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Millennium People

3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  1,724 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
Led by a charismatic doctor, a group of individuals form a violent protest movement to tear down the consumer society and replace it with a more meaningful existence. As middle England comes under attack, a sense of panic grips the capital.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 8th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published 2003)
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Jun 24, 2015 J. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pressure Drop
Weirdish, drifty tour of turn-of-century London, a future-now drama where everything is wound a little too tightly for words. Which is fine, as we are subject here to nothing less than harrowing, relentless, millennial dread, and at epidemic levels.

War Ina Babylon
Ballard wants to do --surprise-- a world out of balance, that creaks and shrieks and runs off the tracks wherever it possibly can. On the one hand a millennial, 9-11-adjacent dystopia, and on the other an older author's d
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 25, 2012 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
Shelves: location-uk, read2012
First published in the UK in 2003, Millennium People was not even released in the USA until 2011. I thought I'd complained about publisher antics before! I'm not sure if they thought a story set in England wasn't universal enough, but the book would have been a disturbingly prophetic read in 2003.

Ballard discusses what happens when people reach a place of complacency, and the danger of the middle class. One of the major characters tries to prove that it is only random violence that helps us und
Nov 10, 2010 F.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a comment piece this week about how the London-centric nature of the British media distorts the national argument. It put forward the theory that those working for newspapers, TV and radio don’t really appreciate that the views of their friends and neighbours in Islington or Hampstead are not necessarily shared by the wider populous. That piece (by whom, and where I read it, are details I’m afraid I cannot remember) stayed vivid in my mind as I read this novel about residents of well-to-d ...more
Oct 22, 2011 Ken rated it liked it

THE MILLENNIUM PEOPLE is a wry take on Karl Marx's revolutionary theory. Marx felt that the end of the political status quo would occur when the workers on the bottom of the economic pyramid called it quits, and turned to violence, however Ballard sees the impetus for revolt coming from the more well-off middle class. Ballard envisions radical social change as a kind of, "Upholstered Apocalypse".

David Markham's ex-wife is killed by a terrorist bomb at Heathrow Airport, and this seems to be conn
May 01, 2016 Marc rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, I saw this as almost a companion piece to DeLillo's White Noise--both take on the kind of ennui of the middle class, a search for meaning, albeit in very different ways. But since I just read White Noise, the comparison stood out. Both were funny, although Ballard's work always seems a bit darker with less satire... more of an alternate reality feel with the microscope on British society. The plot felt a little forced, like it was more of a vehicle for so many wonderful observation ...more
Robert McCaffrey
Mar 03, 2016 Robert McCaffrey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a satirical novel of dull prose and scant humor, and Ballard's characters merely embody his vague (though interesting) ideas about the newly affluent and over-mortgaged professional class. Their rebellious antics are repetitious and never believably motivated, perhaps because the characters have no depth, even if they are easily recognizable as types. Ballard's penultimate novel and very likely my last.
Dec 16, 2011 Lori rated it liked it
from audiogo for review

Listened 12/22/11 - 1/9/12
3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with genre
8 CD's (approx 9 hours)
Audiobook Publisher: AudioGo

The middle class residents of Chelsea Marina are rebelling. Tired of being squeezed, they are influenced by neighbor Richard Gould to make a stand - by refusing to pay their mortgage and heating bills, smoke bombing random pedestrian businesses, and setting fire to their homes as the police come to evict them.

Meanwhile, David Markham - this stor
Ballard transplants Dostoyevsky's Possessed, Conrad's Secret Agent, and DeLillo's Mao II into the gated-residential purgatories of riverside London in 2003's Millennium People, one of his most polished and disquieting satires.

