The Complete Short Stories PDF Ú The Complete Epub /

The Complete Short Stories [PDF / EPUB] The Complete Short Stories For four decades JG Ballard has been one of Britain's most celebrated novelists From the beginning he has been eually admired for his distinctive and highly influential short stories the first of whic For four decades JG Ballard has been one of Britain's most celebrated novelists From the beginning he has been eually admired for his distinctive and highly influential short stories the first of which Prima Belladonna and Escapement appeared in Science Fantasy and New Worlds in Now all of his published stories including four not previously featured in a collection have been arranged in the order of original publication providing an unprecedented opportunity The Complete Epub / to review the career of one of Britain's greatest writersA Washington Post Best Book of Boston Globe Best Book Los Angeles Times Favorite Book and San Francisco Chronicle Best BookContents Prima Belladonna Vermilion Sands Escapement The Concentration City variant of Build Up Venus Smiles Vermilion Sands Manhole Track The Waiting Grounds Now Zero The Sound Sweep Zone of Terror Chronopolis The Voices of Time The Last World of Mr Goddard Studio The Stars Vermilion Sands Deep End The Overloaded Man Mr F is Mr F Billennium The Gentle Assassin The Insane Ones The Garden of Time The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista Vermilion Sands Thirteen to Centaurus Passport to Eternity The Cage of Sand The Watch Towers The Singing Statues Vermilion Sands The Man on the th Floor The Subliminal Man The Reptile Enclosure A uestion of Re Entry The Time Tombs Now Wakes the Sea The Venus Hunters End Game Minus One The Sudden Afternoon The Screen Game Vermilion Sands Time of Passage Prisoner of the Coral Deep The Lost Leonardo The Terminal Beach The Illuminated Man The Delta at Sunset The Drowned Giant The Gioconda of the Twilight Noon The Volcano Dances The Beach Murders The Day of Forever The Impossible Man Storm Bird Storm Dreamer Tomorrow Is a Million Years The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race Cry Hope Cry Fury Vermilion Sands The Recognition The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D Vermilion Sands Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan The Dead Astronaut The Comsat Angels The Killing Ground A Place and a Time to Die Say Goodbye to the Wind Vermilion Sands The Greatest Television Show on Earth My Dream of Flying to Wake Island The Air Disaster Low Flying Aircraft The Life and Death of God Notes Towards a Mental Breakdown The Minute Zoom The Smile The Ultimate City The Dead Time The Index The Intensive Care Unit Theatre of War Having a Wonderful Time One Afternoon at Utah Beach Zodiac Motel Architecture A Host of Furious Fancies News from the Sun Memories of the Space Age Myths of the Near Future Report on an Unidentified Space Station The Object of the Attack Answers to a uestionnaire The Man Who Walked on the Moon The Secret History of World War Love in a Colder Climate The Enormous Space The Largest Theme Park in the World War Fever Dream Cargoes A Guide to Virtual Death The Message from Mars Report from an Obscure Planet .


10 thoughts on “The Complete Short Stories

  1. says:

