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We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind -- mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of
J.G. Ballard is a British author, whose writing inhabits a space in science fiction or speculative fiction that is all his own. His stories often focus on characters having an inner journeys or metamorphoses acted out against a juxtaposing backdrop of utter normalcy and middle class life gone out of kilter.
His semi-autobiographical novel EMPIRE OF THE SUN was adapted and filmed by Steven Spielberg and his 1973 novel CRASH was made into a movie by David Cronenberg. Many other stories of Ballard's are the periodic focus of Hollywood. It's rumored that Chritian Bale would like to film CONCRETE ISLAND, and it looks like Ballard's first novel THE DROWNED WORLD just might hit screens sooner rather than later.
Ballard was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006, something he didn't reveal until his autobiography MIRACLES OF LIFE was published in 2008. He passed away on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at the age of 78.
How I Discovered The Writing of JG Ballard - Sand yacht on a thermal roller, we were never there....
When I was in junior high, I was into a group called the Buggles. They are known for their song "Video Killed The Radio Star" being the first video ever shown on MTV, but that event was still at least a year away. Actually, in 1980 the Buggles had sort of disbanded and been absorbed into the band YES.
My best friend and I were very much into THE AGE OF PLASTIC, the first Buggles album that came out in 1979. We read in some music magazine interview that Trevor Horn was a big fan of J.G. Ballard and that not only could you find themes and references to his stories in the Buggles lyrics, but supposedly the story "The Sound Sweep" was the inspiration for the song "Video Killed The Radio Star."
So, of course we started to look for J.G. Ballard. Listened to lyrics and read a lot of short stories. I certainly think there are some parallels in there. Ballard wasn't very much in fashion at the time. I found a few beat-up paperbacks in used bookstores and so did my friend, and we swapped books back and forth too. It was enough to get me hooked.
My serious Ballard "score" came in July 1985 when I got to visit England as a present for my high school graduation. I just hit a London bookstore and got my hands on all sorts of titles that you just couldn't get in the US at the time.
I'm also in possession of a copy of the second Buggles record album, ADVENTURES IN MODERN RECORDING. (not a lot of folks know they did a 2nd album even) The Ballardian influence can still be hunted.
You can give the music of the Buggles a listen and then decide for yourself if there are Ballardian themes in the lyrics.
Story ---------------------------------- > Song
The Sound Sweep .......................... Video Killed the Radio Star
Cry Hope, Cry Fury ......................... Vermilion Sands
Billenium ....................................... Inner City
Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton: An Autobiography - J.G. Ballard's genuine autobiography
In early 2008, Ballard gave an interview about his latest book, a work of non-fiction: his own genuine autobiography. He also revealed that the reason he's spent the previous year writing his autobiography is that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2007.
Read Ballard's real-life story by ordering this title via third-party sellers.
Understanding Ballard via Seinfeld - an interesting exploration of a classic Ballardian theme.
Claire L. Evans, editor in chief for OMNIreboot, has a wonderful piece on looking at one of Ballard's favorite concepts, infinity, from the perspective of an episode of the television show Seinfeld. The piece she is referring to is "The Parking Garage."
Indeed, the more I reflect on The Parking Garage, the more it evokes a specifically Ballardian nightmare: this so-called pornography of infinity, contained within a New Jersey mall. Like the Unidentified Space Station, which conceals, from the outside, its magnificent vastness, The Parking Garage becomes its own world, a replacement—literally, since they broke the apartment set down to build the mirror-garage—for the comfortable parameters of Jerry Seinfeld’s ordinary world.
Ballard's Op Ed Pieces - Some of Ballard's non-fiction writing
In the last few years, Ballard has produced a steady stream of opinion pieces for the British paper the Guardian. His thoughts on politics and pop culture are as sharp as ever, especially as his own predictions come to life.