Upfront Disclaimer: If you're put off by mordantly hyperbolic similes or characters who pontificate like Kevin Spacey in Se7en, you'll probably want to skip this one (and everything else by JGB). Dust on a coffeetable is described as "a nimbus that seemed like an ectoplasmi
Steve Petherbridge
Can the middle classes revolt like the Marxist proletariat against what they perceive as oppressive living conditions? JG Ballard puts forward this supposition in Millennium People. It resonated with me, as in Ireland, the middle classes have been imposed with the task of rescuing the failed Celtic Tiger Economy, brought about by a combination of mismanagement, failed oversight and some corruption by the ruling cabal of politicians, property speculators, rich businessmen, civil servants and othe ...more
Dec 25, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I've read the previous two novels Ballard wrote before this one, Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes, and this continued to explore the themes of middle class rebellion against a society they have unwittingly created. The story is about a violent uprising championed by a small group of disillusioned professionals including a doctor and parish minister. You can almost imagine it happening. The things the middle class aspire to - good housing, schooling, law enforcement, job security - have become bey ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Carol rated it did not like it
So far I can say that this is the dirty story of a twisted and cynical middle class rebellion. I read this first quarter on the plane including on an internal flight in PNG. Prob best to avoid this. The man sitting next to me read it over my shoulder and excitedly pointed out the words porn and fucking in the text. I acted like it was no biggie and gave him the book for the rest of the flight mumbling something pathetic like "yes it's a bit rude but it's actually about social movements...!"
J.G. Ballard always brings out the maiden aunt in me as I cannot help but feel that he is a deeply disgusting man, in fact a completely grubby pervert. Despite my personal dislike for his characters and worldview I cannot help but admire the way his books highlight developments in their embryonic stage and his talent as a writer. In this book he describes the new working poor as they lose their bearings in a world that is moving past them at a rapid clip and exploits them thoroughly.
Jon Stutfield
Aug 20, 2012 Jon Stutfield rated it really liked it
The middle class are the new proletariat. Sounds ludicrous, but this book describes a life very familiar to my London suburban upbringing, and I began to believe Ballard was on to something.

I've already started to plan my first picket outside of the Didsbury branch of M&S Food.
Dec 10, 2010 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern, fiction
just dull which really surprised me. i must have picked the dud Ballard novel
Jan 30, 2017 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book so much not because of the writing (the dialogue was a little to unnatural for me, obviously designed to reveal the background ideas of the book rather than portray people relating realistically, and I thought the culprit was apparent early on), but because of its message and because of the context in which I read it (the current social unrest and creeping fascism of today's America). Ballard portrays with nihilistic intensity the bankruptcy of 21st century consumer culture - i ...more
Mar 19, 2017 Daryth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like J.G. Ballard and I really can connect with his books. He is probably one of the most important writers I have came across.

Mar 10, 2017 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La "clase media" es el nuevo proletariado.
Bob Reutenauer
Sep 07, 2014 Bob Reutenauer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ballard writes of middle-class revolutionary movement sweeping Britain. Well done. A fun read.. pretty straight forward rejection of mass consumerist alienating conformist modernity.. but without much politics. Makes it very fun and reckless. No one really knows what is going on. The French Revolution anyone? Big middle-class revolution. I thought of this a few times, not sure. I am sure that the writing is very inviting. Have a look at two passages.

"I watched you in court this morning. The magi
Matt Getty
The set up grabbed me from the start. The idea of a middle class revolting against itself for unknown reasons is at once absurd and dead on for our times.

One thing I truly love about Ballard is his understated dead-pan humor. Take, for instance, when the protest at the cat demonstration turns violent. The final image he leaves us with is the overwhelming smell of cat urine. There's a wonderful absurdity to that moment.

My one critique is that at times the novel felt a bit inflated. That is, ther
Kate Walker
Protest is one of the central themes of the book, and it is presented in an exaggerated, absurdist manner. An animal rights protest at a cat show results in a convention center's worth of terrorized animals pissing in unison. The scene crystallizes (at least for me) the questionable utility of direct action protest. (Not at all sure this was the author's intent, but this is what I took from it as it confirms my own feelings about the misplaced anger, insufferable self-righteousness, and outright ...more
Chris Meigh
Jan 12, 2012 Chris Meigh rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
‘The next revolution will be about parking’ – stark words that resonate throughout Millennium People showing a revolution amongst the middle class, who have become the new proletariat.

After a bomb goes off at Heathrow Airport, David Markham is perplexed by the seemingly random act that has killed his ex-wife. Before long, he descends into the world of Chelsea Marina where the middle classes have started to rebel by committing small acts of violence. Before long, these acts become highly violent
By the end of this book, I started to enjoy it again. For a novel about a terrorist campaign, with a bombing or random act of violence every other chapter, it feels very slowly paced.

