The Unlimited Dream Company
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Unlimited Dream Company

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  779 ratings  ·  57 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unlimited Dream Company, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Unlimited Dream Company

1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerCatch-22 by Joseph HellerInvisible Man by Ralph EllisonThe Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
47th out of 99 books — 22 voters
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen FieldingThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Carer by Scott  NelsonOliver Twist by Charles DickensSense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Books Set in London
289th out of 359 books — 158 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,437)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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...more
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...more
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.
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...more

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.
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...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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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.
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
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...more
Ballard's literal flight of fancy, transforming Shepperton into a jungle, doesn't have a great deal of plot but takes you on a dream-like journey through his imagination. A surreal stream of consciousness.
Chris Hearn
Like the other Ballard novels that I've read so far, the characters are underdeveloped, the dialogue is forgettable and the prose is unimpressive, bar perhaps one paragraph out of every twenty five. However, this book has a fairly interesting plot and manages to provoke a little thought, enough to make up for his losses in other departments. At face value, it's pretty much fantasy writing with some literary qualities, and judged as a fantasy writer, Ballard is quite spectacular.
Attenzione , attenzione. Sta precipitando presso la tua città BLAKE, il tuo erotomane dio PAN di quartiere. Trasforma la tua noiosa cittadina in una rigogliosa foresta tropicale: procura colorati sogni lisergici dai quali non ti vorrai più svegliare; risveglia appetiti sessuali che non pensavi nemmeno di possedere; e tante altre meraviglie. Non mancare all'appuntamento o rimarrai a terra. Abusane responsabilmente. Tenere lontano dalla portata dei bambini.
I could go on, but if you get Ballard, you get him. Especially nutty, kinda like the real-life scenario of "Empire of the Sun" portrayed as surreal fiction. Ballard has kinda grown on me over the years. Usedta be afraid of him, but now the grim dystopian absurdity seems all-the-more inevitable, for some strange reason I like it. Oh yes, I like it because an artist is able to make something out of it. Looking forward to the next one "Hello America" even more!

This is an amazing book. I think a lot of negative reviews people have given this novel may be due to people having read this book expecting a orthodox narrative or a twist ending etc.

If you've read the crystal world or concrete island and enjoyed them then this is for you. The use of language is Ballard at his best and none of the text feels conrived or forced. It is a really fun read - approach with a open mind and enjoy the ride!
J.G. Ballard is one wacky, pervy dude.

I liked the first quarter or so of this book - lots of craziness, potential craziness, and kick ass description. Then I got bored. And things started to feel like some stereotypical male Freudian fantasy - naked guy parading around suburbia, attaining some godlike status, having sex with everyone and everything, and everywhere he splatters his semen a jungle grows. Kind of disappointing.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 47 48 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Orbitsville
  • The Jagged Orbit
  • Tik-Tok
  • Take Back Plenty (Tabitha Jute, #1)
  • The Extremes
  • Dubin's Lives
  • On Wings of Song
  • Helliconia Winter (Helliconia, #3)
  • The Embedding
  • Felaheen
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • The Groves of Academe
  • Nifft the Lean
  • Our Lady Of Darkness
  • The Mandelbaum Gate
  • The Sky Road (The Fall Revolution, #4)
  • Lavondyss (Mythago Wood, #2)
  • The Coup
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 The Atrocity Exhibition

Share This Book

“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!”
More quotes…