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The Unlimited Dream Company

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  1,060 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
The familiar landscape of the area around Shepperton is transformed when an aircraft crashes into the Thames. Within hours of the pilot's arrival the area is covered in tropical vegetation and people are strangely eroticised.
Paperback, 220 pages
Published March 29th 1990 by Paladin Books (first published 1979)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jul 22, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astounding and disturbing, in the best Ballard way.
May 03, 2009 Robert rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I picked this up on the basis of an unusual and interesting premise but until near the end I didn't know what to make of it. Full of Ballard's verbose and symbolic imagery, this story explores some very adult themes and is not for the easily offended. As the protagonist increasingly believes that the "sins of this world are metaphors for virtues in the next", he proceeds to break down taboos in the town of Shepperton as the reader is left to ponder the meaning of this idea.

As we follow Blake's t
Dec 13, 2009 Andrew rated it liked it
Perhaps rather extraordinarily this is the first Ballard I've read. The prose is rich and semi-stream-of-consciousness in places, with an intriguing central idea developed to a logical conclusion. Ultimately, whilst I enjoyed reading it, and despite it's fluidity, in the end it is just what it is. It only occasionally informs on society as a whole, and - without wanting to spoil the ending - the final revelation (if it is that) is blindingly obvious. Having said that, I'm sure it isn't intended ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Shane rated it did not like it
in this edition there's an interview with Ballard at the back where he says that a 'professional' should write 1000+ words a day. Otherwise the writer will just 'end up with a bunch of empty wine bottles'.

From this book I learned a professional empties the bottles at night, then forces her/himself to write a chapter a day (every chapter is ~1000 words), most of which is a recap from the day before. It's taken me 4 months to read this 200 page book and not because I wanted to savor it but becaus
May 24, 2010 Ugh rated it it was ok
I like a dash of the surreal every now and then. In works of fiction it can widen the potential enormously, opening up the piece to whatever otherwise-impossible turns of plot and outlandish settings and forms the artist can dream up. Sometimes surreal juxtapositions can reveal unexpected connections that might not otherwise have become apparent, and that can be a powerful and amazing trick that can elevate the work to a level beyond mere entertainment, really affecting the way that you think ab ...more
Maurizio Codogno
Quando si inizia a leggere questo romanzo la prima domanda che ci si fa è "ma cosa si era fumato Ballard quando lo scrisse?", seguita subito dalla constatazione che è fin troppo ovvio che ai tempi nessuno pensò di prenderne i diritti per l'italiano. Blake, il protagonista, è un erotomane con tendenze omicide, oltre a una serie di altre turbe psichiche, il che significa che tutta la storia, visto che è narrata in prima persona, risulta schizofrenica e inabile per varie decine di pagine a focalizz ...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Jul 27, 2011 Darran Mclaughlin rated it really liked it
Pure surrealism. Ballard's vision of paradise. Very Blakean. A friend of mine made the point that once you've read one Ballard novel you've read them all, and that's true to some extent. They are all variations on a theme, like Woody Allen's films. I like Ballard, and he is very unique, but he is very samey.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I find it difficult to know how to talk about this book. I loved the vibrant writing and surreal story, but could not recommend this to 95% of the readers I know.

Why? Well, you see... Blake is a bit of a loser. He steals a plane and crashes it into the Thames at Shepperton, and that's when everything goes a bit strange. He develops strong desires for everyone and everything in the town (see 95% comment earlier). Just like in dreams, relationships have no consequences, people can fly and commune
Isabel (kittiwake)
Aug 15, 2014 Isabel (kittiwake) rated it really liked it
Although he had abandoned his church to me, Father Wingate had worked hard that day, assembling the primitive flying creature whose ancient bones he had found on the beach. With its outstretched arms, its slender legs and delicate feet, bones jewelled by time, it more than ever resembled a small winged man — perhaps myself, who had lain these millions of years in the bone bed of the Thames, sleeping there until it was time to be freed by the falling aircraft.

A light aircraft crashes into the Tha
Chris Meigh
Sep 15, 2012 Chris Meigh rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ballard fans only
Shelves: reviewed
A book that is so Ballardian, it enters a new realm of sexual, violent and all around weird.

