The Complete Short Stories : Volume 1, Paperback

The Complete Short Stories : Volume 1 Paperback

2.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


First in a two volume collection of short stories by the acclaimed author of 'Empire of the Sun', 'Crash' and 'Super-Cannes'.

The new edition is introduced by Adam Thirwell. With eighteen novels over four decades - from 'The Drowned World' in 1962 to his final novel 'Kingdom Come' in 2006 - J.G.

Ballard is known as one of Britain's most celebrated and original novelists.

However, during his long career he was also a prolific writer of short stories; in fact, many people consider that he is at his best in the short-story format.

These highly influential stories have appeared in magazines such as New Worlds, Amazing Stories and Interzone, and in several separate collections, including 'The Terminal Beach', 'The Venus Hunters', 'Vermilion Sands', 'Low-Flying Aircraft' and 'Myths of the Near Future'.

Set out in the original order of publication and frequently the point of conception for ideas he further developed in his novels, these stories provide an unprecedented opportunity to see the imagination of one of Britain's greatest writers at work. This edition is part of a new commemorative series of Ballard's works, featuring introductions from a number of his admirers (including Robert Macfarlane, Iain Sinclair, James Lever and Ali Smith) and brand-new cover designs from the artist Stanley Donwood.




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I usually read short story anthologies in one go, but I wisely decided not to with this gargantuan beast, which I’ve been struggling through piece by piece since I was reading The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Why I thought it was a good idea to read such an enormous volume of work from an author whom I’d never sampled before I have no idea.J.G. Ballard was quite famous, however, and I had heard of him. He was so renowned for the tone of bleak alienation in his books that a word was coined: “Ballardian,” meaning “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.” Most of the stories in this anthology were written in the 1950s and 1960s, and there’s often a strong sense of a rigid consumerist post-war society, trapped between the stifling customs of the past (wives pour their husband a stiff drink when he gets home from work etc.) and the bleak ugliness of modern cities, architecture and ways of living.By and large they are not only tedious, but bleak and depressing. One can’t fairly fault Ballard for writing bleak stories, if that’s his stock in trade, but it was a bit of a drag to read through thirty-nine of them. He seems particularly obsessed with abstract things like time, sound and vision, and if a story is set in his fictional desert city of Vermilion Sands, it’s an instant tip-off that it’s going to be a boring trudge through some crappy story about musical statues or audio technicians or something like that.There are a few good stories in there; I particularly enjoyed Concentration City (about a man trying to escape a city that stretches on forever), The Watch-Towers (about life in a town dominated by mysterious observation towers) and The Venus Hunters (about an astronomer who falls in with a scientist claiming to have met Venusian explorers). On the whole, though, I regretted reading this book shortly after beginning it, and only finished it through sheer determination. Note to self: do not buy “the complete” anything of an author you haven’t read before.

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