J. G. Ballard

Well, it is certainly a sad day for science fiction (or indeed any fiction).

JG Ballard, who has died aged 78, once described himself as “a man of complete and serene ordinariness” (to the disbelief of his interviewer). In fact, he was one of the most strikingly original English writers of the past half-century. Esteemed for his wayward imagination and his ability to create a distinctively Ballardian world, his fiction moved through various phases while remaining instantly recognisable.

Now there was someone who could write. I’ve only read a few of his novels, my favourite being the mind fuck of a surrealist masterpiece, The Atrocity Exhibition, which covered topics form mass media to psychosis to war, exploring inner and outer landscapes.

Not many novelists could hope to have an adjective named after them, and I think it sums up his career nicely.

(adj) 1. of James Graham Ballard (born 1930), the British novelist, or his works (2) resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.

There really wasn’t anyone better at lifting the lid and battering all that was wrong with contemporary culture. I’m not going to go on about how good he was—there are hundreds better than myself to do this. I just want to encourage people to give some of this books a go, if you haven’t, and see what all the fuss is about.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.