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The Drought

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  1,112 ratings  ·  78 reviews
The world is threatened by dramatic climate change in this highly acclaimed and influential novel, one of the most important early works by the bestselling author of 'Cocaine Nights' and 'Super-Cannes'. Water. Man's most precious commodity is a luxury of the past. Radioactive waste from years of industrial dumping has caused the sea to form a protective skin strong enough ...more
Kindle Edition, Reissue, 240 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 1964)
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Nate D
Jun 14, 2012 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: pool herders of the salt channels
Recommended to Nate D by: a fish traced in dust
As Maya noted when she was reading this, there's a certain stodginess about the style, a certain pre-modern feeling at odds with the novel's future disaster premise, but as Will Self notes in his afterword, it's hard for that to really slow things up too much when the story is so full of mirage-wavered portents and apocalyptic tableaus. The strangest aspect, though, is not that tension, but the general ellipticness of and hazyness of the storytelling, the characters are inscrutable gamepieces, t ...more
Channel your interior Robbie Krieger and prepare for pondering The End. No. I don’t mean David Beckham’s retirement, but rather closing time, like permanently. One of my criticisms of The Road was its attempt to capture the After with an almost biblical gravity of language. J.G. Ballard appears too savvy for those traps. His exploration is empty. Life is vast and bleak. It isn’t going to rain anymore. We’re sure as hell Doomed, done for. Experiences don’t amount to much anymore. I wouldn’t waste ...more
Leo Robertson
Skimmed this pretty heavily. I love Ballard's descriptions and scientific speculations, but he always seems to fail me when it comes to character or plot. But descriptions and speculation are enough to validate a read anyways :)
Kate Sherrod
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
As noted in the review for The Drowned World, another part of the quartet of Ballard's "Elemental Apocalypse" - formerly titled THE BURNING WORLD, this describes a future in which water has grown scarce (yet another possibility for our future, sadly). IIRC, it starts out with the realization of what's going on just beginning to grip the populace of a British suburb, and then at mid-book jumps ahead a number of years to the dessicated, blasted future where rag-tag groups skate across vast salt pl ...more
At first look, The Drought would seem to be a simple transposition of Ballard’s previous novel, The Drowned World. Given that plots and conceits can often just be skeletons for Ballard to hang his singular language and obsessions atop, this didn’t seem an unlikely supposition. And there is great similarity between the two novels (as there is with most Ballard). However, what surprised me was how often The Drought resembles a Ballardian crack at the Southern Gothic novel.

The setting of a small ri
This book feels very contemporary or timeless given that it was written in 1964. If you are looking for a psychological post-apocalyptic read - this is your book.
Roddy Williams
I’m not clear if Ballard ever composed poetry, although I’m of the opinion that if he didn’t then he should have.
This is an expanded version of the original 1964 novel, ‘The Burning World’ and is one of a quartet of post-apocalyptic novels Ballard wrote early in his career, which may well have been based on the concept of the four alchemical elements. This is the fire section.
It’s not perfect by any means. Other reviewers have remarked that there is a surplus of characters. Of the males, those
David Williamson
There are serious moments you think this book is really going to kick into gear and then doesn't. Aspects of the book are unclear and at times I wasn't sure what was going on. It is not the easiest or flowing of books, and it is rather unengaging. However, ...

The use of language with regards to time is very good, as the drought is in its first couple of months at the beginning of the book, society rapidly deteriorates, creating a suspended sensation of time, it is merely weeks after the drought
Ballard likes to put normal people in times of crisis and destruction, so as to explore their limits, their morals, often their humanity. I haven't read many of his earlier works, but it seems to me that while in this one the crisis is more obvious than in some of his later novels, Ballard still manages to come up with an exciting read.

