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Millennium People

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,038 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Violent rebellion comes to London’s middle classes in this “fascinating” (San Francisco Chronicle) novel from the same author of Crash and Empire of the Sun. Never more timely, Millennium People “seeks to illuminate our hearts of darkness while undermining our assumptions about what literature is meant to do” (Los Angeles Times).
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 16th 2012 by Liveright (first published 2003)
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3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,038 ratings  ·  191 reviews


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Glenn Russell



Don't be fooled. This might look like a group of Brits posing for a photo before they hop on a bus to shop at their local mall or break up into groups to discuss their favorite P. D. James or Anthony Trollope, but in J. G. Ballard's Millennium People, they are about to set off a string of car bombs, dirty bombs and Molotov cocktails throughout their suburban gated community as a first step to igniting violent revolution.



Oh, how J. G. Ballard despised the contemporary world with particular feroc
...more
Hugh
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019, modern-lit
An entertaining tale, funny at times, occasionally prescient, imaginative but ultimately a little too silly for my taste.

The plot of the novel revolves around a gated estate in Fulham called Chelsea Marina, where a professional middle class population is increasingly being squeezed financially by the cost of living and rapacious landlords, making them vulnerable to the maverick agitator Dr Richard Gould and his revolutionary ideas. Their protests are witnessed by the narrator David Markham, a ps
...more
Lark Benobi
This is the seventh book I've read this month for my J.G. Ballard binge and I've decided it's going to be my last because I'm building up a residue of a theme, from these novels, that links them, and that is amplified with each next novel; a theme that might be condensed as "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world."

As with every other Ballard novel I've read this month, Ballard's prose here is unique and flabbergasting (if that's a word). Nearly every sent
...more
J.
Jun 24, 2015 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
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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
...more
Kathleen
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
“Air travel, the whole Heathrow thing, it’s a collective flight from reality. People walk up to the check-ins and for once in their lives they know where they’re going. Poor sods, it’s printed on their tickets.”

This was my first Ballard read, and I did enjoy his writing. He has a dry, dark wit, and creates the most unique sentences. Here are just two examples of his strangely accurate word pictures:

“I stood behind the curtains, my heart leaping against my chest like a trapped animal throwing its
...more
MJ Nicholls
Senryu Review:

Middle class revolt
in London suburbia
makes deadpan satire
F.R.
Nov 10, 2010 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
Marc
May 01, 2016 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
Ken
Oct 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
...more
Terence
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
"Millennium People" is a fine novel, it is comparable to maybe say "Concrete Island" in how it has a handful of solid notes but plays them very quickly. Published in 2003, but later in the states, it definitely has a lot of topical issues that cloud its thrust. It isn't the clean and austere meanness of "Super-Cannes" or even the prescient fascism and megamalls of "Kingdom Come". "Millennium People" isn't bad, it still has some insights, but there is this level of topical score settling that may ...more
Alexander
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
...more
Robert McCaffrey
Mar 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
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.
Joseph Spuckler
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
Middle class rebelling against what it created. Molotov cocktails made with Perrier bottle and regimental ties, "Bonfire of the Volovos", the book picks up on the most endangered sector of society trying to free itself from the world it worked for and created...or could it just be something meaningless.
Hadrian
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, fiction
Quickly bored with this one. Seems dry both as societal commentary and as a thriller. The middle-class rises up and causes terror? This seems to be almost like a dreary daydream that weedy teenagers fantasize about. How edgy!

Recommended for Palahniuk fans.
Kevin Tole
First published in 2003, 'Millennium People' is almost Ballard’s last novel before he died from cancer in 2009. Ballard has left his mark on international fiction and he stands like a giant as changing perceptions through writing and how his craft of writing has spawned a complete genre and the term 'Ballardian' (which I use often). It is as difficult to call his work ‘science fiction’ as it is to define that whole genre of writing. If anything this novel is more like detective fiction noir and ...more
Redfox5
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, fiction
A bomb goes off on the baggage carousel at Heathrow, killing David's ex wife Laura. And even though he's not been with her for years and has another wife, Sally who is handicapped but not really handicapped, he feels he needs to find out who killed her.

He starts by joining random protests and get involved with residents of Chelsea Marina. They are starting a middle class revolution. Fed up with high maintenance fees & parking tickets, they go on a spree of random vandalism.

He gets sucked
...more
Hannah Polley
Jul 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, j-g-ballard
I did not get on with this book at all. First off, it was quite boring. Secondly, it had some absolutely terrible ideas in it. It talks about a woman provoking a man to slam a door into her nose and injure her, like it is the woman's fault. The main character has sympathy for a man that has supported paedophilia on disabled children. And that is before you get started on some of the comments regarding terrorism.

In this book, there is a bomb at Heathrow which kills David's ex-wife. David goes un
...more
Lori
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
...more
Ducky T
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Dellillo and Palahniuk often try to do, Ballard creates a perfect deconstruction of modern society and then paints it over with a nihilistic lense, revealing meaning in the meaningless .
Steve Petherbridge
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Joseph
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I liked the premise, and I was surprised by how timely a read this was. Maybe this is just late making its way to America, but the notion of people who are basically doing alright, but still enraged and lashing out in all the wrong directions feels like the premise of a novel someone should be writing right now rather than fifteen years ago.

To be perfectly frank, humanity is in a golden age. Yes, there is injustice and inequality, but it's not as though we don't have the power and resources to
...more
Jim
Dec 25, 2010 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
James
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.
Carol
Jul 24, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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...!"
Jon Stutfield
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Richard
Dec 10, 2010 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
Michelle Tackabery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice Florence
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-shelf
2.5/3 stars. The middle classes are fed up of working hard just to pay the bills so they decide to rebel. They start to carry out random acts of pointless terrorism and the guy in the story gets caught up with them, partly because he wants to know who set the bomb that blew up his wife, partly as an insider (but not really) and partly because he just seems to go along with it.
It's interesting. It was written a few years back, after Sept 11, and it's sort of about a turning point in society. Peop
...more
John Benson
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a novel written not long after 9/11 but not released in the US till 2011 and begins with a bombing at Heathrow Airport. The narrator's ex-wife is killed in the bomb blast and he investigates. Eventually, he ends up investigating a group of comfortable middle class residents of Chelsea Marina, who have begun protesting some of the things happening in their estate and are getting more and more violent. David Markham gets sucked into this movement but also can not fully understand why they ...more
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3,264 followers
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
“No middle class revolution can defend the barricades without a shower and a large cappuccino. You might as well fight them in yesterday’s underwear.” 24 likes
“Either the world is at fault, or we’re looking for meaning in the wrong places.” 22 likes
More quotes…