinatory quality which evokes the use of drugs. If the reader is looking for plot or character, The Crystal World falls short. If the goal is to find evocative prose and a strong sense of locale, then The Crystal World is a novel to look for.
Steven H Silver
The Wind From Nowhere (1961) is JG Ballard’s first novel, not that you’d know it from official JGB bibliographies, where it’s never mentioned, or in interviews, where Ballard continues to assert that The Drowned World was his first book.
The wind from nowhere has gone back to nowhere.
In a 1975 interview with David Pringle, Ballard says: “I don’t see my fiction as being disaster-oriented, certainly not most of my SF – apart from The Wind from Nowhere which is just a piece of hackwork. The others, which are reasonably serious, are not disaster stories.”
The book does contain some ‘empty symbolism’, and the characters sometimes articulate overlong expositions, all a bit jarring from an author who was to bloom into the master of sparse, laser-sharp, all-killer-no-filler writing.
Still, it *is* Ballard; all the classic archetypes are in place, if a little sketchily (except for the ‘Vaughan’ figure) – the bitch-as-catalyst, especially – and it does have what must be the first truly classic JGB quote, one that ranks with the pearls collected in Vale’s RE/Search book, a quote that both presages future events and qualifies current ones.
A JGB ’soundbite’ as Mr Pringle calls them… On p112 of my Penguin edition, Ballard writes: “Remember, it’s not enough to make history – you’ve got to arrange for someone to record it for you.”
Dr Barbara Rafferty, brytyjska lekarka, zaangażowała się bez reszty w ochronę ginących albatrosów, wybijanych masowo podczas budowy baz wojskowych na Pacyfiku. Udaje się jej zgromadzić fundusze i śmiałków, którzy gotowi są wyruszyć z nią na ocean, aby odbić z rąk Francuzów wysepkę, na której wielkie ptaki zakładają gniazda. Determinacja członków wyprawy i poparcie opinii światowej sprawiają, że kolejny szturm na wyspę kończy się sukcesem. Pojawia się szansa na stworzenie ekologicznego raju w miejscu, które miało stać się francuskim poligonem atomowym. Jednak w czasie budowy rezerwatu wolnego od eksperymentów nuklearnych, turystyki i zanieczyszczeń środowiska ekolodzy-zapaleńcy uświadamiają sobie, że wydarzenia przybierają niespodziewany obrót, a ich przywódca, dr Barbara, ma być może zupełnie inne plany.
This powerful and often terrifying novel, the fruit of J.G. Ballard’s obsession with the motor-car, will shock and disturb many readers. Few products of modern technology excite as much fascination and interest as the automobile, but each year hundreds of thousands of people die in car crashes throughout the world, millions are injured. Yet attempts to regulate the motor-car and reduce this slaughter constantly meet with strong and almost unthinking resistance. Ballard believes that the key to this paradox is to be found in the car crash itself, which contains an image of all our fantasies of speed, power, violence and sexuality. ‘Three years ago, I held an exhibition of crashed cars at the New Arts Laboratory in London,’ he says. ‘People were fascinated by the cars but I was surprised that these damaged vehicles were continually attacked and abused during the month they were on show—watching this, I decided to write Crash.’
The novel opens with the narrator recovering in hospital after a serious car crash in which he has killed the husband of a young woman doctor. In his pain-filled dreams he finds himself dominated by strange sexual fantasies, and he determines to find the real meaning of this horrific experience. When he leaves hospital he revisits the scene of the crash, and meets the woman doctor. During their affair they begin an exploration of the motor-car in all its forms, attending stock-car races, watching test vehicles being crashed, conducting a variety of sexual experiments on London motorways. They meet a violent and aggressive figure called Vaughan, a ‘hoodlum scientist’ who seems determined to die in a car crash with a famous film actress. Terrified of Vaughan, and yet under his spell, the narrator is carried closer to the sinister climax of the novel, a disquieting vision of the future in which sex and technology form a nightmare marriage.
Violent and frightening, but always true to its subject, Crash is above all a cautionary tale, a warning against the brutal, erotic and overlit future that beckons us, ever more powerfully, from the margins of the technological landscape.
