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1. The Complete Stories of J. G.
2. Miracles of Life: Shanghai to
3. Crash
4. The Drought (Paladin Books)
5. Crash: A Novel
6. Millennium People
7. Vermilion Sands
8. Terminal Beach
9. The Crystal World
10. Unlimited Dream Company (Paladin
11. The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated
12. Billenium
13. The burning world (Berkley Medallion
14. Super-Cannes: A Novel
15. The Best Short Stories of J. G.
16. The Kindness of Women: A Novel
17. The Four-Dimensional Nightmare
18. Concrete Island: A Novel
20. Empire of the Sun

1. The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 1199 Pages (2010-11-08)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393339297
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A collection of 98 enthralling and pulse-quickening stories, spanning five decades, venerates the remarkable imagination of J. G. Ballard.With a body of work unparalleled in twentieth-century literature, J. G. Ballard is recognized as one of the greatest and most prophetic writers in the world. With the much-hailed release of The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard, readers now have a means to celebrate the unmatched range and mesmerizing cadences of a literary genius. Whether writing about musical orchids, human cannibalism, or the secret history of World War III, Ballard's Complete Stories evokes the hallucinations of Kafka and Borges in its ability to render modern paranoia and fantastical creations on the page. A Washington Post Best Book of 2009, Boston Globe Best Book, Los Angeles Times Favorite Book, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Short Story Writer EVER
I started reading this volume from the rear... mostley skipping around a bit... but have now completed the last 350 or so pages.

I can say this:even if you threw away the first two thirds of this volume, and merely kept the rest, Mr. Ballard would still be the greatest short story writer of all time.

Better than Poe, better than Kafka, better than anyone else.

His landscape as he matured (the last third of this chronological volume) is not outer space... but INNER space.

Haunting.Poetic.Almost every story pulls you in immediately, then ends by wrenching your heart or punching you in the gut.He affects you.

He certainly affected another reviewer here who spent 30 hours in an airport in ONE DAY.He was certainly in a 'fugue' as Ballard would put it, with time slowing down, slowing, until it eventually --


4-0 out of 5 stars Terrific, but not actually complete
This is a terrific collection of J.G. Ballard stories, and other reviews have covered my thoughts about his writing pretty well.I am posting this essentially as a notice that, in spite of the title of this collection, it is not "complete".Among the missing are (at least that I have noticed) "Plan for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy" and "The Atrocity Exhibition" (I'm not sure how this last one went missing, considering an entire separate collection was named after it).

So it's a great collection, but I'm docking one star in my review for what I consider to be misleading title/description.

4-0 out of 5 stars The content is great, but...
This is a great collection from one of the most interesting writers of fiction ever. J. G. Ballard routinely expressed more original ideas in ten pages than most current popular authors stretch out to a thousand. However, this is the heaviest and most unwieldy book I have ever experienced. Apart, of course, from reference books that one doesn't read for entertainment. The Kindle doesn't work for me.

I love short fiction from the '50s and '60s. I have collected many editions of short stories such as the beautifully bound collections from the New England Science Fiction Association. I also work out regularly and have no problem with massive bricks of books, having waded my way through some of Neal Stephenson's recent output. This edition is seriously heavy. I was unable to hold it in position to read it for any length of time. Carrying it on trains and planes was out of the question. It wouldn't prop open on a table. The pages are flimsy, blow about and crease easily. the binding is too weak for the weight of the book and started failing almost immediately. This is not a high quality edition.

I eventually committed the ultimate sacrilege and cut it into four manageable volumes. I am now able to enjoy the stories, a few of which I read in my youth. Yesterday I was on flights and in airports for over 30 hours. I could not have carried the original hideous brick but two of the smaller volumes were easy to carry.

1-0 out of 5 stars Ballard futures
J.G.Ballard is unsurpassed as the voice of our possible futures. His insights into our inner lives inscribes flesh with meaning.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard
The collection of all of J.G. Ballard's short fiction collection is a compendium of one author's short fictional experiences. The stories span from 1956 to 1996, showing the growth of Ballard; as one reads his stories, one gets the impression that Ballard's craft was born mature. What grew in all these decades was the breath of his fiction's subject matter.

The stories cross genres, mixing speculation, literature, science fiction and fantasy. In presenting the world as readily catastrophic, because of humanity's spirit of adventure, Ballard also sails close to horror and mystery.Yet, as the author intended, all the storiesliterary at heart.Of the 98 stories, there are those that will draw your attention immediately. "Concentration City" imagines a world connected by rapid and vast urban development, an excess where street numbers are topple the millions and city sky rises whose levels can easily exceed three thousand. In "Prima Belladona," characters get the sense of being watched, just as they desire, in some voyeuristic fashion,to watch others. In "Escapement," the world is mysterious; reality blends with fantasy in a way that questions the very meaning of existence.

These stories speak to Ballard's prodigious imagination.

Reviewed by Emmanuel Sigauke ... Read more

2. Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton: An Autobiography
by J. G. Ballard
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2008-04)
list price: US$9.50 -- used & new: US$7.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0007270720
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
'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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars A rich, loving life, in the rearviewmirror
From his childhood in a prisoner camp in Shangai during WWII to his going back to it after a 40 years hiatus (a lovely chapter and a noteworthy description of how memory works), the book is a depiction of how these events influenced his major life decisions and his most famous works.
The book is divided in many chapters, each one an important year in his life telling a.o. the relation with his parents and fellow prisoners while being in the camp, the post-war England in a bourgeois family (and how to get away from it), the wedding, being the loving widow father of three, his interest for surrealism and SF (with a strong foot in the present), his relation with other writers (Kingsley Amis gets the biggest "second role" in the book), the sense of peace while the cancer was taking him away only a few years ago.
A book one would have liked to be longer, and (much) more detailed at times - but then again, the clock was ticking while he was writing it...

4-0 out of 5 stars a Writer's Autobiography
after viewing the film, EMPIRE OF THE SUN once again on DVD, i was sufficiently inspired to read the true life account of the novelist responsible. after just finishing MIRACLES OF LIFE, the first thoughts entering my mind are, heart-felt, sincere, and touching. the most engaging gripping sections of the autobiography were (for me) found at the beginning chapters...his carefree freckless youth spent growing up in pre-war Shanghai and subsequent civilian internment by the Japanese at Lunghua Camp. the descriptions through the haze of time, of the International Settlement, social life amongst the Brit and other foreign ex-pats, his formative years as a young growing curious teenager in a Japanese Civilian internment camp, and the ending of WW2 in occupied China, were perhaps the crux of his autobio...essentially an unique life experience that determined his future direction and mind set. of mild interest were the follow-up chapters of adjusting to a drab post-war Britain still under rationing (not only food...but optimistic hope)...but unfortunately his narrative of his adult years dissolves into a personal aesthetic exposition of literature cum cinema cum modern art, all tinged with the political upheavals of post-50's decades, and includes a rather pedestrian marriage with single parenthood after the death of his spouse. for those wishing a first hand account (albeit european eyes) glimpse into pre-war Shanghai...this is an invaluable resource. the concluding chapter of his return to childhood Shanghai (after four decades)...now a post-Maoist New Order metropolitian city....was much too short, not as dramatic as expected and proof that 'you can't ever go home again'.

5-0 out of 5 stars Psycho-SF and Change
J.G. Ballard's candid autobiography impresses through its hallucinatory evocation of the human (war, social, psychological) scenery, the unfolding of the deep sources and motivations of his authorship and the emotions in his life as a family man.

Human scenery
As a young boy in Shanghai, J. G. Ballard was unsettled by the deep social differences between the wealthy foreign bourgeoisie and the extreme poverty of the local population with `orphans left to starve in doorways'.
The picture became even grimmer when the Japanese invaded China and war atrocities (clubbing to death) became nearly an everyday street scene. `Starving families sat around the gates, the women wailing and holding up their skeletal children.'
On his return to England after the war, he was confronted with the English class system, `an instrument of political control'. For the higher classes `change was the enemy of everything they believed in.' Meanwhile, the living standard of the working class was dreadful: `how bleakly they lived, how poorly paid, educated, housed and fed ... a vast exploited workforce, not much better off than the industrial workers in Shanghai.'
Studying in Cambridge he saw that for the inmates `heterosexuality was a curious choice.'

His family life
At the beginning of the 20th century, `children were an appendage to parents, somewhere between the servants and an obedient Labrador' and `childhood was a gamble with disease and early death.' To the contrary, J.G. Ballard was a father and a mother for his children after the early death of his wife.

His medical studies in Cambridge (dissection) taught him `that though death was the end, the human imagination and the human spirit could triumph over our own dissolution.'
As an editor of a scientific magazine `Chemistry and Industry', he read at first hand reports on new discoveries in the drug, computer and nuclear weapons industries.
He saw the originality and vitality of Science Fiction, which he wanted to `interiorize' by `looking for the pathology that underlay the consumer society, the TV landscape and the nuclear arms race.' For him, writers of so-called serious fiction wrote first and foremost about themselves.
Other deep influences were Freud and the surrealists, who showed him a more real and meaningful world.
As a writer he considered himself a lifelong outsider and maverick, devoted to predicting and provoking change.

Themes and vision on mankind
Against all these backgrounds, J.G. Ballard saw perspicaciously that `human beings have far darker imaginations' than normally accepted. Human beings are often irrational and dangerous.' Mankind is ruled by reason and self-interest only when it suits us.
Fundamentally, his fiction `is the dissection of a deep pathology, witnessed in Shanghai and expressed in the threat of nuclear war and the assassination of J.F. Kennedy.'

The result of all these unsettling confrontations and psycho-pathological insights are masterpieces like `Empire of the Sun' or disturbing provocative nightmares of auto-destruction like `Crash'.

This book is a must read for all amateurs of English and world literature and or the admirers of J. G. Ballard's iconoclastic prose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant and beautifully written autobiography
Quite simply, this was a joy to read.

Ballard tells of his childhood in Shanghai, internment there under the Japanese, his university years in England, right through to his writing career and the joys and tragedies he's experienced as a father and husband, and his love of family life.

What makes this book appealing is that it's not only well written and direct, but also that Ballard tells his story with an honesty and poignancy that is so rare in many autobiographies today.

This isn't about Ballard the writer, but about the circumstances and events that shaped and formed his personal values and beliefs.

You don't have to have read Ballard's fiction to enjoy this book either (although his Shanghai reminisces provide a fascinating insight into Empire of the Sun, the novel based on his internment experiences).

What stands out above all else is his enjoyment of childhood and subsequent selfless devotion and enjoyment of family through all the joys and tragedy he experienced.

His life affirming views on childhood, fatherhood, and single parenthood set this book apart from those hundreds of other autobiographies available that only tell of how individuals found (or lost) their fame or fortune. ... Read more

3. Crash
by Dawn Ades, Will Self, J. G. Ballard
Hardcover: 202 Pages (2010-03)
-- used & new: US$134.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1935263072
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4. The Drought (Paladin Books)
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 240 Pages (2002-04-02)
list price: US$14.45 -- used & new: US$6.31
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0586089969
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The world is threatened by dramatic climate change in this highly acclaimed and influential novel, one of the most important early works by the bestselling author of 'Cocaine Nights' and 'Super-Cannes'.Water. Man's most precious commodity is a luxury of the past. Radioactive waste from years of industrial dumping has caused the sea to form a protective skin strong enough to devastate the Earth it once sustained. And while the remorseless sun beats down on the dying land, civilisation itself begins to crack. Violence erupts and insanity reigns as the remnants of mankind struggle for survival in a worldwide desert of despair. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Timeless; stunner from creation to conclusion
Written in an era witnessing ecological change, the 1960s & 1970s hosted a plethora of excellent novels about this eco-transformation. Included in this repertoire are such classics as Brian Aldiss' two novels Long Afternoon of Earth (1961) and Earthworks (1965), John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up (1972) to name a few. J.G. Ballard's The Drought (1965) is a short but powerful tale of a seemingly temporary drought turning into a decade long struggle of survival on the eastern coast of America.

Ballard is one who took up the challenge to bring science fiction from the pulpy novels to the land of literature, a task which little have achieved before him. Granted, many of the sci-fi masters have created works which have wowed the limited community but the ripples of these works have little effect on the greater literary ocean. With sci-fi's tendency to include more recent cultural changes (stemming from a notion than SF must be modern to sell), Ballard has taken a different route and created his novel in a timeless period devoid of 60s overtones (the sexual revolution, rise in drug culture, anti-war sentiments, etc.). THIS is what many of the authors of the time failed to do and hence have been lost their mediocre novels to the sands of time (some Pohl, much of Silverberg and a few others).

