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R.I.P. J.G. Ballard, 1930-2009

Author: • Apr 20th, 2009 •

Category: R.I.P. JGB

Ballardian: R.I.P. J.G. Ballard

Goodbye, Jim…

As publisher of this site, my goal has always been to take J.G. Ballard as a philosopher, rather than simply a ‘novelist’. Sometimes this has truly angered fans and champions of his work, more often it has brought me into brilliant and inspiring contact with writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers and theorists who all see the world through that same Ballardian lens — and with Jim Ballard himself, who, along with his partner Claire Walsh, always remained supportive of the site.

Ballard articulates clearly to me the implications of living in an age of total consumerism, of blanket surveillance, of enslavement designed as mass entertainment. But he also speaks to me of resistance through irony, immersion, ambivalence, imagination — of remixing, recycling, remaking, remodelling.

Ballard embraces dystopian scenarios, including the archetypal non-space often characterised as a deadening feature of late capitalism. But this is not simply a call for nihilism. Ballard’s characters are not disengaged from their world. Rather, they embody a sense of resistance that derives from full immersion, a therapeutic confrontation with the powers of darkness, whereby merging with dystopian alienation negates its power.

This is predicated on concurrency: Ballard’s writing turns objectivity into subjectivity, opens up gaps where there is room for new subjects. His scenarios are what I term ‘affirmative dystopias’, neither straight utopia nor straight dystopia, but an occupant of the interstitial space between them, perpetual oscillation between the poles – the ‘yes or no of the borderzone’, to use a phrase from his work.

Here, dystopia becomes the real utopia, and utopian ideals, typically represented as a stifling of the imagination, the true dystopia. He reinhabits the frame to present a clearinghouse in which corporate and national governance is overthrown and regoverned as a ‘state of mind’.

To read and to understand Ballard, then, is to be gloriously, finally liberated.

To James Graham Ballard: thank you.

Share your tributes and memories of JGB in the comments section below.

>> Further news, links etc at my Twitter stream — where I post the bulk of my links and new info.

>> I have asked Ballardian contributors & associates for their thoughts on JGB’s passing:

+ Part 1: Ben Noys, Chris Nakashima-Brown and Mark Dery.
+ Part 2: Michael Moorcock.
+ Part 3: Tim Chapman, Rick McGrath, Solveig Nordlund, Dan O’Hara, Dominika Oramus, Rick Poynor, David Pringle, Simon Sellars, Supervert and V. Vale.
+ Part 4: Jeannette Baxter, Mike Bonsall, Mark Fisher, Owen Hatherley, Mike Holliday and Nina Power.


+ Claire Walsh
(1) @The Evening Standard (2) @The Guardian
+ Bea Ballard
+ Michael Moorcock
(1) @Multiverse (2) @Ballardian
+ Iain Sinclair
+ David Pringle
+ Jeff VanderMeer
+ Christopher Priest
+ V. Vale
+ Toby Litt
+ Malcolm Edwards
+ Neil Gaiman
+ John Clute
+ Will Self
+ John Gray
+ Chris Petit
+ Simon Reynolds
+ David Cronenberg
+ Martin Amis
+ Bruce Sterling

+ BBC News
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+ The Guardian
+ The Independent
+ The Telegraph
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+ Wall Street Journal
+ Salon
+ A.V. Club
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+ Jimmy, the sweet sage of Shepperton
+ How J.G. Ballard cast his shadow right across the arts
+ Nine J.G. Ballard stories that must be filmed
+ What pop music tells us about JG Ballard
+ In pictures: J.G. Ballard’s architectural inspiration
+ What sort of doctor would JG Ballard have made?
+ Ballard and the painters
+ ‘JG Ballard was our own private, Home Counties, prophet of doom’
+ Was J.G. Ballard a prophet of doom – or the future?
+ ‘Between the Tower and the Parking Lot: A Spatial Appreciation of J.G. Ballard’
+ Fans want car park named after celebrated writer
+ Divergent perspectives on J.G. Ballard
+ Crashing through to dystopia

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203 Responses »

  1. Nicely put, Simon. RIP JGB.

  2. What a generous, challenging and sometimes grimly hilarious writer. The Crystal World and Vermilion Sands changed my perception of what science fiction could be, while Concrete Island and Crash changed my outlook on the entirety of fiction.

    Thank you J.G. Ballard, for all you wrote and the inspiration you provided to other artists.

  3. James G. Ballard has been a very influential person in my life, despite never actually meeting the man, I did so meet a great mind through his work. As an architect with an intense interest in Urbanism and the effects of technology in human society, his insight has been amongst the most important in my development as a free thinking person and has shaped my own ideas and observations of the world we live in. He is one of the very few writers I can definitely thank for helping define the way I am now and one of the best intellectual companies I’ve had through his books. I would have loved to meet him, alas, it could not be.

  4. I did not know you Mr Ballard but I rejoiced that you wrote such great books. There will be no new ones to come – we will have to read again and again those you have already written.


  5. The fact that Ballard’s death was on the cards doesn’t make it easier to process. Like many people I came to Ballard as a teenager, mainly through his association with Moorcock and New Worlds. His work – not to mention his iconoclastic personality – has been part of my mental furniture ever since. That said, I probably didn’t really appreciate Ballard’s genius until much later, and even now I wonder if perhaps I have given his more recent novels short shrift. In any case, Ballard’s death is immensely sad. He was unique, confounding, an irritant (and I mean that as a compliment! be sand, not oil, in the machinery of the world, etc.) and often simply brilliant. R.I.P.

  6. J.G. Ballard owns a sizable chunk of the 21st century’s memetic real-estate. Unlike some writers, he runs no risk whatsoever of being forgotten.

  7. A true and original voice that has captivated me since I first read ” The Unlimited Dream Company” He will be sorely missed, but what an amazing legacy he leaves behind.

  8. when people lack the faith to go on animals show the love that we have lost

  9. J.G. Ballard RIP – please see this unusual book blog:

  10. Ballard, your thoughts will be always part of my mind

  11. […] astonishingly thorough compendium of the novelist’s work, life, and thought. Sellars’ Ballard obituary is a great place to begin. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A personal obituary : […]

  12. Very sad news. I was aware Jim was sick for some time but today’s news is still a surprise and very sad. I never knew him but I feel like I have lost a friend.Maybe his memoirs can still be published-“he meaning of life-if any”.

  13. RIP J.G. You have found your place in the sun, and we will love and remember you always, brother:

    A brilliant movie originally a novel by Ballard, remade into a movie by Stephen Spielberg. Ballard is known for so many beautiful, powerful reads throughout recent decades. His unofficial biography on the wikipedia link below.

    In my academy days at my parochial high school, I saw the film version of this novel, an icon in international perspective, and perspectives on life in post-colonial Shanghai. This was a very gripping film, winning several major awards. But the greatest reward was having the man and his message speak to me in so many ways through so many works. J.G. Ballard truly shines now as brightly as the sun, his works and his life shall be remembered forever.

    I encourage all to view his works, his life, and his wonderful stories and writings.



    RIP old friend

  14. I wanted to name my bookshop in Johannesburg after JG Ballard because I believed him to be the greatest living author. So I wrote to him via his publisher to tell him. And he wrote back to me, saying: “I’m honoured that you named your bookshop after me, thanks for telling me. If it doesn’t work out you could always try Barbara Taylor Bradford’s or Stephen Kings, I won’t mind!”

  15. Thanks for the Highrise Super Cannes.

    Ballard was one of my all-time favourites. He really understood the ‘modern condition’.

    I accidentally ran into his retrospective in Barcelona last year while on holidays there. A great accident.

    It feels weird when an artist that really meant something to you passes.

  16. after burroughs died, ballard reigned supreme as our greatest living writer. now? no one even comes close.

  17. Hi Simon, don’t know if it’s of any interest to you, but here are my thoughts on the death of JGB: http://robinbrown.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/thoughts-on-the-death-of-jg-ballard/

  18. Why I Want to Fuck JG Ballard

    Most of us struggle to capture the spirit of the age when we write. Ballard lived and breathed it. His materials were its architecture – sex, cars, shopping, the pillars that kept the sky from falling on our heads. He could be infuriating, driving over and over the same old ground, but in that too he mirrored what was happening on a larger scale – reflexive modernity, as Beck called it. Heh.

    Lately everybody’s been asking if science fiction – or any kind of writing about the future – is dead, because nobody can guess, any longer, what the future will bring. All we know is that a change is coming. Every such age must be preceded by a kind of madness. Ballard was a prophet of that madness. Whilst others worked to shore up the doomed structure, he saw it for what it is, just another bunker.

    Next week I’ll be on the beach. I’ll raise a glass to him.

  19. A very brilliant and special man. We will miss you James.

  20. Ballard on the death of Burroughs “all we are left with now are the career novelists”…Now we really are. RIP

  21. J. G. Ballard was a writer that I could always find comfort in, which might sound strange considering his usual subject matter. His work has always been interesting, and his literary/artistic recommendations have changed the way I see the world.

    No author has articulated so well the trajectory of modern culture, be it mass consumerism or the cult of celebrity, and I would gamble that no author has better summarized the secret neuroses and obsessions of Western society than J. G. Ballard. No one has been more in touch with where we are at the present, or where we are going. He is sorely missed. (http://tinyurl.com/c3q7ev)

  22. A unique visionary genius.

    Farewell JGB; give my regards to
    DNA and PKD.

  23. Reading books like the Atrocity Exhibition, completely blew apart the way I thought fiction had to be written. Shockingly original, fierce and mesmeric. A brilliant mind has left us. RIP

  24. Ballard was the writer who most influenced my own work, and the way I looked at life. His passing saddens me greatly but his fiction will live even as we head towards the world he described so long ago in his great environmental-disaster novels of the sixties. My favourite book of his is Vermilion Sands, though I came to that after having first been mesmerised by some of his novels including Crash, High-Rise, Concrete Island and The Unlimited Dream Company. Once I discovered his work, I bought every Ballard book I could find, and devoured them all. Or did they, in fact, devour me? Ballard’s fictional world is so complete it is easy to become immersed in it, a place in which it is often quite tempting to stay.

  25. A great, great loss to the literary world.
    Will be sorely missed.

  26. Ballard’s work served as an extraordinary introduction to literature for me. I’ve been searching for work as good ever since. As his consciousness orbits the earth in the path of the dead astronauts, I salute him forever from the mandala etched into the tiles of my drained swimming pool. Finally free, Jim.

  27. Ballard was a guide through the strangeness of the late 20th century. A 21st century without his voice is frightening.

