Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Vermilion Sands” as Want to Read:
Vermilion Sands
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Vermilion Sands

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  757 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Like a latter-day Palm Springs, Vermillion Sands is a fully automated desert resort designed to fulfill the most exotic whims of the idle rich. But now it languishes in uneasy decay, populated only by forgotten movie stars, solitary impresarios and artistic and literary failures, a place where love and lust pall before the stronger pull of evil.


· The Cloud-Sculpto
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 30th 1988 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1971)
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 Vermilion Sands, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Vermilion Sands

The Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyDangerous Visions by Harlan EllisonMirrorshades by Bruce SterlingThe Science Fiction Hall of Fame by Robert SilverbergBurning Chrome by William Gibson
Best SciFi Anthologies/Collections
72nd out of 254 books — 151 voters
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. SeussAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'DellThe Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Colorful Book Titles
233rd out of 302 books — 55 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,456)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Possibly my favourite Ballard book. It might not be as important as *The Atrocity Exhibition* or *Crash!* in terms of pushing the overfamiliar Ballardian sales patter that the future is already here, that we have adapted to the savage geometries (the motorway overpass, the multiple pile-up) of the modern world to the point where the natural world is now ‘unnatural’ to us; but instead there’s a wistfulness and a wit (exceptionally dry) on display here that’s very much to my taste. For once, Balla ...more
J.G. Ballard makes me uncomfortable. In computer animation there is the concept of an uncanny valley. We empathise with and find aesthetically pleasing objects that have human qualities, up until the point that they come close to appearing completely human. It's at this point, where we fixate on the not-human qualities - as with cyborgs, avatars, virtual pop stars - that we reject them. Ballard mines an uncanny valley of psychology, not where the physical appearance of an object is too human, bu ...more
Jan 15, 2013 M rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, fiction
While I'm not sure if this collection is "official" or more just "conceptual," it occupies a unique place in collecting Ballard's short work--the vermillion sands stories are all sort of dreamy & languorous in a hyper-casual decadence, so the fantastique seeps out from the edges and it's Ballardian genius colored by Jon Leon, which is great. Though I find it hard to read entire Ballard collections straight through despite how much I love his short fiction, I always need to break the collecti ...more
Collection of shorts. Setting is future suburb, and stories involve numerous artist-types, mostly involved in the “imperceptible transition beteen the real and the superreal” (53), which is sufficiently baudrillardian for me. Like the art described in one instance, the text here features a “discontinuity [..] responsible for the entire charm and magic […] instead of a mere photographic replica, the movements of the [subject] produced a series of multiple projections, perhaps with analytic forms ...more
I remember this as Ballard's most surreal collection. Every story in it is also in another collection. That's probably an indication that Ballard &/or his publishers think that it's some of his finest stuff. I agree. However, this is one of many instances where I wish GoodReads had at least a 10 star rating system because I don't really equate anything of Ballard's w/, say, James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" but giving it a 3 or a 4 doesn't seem like enuf.
Wow. What an amazing collection of far out stories. So mundane and yet so far out. Sonic Sculptures, Plants that hum and whine Beethoven, Buildings that shift and change according to the moods of it's inhabitants, Wind Sculptures that cut clouds into faces with gliders, pirates that sail the sand seas among sand-rays and crystal groves.

I've never read anything like it.
Keith Davis
If I could spend a weekend in any science fiction world it would be Vermilion Sands. I would not even have to think twice about it. These linked short stories are like jewels that are perfectly arranged to look like they were scattered at random. They are like "Last Year at Marienbad" meets Jack Vance's Dying Earth.
Byron  'Giggsy' Paul
Ballad presents some unique and ultimately strange ideas in this collection. He doesn't give much background to his unique inventions leaving the reader a little confused and wondering if what their imagination came up matches what was in Ballard's mind.
This is Ballard amped up to eleven. The surreal here is worn like a badge. Direct reference is made throughout to his most obvious touchpoint - Dali. Repetition defines this collection. The same riffs, images, even scenarios, recur; seemingly to cement the impression that Vermilion Sands is self-perpetuating. Latent urges manifest themselves in the physical world. Clothes reveal the inner psyche, sonic sculptures replay voices which mean nothing and everything, and the fabric of the living space ...more