Millenium People is a slightly wry examination of the activist culture. What would happen if the middle class rebelled? We would get the early 2000s and late 1990s, and according to Ballard, particularly in London, to wear a cause and attend a demonstration is a cultural artifact. There is a rebellion in Chelsea Mar
Susan Emmet
Have heard of JG Ballard, but didn't realize he was such a prolific novelist and short story writer. Plan to find more of his work at the library.
Although I liked this dysutopian, futuristic-in-the-now novel, it was uneven in execution. I found it gripping for two-thirds and a bit "convenient" the last third, especially the very end. David Markham, a psychologist twice married, becomes involved with a terrorist "group" and actions in London. His first wife had been killed in a bomb attack at Hea
Sep 11, 2011 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-novel
There is something a bit pedantic about Ballard's portrayal of the folk of Chelsea Marina and their attempt at middle class revolution. Over-hiked service charges, parking fines, the stress induced by school fees and riding lessons leads to a monumental sense of grievance for this 'new proletariat which provokes rent strikes, demos and symbolic acts of property destruction.

But this satire is the backdrop which allows Ballard to engage with the personality of Dr Richard Gould, a nihilist for whom
Grady Ormsby
Aug 03, 2015 Grady Ormsby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
We’ve all heard the phrase, “an act of senseless violence." I find it interesting because it makes me wonder whether there is such a thing as “an act of meaningful violence.” Though Millennium People by J.G. Ballard is not a particularly shocking nor gory book, violence is one of its thematic ideas. Spiritual evolution in the Twenty-first Century is akin to the story about the Emperor's new clothes. Religion seems be at the center of many of our social and political conflicts and yet any true se ...more
Artur Coelho
Ballard é o Le Corbusier da literatura. Frio e preciso, colocou a mão no pulso da modernidade contemporânea - o urbanismo alienante e os indivíduos solipsistas obcecados na vivência das suas neuroses. Este livro tem todas as peças do puzzle que é um livro de Ballard, mas falta qualquer coisa nesta história de um grupo de pessoas da classe média que ao concluírem que são o novo proletariado se revoltam, quase proclamando um estado anarquista num condomínio fechado, vista pelos olhos de um psicólo ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Steve rated it liked it
Mid 3. The novel opens with an act of terrorism at Heathrow, but typical of Ballard’s style, it is soon revealed that the perpetrators are not religious fundamentalists, but rather members of this country’s professional classes, whose goal is to shatter the apathetic, conformist attitude of the middle-classes. This atrocity does indeed act as a catalyst for the residents of Chelsea Marina to cast aside their bourgeois paraphernalia, and abandon their unflinching dedication to civic responsibilit ...more
Kimmo Sinivuori
"Take a good look. Twickenham is the Maginot Line of the English class system. If we can break through here everything will fall." The death of psychologist David Markham's ex-wife in a terrorist bombing at Heathrow airport embarks him on a journey to the heart of darkness. In the new millennium it lies in the fashionable London borough of Chelsea where the professional middle-class has been driven to a cul de sac. There a modern day Kurtz, Dr. Richard Gould, as mad, bad and dangerous as his pre ...more
David Hallard
Jun 17, 2014 David Hallard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading Ballard's later novels is a rare pleasure, like returning home on a winter's evening to an open fire and a black turtle bean and leek supper.

'Millennium People' is the penultimate of Ballard's swansong quartet of detective fictions, a format suiting his style very well, with old preoccupations woven seamlessly to define the pattern in the new rug. Turbocharging his profile, these books have driven shards of his uncompromising themes into the popular imagination like shrapnel from a te
Dave H
Apr 04, 2015 Dave H rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Private School fees are raising, London property prices have sky-rocketed and then there is the burning issue of Council taxes... The [upper] middle classes in Chelsea are revolting against a society then no longer recognise.

Millennium People has some interesting concepts, although I never quite bought the premise of a middle-class attempting to vandalise 'bourgeois' society. This really undermines the book and although the idea of solicitors and dentists throwing Molotov cocktails (made with b
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J.G. Ballard: Millenium People 10 25 Mar 29, 2013 03:47AM  
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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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