What Ballard has created is simply impressive because of the aforementioned fact but also because he actually has included some luscious language never before seen in sci-fi before his heralded `New Wave of science fiction' came around. Two excepts impinged a rich sensory stimulation: `She moved along at a snail's pace, her tiny booted feet advancing over the cracked sand like timorous mice.' and `His eyes hovered below his swollen forehead like shy dragonflies.' There are other such passages which are equally as descriptive and lush as the latter two. The similes, metaphors and third eye observations by the author are like those never seen before 1965 sci-fi.

The story itself invites the reader to explore the community of Hamilton at the end of a summer drought where the river and lake has nearly dried up; the population has fled to the oceanic coast and the remaining citizens dealing with their own inner demons. Castor has remained behind to coddle his mementos and look after his loose alliances with brachycephalic-skulled sidekick, a feral river-touring boy and the increasingly rouge-like town minister. Later in part two, the story jumps forward ten years where we find the drought still in situ; the ocean has receded, replaced by miles of salty earth. Communities dotted along the coast cope by herding tide pools of water and herring back to their camps consisting of restructured heaps of automobiles. When worse comes to worse, the hope arises that there may actually be water a hundred miles back inland, which is where part three begins and where you may find yourself at the mercy of a truly talented author.

5-0 out of 5 stars The book that got me reading
This is a frightening world so close to our own. A world where one small mistake leads to a world wide drought. A world where communities, lives and loves fall apart. This was the first book that moved me, and I can stillsmell the salt of those drying oceans. This is Ballard at his best.

5-0 out of 5 stars The metaphors of the Sun
The Drought is another apocalyptic novel by futurist author J.G.Ballard.In narrative as spare and dry as the expanding deserts he envisions, Ballard describes an earthwide ecological catastrophe when industrialpollution causes a breakdown of the water cycle.Man and planet parchtogether. This disruption of the elements is accompanied by bizarredisturbances of the human landscape; old friendships fail while oldenmities take sinister new courses; teams of "fishermen", theirboats stranded in the dust of former harbors, cast their nets for a new,easier prey.Idiots become prophet kings in this redefined world. Whilenot as vividly drawn as some of Ballard's other works, The Drought is anexpertly written book; full of cryptic symbology, poetic flashes,casualviolence and "Ballardian" prose.Another five star effort bythis under appreciated writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars A bizarre story by a writer so very few Americans know of.
The world dies. Ballard ends it with a flood in Drowned World, with wind in Wind from Nowhere and so on. In this book it is a drought. Think for yourself how you would write it. In a few paragraphs Ballard sucks you into his version, peopled with characters strange and as unbelievable as the premise.I know the exact location to shoot the movie of this, and have always cherished a secret dream that one day I'd help make that movie. Now comes Crash - and now millions of otherwise literary Americans will come to know some of JGB's work and some lucky soul with cash will buy the option to my dream. Ah well, the greater good is that JGB may become recognized at last as one of the finest minds in SF, a creator of worlds and a master of psychologies. Please read the book, but please leave the movie rights for me ... Read more

5. Crash: A Novel
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 224 Pages (2001-10-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312420331
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In this hallucinatory novel, the car provides the hellish tableau in which Vaughan, a "TV scientist" turned "nightmare angel of the highways," experiments with erotic atrocities among auto crash victims, each more sinister than the last. James Ballard, his friend and fellow obsessive, tells the story of this twisted visionary as he careens rapidly toward his own demise in an intentionally orchestrated car crash with Elizabeth Taylor. A classic work of cutting edge fiction, Crash explores the disturbing potentialities of contemporary society's increasing dependence on technology as intermediary in human relations.Amazon.com Review
J. G. Ballard's graphic, violent novel is controversialwherever it is read, even on Amazon.com's own Web page! The book'scharacters are obsessed with automobile accidents and are determined tonarrate the horrors of the car crash as luridly as possible. In thewords of the novel's protagonist, the wounds caused by automobilecollisions are "the keys to a new sexuality born from a perversetechnology." Read this novel and learn why David Cronenberg, who hadpreviously adapted DeadRingers and Naked Lunch for thescreen, fought to turn it into his latest film. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (128)

4-0 out of 5 stars Cars can be very bad for your mental health.
This is my first Ballard book. I was told Ballard was anti-tech before I read it. First I read it a third of the way through and than glanced at the rest. I read many of those reviews here and then read it again, speeding through it in a calculated fashion. Then i saw the movie. Crash was anti-tech, but it was really saying that there are two types of people in this modern world: those who are crazy and those who are going to be crazy or want to be crazy. So the story line is people mystified/fascinated by cars and wrecks and these near death or death experiences heighten the libido. It's about fate and that one minute u r here and the next u r not. It's about isolation. Technology/cars isolate people and make them crazy. The key line in the book to me was when after the wreck the character Ballard said he never felt so alive. So we are all excitement junkies and we really need to relax, slow down, walk, and enjoy the sunshine and the merriment of healthy friendships.

I strongly advise those wanting to tackle Crash to view the movie Crash! 1971 (16 minutes) that is floating around the net. It is narrated by Ballard and he explains the concepts he employed in his novel. Now the book makes a lot of sense.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Review by Dr. Joseph Suglia
"How does it feel / to be driven away from your own steering wheel?"
--Captain Beefheart

"If I can count six steeds,
Is their power not also my own?
I run forward and am a genuine man,
As if I had twenty-four legs."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust I

An obsession, unless derailed, may be infinitely protracted. J.G. Ballard's CRASH (1973) is the record of an endlessly self-perpetuating obsession. Its sole, intense preoccupation is with the point at which ****** and automobile wreck merge: a new form of eroticism that would not be based upon, or governed by love, jealousy, passion, or the causality of reproduction. In a consumerist society in which every form of sexual gymnastic has seemingly been exhausted, the automobile disaster is the one orgasmic event that could rupture the everyday and multiply sexual possibilities; it opens up the possibility of a stylized and formalized, violent sexuality, "divorced from any possible physical expression" (35); it gives birth to new conceptualized sex-acts "abstracted from all feeling," from "carrying any ideas or emotions with which we cared to freight them" (129). But this is not to say that the book's focus is exclusively or primarily sexual. Sexuality in Crash serves as a metaphor that exceeds the dimensions of sex: it stands for the pleasures and experiences of the body mediated by automotive technology.

Crash envisions the becoming-body of technology and the becoming-technological of the body. As the obsessive martyr of automotive sexuality (a sexuality that is inseparable from photography and cinematography--in other words, cinematic scopophilia), Dr. Robert Vaughan, former computer scientist and minor television celebrity, charts out the manner in which the automobile reshapes and instrumentalizes the human body. Listening to police broadcasts on the radio to disclose the locations of accident sites, Vaughan moves breathlessly from one scene of metallic destruction to the next, witnessing the aftermath of careening vehicles that have coupled with one another, hoping to unveil the truth of the body in an age of all-embracing technologization. Vaughan sexually experiments with and within automobiles, both "whole" and "distorted," visualizing and staging infinite permutations of the car-collisions that he witnesses. He compiles an almanac of wounds inflicted by automobile accidents, "the keys to a new sexuality born from a perverse technology" (13). Vaughan, a scientist of automotive eroticism, is attracted to the scars, deformities, and disfigurements of car crash victims. Vaughan maniacally follows every car-crash victim in the novel--particularly the narrator and his wife, Catherine--with camera equipment, photographing them. What interests Vaughan, however, is not the historical existences of these characters, but the relationship between anonymous individuals and automobiles. A visionary prophet and pioneer, he heralds an "autogeddon" in which humanity would be simultaneously destroyed in a global car wreck.

His project is not merely to reach the ultimate pinnacle of erotic excitation, but to envisage the "experience" of his own mortality--an event that would presage the destruction of Western civilization--in a spectacular automobile accident. His single-minded fanaticism impels him to rehearse his own death in collisional union with a limousine transporting Elizabeth Taylor, a death that would jaunt him into a spectacular space in which his body would become pure image. Through his death, Vaughan dreams of derealizing and reincarnating himself by merging with the time and space of the image: the counter-world to all lived engagements which the Situationist philosopher Guy Debord described as "the society of the spectacle." All lived experience in contemporary society, Debord argues, exists only to be transformed into an image. A homogeneous stream of images constitutes a world correlative to our own, an autonomous sphere of "objectivity." Vaughan projects himself into the counter-world of the spectacle in order to remerge in it, mediating his dreams of a violent new sexuality.

Vaughan's gospeller is the narrator, James Ballard, whose car collides with that of a woman, Dr. Helen Remington, with whom he later has a sexual liaison. The car-crash jolts the narrator out of his everyday world and transformatively resexualizes his experience of the world: "This obsession with the sexual possibilities of everything around me had been jerked loose from my mind by the crash" (29). Certainly, the crash has released the possibility of new pleasures through its projection of a futural technologized sexuality (boredom weighs heavily on the existences of the characters). But more to the point, the crash frees the narrator up for a vigorous engagement with his own body as an automobile (he effectively "dates" his car experienced as his body). When Ballard claims, unforgettably, that the "crash was the only real experience" that he "had been through for years" (39), he intends an experience of auto-affection that transcends sexuality in the restricted sense of the word. A "new junction" between his "own body and the automobile" [55] is formed.

By presenting this junction, CRASH invites the reader to think of technology not as an instrument exterior to the body, but as a supplementary extension of human flesh: the hyper-sexuality of the automobile disaster expands the dimensions of the human body and widens the self's spheres of activity. The metaphor of extension, however, is ultimately not adequate to describe this expansion. The human body melds with the vehicle that would carry it along and is reconstituted in the process: the vehicle supersedes the authority of the driver.

The world of CRASH is one in which human beings are not the most important landmarks or points of orientation: "I realized that the human inhabitants of this technological landscape no longer provided its sharpest pointers, its keys to the borderzones of identity" (48). Technology reforms the human body, opening up new chains of erotic signification and new avenues of pleasure; technology reappears as the core of human nature, not as "something" divorced from, and appended to nature. New apertures are formed. New flows and fluids spurt. Now the body is reconceptualized in terms of somatic possibilities, a pathology of never-before-imagined sensations and experiences. One may no longer conceive of the wounds that sprout on the car-crash victim as forms of deformation. After Ballard's car collides with and kills the husband of Dr. Helen Remington, the impact of the collision is defined in Ballard's "wounds, like the contours of a woman's body remembered in the responding pressure of one's own skin for a few hours after a sexual act" (28). The instrument panel impresses itself upon his torso; his body is stamped by the car's metallic sheath. We see that the car-crash marks the human body in an essential way, allowing it to expand in all directions.

[I deleted two paragraphs for the sake of moral decency.]

This is the message that is everywhere implicitly articulated in the novel: The logical consequence of inhabiting a culture dominated by technology is the eroticization of this same culture. As fruits of this culture, traditional morality and the psychopathology that serves it can only represent this eroticism under the rubric of perversion.

Dr. Joseph Suglia

5-0 out of 5 stars At the speed of light, in my car...
Crash is controversial, and Ballard meant it to be, but that should not distract us from noticing that it's incredibly well written. In Crash, people who have survived car crashes deal with their trauma by embracing and sexualizing the very crashes that maimed them (mentally and physically).
Ballard's descriptions of post-traumatic experience ring true. Sexual pleasure is the only thing Jim seems to value, and after his accident he unsurprisingly finds solace in more & more complicated & specific fantasies--he finds in sex the opposite of pain. We are given indications that before his accident, Jim had no human emotional connection beside the shallow consolations of sexual activity. As he recovers, we see (even if he doesn't) how his worldview, full of cold technology and the constant screaming pursuit of pleasure, set the limits of his ability to recover from the emotional and spiritual damage of the accident.

As I moved through Crash, I could feel Jim's superficiality--his desire for sensual escape from reality--inexorably drive him toward Vaughn's messianic fetishism. By obscuring the true existential horrors that should constitute trauma, he is unable to heal in any meaningful way. Vaughn's story ends predictably, and leaves Jim unable to do anything but dwell on it.

3-0 out of 5 stars The erotic delirium of a car crash
`Crash' is an eminent example of J.G. Ballard's literary invention: `psycho science fiction', SF about the human mind and its dark unconscious pulses.