These stories were interesting, if only because Ballard obviously knew his world of Vermilion Sands well and had a great affection for its history. The funny thing was how the stories were all constructed the same way: A male narrator, in a brief opening section like a prologue, describes a moment and implies a woman (always a woman), then implies a crazy situation that happened to I'm previously, like a hook to keep us reading. Then begins the real narration, which I think always involved t
Sci-fi that doesn't demote the future to allegory. Exhilarating 'n' melancholy.

*covets cloud sculpture*
This is a fantastic book by one of Britain's greatest writers. Vermillion Sands will etch itself in your mind. This unforgettable book is certainly one of my favourites by J G Ballard.

This book is a collection of interconnected stories published in the 1970s which feature the resort Vermillion Sands, a playground for the rich, a 'latter day Palm Springs' full of fading movie stars, heiresses, artists, sculptors, poets, and would be writers in Ballard's psychedelic wonderland.

Each story seems t
I'm genuinely surprised by the number of positive reviews.

This is a book of short stories, each with essentially the same characters (same in personality and role in the story, not in identity, but this distinction hardly matters) and plot. The characters and plot aren't even interesting.

There's a woman who at one point was beautiful but has lost her beauty but can't get over it, there's the narrator who falls in love with said woman, and then said woman spurns the narrator in an evil way. Usual
Imaginative and inventive, wonderfully written, but most of the stories seem infuriatingly melancholic or tragic, and when taken together, it seems that a great deal of them involve an artist protagonist falling in love with an odd celebrity, who leaves after some dramatic episode involving a piece of the protagonist's art.

It's interesting that in the preface, Ballard claims that Vermillion Sands is a response to the unrelentingly grim futures portrayed in other sci-fi novels, and that in this
Andy Blake
Compelling on many levels of consciousness? I don't quite have the words to describe it. The quote on the front cover of this edition summarises it the best for me: "No one else writes with such enchanted clarity or strange power".

Each story is a vivid snapshot of a possible future, glimpsed through a heat haze pierced with the screams of sculptures. Favourite was The Screen Game.

The only beef I have is that the stories are a little similar; you can kind of see what's going to happen with at lea
Tankut Yıldız
"Bilim-kurgu dendiğinde pek çoğumuzun aklına ilk olarak ve hatta sadece uçan arabalar, robotlar, zaman makineleri, uzay seyahatleri gibi ileri teknolojiye ait gerçek üstü kavramlar geliyor. J.G. Ballard'ın Al Kumsallar isimli eseri, bu yargımızı yerle bir edecek cinsten bir kitap..."
Jess Scott
Sleek and tranportative writing. Sounds, reads, and feels just like the landscape of the future (which is exactly what it is). Writing showcases graphic (not obscene) and lyrical descriptions with a nice touch of emotional nuances.

I will not be forgetting anytime soon about shopping for a house in Vermilion Sands (in "The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista," a man and his wife hope to be happy in a new home, but its previous owner entangles them in her traumatic life due to the psychotropic features
Nate D
Sep 25, 2014 Nate D marked it as to-read
Collected shortly after The Atrocity Exhibition, though largely written long before, this selection of stories mirrors its cohesive collage-assemblage approach. Here, the unifier is a setting and tone, that of a fading resort community where techno-decadent heights of the past rich and famous tenants cast long and eerie echoes over those that move in, ten years later during an unclear economic limbo called The Recess, in their wake. Mostly longer stories, so much time to build up their shifting ...more
The first half of the stories were repetitive and often boring, recycling characters and obsessions. Though the great world-building kept me reading as the fading playground of the Idle Rich that is Vermillion Sands is just too great of a setting. Part Vegas, Part Palm Springs/Majorca, and part Pripiyat.
The second half of the collected stories though were simply fantastic. Specifically 'Venus Smiles', 'Studio 5, the Stars', and the final one about the emotionally reactive house whose name escap
Jason ("jcreed")
Picked this up because the public library had a little display of Ballard's stuff since he passed away recently. A collection of very haunting, perplexing little tales from a futuristic desert suburbia - an unheimlich assortment of heiresses sleepwalking down towards death, flowers and statues that sing, and scorpions bearing gemstones. It's not quite the page-turner I was expecting, and it doesn't exactly make any sense, but it's beautifully weird writing. Feels like Borges living in a hybrid A ...more
A collection of marvellous surreal fantasies.
Feb 12, 2012 Sylvie added it
Pas une fan de Ballard : j'ai toujours trouvé que le symbolisme pesait trop sur ses paysages, et ses préoccupations ne sont pas les miennes. Je n'avais donc pas lu ce recueil, qui est maintenant ce que je préfère de son œuvre.