    Perfection indispensable I must own it when I have enough casholaA summer project that took an eternity to rip through The Complete Stories of JG Ballard is an often recommended collection of 96 little capsules of SF horror fantasy If you want to become a writer one who usually starts off writing superb short stories then Ballard is your main manI thought of the cover page of the American Edition while trying to formulate a cohesive review which I probably failed at already a monolith of a man staring straight at you and little dots floating around him like atoms or molecules No I think they represent bubbles as in EVERY SHORT STORY IS A BUBBLE THAT DEVIATES FROM THE FOUNTAIN BRAIN some closely resemble reality like mirrors and some stray so far off that they seem galaxies away but they all have an auteur's signature Ballard in each tale immerses you into foreign but not altogether alien atmospheres where everything is authentic All plots seem to be going on RIGHT NOW somewhere else His themes well tackled and fascinating range from supremely male symbols brand name cars airplanes buildings landscapes motorcycles mysterious femme fatales overpopulation rarely sex and libido strange for the man who wrote Crash to other themes deserts beaches dunes sand Ballard at times is a kid playing with a train set though his settings are enormous in scale Gotham cities He plays with LEXICOGRAPHY in tales like Notes Toward a Mental Breakdown The Terminal Beach The Index which is always refreshing There are killer enormous birds dead astronauts watches jewels hotel rooms American cities of tourismLas Vegas Florida Some of the bubbles seem to pop unexpectedly almost prematurely while others rove in the brain persistent and glossyWhat Ballard's short stories are about zeroTrying to lasso the emptiness of everything is a majestic featSince you asked here are the TOP 13 therefore essential Short Stories of JG Ballard I did the work for you but they are not in particular order1Chronopolis2Billenium3Studio 5 The Stars4Minus One5Time of Passage6The Air Disaster7The Life and Death of God8The Dead Time9The Intensive Care Unit10Love in a Colder Climate11The Secret History of World War III12The Enormous Space13The Largest Amusement Park in the World


  2. says:

    JG Ballard's stuff divides fairly neatly into three phases1 1956 64 At first he was writing actual science fiction and he was really cranking it out There are some beautiful ones in this early part probably my favourites The Sound Sweep The Concentration City Billenium The Voices of Time It became gradually clear to JG and to the reader that he wasn't really able to do the hard sf thing extrapolation with a lot of wires and diagrams but instead he was developing slowly a genuine voice a way of seeing the present in the guise of the future and a uniue form of poetry He also wrote a trio of potboiling disaster novels which are fun for people who like contemplating the destruction of humanity which I know is a popular form of entertainment2 1965 83 Something happened He became noticably strange in 1965 at the exact time when the 60s counterculture was becoming self conscious You may be thinking that he would have turned out like the Michael Caine character in Children of Men all long hair and the best hashish the poshest most mature and most well read hippy but no he kept his suit on and his hair was cut every three weeks Intellectually he was hurtling towards the outer edge and then when he found it he built a further edge on top of it Falling in with a bunch of other new crazed experimentalists like Michael Moorcock he became part of the take over of the formerly staid British sf mag New Worlds This mag then became a major platform for cultural madness and outrage in Britain in print for the next five years And was duly prosecuted for obscenity There was an assumed sf sensibility behind the madness published by New Worlds but often it was hard to see because it wasn't there This was when sf became speculative fabulation I wish I had a collection of New Worlds 1965 1970 Man alive I would look over them and be amazed – so prescient and so gone So anyway in this period JG invented the compressed novel ie the very refined hyperintellectualised mashup of Hollywood Babylon the National Enuirer the facelifts of the rich and famous the autopsies of the rich and famous the study of autoerotic fatalities the architecture of Los Angeles with especial reference to its swimming pools inner space as alien landscape the topography of hospitals and beaches aeronautical engineering manuals the soundless autogeddon of the near future the frigid poetry of motorways decayed technologies abandoned futures – all rendered into distilled prose in which the lurid the event being described the crystalline became the prose JG became infatuated by public events like the assassination of Kennedy and the death of Marilyn Monroe This was not space opera There were no aliens Earth is the only alien planet said JG Ballard and he meant it The apotheosis of this most ballardian phase of Ballard was of course Crash Typical short story titles from this periodThe Terminal BeachThe Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor RaceThe Atrocity ExhibitionThe Intensive Care UnitMemories of the Space AgeMyths of the Near Future3 1984 – 2009 – With the publication of the non sf non weird The Empire of the Sun JG suddenly got himself a massive hit and his long time fans were amazed to see him atop the bestseller lists and being filmed by Spielberg Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy but it was like seeing Captain Beefheart at No 1 in the pop charts Huh? God help anyone who bought Crash after reading Empire of the Sun – “Oh look dear this is by the same author as that one you liked” “Oh okay let’s see – whoah Engine oil Semen Internal organs Surgery Deliberate car crashes Aaaargh” So anyway in his final phase JGB abandoned the short story form only 80 pages of this 1186 page collection are from this period and instead cranked out seven dystopian novels of varying ualities which I confess have never tempted me Maybe one day No what I like is JGB at his most elegiac which is to say at his most lethal It's all in these short stories Every home should have one Random uote generator from page 817 Already other memories were massing around him fragments that he was certain belonged to another man’s life details from the case history of an imaginary patient whose role he had been tricked into playing As he worked on the Fortress high among the dunes brushing the sand away from the cylinder vanes of the radial engines he remembered other aircraft he had been involved with vehicles without wingsSome first lines of stories In the evening as Franklin rested on the roof of the abandoned cliniche would often remember Trippett and the last drive he had taken into the desert with the dying astronaut and his daughterAll day this strange pilot had flown his antiue aeroplane over the abandoned space centre a frantic machine lost in the silence of FloridaAt dusk Sheppard was still sitting in the cockpit of the stranded aircraft unconcerned by the evening tide that advanced towards him across the beachLater Powers often thought of Whitby and the strange grooves the biologist had cut apparently at random all over the floor of the empty swimming poolAt sunset when the vermilion glow reflected from the dunes along the horizon fitfully illuminated the white faces of the abandoned hotelsThese stories are sad wistful clinical upsetting meditations on the future we thought we were going to have and the future we turned out to be having all the while which were two very different things


