Monday, April 20, 2009

RIP J. G. Ballard

Sunday morning April 19, right around the time I was flying over Sakhalin, J. G. Ballard stopped breathing. The 78-year-old author had suffered from a long illness of undisclosed nature. Most folks are aware of his two books that were turned into movies, Empire of the Sun and Crash. But Ballard also wrote far more important and disturbing works, including The Drowned World and The Atrocity Exhibition (which RESearch reprinted in the late 1980s as a medical illustration coffee-table edition of astonishing horror). The latter includes two personal favorite short stories, "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan" and "The Assassination of JFK as a Downhill Motor Race" (also re-imagined as a video here).

Ballard used to be called a science fiction writer, before he started writing erudite and respectable novels in his latter years. But what he always was, was an unforgettable and irreplacable master of speculative fiction. What a body of work. Maybe, like Roberto Bolano, he will leave us several post-humous surprises so that the two deceased authors have a downhill race for the title of Tupac Shakur of literature.


Dan Holden said...

Thanks for this. I have to ashamedly admit I was unaware of Ballard until now but I promise I will read his writings. From the little research I've done just now, his works sound fascinating and probably, still very timely.

Loring Wirbel said...

That's why we're here, sir - to cover just the good stuff.