The Drowned World, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


When London is lost beneath the rising tides, unconscious desires rush to the surface in this apocalyptic tale from the author of `Crash' and `Empire of the Sun', reissued here with a new introduction from Martin Amis. Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat.

London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows up the walls of the Ritz and primeval reptiles are sighted, swimming through the newly-formed lagoons. Some flee the capital; others remain to pursue reckless schemes, either in the name of science or profit.

While the submerged streets of London are drained in search of treasure, Dr Robert Kerans - part of a group of intrepid scientists - comes to accept this submarine city and finds himself strangely resistant to the idea of saving it. First published in 1962, Ballard's mesmerising and ferociously imaginative novel gained him widespread critical acclaim and established his reputation as one of Britain's finest writers of science fiction. This edition is part of a new commemorative series of Ballard's works, featuring introductions from a number of his admirers (including Robert Macfarlane, Martin Amis, James Lever and Ali Smith) and brand-new cover designs.


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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

I much preferred this to The Drought - the settings turn out to be more familiar and the characters seemed somewhat easier to relate to (though likeable would be going too far). The central idea of regression to thought patterns displayed millions of years ago by earlier life forms is a fascinating and quite sobering one.

Review by

If you know and like 1960s science-fiction, you will adore this book. If you don't, it might take a bit of work, but I predict you'll like it just the same, despite its shadowy racism and the jibber-jabber psychojargon Ballard adopts to explain his conceit. Instead of just going Lord of the Flies and having his characters degenerate in the face of the outer world's post-civilization brutality, he has his characters deliberately psychoanalysing themselves at every step. It gets a tad tedious, but the setting is excellent and there's a bit of action-adventure stuff going on here, too. Anyway, it's just plain clever all around. If you like Ballard, this is definately something you should take a look at; if you don't know what you think of him yet, this is also a good place to start.

Review by

This novel left a bad taste in my mouth -- and I mean that in a good way. The scorching sun heat and the lethargic sweating that most characters are reduced to was palpable throughout most of the novel. This one packs quite a punch. The setting is a dystopean future. Increased solar activity has sharply raised the temperature on earth, causing a global flood. The world is reduced to an unpleasant swamp and the climate reverts to a Triassic jungle marsh. Abandoned high-rises stick out of the silty water like rotting teeth, overgrown by fantastically mutated plants and inhabited by giant iguanas, bats and caymans. What remains of humanity has set up refugia in the formerly frozen polar areas, which are rapidly becoming the only habitable zones on the planet: ambient temperatures in temperate zones are routinely up in the 110s F (i.e. 40s and 50s C). This is the background for a series of events set in now-abandoned London. A final army outpost scavenging for resources is getting ready to leave the place for good, but the biologists sent along to catalogue the diversity of animal and plant life can't be bothered to give self-preservation any serious thought. Atavistic behaviour takes over, memories from the reptile part of the brain awaken. What is left of the world is inherited by the lizards and the insane. Creative, morose, and gripping. Recommended.

Review by

Everything you've ever heard about Ballard's view of the world is here in his first novel: distopian, lyrical and prophetic - all from a man bringing up three children on his own in a semi-detached house in Middlesex. JGB uses rich language to conjour a vivd sense of a broken planet and the pull of our more primordial tendencies. Dark and beautiful all at once.

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