In `Crash' the obvious link between `car and penis', between `speed, status and sex' isturned into a perverse psychopathic obsession linking car crashes and orgasms.
The view that `(the motor-car is) the sexual act's greatest and only true locus' becomes a morbid delirium: `the crash between our two cars was a model of some ultimate and yet undreamt sexual union.'
The book's main character with his body covered by scars and self-inflicted wounds, sees `the sex act as the climax of his own death-collision'.

Half of the book is filled with explicit descriptions of hetero and homo sex gymnastics and profuse semen ejaculations. Today they are not shocking anymore, but rather boring.

J. G. Ballard's statement that car crashes are `almost the only way in which one can now legally take another person's life' is obviously not true. There exists a far more efficient and murderous `legal' means: war.
In this sense, J.G. Ballard's aggressive and menacing prose resembles in many ways the ecstatic and erotic evocations of war scenes by the German author Ernst Jünger, whose skin was also heavily marked by combat scars. Jünger's prose is a pure glorification of the war scene evocating the delirious excitement of being exposed to its deadly dangers: kill or be killed. However, Jünger's novels don't contain the suicidal component.

J. G. Ballard treats rather sympathetically a man with a sick and morbid mind, who uses his own cars as suicide bombs and those of his victims as coffins, and all that for the sole purpose of having the ultimate delirious erotic sensation.
I prefer by far the author's treatment of the same car crash subject in `Concrete Island'.

Only for the aficionados.

3-0 out of 5 stars GOVT490-Crash Review-GA
Since I've never read a novel by Ballard before, I have no way of measuring it against any of his other books. Needless to say, Crash by J. G. Ballard is a disturbing novel with a bleak vision of modern life and a fascinating take on the relation between man and technology by means of exploring the eroticism of the automobile.

Ballard writes explicitly about the world of individuals who get off on car crashes, and sexual acts involving, or taking place, in automobiles.The backdrop of the novel is Shepperton on the outskirts of London.The characters, including the protagonist, Ballard, become increasingly obsessed with the violent sexuality of car crashes.The interaction in which car and body leave their marks on each other is narrated as luridly as possible.

A great deal of this book centers almost exclusively on esoteric automobile components and body parts.It is not a pleasurable read, extremely challenging, not just because of the graphic sex and violence, but also due to the clinical language Ballard uses to disengage the reader from the characters and their actions.The injuries are distant, the sex is robotic, and the descriptive phraseology repetitive, such as "mucus" and "chromium".

Ballard definitely takes you on the exhilarating journey that explores sexual fetishisms connected to the car, and if he's aim was to unsettle people, he succeeded quite well.The book describes the relationship between a number of individuals where technology mixed with sexual desire and release can bring like minded people together. The reader experiences the alienation and emptiness that is at the heart of the story, which by no means would be considered erotic.The lives depicted within the pages depend on more and more extreme highs and drugs to keep the sexual tension going.Nowhere does love figure in this universe of motorways, airports, roundabouts and 20th century technology.Simply put, the book is about the dehumanization and depersonalization of the society and the glorification of the machine.

This book is not for the faint of heart or for those who are offended by explicit sex scenes. Worth a read, but only ONCE. ... Read more

6. Millennium People
by J. G. Ballard
 Hardcover: 288 Pages (2011-07-05)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 039308177X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Violent rebellion comes to London's middle classes in the extraordinary new novel from the author of 'Cocaine Nights' and 'Super-Cannes'.When a bomb goes off at Heathrow it looks like just another random act of violence to psychologist David Markham. But then he discovers that his ex-wife Laura is among the victims. Acting on police suspicions, he starts to investigate London's fringe protest movements, falling in with a shadowy group based in the comfortable Thameside estate of Chelsea Marina.Led by a charismatic doctor, the group aims to rouse the docile middle classes to anger and violence, to free them from both the self-imposed burdens of civic responsibility and the trappings of a consumer society -- private schools, foreign nannies, health insurance and overpriced housing.Markham, seeking the truth behind Laura's death, is swept up in a campaign that spirals rapidly out of control. Every certainty in his life is questioned as the cornerstones of middle England become targets and growing panic grips the capital! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars The middle classes are revolting
the late J.G. Ballard is a sort of Don Delillo of Britain. A cultural anthropologist he expertly connects up the loose wires that lie beneath our troubled modern psyches.

The premise of this novel is that a previously docile group of educated middle class professionals living in Chelsea Marina (loosely based on Fulham), rise up against their bonds of civic duties and parking restrictions and launch into a violent protest - ripping up their parking tickets, targeting totems of cultured England such as the National Film Theatre and the National Gallery, burning their Volvos and seeking self imposed exile in their Cotswold dachas.

Sub plots intersect wildly in this book - a terrorist bomb threat at Heathrow Airport, the murder of an innocent TV presenter (based on the Jill Dando case) and a curious psychiatrist living in smug bourgeoise St John's Wood. But the plot is not the most interesting thing about this novel - it is Ballard's always fascinating reaction to modern life. From his childhood in the violence and anarchy of wartime Shanghai, Ballard has never accepted the mundane as normal. He comicly and plausibly portrays a picture of the last sober bastions of modern society ripping free from the moorings that hold them down.

Cheered on all the way by his great champion and friend Will Self who plasters plaudits all over my paperback editition, Ballard makes merry fun at the expense of middle class foibles. It is not fiction which offers any solutions to the modern malaise of boredom interspersed with random acts of violence, but it is an excellent diagnosis of our bizzare, bland times, and a novel which makes you think. Can't ask for much more than that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect novel!
I want to make a short review: This is one the greatest novels ever! There is an action, there is a vision, and there is a wisdom within those beautiful sentences that I want to memorize, like: "The world had provoked her, and irrational acts were the only way to defuse its threat," or: "We think we believe in God but we're terrified by the mysteries of life and death," or: "You don't realize it, David, but you're the apostle of a new kind of alienation," etc. This novel is like a good and strong sex: tasty, pleasurable, dangerous, fulfilling. Great study of revolution and violence in society. Read it, read it, read it!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Middle class fight club
It's about revolution of the Chardonnay and Starbucks set. Will you participate? Having read quite a bit of J. G. Ballard's earlier science fiction books, this is quite a change. I felt this work was close to Crash in underlying needs of the protagonists, but without the cars. Every sentence drips with reference and detail to some other work, giving the book more meaning that just a puff piece. I think William Gibson's Spook Country comes close to the same style, but whereas Gibson's work seemed a bit contrived, Ballard's prose is more fluid. Where Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club is about a quarter life crisis, Millennium People is Edward Norton having a mid-life crisis. It would be nice to have the middle class collectively decide not to participate any more in society (what would I do?) and this book is an interesting analogy of how it might happen.

But there's a darker side to the story with the death of the main character's wife Laura at Heathrow at the beginning of the book. I was never quite sure of David Markham's reasons for continuing the new proletariat struggle, maybe it was a sense of loss, not of his wife but of his meaning within the framework of his society. His new wife's on again and off again disability is an interesting reflection of the needs people have, and how we respond to those needs. But I felt Markham's character for a professional psychologist was a little too detached. When he does get angry, I just can't feel find any depth that he really is angry.

Overall, it was a good book. I got through it quite quickly. it draws you along because you want to know more about the Heathrow bombing, and the apparent randomness of it. Because why have a planned revolution?

5-0 out of 5 stars Forget Foucalt and Baudrillard: Read Ballard
If you have already read "High Rise" or "Running Wild" you will easily guess the course of events in J.G. Ballard's "Millenium People:" a seemingly docile and idyllic community of educated professionals willingly regresses from the neurotic to the primitive, revealing itself capable of committing the most abject and perverse of atrocities. True, those of you familiar with Ballard's work will find little novelty here at the level of plot. What makes Ballard such a compelling author, one that we most urgently need to read, is his propensity for cultural anthropology. Ballard has always been more of a psychologist than a poet, a gifted diagnostician who is able to discern society's ailments, to outline and lucidly articulate the symptoms so that, if we so desire, we may find a cure.

This is not to say that "Millennium People" is not literary or poetic; indeed, this book is at once less vulgar than many of his early novels, and more eloquent, with few digressions and superb attention to detail, especially with regard to his characters' psychological eccentricities and nuances. Still, this book's greatest appeal lies in its cultural, psychological, and philosophical insights. For example...

On Travel: "All these trips? Let's face it, they're just a delusion. Air travel, the whole Heathrow thing, it's a collective flight from reality. People walk up to the check-ins and for once in their lives they know where they're going. Poor sods, it's printed on their tickets."

On Hollywood: "Hollywood flicks are fun, if your idea of a good time is a humburger and a milk shake. America invented the movies so it would never need to grow up. We [Brits] have angst, depression and middle-aged regret. They have Hollywood."

On Police: "Remember, the police are neutral--they hate everybody. Being law-abiding has nothing to do with being a good citizen. It means not bothering the police."

On Academia: "There's too much jargon around--'voyeurism and the male gaze', 'castration anxieties', Marxist theory-speak swallowing its own tail."

Most of these reflections appear within the first fifty or so pages of the book, which is rich with jargon-free commentary of this sort. And this puts Ballard in a curious position: thematically, while ostensibly the book about terrorism, most of the arguments are commonplace in postmodern theory, to the extent that when one reads--"Look at the world around you, David. What do you see? An endless theme park, with everything turned into entertainment. Science, politics, education - they're so many fairground rides"--one has the uncanny feeling of rereading Jean Baudrillard's essay on simulation and simulacra. Later, when one hears--"Remember, David, the middle class have to be kept under control. They understand that, and police themselves. Not with guns and gulags, but with social codes. The right way to have sex, treat your wife, flirt at tennis parties or start an affair. There are unspoken rules we all have to learn"--one might as well be reading Michel Foucault. Various other characters' "flights from the real" call to mind Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Zizek. That said, while Ballard is often considered postmodernist, stylistically (but also in terms of content) he might be the last modernist writer left. Not only are his books conventionally structured, but they are replete with Freudian psychology and dialogues that could easily be found in any novel by Albert Camus or Jean-Paul Sartre, among others.

In fact, one leitmotif of "Millennium People" is the belief (of some characters) that "The social conventions that tied people to their cautious and sensible lives had to be leared away." This need to shock people out of their sheltered bourgeois illusions becomes one of the primary motives of the terrorists, and seems to fulfill their own psychological need. Terrorism, we are told, "isn't a search for nothingness. It's a search for meaning. Blow up the Stock Exchange and your're rejecting global capitalism. Bomb the Ministry of Defensce and you're protesting against war. You don't even need to hand out the leaflets. But a truly pointless act of violence, shooting at random into a crowd, grips our attention for months. The absence of a rational motive carries a significance of its own."

In essence, random acts of violence, according to Ballard, don't destroy meaning, they create it, filling in the void left by the death of God and the failure of science. One of the terrorists tells us: "The gods have died, and we distrust our dreams. We emerge from the void, stare back at it for a short while, and then rejoin the void. A young woman lies dead on her doorstep. A pointless crime, but the world pauses. We listen, and the universe has nothing to say. There's only silence, so we have to speak."

At a psychological level, for Ballard's characters, murder--in the form of random terrorist acts--becomes a rite of passage, and herein lies one of the problems with the book. The characters, both terrorists and victims (all of them adults but, psychologically speaking, sick children) seem to benefit from the events that take place. True, not everyone survives, but those characters who do are rewarded at the end, either materially or spiritually. While this might make for cynical commentary about contemporary western society, it is ambiguous enough to be troubling.

In an interview published together with the British edition of the book Ballard is asked: "What is your greatest fear?" He replies, "Terrorist attacks." It seems odd, then, that we should hear of one of the dead terrorists: "In his despairing and psychopathic way, [his] motives were honourable. He was trying to find meaning in the most meaningless of times, the first of a new kind of desperate man who refuses to bow before the arrogance of existence and the tyranny of space-time. He believed that the most pointless acts could challenge the universe at its own game." While Ballard condemns the man, he cannot help but sympathize with him, and this ambivalence translates into some awkward characterization.

Ballard cannot seem to decide where his sympathies lie, and so in a two-page span the main character first says, "I knew I was waiting for Richard Gould to call me" and then "I knew that I would soon be returning home." Without retelling the whole story, I'll merely say that the two options are so far apart that madness does not quite explain it. Poor editing may.

