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Competition Winner: Starsky & Hutch, by J.G. BallardAuthor: Ballardian • Dec 5th, 2006 •
Illustration by Rick McGrath.
“Television crime series…were filled with their huge carapaces, swerving in and out of alleys, reversing in a howl of burning rubber. Watched with the sound down, episodes of Starsky and Hutch resembled instructional films on valet parking”.
J.G. Ballard, 2005
Announcing the winner of our J.G. Ballard Pastiche competition, sponsored by the kind people at Harper Collins.
We know that as a struggling writer, J.G. Ballard originally moved to Shepperton to be near the famous movie studios, in the hope he’d be able to snare some scriptwriting work. Now picture a parallel world where Jim Ballard achieved that goal, becoming so successful that he relocated to Hollywood, where he became much in demand.
A copy of Ballard’s new novel, Kingdom Come, supplied by Harper Collins.
Lyle Hopwood, the reigning JGB Pastiche Champion. Lyle, of course, was the winner of Interzone magazine’s 1993 competition for “the best short extract from an imaginary novelization of the science-fiction movie Alien as it might have been written by leading British novelist J.G. Ballard”.
To help you on your way, we’ve reproduced Lyle’s winning story in — what else — the pastiche section. Sorry, Fredric.
1) In his 2005 feature on CSI, Ballard wrote: “Television crime series…were filled with their huge carapaces, swerving in and out of alleys, reversing in a howl of burning rubber. Watched with the sound down, episodes of Starsky and Hutch resembled instructional films on valet parking”.
2) In his interview with this site Iain Sinclair declares, “Ballard’s a very easy writer to pastiche badly. I think he’s there with someone like Graham Greene as a stylist. There used to be a New Statesman competition to parody Greene’s style, and Greene came second when he entered”.
And the winner, as judged by Lyle Hopwood, is Steven Craig Hickman, whose entry is below. A copy of J.G. Ballard’s latest novel, Kingdom Come, courtesy of Harper Collins, will be winging its way to Steven. Runner up was Rocky Morrow, whose entry can also be found below. Special mention must be made of Rick McGrath’s entry, the movie poster at the start of this page: while it didn’t meet the requirements of the competition (sorry, we wanted text only), it’s certainly good enough to reproduce.
Many thanks to all who entered, and to Lyle Hopwood and Harper Collins, of course. Lyle’s comments on the top two entries follow Steven and Rocky’s ‘novelisations’.
STARSKY & HUTCH: NOVELISATION BY J.G. BALLARD
Winner: Steven Craig Hickman
At dusk Starsky was still sitting in the cockpit of the Grand Torino like the pilot of an alien spacecraft. Unconcerned by the shifting tide of traffic advancing toward him across the blackened beach of this urban nightmare, he watched the luminous sun melt into the metalloid dreams of Bay City.
Hutch walked out of the shadows of the glass city like a new Apollo of the marketplace, flames sparking from his spectral torso as if the sun in one last desperate attempt to attain eternity had suddenly found in this strange flesh the perfected incarnation of a delirious thought.
Starsky held the key in his hand as if it were a secret accomplice to the dark mysteries of an arcane religion. He prepared himself for a final departure, one that would ennoble both himself and his partner into the greater mysteries of Time. The sparking flesh of Hutch moved steadily toward him as the neon dolphins flew above chromium air.
The last vestiges of the sun’s decay flashed on the horizon like an angel of the apocalypse, as if to awaken the sleeping minds of all the lost souls before the great and terrible conflagration breaks over the glass sea of Time. In the finale every element of the universe, however abandoned, would take its place on this terminal stage in front of him.
As he watched Hutch suddenly rise into the air on luminous wings, he was reminded of all those ancient astronauts that still flamed above in their dead cages of steel like derelict gods thrown into the emptiness of this vast wasteland. He started the car and began moving toward his old partner in crime, the winged god of a new earth. He would embrace this flaming god of the sun one last time in a torsion beyond time.