The book was filmed by Canadian director David Cronenberg in 1996; the movie Crash provoked fierce debates over censorship and obscenity.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006
A violent novel filled with insidious twists, Kingdom Come follows the exploits of Richard Pearson, a rebellious, unemployed advertising executive, whose father is gunned down by a deranged mental patient in a vast shopping mall outside Heathrow Airport. When the prime suspect is released without charge, Richard’s suspicions are aroused. Investigating the mystery, Richard uncovers at the Metro-Centre mall a neo-fascist world whose charismatic spokesperson is whipping up the masses into a state of unsustainable frenzy. Riots frequently terrorize the complex, immigrant communities are attacked by hooligans, and sports events mushroom into jingoistic political rallies. In this gripping, dystopian tour de force, J.G. Ballard holds up a mirror to suburban mind rot, revealing the darker forces at work beneath the gloss of consumerism and flag-waving patriotism.
Des arbres entièrement cristallisés, des feuilles transformées en joyaux, des oiseaux sculptés dans du quartz, des hommes recouverts de pierres précieuses… et heureux dans la mort…
C’est ce que recèle la forêt de cristal où l’unité du temps et de l’espace sont la signature de chaque feuille et de chaque fleur.
Une « science-fiction » d’une beauté fantastique, qui nous révèle un univers où le temps a une dimension inversée et où la mort semble plus séduisante que la vie.
Au III° millénaire, le Terre n’est plus peuplée que de cinq millions d’habitants. Le Soleil a changé de forme et s’est rapproché de notre planète, entraînant une formidable diminution des terres émergées, envahies désormais par la jungle où des reptiles colossaux ont remplacé les mammifères. Comment survivre dans ces conditions, surtout quand des bandes de pirates recherchent sans relâche les trésors engloutis ?
Un classique de la science-fiction écologique.
'Miracles of Life' opens and closes in Shanghai, the city where J.G.Ballard was born, and where he spent the most of the Second World War interned with his family in a Japanese concentration camp. In the intervening chapters Ballard creates a memoir that is both an enthralling narrative and a detailed examination of the events which would profoundly influence his work. Beginning with his early childhood spent exploring the vibrant surroundings of pre-war Shanghai, Ballard charts the course of his remarkable life from the deprivations and unexpected freedoms of the Lunghua Camp to his return to a Britain physically and psychologically crippled by war. He explores his subsequent involvement in the dramatic social changes of the 1960s, and the adjustments to life following the premature death of his wife. In prose displaying his characteristic precision and eye for detail, Ballard recounts the experiences which would fundamentally shape his writing, while simultaneously providing an striking social analysis of the fragmented post-war Britain that lies behind so many of his novels. 'Miracles of Life' is an utterly captivating account of an extraordinary writer's extraordinary life.
J. G. Ballard is a British writer who has been called a “poet of death.” But Ballard, especially in the early part of his career, also wrote excellent extrapolative science fiction on social themes, and this haunting story is one of his finest.
Here Ballard speaks of the enslavement of the unconscious, of an economic system that forces people to consume against their will through the use of technology. Ballard makes an important assumption-the belief (at least implicitly) that people would not want to consume at high rates if they were not “forced” to do so. In a profound sense, “The Subliminal Man” is a basic critique of the underlying dichotomy that pervades the concept of advertising-that of needs versus wants. We all have basic needs like food, sex, clothing, and shelter. Almost everything else (including the book you are now reading) is wants, often artificially created by the culture in which we live. Think how much more difficult resistance would become if the technology of subliminal advertising were forced upon us. This threat goes beyond the financial difficulties that families would be in. We would also be threatened with dehumanization, for it is the ability to think and chose that separates us from the rest of the animal world.
Ballard’s story also assumes that industry will continue to manufacture products that will easily and quickly wear out, or if this is not the case, then it will find ways to make us dissatisfied with the products we now have. There is little evidence that things will change for the better.
Ballard's genius for imagining exotic places appears again in Vermilion Sands where he creates a fantasy landscape of the future. These stories feature forgotten movie queens and guilt-ridden femmes fatales who exercise their every whim in a culture of unlimited technology.
In 'De Brandende Aarde' wordt de wereld getroffen door een droogtegolf. De ramp is door de mensen zelf veroorzaakt -watervervuiling heeft tot gevolg dat een vliesdun laagje de zeeën afsluit. Langzaam stort de beschaving ineen, als maandenlang, jarenlang de regen uitblijft.
Rivieren drogen op, de zon verhardt en verscheurt de aarde; stof en zand overspoelen het schril-verlichte landschap. Een dode wereld ontstaat, stil en zonder veel verandering alsof de tijd de adem inhoudt.