These few faults notwithstanding, "Millennium People" is blissfully disturbing, rich in thought-provoking discourse, and nothing less than erudite. This is a smart book, one sure to be enjoyed by academics as well as by a philosophically-minded lay audience. Ultimately, what Ballard says of one of his characters might just as easily be said of him: "He was the caring physician on the ward of the world, encouraging and explaining, always ready to sit beside an anxious patient and set out a complex diagnosis in layman's terms." This is precisely why it is so imperative that we continue to read Ballard: forget Foucault and Baudrillard, Ballard is all you need.

4-0 out of 5 stars Still at (or near) the Peak of his Powers
Just about finished with the English version of Millennium People. (Since there's no translation involved, why does an English book like this take so long to come out in America? Does it really take a year to change double quotes to single quotes?) Like his two previous novels, Ballard uses the mystery for a plot device, and while in Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes, he came to the form cold in his old age, but immediately asserted his mastery, in Millennium People, he falters somewhat with his resolution of the mystery.

Moving away from his familiar theme of how the jaded West has to keep ratcheting up how it gets his kicks, he deals with senseless terrorism. Prescient, especially in light of the March 2004 attack on a hotel in Baghdad, which set a new low in terrorism in that it didn't seem to have any victims targeted. That is, Iraqis and Arabs were killed. Its aim seemed simply to create chaos like in Millennium People. While the plot is not Ballard's best, he still imbues his characters with these drop-dead little quirks that illuminates them in one line of text.

Millennium People does little to discredit him in this reviewer's eyes as the leading serious novelist in the English language. A must read for followers, and not a bad start for those new to Ballard. ... Read more

7. Vermilion Sands
by J. G. Ballard
Mass Market Paperback: 208 Pages (1988-08)
list price: US$3.95
Isbn: 0881844225
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A novel set in the fictional landscape of the future, Vermillion Sands. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars The clouds hold too many memories...
The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D opens this impressive collection, and sets the tone for the nine stories of a deserted interior beach, this decadent and decaying Vermilion Sands. No story here is weak or simply filler. Ballard weaves fascinating pseudo-biological origins of singing plants, he writes descriptively and harmoniously of the derelict statues with their elusive sonic cores that screech and whine, half buried in the sand. Ballard has the daily stuff of our lives--clothes, houses, even paintings-- transform themselves in response to unconscious moods and desires, no longer everyday commonplaces but disguised totems, consuming their owners in a strange reversal of the consumer paradise. And he stretches the physics of cloud phenomena in his best story where daredevil flyers control tornadoes. All the places where the imagination wrestles freedom for itself from quotidiana and hard reality, Ballard stocks with jewels and insects and the playthings of a degenerate latter-day aristocracy--film stars mostly, but also visionary artists. Everything that makes the inventory of an Egyptian crypt fascinating to us three millennia later, Ballard re-creates by excavating the archaeological artifacts of the here and now. The only things in his world that seem unchanged are the vices of humanity--vanity, vengeance and cruelty, which are the most durable. Ballard writes in the preface (circa 1970) that this is his vision of the future. There are too too many bloated novels, too few short story collections like this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hyper-realism into surrealism
This collection of short stories has a unifying theme of happening in a very strange desert resort, Vermillion Sands.I read this book maybe twenty years ago, and many of the images have followed through my life since.Enjoyable, going from the level of soap-opera guilty pleasure to the sublime and thought provoking.Ballard is the sober man's Bukowski, laying bare the emotions of the tragedies of everyday life and also putting the extraordinary in the context of normal human experience.My favorite book of his, and one of my favorites overall."Crash" is my next favorite, so if you like this check it out next...

5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent stories
The beachfront, decadent community of Vermilion Sands is the setting for each of the nine wonderful stories in this collection.Vermilion Sands is where the rich are.They vacation, they play, they search for lost loves, and above all, they are horribly narcissistic.

Vermilion Sands is home to the magnificent singing sonic sculptures, tall statues that emit music or atonal sounds when they sense movement.The marvelous sand yachts of the rich, their trained sand rays (giant white manta rays that float through the air), the cloud-sculptors, the living clothes, and the psychotropic houses all live on in the mind long after the stories have been read.Vermilion Sands is a striking setting, one of the more memorable in fiction.

The themes of the stories are fairly similar.Most dwell on unattainable or forsaken love.In "Say Goodbye to the Wind", a former model pines for her departed love.In "Studio 5, the Stars" an aspiring poetess dreams of tragic love.And so it goes in each story.But the stories are fresh and have enough energy to overcome a repetitive theme.

Ballard's futuristic city stands as a monument to the power of a memorable fictional setting.Indeed, Vermilion Sands is as powerful as Jeffrey Thomas's Punktown or Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris to use two recent examples.I'm hoping that Mr. Ballad has seen fit to write more Vermilion Sands stories in the 30+ years since this collection was published.I can only hope that I find more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, brilliant, and inspired fantasy of the future
This magnificent collection of stories was first published in 1971.Although this book frequently shows up on lists of the greatest books of all time in that genre, it is not science fiction so much as a vision of possible forms that the arts could take in the future.It is more futuristic fantasy than science fiction.This volume marked J. G. Ballard's maturation as an author.Before this work, much of his work had been highly inventive but more mainstream science fiction.More specifically, he specialized in novels along the theme "this is the way the world ends."For instance, THE DROWNED WORLD concerns the fate of individuals living in tropical London after the polar ice caps have melted, leaving much of the world underwater.In THE WIND FROM NOWHERE a never-ceasing wind destroys the planet by blowing away all the soil and making agriculture and most other forms of human endeavor impossible.

What makes VERMILLION SANDS is the sheer inventiveness of the world he imagines.It is a cheap, tacky world, not unlike a tawdry Las Vegas or Palm Springs, populated by futuristic artists and cultural has-beens.The art forms that Ballard imagines are brilliant, and feel far more familiar thirty years later than they must have felt to those in the early 1970s.After all, computers and the Internet and digitalization has constantly forced us to rethink the possibilities and forms of art.Ballard describes architecture that responds to the emotional experiences of its inhabitants and imparts some of that feeling back to those entering it.He imagines machines rather than people producing poetry, on long ticker tape like rolls of paper.Plants that sing.Sculptors who work with clouds as their preferred medium.And Ballard manages to meld these strange new arts perfectly into the lives of a rich and fascinating, if also rather sad and tragic, group of characters.

This book is, at the time that I am writing this, out of print.But it has over the years come back in print on a few occasions.I am certain that it will again.It is without question a much more interesting book than many of his that are currently in print, and if there is any justice it will once again be made available.Until then, it is well worth searching out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Take a Mental Vacation to Vermilion Sands
My personal favorite collection of stories from Ballard, and many people I've spoken to also hold a fondness for this group of stories.Although many of the story concepts repeat the theme of the tragic female figure and the tortured man who loves her and gets caught in the dramatic conflict, it is a lush and expansive vision that weaves through the collection.The title refers to a fictional beach resort, a playground of burnt out executives and movie stars at play, or in retreat from the rest of the world.As with most Ballard fiction, you get the distinct impression that these stories are actually taking place somewhere, and perhaps Ballard has just changed the names to protect the decadent.The vivid details of living clothing, cloud sculptors and singing sculptures are so intense, it's a bit of a surprise that Hollywood hasn't adapted some of these stories to the currently CGI movie craze.Then again, like most of what Ballard writes about, that could be coming just around the corner... ... Read more

8. Terminal Beach
by J.G. Ballard
Paperback: 224 Pages (1997-11-20)
list price: US$14.45 -- used & new: US$4.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0575401311
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Terminal Beach is one of Ballard's most brilliant collections of short stories, ranging from the title story's disturbing picture of an abandoned atomic testing island in the Pacific to the shocking Oedipal fantasy of 'The Gioconda of the Twilight Noon'. At the heart of the stories lies the bitter paradox that the extraordinary creative power of man's imagination is matched only by his reckless instinct for destruction. 'One of the few genuine surrealists this country has produced, the possessor of a terrifying and exhilarating imagination - and a national treasure'Guardian ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Bleak, compelling speculations from a master
This collection of Ballard's stories contains some of his earlier stuff - it may have been his first published collection.For someone like me, who has read a few of his books, it is interesting to see how some of the ideas he brings out here got worked on and elaborated in later books.Overall, it is a mixed bag, not as consistent conceptually as some of his other collections.Here are Ballard's lonely, stoic heroes, confronting extreme circumstances that are not always technological in origin.Some of the pieces find them dealing with primitive worlds, or inner demons, or the horrors of contemporary life.Ballard is usually not at his best when describing relationships; he is much more powerful when he focuses on his bleak speculative fictions, and he does this very well in the title story."End-Game" is another good one; a look at a condemned politician from a totalitarian country who tries desperately to win over the thug who is watching over him.

I did at times have to ask myself what was enjoyable about this book.His prose is admirable, for one thing - always very cool and precise, with a powerful vocabulary and detailed descriptions.Below this metallic surface is often something dark and disturbing, a hypothetical scenario of the world falling apart, yet doing so in a way that is fascinating and strangely beautiful.There is a lot of unstated fear lurking in the corners of these stories and their dangerous speculative settings, and yet they can be very interesting places to visit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Luminous Elegy
The title story has a rich and luminous serenity that is both gentle and unsettling. It is very characteristic of Ballard's best work, and serves as a bridge between his earlier science fiction books, and his later surrealistic novels. There is a distinct link to T.S. Eliot..."The Terminal Beach" could be a response to "Burnt Norton." This book is an excellent introduction to one of the great writers of the 20th Century.

5-0 out of 5 stars Geniusat work
This is a collection of short stories by J.G. Ballard, whose surrealistic approach to science fiction reaches its apex in this effort."End Game", a story of executions in the future, leaves the reader not exactly knowing if the imprisoned political leader is about to be executed at its end, but the character development borders on the fabulous.

Also recommended most highly are "Now Comes the Sea", and "Chronopolis", the latter being the story of a society where time measurement is outlawed, and of the outlaw who wants to bring it back.. You will never forget any of these stories.V

Very, very highly recommended.This is a genius at his best.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Sun of the beach
This collection of beautifully strange stories contains some of Ballard's most accessible work.His unique style and surreal imagination are displayed well in, The Terminal Beach, End Game,and The Time Tombs. Though he casts a long shadow, there's really no one else out there likeBallard.I highly recommend this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fairly good collection of stories
Maybe even a 4.5.Not as comprehensive as "The Best Short Stories of...", but it's a good intro to Ballard's work.It gives a first-time reader a good idea of what to expect.Ballard writes sometop-notch stories (The Drowned Giant, Bilennium, Deep End - all includedhere), but in his collections, they always seem to get diluted by thenot-so-greats.Still, the majority of the stories in this book are quitegood; more forward-thinking and original than anything that came out ofthat period.I think the best quality of his stories is that they dealwith societal concerns, and not just sci-fi.Quite an enjoyable book. ... Read more

9. The Crystal World
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 216 Pages (1988-05-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$9.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374520968
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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J. G. Ballard’s fourth novel, which established his reputation as a writer of extraordinary talent and imaginative powers, tells the story of a physician specializing in the treatment of leprosy who is invited to a small outpost in the interior of Africa. Finding the roadways blocked, he takes to the river, and embarks on a frightening journey through a strange petrified forest whose area expands daily, affecting not only the physical environment but also its inhabitants.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars I have not read a novel cover-to-cover in a long time SPOILERS
I usually read non-fiction.The Henry Art Gallery in Seattle featured a multimedia interpretation of this book, so I needed to read it.Many other reviewers have provided good synopses, so I'll get to the point of my review, and questions.

JG Ballard certainly paints in a lot of "Heart of Darkness" to his story.But honestly I am wondering what folks thought about the time-space explanation that Sanders provides in his letter about what is happening to the world, and beyond?I don't fully understand the emotional pull of the jungle to Sanders, vis a vis this event.Sure, he witnessed leprosy victims dancing in a trance-like bliss as they crystallized, but how is this a comfort to Sanders?Because they are not exhibiting external pain anymore?

As one reviewer noted, Ballard's detached description of the slow process of the earth & sun becoming crystallized is quite disturbing and left me wanting more of an answer.I am curious what astrophysical theories were floating around in the 60's...and if they are still relevant...again, this is the first novel I have read in a while so I fret that there are not easy connections between the dark side of man and some strange cosmic event.But that's the beauty of fiction, right?