LYLE’S COMMENTS: I particularly liked the length (short) of Steven’s story, the sheer compactness of similies per line and the impression it gave of absolute, almost mechanised intensity. It was, in more than one sense of the phrase, concentration city. And anything that ends with a sentence like that deserves a prize.
STARSKY & HUTCH: NOVELISATION BY J.G. BALLARD
Runner-up: Rocky Morrow
Starsky has begun to piece his world together. It has been three weeks since a traumatic cerebral injury rendered Detective Starsky an amnesiac. This report intends to inform the department head, Captain Harold Dobey, and his superiors of my partner’s present condition, a revolutionary cure suggested by a renegade mental health professional, and a possible danger.
I have been briefed by the doctors in charge of Starsky’s rehabilitation that mood swings are to be expected during this period of rediscovery. In particular, any presentation of depression and anger on the part of Starsky is to be understood and forgiven.
Starsky is sticking to the textbook. He is stubborn and refuses, almost violently, to be told point-blank of the particulars of his identity up to and including any information regarding his education, profession, sexual orientation, medical history, family history, military history, or the case of Starsky and I on Playboy Island parts 1 and 2.
He is certain that he will come back to himself.
According to notes provided to me by the trauma counselor, Lyndia Toxwater, David Starsky is open to learning about the present world. A quote from page 23: “He is a voracious reader of anything brought to him. The doctors tell me that he is not so much willing to ‘learn about the present world’ as he is trying to ‘lose himself in the written word’.”
The period of recovery for a person in Starsky’s situation is anywhere from a day to a lifetime. Toxwater suggested that an attempt be made to meet Starsky in the place where he most desires to be lost and, thus, is least resistant to being found.
Toxwater claims that the rate of success for this media neurotherapy is much higher than reported in the “big three” major mental health reference journals: Zepter and Hodges Illustrated, The New Journal of Disorders, and Abnormal Models (published in Spanish as The Aztec Cortex). Toxwater insists that there are at least a half-dozen medical journals dedicated to this, and related endeavors, in the Soviet Union. A telephone call to the Maywood Cesar Chavez branch of the County of Los Angeles Public Library was flirtatious but inconclusive.
With Toxwater’s advice in mind, I have placed the following three advertisements in several Los Angeles dailies:
Under the classification of Automobiles For Sale:
Must sell! Gran Turino red 2-dr
hardtop w/ white striping.
Chrome exhaust, bumpers, grill.
Great suspension, hugs road.
Perfect for the off-duty policeman.
Meets all fed regulations. New tyres.
Reply to box 4343 c/o this paper.
Under the classification of Miscellaneous For Sale:
Picture Yourself Watching This!
1970s era television.
Good condition, retro look.
Perfect for dedicated bachelor’s pad.
Reply to box 4343 c/o this paper.
Under the classification of Personals:
Have You Forgotten Yourself?
Sad SWM seeks Lonely SWM for
male bonding over cars, busting crime rings.
Slobs OK. Reply to Box 4343, c/o this paper.
It is my hope that “voracious reader” Starsky will see these “fragmentary allusions” (a phrase taken from a personal consultation regarding David Starsky with Lyndia Toxwater) and snap out of his fugue. As a bonus, all responses to box 4343 will be checked against our records for bail jumpers and fugitives. In the cases of paroled felons, any address change will be noted and filed.
Toxwater says that it is fortunate that the Los Angeles Police Department has chosen to not publicize David Starsky’s condition in local news media. A photograph of David Starsky accompanied by a caption with his name and medical condition would be a psychotraumatic event on a caustic level, effectively obliterating not only the progress that has been made, but also…
LYLE’S COMMENTS: I liked this as a story a great deal. It’s something that I would not be surprised to see published in a magazine (without references to Starsky and Hutch, of course). It works very well as a story and I found it engrossing and moving. I did not award it the prize for a similar reason: it was so engaging and the character seemed to have such an emotional need that I felt it was not quite Ballardian enough to take first prize. Excellent story, though, and the Ballard elements were carefully thought out and well rendered.
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