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Hello America

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,079 ratings  ·  97 reviews
By the year 2030 the American continent has been abandoned. Its great cities were empty. On board the SS Apollo are the descendants of Americans who left their homeland when the economy collapsed. Now, a century later, an expedition from Europe reaches the Atlantic coast off what had once been Brooklyn...

A sequel to " The Unlimited Dream Company "

Paperback, 236 pages
Published April 1990 by Paladin (first published June 1981)
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3.36  · 
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 ·  1,079 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2018, dystopia, british
"For all his weirdness, he has the old Yankee virtues. He wants to see America great again, and becoming President is little more than decoration on the cake."
- J.G. Ballard, Hello America


Ballard has writen as strange, post-globally warmed world, where America has been deserted AND desert-ed (extreme desertification). People have returned to Europe and Africa, abandoning America and its dunes. But America is big. It's impact on the global subconcious is huge. It fills dreams and nighmares. Balla
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
Lee Foust
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How did J. G. Ballard know, in 1981, that the 45th president of the United States of America would be Charles Manson? How did he know that the U.S., by that time, would be a great ruin, a desert, bereft of both economic life and culture, and that the president's mantra would be how he needed to "Make America great again." How did he know that at the heart of the American Dream there is a racist fear of infection from outside so psychically powerful, a self-loathing so profound that it would lead ...more
Mar 23, 2017 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 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
23rd book for 2019.

Now as I approach the 1980s of Ballard's oeuvre I am starting to wonder if I will have the strength to get through to the end.

This is another post-apocalyptic novel, this time set in a depopulated and desert-ed America, which Ballard uses as a stage prop to put forward his vision of the American dream. The physical reality depicted by Ballard is ridiculous—so nothing new here—what is damning is that there are no sparks on the psychological side of things. It's just a bland, b
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
Dec 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 21, 2009 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
Jul 04, 2014 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
Jun 27, 2014 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
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 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 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.

Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this much better reading it as an adult than as a kid, 21 years later (!!!), now that I have an opinion (many, actually) on what the "dream of America" really means. I feel like you could almost draw a line from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" directly through to this, like an alternate timeline. Even though I didn't love it back when, it stuck with me for a reason, and I'm glad it did.
Austin Gaines
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another good JG Ballard book. It starts out as an expedition from Europe exploring a desert apocalypse America. Then it turns into Charles Manson running America out of Las Vegas that has turned into a jungle. It has robot presidents, machine gun drone helicopters, and a live president that wants to "Make America Great". Great post apocalyptic road book that would be pulp if it wasn't written in seriousness.
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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
McGrouchpants, Ltd.
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
Sep 07, 2013 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
Jonathan Norton
Nov 20, 2016 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
Gary Homewood
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Ballardian dystopia, well worn themes and preoccupations but a still inventive, occasionally hallucinogenic study of societal breakdown and madness. Filmic references and automaton Presidents. Worth the trip.
Mar 14, 2017 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.
Cassandra Carico
May 16, 2009 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.
Simon Harrison
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Third-rate Ballard. An attempt to repackage some of his greatest hits (ecological calamity, cars, technology, popular culture) pretty much fails. One for the completists only.
Patrick Scheele
Jun 11, 2017 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!

Graeme Sutherland
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Something of a return to his earlier apocalyptic form, only this time played for a dark burlesque. The first half is effectively chilling but it does bog down a little in the mid section. However, the ending is a hallucinogenic trip worth waiting for. A riot, really, with some typically Ballardian things to say about human nature and our age-old dreams.
George Bieber
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the top end of JG books in my opinion. I think if you read the book 10-15 years ago it might have been more visionary. Even JG couldn’t project where we would be today.
Lots of great visuals contained within.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I think I'm getting tired of post-apocalyptic novels. Or just more picky about them. Which made this one fall kind of flat for me. I did like the image of NYC all deserted and covered in sand, and I enjoyed thinking about what would actually happen if the Bering Strait were dammed.
Erik Weber
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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J.G. Ballard: Hello America 9 29 Dec 08, 2018 09:17AM  
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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
“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.” 39 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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