2-0 out of 5 stars Crisp prose but poor story
Like the jungle slowly being covered in magnificent jewels within the novel, Ballard's dreamy prose and elegant writing style cover a rather banal and uninteresting story that never arrives anywhere. Casually tied to the bones of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, The Crystal World is clearly an early attempt at philosophical introspection by an author whose style would mature much later. The Crystal World's setting is indeed fascinating as a piece of speculative fiction, but not much was done with it except as a background for some thin romance and confused, meandering characters. As noted previously the colonial mindset will also grate on modern PC sensibilities.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mystic crystal revelation
I confess to having mixed feelings about this novel. On the one hand, there is an aspect to it which resonates, in a visionary way, with the dream time. Especially when you consider how the crystalization process derives from variances of temporal phasing. This visionary, mystical aspect of the story is both compelling and disturbing--both beautifully transfixing, and ominous and threatening.

Crystals, in the natural world tell a story of order and high organization. With most natural processes, the order is hidden in Fibonacci sequences and fractals,that, at first glance, appear to be chaotic, but crystals volunteer a material manifestatioin of intersecting geometric planes, without inducement. I think of the Dead Sea, and the artifacts of old covered in glistening crystalized salt; or the salt pillars of Lot's Wife.

And the additional sense of mystery and dread surrounding the river port, and the journey up the river, with all it's resonance to Conrad and 'Heart of Darkness', again, very atmospheric and arresting.

But there really is no plot, to speak of, and the engine that drives the story forward is the mystic revelations of the progagonist, which, apart from their aesthetic considerations, are all very implicit, and not fully realized, or finely detailed. A kind of progressive spiritual elevation is somehow telegraphed as a sort of irrepressible diseased horror. This produces a sense of double binding conflict and contradiction that is both unpleasant and unresolvable. When the protagonist, at last, leaves a perfectly charming companion to head back into the danger zone, it is reminiscient of the end of Ballard's The Drowned World, but it is incomprehensible to the reader who has sustained all of the danger and anxiety of the mysterious crystallization, with little sense of real understanding as to why he is so compelled to do so--only that he must. In the final analysis, for all it's novelty, I was left with a set of ambiguous feelings about the whole prospect, and no real sense of resolution or satisfaction.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ballard's First Major Work
Ballard's "The Crystal World" was published in 1966 and followed several Science Fiction books, his novels "The Wind From Nowhere" and "The Drowned World", and a series of stories - one of which formed the basis for this novel - written at the beginning of his career. Although the theme of "The Crystal World" - the end of the world - picks off from his two earlier novels, Ballard here ups the ante, with a more complex storyline, more effective narrative, and a decidely elevated level of imagination.

Set in equatorial Africa, in a mythical ex-French colony, the novel recounts the impact of an overwhelming and unstoppable natural disaster. Ballard creates his own fantastic science fiction deux ex machine - the crystalization of the jungle - then inexorably documents destruction. Ballard bounces back and forth - not always with aesthetic success - between the wonder of the events and the human response as the jungle changes from organic life forms into a new and startling inorganic creation. The main character Dr. Sanders filters these events through a consciousness gradually drawn deeper and deeper into a romantic search for which he finds less and less validity. Ballard makes comparisons with Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" so deliberately obvious one is forced to accept "The Crystal World" as less a novel modeled after the famous novella as updated commentary on Conrad's ideas. The work never relinquishes a long lineage of apocalyptic Science Fiction stories, including the author's own previous efforts.

In "The Crystal World" Ballard has not yet reached his full maturity as a writer, and some of the character development remains flat. He's quite a ways yet from the author who gave us the remarkable highly personal testimony of "The Empire of the Sun". Yet a close re-reading of "The Crystal World" shows Ballard already working with a keen eye for the extreme contrast between the individual viewpoint and the mass during moments of catastrophic social upheaval. Generally Ballard's descriptions are often deliberately flat and clinical, as might be found in the French new novels of the era. However, Ballard overlays his dispassionate words with sudden glimpses of some of the richest and most ornate prose he would ever attempt, producing striking verbal contrasts in heaped up adjectives and adverbs vying for the most striking colors and tones. These poetic effects of Baroque imagery are all the more vivid when set off against the narrative's simpler prose.

As the novel builds Ballard falls into a ever more generalized storyline, and much of the force of "The Crystal World" is abated in Science Fiction cliches. The limitations of the earlier novels, with their single idea fixee, have not yet been overcome, and what might have been a classic, falls into some of the same problems that afflicted the earlier novels.

Fans of early Ballard will definitely find "The Crystal World", with its engrossing tale and - for Science Fiction - superior writing, an excellent if challenging read. Serious readers may find the book's attempt to maintain its suspenseful dramatic edge suffers from a surfeit of the more banal qualities of Science Fiction writing - tawdry character development that reads more like movie characters than personages formed by a major novelist's imagination, and a too ready tendency to fall back on Tom Swift action lines instead of a more deeply realized series of incidents carrying forward to a tragic catharsis.

I wish I could have believed more fully in Ballard's creation, "The Crystal World". However, I just can't fully accept the fantasy - for me he doesn't sustain the suspense or the magic. Writers have to convince their readers that the world they write about exists and is as palpable as the reader's world, or even more so! Ballard reaches pretty far, but here he seems to fall a bit short.

Having knocked the book around a bit, I must confess "The Crystal World" is a book I have read several times. Ballard's strange story of the crystals has an ineluctable and undefineable fascination only special books achieve. One remembers it when other books are utterly forgotten. Maybe it actually is a classic, though a flawed one.

Owing more than a passing salute toward Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS, J. G. Ballard's THE CRYSTAL WORLD also resembles a more obscure work by one David Lindsay, A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS.Just as in Conrad's masterpiece, Ballard's complicated protagonist Dr. Edward Sanders must venture up a West African coastal river to discover not only his own fate, but the fate of the world.Once a devoted caregiver to lepers in a hospital in Fort Isabelle, Sanders goes to find two friends, Dr. Max Clair and his wife, Sanders' ex-lover and aide-de-camp at the leproserie, the lovely but dark Suzanne, living now at a jungle clinic in a remote outpost far upriver.He has received a strange letter from Suzanne in which she describes the great forest as "glistening like St. Sophia," herself as "becoming excessively Byzantine," and the native peoples as "walk[ing] through the dark forest with crowns of light on their heads."Understandably, Sanders is both intrigued and distressed--and, we soon decipher, still very much in love with Suzanne, or at least his memories of her.

First Dr. Sanders, who appears to us as something considerably less than Burrough-esque but more than a mere clod, is forced to wait in the river station of Port Matarre for someone willing to take him further up the Matarre River to the almost mythical Mont Royal, where the Clairs may be found.Port Matarre is an exceedingly strange, purgatorial place, steeped in shadow, a place where, as Sanders remarks to a traveling priest, "The sun seems unable to make up its mind."Here he meets a young journalist, Louise Peret,who bares more than a passing resemblance to Suzanne Clair, although Louise is lighter of complexion, a somehow brighter version of her "somber twin" Suzanne Clair.This play of contrasts, of light and dark, good and evil, perfection and corruption, is maintained throughtout Ballard's work here.

Sanders does finally locate a willing host to take himself and Louise Peret upriver to Mont Royal.There they find the military has been busy attempting to cordon off huge tracts of the forest in an attempt to slow the creeping transformation of it into a world of bright crystal-like encrustations, beautiful, we are made to understand, even beyond Ballard's brave and incessant attempts to describe.(This same phenomenon is being reported in other parts of the world, notably Miami, FL.)This veritable cancer of crystals proves too malignant for all the men and their science to withstand, and soon Ballard's story itself seems hopelessly trapped inside it.The claustrophobic quality here is palpable and disturbing.In the end, we are confronted with a fantastic vision of Sanders tramping through a jeweled nature, glittering in crystalline petrifaction, bearing a large wooden crucifix encrusted with crystal-solvent gemstones, which he desperately waves around like some mad Christian.Suzanne, having contracted some latent form of leprosy, has been lost to the forest, "frozen like an icon," while two men Sanders can never really know are locked in battle over the fate of a dying woman, until the forest claims them too.

Just as in Lindsay's A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS, Ballard has given us metaphysical allegory dressed up as science fiction.While Ballard's work seems to me more Christian in its manifest accretions than Lindsay's more gnostic, Blakean rendering, still they tell much the same story:The hero's journey through a world of opposites, constantly in flux, always toward something not yet seen, that, once envisioned, proves powerfully seductive, yet noble enough to cause our hero to sacrifice himself or herself to it completely, to dissolve back into that world that was always there but never fully realized until the end.

J. G. Ballard's THE CRYSTAL WORLD is science fiction genre writing about as much as Plato's REPUBLIC is a tableau about table manners.Good writing always transcends genre.(For myself, genre has ceased to exist.There is only good writing, bad writing, and everything in between.)In the end, what is truly remarkable about THE CRYSTAL WORLD is Ballard's deftness to ally ourselves with him on Sanders journey into light and darkness.In very short order, we are swept up, unquestioning the astonishing, deeply disturbing world he creates for us.And that, my friends, is just good writing. ... Read more

10. Unlimited Dream Company (Paladin Books)
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 224 Pages (1990-06-06)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0586089950
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From the author of the Sunday Times bestseller 'Cocaine Nights' comes an acclaimed backlist title -- in which suburban London is transformed into an exotic dreamworld -- now reissued in new cover style.When a light aircraft crashes into the Thames at Shepperton, the young pilot who struggles to the surface minutes later seems to have come back from the dead. Within hours everything in the dormitory suburb is strangely transformed. Vultures invade the rooftops, luxuriant tropical vegetation overruns the quiet avenues, and the local inhabitants are propelled by the young man's urgent visions through ecstatic sexual celebrations towards an apocalyptic climax. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars Are You Kidding Me?
Written from the point of view of a psychotic, this book is a hallucinatory mess. A sick narrator with no grip on reality.Don't look for profound ideas or even a story.This is 70's excessand self-indulgence passed off as something profound.

4-0 out of 5 stars Polymorphous Peversity
This novel is pure surrealism in prose. Blake is a dangerous, fast and loose running kid - falling out with his school masters for raping a sportsfield, failing at a series of jobs, he finally finds transcendence from the sterile bonds of society by stealing a plane and crashing it into the Thames at Shepperton. Believing himself dead, he undergoes a transformation and finds himself melding and soaring with the dormitory suburb of Shepperton (Ballard's hometown). Like some kind of winged messianic creature, he transforms the town into a surreal paradise with vines dripping from suburban street properties, and mysterious tropical plants blooming in the cornices. With his mercurial sperm, he mates with the entire town, flora and fauna alike, both possessing and dominating the climate, treating it as his plaything, leading to an apocalyptic and transcending climax: a complete fusion of the self with nature.

5-0 out of 5 stars why we are made of more than flesh...
I can't agree more that this work captures the true spirit of alchemical transformation and of elemental spiritual forces. A man crashes his plane in a small town and miraculously returns from the threshold of death. His return from the grave transforms him into what can be best described as a pagan god, though that does not even go half of the way towards explaining the story. This book is really about life and freedom, the bondage of civilization and the crude fortress of reality that we have walled ourselves into. It's about morality, the morality of a man made god and the truth of the universe. Does this sound interesting? Get this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly Beautiful
This intensely visual book has the depth and mystery of the 17th Century alchemical works...like them, it is about transformation, and the solidification of the heart's essence, in this case, the desire to fly. Endlessly imaginative and obsessively generous, a glorious torrent of images that is almost an assault...this is one of my favorite books. ... Read more

11. The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Flamingo Modern Classics)
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 192 Pages (2001-05-21)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$7.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0007116861
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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First published in 1970 and widely regarded as a prophetic masterpiece, this is a groundbreaking experimental novel by the acclaimed author of 'Crash' and 'Super-Cannes', who has supplied explanatory notes for this new edition.The irrational, all-pervading violence of the modern world is the subject of this extraordinary tour de force. The central character's dreams are haunted by images of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, dead astronauts and car-crash victims as he traverses the screaming wastes of nervous breakdown. Seeking his sanity, he casts himself in a number of roles: H-bomber pilot, presidential assassin, crash victim, pscyhopath. Finally, through the black, perverse magic of violence he transcends his psychic turmoils to find the key to a bizarre new sexuality.Amazon.com Review
Easily one of the 20th century's most visionary writers,J. G. Ballard still lives far ahead of his time. Called his"prophetic masterpiece" by many, The AtrocityExhibition practically lies outside of any literarytradition. Part science fiction, part eerie historical fiction, partpornography, its characters adhere to no rules of linearity orstability. This reissued edition features an introduction by WilliamS. Burroughs, extensive text commentary by Ballard, and fouradditional stories. Of specific interest are the illustrations byunderground cartoonist and professional medical illustrator PhoebeGloeckner. Her ultrarealistic images of eroticism and destruction addan important dimension to Ballard's text. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Alluring Psycho-Sexual Hell
This predecessor to JG Ballard's epic "Crash," explores many of the themes of that novel, broken up into smaller linked scenes and written in the sterile language of a medical lab report.The scenes depict a near future in which a few characters imagine and enact eroticized "conceptual deaths" that mimic famous disasters (e.g. Mansfield & Dean's auto fatalities) --or idealized fantasy disasters that involve certain archetypal sexual icons (some icons are not inherently or obviously sexual, but are sexualized, as in the case of the U.S. presidents). The characters set up auto disasters that involve themselves andJFK, Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor, Ralph Nader and Ronald Reagan among others. "Sex-deaths" represent the pinnacle of existence in this techno-erotic world. "Patients were encouraged to devise the optimum sex-death of Ronald Reagan."