  3. says:

    I've been immersing myself for spells within Ballard's fictive environ and I fucking love it there Beautiful and limpid lyrical prose in the less is vein so often found amongst those who comprise the ne plus ultra of the writer's art I'm currently over a third of the way through it and every single story is in my estimation at least good and not infreuently ascends near or unto the rarefied airs of Hot Damn And although the combined effects might fairly be labelled as being rather stark and existentially aseptic the characters and motive forces somewhat thin and reoccurring this is yet so in the absolute best of ways—for their primary fuel is Ballard's spatial and disharmonic genius his near limitless capacity for conjuring environments architecture sonic temporal and energy scapes Escheresue geometries in tandem with the contents of the human id and working them via his cool appraisal of human nature and fertile strands of imaginative straighteners into an affective symbiosis of extrapolated interiority and projected exteriority the essential and accidental simultaneously lovely and alien stimulating and anaesthetizing He prefers men to women whites to non whites the elusive to the grounded—and all within a uite British sensibility which indeed delimits the ambit of his authorial orbit; but the stories that attend this life's work of avant garde science fiction are propulsive they are prescient and perceptive entertaining and edgy humorous and haunting and he is unafraid to diagnostically explore the ways in which our technologically magnitudinous society is fracturing forming and reframing both the physical world and human culture together with the individuals within them through the gelidly surreal lenses of his creative apperceptionA great example of his craft is the 1962 beauty Billennium in which a pair of friends buried within the cramped metropolitan uarters of a 20 billion person Earth—where by law living uarters cannot exceed four meters suared—discover against all odds a comparatively vast chamber seuestered behind drywall and plaster its forgotten roomy expanse bearing prized antiue furniture What happens subseuent is brilliant as Ballard plays against all expectations counter intuitively delivering the goods with his trademark surprise and satisfaction It's the kind of sly story shaping that Asimov could manage only by attending to the science; with Ballard it's that mysterious arcanum called human nature that he pivots his short fiction around even those most bearing the tropes of science fiction Fantastic little taleAnother earlier one that sticks in my mind is The Cage of Sand in which via relentlessly lovely language deployed with the surety and skill of a world class painter Ballard brings tens of millions of tons of red Martian sand—bearing its own unanticipated microbial floratoxins—to land suare upon and bury the Florida peninsula whilst simultaneously decorating the nighttime sky with seven new sepulchral dancers stellarly cast by the technologically assured and envisioned hand of man In its emptiness of all but a smattering of human outliers driven by the harrowing ghosts of past loss and current obsession its science ensorcelled nature its seizing of the reins of chaotic energy its driving of entropically uncharged spears of decay and unnatural intrusion into the living heart of the remnants of once proud civilization it resonated with the same literary freuencies that abound within the work of Steve Erickson Neither better nor lesser in conception and execution but a progression in mutual thought vision intention and imagination with the elder Ballard in control of his pen and people the American adept drawing from a well whose waters bear heavier traces of the elements of identity and disorder