  28. Its so sad,i was around and helpig him as i work for his partner,so sad news … big loss its going to be hard to see his bed and we are going to miss him lotsssss

  29. For me, the memory of Ballard will still be connected not to moisture and darkness, but to the sunlight and drying clay of The Summer Cannibals, and to the music of Matthew Bower’s project Sunroof which I happened to listen to when I first read it, and am listening to now as I collected some links in honour of this man. His name will be on more and more people’s lips during the upcoming years, I am sure.

  30. I had heard about Ballard and didn’t pick him until I saw Cocaine Nights on a shelf and thought I’d give it a try. It was great but little did I know that I would be taken deep inton ‘inner space’ on subsequent trips.

    It is a great loss.

  31. Another genius departs. RIP.

  32. The sands of time salute…

  33. As a young man, Ballard influenced my thinking of the world we inhabit more than any other author. The Drowned World still inhabits part of my consciousness and I reflect on it when ever I find myself in the forests of Borneo or the savannas of southern Africa.

    A classic portrait of Mr Ballard, reminding me very much of my father, hung in my studio for nearly two decades. He had become a companion of sorts, watching over the endless hours of music making, writing and the heart breaks in between.

    Art… the freedom to innovate through it, to stimulate and remind us of the interconnectedness of things, that we are made of the same stuff of stars, is part of the legacy he will leave me and I am sure many more besides.
    Journey well, Mr Ballard…

  34. “Dreams of rivers, like scenes from a forgotten film, drift through the night, in passage between memory and desire.”
    There is no point in speculating what my life would have been like without discovering Ballard as a teenager. It’s where my science fiction-fan mother would probably not have wanted me to go. His work has shaped not just my literary tastes so thoroughly but almost everything else I’m interested in.
    The world can’t look the same once seen with Ballardian goggles. The gift is already given, and for that we’ll all remain grateful despite the loss.

  35. Ballard was the topic of my final year author study for a creative writing degree. Immersed in his works for months on end I felt as if I had been sucked into a surrealist landscape where metaphor and philosophy danced hand in hand through the fog of a shattered asylum.

    I reviewed his back catalogue and lived with his short stories in my left hand and wrote him long emotional letters which my lecturer begged me not to send.

    I wish I’d sent them.

    Thanks Jim – you had the clearest eyes I’ve ever looked through.

  36. A huge, lifelong influence and a giant in the world of literature, cinema and media in general. Ballard’s work offers a lifetime of rewards. RIP Jim, a thousand planes are flying over Wake Island, a beautiful woman is smiling at a filmmaker slowly zooming in towards her across a Cannes beachfront balcony, and an astronaut is returning to the sky in an Apollo rocket headed towards the stars. Rest in peace Jim, and thank you for everything.

  37. Had the pleasure to meet Mr Ballard a number of times – an inspiration on so many levels; not least in the manner in which he faced up to his illness. Courageous, optimistic, provocative – as he said on Burroughs’ demise, all we have left now are the career novelists.

  38. Beautifully put, Simon. I can think of few contemporary novelists who change one’s inner landscape irrevocably. Ballard is one. The Unlimited Dream Company is my personal favourite.

  39. I can’t find the words to describe what Ballard’s writing has done for me. His books simply inspired me to be a more creative and better person.


  40. I´m very sorry to hear that.

    R.I.P J. G. Ballard

  41. RIP JG Ballard

    The oracle of Shepperton freed from his fleshly shackles,
    ascends to the plain of a new realm.
    We soak in his premonitions as prefabricated wisdom
    from the depths of his darkest dimensions.

    Crash is one of my favorite books.
    I planned on getting a tattoo based from a quote in Crash for quite some time and I
    wanted to be able to show that to him and have him sign my copy of Crash.
    I will not get the chance now.

  42. Heard of the news yesterday evening, still can’t come to terms with the fact that I’ll never have the comfort of looking forward to his next work or interview.

    Where to begin?

    Almost ten years ago, my sister comes home from the local bookshop in Siena and hands me a very weird-looking volume. A crashed car, a space rocket and an empty swimming pool on the cover. “Looked weird enough for your liking, and it looks like it’s SF too”, she explained. The book was the italian edition of Re/Search’s great introduction/collection to James Graham Ballard’s opus, and my brain has never been the same since I laid my eyes on it.

    Several years later, I have no doubt whatsoever that no other writer has had an equally profound impact on my life and on my perception of society: from my first reading of “High-rise” – which made me realise the extent of the latent hostility that inhabits all condos – to the magnificent madness of “Crash” – which taught me that no compromise can be made if one is truly keen on discovering the depths of human psyche – every single one of his novels has changed me in more ways that I can begin to put down in writing.

    (Not to mention the fact that – among other things – it was a reading of my personal favourite, “The Crystal World”, that had my girlfriend become my fiancee.)

    J.G. Ballard has been an invaluable teacher for me, and I sincerely hope that his genius will keep on shining brightly even after his earthly demise.

    Ciao, James. Ti sia lieve la terra.

  43. This is very sad.

    JGB’s writing changed me substantially – others have said this better than I can, but reading his work was often like having new lenses in your glasses, that suddenly allow you to see more clearly what’s going on in the world even though you hadn’t realised how out-of-focus things had been before. He made things sharper for me, and I could see that at least some of this was in myself.

    Around me I can see Ballardian elements coming into focus every day, appearing as if they were always there (which they were, in us: a latent psychopathy). The new gates on the housing estate, the TV scientist carrying out his own mass experiments, the well-run boredom society resembling an airport where no planes ever take off. I live and work among the canted decks, reservoirs, concrete islands and commuter estates of west London, and so much of what Ballard wrote feels very much as though it may be going on right now, in front of me, around me. I don’t need to imagine what might be going on: Ballard did that for me, and he did it better than anyone else.

  44. Hi from Italy,
    Caro Ballard posso solo ringraziarti per avermi fatto sognare e terrorizzare e commuovere e qualche volta pensare mentre leggevo i tuoi libri. Non ci crederai ma il giorno prima che ci lasciassi sfogliavo di nuovo vento dal nulla, quel libro che non ti piaceva per niente e che consideravi un trucco. Ma in principio venne la polvere e solo oggi si è posata. Riposa in pace JG.


  45. …a novelist, a philosopher, a seer, the Shepperton Prophet, the last surrealist (no, let’s be honest, David Lynch is still alive), a sociologist–should I go on with possible definitions? Shanghai Jim, let’s add that too… ok, ok, ok, but to me Ballard was (obviously) a writer (which covers many of those definitions) and (almost as obviously) a great filmmaker: he never directed a film and just two of his novels have been filmed, but those places that Ballard took his readers to are real, now, in a special way, as if I’d seen them, more than read about them. Ballard has made the greatest film of the Twentieth Century, with a host of outstanding actors–not his characters but Lee Oswald, Freud, Hitler, JFK, Liz Taylor, Dalì, Magritte… real-life figures that fit so well his catastrophic kolossal that they might have been invented by Ballard himself. Well, that’s a movie well watch again and again in the years to come, when it will (like its two episodes The Drowned World or Crash) become more and more realistic…

  46. Hi from Italy,
    caro Ballard posso solo ringraziarti per avermi fatto sognare e terrorizzare e commuovere e qualche volta pensare mentre leggevo i tuoi libri. Non ci crederai ma il giorno prima che ci lasciassi sfogliavo di nuovo vento dal nulla, quel libro che non ti piaceva per niente e che consideravi un trucco. Ma in principio venne la polvere e solo oggi si è posata. Riposa in pace JG.

  47. My condolences to his family firstly.

    JB Ballard was an inspirational writer whose books I made me think harder than almost any other writer I can think of. A journey west of the A40 was never the same after reading his novels. Too many revelations to write about but he opened up a world of me, a way of coping with living in the urban jungle.

    I knew he was ill and I can only hope he was able to spend his last days in comfort and surrounded by friends and family.

  48. Absolutely gutted.

    RIP J.G. Ballard

  49. R.I.P. J. G. Ballard, 1930-2009…

  50. I was shocked to hear about Ballard’s death. He was one of my favourite writers and one of the few true visionaries in modern literature.
    My deepest condolences to all his family and friends.

  51. Although JG’s demise comes as no great surprise, it is still a great loss to us all.There is simply noone to replace such an original mind.As he put it,we really are left with the ‘Career Novelists’ now…
    I had the pleasure of meeting the man twice-once at the LFF in 1996 following his onstage conversation with David Cronenberg and again,some years later, in the bar at London’s ICA following a screening of Atrocity Exhibition-both times found him a jovial conversationalist,happy to discuss a wide range of topics while signing a copy of his latest book..No-one has mentioned though that we still have one more work to come-Conversations With My Physician-lets hope his publisher doesn’t make us wait too long…RIP JGB

  52. I was given a copy of The Disaster Area for my thirteenth birthday…it had a profound, unforgettable effect on the way I perceived the world. He had many imitators but none had his insight (or his humour). Although I knew he had been seriously ill, the great sense of loss I felt as I heard the news came as a shock to me. No other writer has ever meant so much to me.

  53. No writer has left me simultaneously reeling and mesmerised as Ballard has. The fact that so much of his writing centers on the West London suburban streets I’ve lived in for almost 30 years makes it all the more poignant and inspiring.

    Condolences to his family and friends from everyone here at Waterstone’s in Staines.

  54. his prophecy help me growing in the jungle of my thought and help me to survive in the media universe of lyes.
    for this and more I give thanks to the man.
    pace e amore per J.G.Ballard

  55. See you, my master and friend…

  56. A loss indeed,
    What a good fellow, a kindly chap.

    A painter of illuminations.

    A Dreamer of flights

    The imagination that transcends death,

    Out of the garden, a secret.

    Do More,

    Thank you Jim, for your generous spirit . . . a surrealist revolution


  57. Well, it’s a day that we all knew would come, but nothing prepared me for it. It truly felt as though I’d lost a loved one, a family member. I found Ballard while in my mid-teens, I think I bought Voices of Time because I liked the cover. Such is the fruitfulness of whimsy.

    After that I bought Vermilion Sands, and eventually dug into the novels available at the time, stumbling – quite unprepared – into Crash. Crash left a profound impression upon me. It still does today, and it’s the Ballard Work I read more often than others. That’s not at all a decision based on perceived quality, or vision – all the Ballard work I have read has been full of profundity, meaning, and most of all – entertainment. But Crash just has that extra bit of resonance with me, and I can’t let it go. That a deal was struck for Cronenberg to make it as cinema is one of those glorious, almost random things, that makes life so much more full.

