The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard

The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard

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by J. G. Ballard
     
 

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“More than one thousand compelling pages from one of the most haunting, cogent, and individual imaginations in contemporary literature.”—William Boyd
The American publication of The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard is a landmark event. Increasingly recognized as one of the greatest and most prophetic novelists, J. G. Ballard was a “writer of…  See more details below

Overview

“More than one thousand compelling pages from one of the most haunting, cogent, and individual imaginations in contemporary literature.”—William Boyd
The American publication of The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard is a landmark event. Increasingly recognized as one of the greatest and most prophetic novelists, J. G. Ballard was a “writer of enormous inventive powers,” who, in the words of Malcolm Bradbury, possessed, “like Calvino, a remarkable gift for filling the empty deprived spaces of modern life with the invisible cities and the wonder worlds of imagination.”
Best known for his novels, such as Empire of the Sun and Crash, Ballard rose to fame as the “ideal chronicler of disturbed modernity” (The Observer). Perhaps less known, though equally brilliant, were his devastatingly original short stories, which span nearly fifty years and reveal an unparalleled prescience so unique that a new word—Ballardian—had to be invented. Ballard, who wrote that “short stories are the loose change in the treasury of fiction, easily ignored beside the wealth of novels available,” regretted the fact that the public had increasingly lost its ability to appreciate them.
With 98 pulse-quickening stories, this volume helps restore the very art form that Ballard feared was comatose. Ballard’s inimitable style was already present in his early stories, most of them published in science fiction magazines. These stories are surreal, richly atmospheric and splendidly elliptical, featuring an assortment of psychotropic houses, time-traveling assassins, and cities without clocks. Over the next fifty years, his fierce imaginative energy propelled him to explore new topics, including the dehumanization of technology, the brutality of the corporation, and nuclear Armageddon. Depicting the human soul as “being enervated and corrupted by the modern world” (New York Times), Ballard began to examine themes like overpopulation, as in “Billenium,” a claustrophobic imagining of a world of 20 billion people crammed into four-square-meter rooms, or the false realities of modern media, as in the classic “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan,” a faux-psychological study of the sexual and violent reactions elicited by viewing Reagan’s face on television, in which Ballard predicted the unholy fusion of pop culture and sound-bite politics thirteen years before Reagan became president. Given Ballard’s heightened powers of perception, it is astonishing that the dehumanized world that he apprehended so acutely neither diminished his own febrile imagination nor his engagement with mankind, evident in every story, including two new ones for this American edition.
So eerily prophetic is his vision, so commanding are his literary gifts, the import and insight of J. G. Ballard’s deeply humanistic and transcendent works can only grow in years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