The main theme running through the stories, which is examined in greater detail in "Crash," is the latent eroticism of the auto disasters, summed up in the close-up photographs of a nude woman whose contorted poses could be either: "Miss Karen Novoty, an intimate of Talbot's, in a series of unusual amatory positions. In fact, it is hard to tell whether the positions are those of Miss Novotny in intercourse or as an auto-crash fatality--to a large extent the difference is now meaningless." The entire work is written in this disassociated, distant, voice, the voice of a technician examining the actions of test subjects, yet participating directly in those experiments and directing their outcomes to fulfill the darkest of sexual desires. These fantasies involve recontextualized media images, for example, scenes from Zapruder's JFK assassination film factor in one of these sex-death scenarios.

This RE/Search edition is large format, includes great illustrations by Phoebe Gloeckner, photographs by Ana Barrado, and introductions by V. Vale/Andrea Juno and Mr. William S. Burroughs himself. The tagline on the back from Burroughs reads: "This book stirs sexual depths untouched by the hardest-core illustrated porn." That says a lot coming from the author of "Naked Lunch." If you like Burroughs (and can handle the subject matter), this is a great introduction to Ballard.

But don't get the wrong idea about this. Call it literature, not porn. Think Henry Miller, Burroughs. Consider it a primer on human sexual behavior, essential reading in a Freud course. It's an exhausting examination of the way we live and the ways technology and modernity have affected our thinking, our desires and our impulses.

Originally published in 1967, it was unprintable. Ballard's own commentary in the margins illuminate the context of the stories and fill in interesting details about the uproar this book caused, including parts being used as agit-prop during the Reagan presidential campaign. It has quite a history. Get a used copy of this book while you still can. It's out of print. Some sellers are calling it "collectable" and selling for $99 while you can still get it from others for around $5.

Auto-erotic is the apt name of one of the sections.

5-0 out of 5 stars geometry of aggression and desire
There was a lot of experimentation in speculative fiction back in the late 60s and early 70s, and many such works do not hold up for present readers. This bizarre experiment by Ballard is a partial exception and will make an impact with those readers patient enough to figure it out. The original text is a non-linear anti-plotline, dripping with obtuse postmodern construction techniques, so experience with slogging your way those types of writing methods will be a plus.Readers who do not expect the experimental writing style herein might find the book either boring or completely incomprehensible. Even Ballard himself has recommended that the book be read out-of-order. With that being said, adventurous readers willing to fight through Ballard's experimentation will find occasionally terrifying and always thought-provoking snippets on modern society's obsessions with sex and violence, plus a running condemnation of the hyperactive and bowdlerized media landscape. (Some academic knowledge of media patterns would be another advantage before reading the book.) Here Ballard also introduces the basic themes that would form the basis of his later and even more bizarre novel "Crash."

The illustrated 1990 edition of this book adds some features that will probably aid in the reader's comprehension. The annotations from Ballard himself are informative, as is the original preface by William S. Burroughs (though you can disregard the worshipful 1990 intro from the editors). While Ballard's non-linear and postmodern construction are showing their age, readers willing to sink their teeth (and minds) into the text will find an atrociously brain-bending experience. It's certainly not for everyone, though. [~doomsdayer520~]

5-0 out of 5 stars Your ticket to utter perversity...

*The Atrocity Exhibition* is a book so radically original in concept and execution it renders itself resistant to practically any attempt to rate it by ordinary standards. Lacking both conventional plot and characterization, bearing a structure closely resembling collage, and a syntax that sometimes seems to slip into a style reminiscent of automatic writing and word association, one might make the case that *Atrocity* is neither novel nor novella, neither entirely fiction nor entirely nonfiction--indeed, *The Atrocity Exhibition* represents a text outside any established genre whatsoever and therefore against what standard can you judge it, except, perhaps, the only relevant one: is it worth reading?

It is.

What you have here, basically, is a sort of literary assemblage loosely radiating around a dense gravitational core of obsessions--cultural, sexual, and psychological representative of the postmodern countdown to the anti-climactic nothing that took the place of the apocalypse we'd all been expecting.

The JFK assassination, the media representation of iconic Hollywood stars, the Vietnam war, the geometric sterility of highways and car parks, and the mythology of the American automobile as a symbol of speed, consumerism, sexuality, and the allure of violent death are some of the structuring themes around which *The Atrocity Exhibition* is built. Fans--or detractors--of Ballard's controversial *Crash* will find much of that later work prefigured here, but *The Atrocity Exhibition* is far more atrocious, far more deliciously tasteless than *Crash*, which, by comparison, now seems almost a "mainstream" novel.

Composed in an often flat, documentary style purposely reminiscent of a scientific paper, which, at times, it ostensibly is, *The Atrocity Exhibition* is one of the more extreme transgressive texts by a well-known author you're likely to read. In great part because Ballard employs real-life celebrities and historical personages as the victims of his x-rated brand of stylized violence and because of the matter-of-fact delivery of even the most outrageous sexual and political theories, the effect of *The Atrocity Exhibition* is in many ways even more shocking than, say, Burroughs's *Naked Lunch.* Ballard's fictional characters move through a surrealistic landscape of constantly shifting, never resolved, but always ominous aura, the borders between sanity and insanity, simulation and reality, fiction and fact open to interpretation. Is Ballard serious? Does he really mean the things he's saying? What's so disturbing is that one has to ask the question at all. There's a certain psychopathic truth to even the most radically insane theories proposed in *The Atrocity Exhibition,* the kind of simulacra of "truth" that is often inextricably wound into the schizophrenic rant of the insane. Is it possible that reality itself can't be rationally explained without recourse to insanity?

In this edition, Ballard has contributed sidebar annotations which are often every bit as thought-provoking as the text itself. Written from a perspective nearly three decades after the initial publication of *Atrocity,* Ballard's notes illuminate much of the circumstances and influences that inspired the text. It's striking how prescient Ballard was about events and trends that would eventually come to pass and how spot-on were his satiric takes on politics, media, war, and sex. *The Atrocity Exhibition* often reads like a prophetic text from an earlier time that eerily describes, even at its blackest, our obscene present--a sort of postmodern "Book of Revelation."

Hardly what one would call an "easy read," *The Atrocity Exhibition* requires attention and patience as well as a taste for experimentation and a connoisseur's palate for perversity. This book offers a feast for such readers, comparable to those super-exclusive restaurants of urban legend that serve Heart of Lion Medallions or Broasted Leg of B-movie Starlet--hard to find establishments, all-but-impossible to get into, certainly not for the hoi-polloi, but well worth the price of admission if nothing else can satisfy your jaded appetite. You've been warned. Here's your invitation to the Exhibition. Enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perversion Exposure
The Atrocity Exhibition is written with the kind of breath of a William S. Burroughs novel; particularly Naked Lunch. In both novels the characters seem to be lost in the labyrinth of their own mind. Whether or not the four male characters of Atrocity Exhibition are in fact living in a drug induced hell remains a mystery.
However what is clear, and believe me there is a lot left unclear in this work, is that the characters are living fractured lives. They are traumatized by events beyond their control. In a desperate attempt to gain some power over themselves, they grasp at one another, tearing apart emotions and using their bodies as a temple for self-actualization. It is difficult to grasp a cohesive narrative structure out of the novel and in a sense it is an anti-novel.
With characters and events that remain unclear, like Elizabeth Taylor and her ambiguous "gill slits." Despite these elements of nonsense this novel remains a kind of testament to how desperate people are to truly have a sense of self.
Once that self is grasped the characters enter some kind of new world where their dreams or fantasies become their reality. It is a kind of egotism where the sexual is not erotic but painful, the kind of pain found in isolation. Here you have to have a sense of methaphors and be able to pick apart the novels short-comings because it does get rather torrid trying to understand a work without empathy.
As the novel goes on I realized that Ballard wrote it in a way that he understands the inner-self so much that all he can do is show how these people experience reality. Without empathy the work becomes a lost testament to how disaffected people have become.

5-0 out of 5 stars brain-terrorism
"The Atrocity Exhibition is the industrial brain-terrorism of a drug fetus and JG Ballard rapes the digital-chimpanzee's naked body in the corpse feti=streaming circuit of the abolition world." - Kenji Siratori, author of Blood Electric ... Read more

12. Billenium
by J. G. Ballard
 Mass Market Paperback: 159 Pages (1962)

Isbn: 0425006670
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Science-Fiction ... Read more

13. The burning world (Berkley Medallion Book)
by J. G Ballard
 Mass Market Paperback: 160 Pages (1964)

Asin: B0007EDC5E
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14. Super-Cannes: A Novel
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 400 Pages (2002-10-04)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$4.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312306091
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Eden-Olympia is more than just a multinational business park, it is a virtual city-state in itself, built for the most elite high-tech industries. Isolated and secure, the residents lack nothing, yet one day, a doctor at the clinic goes on a suicidal shooting spree. Dr. Jane Sinclair is hired as his replacement, and her husband Paul uncovers the dangerous psychological vents that maintain Eden-Olympia’s smoothly-running surface.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

3-0 out of 5 stars The future is now
Remarkably visionary, like all Ballard, but sometimes pedantic and plodding. There are also some timeline and character development weaknesses.Growing up in a "planned community," it is easy to appreciate the potential for a racist underbelly.Ballard takes it one step further.

5-0 out of 5 stars How quiet a violent world
I'm writing this review because I think it's an absolute tragedy that this book has only received an average of 3 stars.

I think this book is a masterpiece.

Ballard draws a wonderful dual picture: on one hand there are the perfectly manicured landscapes and perfect modern architecture of a sprawling campus of new corporate offices--nature has been silenced; on the other hand are the corporate employees whose bestiality wears through or erupts from this sleek surface. Sexual assault, murder, and racist hate crime occur here in such a fashion that their particular iterations seem to be regrown from the very texture of a slick, contemporary world.

A fascinating novel rendered all the more pleasurable and ironic by the combination of Ballard's elegant writing with his nasty subject matter.

3-0 out of 5 stars Problem with Kindle version
The book was pretty good, but I wanted to leave a note about a small problem I had with the Kindle version. If you go to location #956, you'll see there's some text missing. One paragraph ends (..."faint but potent scent."), and the next one begins in the middle of a sentence ("over my wine glass."). Probably not a huge gap, but there is a new character in the scene who wasn't there before, so there must be at least a line or two missing.

I notified Amazon about this, just to be a good citizen. They told me they saw the problem too, opened a trouble ticket and told me they'd write me back when the problem was fixed. (They also gave me a $5 credit for my trouble, which was nice.)A few weeks later I got the e-mail that the text had been corrected, and to please re-download.Which I did, but nothing had been fixed at all; it was exactly the same as it was before.So I told them so, and re-explained the problem. Well, I got another message back from a different support person, saying they were sorry but they didn't understand what the problem could be...?It struck me as a bit lame, but whatever.Maybe I should have written to the publisher instead.

