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Millennium People

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  1,275 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Violent rebellion comes to London's middle classes in the extraordinary new novel from the author of 'Cocaine Nights' and 'Super-Cannes'.
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Flamingo (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,397)
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F.R.
I read a comment piece this week about how the London-centric nature of the British media distorts the national argument. It put forward the theory that those working for newspapers, TV and radio don’t really appreciate that the views of their friends and neighbours in Islington or Hampstead are not necessarily shared by the wider populous. That piece (by whom, and where I read it, are details I’m afraid I cannot remember) stayed vivid in my mind as I read this novel about residents of well-to-d ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
First published in the UK in 2003, Millennium People was not even released in the USA until 2011. I thought I'd complained about publisher antics before! I'm not sure if they thought a story set in England wasn't universal enough, but the book would have been a disturbingly prophetic read in 2003.

Ballard discusses what happens when people reach a place of complacency, and the danger of the middle class. One of the major characters tries to prove that it is only random violence that helps us und
...more
Ken

THE MILLENNIUM PEOPLE is a wry take on Karl Marx's revolutionary theory. Marx felt that the end of the political status quo would occur when the workers on the bottom of the economic pyramid called it quits, and turned to violence, however Ballard sees the impetus for revolt coming from the more well-off middle class. Ballard envisions radical social change as a kind of, "Upholstered Apocalypse".

David Markham's ex-wife is killed by a terrorist bomb at Heathrow Airport, and this seems to be conn
...more
Jim
I've read the previous two novels Ballard wrote before this one, Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes, and this continued to explore the themes of middle class rebellion against a society they have unwittingly created. The story is about a violent uprising championed by a small group of disillusioned professionals including a doctor and parish minister. You can almost imagine it happening. The things the middle class aspire to - good housing, schooling, law enforcement, job security - have become bey ...more
Alexander
Ballard transplants Dostoyevsky's Possessed, Conrad's Secret Agent, and DeLillo's Mao II into the gated-residential purgatories of riverside London in 2003's Millennium People, one of his most polished and disquieting satires.

Upfront Disclaimer: If you're put off by mordantly hyperbolic similes or characters who pontificate like Kevin Spacey in Se7en, you'll probably want to skip this one (and everything else by JGB). Dust on a coffeetable is described as "a nimbus that seemed like an ectoplasmi
...more
Lori
from audiogo for review

Listened 12/22/11 - 1/9/12
3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with genre
8 CD's (approx 9 hours)
Audiobook Publisher: AudioGo

The middle class residents of Chelsea Marina are rebelling. Tired of being squeezed, they are influenced by neighbor Richard Gould to make a stand - by refusing to pay their mortgage and heating bills, smoke bombing random pedestrian businesses, and setting fire to their homes as the police come to evict them.

Meanwhile, David Markham - this stor
...more
Carol
So far I can say that this is the dirty story of a twisted and cynical middle class rebellion. I read this first quarter on the plane including on an internal flight in PNG. Prob best to avoid this. The man sitting next to me read it over my shoulder and excitedly pointed out the words porn and fucking in the text. I acted like it was no biggie and gave him the book for the rest of the flight mumbling something pathetic like "yes it's a bit rude but it's actually about social movements...!"
James
J.G. Ballard always brings out the maiden aunt in me as I cannot help but feel that he is a deeply disgusting man, in fact a completely grubby pervert. Despite my personal dislike for his characters and worldview I cannot help but admire the way his books highlight developments in their embryonic stage and his talent as a writer. In this book he describes the new working poor as they lose their bearings in a world that is moving past them at a rapid clip and exploits them thoroughly.
Bob Reutenauer
Ballard writes of middle-class revolutionary movement sweeping Britain. Well done. A fun read.. pretty straight forward rejection of mass consumerist alienating conformist modernity.. but without much politics. Makes it very fun and reckless. No one really knows what is going on. The French Revolution anyone? Big middle-class revolution. I thought of this a few times, not sure. I am sure that the writing is very inviting. Have a look at two passages.

"I watched you in court this morning. The magi
...more
Jon Stutfield
The middle class are the new proletariat. Sounds ludicrous, but this book describes a life very familiar to my London suburban upbringing, and I began to believe Ballard was on to something.