The Nation
Ballard is probably the most original English writer of the last century.... the book is indispensable.— China Mieville
Washington Post
“Eerie and melancholy, they unsettle like a Dali painting or a Helmut Newton photograph.”
Literary Journal
“A revelation; essential reading.”
The Nation - China Mieville
“Ballard is probably the most original English writer of the last century.... the book is indispensable.”
The New York Times Book Review - Jonathan Lethem
“A master story writer—the maker of unforgettable artifacts in words, each as absolute and perplexing as sculptures unviewable from a single perspective.”
China Mieville - The Nation
“Ballard is probably the most original English writer of the last century.... the book is indispensable.”
Michael Dirda
Ballard believes strongly in plot, and, with a few exceptions, his stories are intensely gripping without ever being upbeat or reassuring. In style, his work combines an almost medical precision with an astonishing power for evocative description by the simplest means…Ballard's most influential stories were written mainly in the early 1960s…But this hefty volume permits a reappraisal of his excellent, if somewhat neglected, short fiction of the 1970s and '80s…In The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard devastated worlds are matched with even more devastated psyches. But these aren't simply "myths of the near future," they are probes sent down into the desolate heart of the here and now. As Ballard knew, reality has become just a subgenre of science fiction.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
The author of well-regarded novels like Crash and Empire of the Sun, which were made into films, British author Ballard was (he died earlier this year) a master of dystopian sf. The 1,216 pages in this collection are an astonishing record of a vibrant and vital mind at work. This volume includes 92 stories, most of which are set in some kind of nightmarish future world or alternate "visionary present," to use Ballard's phrase from his introduction to the book. The variety of stories here is impressive, even dizzying: "Manhole 69," for example, is about a scientific experiment to free human beings from sleep. "Prima Belladonna" is a disturbing story about a relationship between a singing orchid (with a 24-four octave range) and a beautiful, mysterious mutant woman. "Zodiac 2000" updates the Zodiac signs to include "The Sign of the Clones" and "The Sign of the Cruise Missile." Ballard is every bit the equal of Vonnegut, Orwell, and Huxley. VERDICT A revelation; essential reading. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09.]—Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT
Jonathan Lethem - The New York Times Book Review
“Each of Ballard’s 98 short stories is like a dream more perfectly realized than any of your own....Ultimately, Ballard is simply a master story writer—the maker of unforgettable artifacts in words, each as absolute and perplexing as sculptures unviewable from a single perspective. In this book of 98 stories, there are at least 30 you can spend a lifetime returning to, to wander and wonder around.”
Keir Graff - Booklist
“Although Ballard, who died in April, was probably more influential than he was popular, during his lifetime he received the ultimate literary honorific: the use of his name in adjectival form. Perhaps best known for his books that became movies...he was a prolific and provocative short-story writer, too....An essential work from an essential writer.”
Fatema Ahmed - The National
“At 1,200 pages, it may seem like a daunting book for the non-enthusiast, but it provides the best angle for approaching Ballard for the first time—and displays his development into Britain's most original postwar writer...The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard demonstrates the range and evolution of that work, and suggests that we might come up with many more uses of 'Ballardian' than we have so far.”
Richard Wirick - Bookslut
“As exotic as anyone in the aviary was Ballard, the elegant, evolving stylist, and the one with the finest ideas almost always finely executed. The full showcase of his short-form career is assembled at last in The Collected Stories, with a brilliant introduction by Martin Amis.”
Ed Park - Los Angeles Times
“[A] staggeringly great and varied volume.... The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard offers weeks of surprise and pleasure.”
Michael Upchurch - Seattle Times
“The marvel of most of these tales is how instantly comprehensible their alternate realities are when so little is explained—and how believable they are, too, thanks to Ballard's unflappable narrative voice. With unerring instinct, he finds the ordinariness in the most preposterous scenarios, thus connecting them in detail and tone to our own reality....There are still two Ballard novels and a memoir awaiting U.S. publication. Let's hope the overdue appearance of this volume means the rest are on their way.”
The New York Times Book Review
Each of Ballard’s 98 short stories is like a dream more perfectly realized than any of your own....Ultimately, Ballard is simply a master story writer—the maker of unforgettable artifacts in words, each as absolute and perplexing as sculptures unviewable from a single perspective. In this book of 98 stories, there are at least 30 you can spend a lifetime returning to, to wander and wonder around.— Jonathan Lethem
Booklist
Although Ballard, who died in April, was probably more influential than he was popular, during his lifetime he received the ultimate literary honorific: the use of his name in adjectival form. Perhaps best known for his books that became movies...he was a prolific and provocative short-story writer, too....An essential work from an essential writer.— Keir Graff
The National
At 1,200 pages, it may seem like a daunting book for the non-enthusiast, but it provides the best angle for approaching Ballard for the first time—and displays his development into Britain's most original postwar writer...The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard demonstrates the range and evolution of that work, and suggests that we might come up with many more uses of 'Ballardian' than we have so far.— Fatema Ahmed
Bookslut
As exotic as anyone in the aviary was Ballard, the elegant, evolving stylist, and the one with the finest ideas almost always finely executed. The full showcase of his short-form career is assembled at last in The Collected Stories, with a brilliant introduction by Martin Amis.— Richard Wirick
Los Angeles Times
[A] staggeringly great and varied volume.... The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard offers weeks of surprise and pleasure.— Ed Park
Seattle Times
The marvel of most of these tales is how instantly comprehensible their alternate realities are when so little is explained—and how believable they are, too, thanks to Ballard's unflappable narrative voice. With unerring instinct, he finds the ordinariness in the most preposterous scenarios, thus connecting them in detail and tone to our own reality....There are still two Ballard novels and a memoir awaiting U.S. publication. Let's hope the overdue appearance of this volume means the rest are on their way.— Michael Upchurch

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393339291
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/08/2010
Pages:
1199
Sales rank:
355,059
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.20(d)

Meet the Author

J.G. Ballard was born in Shanghai in 1930 and lived in England from 1946 until his death in London in 2009. He is the author of nineteen novels, including Empire of the Sun, The Drought, and Crash, with many of them made into major films.

Martin Amis is one of Britain's most prolific post-war writers and a professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester. His stories and essays explore the absurdity of the postmodern condition.

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The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
literatureloverOR More than 1 year ago
Anyone who still thinks Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, or whatever you want to call it, is inferior to what is considered mainstream literature, must change their minds after reading even a small random selection of the short stories in this complete anthology.
Skyhorse More than 1 year ago
I'm so glad to see all these collected in one volume. I've been hoping to get this author's collected works for quite some time--especially now that he's passed on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually do not go for short stories (except for maybe Donald Barthelme's short stories), but I am a JG Ballard fan after reading several of his novels many years ago. His writings seem to have a sort of conservative, Martian-like existence--they are that different than Earth-like, not always nice at all, but they are thought provoking. FA Hayek's economic nonfiction is so bizarre that it tends to drift into exposing the validity of the possible real existence of Ballard's scifi world. However, Hayek does it with never stating anything of the kind.