Ballard is an interesting author. Some of what he writes is science fiction, some is not. He writes about experiences and events more than building toBallard is an interesting author. Some of what he writes is science fiction, some is not. He writes about experiences and events more than building toward climactic endings. Some of the stories in this anthology barely even have an ending; instead you turn the page and see that he stopped describing what happened next.
The Drowned Giant, included, is probably his most famous piece unless something else is. It's about the human reaction to a giant humanoid that washes up dead on a beach. It rings very true how humanity doesn't really know what to do with it, studies it some, mainly just takes turns climbing on top. Despite the shocking nature, there's not really much shock; having lived long enough now to see the turn of the millennium, a disaster here and there, a few elections, I find this a pretty apt depiction of how we would react. Once the giant is gone (corpses don't last forever), the story is over, and the protagonist and narrator has been of no importance whatsoever. Edit: Here it is, all seven pages, if you're curious: http://tinyurl.com/yfradel
Then there are the stories grouped at the end of the book, such as Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan. That one isn't quite what it sounds like but nonetheless communicates unambiguously that Ballard is without question clinically insane....more
I labeled this as science fiction because that seems to be the popular perception, but the perception is wrong. Science fiction is supposed to examineI labeled this as science fiction because that seems to be the popular perception, but the perception is wrong. Science fiction is supposed to examine the social and philosophical implications of advancing science and technology. In Dune, 80,000 years of (negligible) development has produced no social changes at all. Replace all occurrences of "planet" with "country" and what's left is aristocrats endlessly conniving against each other while races of humanoids serve as allegories to various real world cultures against a backdrop of feudalism and incredible beasts. That sounds a lot like fantasy to me.
I don't know how Frank Herbert died, but I bet it was in an earthquake or a car crash or from cancer, and his last thought was "you mean bad things can happen that aren't caused by a subterfuge within a doublecross within a conspiracy by the houses of my uneasy allies and cordial enemies?"...more