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Hello America

3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  833 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
The acclaimed author of Empire of the Sun takes an Apollo team one hundred years into the future of America. In Las Vegas they encounter President Charles Manson in an electronic oasis. He is threatening games with leftover nuclear weapons, with more than the Marilyn Monroe holograms at stake.
224 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1981)
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Richard Derus
Rating: 2.5* of five

Here's what I remember from my 30-plus year ago read. I thought the premise was a revenge fantasy perpetrated by an angry, anti-American Brit who had opened up an ax-grinding franchise for all the Europeans tired of the US economic and cultural hegemony.

A quick flip through our library's copy reinforced that belief. I'm not in the least surprised that the coming Netflix series adaptation comes via Ridley Scott, who seems to me to be getting world-weary.

Book: Not again. Series
Mar 23, 2017 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
America has been abandoned following a worldwide catastrophic energy crisis. To meet the food security needs of the now swollen populations of Europe and Asia, the Bering Straits have been dammed, thus manipulating the ocean currents to turn northern Europe and Siberia into a verdant agricultural hub while simultaneously transforming much of the USA into a blistering desert. Only one expedition has so far returned to investigate this barren land, and was largely deemed a failure. Now a new team ...more
Nate D
Jun 10, 2017 Nate D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bureaucrats, Divorcees, and other tribes of the American wastes
Recommended to Nate D by: Sean
As far as exhaustive travelogues into the deconstructed iconography of America by a foreigner go, Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve and Ann Quin's Tripticks may beat this out, but Ballard's sprawling post-apocalyptic vision goes even deeper into what it is exactly that this country means and signifies, and his is a welcome addition to the sub-genre*.

This seems to be deemed lesser Ballard, and it does have that distanced quality that is his peculiar pitfall, where all the characters and plo
Althea Ann
This month's post-apocalyptic book club selection.

Well, Ballard sure did like to write this story. He wrote it a few times.

Since I most recently read his 'Drowned World,' ( I noticed that it was essentially the same book as that one, but I think he's written it a few more times as well.

However, 'Hello, America' almost reads like a satire of 'Drowned World.' Was it intended to be? I'm not sure.

An expedition reaches the eastern shore of a long-abandoned U
Jul 04, 2014 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Believers in the American Dream
Recommended to Alan by: Alternative work
Under the guise of crossing America{...}they were about to begin that far longer safari across the diameters of their own skulls.
Hello America starts in New York City—or just next door, at least. It's very much an alternate history, now—J.G. Ballard wrote it in 1981, after all. He could not anticipate events that were still in NYC's future, events which would change the landscape and iconography of the Big Apple forever. And even the reissue from 1994 has long been overtaken by events in th
Oct 21, 2009 Simon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I don't know if I'm just getting tired of Ballard's parallel explorations of post-apocalyptic landscapes and his character's inner physiological landscapes, whether the particular theme used in this book just didn't resonate with me, or whether this was just one of his poorer efforts. Whatever the case it's lead me to the conclusion that I've read enough Ballard to be going on with for a while.

The American Dream has collapsed after depleting all its natural resources and suffering severe environ
Dec 25, 2009 Stephen rated it really liked it
The surreal elements of this book - the pop culture inconography set against a desolate wasteland - can be a distraction. I read this as paean to the essence of American character Ballard loved. Celebrity , worship, the decadence of Las Vegas, the general metabolism of American commercial culture versus the stoicism and individualism that also defines us. I think the choice of Las Vegas as a sort of end game, and the charater of Manson as the archetypal paranoria of the boundless American energy ...more
When I was done with this all those years ago, I beamed. He's a genius I thought. I would love to have his talents, his insights, his poetry.
But I was young and I knew that I was somewhat disappointed by it deep down. The big tipoff was Charles Manson as a long-lived fellow who seemed more grandfatherly than a blathering maniac. He still is weird and evil. But there was more that was somewhat disappointing but I can't recall. I'll read it again soon. It was a good adventure for the most part, a
Feb 28, 2014 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed very familiar from the beginning. I thought the generally vague, somewhat stereotypical and one-dimensional characters and the silver screen-ready descriptions might have been producing this effect, but when I reached the last chapters - after an annoying internal debate every night for ten days to determine whether to continue reading or to eighty-six the whole novel - I realized that I had already read it when I was a teenager. Which was exactly the right time that you should ...more
Angus McKeogh
Nov 10, 2015 Angus McKeogh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. So strange and quirky. Ballard was writing these "dystopian" novels well before all the current YA authors made them all the rage. And he does it with much more originality, class, and style.
Ian Hamilton
Alas, why the love-hate relationship with Ballard? Can I give Hello America a strong 2 stars? Even with a two-star rating, am I still permitted to acknowledge that I liked this one? This was often tedious, and it's premise is too similar to that of Drowned World, but there are some unexpected twists which make the whole package a minor success. I was going to do a Ballard binge this Spring/Summer, but now I think I only have the bandwidth for one more of his. But maybe I'll change my mind.