I've already started to plan my first picket outside of the Didsbury branch of M&S Food.
Richard
just dull which really surprised me. i must have picked the dud Ballard novel
Mark Speed
I think this was the first Ballard I ever read. I'd heard great things but wasn't sure what to expect.

Here they are - middle-class, well-educated, well-heeled Brits rebelling against society, pretty much because they can. It puts me in mind of a twist on the Atlas Shrugged story.

And you know what? When the riots came to London in the summer of 2011, there were plenty of bored middle-class kids getting involved for kicks. However, the adults rallied around and rebelled in the other way: cleaning
...more
David Hallard
Re-reading Ballard's later novels is a rare pleasure, like returning home on a winter's evening to an open fire and a black turtle bean and leek supper.

'Millennium People' is the penultimate of the swansong quartet of detective fictions that turbocharged his profile and drove into the popular imagination shards of his uncompromising themes, like shrapnel from a terrorist's bomb.

The format suited his style very well, and the old preoccupations, woven seamlessly, define the pattern in the new rug.
...more
Charles
I was first introduced to J.G. Ballard through High-Rise and was immediately struck by the novel's prescient nature. In the same vein, Ballard explores similar themes here; relating to modernity and the vulnerability of civilization. In both books, Man abandons the societies he has created finding them to be too stifling. There Is also the persistent theme of social and class stratification and the numbing effect consumerism has.

Here, those themes, though slightly more fleshed out, aren't told w
...more
Matt Getty
The set up grabbed me from the start. The idea of a middle class revolting against itself for unknown reasons is at once absurd and dead on for our times.

One thing I truly love about Ballard is his understated dead-pan humor. Take, for instance, when the protest at the cat demonstration turns violent. The final image he leaves us with is the overwhelming smell of cat urine. There's a wonderful absurdity to that moment.

My one critique is that at times the novel felt a bit inflated. That is, ther
...more
Nicholas Karpuk
Something can only strive for a certain level of irony before I start feeling like I don't know how seriously to treat the subject matter.

Oddly, this feeling comes from the quality of J.G. Ballard's writing. It's very fluid and pulls you into the situation with ease. The trouble is the situation.

It all centers around a middle class rebellion that the narrator gets pulled into through a bomb at the Heathrow airport that kills his ex-wife. The middle class rebellion in question is over utterly pet
...more
Don
There is something a bit pedantic about Ballard's portrayal of the folk of Chelsea Marina and their attempt at middle class revolution. Over-hiked service charges, parking fines, the stress induced by school fees and riding lessons leads to a monumental sense of grievance for this 'new proletariat which provokes rent strikes, demos and symbolic acts of property destruction.

But this satire is the backdrop which allows Ballard to engage with the personality of Dr Richard Gould, a nihilist for whom
...more
Norman
I'm nearly half way through this book and I'm struggling to come up with reasons to continue. I have a pretty hard and fast rule, that if I start a book, I finish the book. I can think of only one other book in my entire life that I began but didn't finish. This may become the second.

Filled with uninteresting characters who simply fill their days trying to justify their own existence, having woken from the dream they realize that the life that they and their predecessors worked so hard to creat
...more
Artur Coelho
Ballard é o Le Corbusier da literatura. Frio e preciso, colocou a mão no pulso da modernidade contemporânea - o urbanismo alienante e os indivíduos solipsistas obcecados na vivência das suas neuroses. Este livro tem todas as peças do puzzle que é um livro de Ballard, mas falta qualquer coisa nesta história de um grupo de pessoas da classe média que ao concluírem que são o novo proletariado se revoltam, quase proclamando um estado anarquista num condomínio fechado, vista pelos olhos de um psicólo ...more
Susan Emmet
Have heard of JG Ballard, but didn't realize he was such a prolific novelist and short story writer. Plan to find more of his work at the library.
Although I liked this dysutopian, futuristic-in-the-now novel, it was uneven in execution. I found it gripping for two-thirds and a bit "convenient" the last third, especially the very end. David Markham, a psychologist twice married, becomes involved with a terrorist "group" and actions in London. His first wife had been killed in a bomb attack at Hea
...more
Megan
Nov 09, 2011 Megan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who get fed up with the daily grind.
Recommended to Megan by: $5 book store.
I am surprised so many people gave up on this book.