  4. says:

    Took me a year Yes a year I spaced out the stories so I wouldn't get too Ballarded out but man some of these pieces are off the charts good Some are weird for sure but they always made me pause to think This happened with Why I want to Fuck Ronald Reagan and The Index both of which are surprisingly structured Enough has been written about Ballard that I don't really want to write an extensive review except to say that The 60 Minute Zoom and My Dream of Flying to Wake Island are absolute gems revealing the heartbeat of psychological obsession Crazy good Ballard's writing is gorgeous yet spare creating atmosphere without theatrics In Say Goodbye to the Wind we have The villa was silent Mlle Fournier had gone to Red Beach for a few days and the young chauffeur was asleep in his apartment over the garages I opened the gates at the end of the dark rhododendron filled drive and walked towards the nightclub The music whined around me over the dead sand Simple Powerful Out of 98 short stories only a few felt clunky to me What a collection The stories here are so much better than anything I've read in The New Yorker in the past five years Many are short enough to be read in fifteen minutes or less so if you're a trainsubway commuter with an e reader and can read on the way to work they'll stick with you all day All damn day


  5. says:

    It took me a month but I eventually managed to finish this humongous tome Yes that's the feeling that comes to one after the last story has been read No elation no sense of wonder no laugh or horrified expression just a sense of grim achievementBallard wrote stuff which varied dramatically in terms of uality Considering his output that was bound to happen But strangely enough despite being full of failed hard sf open ended weird tales and tale after tale involving the enemy within the stories left a lingering sense of uneaseHe didn’t care much about the sf tropes but he appears to be rather knowledgeable as far as human beings are concernedAnd THAT makes these stories and hence the book specialRecommended


  6. says:

    Wow Two wows in fact A small one to me for actually reading 1196 pages of short stories in this era of constant distractioninstant gratification though of course it did take several months and around six library renewals split up over two years and two a much bigger wow one of the biggest wows in the known universe to JG Ballard It's an understatement to say he was a fantastic writer though of course he was In his writing he cut away layers of exposition leaving only sharp whittled points that still seem new after 40 years of aging He predicted videoconferencing and reality television among other things and came as close to being an inventor as a writer could possibly beThat's not to say that every single one of these 98 stories is perfect Ballard repeats himself A lot He reuses plots characters names settings phrases and messages Some of his favorites drained swimming pools fuselage time sickness space sickness Ronald Reagan the Kennedys carparks astronauts television screens birds flying etc All of them are about astronauts going crazy or crazy people going astronaut soldiers going crazy scientists going crazy or random people in the suburbs or cities going crazy because of the deleterious effects of televisions war disease tract housing and vehicles If you want happy look elsewhere If you want rich characters blistering love or even some form of justicelook elsewhere Ballard is a cynic down to his subatomic particles He's than a prophet of cynicism; he's a designer of cynicism with intense visuals of crystalline insects and houses that represent the suare root of negative one and a very stylish one at thatI've read compelling arguments about why Ballard should be reuired reading for all architects and planning professionals I completely agree In fact I first read him in a class taught by an architecture professor one of the few I had who actually knew how to read She assigned The Intensive Care Unit an amazing story about total videoconferencing It was like stumbling on HP Lovecraft in high school in just one story he blew me away But The Intensive Care Unit isn't architectural except paradoxically in its complete absence of architecture It's about technology which is indeed antithetical to architecture From the very beginning technological innovation has replaced the delineated notion of place with an increasing number of meaningless formless spaces Ballard made the conceptual leap from television to computer vision decades before it actually happened and technologists even so than architects should take heed of his warningsBallard has uite a few fable like stories told from a distant third about some odd happenings the most famous of which is The Drowned Giant These are not good except for The Life and Death of God Distant third is an easy and cheap way of expressing what would otherwise come across as brilliant ideas I also hated News from the Sun Memories of the Space Age and Myths of the Near Future a trio of very long stories toward the end that seem to tell the same awful tale three times in a row I tend not to like stories set in jungles forests or war grounds suburbanite through and through so I generally didn't care for those either But the good stories are so good that they made up for the ones that fell flat Oddly although Ballard is famous for his unusual slipstream style which is neither uite science fiction nor uite mainstream I actually think he is at his very best in the two outlier stories The Voices of Time a brilliant and perfect straight up science fiction tale the best in this collection and one of the best stories I've ever read regardless of length and End Game a taut mainstream ish thriller that in a rare move by Ballard penetrates the psyches of its characters and in his experiments particularly the curious Notes Towards a Mental BreakdownOther great stories I haven't mentioned yetAll the Vermilion Sands stories Prima Belladonna Venus Smiles The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista The Singing Statues The Screen Game Cry Hope Cry Fury The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D and Say Goodbye to the WindThe Concentration CityTrack 12Now ZeroThe Sound SweepChronopolisBillenniumMinus OneThe Lost LeonardoWhy I Want to Fuck Ronald ReaganThe Comsat AngelsLow Flying AircraftThe SmileThe Ultimate CityMotel ArchitectureA Host of Furious FanciesAnswers to a uestionnaireThe Secret History of World War 3Love in a Colder ClimateThe Enormous SpaceETC Ballard has a universal appeal That is he isn't appreciated by the universe as he should be but people as diverse as rock stars and architects like him As Martin Amis who is himself stylish and interesting says in his introduction to this massive tome JG Ballard was a one man genre No one is or was remotely like him Ballard is somehow exceedingly original and yet very clear at the same time unlike mainstream writers unlike science fiction writers and unlike the postmodernists as it is pretty obvious he wasn't intoxicated when he wrote these stories On a slightly different note people can't stop talking about Steve Jobs which seems utterly unfair in light of all the other great minds who simply didn't choose to start an airtight cult before they died RIP James Graham


  7. says:

    Telling Stories The Case of JG Ballard and Robert SheckleyCan you write short stories without recognizable characters coherent plot or realistic dialogue? Of course you can That's why God invested modernism The list of writers who have produced such works is long and distinguished Jorge Borges David Barthelme David Foster Wallace Italo Calvino et alBut what happens if you're writing in a specific genre like science fiction? Which brings us to the problem of JG Ballard whose massive volume of complete stories was recently publishedI read a fair amount of SF growing up and over the years I've discovered the stories and images that remain most indelible come from two writers JG Ballard and Robert Sheckley Ballard today is lionized as one of the most innovative SF and post modern writers of the 20th century Sheckley regarded by many of one of the great SF darkly absurdist writers of his time is basically out of print A new collection edited by Jonathan Lethem is due out in April 2012Life and writing aren't fair as if we needed any reminders Why Ballard? Why not Sheckley?Revisiting 60s era Ballard's stories some vaguely remembered others forgotten has been alternately frustrating puzzling but only fitfully rewardingWhat I do seem to have remembered or less accurately is Ballard's special blend of desolation and post apocalyptic menace often embodied in his bleak landscapes of abandoned buildings ruined suburbs empty swimming pools a favorite and infestations of sand either desert or ocean Ballard possessed a dystopian vision utterly unlike from that of any other SF writer of his time with the possible exception of Harlan EllisonThe opening words of a Ballard story can be as distinctive and evocative as the chords of a familiar song “Terminal Beach” “At night as he lay asleep on the floor of the ruined bunker Traven heard the waves breaking along the shore of the lagoon ” “Cry Hope Cry Fury” “Again last night as the dusk air moved across the desert from Vermilion Sands I saw a faint shiver of rigging among the reefs ” “Voices of Time” Later Powers often thought of Whitby and the strange grooves the biologist had cut apparently at random all over the floor of the empty swimming pool” “Cage of Sand” “At sunset when the vermilion glow reflected from the dunes along the horizon fitfully illuminated the white faces of the abandoned hotels ” “Thousand Dreams of Stellavista” “No one comes to Vermilion Sands now and I suppose there are few people who have ever heard of it ”It doesn’t get any better than that no I mean that literally With a few exceptions “Stellavista” “Voices of Time” “The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D” these haunting openings are about as good as a Ballard story gets Especially those set in the abandoned desert enclave of Vermilion Sands a ruined Palm Springs setting where the landscape and buildings themselves appear to be on psychedelic drugs Read “Stellavista”; you won’t remember the characters but you’ll never forget the insane “psychotropic” houseBut beyond mood and menace most of these pieces barely function as stories Even in his earlier purely SF phase Ballard appears to have little interest in character development or narrative and even Marin Amis in his introduction acknowledges Ballard’s inability to write plausible dialogue Ballard’s literary status however doesn’t rest on his SF but on his reputation as a modernist who faithfully pursued his obsessions whether conspiracies ecological collapse and the “eroticism” of car crashes Yet his work now stripped of their shock value lacks the genuinely imaginative leaps of great fabulists like Borges and Calvino The title of his piece “The Assassination of John Kennedy Considered as an Automobile Race” is all you need to know the story itself is barely an appendage to the title “The Drowned Giant” pays tribute to Barthelme but otherwise plodsBallard’s ability to evoke a psychological state of isolation and alienation is unparalleled but without the ualities of nimbleness word play and humor most of these stories have not aged well Contrast him to Robert Sheckley a writer even prolific than Ballard who wrote highly inventive satiric and darkly absurdist stories in a career that spanned than 50 years He is hardly a forgotten figure in SF fandom but his reputation in the larger literary community is overshadowed by that of BallardIn one respect this is hardly surprising Sheckley never escaped from the confines of the SF ghetto at a time when the walls between genre and mainstream fiction were virtually insurmountable The list of successful SF escapees from the 1950s 70s era is a short one Ballard and Ray Bradbury maybe one or two others I’ve forgotten Isaac Asimov made his non SF reputation through nonfictionNevertheless the best of Sheckley’s tales while rooted in their time remain consistently fresh and inventive able to delight and engage a new generation of readers in ways that Ballard no longer can Sheckley was a creature of pulp fiction in the best sense of that term but his polished craftsmanship and darkly unpredictable humor endure Ballard’s heavy obsessive prose – not so muchI recall those eerie opening scenes in Ballard but that’s about all On the other hand I can remember in rough approximation complete Sheckley stories such as “The Specialist” aliens combining to form a spaceship “The Monsters” very complex anthropology “Ask a Foolish uestion” the secrets of the universe and “Pilgrimage to Earth” forget about buying sex what about purchasing true love?In the end the Collected Stories of JG Ballard feel like artifacts from an archaeological dig; they can illuminate a certain time and place but they can no longer speak to usSheckley on the other hand left us with stories and as human beings our hunger for such tales remains constant and vast in every time and age


  8. says:

    I've finished most of this mammoth tome but I'll probably continue dipping into it for years to come It's a catalog of new literary values and ways of telling stories that showcase a still startling sensibility You know Ballardian Like any collection the uality fluctuates but the best pieces remain truly visionary And in this context even the weaker stories play like intriguing minor variations on major themes Pick hits The Beach Murders Notes Toward A Mental Breakdown End Game The Drowned Giant Answers to a uestionnaire The Terminal Beach The Sudden Afternoon The Index plus the Vermillion Sands stories the stray bits from The Atrocity Exhibition oh and also the


  9. says:

    For me JG Ballard epitomised what I was searching for in sci fi but I'd rather say beyond the mere shell of it and this book IMO epitomised Ballard in all his magnificence and pure power of Imagination It's like watching slow but steady evolving of ones brilliant mind leitmotifs while they are performing constant re entry in vast array of ingenious ideas and in the most condensed form An Eye of The Storm The Entire City Yes the book is long as hell and certainly is a daunting challenge almost 100 short stories but it worth all the time in a world for every true fan of JG Also I do hope that I shall revisit at least Vermilion Sands Terminal Beach for time to stop in strange enchantment again


  10. says:

    How many stars should you award to the best of all science fiction short story writers? Especially to a collection of all his printed stories close to 100?Ballard's voice was uniue and his range of imagination uneualled As he grew older the themes and images became predictable – almost obsessive – but no one else has matched the uiet absorption of his examinations of time space and mental dissolutionHe wrote few stories about space travel but many futuristic tales of an Earth in continual wind down They constrict the reader through their mental claustrophobia though most are set in deserts and similar vast wastelands They're saturated with loneliness – or correctly aloneness – following one or two or three characters separated from the remnants of a civilization in the last throes of expiring its population decimated by worldwide ennuiTime for Ballard is not only elastic but as malleable as silly putty; it stretches condenses stops recycles spirals inward into indescribable forms The isolated couple in The Garden of Time pluck the last of their crystalline blooms that hold an invading army at bay reversing entropy less successfully with each snip Chronopolis takes place in an abandoned city where the observance of time had been banned and all clocks stopped In several later stories the program which sent astronauts aloft has distorted worldwide time leading to gaps repetitions and a slowly congealing stasisOften things just are described in minute detail yet never explained as in The Watch Towers tall windowed structures that float above the world peopled by alien tenants never seen Like so many of the tales it evolves as an emotionless just the facts narrative Yet other times Passport to Eternity Ballard explodes into a Monty Python rattle of side splitting nonsense that can outdo even Philip K DickMarriage for Ballard is a strained state of warring weary emotions His women are even distant that his men and never central characters yearned after in contradictory emotionally deviant ways This approach could leave them unreal yet somehow Ballard makes them all too terrifyingly believableSeveral of his most fascinating exuberant yet unsettling stories center on Vermillion Sands a futuristic artistic colony where sculptures grow and threaten The Singing Statures houses morph and churn shades of Ray Bradbury's The Veldt and poetry floats on the winds Perhaps nowhere was he closer to predicting how the future might unfold than in these hedonistic forays into art and decrepitude both mental and physicalOften his settings result from humanity having so completely lost the will to continue that its collective mental state has obliterated the environment In others the tired planet itself has almost stopped revolving withdrawing the possibility of coherent life Character and environment merge into a mental physical haplessnessOf the earliest stories my favorites overall two in particular have lived with me since I first read them some 50 years ago Sound Sweep and The Terminal BeachIn the first a sonic restorer who removes corrupting overlays of sound with his sonovac is hired to protect the reputation of a monomaniacal operatic singer who has lost her voice but insists on presenting what could be a ruinous performance His adulation for her leads him to a perverse act of impacted love – a superb deeply affecting character studyThe Terminal Beach takes place on Eniwetok Atoll the staging area for the first H bomb tests where a mentally disintegrating researcher alone and talking to a dead Japanese soldier attempts to match the geometry of the structures of the mock test city to elements in his mind that he cannot identify It goes well beyond fantasy or science fiction to become one of the finest stories in the English languageIn the '70s and '80s Ballard combined sex machinery and celebrity adulation most famously in his novel Crash Among his short stories of that time none does this effectively and uproariously than Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan written well before Reagan became presidentThe later stories coalesce around several themes that hovered above and behind many of the early ones cars ancient aircraft disabled machinery Cape Kennedy as emblem of the hubris that we could become masters of eternal space – and birds his increasing fascination with flight as presaging both salvation and termination Here Ballard at times seems stuck on a corroded disk of revolving concepts unable like his characters to uncover his defining ideaTaken as a whole this collection is monumental as uninhibited a summation of a writer and a man as you're likely to find It's slow reading because of the detail the unlikelihood of its juxtapositions the darkness the understated intensity But it's beautiful


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