Tuesday, April 21, 2009

J. G. Ballard, 1930-2009

I have to admit, I've never liked reading sci-fi. Movies, games, no problem. But I've never enjoyed reading sci-fi. There's just something about writers who work with the assumption that ideas and science are more important than the actual craft of writing that I find entirely uninteresting.

Two exceptions: William Gibson's Neuromancer (not so much his other novels) and my personnal favourite, James Graham Ballard.

I saw Empire of the Sun when I was 13 and I really liked it, as opposed to Steven Spielberg's other movies in those days. I only read the book much later, while I was finishing my M.A., and I much preferred it, since it lacked all the cuteness of the movie. Completely uncute, but great, was Crash, both the book (which informed my own writing for years) and the Cronenberg adaptation.

I then read an anthology of Ballard short stories, which blew me away, especially his more experimental, fragmented short stories such as those found in The Atrocity Exhibition.

And then while on a one-month trip to Thailand, I read a few more books, such as The Crystal World, Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes, and The Concrete Island. Not all of them were equally great, but they were all enjoyable. Not all of them were even sci-fi, but they all had that melancholy, that sense of an end of the world, or an end of a world, examining either science, sociology, technology, with this sad eye only he had. Nothing quite compared.

J.G. Ballard died on April 19, after a long battle with prostate cancer. His voice will be missed.

1 comment:

  1. J.G. Ballard, rest in peace. I think I've read most of the same stuff you have, except that I haven't gotten to Crash.