This is the first Ballard novel I've read, and the last one he wrote. I picked it up at a $5 book store, and I'm glad I did.

Ballard doesn't waste time developing three dimensional characters or an extensive background. The story starts on the first page, and what we need to know, we find out along the way.

The book follows David Markham, a psychologist, whose private investigation into his ex wife's death in a bombing at Heathrow Airport leads
...more
Tommy Carlson
New Ballard? But he's dead.

Oh, it's new to the US. Well, okay then.

I'll admit, right out front, that I love Ballard. I will also admit that he writes the same damn book over and over.

It's always about society changing in some way, with people forming new ways to interact and new societies. It could be a high-rise apartment building. Or an island sanctuary. Or a gated community. Or a river. Or a car crash.

Millennium People is the same damn book. This time, it's the middle class getting pissed off
...more
Chris Meigh
‘The next revolution will be about parking’ – stark words that resonate throughout Millennium People showing a revolution amongst the middle class, who have become the new proletariat.

After a bomb goes off at Heathrow Airport, David Markham is perplexed by the seemingly random act that has killed his ex-wife. Before long, he descends into the world of Chelsea Marina where the middle classes have started to rebel by committing small acts of violence. Before long, these acts become highly violent
...more
Gio
****

Un libro comprato quasi per caso e che mi ha colpito parecchio.
Ballard tratta la tematica importante del malcontento e delle proteste del ceto
medio borghese con difficoltà economiche e scontento della società, ceto che viene spesso definito il "nuovo proletariato".
Ma qual è la ragione alla base della rivoluzione che questa borghesia vuole portare avanti? Si tratta veramente della rivendicazione di una libertà intellettuale dalle barriere che addormentano la mente e dal consumismo della soc
...more
Kate Walker
Protest is one of the central themes of the book, and it is presented in an exaggerated, absurdist manner. An animal rights protest at a cat show results in a convention center's worth of terrorized animals pissing in unison. The scene crystallizes (at least for me) the questionable utility of direct action protest. (Not at all sure this was the author's intent, but this is what I took from it as it confirms my own feelings about the misplaced anger, insufferable self-righteousness, and outright ...more
Steve
The novel opens with an act of terrorism at Heathrow, but typical of Ballard’s style, it is soon revealed that the perpetrators are not religious fundamentalists, but rather members of this country’s professional classes, whose goal is to shatter the apathetic, conformist attitude of the middle-classes. This atrocity does indeed act as a catalyst for the residents of Chelsea Marina to cast aside their bourgeois paraphernalia, and abandon their unflinching dedication to civic responsibility. The ...more
Quinten
By the end of this book, I started to enjoy it again. For a novel about a terrorist campaign, with a bombing or random act of violence every other chapter, it feels very slowly paced.

Millenium People is a slightly wry examination of the activist culture. What would happen if the middle class rebelled? We would get the early 2000s and late 1990s, and according to Ballard, particularly in London, to wear a cause and attend a demonstration is a cultural artifact. There is a rebellion in Chelsea Mar
...more
Nick Mould
A novel of ideas where the ideas take precedent over the story and characters. If the ideas aren't interesting to you, then you won't find much else to enjoy.

As other reviewers have pointed out, Millennium People is familiar territory for Ballard, its murder plot similar to both Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes. The protagonist, a rather dull corporate psychologist named David Markham, adopts an amateur detective position in investigating the cause of his ex-wife's death: bombs at Heathrow airpor
...more
Martin
Primary-school-teacher similes; ‘…she wore her insecurities like a collection of favourite costume jewellery.’

Meaningless and cheesy sentences; ‘Looking into her eyes, I sensed that I could see my whole future.’

No mystery in the characters, they are laid bare within two pages. All their curious traits, failures and successes are listed. This however lets the real reason for reading race on, namely the story. Which is gripping, amusing and thought provoking. A more complicated prose would slow th
...more
Kelly
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J.G. Ballard: Millenium People 10 25 Mar 29, 2013 03:47AM  
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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
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“Remember, the police are neutral - they hate everybody.” 5 likes
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