The best element of "The Drought" is not the plot, which is interesting but ultimately fails to come together completely. For me it was the prose, especially pera
Corey Ryan
The last Ballard I read was "The Unlimited Dream Company." That book was amazing. This book was ok-pale in comparison to that.
Ballard's prose is nothing special. His sentence structures never attracted me to his writing and honestly, sometimes his use of similes becomes quite annoying (especially when too many end the paragraphs). What attracts me to his books are simply his stories. The oddness of the way environments can make us behave or the way the environments appear to react to our existe
Like The Drowned World this early Ballard novel is visiting through fiction the experience of a world turned upside down that is described in Empire of the Sun. Here a drought drives society out of the familiar. The cities become empty while the seashore becomes an encampment for the population, working to produce fresh water rather than finding food that was Ballard's boyhood experience in China.
A surreal post-apocalyptic novel filled with hallucinatory and mirage-like imagery, The Drought (1965) is an expanded version of The Burning World published in 1964. Something about the novel reminds me more of the "Lost World" novels of H. Rider Haggard than of more contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction. Perhaps better in conception than in realization, the novel presents the effects of a multi-decadal drought on the environment and inhabitants of a lacustrine/riverine community near an unident ...more
James Perkins
Dr Charles Ransom lives on a houseboat on a rapidly receding river, victim of a worldwide drought, caused by pollution that has covered the Earh's oceans with a thin film, preventing almost all natural evaporation. So there is no rain, no new water, and people are only too aware that what they have left won't be there for long. The story relates Ransom's attempts to deal with the rapidly diminishing water supplies. Starting with a group of mildly eccentric characters, the novel ends up as an abs ...more
Jorge Jaramillo Villarruel
Las novelas de Ballard suelen estar plagadas de coincidencias del tipo Deus ex machina que, en otros autores empobrecerían la narración, al grado de hacerla quedar como un artificio inverosímil. la diferencia es que las obras de Ballard son estructuradas como "una ecuación de emociones y relaciones". Los personajes se encuentran constantemente en los momentos precisos, como si se llamaran o tuvieran una cualidad extrasensorial que les permitiera saber a cada momento dónde se encuentran los demás ...more
Quite a different style compared to his later work (Cocaine Nights). He's more interested here in experimenting with the surrealism that catastrophe allows. There's not much of a plot, instead what we have is an ever expanding collection of the most bizarre, and yet carefully assembled, imagery upon the stage of the 'Apocalypse'. The lesson learnt? there is no 'end of the world' instead there is only the rise of a new, infinitely stranger and more dangerous world. Sometimes the kaleidoscope of v ...more
N.J. Ramsden
One of Ballard's early novels, and one of the 'catastrophic environmental' set, this is a bit of a bodged job, I'm afraid. The premise is interesting enough and Ballard elides what's necessary to elide in order to show that the premise is not really the thing to be interested in - so what's the book about? It's not about characters, that's for sure, and it's not even about the plot, which is superficial and fails to really develop in any way at all. So what's it about? It's not about the message ...more
Wendy Crittenden
Started out slow and got so awesome bizarre. My only complaint was the way it ended... I wish it was resolved better instead of the easy way out the author took. Such very strange and interesting characters.
Aaron Kent
way ahead of its time
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Evan Mariah  Pettit
...Like all purgatories, the beach was a waiting ground, the endless stretches of wet salt sucking away from them all but the hardest core of themselves. These tiny nodes of identity glimmered in the light of the limbo, the zone of nothingness that waited for them t0 dissolve and deliquesce like the crystals dried by the sun..."

