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A User's Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  297 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews

Over the course of his career, J.G. Ballard has revealed hidden truths about the modern world. The essays, reviews, and ruminations gathered here—spanning the breadth of this long career—approach reality with the same sharp prose and sharper vision that distinguish his fiction. Ballard's fascination for and fixation upon this century take him from Mickey Mouse to Salvador
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 15th 1997 by Picador (first published 1996)
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Stephen Curran
Jul 22, 2015 Stephen Curran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 20th century feels like a very long time ago. JG Ballard's occasional playful imaginings of the future in this collection of (in the main) book reviews, understandably fail to predict the dominance of the internet, but manage to get things half right by suggesting that the steering wheel in cars might one day be replaced by a dial telephone and a copy of the Yellow Pages.

That's not to say that he isn't astute. Far from it. Ballard is one of the few writers who's unique and beautifully expres
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Kim
Dec 15, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it
Ballard is a randy old goat who writes elegantly and thinks future civilizations will remember us by our motorway flyovers. He doesn't say this in an irritating "satirical" Bill Bryson/David Brooks way, he actually thinks it, and he's utterly convincing.

It's amazing, when I look at the shit that passes for commentary in the British press 99% of the time, that most of the essays in this book originally appeared in newspapers. The stuff on classic Hollywood and Sci-Fi is great. And although, by th
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Boyd
Sep 08, 2016 Boyd rated it really liked it
I can't in good conscience give this book a 5: it's a baggy miscellany, which is something people in my business (publishing) are taught to frown upon. Misshapen, little chance of review attention, no particular audience, etc., etc., etc. I seriously dug it.

Yes, okay, it's mostly book (and a few film) reviews, rather vaguely broken out by category ("Writers" "The Visual World," "Science," etc.), along with some even more general stuff filed under "In General." Sounds bad. It's not: it's a great
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Paul
Sep 16, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb collection of essays and reviews written from the early 1960s to 1995. "Which Way To Inner Space" (1962) reads like a mini-manifesto of Ballard's intent for a new type of sci-fi and away from the 'space operas' he clearly though were a dead end.

His intelligence and wit shine through the collection on subjects as diverse as Star Wars ('the first totally unserious s-f film'), Hitler, Coca-Cola, Mae West, some excellent writing on the Surrealists for whom he had such a great passion and wh
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Al Young
Oct 06, 2013 Al Young rated it really liked it
In modern alt-literature, there are two names that tower above everyone else- William S Buroughs and Ballard.

So regardless of what I think of him, I have to acknowledge the debt that stuff I like owes to him. For starters, I will give you Joy Division, David Cronenberg, and Grant Morrison, to name three.
The guy is so influential his name is an adjective. The idea of dystopia, post apocalyptic misery- of industry and technology making life unbearable- hey right down my alley.

The truth is though
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John Kenny
Mar 22, 2012 John Kenny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A Users Guide to the Millennium by J.G. Ballard is an absolute treasure chest for anyone interested in 20th century pop culture. It's a collection of essays and reviews that spans 30+ years, culled from a wide range of magazines and covers such subjects as art, history, science, cinema and science fiction and such personalities and icons as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Dali, William Burroughs, Howard Hughes, Einstein, Warhol, Henry Miller, the list goes on.

Most of the pieces are short but pack a punch
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Erik
Jun 27, 2008 Erik rated it really liked it
J.G. Ballard is always provocative and is a hell of a writer. In this collection of essays, he is strongest in his writings of his native Shanghai, most amusing (and often wrong-headed) in his writing on other writers (I have to assume it is a generational thing - his adoration of William Burroughs is something that I once agreed with, but now find a bit juvenile, and his view of the novel, based, as it is on the idea that Burroughs's approach is still the model of the novel of the future is dow ...more
Ted Laderas
Dec 22, 2008 Ted Laderas rated it it was amazing
Fantastic short essays that turn your viewpoint on its head...the title essay describes 10 influential surrealist sci fi movies, although some (like Douglas Trumbull's "Silent Running") are a bit dated and painful to watch. Mostly I'm grateful to this book for introducing me to Godard's "Alphaville" - a no budget sci fi film that fuses ultramodern Paris locales with gumshoe detectives and a paranoid computer named alpha-60 who controls the planet.

A good critic can open a reader's eyes to subtlet
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Stephen
Sep 07, 2013 Stephen rated it liked it
Occasionally a bit stuffy and/or obscure (perhaps it would read differently to an native of England) but easily more than half the very short essays were entertaining and quite a few were thought provoking. One nice thing about a book of such short essays (most are less than 3 pages) is that there is less guilt when you find yourself skipping ahead to the next one after an opening paragraph or two doesn't engage your interest.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Apr 11, 2010 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
These are mostly short reviews written for a variety of London daily papers. The choice of review material is classic Ballard -- biographies of Nancy Reagan , Henry Miller, and the Emperor Hirohito; books on surrealism, war photography, and the Golden Age of science fiction; a review of a mail-order sex manual. There are also essays on some favored painters and review of Star Wars titled Hobbits in Space. Excellent bedtime reading.
Nick
Jul 12, 2015 Nick rated it it was ok
Interesting thought by Ballard (don't have the book w me so I can't quote): Who in literature does the young Adolf Hitler more closely resemble than his seeming enemy, the 20th century everyman Leopold Bloom (of Ulysses), Jew, half-educated, wandering the streets of his city, emasculated and angry?
Ben Lovegrove
Aug 29, 2012 Ben Lovegrove rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of Ballard's essays and articles for magazines. They are interesting because they are quite candid, and there are rare film reviews and book reviews from newspapers. It's a very comprehensive overview of his sensibility and well worth checking out to find out more about his life and his interests.
Kent Winward
Jul 26, 2014 Kent Winward rated it really liked it
Ballard's essays and reviews are hit and miss as any collection like this tends to be. Yet, the authorial voice I find so compelling in his fiction shines through and illuminates enough diverse topics to make this an enjoyable, if fractured and scattered, read.
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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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