Oct 20, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the 1981, this is a post-holocaust SF novel set in the 2100s, about an expedition across the continental US which had suffered a total manmade environmental collapse a century before. Now almost completely depopulated the former citizens live in colonies around the world. The novel follows some of these colo…nists in the first major expedition to re-explore the New World.

This being a ‘literary’ novel, it is full of vivid imagery – to the extent that you feel the author is more interes
Smiley McGrouchpants
Holy shit! Is this the book to pick up now. Along with William S. Burroughs' Place of Dead Roads , Carlton Mellick III's Sex and Death in Television Town , and Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian , you might place this book on the shelf of "America's not really real unless it's re-imagined as a ghost town with all the unsettled yearnings & dreams blowing through it." Oddly, this country becomes more visible once you wipe most of it off the map; the residue makes more sense, without all the s ...more
Jun 27, 2014 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish it. Got tired of the story.

I thought the explanation of the energy crisis, and the details of America's decline, were are realistic and well conceived by Ballard. I thought that was some of the best writing in the book, but the problem with that statement is that this portion of the book is maybe three pages near the beginning. His execution of everything afterwards is poor or just kind of dumb. Some of the jokes are stupid: the tribe names and their stereotypical behavior or o
Jonathan Norton
Nov 20, 2016 Jonathan Norton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ballard as tiresome and unexciting as ever. It would save everyone's time if subsequent editions of his books were simply the lecture notes and seminar handouts that have done most of the work in spreading his reputation; the actual texts are blandly unexciting and undistinguished. Alan Burns did it better, but if you ask me John Wyndham also did it better, along with a bunch of other people who never got the benefit of JG's PR team. Truly the great "sage of Shepperton", and a suitable model for ...more
Cassandra Carico
May 16, 2009 Cassandra Carico rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite an entertaining read. I really appreciate the concepts and ideas he presents. This is an amazing 'what if' book. Explorative adventures in America one hundred years after massive amounts of American leave the continent due to a collapsing economy and exhausted natural resources. Good fun.
Patrick Scheele
Jun 11, 2017 Patrick Scheele rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
According to Ballard, when the world runs out of oil, virtually all Americans will flee their country to other places, like Europe, where there is no oil left either. The stupid is strong in this book.

The novel is about an expedition to the new America, 100 years later. Most of it has turned into dessert. The members of the expedition almost immediately forget about their reason for being there (something about elevated radiation levels) and they go on a good old fashioned road trip. Yeehaw!

Mar 14, 2017 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who is the 45th president?

An appropriate book for the age of Trump, set in a future wasteland America, its past project in a the gory detail of JG Ballard's. kind of overwrought, but a timely read nonetheless.
Sep 17, 2014 Luke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scanned
It'd be a bit much to expect J.G. Ballard to write something cheerful. So here we are in disaster-town again: a North America abandoned after peak oil and climate change joined forces to ruin the landscape and the economy both. The world is a fractured, largely socialist or communist environment (you know, trains running on time, bad soup, joyless sex in afternoons off from suitably pro-community factory jobs) which keeps people alive but only just.

That kind of world. Good job there's a steam-p
Feb 24, 2012 Bradley rated it did not like it
Ballard has a decent writing style but this post apocalyptic novel falls completely flat. Nothing in this really works, the characters are dull and their backgrounds are flimsy due to not knowing how they lived 100 years in the future, before their journey to America. What little character development there is doesn't have a pay off as characters are killed too quickly. At two points in the story the main character keeps a diary for no other reason than to allow the narrator to breeze through mo ...more
one of the worst things i've read in many years. the premise was promising so i bought it, but i regret. and i rarely regret buying books.

i was expecting a book more about discovery of the forbidden and forgotten land. there were such things in the beginning. but somewhere on the desert of the america it all started to go mad. and while my imagination always drags me into the book world so deeply that it actually has an impact on the state of my mind [for example i was suffocating in the shrinki
Nov 08, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not J.G. Ballard’s best by a wide margin and pretty tame compared to some of his other books, Hello America is a mostly forgettable post-apocalyptic novel set in a depopulated and climatically-ravaged USA.

