Ballard's genius for imagining exotic places appears again in Vermilion Sands where he creates a fantasy landscape of the future. These stories feature forgotten movie queens and guilt-ridden femmes fatales who exercise their every whim in a culture of unlimited technology.
A violent novel filled with insidious twists, Kingdom Come follows the exploits of Richard Pearson, a rebellious, unemployed advertising executive, whose father is gunned down by a deranged mental patient in a vast shopping mall outside Heathrow Airport. When the prime suspect is released without charge, Richard’s suspicions are aroused. Investigating the mystery, Richard uncovers at the Metro-Centre mall a neo-fascist world whose charismatic spokesperson is whipping up the masses into a state of unsustainable frenzy. Riots frequently terrorize the complex, immigrant communities are attacked by hooligans, and sports events mushroom into jingoistic political rallies. In this gripping, dystopian tour de force, J.G. Ballard holds up a mirror to suburban mind rot, revealing the darker forces at work beneath the gloss of consumerism and flag-waving patriotism.
'Miracles of Life' opens and closes in Shanghai, the city where J.G.Ballard was born, and where he spent the most of the Second World War interned with his family in a Japanese concentration camp. In the intervening chapters Ballard creates a memoir that is both an enthralling narrative and a detailed examination of the events which would profoundly influence his work. Beginning with his early childhood spent exploring the vibrant surroundings of pre-war Shanghai, Ballard charts the course of his remarkable life from the deprivations and unexpected freedoms of the Lunghua Camp to his return to a Britain physically and psychologically crippled by war. He explores his subsequent involvement in the dramatic social changes of the 1960s, and the adjustments to life following the premature death of his wife. In prose displaying his characteristic precision and eye for detail, Ballard recounts the experiences which would fundamentally shape his writing, while simultaneously providing an striking social analysis of the fragmented post-war Britain that lies behind so many of his novels. 'Miracles of Life' is an utterly captivating account of an extraordinary writer's extraordinary life.
J. G. Ballard is a British writer who has been called a “poet of death.” But Ballard, especially in the early part of his career, also wrote excellent extrapolative science fiction on social themes, and this haunting story is one of his finest.
Here Ballard speaks of the enslavement of the unconscious, of an economic system that forces people to consume against their will through the use of technology. Ballard makes an important assumption-the belief (at least implicitly) that people would not want to consume at high rates if they were not “forced” to do so. In a profound sense, “The Subliminal Man” is a basic critique of the underlying dichotomy that pervades the concept of advertising-that of needs versus wants. We all have basic needs like food, sex, clothing, and shelter. Almost everything else (including the book you are now reading) is wants, often artificially created by the culture in which we live. Think how much more difficult resistance would become if the technology of subliminal advertising were forced upon us. This threat goes beyond the financial difficulties that families would be in. We would also be threatened with dehumanization, for it is the ability to think and chose that separates us from the rest of the animal world.
Ballard’s story also assumes that industry will continue to manufacture products that will easily and quickly wear out, or if this is not the case, then it will find ways to make us dissatisfied with the products we now have. There is little evidence that things will change for the better.
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