"...The coastal hills now marked the edges of the desert that stretched in a continuous table across the continent, a waste-land of dust and ruined towns, but there was a
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Literary Relish
To tell you what the book is about would really be to insult your intelligence, I’m sure the title and the tap on the front cover gives a solid clue but I’ll tell you nonetheless… In a none too distant future the world as we know it is slowly turning to dust and all, unsurprisingly, due to mankind’s disregard for the planet. Increasing levels of industrial waste have slowly formed a large film over the world’s oceans, disrupting the precipitation cycle and leaving the world to die of thirst. The ...more
Déprimant ... mais sonnant juste Quel écrivain ! Quel visionnaire ! tout est si plausible et prenant(paysages, personnages sans concession) J'ai été transporté et n'ai pu m'empêcher de visualiser la progression lente de cette sécheresse terrestre avec celle tout aussi pernicieuse d'une maladie fatale
Mérite son statut de classique
Un incontournable
(nota je n'ai pas mis 5 parce que je n'aime pas être déprimé ... vengeance mesquine, oui, je sais gnarff)
Baal Of
Oh but don't you understand that this apocalyptic tableau represents humanity's ceaseless struggle against its own repressed psycho-sexual longings, reflected in the eternal conflict of male vs. female vis-à-vis the phallic paddles attempting to control the last vestiges of the feminine water resources, enveloped by the pollution of capitalistic hegemony, trapped and removed, ultimately desired and lusted after but eternally disappearing, hated and repressed, never understood through the hazy dr ...more
Kim Fox
Reading this book is like walking through an art gallery and watching the journey of art from the real to the surreal; from complete sculpture to fragments. The final chapter is titled "Jours de Lenteur" which is the name of a surrealist piece of art by Yves Tanguy. Although this last chapter title confirmed it for me, clearly one could see over time the devolution and breaking apart into the real and unreal, not so much madness, although it was there as well, but a losing of self and of the wor ...more
Howard Kistler
Part of Ballard's "End Of The World Tetralogy", wherein the world is brought to the brink of destruction by cataclysms inspired by the Four Classical Elements (air, water, fire, earth). Originally titled "The Burning World", it features a protagonist wandering through a fevered landscape of cracking earth and boats stranded by lost waters. Along with The Drowned World, the finest of the series.
A book to stop you leaving the tap run while cleaning your teeth. Imagine a world where it has stopped raining due to a polluting scum on the surface of the sea that prevents the evaporation part of the water cycle. An unlikely senario but go with it. The country (never revealed but they seem to speak English) gradually dessicates and there is a general emigration to the seaside where desalination plants give hope. A doctor (naturally - many literary heroes are doctors)remains as long as he is a ...more
This was my first Ballard and I have to say it was rather disappointing. It is, too, one of his first novels, so that might account for the disappointment. His prose is very hard to follow and his sentence structures were often awkward and incomprehensible without multiple reads. I thought the story was interesting and there were some promising characters but except for a few passages that seemed to flow with more easy, it was not too engaging and when it's it over you wonder what the point of i ...more
J.G. Ballard is the king of the "what if" scenario. Dr Ransom finds his life turned upside down and inside out when a drought devastates the lakeside town he lives in..... To remain in his houseboat on the shrinking lake or to join the thousands of refugees aiming for the desalination plants hastily placed along the coast.? As Ransom belatedly embarks on the trek to the coast little in his previous life can have prepared him for the challenges ahead.
Ballard's early life in Shanghai give him a u
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J.G. Ballard: The Drought 3 18 Aug 10, 2013 04:01PM  
  • Some Will Not Die
  • Greybeard
  • The Last Gasp
  • After London: or, Wild England
  • The Genocides
  • Dark Universe
  • The Apocalypse Reader
  • A Wrinkle in the Skin
  • After Worlds Collide (When Worlds Collide, #2)
  • Greener Than You Think (Classics of Modern Science Fiction 10)
  • Aftermath (Supernova Alpha, #1)
  • Through Darkest America (Isaac Asimov Presents)
  • Drowning Towers
  • Dr. Bloodmoney
  • The World Ends in Hickory Hollow
  • Gather, Darkness!
  • Ice
  • Down to a Sunless Sea
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 a ...more
More about J.G. Ballard...
Crash Empire of the Sun High-Rise The Drowned World Concrete Island

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“Most known motives are so suspect these days that I doubt whether the hidden ones are any better. All the same,” 1 likes
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