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Vermilion Sands (1971)

Author: • Oct 8th, 2006 •

Category: bibliography, consumerism, flying, Salvador Dali, surrealism

Ballardian: Vermilion Sands

“All summer the cloud-sculptors would come from Vermilion Sands and sail their painted gliders above the coral towers that rose like white pagodas beside the highway to Lagoon West.”
(from ‘The Cloud-Sculptors of Coral D’).

I’m not covering every one of JGB’s short-story collections in this bibliography — with the release of the Complete Short Stories volumes, they’ve mostly been made redundant. However, there are a few compilations worthy of mention and Vermilion Sands is one of them. It’s a thematic collection, with all stories centred around Ballard’s futuristic Vermilion Sands resort, which, according to my 1975 Panther edition, is a “weird and exotic landscape of the mind where violent and nightmarish dramas of the future are heightened by the bizarre, overlit emotions of its twisted denizens”.

Totally familiar Ballardian psycho-drama…and if you’ve come to Ballard through his late-period novels, then Vermilion Sands is highly recommended. Its themes of “Europe lying on its back in the sun” and of “work as the ultimate play, and play the ultimate work” are fully realised in Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes respectively.

Ballardian: Vermilion SandsThe Panther cover is also worthy of mention: it features a tattooed Amazon in scanty dress holding a spear gun, her bum at face level with a midget in a wet suit also holding a spear gun. It’s about as wide of the mark as the recent article in the Guardian that bizarrely reported on “Wine-Bot, a ‘robo-sommelier’ that belongs in the pages of a JG Ballard novel”.

A few quotes also make it to the back cover:

Vermilion Sands is a desert resort from ahead; the episodes are the grains of the place … I recommend a visit with this book, where the aching landscaoe of the idea contains wit and irony to shde us from the anguished sun’.”

The Times

“J.G. Ballard is … one of the most accomplished creators of evocative landscapes in modern fiction … he achieves this effect partly by painting his desert in the manner of Dali, a mixture of appalling clarity and the exotic.”

Times Literary Supplement

+ ‘The Cloud-Sculptors of Coral D’ (1967)
+ ‘Prima Belladonna’ (1956)
+ ‘The Screen Game’ (1963)
+ ‘The Singing Statues’ (1962)
+ ‘Cry Hope, Cry Fury!’ (1967)
+ ‘Venus Smiles’ (1957; rewritten 1967)
+ ‘Say Goodbye to the Wind’ (1970)
+ ‘Studio 5, The Stars’ (1961)
+ ‘The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista’ (1962)

Read Ballard’s preface to Vermilion Sands:

Where is Vermilion Sands? I suppose its spiritual home lies somewhere between Arizona and Ipanema Beach, but in recent years I have been delighted to see it popping up elsewhere — above all, in sections of the 3,000-mile-long linear city that stretches from Gibraltar to Glyfada Beach along the northern shores of the Mediterranean, and where each summer Europe lies on its back in the sun. That posture, of course, is the hallmark of Vermilion Sands and, I hope, of the future — not merely that no-one has to work, but that work is the ultimate play, and play the ultimate work.”

J.G. Ballard. Preface to Vermilion Sands, 1975.

• Filmography (coming soon)
• Artography (coming soon)


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9 Responses »

  1. JGB has so many different aspects to his writing. How can anyone say he writes the same thing over and over? Not necessarily his best stories taken individually but they work together more like a television serial (hint! hint!). Just one more fascinating perspective into the imagination of a genius.

  2. […] Vermillion Sands?  Certainly something from Ballard, anyway, reinforced by my continued glacial slog through the second volume of his short stories on the train home.  As perviously mooted, I’d love to see the Vermillion Sands stories on some kind of screen, perhaps shot by someone like Charlie Kaufman or Wes Anderson.  Or maybe a mini-series for HBO? […]

  3. […] space opera to an allegory about change and adaptability. Science fiction writing, especially the Vermilion Sands series of short stories written by J.G Ballard in the 1950s & 60s are mined for their […]

  4. […] that I wanted to write a post about the short story The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista in the book Vermilion Sands written by James Graham Ballard between 1956 and 1970 (and published in 1971). In fact, this story […]

  5. “Vermilion Sands” is one of my favorite Ballard works. Currently, I am working on a sketch map of Vermilion Sands with various landmarks noted: the coral towers, the sand-sea casino, the ‘Sands and its nearby communities (Lagoon West, etc.), the Vermilion Sands-Red Beach Highway, etc. Ballard provides a few clues, here and there, to rough out a map of the anthology’s delightful, imaginary geography of fossil seas and the artists who haunt their shores.

  6. […] Mi recomendación es Vermillion Sands de J.G.Ballard… este autor es un […]

  7. […] later when reading J.G. Ballard’s “Say Goodbye to the Wind” from his  ”Vermilion Sands”  short-story collection, I was again reminded of that lonely, sandy stretch and it’s […]

  8. That hilariously wrong Panther cover looks like it could have started life as a cover intended for Heinlein’s Glory Road. Compare and contrast with the cover here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pulpcrush/8738260058/ (not my upload)

  9. Dug a little further and it seems that cover was indeed used for a 1963 publication of Glory Road in Dutch – see about half way down this page: http://www.boekbeschrijvingen.nl/heinlein-robert/heinlein2.html
    Link to image only: http://www.boekbeschrijvingen.nl/heinlein-robert/heinlein12.jpg

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