    So JG Ballard, simply, speaks to me. He takes me to places I might not have found left simply to my own devices. And I’ll never be without his collection of work on my shelves.

    I miss him already, though I didn’t know the man. He was part of me, and will be until the very end of my own days. I’m sad, hurt. I comfort myself with the thoughts that any suffering he had is now over, and that in so many ways, JG Ballard never has to truly leave my heart and soul.

    Rest In Peace, Mr. Ballard. You probably wouldn’t have approved on the tone of my message – but I loved you, and I miss just knowing you’re out there keeping your eye on things.

    Long may the work remain among us.

  58. As someone who grew up in the concrete cities of West London, under Heathrow flightpaths, and a stone’s throw from the suburbs, I was always drawn to the writings of Ballard. Where other people had musicians and bands to express conditions that make sense of the world, I had Ballard. And that was always the power for me of his writing – an ability to expose and explain the modern condition like a surgeon completing an autopsy. Laying bare the anatomy of the contemporary.
    Ballard is the only writer that has affected and infected my view of the world to the point that I now see it through the prism of the Ballardian. Whether walking through a shopping centre, or an empty airport, or the concrete creations of London’s Southbank, or the Barbican, or going back home to Heathrow, or cycling around the eerily quiet suburbs of Leicester (the laboratories for our future perversions), I am constantly reminded that whilst being both an artist and modernist, at core Ballard was a ‘realist’. He made sense of the modern condition, the conflation of technology, sex, architecture, mass consumermism and surveillance.

    What an incredible collection of writings he has left behind. Books that transcend fashion or artistic movement. Books that draw a line in the ground over whether literature should merely reflect and comment on modern society, or whether it should shape the very way we see and understand modern society. His death is a profound loss to literature, but his legacy is incalculable.

  59. …and they just opened a 330.000 sq.meters mall just beside my house.


  60. Condolences to those JGB leaves behind; his vision will be missed in the murk ahead.

  61. RIP J.G. Ballard – master of landscape and memory – as this image captures in tribute:


  62. The great oracle departs.

  63. It is moving – and to be celebrated – that JGB’s passing has brought such an outpouring of affection as well as admiration. I send deep condolences to his children and partner. As well as loving so many of the stories, novels and essays, I found JGB’s determination to be a good father and home-maker for his children deeply admirable. Interviewers talk endlessly about his unkempt house, but not enough about the glowing home that he made for his bereaved children. As for the work – I was transfixed by The Drowned World as a boy and never stopped paying attention after that. The Atrocity Exhibition, Empire and Kindness of Women seem to me to be the peaks – along with the wonderful What I Believe, which I hope someone will read out at Jim’s funeral and memorial service.

  64. Although I was aware of his illness it remains a sad day for me to hear, this morning, of J.G. Ballards demise.

    My introduction to his work came 30 years ago when I was given a copy of The Drought.
    I subsequently devoured all the Ballard publications I could find.

    He has been an important influence in my creative endeavours and will be very much missed.

    May he rest in peace…

  65. Frankly, I don’t know what to say that won’t sound maudlin. I “met” Mr. Ballard through the telephone in 1985, after I returned from a trip to Southeast Asia. I continued to make calls to him to discuss his latest projects. He was always very genial and willing to discuss whatever was on my mind, in fact answering many of my questions concerning his work. Such a kindly man, he even agreed to read some of my shorts, though I was never happy enough with any of my own work to send it to him; stupid me.
    I’ll truly miss the conversations we had and the void his departure will leave in the literary world. Thanks for opening my eyes, Jim.

  66. I’m very much touched by the passing of James,
    I think that he was one of the few prophets of the past century with Burroughs and little others and I love his work immensely

  67. Thank you for you writting and for the ideas you made with your brain. The world always needs people like you.
    rest in peace.

  68. I first discovered J.G.Ballard when I bought a battered second-hand copy of Hi-Rise from a bookshop many years ago. The book was unlike anything I had ever read, the understandable immortailty of the characters was a shock to the system, cognitive dissonance from the written page, this was new and exciting! This lead to me reading many other Ballard books over the years, the highlight probably being Crash, which I still don’t understand but enjoy unlocking the puzzle a little bit more everytime I read it. Just reading about the people that he influenced has been an additional bonus to me, this has opened opened new worlds of art, books and music. The Ballard community is a wonderful framework of sanity to ground myself against in an increasingly crazy world, one that he predicted through his books. Everytime I’m affronted by celebrity “news”, survellience and new consumer fetish cults I have a group of people to turn to who are equally bemused and angry. To new readers if you asked me what book to read first, I would say his autobiography, Miracles of Life (2008). From this gripping,
    warm and honest book you will get a true measure of the man that was J.G.Ballard.

  69. […] Simon Sellars pothumous dedication to Mr Ballard Tags: ballard, eulogy | […]

  70. I first read a book by J.G Ballard in the early nineties while studying in Manchester / UK. At that time I was desperate and the discovery of Ballards work helped me a lot to pull through. I remember hearing that he brought up his kids all on his own while making it as a writer simultaneously, that deeply impressed me. Today is a sad day for me.

  71. One feels suddenly strangely alone.
    Apparently I somehow expected – or at least unconsciously cherished the possibility – to bump into him in a supermarket, as in the song by Dan Melchior.
    Crashing my cart into his, while he slowly paces the canned vegetable isle, denting the side of the cage-like metal structure. Dishevelling his peas, maybe even breaking a carton of orange juice.
    But now it all seems pointless to start a collision cult of the celebrity grocery shopper.
    What sadness, the world will never be the same.

  72. One feels suddenly strangely alone.
    Apparently I somehow expected – or at least unconsciously cherished the possibility – to bump into him in a supermarket, as in the song by Dan Melchior.
    Crashing my cart into his, as he slowly paces the canned vegetables isle, denting the side of the cage-like metal structure. Dishevelling his peas, maybe even breaking a carton of orange juice.
    But now it all seems pointless to start a collision cult of the celebrity grocery shopper.
    What sadness, the world will never be the same.

  73. A Prince amongst men.

    As a youth I remember reading the first few chapters of Crash and it blew me away. Also loved that story where he was meant to interview Willimam S Burroughs for an english newspaper and turned down the assingment as he felt he wouldn’t do Burroughs justice. WSB had within the first 5 minutes of meeting Ballard described the best way to kill a man with a knife and various counter intelligence techniques.

    JG Ballard will be sorely missed.

  74. A truly great man of our times

  75. RIP JG Ballard – my favourite author of many years.

    A true literary genius and visionary of where our dangerous minds may take us.

    You shall be missed, Sir. The world is a less interesting, less risky place in your absence.

    My condolences to the family.

  76. I always associate JGB with that period of my life around the age of 15-20, when my horizons expanded from a small-town working-class childhood and I developed an almost insatiable cultural hunger.

    I came to Ballard through Michael Moorcock. Having read a bit of MM’s fantasy stuff, I discovered his Jerry Cornelius material and was immediately captivated. Reading around the subject (in those black-and-white pre-internet days), I soon became aware of the history of New Worlds, and got drawn to that “sci-fi that wasn’t sci-fi”.

    While the imagination and pop sensibility of the Cornelius stories lit up my brain in one way, Ballard’s clinical prose style and exploration of “inner space” exerted a hypnotic hold over me. His work subsequently led me to Burroughs and the surrealists, and later to the notion of psychogeography, sparse electronic music and writers like Will Self and Magnus Mills.

    I remember getting The Atrocity Exhibition out of Chorley library when I was around 16, as part of the pile of books I would take to Ireland each summer. Even though a lot of the subtext was beyond me at that age, I knew somehow that the fragmented narrative and jagged imagery were drawing a map of the mind that I found strangely compelling. Later, the images that conclude The Unlimited Dream Company stuck in my imagination like few books before or since.

    I returned to JGB fairly recently, after The Drowned World featured prominently on The Martians and Us – a three-part look at British SF on BBC Three. Along the way, I discovered the perfect soundtrack for his writing: Selected Ambient Works Vol. II by the Aphex Twin. Just try it, and you’ll know what I mean…

  77. “Like an endless river, so broad that its banks were below the horizon, it flowed steadily towards him, a vast course of time that spread outwards to fill the sky and the universe, enveloping everything within them. Moving slowly, the forward direction of its
    majestic current almost imperceptible, Powers knew that its source was the source of the cosmos itself. As it passed him, he felt its massive magnetic pull, let himself be drawn into it, borne gently on its powerful back. Quietly it carried him away, and he rotated slowly, facing the direction of the tide. Around him the outlines of the hills
    and the lake had faded, but the image of the mandala, like a cosmic clock, remained fixed before his eyes, illuminating the broad surface of the stream. Watching it constantly, he felt his body gradually dissolving, its physical dimensions melting into the vast continuum of the current, which bore him out into the centre of the great channel, sweeping him onward, beyond hope but at last at rest, down the broadening reaches of the river of eternity.”

    I discovered JGB in 1974 with Dave Pelham’s brilliant Penguin editions. Because I could, I read him in order, starting with the under-appreciated “Wind From Nowhere”. “The Drowned World” came next, and I was hooked. Still am. Big time. I agree with Simon JGB is a great philosopher, but for me first and foremost he’s a great artist, a wonderful stylist, a compelling storyteller, and a true master of the synonym. A visual man of rare visions. I’ve been lucky enough to spend my life surrounded by his artifacts, and have been thrilled to hobnob with his academics, visit his home in Shanghai, help out the CCCB in Barcelona, exchange a number of letters with Da Man, and, of course, selfishly meet him in 2007 in a doorstepping incident at his home in Shepperton. I don’t think it’s coincidental that two days before his passing I received a brick which was part of G Block at Lunghua CAC, sent to me by a teacher there who witnessed the building’s razing in the fall of 2008. The voices of time can still speak.

    So long, Jimmy Ballard. Thanks for making my life artistically richer and intensely more interesting. We both know you haven’t gone to any heaven, but who cares? Your life is inexorably bound and retold in your work, and that will last as long as people look around and wonder why. You are one of the true miracles of life. I’m sad you’re gone, but I’m happy to have shared this time with you. May the music of the quasars at last bring you comfort.

  78. One feels suddenly strangely alone.
    Apparently I somehow expected – or at least unconsciously cherished the possibility – to bump into him in a supermarket, as in the song by Dan Melchior.
    Crashing my cart into his, denting the side of the cage-like metal structure. Dishevelling his peas, maybe even breaking a carton of orange juice.
    But now it all seems pointless to start a collision cult of the celebrity grocery shopper.
    What sadness, the world will never be the same.