1-0 out of 5 stars Waste of time...
I got this book after reading the glowing reviews on the back of the jacket, such as "A magical hybrid that belongs to no known genre, a masterpiece of the surrealist imagination."I envisioned reading a real brain-buster, something that would blow my mind as a masterpiece of modern literature.
That was not what I got.
From the start, the book read like a punchy pulp mystery, with a main character sporting an IQ well below most mystery protagonists.I got very frustrated with his constant approaches to the "elite" of Eden-Olympia - the author made the character seem really quite stupid to persist in trying to reach people that were so obviously not being helpful.
Secondly, the protagonist was a complete wimp - and that spinelessness translated into a dull book - he didn't get heavily involved in the psychotic behavior, but he didn't take a bold stand throughout most of the book either.
The author has a heavy handed approach that makes the book splashy and unrealistic, not in an exciting "wow, I never would have believed something like this!" but in a "you really expect me to believe that people would say this?" kind of way.
And the characters were shallow, and flexible to suit the author's direction - he didn't make them real.
Anyway, I really felt like it was a waste of time.Could have easily been 200 pages shorter if the author wasn't so eager to watch himself write.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disaster!
From the beginning of "Cannes", I feel like I am re-reading Cocain Nights. Nothing new! What a bad plot! We have got a hero, whose adventure resembles to the events which happens to the Rare Window's main character. Believe me, you should still read, as having been read 200 hundred pages, someone saying: "Paul! Be careful! Eden-Olympia is a strange or mysterious place etc. etc."
Actually Ballard takes the old idea that, in the contemporary world, our only way for escape from the business world is "sex-sport". Or maybeone must dive or fly or climb etc. etc.Now exaggerate that, here is the Eden-Olympia's lust and murder therapy!
It is just dissapointing for modern novel.
One of the editors describes this book as surreal. If you look for something surreal and really enjoyable, read Aragon's Anicet or Panaroma! ... Read more

15. The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 320 Pages (2001-07-06)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$8.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312278446
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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First published in 1978, this collection of nineteen of Ballard's best short stories is as timely and informed as ever. His tales of the human psyche and its relationship to nature and technology, as viewed through a strong microscope, were eerily prescient and now provide greater perspective on our computer-dominated culture. Ballard's voice and vision have long served as a font of inspiration for today's cyber-punks, the authors and futurist who brought the information age into the mainstream.
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Customer Reviews (8)

2-0 out of 5 stars It contains the one story that I wanted
I bought the book because it contained "The Drowned Giant," and I greatly enjoyed reading that story again. The other stories were a bit disappointing: dated without creating nostalgia.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great collection of short stories
All the stories here are great.I really liked Manhole,the Cloud-sculptors of Coral D, and Thirteen for Centaurus.Most of the stories here really show Ballards visionary view of the world and its future.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard
I am much displeased to see that the current version of this story collection features such lackluster cover art.My original copy features a breathtaking portrait of a crowd and some cars in the desert, dwarfed by a towering pink collosus, while hand gliders dots the sky above and an enormous unicorn appears in the clouds.But what's most amazing is that this isn't just whimsy on the artist's part; it's actually a scene from one of Ballard's stories.That's the thing about Ballard.To him the idea that a ragtag but energetic crew of pilots might create enormous sculptures out of clouds in the desrt sky wasn't just possible, it seemed perfectly natural.His imagination ran to places that most science fiction authors couldn't even conceive, and once there it plopped into an armchair and started spinning a story that readers won't ever forget.

In Ballard's view, the human race is in decline.It's not because of human weakness or bad political decisions, it's just in the nature of the universe that we'll fade out, and (possibly) make way for something else.In "Concentration City", we live in a gigantic metorpolis stretching out in every direction with no open spaces.One man sets out on a quest to reach the city's edge.Along the way, he finds troubling signs of encroaching urban decay.But if nothing other than the city exists, does this spell the end of the world?In "The Deep End", technology sets of a chain reaction of unintended consequences, leading to Earth's oceans running dry.Most people depart for other planets, but one crotchety old-timer insists on staying behind, hoping to protect the world's last fish.

Other stories more directly tackle social issues.Some folks believe that modern society is too obsessed with schedules and deadlines.In "Chronopolis" we respond by outlawing clocks and watches.But as always there will be rebels who refuse to accept the revolution.Which side will win in the end?"Billennium" takes on overpopulation, while "Thirteen for Centaurus" looks at scientific ethics while also considering how easy it is to fool people ... or then again maybe not.

Among the most memorable images in this collection is "The Drowned Giant".The title is self explanatory: a giant washes up on shore near a major city.Ballard worries less about where it comes from, more about how we'll react to seeing it.While the unnamed narrator reflects on the giant's mythological appearance, the body ends up getting chopped up and used as fertilizer, while the bones decorate doorways around the city.You can try tagging metaphorical meaning to that ending if you wish, but to Ballard it was just one analysis of how modern society functions, which isn't too well.

3-0 out of 5 stars parts of this book are brilliant
I would rate a few of the stories contained in this book with five stars, but other stories bring the total rating down to 3 stars.These are the stories which I would rate with 5 stars: "The Concentration City", "Chronopolis", "Thirteen for Centaurus", and "The Sublimiminal Man"."The Concentration City" is set somewhere in the future where somethings taken for granted now have long been forgotten.Hence things have to be reinvented and rediscovered.Because of "development" however, there are almost insurmountable barriers to reinvention."Chronopolis" is a fascinating story of how using watches and clocks became illegal."Thirteen for Centaurus" is about a space station supposedly travelling to a distant gallaxy."The Sublimiminal Man" is aptly named because it is about exactly what the title says.The rest of the stories just didn't hold my interest.Some of them were very complex while others were simple but didn't have a good plot.Indeed, some of the stories had no plot at all.As far as climax is concerned, none of his stories had a climax.Most of his stories should be read mainly for the experience as opposed to a good meat and potatoes story.One thing about J.G. Ballard is that he certainly is very imaginative and creative.

4-0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought
Ballard is one of the great "conceptualizers" of modern literature. The premises of his stories are the most immediately striking thing about them. Sometimes the story doesn't live up to the expectations he creates, but this is probably because he sets the bar so high.

In any case, whether a Ballard story is a total or only a partial success, it invariably provides plenty of food for thought. Three of them--"The Overloaded Man", "The Drowned Giant", and "The Garden of Time"--rank among my all-time favorites for their perfect fusion of speculative and mythic qualities. The more technology-based stories ("Concentration City", "The Voices of Time") are more interesting for their ideas than their execution.

In the introduction to this volume, Anthony Burgess hits on the central importance of Ballard's work: "Ballard considers that the kind of limitation that most contemporary fiction accepts is immoral... Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination." If you agree, buy this book. ... Read more

16. The Kindness of Women: A Novel
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 352 Pages (2007-11-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312422849
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this sequel to his award-winning Empire of the Sun, young James returns to England at the end of World War II. He stumbles through medical study at Cambridge, trains briefly as an RAF pilot in Canada, and marries. When his wife dies suddenly, Jim is thrust into the violence and sexual promiscuity of the sixties. Penetrating and wise, J. G. Ballard's biting social commentary and pushing of boundaries make this semi-autobiographical novel a small classic.
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Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars JG Ballard - post-Shanghai
My expectations were very much off the mark after reading "Empire of the Sun" in which Jamie Ballard is a child - I forgot that JG Ballard had to grow up! And grow up he did - thoroughly traumatized by his years in Shanghai and in a Japanese camp for civilian internees. Jim Ballard was born in 1930, in the privileged British area of Shanghai where life seemed to be one long party. The British were accustomed to being "top dog" and living in luxury. In 1937 Japan invaded northern China, including Shanghai. Strangely, the British saw the atrocities as they took place, and seemed to view them as some kind of entertainment which could not ever affect them. The Japanese in Shanghai bided their time, showing extraordinary patience, and staying well clear of the International Settlement and the French Concession - until the day that their compatriots bombed Pearl Harbour in December 1941. This gave them permission to take possession of the International Settlement. They did it with a vengeance, and most foreign nationals were interned in a number of camps within 10 to 20 km of Shanghai. Young James Ballard and his friends lived a lifetime of experience in camp - this one called Lunghua. "Empire of the Sun" is about Lunghua.This book is about the aftermath. Only when the war had ended, and he and his mother were repatriated to England, did the trauma gradually catch up with him. For many years, he and friends sought only war, violence, death, drugs and sex. Although he married and had children, he remained haunted, with thoughts of Shanghai not ever far from his mind. Everything he did and thought during the 1960s and '70s seemed to be dictated by memories of Japanese atrocities, dead and dying Chinese, and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki: Wildly dangerous driving and drug-taking, an obsession with another, final nuclear war, and countless sexual encounters. The book, although not an "easy read", and with the sexual encounters perhaps sickening to many people, is beautifully written, and conveys subtly but thoroughly the effect that childhood trauma can have on later life. Ballard did eventually seem to find some peace within himself, probably anchored by the great love he had for his wife and children and by his tremendous capacity for writing.Although the violence of the tale is horrifying, this is a book well worth reading. It taught this reader a great deal - about history, about people, and - perhaps above all - about how appallingly difficult it is to understand cultures different from our own.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's good.
Ballard was on my list of people I might want to read something by, and this book had the highest Amazon rating of his books, so I ordered it. Apparently, it overlaps his Empire of the Sun, following the narrator through his childhood in wartime Shanghai through his time in medical school and as a pilot, on to his later life in London. It chronicles his relationship with the women of his life, who help him hold things together through some pretty rough times. The characters in this well-written book cover a wide range, from the purest to the most perverse. Some of the imagery is fabulous, and although the plot wandered at times, the book holds together thematically. Looking over the titles of his other books, I get the impression that this book is a sort of medley of his work. It has a disturbing Crash chapter (his only other work I'm familiar with) where people have a unique relationship with their cars, and ends with what felt like an autobiographical account of the narrator on a movie set, watching the film adaptation of one of his books. Something Ballard has experienced a few times.

5-0 out of 5 stars The biography as fiction
Empire of the Sun was one of the best examples of putting your life up to a critical analysis and staring unflinchingly at it . . . Ballard's portrayal of himself during World War II as a child has to rank as one of the more honest (even when it's not so flattering) attempts at a self-charactization that I can really only compare to Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night.Here he continues his own story, using the first person this time out and extending the narrative past World War II and nearly into his present.The beginning is a bit off for those who have read Empire of the Sun since some of the details gone over don't seem to coincide with the events we learned in the previous book but he manages to again evoke its' dreamlike qualities.From there it's mostly episodic and carried by Ballard's keen eye for events and gift for description, through his eyes the sixties and beyond become almost a shared hallucination, something that you wake up from and you're not sure if it really happened or not.There's no overarching narrative to the book, though his quest to overcome the wounds that were opened by his time in the internment camp is a running theme that partly gets resolved in the end, during the time of the making of the Empire of the Sun movie.Still, like real life there are jagged loose ends, lost characters and a graceful melancholy that holds everything together well.Perhaps the only complaint are the sex scenes, far from offensive, they seem almost cold and sterile, like Ballard was sitting there taking notes during the acts themselves, which could be the point for all I know.Because it covers so much more time it doesn't have the searing focus that the previous novel did, but the wide variety of events and times are engaging in their own right and just when you think Ballard has exhausted his ability to put a new spin on describing things, he pulls another effortless phrase out that can't help but stick in your head.A book you probably have to experience more than read, those coming out of Empire of the Sun wanting to see more will probably come away satisfied.

4-0 out of 5 stars Important for Ballard fans....
I got this book in a used bookstore in Vermont and perhaps it illuminatedBallard moreso than criticism, etc. ever could. This tells about his lifefrom the end of "Empire..." until the eighties and.... hmmm....well... explains a lot about where he was drawing source material from forbooks like "The Atrocity Exhibition" which, without this, seems alittle bit more extreme than perhaps with it it is.

Aside from that, itis an engaging story. You care about the characters, and you care about theauthor. You meet people and see things and have a good time.....

I wouldsuggest this book as not something for someone who is just looking for aread but more for someone who is into Ballard and wants clarification...and details... about him....

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Truly an excellent book. Important to read Empire of the Sun first since this is something of a sequel. ... Read more

17. The Four-Dimensional Nightmare
by J G Ballard
Paperback: Pages (1965)

Asin: B000HFVKRU
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Warning about Multiple editions.
From 1977 onwards, the stories "Prima Belladonna" and "Studio 5, the stars" were replaced by "The Overloaded Man" and "Thirteen to Centaurus". ... Read more

18. Concrete Island: A Novel
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 180 Pages (2001-10-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 031242034X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
On a day in April, just after three o'clock in the afternoon, Robert Maitland's car crashes over the concrete parapet of a high-speed highway onto the island below, where he is injured and, finally, trapped. What begins as an almost ludicrous predicament soon turns into horror as Maitland—a wickedly modern Robinson Crusoe—realizes that, despite evidence of other inhabitants, this doomed terrain has become a mirror of his own mind. Seeking the dark outer rim of the everyday, Ballard weaves private catastrophe into an intensely specular allegory.
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Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars one of my favorites
I loved this book. It is very different from what I usually read, and I don't know how I ended up reading it, but DAMN, a fine work. A guy crashes his car and is trapped in a concrete jungle where he meets a couple real characters...a pretty heady novel.

