James Graham “J. G.” Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist.
Ballard came to be associated with the New Wave of science fiction early in his career with apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) novels such as The Drowned World (1962), The Burning World (1964), and The Crystal World (1966). In the late 1960s and early 1970s Ballard focused on an eclectic variety of short stories (or “condensed novels”) such as those found in The Atrocity Exhibition (1970), which drew comparison with the work of postmodernist writers such as William S. Burroughs. In 1973 the highly controversial novel Crash was published, a story about symphorophilia and car crash fetishism; the protagonist becomes sexually aroused by staging and participating in car crashes.
The adjective ‘Ballardian’ is now in the dictionary. Like George Orwell, whose work has spawned the term ‘Orwellian’, Ballard has been paid one of the highest literary honours: he has his own adjective. Like ‘Orwellian’, the word ‘Ballardian’ refers to a dystopian vision of society: the Collins English Dictionary defines it as ‘resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes, and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments’.
Did You Know?..
When they rejected J. G. Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash, one publisher remarked that the author was ‘beyond psychiatric help’.
Known for exploring unusual and controversial human impulses and their relationship to modernity and technology, Ballard said that everything he wrote was inspired by his early childhood and teenage experiences in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai in the early 1940s. His most popular novel, Empire of the Sun (1984), is about these early years which showed him the ‘pathology’ underlying modern life.