  79. Gobsmacked. The first Ballard book I read left me with that feeling. I liked what the man had to say and the way he said it. His stories are fantastic whether they were written in the 1950s or just a few years ago. In interviews he appeared to be so ordinary; it was what he said in books that was so extraordinary.

  80. Mr. Ballard has inspired me from the time I first read “The Drowned World” and many other works while studying compositon and trying to find my own voice. I always found his works to be just a molecule-thick layer away from our reality, or consensus-trance, and not nearly as dystopian as the real thing. Those “beyond psychiatric” help are the dumbed-down sheeple who believe in their child-like innocense that someone, somewhere is looking after them. He was a truly sane man. To me, JGB is still the strongest antidote to the ignorant, arrogant, infantile consumerism and celebrity-worshipping madhouse that the former pack-hunting elite monkeys sitting in their pyramid capstone have been shoving down our throat. Ballard is the waterhole for the young, inquisitive, thirsty, free soul. The very greatest of all writers, period. The CD trilogy “Myths of the Near Future” by Mo Boma was more than inspired by JGB, it is part of his scenarios, a soundtrack for the conjured worlds of the white man’s psychopomp. Thank you JGB. It was worth the trouble.

  81. The end came as no shock, but that’s it now: No more Ballard. He once said our time is one without a living genius and now that is true.

  82. The best writer i’ve ever read in my life… i’m very sorry…

  83. Ballard perfectly fulfilled Flaubert’s dictum: ‘Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.’

    Ballard was more than a writer, he was a scientist of the human spirit. He didn’t fail to study psychiatry when he left Cambridge, he went on to invent a new branch of it. All too aware of the grim nature of the human condition, he had the courage not only to look the frightening truth in the eye, he even embraced it! In doing so he turned catastrophe into something transcendent.

  84. Simply the most influential writer of my life. I was fortunate to meet JGB twice and, as a naive student, exchange correspondence with him too – thank you. Will there ever be anyone who understood the twentieth century better? I doubt it. I learned more about the world I live in because of this man.

  85. These days there is a big foreign presence
    on the campus of Shanghai High School
    (989 Baise Road), the site of the 1943-45
    Japanese internment camp where Jim
    lived and which inspired “Empire of the Sun.”
    The Chinese school added an International
    Division in 1991 and foreign teachers actually
    lived in the two story red brick barracks that
    was Ballard’s billet. That building was only
    torn down last fall, but not before some of
    us collected a few bricks and tiles to remember it.
    We have an on-campus museum (in Chinese) as
    the school is the alma mater of a few famous Chinese
    (including revolutionary martyrs, 20 generals, and a
    recent vice-president of PR China) but
    an exhibit dedicated to Ballard in both languages
    should be a future goal.

  86. Just heard the news — appropriately i was driving on a multilane expressway –

  87. James RIP …
    We knew it was coming , we wanted to do some new soundtracks for your pieces before you left so you could possibly enjoy , but the timing didn’t work out.
    Maybe we will do it anyway.
    From finding the early short stories and delving right into the worlds created by written words on pages, to meeting you at Forbidden Planet and giving you the mixtape you enjoyed, to picking up the eye and ear catching Cocaine cheap and silver cover worn at second hand bookstore on Kao San Road – it was a great ride.
    Our groups Ike Yard and one phase of Death Comet Crew were quite influenced by the man, some unreleased songs by Death Comet took on the Him’s rockarollabilly persona until dissolving.
    Sand , time and a mirror indeed …

  88. forever among all of us_

  89. I feel truly sorry to know the greatest writer in 20th century has passed away.

    I’ve read and re-read his novels so many times and finally they shaped my thought and my views to this world. I’m lucky enough to have given the chances to translate his works into Japanese and have much wonderful hours with his thought. But still it’s very sad to hear the news.R.I.P.

  90. Bright eyed teenager reads “The Drought” not long after publication in 1962; familiar with end of world genre I’m hooked, the puzzled, then staggered by the last paragraphs. Made an impression that hasn’t wavered over 47 years, JGB was a writer who was relevant, critical and essential in the second half of the Twentieth Century. Loved his prose and we are fortunate that we have so much of it to enjoy and continue to enjoy. Future generations will revel in his work. We are lucky to have had him amomgst us. RIP

  91. […] best treasures I ever discovered there. I always felt, reading his work, that I didn’t process a Ballardian piece of fiction; instead, it processed […]

  92. […] occasion of Ballard’s death has brought to my attention the fascinating site ballardian.com, which I had never visited before.  The accompanying image here is a partial screenshot of the […]

  93. Thank you for your thoughts and insights, your hope and fears, your mere existence. Thank you Jim G. Ballard, rest in peace.

  94. JGB was a brilliant writer, a highly original thinker, and an interesting man in his own right. No one saw the world just as he did, and he became, without most of the rest of that world knowing it, its unacknowledged prophet and psychic chronicler.

    I read my first Ballard at age 13 – I saw a Penguin edition of The Terminal Beach, a collection of short stories, on a shelf in a dusty used bookshop in my local town. I read them without completely understanding them at first, but there was this quality to the writing and the ideas that kept me coming back.

    Since then, I have read everything that he wrote, with the exception of uncollected pieces that he did for newspapers and magazines. I knew this day would come, but it’s sad to think that there will be no more books or thoughts from him, ever.

    These comments, including mine, are getting repetitive – but it’s just an assertion of how profoundly influential this great man was. Is. Will remain.

  95. Genius, absolute genius. He has left some big shoes to fill, he changed my entire paradigm! When I was 18, it was Orwell that opened my eyes…now 27, with recent exposure to Ballard, they’ve fallen out of my head! He will be missed, RIP.

  96. I first read Ballard in 1972 whilst in the fourth form at Andover Grammar, The Drought. It was the style and the cadences that grabbed me. Poetry disguised as prose. As I got older I appreciated more the philosophy. I seemed to be on the edge of a life in a world that had already been described. “Genius” is an overused word, but there can be no doubt that JGB qualifies. Thank you for everything Jim, for the intellectual and imaginative spurs. Never knew you, but you have been a friend since I was 15. My sympathies to your family, and I bless you from my heart.

  97. A very sad day indeed…I knew Ballard was sick, but still this comes as a shock. I began reading Ballard two decades ago or so and he opened up such a different way of looking for me…no other writer has managed to do that in such a way. His fiercely fecund imagination and intellect was staggering. Finding his books provided a lense to view life in a very different way and I entirely agree with those who describe his work as “liberating”- a liberation that changed our lives. James, thanks for all of the fine and beautiful work…you will be deeply missed.

  98. So sad. I knew we’d be seeing this notifcation sooner rather than later, but even in mental prepartion, it isn’t any easier. Ballard was my favorite modern writer. I spent many joyous years tracking down all of his old short story collections, and I believe I completed the catalogue. Ballard was a writer that I could not get enough of, and still can’t. I make it a point of rereading one or two of his books each year. Hopefully, his influence will grow as time passes. His books, particularly here in the States, are criminally under-available. I’ll miss you, Jim.

  99. I met Ballard briefly at one of his readings. We were taking an elevator up and and when we reached the upper level my date said oh no in despair because a man was standing with his back to us firmly blocking the narrow exit of the elevator door. I took matters in my own hands and gently grabbed his shoulder and moved him to the side so we could get out. To our surprise, the man I had moved like furniture was J.G. Ballard, who had been in intense conversation with friends, and looked irritated at being manhandled. Guess he was guarding the angles and unknowables of the room, as he has written about. He still chatted with us for a while before the reading.

  100. Burroughs and Ballard gone. Just Mark E Smith left now then…

  101. Irreplaceable. A singular talent of remarkable vision. He looked in the world and at himself in a unique fashion and was fearless in reporting what he saw.

  102. I am a Norwegian songwriter and musician. I posted this message on my band The Opium Cartel’s myspace page today:

    J.G. Ballard RIP
    I was deeply saddened by the news that my favorite author and one of the leading lights in my life, J.G. Ballard, passed away yesterday. There is no other author that I have identified with as deeply, and felt so in tune with what he wrote. Ever since I first stumbled across “Vermilion Sands”, with it’s psycho-sexual landscapes of deserts and dried up coral reefs right out of a Max Ernst painting, I have been hooked. Without books like “Myths of the Near Future” and “Voices of Time”, a lot of my music wouldn’t have existed. White Willow’s album “Storm Season”, and especially the song “Chemical Sunset” was deeply indebted to him, and The Opium Cartel’s “Beach House” is a direct homage to him. In fact, the original idea was to use snippets of Ballard’s texts at the end of the song, but somehow it became even more Ballardian with just the desolate noises of the slowly disintegrating song. “There is a pool that’s filling with sand/lizards can sleep there when we are gone” – that’s me doing Ballard.

    In the story “News from the Sun”, Marion tells her husband, the one-time NASA doctor Franklin: “Think of yourself – what you’ve always wanted – alone in the world, just you and these empty hotels”. She might as well have been speaking to Ballard himself. All his works reveal a longing for some kind of socio-cultural extinction, where infrastructures collapse, order crumbles, the masses disappear and the protagonist is left to himself, to his own musings of the world around him, ending, changing, re-emerging.

    In Ballard’s heaven I am sure he is now sitting on some rooftop of some abandoned motel, quietly scanning the horizon of some dried out ocean, contemplating the empty swimming pools and the sleeping night clubs along the beach, watching the cerise dusk settle on vermilion sands.


  103. I first discovered his writing in the 1970’s along with Burroughs. His clear prose seems to wind around the most un-nerving and interesting ideas. He opened my eyes to possible futures still-born by today’s greed and celebrity worship.

    I looked for new works by him every year for many years. Sadly, this will not happen again.

    Thanks, Mr. Ballard, for your insight into the modern condition. You will be missed.
    Here’s to Vermillion Sands…

  104. jg ballard was our father and no we are his sons.

  105. I never heard of JG Ballard until last Tuesday when in my local library I picked up his autobiography from a selection of recommended read books. I had seen the movie ‘Empire of the Sun’ so this was the reason I loaned out the book. I’m throughly enjoying his life story of his youth in Shanghai, a part of the world I know very little of. I was saddened to hear yesterday of his death. R.I.P.

  106. So acccurate as a profit, it was as though, he had already lived through the 20th Century, and, unable to change anything, was impatiently looking back over his shoulder, waiting for us to catch up.

    We are living in Ballardian times.

    Thankyou for the pages.