- A handful of dust
The modernists wanted to strip the world of mystery and emotion. No wonder they excelled at the architecture of death, says JG Ballard
- In cold blood
It has no car chases, no shoot-outs, no emotions. So what makes Crime Scene Investigation so utterly compelling? The answer, writes JG Ballard, goes to the heart of our most basic fears
- Secrets of the emperor's bunker
JG Ballard applauds Alexander Sokurov's remarkable film portrait of Hirohito
- Prophet of our present
Nicholas Murray's biography reveals Aldous Huxley to be an acute guide to our brave new world, says J G Ballard
- Struggles with the Ugly Spirit
Obituary for William S Burroughs
Two of Ballard's novels draw so heavily from actual events in his life that they are semi-autobiographical. His young childhood was spent in Shanghai, and his family was actually imprisoned in a POW camp with other British citizens during part of WWII. His experiences from that time are woven into THE EMPIRE OF THE SUN.
After the war, his family was liberated and they returned to England. His young adulthood, his marriage and the death of his wife are the basis for THE KINDNESS OF WOMEN.
In both books, the main character is named Jim Ballard. Telling what events are drawn from reality and which are fictional is not actually possible aside from a few hints that Ballard has given in personal interviews.
this is excerpted from a reivew by Rachel Schwarz that she wrote for graduate school in 1994
J.G. Ballard seems to have his finger on the subconscious pulse of America. In 1967 he predicted the Regan Presidency. His 1981 novel HELLO AMERICA predicts many fascinations of 90s America: Charles Manson, military technology, the presidential office, and Las Vegas.
Ballard's America of 2130 is a ruin. Energy and oil crises led to economic collapse and reverse migration back to Europe. A few radioactive clouds drift across the Atlantic and an expedition is sent to investigate. John Wayne is a 21 year old stowaway. His obsession is to find a scientist who vanished on a similar expedition 20 years earlier who may be his father.
America is not empty as presumed. Tribes of nomads roam. They are named by fragments of the past: the Executives, a NY tribe wear 3-piece suits; the Gangsters are from Chicago; the Divorcees are all-women. The natives talk about earthquakes. Leaving the captain and crew behind, the group goes to D.C. A quake happens in Boston, and the physicists determine it was a nuclear detonation. The group decides to head in the "American direction," west.
In Las Vegas they meet President Charles Manson. Actually a refugee, Manson has recreated himself as a blend of Manson, Nixon and Howard Hughes. He has dreams for rebuilding America, and an army. Wayne finds Fleming, a man who might be his father. After helping Manson gain control of cruise missiles, Fleming has developed solar-powered gliders. After the violent final confrontation, the gliders allow he, Wayne, some others to literally ride off into the sunset.
As with all of Ballard's writing, the bulk of the books is lush exposition. Some sections are written in the form of Wayne's journal. The littlest details and references create dense realistic imagery. However Hello America isn't so much about the physical journey across the land as it is about the character's personal voyages within their own minds. Ballard is a fan of mass media and champion of the imagination. These elements, filtered through an interest in surrealism, are what he uses to create his worlds. Within the mass media, people compete for recognition, struggle to create the most memorable image. In Hello America, crowded heavily rationed Europe is the mass. The members of the expedition are all struggling for an identity. They want fame and fortune: the classic American dream. From his place in middle-class England, Ballard expresses his belief that all we have to fear in the future is boredom.
Global Disaster Novels
Early on in his writing career, many of Ballard's novels addressed a theme of global disaster. The crisis was often due to a force of nature, and frequently, the story takes place once the disaster has already occurred, focusing on how the characters have adapted or not to their changed lives.
- 99 StellaVista
J.G. Ballard Resource: details of novels and short story collections, online bookstore, photos and links
- Ballardian: The World of J.G. Ballard
The most comprehensive site for current and archival news about J.G. Ballard, including reviews and features, and interviews about and with Ballard
- Scriptorium - J. G. Ballard
"Fiction is a branch of neurology: the scenarios of nerve and blood vessel are the written mythologies of memory and desire." -- J.G. Ballard
- JG Ballard Book Collection of Rare First Editions
JG Ballard Collection Of First & Variant Editions. Welcome to what might be the world's largest collection of JG Ballard first editions.