In de gestalte van dokter Ransom volgen wij de reacties van een mens op deze catastrofe. Zijn innerlijk lijkt te verdorren en hij verandert in een dwalende schaduw van zichzelf. Misschien gaat het ooit weer regenen. Maar in de directe beleving van dood en tijdloosheid maakt dat geen enkel verschil meer.
In de afrikaanse jungle, niet ver van de kust, woekert een verbijsterend kankergezwel. Het tropische regenwoud, altijd een symbool van vruchtbaar leven, vertoont dode plekken.
De dode plekken zijn niet verwekt door ziekte of geweld. Een onvoorstelbare pestilentie heeft de stof zelf aangetast. Het is of tijd en beweging opraken, alsof de klokveer van het heelal afloopt. Gruwelijk van schoonheid is de kanker bovendien. Alles wat erdoor wordt getroffen verandert in
schitterende kristallen. Onwaarschijnlijke juwelen nemen de plaats in van het leven.
Deze onvergetelijke belevenis is het meest fantastische visioen uit Ballards drieluik: na De Brandende Aarde en De Verdronken Aarde is dit zijn laatste apocalyps. En weer volgen we het verhaal in één persoon, dokter Sanders.
De natuurkundige ramp is het toneel waarop zich de geestelijke tragedie voltrekt.
Als de zon zijn evenwicht verliest en onze aarde in een verzengende gloed zet, smelten de poolkappen. Het water stijgt even snel als de temperatuur en de voortwoekerende plantenwereld nestelt zich in tropische jungles op de slibbanken. Tussen de gebouwen van halfverzonken wereldsteden scharrelen reusachtige reptielen in de lagunes. Het is alsof langvervlogen geologische tijdperken zijn teruggekeerd. Een handjevol mensen handhaaft zich
binnen de poolcirkel. Enkelen wagen zich naar buiten en trekken langs de oude woongebieden: zij brengen de nieuwe aarde in kaart en zoeken naar relikwieën. Welmenende officieren van de VN houden zich met het eerste bezig, vol achterhaalde plichtsbetrachting. Piraten en vrijbuiters zoeken naar de achtergelaten kostbaarheden, zoals Strangman en zijn gevolg van krokodillen. Maar als het klimaat de geologische ladder weer afdaalt, kan
ook de menselijke geest niet achterblijven. Oerherinneringen aan de verzengende dagen van de sauriërs en de reusachtige boomvarens ontwaken diep in onze cellen.
Ballard verhaalt ons hoe Robert Kerans met zijn wereld verdrinkt in een verleden, dat heden wordt.
Nu Ballards beroemde surrealistische romans alle zijn gepubliceerd is het tijd voor zijn even sublieme korte verhalen. In deze eerste bundel staan negen nieuwe en verbijsterende bewijzen van Ballards meestertalent, zoals we dat al overvloedig hebben ervaren in zijn driedelige apocalyps. Negen gloedvolle fantasierijke verhalen over exotische situaties, boeiende mensen en hoogstvreemde werelden, ontsproten aan de ongebreidelde verbeelding van een van de luidst bejubelde schrijvers, uitgetekend met de hand van de meester. De ietwat sombere, ingetogen, tot nadenken stemmende en bijzonder originele sfeer van Ballards romans is ook in dit boek aanwezig. Toch onderscheiden alle verhalen zich duidelijk van elkaar naar toon en inhoud: elk werkstuk is een kostbare nieuwe belevenis. Temidden van zijn releverende omgevingen staan in Ballards stralend koud schijnsel centraal: aspekten van de mens - scherp uitgelicht.
The definitive cult, post-modern novel – a shocking blend of violence, transgression and eroticism. When Ballard, our narrator, smashes his car into another and watches a man die in front of him, his sense of sexual possibilities in the world around him becomes detached. As he begins an affair with the dead man's wife, he finds himself drawn with increasing intensity to the mangled impacts of car crashes. Then he encounters Robert Vaughan, a former TV scientist turned nightmare angel of the expressway, who has gathered around him a collection of alienated crash victims and experiments with a series of auto-erotic atrocities, each more sinister than the last. But Vaughan craves the ultimate crash – a head-on collision of blood, semen, engine coolant and iconic celebrity. First published in 1973 Crash remains one of the most shocking novels of the second half of the twentieth century and was made into an equally controversial film by David Cronenberg. Ballard’s autobiography Miracles of Life was published in 2008 and Extreme Metaphors, a collection of interviews with the author, is due out in 2012.