Ballard, J.G.

▪ British author
born Nov. 15, 1930, Shanghai, China

      British author of science fiction set in ecologically unbalanced landscapes caused by decadent technological excess.

      The son of a British business executive based in China, Ballard spent four years of his boyhood in a Japanese prison camp near Shanghai during World War II. This experience is recounted in his largely autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun (1984; film, 1987). The devastated city and nearby countryside also provided settings for several of his apocalyptic novels. He attended King's College, Cambridge, but left without a degree. His first short stories appeared in the 1950s. Beginning in the 1960s, Ballard wrote longer works, including the well-known The Drowned World (1962), The Wind from Nowhere (1962), The Burning World (1964), and The Crystal World (1966).

      With the gory images of his surreal short stories in The Atrocity Exhibition (1970; also published as Love and Napalm: Export U.S.A.), Ballard began writing of dehumanized sex and technology at their most extreme. His novels Crash (1973), Concrete Island (1974), and High Rise (1975) depict 20th-century middle-class people devolving into savagery. Contrasting with this apocalyptic vision of the future were his almost wistful short stories about the decadent technological utopia Vermilion Sands; these were collected in Vermilion Sands (1971). Ballard's stylistic debts to Joseph Conrad are evident in his novel The Day of Creation (1987). Later works include the short-story collection War Fever (1990) and the novel The Kindness of Women (1991).

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Universalium. 2010.

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