There are a lot of tributes being paid today to J G Ballard, who died yesterday, and deservedly so. He was a fine novelist and short story writer, with an original perspective and great skills. Much of the attention is being given to ‘Crash’, but since I’ve never read it, I won’t comment. I liked Empire of the Sun, and The Kindness of Women, but the books which made the most impact on me were three of his ‘hard SF’ titles – The Drowned World, The Crystal World, and The Drought. In each of these he was able to realise a future Earth subjected to extreme conditions, as reflected in their titles. In each of these worlds he portrayed the ‘inner space’ of normal everyday human beings and their necessary adaptations to a radically changed environment. What stays constant and what changes when the world becomes unfamiliar and the normal rules of existence no longer apply? I thought his imaginative reconstructions were well thought out and poetically described, and the human reactions were entirely believable given the premise. For me, these novels blurred the boundary between SF and the conventional literary novel, and I still think they are major achievements. In an excellent interview on Channel 4 News last night, Martin Amis said that “no one else could have written Ballard’s works,” and that is true. I’m going to re-read them as my personal tribute.
- Past and Present March 7, 2017
- Ian Hamilton Finlay, Little Sparta and other matters February 18, 2017
- An Epiphany January 29, 2017
- The trouble with phones January 20, 2017
- Driven January 14, 2017