When Blake crashes a plane, that he stole, into the river Thames next to the small village of Shepperton, he can’t believe that he survived. Having been underwater for 11 minutes, he tries to figure out who saved him and who caused the huge bruises on his chest. As he spends longer in the small town he soon realises that he has special powers that make him able to give birth to ample amounts of vegetation
Sep 25, 2013 Sam rated it really liked it
JG Ballard has yet to disappoint me with one of his novels and The Unlimited Dream Company further cements his reputation, in my own mind at least, as perhaps the most unique British writer of his time.
We follow Blake, the novels protagonist, as he crashes his plane into the London suburb of Shepperton, a place where the author himself lived for the majority of his adult life. Blakes arrival brings on a massive transformation in Shepperton, turning it into a twisted Eden in which he is able to p
May 22, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it

My first Ballard novel and, as a surreal fantasy, not a genre to which I would be naturally drawn. A challenging book, unlike anything else I've ever read. I'm not sure that I understood it all but the power of the writing is undeniable. Astonishing and simply beautiful.
May 20, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most glorious of Ballard's books and the fourth time I've read. It is emotionally moving and profound in a way atypical of Ballard's style where there usually is a certain sang-froid in his approach.

This is a Pagan Passion, exulting in the power of creativity, to usher in new paradigms. The refrain that the vices of the present are seen as metaphors for the virtues of the future repeat and resonate through the book's pages. Old ways of thinking about religion need to be discarded. A pantheis
I am giving up on this book at page 95. I don't care what happens, I really don't like the main character, and although I don't have a problem with wacky books, this just seems to be too wacky for... what? This the second Ballard book I've read, and to be honest, although I can see he's a very good writer, I don't know whether I'll be interested in reading any of his other books. Ok, so the first book I read was Crash, which I did finish, but that was uncomfortable reading. And his obsession wit ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Logan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible. Just, terrible. There's really no character interaction. The dialogue is minimal and mostly meaningless. There's no character development, and the story arc is one big fat flat line. At best, this is a 30 page short story, but instead it's 235 pages of endless description of bullshit, over-the-top, uninteresting "miracle" after "miracle" told in the first person by a charmless "messiah". On and on and on. I started speed reading 150 pages in and it was still fucking torture to get thru ...more
Roddy Williams
‘From the moment Blake crashes his stolen aircraft into the Thames, the unlimited dream company takes over and the town of Shepperton is transformed into an apocalyptic kingdom of desire and stunning imagination ruled over by Blake’s messianic figure. Tropical flora and fauna appear; pan-sexual celebrations occur regularly; and in a final climax of liberation, the townspeople learn to fly.’

Blurb from the 1990 Paladin paperback edition.

Ballard plunges us headlong into a Messianic fantasy which be
Aug 28, 2013 Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trip-fi, favourites
One of my best friends bought me a used copy of this for my 26th birthday. I devoured it. It was the first work by Ballard I had ever read and it was one of those times when you first taste a well-established writer's work and wonder, "why the fuck haven't I been reading so-and-so's work for years?" The balance of unabashed sexuality, psychedelic experience, violence, and (somehow, still) classic tropes was so cleanly new to me it was intoxicating. Of course, there's the bias that Unlimited Drea ...more
Dec 22, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it
It's Ballard who gives the best outline of this particular book:

'The Unlimited Dream Company is set in Shepperton where I live, and it's about a young pilot who steals a light aircraft and crashes into the Thames [river], and who, in a sense, dies. [He has] drowned in his aircraft, but frees himself by an enormous effort of the imagination, and through the effort of his imagination transforms Shepperton into a kind of Edenic paradise, full of exotic plants and animals.'

I know I've given the book
Oct 24, 2014 Nikmaack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What the hell did I just read? Some kind of bible of madness, where technology and nature have sex in a parking garage. This novel actually helps me better understand Ballard's other books, where civilisation collapses and everyone gleefully turns to nature and primitive forms. Maybe that is Ballard's own perverse fantasy, which he wrote over and over again.