The first part of the book is a simple journey across the crumbling, overgrown continent. Although it depicts a world where America has been degraded, Hello America is surprisingly affectionate towards American culture. This section feels almost nostalgic for consumerist culture – indeed, the
I enjoyed this story very much. I do find that Ballard can be somewhat inaccessible; I'm thinking of The Crystal World and The Day of Creation, which I didn't enjoy all that much, or extremely imaginative and fascinating; The Drowned World, Kingdom Come and High-Rise, which I enjoyed very much. Hello America falls into the latter category. It was very interesting; an expedition from Europe to America, destroyed many years ago and evacuated. The expedition ends up in Las Vegas, ruled by a madman, ...more
Sep 10, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Nik
A great book, full of extremely interesting and witty ideas...

Set not so far into the future (now) and massive climate change has seen America abandoned as New York, Washington and the East Coast are transformed into vast deserts, and Las Vegas is a huge neon-lit jungle. Tribes of nomads, descended from the few Americans who remained, roam the continent, whilst in Vegas there is a new President going by the name of Manson...

I flat out loved some of the ideas in this - the robot army of old Presi
May 21, 2016 Mert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Öncelikle ilk Ballard kitabım olduğunu söylemek istiyorum.

Kitap post-apokaliptik. Bütün enerji kaynaklarının tükenmesi sonucu Amerika terk ediliyor. Petrol bitiyor, bütün endüstri duruyor. Tersine bir göç başlıyor: Bir zamanlar Avrupa'dan yeni dünya düşüncesiyle göçenler şimdi göçtükleri yerlere geri dönüyor. Amerika'nın nüfusu üç haneli sayılara düşüyor. Yıllar sonra birkaç gezgin altın bulmak umuduyla tekrar Amerika'ya geliyorlar. Gördükleri manzara şaşırtıcı. Suların içine yıkılmış özgürlük
Craig DiLouie
In HELLO, AMERICA by J.G. Ballard, depletion of energy resources results in America being abandoned, while damming the Bering Strait has resulted in most of the continent being turned into a desert populated by derelict cities. After detecting radiation reaching Europe from the continent, an expedition sets out to discover its source.

The novel is classic Ballard, with an affectionate but tense relationship between a man and a boy, a boy who wants to claim the world as his own, and a villain who
Jun 08, 2016 LemmiSchmoeker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As usual, it is not the plot that drives this Ballard novel – it's the characters and, ultimately, their loneliness. The premise is (of course) grotesque: a hundred years after America has been abandoned, due to the growing environmental problems, an expedition returns to see if the continent could be recolonised. On their way from the East coast to the West coast, they encounter various leftovers – living and otherwise – and have enough time to themselves to find out what really drove them to j ...more
Jun 13, 2016 Maddy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopian
I don't think anyone would dispute that Ballard is one of the great writers of the twentieth century, but some of his books require devotion and perseverance, like this one. Set in a now desolate and barren landscape of the once super power of America, our characters find themselves caught up in a Mad Mad World, and I was just along for the ride.

It is a fantastic book, but its also a cross between Beckett and Vonnegut with a dash of Pynchon thrown in, in some parts I thought I was waiting for G
Jul 27, 2013 Justyna rated it it was ok
It's a good book. Not outstanding, but quite ok. While the basic premise - the expedition to take back America, deserted for a hundred years and devoured by the desert - is very enticing, as the book progressed, I felt bored. It reminded me of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, but not exactly in a good way. Many allusions to Howard Hughes' bioghraphy, some interesting inventions and a deranged mastermind hidden in the jungle. And yet, it didn't quite add up. Maybe because of the unlikeable, extremely ...more
Sep 07, 2013 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Middling Ballard in many ways--I understand the 2-3 star reviews--but one for which I have a real soft spot. It's a novel that for me is in dialogue with Aldous Huxley's under-appreciated dystopic gobbledy-gook, _Ape & Essence_. (Ballard's "tribe of garrulous baboons" seals the allusion for me, the spider monkeys that have taken over the Hollywood Bowl, the giraffes loping down crumbling interstates...) Just as Huxley's novel seemed to anticipate bizarro Reaganite pieties ("family values" + ...more
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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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“It was an excess of fantasy that killed the old United States, the whole Mickey Mouse and Marilyn thing, the most brilliant technologies devoted to trivia like instant cameras and space spectaculars that should have stayed in the pages of Science Fiction . . . some of the last Presidents of the U.S.A. seemed to have been recruited straight from Disneyland.” 31 likes
“Wayne laughed shyly. 'Well, that was Mr. Manson's decision. He's very generous. I believe in him, sir,' he added, making a point of his loyalty. 'He wants to make America great again.” 0 likes
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