Note importante : les nouvelles relèves de la sf parce que nombre des phénomènes ou artefact qui peuplent le monde supposent l'usage d'un technologie avancée. L'auteur n'entre pas dans les détails : il présuppose que le lecteur le sait et l'admet. Ce qui fait toute la diff
M.H. Vesseur
If there's a 'Ballardian landscape' other than that of the concrete runway on a Pacific atoll or the abandoned, empty swimming pool, it must be Vermilion Sands. For me this is one of J.G. Ballard's finest works, about a surreal desert resort for the rich and outrageous. Each story is a triumph of J.G.'s imagination, contributing to -as he called it- our myths of the near future. I can imagine my future self fading away pleasantly among the villas and the bougainvilles and the dunes of this surre ...more
I wish I lived in Vermilion Sands. Ballard's future resort is all about malfunctioning machinery, beautiful psychotic muses, and futuro-baroque arts, a place full of has-been movie starlets and artists. Mostly you'd hang out on a balcony and drink beer, you'd probably be suffering from beach lethargy before being briefly disturbed by the troubled but darkly irresistable woman who just moved in next door.
I enjoyed this but, I suspect in part because it was very much a book of its time (1970s science fiction "new wave"), I found it difficult to rate. So much of the good imaginative writing that I have liked over the years owes something to JG Ballard that reading these stories now gives one a certain sense of "been there done that" -- though of course when he wrote these piece that was not at all the case.
Braden A.
An interesting collection of short stories. My favorite part of this book was the fact that it's not a dark, depressing, dystopic look at the future - it's a refreshing change to see a future Earth that's quite wonderful.

They're a little repetitive - stories of lost love and eternal longing are getting a little old, but they're beautifully written.

His idea of "sonic sculptures" is very cool.
A beautifully imaginative book about the future. Ballard has such a wide imagination that goes beyond anything I could ever think of. He writes in such a way that you wonder why no one has ever thought to invent what he writes about in the books. Physco-active houses that respond to your feelings. Yes please.
Justin Howe
An enjoyable collection set in and around a futuristic beach resort. The stories are repetitive (yet another story of bored socialites, ineffectual intellectuals, and weird art...), but if you like the style that's less a problem than a design feature.
Repetitive - after yet another story about yet another vain and insane yet beautiful woman, I ended up resorting to reading the Mills & Boon books in the place I was staying just for a bit of a change. Ballard, you bored me
Read Ballard because he represents, alongside Ellison and Dick, the late sixties plateau of speculative fiction's "literariness" and, frankly, readability, and read Vermilion Sands because it is Ballard at his best.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 48 49 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Driftglass
  • Crystal Express
  • J.G. Ballard (RE/Search #8/9)
  • Ten Thousand Light-Years From Home
  • Cryptozoic!
  • On Wings of Song
  • Ribofunk
  • Citizen In Space
  • The Devil Is Dead
  • Virtual Unrealities: The Short Fiction of Alfred Bester
  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
  • Life During Wartime
  • The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories
  • Axiomatic
  • Again, Dangerous Visions
  • Beyond Apollo
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

Share This Book