    A fan

  107. […] Here’s a musical selection in his honour and a few obits and stuff, the music is supposedly Ballardian which is an adjective coined in his honour meaning “dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments”. Expect the music to be quite dystopic and dark. R.I.P Ballard the godfather of dystopia and cyberpunk. Ballard articulates clearly to me the implications of living in an age of total consumerism, of blanket surveillance, of enslavement designed as mass entertainment. Ballardian […]

  108. SOUVENIRS FROM SHEPPERTON (IN THE WEEKS THAT FOLLOWED LONDON ORBITAL DID SLOW OUR PROGRESS) blue exposure up the highway wall rumbles coordinates… map of the limb zones in the old rectory… but the curtain is sliding, Jim, the curtain… Rank & Turgid terminal station displays A Model Cyclist With Aluminium Legs… Thames Water Board… King William Reservoir… cyclone fences… pylons and a clear grey sky, an Olivetti with the lid on… « Gin or whisky? » you ask… but the curtain is sliding… LOIS ROAD on divider across the street… I’ve read all the signs, scanned the room for termdocs and fusion devices… STOP/START/SHIFT… sparrows and starlings in the back garden… Stanwell, Staines, Laleham… the birds are calling, and the Jocasta of the twilight noon, and the Nuremberg Twelve, the Mercury Seven… 6,553… 6,552… 6,551… the great spirals are calling and Concorde is down for ever… fly on, Jim. Forever.

  109. Shocking and sad.
    He’ll always be alive through his words.

  110. James Ballard, to me, is one of the earth’s inspiring personalities
    who’s leaving gives me the feeling that now we have a different
    world, a world that will have to do without his spirited guiding.
    He sculpted the clouds, the future and our minds, he showed
    what is needed and what should be needed, let’s try to proceed where he,
    sadly, had to stop, sculpting our minds with all the material we have before us.
    He has given generously to the sea of mind and awareness in which the new-borns will be fishing.
    Today is the Day of Creation, amen.
    Thank you, Jim.

  111. He, who saw yesterday the world of tomorrow, will always be my favourite writer.
    His words are, indeed, a life guide for this civilizational period.
    Thank you, J.G. Ballard, for the inspirational writings and philosophy. RIP

  112. The interloper of Interzone

    Interloper gets a handle,
    Fixed on a lucid spleen,
    Under ultra-violent heights,
    There is, for once, silence in his head.

    And the snap-jar heart,
    Just went and shut UP shop.
    Feathered ears clothed in banded hair,
    Trying to sign,
    Trying to hide,
    Away her preened scream.

    Overhead ceilings flaunt gestation,
    Unaware that eyes start to yearn for neon.

    ‘I’ll have another,’
    Punch to the arm.
    Let’s drink to hats,
    Style and blanket.
    ‘This is not a neutralised notion,
    This is not demo-crazy.’

    A small coal felt cat slinks over,
    Her mask is slipping fast,
    The irony is a mast of abstinence,
    By our glance.

  113. Ballard made the second half of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st infinitely more interesting then they would have been without him. I never the man anywhere but in the pages of his books, but I’m glad we occupied the planet simultaneously for a few decades. He was an amazing artist. Rest in peace, JGB.

  114. My condolences to Mr Ballard’s family.

    JG Ballard is immensely important to me and will forever stimulate my imagination alongside Dali, Delvaux, de Chirico, and Ernst.

    Simon, thank you for a brilliant epitaph. And thank you for your site. For me it’s always been very much in the spirit of JGB’s writing – as Will Self said of John Gray, easy to swallow but hard to digest.

    Mr Ballard, thank you for your autopsies of the near future.

  115. Every time I see a ghost-town housing development or an empty, fetid swimming pool, I thank god that Ballard lived to warn us about ourselves.

  116. Goodbye JG. If I were only allowed to read and re-read one author’s work in my life, it would be yours.

  117. A great man. A true lost. All the great dystopian visionaries are vanishing. The prozac nation is getting stronger by the day.

  118. goodbye Mister Ballard.

  119. JG Ballard is an inspiration to me and has been for so many years. Other have said very well what he was writing about, and if you’re reading this far you know it too.

    Some have said elsewhere that his later works didn’t have the same power as the earlier ones, but I disagree – profoundly. Take a copy of ‘Kingdom Come’ and go read it in any one of these faceless shopping malls (there is one near you). I defy you not to flee from it in fear and loathing. Orwell and Ballard – we need your visions more than ever in this apocalypse now.

    JGB wrote about the times we are living through now and those to come (The Drowned World, The Drought etc). So many other writers, despite their contemporary content, are actually writing about the past. He saw reality more clearly than any writer I have read. A wonderful human being has left the planet.
    Sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  120. Thank you for enriching my life

  121. Ballard was by far the most influential author I have ever read and do read.
    At 15, when I stumbled over his books at the local bookstore, I completely missed the message, but was drunken with the dreamlike sceneries. Some years later, rereading in English, I was fascinated with the elaborate language and the stunning metaphors, and only almost ten years later I started to realize what he was telling.
    Each of these phases had its particular value, and I won’t miss any of them.
    A great narrator has died.Farewell, Mr Ballard!

  122. Un crá el loco. Muy disfrutables sus relatos. Un sentido recuerdo desde Uruguay.

  123. RIP James. Thanks for putting everything into perspective.

  124. JG Ballard will always be alive inside of me, RIP my friend.

  125. I’ve just heard on the news about Jame’s death, i feel genuinely empty. I discovered his mesmerising writing in the early 1980’s when i left school, concrete island and the terminal beach left me feeling so desperate, yet so desperate for more. You will be sadly missed…RIP JG Ballard and God bless you.

  126. One step ahead, as always. Thanks for the books.

  127. JG Ballard – your short stories fired my imagination, and illuminated my teenage years. All my best, wherever you may be

  128. On behalf of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, I write to extend our sympathies at the time of Ballard’s passing. IJBS will post an obiutuary for JG in our next issue (Volume 6-2, July 2009).

    On Ballard’s novel Crash, Baurdillard said: “it is the first great novel of the universe of simulation”, (Simulacra and Simulation, 1981:119) and that “it is our world” (125).

    The final scene of David Cronenberg’s film shows the “Ballards”, in a ditch, making love beside their smoldering wrecked car. I believe that image best captures the essence of our culture at the end of the 20th century. JG Ballard said he liked Cronenberg’s truth to the book.

    I will remember JG Ballard for his discerning eye, able as it was to penetrate past the gloss of our globalizing culture, to the vast wasteland which undergrids it… the ever expanding suburbs under the totalitarian eye of television.

  129. I’m sorry to say: the atrocity exhibition is now open.

  130. […] Tributes may be left here. […]

  131. One more drained pool. One less shimmering possibilty of a simile to float away on. Thanks JG.

  132. […] Moorcock’s, which was probably the earliest, or the blogpost at REsearch and the one at Ballardian. Even the Los Angeles Times has posted an obit and, what’s more, an appreciation. So somebody […]

  133. What a tremendous body of work he’s left us. I’ll be reading and re-reading it for years to come. And, I expect, it will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

  134. His ideas and work will haunt me forever.

  135. Thank you, J. G. Ballard, for opening our mind’s eyes…

    a tribute to J. G. Ballard:

  136. My sympathy to Mr. Ballard’s family. His writing gave me so much. It ignited my imagination, gave validation to my thoughts, and inspired me in my life. The book that ended up moving me the most though was his sequel to Empire of the Son, The Kindness of Women. Please read this book. He was an incredible man with an incredible mind. Thank You.

  137. J.G. Ballard Is Dead. There is no-one left now, no-one we can trust for news of the world. Burroughs, Dick, Baudrillard, they’re all gone. And who is here to take their place?

  138. For better or worse it seems to be this great man’s world and spaces that we are all living in. How his words touched and sparked my imagination with stories that at first seem so strangely cold but suddenly blossom into an unrelenting humanness. His mark will remain on my mind and undeniably upon my art. Gratitude for your generous and freeing work, Mr. Ballard.

  139. The Universal J.G. Ballard…
    We will miss you deeply.

  140. He’s gone. We’re more alone now. I’m deeply sorry.
    Goodbye Mr Ballard..

  141. To say that J G Ballard’s death is a loss to world literature would be an understatement. This remarkable man and his unique literary voice has informed my life and work since I first encountered him – or should I say collided with him? – as a teenager. A chronicler of the real humanity that barely lies hidden beneath our civilized veneer, he said more about alienation than Marcuse, more about psychoses than Freud and detailed our urban spaces like a therapist versed in cartography. Luckily my lecturer in English Literature, the poet Richard Poole, was a keen appreciator of his works and we studied The Unlimited Dream Company on the syllabus, one of my all-time favourites, much to the bewilderment of other, less enlightened souls – until Mr Ballard prised open their eyes. Ah, wonderful days. My deepest sympathies to the great man’s family and his many friends. May he reign forever over Shepperton and all that is good in this world.

  142. One reads Ballard and their perception of life is never quite the same again.
    I’ll always be grateful to this incredibly talented and astute literary genius whose writing brought me places I didn’t really feel comfortable visiting but knew I had to see.
    Wish I could have spoken to him in person…
    There was so many questions I wanted to ask…
    How did he develop such a prophetic vision of what was to become of us?

  143. […] fazla bilgi için Ballardian, Ballard için yaptığım müzikal seçki için […]

  144. RIP Mr Ballard.

    Thank you for the many hours of joy that your work gave me. I read “The Drought” as a teenager in the late 70’s and was hooked. I have read everything that I could get my hands on since , loved most of it , didn’t understand some of it but admired the hell out of him for writing it. Deepest sympathies to his Miracles of Life

  145. I think I started reading Ballard about 1975, when I was 17; short story collections and The Drowned World. (Although I always found Ballard fascinating, thought-provoking, interesting, mordantly witty and somehow magical and indeed true, I have to say it wasn’t to the exclusion of the stars-and-spaceships end of sf as represented the likes of Arthur C Clarke and Alastair Reynolds, with whom he is contrasted.)

    I probably read him most in the late 70s and early 80s, but then there was stuff to catch up with. When I was a student and Ronald Reagan was shot I made a collage of photos of the event and stuck to it a copy of “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan”. Not that anyone saw it in the wider world, but still.

    I got his autobiography Miracles of Life a year ago and then I managed to get hold of a second-hand hardback Complete Short Stories for not very much – I saw the other day it can be on sale for hundreds of pounds – to make sure I had all of them. Not long after I read Miracles of Life I found myself in Tunisia, working on a film project in Nefta on the edge of the desert. The location was a large abandoned tourist hotel and as I stood by its drained swimming pool I naturally came over all Ballardian and decided I ought to write to him and tell him how much I had enjoyed reading him over the years. But I didn’t get round to it, which I now regret.

