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My Year of Reading Lemmishly

Jonathan Lethem, 10 February 2022

... the Cold War fear that emerged from them – Stanley Kubrick, Philip K. Dick, Rod Serling, J.G. Ballard. Yet unlike Kubrick, Serling, Dick, Ballard, or my grandmother, Lem was trapped on the far side of the Iron Curtain, submitting drafts to Soviet censor boards, seeing himself promoted for the Nobel Prize by KGB ...


Jeremy Harding: Anxiety in the Dordogne, 9 May 2002

... bullies and prigs. If France turned into wall-to-wall suburbia one day, like something out of J.G. Ballard, there might still be a place for his politics, but there’s an awful lot of space to fill. Where, I wonder, would he fit into my current, bumpkin fantasy: that of a post-national future, with a few dozen vast, well-run cities, bastions of wealth and ...

Man-Eating Philosophers

Will Self: David Cronenberg, 18 June 2015

by David Cronenberg.
Fourth Estate, 288 pp., £18.99, October 2014, 978 0 00 729915 7
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... influence of Burroughs’s heterotopic vision is certainly present, as is the minatory one of J.G. Ballard, another writer whose work Cronenberg has adapted for the screen, but this is very much the director’s cut – and probably the better for it. Has Cronenberg, with a recent film adaptation of a Don DeLillo novel to his credit as well, become that most ...

Paradise Lost

Stephen Bann, 17 March 1983

Deadeye Dick 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 224 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 224 02945 2
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by Max Frisch, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Methuen, 142 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 413 51750 0
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The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction 
by Colin Greenland.
Routledge, 244 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 7100 9310 1
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More Tales of Pirx the Pilot 
by Stanislaw Lem, translated by Louis Iribarne, Magdalena Majcherczyk and Michael Kandel.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 9780436244117
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Yesterday’s Men 
by George Turner.
Faber, 234 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 571 11857 7
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Rebel in Time 
by Harry Harrison.
Granada, 272 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 246 11766 4
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Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 236 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0602 0
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... between the language of science and the language of fiction’, but that a writer like J.G. Ballard is able to perform a kind of ‘alchemy’ by amalgamating ‘sonorous, emotive words with categorical terms from the sciences’. Lem also possesses this superlative skill. The pyrotechnic parade of specialised terms and unfamiliar sensations is never ...

At the Beverly Wilshire

Ric Burns, 8 January 1987

Hollywood Husbands 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 508 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 434 14090 2
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Letters from Hollywood 
by Michael Moorcock.
Harrap, 232 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 245 54379 1
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Rain or Shine: A Family Memoir 
by Cyra McFadden.
Secker, 178 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 436 27580 5
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... adventure flick. Letters from Hollywood, written mainly between 1979 and 1982 to his chum J.G. Ballard and presented here with a touch of editorial licence, is the record of that sojourn. Moorcock is perhaps best-known as the bearded midwife of brave new worlds for a generation of dreamily disaffected and drug-stunned bikers. He certainly knows his ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell, 2 December 2010

J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... James Gordon Farrell – Jim to his friends – turns out to have had more in common with J.G. Ballard than with Paul Scott, George MacDonald Fraser, M.M. Kaye and other writers of 1970s bestsellers with imperial themes. Like the empty swimming-pools and weed-choked concrete landscapes that appear again and again in JGB’s imagined futures, the collapsing ...

Is there hope for U?

Christopher Tayler: Tom McCarthy, 21 May 2015

Satin Island 
by Tom McCarthy.
Cape, 192 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 224 09019 3
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... projected as being essentially onside – agreeing it’s ‘a little disappointing’ that J.G. Ballard wasn’t fully down with the programme, or ‘snickering’ along with the speaker at ‘the words “Slack”, “erect” and “Cox”’ in a passage from Ford Madox Ford – but also as sufficiently new to the world to need telling with some firmness ...

List your enemies

Alice Spawls: Deborah Levy, 16 June 2016

Hot Milk 
by Deborah Levy.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £12.99, March 2016, 978 0 241 14654 5
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... certain props and images reappear throughout her work: cherries, caged birds, swimming pools. J.G. Ballard talked about how his obsessional emblems (which also included swimming pools) structured his work, but sometimes in Levy’s stories they have to do too much work; standing in for the interiority of a character, or a psychic shift in the drama, or ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... rain on one window showing the wind’s direction Raworth is as precise, as graphic, as J.G. Ballard. ‘Ash fills the fingerprints,’ he writes. Or: ‘the noise of a ring sliding onto a finger.’ Like Ballard, he’s fond of the comforting narcolepsy of cinema (being dead but alert) and of films on television ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... black beret was twitching on his scalp.’ Behind Kingsley Amis and ‘ice-cream suited’ J.G. Ballard are Alan Brien, Maeve Peake, Dave Britton and legions of the erased and discontinued: Notting Hill colons, grafters, bullshitters, pharmaceutical casualties and Fleet Street drain-rats. Moorcock grants us more than any novelist is required to ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis, 18 March 1999

Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... profits of his sword and sorcery writings, was edited for a time by Sallis. Writers such as J.G. Ballard and (later) M. John Harrison, as well as Sallis himself, were proving that it was possible to operate a communality of the imagination that drew on Burroughs and Borges as well as Ray Bradbury and Alfred Bester. Now the only way for the veterans of that ...

Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick, 3 July 2008

Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... Chabon, Kazuo Ishiguro. Authors who began inside the SF ghetto have found success outside it: J.G. Ballard as an author of realist novels, Samuel Delany in academia, William Gibson, Lethem himself (whose first books owed a lot to Dick). The sciences – biomedical sciences, climatology, ecology, information technology – seem omnipresent now. It should ...

Museums of Melancholy

Iain Sinclair: Silence on the Euston Road, 18 August 2005

... We stroll down empty Underground platforms, a cinema of exemplary objects and no script. J.G. Ballard, in an essay on the film director Michael Powell, suggested that drama in the ‘serious’ novel of the future would ‘migrate from the characters’ heads to the world around them’. No interior monologues, no social satire: absurd and cruel ...

All change. This train is cancelled

Iain Sinclair: The Dome, 13 May 1999

... landscape was so strange, so alienated, that you were practically deafened by the noise of J.G. Ballard licking his lips. All the old radicals were clawing their way out of the earth to get at it. Fiction was back on the menu. As in a Ballard novel, something like The Atrocity Exhibition, language itself begins to ...

Come hungry, leave edgy

Sukhdev Sandhu: Brick Lane, 9 October 2003

Brick Lane 
by Monica Ali.
Doubleday, 413 pp., £12.99, June 2003, 9780385604840
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... London Fields, or the inhabitants of Chelsea Marina being questioned about their portrayal by J.G. Ballard as psychosexually troubled paranoiacs. Is the public recognition of ethnic communities across the United Kingdom dependent on their valorisation by literary fiction? If so, I hope there are a few writers among the Iraqi Kurds – the new Bangladeshis ...

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