4-0 out of 5 stars Should be able to get your Metaphor quota here
The book is almost all metaphor, though even were it not Ballard tells a good enough story that it works on both levels, and to me you can pretty well ignore the loss of personhood brought on by modernity, or whatever label you wish to attach to his message. Normally if you throw away the message of a message book you haven't got much left, but this is my way of saying that it's a well-written story regardless.

As I mention in the title, the story is a bit far-fetched, but is only meant to be a metaphor and not a how-to primer for survival in the world of higway medians, so the reader can fairly soon get past this. Our protagonist is involved in a single-car crash that lands him in some kind of gulag median from which he cannot escape, and he is helpless in all his attempts to get attention from his fellow man. OK, so far, and we get the point. Finally some other characters enter the picture, and it goes from Robinson Crusoe to a vivid and more nuanced look at modern socialization. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say society doesn't end all that well.

I liked the book, but in all seriousness I would not read it if I were in a depressed or pessimistic frame of mind, as it might reinforce your negative world view a little too much. Others might find it hopeful, in a way,
but I did not. Still, I liked and recommend the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars An inventive modern allegory - lost in the middle of the city
A Londoner who has spent his adult life trying to disconnect from those around him finds himself lost in the middle of the city.Robert Maitland is a successful architect, who feels stifled at home with his wife but is unable to commit to his lover.He has self-consciously arranged things at work so that he wouldn't be missed if he left for a while.So when he finds himself stranded, marooned, in the grassy junkyard median between three overlapping highways, he knows it's up to him to find his way out.Initially his injuries prevent him from climbing the steep embankment or the high fence that surrounds his little island.He is injured further when he tries to flag a passing vehicle during rush hour, and then it is a question of survival.Before long, he discovers that leaving is not at the top of his list of concerns.

There are clear (and quite deliberate) parallels with Robinson Crusoe, but this is very much a modern novel of alienation, that highlights the longing for isolation, solace, and self-sufficiency in a world where we are utterly dependent on others and on technologies; where we seem to be connected in so many ways, but are in fact bound by these connections, both alienated and enslaved.If that sounds heady, the novel isn't.Ballard's art is almost effortless, and he depicts the ironies of modern life, ostensibly liberated by technology and commerce, in simple and subtle ways.This was the book I happened upon as a late introduction to the late J.G. Ballard, andI found it to live up to his strong reputation as a high concept novelist of provocative pulp fiction.I'll definitely read more.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Robinson Crusoe of the freeway...
--Having learned of the recent death of J.G. Ballard, I decided to honor his memory by re-reading "Concrete Island," which I first read a lifetime ago.

--I don't think I ever realized before how much it parallels Kobo Abe's classic "The Woman in the Dunes." Instead of falling into a hole in the sand, here a man crashes his Jaguar onto a traffic island. Inevitably, he ends up trapped, his efforts to escape failing one by one; as if in a nightmare, he miscalculates and sabotages himself again and again.

--There is a strong surreal and absurd element to the plot, and yet for the most part it proceeds with a lethal sort of logic.

--A nightmare logic.

--He's reduced to the most basic elements of survival--food, shelter, and self-protection. For, as he will eventually discover, he's not alone on the "island."

--Ballard within the novel itself draws a comparison to Robert Maitland's predicament and that of Robinson Crusoe.

--It's a sardonic homage to the old classic, in postmodern dress, to be sure. Ironically, Maitland is stranded not on an island in the middle of an ocean, but a man-made one in the middle of a freeway complex. Here he deconstructs his former "civilized" life and reverts to something of a savage.

--The concrete island represents the cast-off in our society--trash, car chassis, building foundations, abandoned air raid shelters, graveyards--and now Maitland himself. How quickly through the merest tick of chance we can go from a respected member of society to homeless tramp living on the fringes--that's part of the chilling message of "Concrete Island," one that strikes a particularly strong chord nowadays when people are losing their jobs and homes everywhere you look.

--It's a stark, surreal allegory about what happens when the guard-rails in life fail us...or we're incautious enough to crash through them.

--The book has the tight, quick-paced, satisfying structure of a well-made film. The writing is spare and yet stunning--a powerful and visually evocative prose. Ballard does a convincing job tracing Maitland's ever-varying psychological states as the island becomes a kind of hermit's retreat where he faces his personal--and interpersonal--demons. Ballard's success in using Maitland's absurd predicament to point up the flaws in both man and the world he has made is impressive.

--This is a book that is well worth reading--or, in my case, re-reading. It belongs to that special class of speculative fiction that just isn't written today--works like "1984," "Lord of the Flies," and the aforementioned "The Woman in the Dunes." It's one of those books that--while the details may fade over time--are never forgotten.

--Rest in peace, J.G. Ballard. You won't be forgotten.

4-0 out of 5 stars Spend some time on this "Island"
What do you get when you cross the premise of "Man vs. Wild" (a lost traveler struggling to survive unforgiving terrain and return to civilization) with "The Twilight Zone's" surreal existentialism and social commentary? You get "Concrete Island," a hypnotic tale of a man who finds himself in a very unlikely predicament.

Robert Maitland, a mid-thirties British architect who has it all (yet apparently has a deep-seated need to escape from it), gets more than he bargained for (or does he?) when his speeding car skids off a busyhighway and strands him on a forgotten traffic island. Dazed, his misguided attempt to return to the road only manages to injure him to the point where he truly is marooned on the island, a stretch of land overgrown with high grasses and littered with the remains of abandoned cars and demolished structures. Largely out of sight of the fast-moving traffic, Maitland is unable to attract anyone's attention, despite numerous attempts. However, as he increasingly comes to realize, being "alone" doesn't necessarily mean there's nobody else around...

"Concrete Island" is a compelling short novel that works on multiple levels, as both a primal story of a man's attempt to survive and also as an exploration of existential ideas and commentary about human connections (or lack thereof) in our modern world. It raises questions about our expected roles in "civilized" society, the space between the "haves" and the "have-nots" (both metaphorically and literally), and our unspoken desires and fears.

So sit back and take a journey to the "Concrete Island." Stay as long as you like... ... Read more

by J.G. Ballard
 Hardcover: Pages (1989-01-01)

Asin: B003HNJ53K
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars A real gem; shiny, smooth, hiding smoky depths and possessed of a undeniable gravity of presence.
Some short novels beg to be fondled long after being read. This volume is just such a lush curio.

I also find this to be Ballard's most readable, or should I say stylisticallyrestrained, work.

4-0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction to Ballard
This short, clinical, unflinching novella about the violent end of a gated community is a perfect introduction to the priceless talents of J. G. Ballard.Adopting the persona of a forensic psychiatrist investigating the mass murder of the occupants of a London residential estate, Ballard explores the dangers inherent in even the most privileged manifestations of social control - the fabricated society is an attempt to lock danger out, but its regime of repression is more likely to lock danger in.You'll solve the mystery of what happened in Pangbourne Village within the first ten pages, but that isn't the point.It's not whodunit that matters, but why.Ballard's epigrammatic summary, when it comes, is slightly trite and hardly does justice to what's come before it: a chilling work of distilled intensity.It isn't the best exploration of Ballard's searing sociological vision, but it's a delicious appetizer.Readers who enjoy this will probably find "High Rise" to their taste, too.

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't listen to the bad critics - this book rules
The only bad thing i can say about this book is that it is very obvious what the plot-twist is going to be - so obvious that it isn't even a real surprise, but this book is still a very good read for people who like shocking but good litterature.

2-0 out of 5 stars Nothing Great
Quick.If you want a quick read for a rainy afternoon, this is it.Don't expect much.There are no surprises, there is little to look forward too.I've read much better shorts in Harper's and Atlantic Monthly.Anyone who thinks this book is "shocking" and "chilling" really hasn't read much.How this even got published _as a book_ surprises me still.

Nonetheless, if it's a rainy day and there's nothing else to read.....

1-0 out of 5 stars nothing wild about it...
this was the most boring book i have read in quite some time.i read it in a total of about three hours, constantly looking for some sort of twist or something other than the obvious.although presented as a mystery, crime-solving novel, you know exactly what's going to happen from reading the back cover.this book certainly shouldn't be compared to chuck palahniuk's amazing and thoughtful work.a complete dissapointment. ... Read more

20. Empire of the Sun
by J. G. Ballard
Paperback: 288 Pages (2005-03-01)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$2.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743265238
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The classic, award-winning novel, made famous by Steven Spielberg's film, tells of a young boy's struggle to survive World War II in China.

Jim is separated from his parents in a world at war. To survive, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.

Shanghai, 1941 -- a city aflame from the fateful torch of Pearl Harbor. In streets full of chaos and corpses, a young British boy searches in vain for his parents. Imprisoned in a Japanese concentration camp, he is witness to the fierce white flash of Nagasaki, as the bomb bellows the end of the war...and the dawn of a blighted world.

Ballard's enduring novel of war and deprivation, internment camps and death marches, and starvation and survival is an honest coming-of-age tale set in a world thrown utterly out of joint. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

4-0 out of 5 stars Better, darker than the movie
The book was made into a movie a while back with the kid from _Newsies_. The movie is not as good as the book. The book is more true and as a result 'darker'. Ballard is an excellent storyteller, but one disconcerting thing is that he tells the story of his young life in the third person. Odd, you know, this creates a bit of distance but perhaps he needed it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Buy it for the nearest teenager - open their mind
Of course I didn't just mean teenagers.

This is an important book in the true sense of the phrase - the sort that will puncture the hard heart of all budding hoodies and open their minds.

The writing is exquisite, the characters unforgettable, the world is evoked in 3D and you lose yourself in it.

And as for the little boy? made me wish I had one of my own and I've never been remotely interested in being a parent!

5-0 out of 5 stars Transcendent
Upon its publication, EMPIRE OF THE SUN alerted a wider audience to something those of us who had been reading Ballard for years already knew -- that J.G. Ballard is one of the major authors of our time. It's a pleasure to re-read EMPIRE in 2009, (the novel's twenty-fifth anniversary) and discover it remains as hauntingly dream-like and vivid as ever.

The movie always struck me as an unfortunate misfire -- Spielberg, who is all about surface and texture, trying and failing to interpret Ballard, who's all about understatement and "inner space." I never have a desire to go back to the movie, but I could read EMPIRE again and again, and I never hesitate to recommend it to family and friends.

4-0 out of 5 stars Much better than the movie.
An incredible book. While reading this book I realized I had never heard much about the WW2 in the pacific outside of the American military operations of island hoping and the movies that came out of those events. I found this book very interesting. What was more surprising is it was based of Ballard's actual events that occurred to him during this time. I found myself wanting to so bad to know that everything would turn out well in the end. There were a few missing points in the book that I wish I could know the answer to, like what happened to certain individuals after the end of the book.

I'm trying really hard not to spoil the book for anyone who has not read it yet. I felt my mind completely engrossed in the book and I found myself day dreaming during the day and finding myself at Lunghua camp and realizing how grateful I should be that my meal is more than just rice and a sweet potato.

Would I say this book changed my life? Doubtful but it has made me more interested to read other books of the same nature, I want to go and read a book of someone who was in a concentration camp in Germany and then sit and compare what they had to go through, I would also be more interested now in reading more books of the pacific world war 2.

3-0 out of 5 stars WWII coming-of-age story
Set in Shanghai during WWII, the novel follows a young British boy named Jim as he struggles to survive after being separated from his parents. Jim is crazy about airplanes and wants to be a pilot when he grows up. He admires the bravery of the Japanese soldiers and continues to idolize them, even after he is locked up in an internment camp where he sees up close the ugliness of war.

Jim is not always the most likeable character. He can be surpisingly callous, but he is a survivor.

Empire of the Sun is a well-written and realistic portrayal of a boy's struggle for survival during a brutal war. The overwhelming brutality was a bit much for me, but readers who enjoy war stories will love this one. ... Read more

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