resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments
On Sunday, author J.G. Ballard died after a three year battle with prostrate cancer. Ballard began writing science fiction in the ’50s but his bleak, dystopian vision and avant-garde approach didn’t fit in with the Isamov-led hard science fiction of the time. Alongside Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, and others, Ballard became part of the ’60s new wave sci-fi movement that breathed fresh life into a genre that had arguably gone stale. The themes explored by Ballard made him a precursor for the 80s cyberpunk movement (which just won’t die). Author Bruce Sterling once stated:
Cyberpunk work is marked by its visionary intensity. Its writers prize the bizarre, the surreal, the formerly unthinkable. They are willing – eager, even – to take an idea and unflinchingly push it past the limits. Like J. G. Ballard – an idolized role model to many cyberpunks – they often use an unblinking, almost clinical objectivity. It is a coldly objective analysis, a technique borrowed from science, then put to literary use for classically punk shock value.
His two best known works, however, don’t fall into the sci-fi genre at all. 1984′s Empire of the Sun retold his childhood in a Japanese-run internment camp in China. Steven Spielberg adapted the book into a movie featuring a young Christian Bale and Ballard himself made a cameo. 1973′s Crash centered around a group of people who have a peculiar fetish: car crashes. This work was later adapted by David Cronenberg.
Miracles of Life, his autobiography and the last book published in his lifetime, was released in 2008.