    His autobiography had some personal resonances for me. His childhood Shanghai was overtaken by war and dislocation; in my case it was childhood Beirut, where I was born and lived for several years. I was there for the last time as a teenager a few months before the civil war started in 1975, the year after my father, an airline pilot (who’d been a wartime RAF flight instructor in Canada, incidentally), retired. So I didn’t experience the war first hand, but I went back on business in the mid-90s and my impressions of the city and of dislocated life among the still-fresh ruins of civil war was definitely Ballard-informed. For some reason I only read his “War Fever”, set in a deliberately non-realistic version of Beirut, a few weeks ago.

    One of my own short stories I thought of as a Ballard-lite effort: a man losing control of his life builds a nest-cum-flight deck in his sitting room out of all the buttons, dials, levers and switches we all need to run our modern environment. It was published by Ballard-fan David Pringle in Interzone 142, though I don’t know if that was because or in spite of any perceived similarity.

    Various things in the world seem increasingly Ballardian… Princess Diana, California, 24-hour news. At the moment, it is Dubai. When my father first flew there in the 1950s its airport still had a compacted-sand desert runway and parking apron and the town was presumably kind of authentic and integrated with and built from its landscape. Now the city is full of fantasy high-rises, imported fashion goods, indoor ski slopes, reclaimed-from-the-sea building sites in the shapes of a palm tree or the world, and now, in a credit crunch time, it is generating stories about debt-ridden foreigners escaping and leaving their shiny new cars at the airport with the keys still in them. A High Rise Crystal World on Vermilion Sands at Terminal Beach experiences a financial Wind from Nowhere, a Crash and a Four-Dimensional Nightmare, you could say.

    Anyway, RIP JGB.

  146. […] http://www.ballardian.com/rip-jg-ballard-1930-2009 http://www.ballardian.com/rip-jgb-tributes-from-the-ballardosphere-part-1 http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/apr/19/jgballard http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/20/jg-ballard-film-music-architecture-tv http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/jgballard […]

  147. The film CRASH changed my life. It lead me to the book. I thank you JG Ballard for your ideas. Your thoughts led me in a different direction and inspired me so much that I wanted to create something new rather than imitate you like I may have of my past influences. I am illiterate and your book is the only adult fiction book I have ever finished. That is because of the strong ideas in the film which I found again in your book. I will read your other books too. I love the freedom and liberated characters. Thanks so much, Mike.

  148. A gallery of ‘ballardian’ ruins (text in spanish) http://gesifuentes.blogspot.com/2008/09/en-el-centre-de-cultura-contempornia-de.html

  149. The tributes all say it better than I can.
    I discovered the world of J.G. Ballard in 1981.
    Since then I have always seen the world through his eyes.
    We are all enriched by his writings.
    I give my condolences to his family.
    Rest in peace.

  150. I am devastated…
    A true visionary he will be read and revered forever…

  151. A great inspiration to me. Thanks for all the fantasic books.

  152. A great loss, and I am sad that I did not meet JG.
    The works of Crash — both film and book, are masterpieces

    My sincere respects

    Darryl Read

  153. What can I say, a very sad loss indeed.

    I’ve spent the last few years training to be and developing my skills to be a writer and only began to read JGB during that process. What a revelation! How could I have got through to my age without being more familiar with his work. He managed to combine social commentary and prediction with an easy, fluid style that novice observers such as myself can only stand back in awe and admire.

    My deepest condolences to friends, fans and family alike.

  154. JGB, What a genius, what a loss…
    You will always be in my mind.

    Per Thunell

  155. JG Ballard changed the way I looked at the world. He gave me many hours of pleasure and excitement as I explored the universe he created. I’ll always be a fan. My condolences to his family and friends, he was one of the true originals of the 20th & 21st Centuries.
    Minus One.

  156. J.G Ballard has been a major influence on artists, filmakers, writers and musicians for over half a century. His work has created an understanding about the ambiguities of the our time like no other, managing to fuse post war surrealism with the modern industrial envirionment, making a road into the suburbs of our industrial landscape that we can all travel in. Transforming our mental capacities to entertain the lure of catastrophe, the will to destruct, create new temples and belief systems in the vacuity of Malls, motorways and gated housing blocks. His books navigate the edgy depths of the modern mind reached by few other novelists. After reading a Ballard novel you never can see the world quite the same way again. His conversations and interviews were always captivating and I will miss his voice on current events. He seemed an essential counterbalance to th rigidity and conservatism of the British Literacy establishment. Hope this site stays online as a rescource for Ballard info. He is a writer whome I read when leaving college and his visions/ideas have stayed with me personally through my artwork and writing. Its a sad loss of a great writer and visionary.

  157. He was the great intrepid psychenaut of our dark times and empty spaces; and his work has haunted me ever since I discovered The Voices of Time as a student in 1965. I wrote to him a few times over the years – and always received a courteous and thoughtful reply.

    This accords with everything I’ve heard about The Man – his heroic single-parenting, his love of life, friends, family – all somehow salvaged from the trauma of his Lungwha experience.

    Like a Chirico statue he casts a long shadow down the colonnades of post-modernity.

    He was an absolute fucking genius….

  158. JG Ballard,
    I was reading the autobiography when I learned of his illness. Oddly, I was sitting beside a half drained swimming pool at the time, at the bottom of which, in 18″ of water was a pair of sunglasses and a silver coin. I stopped in my tracks. A few weeks ago, I found myself in Staines on Business, so I bought a card and made my way to the Ballard House in Shepperton. Posted the card with my best wishes. Ford Granada in the uneven driveway, overgrown garden. Didn’t knock – he didn’t know me, and I didn’t want to be rude. I knew him though, so very well.
    Thank you for all your words Jim. I view the world differently since reading your work.


  159. I saw an airplane plane flying high overhead this morning. Sunlight glaring bright and blinding off its sleek metal form. As I watched it swim its way across the sky I was immediately reminded of the death of JG Ballard. Near-tears sparkled my vision into slow cresting waves of clouds. Wings transformed into ray-like fins glinting, refracted by salt water and sun burst.

    “There are tides in the sky” – JG Ballard, may you be harbor-master in some far off kingdom of sea and sand. Your prophetic gaze stretching infinitely across a better Terminal Beach than this one you have left the rest of us here upon to burn and burn…

    Godspeed, James Graham Ballard. Thank you. You will be remembered.

    “The hands of his broken watch contained the one point of finite time left to him, like a fossil cast on to a beach, crystallizing forever a brief sequence of events within a vanished ocean.” – High Rise, 1975

  160. To the Ballard family, please accept my condolences. From what I have read, and what I have heard, he was a loving partner and father as well as a visionary intellectual. Perhaps I have something more to learn from him.

    His books enriched my life and showed me possibilities and truths that I did not know existed, or that I was afraid to admit. In his own way, he was a very courageous man.

    When I first started reading Ballard, it was the RE Search edition of The Atrocity Exhibition. I didn’t know what alarmed me more; The intensity of the work, the exploration of the darker side of the psyche, or that I felt that I understood exactly where he was coming from.

    I did know that I had to read more, and so I did. And now, when I think of his work, cinematic images pour through my mind, juxtapositions. Cubists play the glass bead game while Oppenheimer stubs out another cigarette.

    Thanks, Jim.

  161. One of the greatest since Milton has passed. “Empire of the Sun” is a must read.

  162. […] Read more about Ballard. There’s some particularly good stuff on Ballardian. […]

  163. condoleances to the family. the works of ballard changed my life, corrupting me from 16 and on. thank you, mr. b, for giving me these beautifull tools! you where a courageous man.

  164. It’s taken me a while to do this. I just wish he could have gone on. We need more people like Jim Ballard! There is barely a facet of modern life that he has not examined, both critically and imaginatively. He has made the world a much more interesting place, and suggested ways of looking at the world that will enlarge the vision of anyone willing to follow his gaze. Like Blake, he has made his work by the “infernal method”, and displayed the hidden infinite. I’ll finish with one of my favourite quotations:

    “Patiently Traven waited for them to speak to him, thinking of the great blocks whose entrance was guarded by the seated figure of the dead archangel, as the waves broke on the distant shore and the burning bombers fell through his dreams.”

    Farewell to Jim Ballard, a generous-hearted man and brilliant visionary.

  165. One feels suddenly strangely alone.
    Apparently I somehow expected – or at least unconsciously cherished the possibility – to one day bump into him in a supermarket, as in the song by Dan Melchior.
    Crashing my cart into his, denting the side of the cage-like metal structure. Dishevelling his peas, maybe even breaking a carton of orange juice.
    But now it all seems pointless to start a collision cult of the celebrity grocery shopper; what sadness, the world will never be the same.

  166. He was one of the best author I know. we’re going to miss him, as we miss George Orwell.

  167. You have been, and will continue to be, a massive inspiration to me. Goodnight Shanghai Jim.

  168. When my sister ran down the stairs to tell me of Ballard’s death I was compounded to silence. There are very few ‘public’ figures whose deaths would mean much to me. Ballard was, quite simply, an inspiration. He challenged, so effectively and so deeply. His departure from this world, knowing that he will never again put pen to paper and force us to rethink our impending reality, is like losing a staunch ally, a teacher, an entertainer, a warrior. In times when academic texts bored me and political discourse disillusioned me, Ballard would wake me up again, engage me in life. The dystopia he created are desperately relevant, drowning in a sea of published apathy and dullness.

    Any tribute in a comment that I attempt to pen seems pointless; just read his books. Again and again and again.

  169. A friend of mine had a business meeting at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. He missed it, barely, and then had a front-row seat on the dawning event of the 21st Century. When the army moved into lower Manhattan and cordoned the place off, he was by happenstance left inside, and he described how around midnight he walked through Times Square and saw not another soul. Just nothing – no cars, no people, all the gaudy lights were still on but he was completely alone. It must have been that way for just an hour or so and it was sheer fluke that he was there. He told me later, “It was like I was caught in some nightmare science fiction story!”

    We know who wrote that story.

    Thank you Mr. Ballard, for helping us to process the experience of civilization.

  170. The man was the greatest prose poet of the Twentieth Century; his vision will define this one.

  171. He died without his well-deserved Nobel. Ballard will remain the source of inspiration for millions. A visionary

  172. A giant. My lonely world is more lonely without him.

  173. Farewell, Dr Penrose.

  174. A wonderful writer not just for his visionary ideas but for the consistent virtuosity of his writing; his breath-taking use of metaphor and simile. I first started reading his books as a teenager in the 70s. He was a constantly unsettling companion and guide through the last decades of the 20th century and the first decade of this one.

