Pour One Out For: The Visionary J.G. Ballard



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.


One Response to Pour One Out For: The Visionary J.G. Ballard

  1. […] of last few months have been laden with celebrity deaths; TEST of the WWE, Starlog, Dave Arneson, J. G. Ballard, Bea Arthur, Dom DeLuise, David Carradine, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson just to name a […]

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