Or maybe the book is gibberish. I don't know for sure. It was fun to read, although more than once I found myself saying, "Okay, JG, let's w
Hilary G
Oct 31, 2014 Hilary G rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The fact that I have finished this book makes me feel like drinking champagne, dancing in the rain, throwing a party, bouncing on a trampoline.... Why? Because I LOATHED this book and continuing to read it was worse than the time I got three detentions at school on my birthday, worse than waiting for the results of a medical test that might prove you have a horrible disease, worse than being trapped in a train compartment with an interminable bore. I just needed it to be OVER.

So why did I conti
Martin Zorde
Feb 19, 2015 Martin Zorde rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
if you wanted to know what the inside of a crazy rapist cult leader's mind looked like it would be this. this literary pieces of garbage is what happen when you give lsd to a crazy person and they think that what they see and feel is true and serves only them. if i had to describe the tone of this book it would be pee mixed with the pulp of old news paper. to sum it up if you like rape, pedophilia, and pseudo cannibalism presented as the world's salvation then read this book!

The main thing i thi
Marek Krushkhov
Instead of an endless praise from incorrigible JG's fan, here's conclusion as brief as possible. Reading this book was like wondering through The Garden of Earthly Delights, particularly if you start from here:
Good luck!
Feb 28, 2016 Jake rated it really liked it
Blake steals a Cessna and crashes into a river by a suburb of London. When he come out of the water everything has changed into a world where vices in this world are metaphors or virtues in the next. Now for a spoiler alert to keep the easily offended safe (and for actual spoilers).
(view spoiler)
Nicholas Whyte
Oct 11, 2015 Nicholas Whyte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

For all that the BSFA Best Novel award has its faults (notably, that the first thirty recipients included twenty-nine men and one woman), it has often looked to more inventive, if less enduring, works than the Hugo or Nebula. This is a case in point - a year when the two US-based awards both went to The Fountains of Paradise, a book that I love but which is hardly ground-breaking in its description of the engineering challenges of constructing a space el
Dec 24, 2015 Bert rated it really liked it
In the genre of People Turning Into Animals And Covering Consumer Appliances With Semen this is second to none. Ballard takes the semen and the becoming animal and the appliances thing and really runs with it.
David Peak
May 05, 2016 David Peak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Top-tier Ballard, in the same realm as The Atrocity Exhibition, Crash, and High-Rise, despite each of those books being so different from one another. Blake's frenetic and hallucinatory rebirth after death wavers from euphoria to outright horror, sometimes in the same moment, and while dreamlike, the events are consistently relayed through Ballard's sharp and smart prose. The overall effect is frequently mystifying and joyous, occasionally boring, but always fiercely original.
Mike Beranek
Apr 01, 2016 Mike Beranek rated it really liked it
Surreal is a word, but it is also firmly rooted in the consumer banality and parochial life of the town of Shepperton The kaliedoscopic taxonomy, the studied natural history, the passion and processes of life and death so detailed make it a kind of Science Fiction as well. But in the end this exquisite and unique style defies description. At times erotic, also grotesque, Ballard proves to have totally unbridled imaginative powers that makes for an alien sort of read, a dream-come-nightmare. But ...more
Jason Coleman
This book gets off to a good start, with one of those great, swift openings of Ballard's that throws you right in the deep end (early chapter title: "I Steal the Aircraft"). But his vision dims after awhile and the book gets taken over by an overactive cloaca.
Fantasy Literature
4 stars from Jesse, read the full review at FANTASY LITERATURE

Looking at the spread of colors, shapes, and lines smeared across the canvas that is J.G. Ballard’s 1979 The Unlimited Dream Company, it’s easy to get lost in the details, the view to the whole submerged. Superficially disorienting to say the least, the narrative packs a bewildering visual punch while beneath the surface lurk the powers of nature, myth, and beast — the book is certainly art more than story. Surreal is only the beginni
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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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“Miriam - I'll give you any flowers you want!' Rhapsodising over the thousand scents of her body, I exclaimed: 'I'll grow orchids from your hands, roses from your breasts. You can have magnolias in your hair...!'
'And in my heart?'
'In your womb I'll set a fly-trap!”
“Everywhere the air had become a vibrant yellow drum. A heavy sunlight freighted the foliage of the trees. Each leaf was a shutter about to swing back and reveal a miniature sun, one window in the immense advent calendar of nature.” 2 likes
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