    Thank you so much, JG.

  175. Discovered him quite late, but he became one of my favourite writers. Esp. “Concrete Island” and “High Rise” were my favourite books. I read (or tried to read – because he was very difficult writer in fact) also “Crash”, “Drowned World”, “Endless Dreams Company”, “Millennium People”, “Empire Of The Sun” and short stories. I have to give his early short stories re-read and some late novels. But in fact It can take decades before one can truly appreciate his output.

  176. A genius, who saw the future. He didn’t write science fiction in his later years he wrote science fact. His prescience about a new form of fascism being the only legitimate form of resistance to later day Capitalism, in his last novels, could not be closer to the truth. Viva The Metro Centre, James! Something is coming, you won’t live to see it, JG…but many will…

  177. I have read Ballard since my teens and he has become my favourite author. I have now completely immersed myself into his imaginative landscape, an imaginative landscape not of the far future or the distant past but the here and now. He has taught me that mystery, strangeness, even beauty and transcendence can be found in the geography of London’s utterly banal and alienated outer suburbs-a world of business parks, shopping centres and motorways, even in the confines of a suburban home. Rather then escaping to elsewhere, to a galaxy far, far away, Ballard brought science fiction down to earth without abandoning its visionary potential.

    His style is not bleak realism that rubs your nose in despair, but enhanced hyper-realism closer to lucid dreaming or trance states. His protagonists populating his fictions seek transformation or psychological fulfilment not through extraversion-a sane and gregarious hero figure conquering his enemies and getting the girl-but by going inward, deep into the inner space of our minds, embracing obsession near to the threshold of madness. (and some times stepping over that threshold into genuine insanity.) The imagination is brought into the foreground, the source of personal liberation, highly appealing to my introverted and “stay at home’ personality.

    “I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.

    “I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash, in the peace of the submerged forest, in the excitements of the deserted holiday beach, in the elegance of automobile graveyards, in the mystery of multi-story car parks, in the poetry of abandoned hotels…”

    But here we come to another important facet of J.G. Ballard; his critique of late-capitalism. Ballard’s fictions are ambivalent: on the one hand he reached out to the deviant and most alienated side of our society, the revitalising effects of violence or extreme sexuality, the leeching away of emotion to allow the imagination full reign-the death of affect. But on the other hand he understood the dangers residing in our modern day dystopias, high rises, gated communities and shopping malls, sapped of all human agency and community. J.G. Ballard was not left wing as such and leaves us with no social solution for our predicament. It’s difficult at times to reconcile my leftist hunger for class struggle and collectivism, albeit of the autonomist persuasion, with what seems on the service a middle-class individualist outlook. But his novels and stories depicted nightmares of capitalism, ruthlessly dissecting the psychopathology of corporatism and consumerism-offering a psychological or artistic solution not a political one. Anyway like all great artists he went beyond mere ideology, a subversive act in itself.

    I suppose another factor in my love of J.G. Ballard was he lived very nearby. He was not a distant literary figure living the high life, but was almost a neighbour. It was only a few years ago I found out his address by looking in the local phone book (yes, there it was in the local phone book!) I would never intrude on his privacy but I did take a walk from Walton where I live to Shepperton to view his house. And it’s as ordinary as everyone says it is. It would be really great if a J.G. Ballard fan bought the house and turned it into a sort of Ballard museum by keeping it exactly as it is.

    I will miss J.G. Ballard. I never know him but his writing has lodged itself into my brain like no other writer. He has literally changed my mental map, no cliché. J.G. was never a believer in God or an afterlife but let’s hope like a ‘second Adam,’ he has found at last ’the forgotten paradises of the reborn sun.’

  178. A writer about metahumanity. A builder of new feelings and pont of views, an archaeologist of our forbidden deeper origins. Feed for growing our minds.
    I wanted more.
    One of the last lights of this frustrating 21sth century has turned off.

  179. Thank you very much Jim you miss me.
    “The power of imagination to remake the world ….” this is the way JGB magistrally showed… let’s step inside to let him live.

  180. It has taken me a while to mentally compute this sad news. It would be no exaggeration to say that we have lost one of the most important writers to walk this alien planet, and we have also lost one of the greatest thinkers of our time. However, Ballard’s influence will, I’m sure, continue to persist well into the near future and beyond. I thank Ballard for his truly visionary perspectives, and his mild-mannered yet wildly persistent exegesis of contemporary society, which is becoming, in a typically reiterative fashion, increasingly more and more Ballardian.

  181. A slice of news last Sunday opened up my arm even though no one could see the cut. Muscles and tendons open to the air. A small piece of scalp and skull also pulled away, leaving brain cells exposed. A condition that mimics loss. Nothing is gone that I ever actually had. But what is having. Skin and bone close over again.

    In a wildlife hospital, nonhuman beings are tortured and repaired. Like in a Ballard novel they arrive maimed by cars, boats and power lines. They submit to further indignities by being x-rayed, sutured, lanced, injected, pinned, bound and intubated. And imprisoned. Their handlers come to know the smell touch and feel of their skin, feathers and fur. And the appearance of their organs, the smell of their droppings and their blood; the textures and phases of their diseases. The animals express signs of bodily functions, mental functions, and a range of behavior. Workers come to know the animals’ voices; learn how to hear which vocalizations convey pain, which envy, which anger, and which the final enthusiasm of returned vigor.

    Then comes the climax of release back into the wild, upon recovery. Or the journey “over the bridge,” as we say, into euthanasia. After years in a hospital for wildlife, workers absorb a familiarity with the bodies and ways of their clients that is not unlike the familiarity of a lover’s body. I put my arm down a pelican’s throat to give it a pill and feel the warm/cool moist para-reptilian flesh close around my arm. Ballard also knew something of reptile birds.

    Then, out in the world, I see the pelicans go by: “Hey, friend!” I call quietly, and wave, standing on the beach. Those years of touching and being touched (scars still show) have yielded a simulacrum of intimacy. I “know” — yet don’t know — those animals flying by. They certainly wouldn’t know me.

    J. G. Ballard wouldn’t know me either. He no more shared my experience of his work than the pelican who flies by on the beach shares the intimacy I feel regarding her because I once slid my arm down her throat. Or her nest-mate’s, I can’t know. Reading. Tending. They’re both one-way streets of acquaintance. Simulacra. I don’t know her. I don’t know him. And yet.

    Yesterday, sorting water infrastructure documents in the library a Ballardian wave hits. “…Irrigation pipes channel for miles …” I read, “… the mud plains soon farmlands… water … a foaming mass of water poured from the twin vents of a huge pumping system. … the emerging streets in the dim light around them, the humped backs of cars and buses appearing through the surface. …” the cracked issue of Reclamation Era I hold in my hands dissolves into the half memorized version of Drowned World that I carry in my head. On long drives through the reclaimed lands of the West, the car’s grinding engine always reminds me of Drowned World’s characters’ efforts to pump their world back into being. A glass of water drunk then becomes a piece of the liquid other. The other that consumes. The act of drinking collapses the self/other divide. Like reading does. Like putting one’s hand down the throat of a pelican. Anopheles. Palm fronds. Lots of authors change the way their readers hear words in their heads. Him among them. Ballard put his hands down my throat and also changed the way that I taste water.

    Ballard’s Traven walks on Eniwetok. Thermonuclear noon. In 1984 I finished high school with the thesis project “On the Non-Survivability of Limited Nuclear Exchange.” A yearlong research project. In 1985, age 17, I discover in San Francisco the paperback of Terminal Beach and and Traven, and start carrying the book around with me everywhere. The one with the Richard Powers cover. Later, in 1989, I walked the perimeter of Tienanmen Square as it was encircled by troops bent on controlling the uprising. Otherwise disengaged from Ballard’s autobiographical writings I was still aware of his early years in China. I pondered the square-mile expanse of concrete of the Square on a hot May day. Thought of him and the terminal beach. Troops formed a new human perimeter. The breadth of the square and the dryness of the pavement are like a desert. I’m reminded of the desertification of the West that accompanies reclamation. Thought of Drowned World. Of high school field trips to its inverse: the dry, desertified former internment camp of Tule Lake. Built on reclaimed ground. Pumping stations whirring. Later, on a cool September day in 1991 I walk through the White Sands National Monument and search for its northern border, for a gaze onto the Trinity Site. Standing amid tall sand dunes of another terminal beach.

    Ballard’s Traven thinks to himself, “The landscape is coded. Entry points into the future = levels in a spinal landscape = zones of significant time.” I know exactly what he means. In cars, planes and trains I spent the 1980s and early 90s circumnavigating the Cold War Pacific Rim: China, the Hanford-contaminated Columbia River gorge, the woods and waters of the West; sites of Japanese internment; learning the landscape and almost getting to Trinity. Pacific Ocean in between. “The landscape is coded,” writes Ballard. I didn’t need him to say it. But like putting one’s hand down the throat of a pelican, when he wrote down words that were already alive in my mind….

    Artwork of the science fiction surrealist Richard Powers turned up again on the cover of my next Ballard pickup, The Impossible Man. I thereby learned, free of the strictures of school, of the similarities between surrealists of letters and of images.

    Ballard wrote in perfect time for us Cold War children. His work also spoke for those of us pushing hard against the cobwebby softness of the pot-cured sixties youth culture we were born into. Adults around me smoked, laughed and lost while life went by them. Ballard talked about the “suburb of the soul” that worried him about the future. Over here in the Western U.S. we had to worry about it in our immediate past, the trouble of inheriting it rather than passing it on. I fled to San Francisco where the hard edges of traffic jams, punk rock, steep concrete staircases and all-night life were a balm on a spirit abraded by that gauzy haze. Always an audiophile, the aesthetics of dissonance at work in punk rock led to my escape.

    Into the hole left behind by soft thinking I pushed smashed televisions (whacked gleefully with my ice axe), full-throttle spins on the pavement of the wide South of Market streets, and a thick accretion of dissonant experiences of street-level urban life. I understood when Ballard eroticized cars and crashes… He posed a series of propositions for understanding human interaction with material culture that crushed assumptions of normalcy. I understood. I smashed televisions. I chose to hear music that pulled the sound of metal on metal out from the ambient audioscape and made it art.

