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Ballard World Set for 2008 OpeningAuthor: Simon Sellars • Apr 13th, 2007 •
Egyptian Ballard World: dead monorails hanging against the sky like guillotines (photo by Dubai Dave).
Dickens World is set to open next week, according to this report. It’s a recreation of ‘a dark, dirty and dank London…populated by thieves, murderers and ghosts…[with an] air of authenticity as it was built in consultation with experts from the Dickens Fellowship’.
It’s the first in a series of literary theme parks set to open within the next few years. Next is Ballard World in 2008, which beat off a host of popular favourites to be second in line (most pundits drearily predicted Shakespeare World would follow the Dickens simulacrum). According to our sources, ’166 acres of a former B52 airbase near Cambridge is being turned into the first J.G. Ballard entertainment park, the first in a world-wide chain of themed resorts based on the work of the infamous British SF writer.’
As the publicity trumpets:
Ballard World will be the perfect day trip for stressed out Londoners. Our slogan is ‘Families exploring inner space’, with enough going on for every age group. Picture it: the little ones play hide and seek in an abandoned Shanghai mansion and roam around the inevitable empty swimming pool. Dad fingers the dented side panel of Jayne Mansfield’s crashed 1966 Buick Electra, while mummy has a pina colada in a cocktail party that’s permanently on the brink of getting out of hand.
There will be another Ballard resort on the outskirts of Shanghai, expected to open its doors in 2009 and consisting of a minute replica of the London suburb of Shepperton, with the Heathrow Hilton atrium as an entrance building. Other cities as diverse as Detroit and Rome have shown interest in opening a Ballard World, possibly due to the relatively little investment needed for turning a derelict highway overpass or abandoned airforce base into a first-class authentic theme park.”
Is this a dream come true? You would think so. But I’m not so sure, especially considering the ham-fisted nature of the advertising. I mean, come on: families exploring inner space? It’s just *too* slick, especially considering the real world is so very Ballardian — and a lot, lot meaner.
As everyone knows, this is the second attempt at starting up the Ballard World concept, after an Egyptian version in Alexandria closed due to entropy. Egyptian Ballard World, developed by loyal Ballard fans for loyal Ballard fans, had everything the discerning JGB fan could possibly require: abandoned water bodies; derelict technology; dead monorails hanging against the sky like guillotines; construction works half finished, as if some terrible disaster had wiped out all traces of human life; masses of rubble and twisted metal forming complex cryptograms, their meaning inscrutable and remote, as if they were designed not for man, but for man’s absence…
As Ballard himself insists, you can’t breed out the deviant strains in our personalities without succumbing to totalitarianism, so is it too much to ask that the new chain maintains the high standard of the ramshackle, anarchic and exhilarating Egyptian Ballard World, without smoothing out the necessary roughage inherent in our daily lives?
Only time will tell…although time sickness, as Ballard fans know only too well, is the No. 1 curse of the modern age.
With thanks to Clem Dorbeck for the original report.
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