|It’s time to farewell this project.
Ballardian.com has been online for sixteen years. The first posts were published on 16 July 2005—six that day. Back then, in a primitive attempt to document the ‘Ballardian’ in everyday life, the site existed as a news aggregate. Those first six entries quoted news items about an ‘auto suicide attempt’ (the arrest of a woman who tried to kill herself and others in an arranged car accident); ‘the ennui of edgeland architecture’; the impending DVD release of Jonathan Weiss’s Atrocity Exhibition film (based on Ballard’s experimental novel); the attempt to take photos of astronaut relics on the Moon; the use of a Ballard quote in a newspaper columnist’s swipe at the irrelevance of the 2012 Olympics; and ‘JG Ballard’s review of 2 books about Nazis’, a piece that hinted at the themes in his forthcoming novel Kingdom Come. As a guide to future Ballardian interrogations, that early sextet was an accurate weathervane.
The last post, published on 13 May 2020, was Amy Ireland’s ‘The Infinite Sales Bay of the Universe’—a Ballard-referencing article that explored the ‘zone trope’ in science fiction. The article uncovered a universe ‘that undoes habit and produces something radically new… a hole into the future without objects or individuals.’ Perhaps the site fulfilled a similar function.
From the first to last entry, we published 670 posts (and 646,967 words). We featured exclusive interviews with Ballard himself, as well as Bruce Sterling, Iain Sinclair, Brigid Marlin, David Pelham, Troy Paiva, Ben Wheatley, Jonathan Weiss, Simon Reynolds, David Britton, Michael Butterworth, Michael Moorcock, Jeannette Baxter, Toby Litt, Geoff Manaugh, John Foxx, David Cronenberg and Solveig Nordlund. We also excavated a number of archival interviews, some of which found their way into Extreme Metaphors, the collection of Ballard interviews that I co-edited.
As well as Ireland, contributors to the site included Mark Fisher, Christopher Brown, Andrés Vaccari, Andrew Frost, Benjamin Noys, Brian Baker, Cat Hope, Jamie Sherry, Dominika Oramus, Mike Holliday, Damien Love, Mike Bonsall, Rick McGrath, Paul Roth, William Viney, Pippa Tandy, Matteo Pasquinelli, Tim Chapman, Andrew Bishop, Ben Austwick, James Pardey, Brian Baker, Clem Dorbeck, Dan Lockton, Nic Clear, Nicholas Cobb, Dan O’Hara, Henry Swanson, David Brittain, Paul Williams, Pedro Groppo, David Cunningham, Andrea Simonis, Annik Hovak, Gwyn Richards, James Pardey, Johnny Strike, Jordi Costa, Lyle Hopwood, Umberto Rossi and Rick Poynor.
At its prime, the site existed in a pre-social media era when blogs carried substantial cultural capital. Ballardian, operating in what I termed the ‘Ballardosphere’, communicated and collaborated with well-known blogs including Fisher’s k-punk, Sterling’s Beyond the Beyond and Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG. However, it must be said that I never thought of Ballardian as a blog (although it began that way and continued to have a blog component within it). It was really an online magazine with a regular publishing schedule and an array of guest contributors willing to submit essays, reviews, interviews and commentary.
Word began to spread and the site was included on university reading lists and in media round-ups, such as when newspapers and magazines decided to scan the burgeoning blog scene.
In a 2008 review of Ballard’s Miracles of Life, Diane Johnson, novelist and scriptwriter for Kubrick’s The Shining, wrote that Ballard is “now the center of a cult of enthusiasts who comment in the ‘Ballardosphere,’ in books and articles, via the website ballardian.com and elsewhere”.
China Miéville, in a 2010 article on Ballard’s short stories, described how “the word “Ballardian” is now commonplace, enshrined not only in the url of an extensive website of speculative cultural investigation but also the entirely mainstream and eminently respectable Collins English Dictionary.”
In 2018, k-punk was anthologised by Repeater Books and in 2020 Sterling pulled the plug on Beyond the Beyond. Ballardian has also run its course. The site has been part of my personal drive to absorb Ballard’s work, a mission that began when I commenced my PhD on him in 1996 and culminated in the 2018 publication of my theory-fiction novel Applied Ballardianism: Memoir of a Parallel Universe (a fantastical account of academic failure and literary obsession, filtered through the Ballardian lens). I don’t really have anything left in the tank. As Miéville indicated, the idea of ‘the Ballardian’ has become so ingrained it’s a cliche to state it.
The site may be going dark, but there are plans to anthologise the highlights: as an ebook, a print publication or both. If you’d like to be informed of these developments as they occur, please subscribe to our Post-Ballardian Mailing List.
In the meantime, you might like to purchase the two publications this site has spawned: Extreme Metaphors, a collection of classic interviews with JGB, and my work of theory-fiction, Applied Ballardianism. There is also my science fiction novel, Code Beast, a quasi-sequel to Applied Ballardianism.
Many thanks to everyone who conspired and collaborated. If anyone—contributors, interviewees or readers alike—would like to share memories or experiences of Ballardian.com, please be in touch.
To JGB: we were faithful to ‘them’, as you instructed.
—Simon Sellars, July 2021