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The Wind From Nowhere (1961)Author: Simon Sellars • Oct 10th, 2006 •
“The dust came first.”
From the Penguin edition, 1976:
The wind came from nowhere … a super-hurricane that blasted round the globe at hundreds of miles per hour burying whole communities beneath piles of rubble, destroying all organized life and driving those it did not kill to seek safety in tunnels and sewers – where they turned against each other in their desperate struggle to survive …”
The Wind From Nowhere (1961) is JG Ballard’s first novel, not that you’d know it from official JGB bibliographies, where it’s never mentioned, or in interviews, where Ballard continues to assert that The Drowned World was his first book.
The wind from nowhere has gone back to nowhere.
In a 1975 interview with David Pringle, Ballard says: “I don’t see my fiction as being disaster-oriented, certainly not most of my SF – apart from The Wind from Nowhere which is just a piece of hackwork. The others, which are reasonably serious, are not disaster stories.”
The book does contain some ‘empty symbolism’, and the characters sometimes articulate overlong expositions, all a bit jarring from an author who was to bloom into the master of sparse, laser-sharp, all-killer-no-filler writing.
Still, it *is* Ballard; all the classic archetypes are in place, if a little sketchily (except for the ‘Vaughan’ figure) — the bitch-as-catalyst, especially — and it does have what must be the first truly classic JGB quote, one that ranks with the pearls collected in Vale’s RE/Search book, a quote that both presages future events and qualifies current ones.
A JGB ‘soundbite’ as Mr Pringle calls them… On p112 of my Penguin edition, Ballard writes: “Remember, it’s not enough to make history – you’ve got to arrange for someone to record it for you.”
Here’s an excerpt from an article by Ben Jeapes, one of the very few essays on the web regarding this ‘idiot offspring’ of JGB’s:
The seeds of what have since become traditional Ballard themes are all there, of course. Civilisation collapses, a handful of weirdos … no, not weirdos. These are real, everyday people. They either try and do something about keeping society going or they lie low and wait for it to go away — both sensible, believable actions.”
Here’s another review excerpt, from Strange Words:
That undefinable atmosphere that marks Ballard’s best work is here, around the edges, pushing away at our perceptions. While not partaking of the extreme ideas of The Crystal World, the obsession of The Day of Creation, or the fatal ennui of The Drowned World, there is that strange taste at the back of the mouth that is Ballard.
You don’t need a weatherman to know that a Ballard wind is blowing. In some ways, a lesser Ballard effort. But one can almost sense Ballard ringing out the old, making way for the strange and terrible world he would soon construct.”
..:: ELSEWHERE ON BALLARDIAN (selected posts)
+ The Wind from Nowhere is now a wind from somewhere
+ ‘Enigmatic Engineering’ in The Wind from Nowhere
+ ‘My name is Maitland, Donald Maitland…’
..:: BUY THE BOOK
Newer: JG Ballard Bibliography: Short Stories & Non-Fiction »