Quillblog would be remiss if we didn’t mark the passing of British science-fiction pioneer J.G. Ballard (though somewhat ironically, his most famous book, Empire of the Sun, wasn’t science fiction at all). The L.A. Times blog has a thoughtful retrospective on Ballard’s work.
A member of the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s, Ballard started out writing proto-environmental thrillers that highlighted the prescience of his imagination: The Wind From Nowhere posits a world-wide windstorm that becomes apocalyptic, while The Drowned World is about a planet swamped by risen seas.
It was really in the 1970s, however, that Ballard found his voice as a writer, focusing on the dangers of mechanization and socialization, the tension between the veneer of civilization and the animal brutality it sought to conceal.
It’s easy, from the perspective of the present, to minimize just how revolutionary all this was “ we now live, after all, in Ballard’s world.