- J. G. Ballard
J. G. Ballard at www.contemporarywriters.com - Novelist, essayist and short-story writer J(ames) G(raham) Ballard was born in Shanghai, China on 15 November 1930.
- JG Ballard's autobiography excerpt and sad news of cancer
The Times ran an excerpt of surrealist science fiction author JG Ballard's forthcoming autobiography, Miracles Of Life. Ballard, my favorite living novelist, wrote such mindbending books as Crash, Concrete Island, and Cocaine Nights. His boyhood in a
- Dissecting bodies from the twilight zone: Stuart Wavell meets JG Ballard - Times Online
A hard rain is falling on the suburban semi in Shepperton where JG Ballard has lived for half a century, imparting an eerie sheen to the ancient Ford Granada that lies beached at an odd angle in his drive.
- J.G. Ballard Zen
"Superego," directed by Supervert, for Ballardian Home Movies: The Final Cut. (Via La Petite Claudine.)
Movie Adaptations of Ballard Books
So far, two books by J.G. Ballard have been adapted into movies.
Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ballard's semi-autobiographical account of WWII, THE EMPIRE OF THE SUN, was the first Western movie to be given permission to film in mainland China. It also marked the film debut of a very young Christian Bale, who played Jim Ballard, alongside Miranda Richardson and John Malkovich.
Empire of the Sun (1987) - IMDb.com
These next references are related to the movie adaptation of Ballard's CRASH, as written for the screen and directed by David Cronenberg. The film starred James Spader as Ballard, Elias Koteas as Vaughn, Holly Hunter as Helen and Rosanne Arquette as Gabrielle.
J.G. Ballard : David Cronenberg's Crash : An interview with spike magazine - SPIKE magazine's interview with JG Ballard about the controversy surrounding the film Crash.
Crash (1996/I) - from IMDb.com
Ballard, in his own words - video interviews and more
Ballard Remembered - Obituaries and Remembrances
- JG Ballard - Telegraph
JG Ballard, the author who died on April 19 aged 78, was best known for his two fictionalised autobiographies, Empire of the Sun and The Kindness of Women; the former, which told of his childhood in a Japanese internment camp outside Shanghai, became
- John Walsh: 'JG Ballard was our own private, Home Counties, prophet of doom'
Ballard was our own private, home-grown Cassandra, crying woe-thrice-woe on the smug, the bourgeois, the pampered and over -civilised. In book after book (his late blooms like Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes and Millennium People, were essentially the s
- R.I.P. J.G. Ballard, 1930-2009
Ballard articulates clearly to me the implications of living in an age of total consumerism, of blanket surveillance, of enslavement designed as mass entertainment. But he also speaks to me of resistance through irony, immersion, ambivalence, imagina
- New Wave icon J.G. Ballard dead at 78 | SCI FI Wire
On Sunday April 19, 2009, after a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, James Graham Ballard succumbed to his disease at the age of 78. His most recent publication at the time of his passing was his autobiography, Miracles of Life (2
- J.G. Ballard R.I.P. (11/15/1930-4/19/2009)
J.G. Ballard, and another of my relatively recently deceased role models, W.S. Burroughs, both refused to prostitute their writing, and they both refused to shmooze and “network” merely to further their “careers.” Both had a hatred of bourgeois hypoc
Upcoming Movie Adaptations
Since Ballard's death in April 2009, Hollywood and the movie industry has been buzzing about a variety of adaptations of his literary work into films.
- Vincenzo Natali's High Rise Is A Beautiful Skyscraper Of Doom - high rise
Ever since we heard about Christian Bale adapting Concrete Island we've been jonesing for more JG Ballard material. Thankfully, the teaser poster for Vincenzo Natali's High Rise adaptation has finally arrived. Welcome to paradise, and the eventual ut
- Christian Bale Wants To Get Marooned
During a press junket for Terminator yesterday, Bale admitted that he may have his eye on starring in another adaptation of a J.G. Ballard novel.
- Samuel L. Jackson to topline JG Ballard adaptation RUNNING WILD
Samuel L. Jackson to topline JG Ballard adaptation RUNNING WILD