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The Unlimited Dream Company

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  881 ratings  ·  64 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 of 1,648)
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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
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
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
Hilary G
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
Darran Mclaughlin
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.

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.
Martin Zorde
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
Christina Wilder
One of the strangest books I have ever read, and that includes Obscene Bird of the Night and the Third Policeman.
Astounding and disturbing, in the best Ballard way.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Chris Meigh
Sep 15, 2012 Chris Meigh rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Jan 23, 2014 SZ rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: reviewed
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 boo
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
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
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
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
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
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
Don't ask me what this is about, but i loved it. The writing here is just fantastic, you know your in the presence of a real writer. I thought it was building up to something, but it turns out, no, no real plot as such then, but the the trip he takes you on is well worth the ride nonetheless
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
Al Stone
While the title leads us to think that the book is abut dreams, for me it gives an insight into the act of writing and being an author. It displays the power the writer has over the life and death of characters, but also indicates the potential for those characters to reciprocate and take on lives of their own.
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
Abhinit Tiwari
I can't describe what I just read and I think I wouldn't want to. It's definitely one of the most beautiful things I've read. Not everything has to make sense, at least not in the way you want it to. Like dreams.
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
The surreal-descriptive-flourish that Ballard tends to spread down as a primer for his books just sort of took over in this one, and became kind of pointless, honestly. There just wasn't enough plot for me, and at about halfway, I couldn't understand why there was more book to read. He got repetitive, to the max, and when that bothers someone who generally loves description, well, I don't know. "Meh" is my overall feeling towards this book. That being said, I really liked this kind of writing, a ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
This book has more the quality of a psychedelic vision unfolding before the readers gaze than did the earlier Ballard novels I have recently read. Here there is no Conradian voyage upriver, as in The Crystal World or The Drought. (Of course the river is dry in the latter.) The theme is still one of transformation, of discovering one's true self in a changed world, although here the main character is mad or possibly dead. I also suspect that for British readers there is something intrinsically fu ...more
Jakey Gee
Highly imaginative and as enjoyable as any dystopia-comes-to-suburbia (I give you banyan trees in Shepperton high street. Who could argue with that?).

It also (or at least this is how I'd read it) rather sticks it to Biblical creation myths - weaving its own rather gorgeous alternative in the unlikely setting of TW17. At times our Christ figure is rather moving (though other times he's creepily reminiscent of Michael in 'Stranger in a Strange Land').

Dublin has Bloom's Day. Come on Shepperton: l
Roger Irish
Originally read this in 1984 and had fond memories of the book but not much recall of the detail. Really enjoyed it second time around though surprised by how startling it is at times.

'The Unlimited Dream Company' is an intensely apocalyptic, hallucinatory, work of imagination and desire with a resurrection theme at its heart. As the tale progresses you increasingly feel that the narrative is going to dive headlong over the edge into a much darker place: dream and reality merge to create a dazz
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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.” 1 likes
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