    Down in the lower level of the Albatross bookstore The Atrocity Exhibition sprung into my hands. 1989 or so. I think it was just after getting back from China. Atrocity’s aesthetic of dissonance was instantly familiar. This went beyond Terminal Beach. It was silent punk rock. When well-intentioned family members sent me a dog-eared What Color Is Your Parachute? to help me through young adulthood I threw it away immediately. Me, who would later come to co-own a collection of over 40,000 books. That one, I threw away. While down my gullet went J.G. Ballard. Like putting one’s hand down the throat of a pelican.…

    Through the years I held, off-and-on, a low-key assumption that I would one day make contact with Ballard. Such a think-alike he was to me — or I experienced him to be, anyway. A co-inhabitant, co-interpreter of the Cold War Pacific Rim. A co-revolter against cobwebby minds. For my entire adult life he has been an impish uncle of the perverse, perched above my shoulder, encouraging certain special ways of thinking and looking. That perch a simulation of intimacy. Writing a fan letter seemed so banal. And so unlikely even to reach him. And for years I wasn’t ready. “Maybe I’ll write him a fan letter when I’ve really got something to say and show for myself,” I thought at times. “He’s only 37 years older than me.… I’ve got years… I’m going to write books… smash that suburb of the soul he worries about, and then show the perverse uncle what I’ve done…” Though it’s a risky proposition. I’ve met people whose works have been important to me before, and occasionally they’ve been jerks.

    Ballard’s name came up recently as a possible blurber for the book I’ve just finished writing, Another Science Fiction. Still, decades after that first virtual taste of the inside of his mind, I hesitated. Awed into shyness. The perverse uncle… would it really be right to breach the cherished, safe, simulated intimacy, and enter the barrens of formal, real-world acquaintance? Hard to imagine. Yet a tantalizing prospect. And then abruptly last Sunday afternoon the news that he had died. There was nothing more to be done. No more letters left unwritten, no more life there at all. No blurbs, no hand-shake with the far-away “uncle.” Not even a good-bye.

    Later that day, out in the world, I thought of his passing while looking at the ocean: “Hey, friend!” I called quietly, and waved, standing on the beach. The Pacific’s horizon stretched toward China. Eniwetok far to the southwest. Pelicans flew north up the coast, three at a time.

  182. a unique talent has been lost.

  183. Hi Simon,

    Here is my own modest tribute to the great JG Ballard, who was as you say one of the true great philosophers of our times: http://culture.ulg.ac.be/jcms/c_40289/jg-ballard-in-memoriam

    Thanks for the work you’ve done on yr website, of which I was a regular visitor.

    All the best,


  184. Very sad to hear of the passing of JG Ballard. One of the most significant British writers of the 20th C. Having just, this week finished reading his short stories Pt 1 very much in Ballardian mode at the moment. Crash & Empire of the Sun have had huge effect on my work as a visual artist and I’m sure his influence will continue to inspire creative thinking in perpetuity.

    Thank you Jim.

  185. I happened to know about this just today, on Sunday 26th. I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in Literature at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), and I came to live in the US on October 2005. When I was a teen, in a wonderful sci-fi radio program in Mar del Plata, Argentina (my city, my country), called “Umbral Tiempo Futuro” (“Future Time Threshold”), I used to do my high school homework after midnight listening to the conductor, Nahuel Villegas, while reading stories from “Terminal Beach.” Some years after, somebody wrote the best definition for JGB: “the philosopher of sci-fi.” May he rest in peace, or, even better, peacefully conquest the Universe we learned from him. Juan Pablo Neyret, 45-years-old (a whole life with James Graham Ballard!). P.S.: “Words are flying out / like endless rain into a paper cup / they slither while they pass / they slip away across the universe / pools of sorrow waves of joy / are drifting thorough my open mind / possessing and caressing me // Jai Guru Deva Om / Nothing’s gonna change my world” —John Lennon/Beatles.

  186. JG Ballard was interviewed a short while before his death by Hari Kunzru. You can read the interview at http://www.wbqonline.com/feature.do?featureid=83

    Touching stuff.

    He’ll be missed.

  187. Why I Love JG Ballard

    When I was young Ballard not only showed me consistently perfect writing, but taught me lessons that no one else had and some that no one else ever would, certainly not half so well. Although I never knew him he was a friend, and although we never spoke, he was a mentor. He helped set the bar for what good writing is.

    Every writing class addresses the ticking clock, the mainspring of suspense. It is the cataclysm we know will happen in 25 hours unless we can cripple the detonator. The strict regularity of the clock is the inflexible rhythm of all inevitability. Ballard’s clocks are never straightforward. They can tick backwards and turn inward on themselves; his characters are the dials upon which they register.

    Ballard showed me that no wall divides dreaming and waking; they mutually interpenetrate. With his calm, avuncular voice he said “Given: your nightmare is reality. Task: Experience your nightmare’s nightmare. His writing is a careful arrangement of symbolic landscapes which reveal what we cannot otherwise see, the mystery behind the veil. Terminal Beach is the landscape of the late twentieth century.

    His meticulously detailed scientific objectivity gives wing to a soaring romanticism. When flowers sing it is with the passionate intensity of Maria Callas. A slowly drowning world, where giant lizards stare menacingly from the terraces of submerged skyscrapers, is a lurid surrealist jungle. The Wind From Nowhere comes from nowhere. The Concrete Island, in the center of London, is worse than Robinson Cruesoe’s because it is encircled not by a blank and endless sea, but by the blind quotidian world. The limits of rationality can be reached and passed, and then the most accurate description of reality reads like a nightmare or an ecstatic vision. That was where Ballard lived.

    He was the scientist poet of ultimate reality.

    Larry Mellman

  188. […] good obituaries, you’d do well to read the tributes accumulating at Ballardian (notably from Michael Moorcock, and Bookkake contributor Supervert), and this piece by V. Vale […]

  189. I have read and been transformed, politically, philosophically and possibly even spiritually by the work of Ballard. When he died last week I was reading his biography, Miracles of life. A book which has much to offer, as it is at once sentimental – been about personal experience, family and relationships. But also a book which reveals and confirms some of the foundations of his discourse and narrative style, Heavily influneced by surrealism, psychoanalysis – the outsider looking at a new society as if for the first time (his coming to England in the 40s), grappling with internal paranoia. His own personal take on late modernity, surveillance techniques etc. In many ways Ballards ideas are reflected in the more formal analysis of Michele Foucault, post-modern philosopher. But is is Ballards fiction which probably depicts better human spirit and resistance in the face of relentless capitalism and alienation. Ballard you will be missed.

  190. I am now re-reading Ballard’s work once again and a question came to me last night when I ran into another reference to his days in the dissection room as a med student: did Ballard himself donate his body to science?

    An amazing thought. I wonder if the students will even know who he was, that he’d meditated so interestingly on the subject.

    And if he did in fact donate his body, I guess that would be one last gift he gave to the world.

  191. “The dead go on opening doors in our minds.”
    -Super Cannes.

    He couldn’t have written anything truer to his own work if he written this about himself. We have lost a powerful mind and an incredible prophet, let’s make sure his word is kept more alive than ever!

  192. I put the blame on me as I’ve never forced myself to fulfill the visualisation of the “Summer Cannibals”. Literally, it would’ve been risky and challenging, it needed lots of strength just to follow up with that simply paradoxically masterpiece from “The Atrocity Exhibition”. At last, I tried to be more responsible by calling my film production workshop “You: Coma Films”. And now, it seems so vague just like Death itself, JUST LIKE AN INFINITE CRASH.

  193. […] and appraisals of his work. I found Moorcock’s piece in the Guardian very moving, and Simon Sellars’ obituary on Ballardian.com both thought-provoking and, in a sad way, exhilarating. Anything I can say is just another grain of […]

  194. http://exhibitionatrocity.blogspot.com/2009/05/influential-stranger.html

  195. I briefly spoke to JG Ballard at a book signing in Seattle in the mid 1980s. I brought my ragged 1962 copy of Billenium for him to sign. I told him I bought the paperback in 1962 and although I had just about everything he had written I would like him to sign the the book that began my journey into Ballardian reality. He looked at me and smiled and said, ” so you are the one who bought that book”.

    it is a great loss….

  196. RIP –

  197. […] JG Ballard died recently, Ballardian has a write-up with several links [Link] […]

  198. […] the unintended effect of arousing the middle classes to their economic sameness and vulnerability. JG Ballard’s Millennium People imagined such bourgeois consciousness tipping over into polite […]

  199. La nouvelle de la disparition de Mr Ballard m’a plongé dans un certain désarrois et un grande tristesse : C’était mon auteur préféré, celui avec qui je me sentais le plus proche. J’ai adoré lire vos livres

    Reposez en paix Mr Ballard

  200. Hello. My name The Angel. I need to publish J.G.
    Ballard. It is a project to promote reading. The text would be distributed free and in high volume. Anybody know who I contact to ask permission?

  201. I am a Norwegian songwriter and musician. I posted this message on my band The Opium Cartel’s myspace page today:

    J.G. Ballard RIP
    I was deeply saddened by the news that my favorite author and one of the leading lights in my life, J.G. Ballard, passed away yesterday. There is no other author that I have identified with as deeply, and felt so in tune with what he wrote. Ever since I first stumbled across “Vermilion Sands”, with it’s psycho-sexual landscapes of deserts and dried up coral reefs right out of a Max Ernst painting, I have been hooked. Without books like “Myths of the Near Future” and “Voices of Time”, a lot of my music wouldn’t have existed. White Willow’s album “Storm Season”, and especially the song “Chemical Sunset” was deeply indebted to him, and The Opium Cartel’s “Beach House” is a direct homage to him. In fact, the original idea was to use snippets of Ballard’s texts at the end of the song, but somehow it became even more Ballardian with just the desolate noises of the slowly disintegrating song. “There is a pool that’s filling with sand/lizards can sleep there when we are gone” – that’s me doing Ballard.

    In the story “News from the Sun”, Marion tells her husband, the one-time NASA doctor Franklin: “Think of yourself – what you’ve always wanted – alone in the world, just you and these empty hotels”. She might as well have been speaking to Ballard himself. All his works reveal a longing for some kind of socio-cultural extinction, where infrastructures collapse, order crumbles, the masses disappear and the protagonist is left to himself, to his own musings of the world around him, ending, changing, re-emerging.

    In Ballard’s heaven I am sure he is now sitting on some rooftop of some abandoned motel, quietly scanning the horizon of some dried out ocean, contemplating the empty swimming pools and the sleeping night clubs along the beach, watching the cerise dusk settle on vermilion sands.


  202. […] as if by imagining the very worst we can stop it from happening. But there is a touch, too, of JG Ballard‘s call to the power of the imagination “to remake the world” and “hold back […]

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