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The Drowned World

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  9,279 Ratings  ·  650 Reviews
A new generation discovers "the most original English writer of the last century." —China Miéville, The Nation

Appearing in hardcover in America for the first time, this neglected Ballardian masterpiece promises to be a touchstone for environmentalists the world over.

First published in 1962, J.G.Ballard’s mesmerizing and ferociously imaginative novel not only gained him wid
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ebook, 208 pages
Published July 23rd 2012 by Liveright (first published June 30th 1962)
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Dat-Dangk Vemucci
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Kate Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic often get blended together nowadays, usually because the post apocalyptic world is quite unpleasant.

The human…more
Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic often get blended together nowadays, usually because the post apocalyptic world is quite unpleasant.

The human population seems to have been greatly reduced to a comparatively low number, and if London (which currently is not known for hot weather) is a barely habitable jungle, what would you think the world south of the city would be like? Humans have basically are confined to one small colonized area in the north, and chances are that won't be habitable in the long run either.(less)
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Bill  Kerwin
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Although today J.G. Ballard is perhaps better known as the author of two books which became major films—Spielberg's Empire of the Sun and Cronenberg's Crash —he was first praised for a quaternity of post-apocalyptic novels published in the early '60's. The Drowned World (1962), the second book in this series—as well as Ballard's second published novel—was greatly admired by readers of speculative fiction and caused Ballard to be considered one of the great lights of the “New Wave.”

The Drowned Wo
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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
”The solar disc was no longer a well-defined sphere, but a wide expanding ellipse that fanned out across the eastern horizon like a colossal fire-ball, its reflection turned the dead leaden surface of the lagoon into a brilliant copper shield. By noon, less than four hours away, the water would seem to burn.”

 photo Drowned20World_zps8eulomm1.jpg

Solar radiation has melted the polar ice caps, and the oceans have risen to engulf most of the major cities of Europe and America. These cities have become tropical lagoons with only the up
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Fabian
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, what's left to be said about J. G. Ballard? If you have yet to enter his cult, his realm--please do so soon. The man is dead, and so his sea of work is a limited lake--of placid doom, of absolute apocalypse. He is often imitated--M. Crichton & the new "Annhilation/Southern Reach" trilogy guy come to mind, but he is as unique a literary voice as any of the greats. He is, actually, currently under Canonization negotiations by the Crazy Cray-cray Literary Canon.

Oh, this dude is inspiring. I
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Ben
May 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Dull plotting.

Duller psychology.

Shallow characters.

Improbable coincidences galore.

Pretty racist.

And yet almost entirely saved by some great descriptive work in painting the submerged world.

Worth reading, barely.

Apatt
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J.G. Ballard, what an interesting author, they broke the mold when they made him. When I started reading sf in the 80s I had the impression that Ballard specializes in global ecological disaster scenario, what with The Drowned World, The Burning World, and The Crystal World. A sort of go-to guy for a “dot-dot-dot World” apocalyptic fiction. Then I read Concrete Island and Empire of the Sun and realized Ballard cannot be pigeonholed so simply.

The Drowned Worldis one of his earlier novels from his
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Duane
This was my introduction to J.G. Ballard. How to best describe this book? I would call it apocalyptic realism. I thought I invented that term until I looked it up, and yes it exists. It's an apocalyptic future that I can see happening, and I imagine it very much like Ballard does here, except my version is tied to climate change and his is caused by a changing sun. Also, it has an eerie similarity to Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I'm certainly looking forward to reading more of Ballard's work.
Paul
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Ballard wrote this dystopian novel in the early 1960s, but it is still resonant today and it deals with a drastic increase in temperature on the earth; it is set in 2145. The premise is fairly simple; temperatures have greatly increased and the polar icecaps melted; temperatures around the equator can reach well over 150 degrees. Most life is centred on the polar areas. Jungle proliferates and evolution has goes into overdrive with some insects, reptiles and plants developing and changing very q ...more
Susan Budd
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Drowned World was my introduction to Ballard. I don’t know what I liked more: the lavishly described landscape with its swollen sun, primeval jungle, and shrieking iguanas or the inner landscape of recurring dreams, instinctive impulses, and psychological obsessions. It’s the combination of these two worlds—the outer and the inner—that give The Drowned World its depth and hypnotic air.

The outer world is described in such poetic prose that a narrative is nearly unnecessary. It is a “voodoo j
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Stuart
The Drowned World: Diving into the pellucid depths of our racial memories
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
The Drowned World (1962) is J.G. Ballard’s best apocalyptic work, the other two being The Burning World (1964) and The Crystal World (1966), but if you are thinking of an action-packed adventure where a plucky group of survivors clings to decency amid the collapse of civilization, this is the wrong book. Ballard was interested in ‘inner space,’ and while he sometimes adopted SF tropes
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Jan-Maat
At it's best when it achieved a cloying dreamlike atmosphere. It takes something of his Empire of the Sun experiences of a world turned upside down and crosses it with Heart of Darkness with a similar sense of a journey both back in time and into the psyche.

J.G. Ballard's experience in a Japanese interment camp near Shanghai while in his early teens comes through in The Drowned World his first novel in the idea that the life we lead is a stage set. Once the set is changed, then the actors start
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Kathy
Mar 15, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Dear Kerans, Here's an idea - go up to Hampstead. It'll be dry there and you can walk about.

The first couple of chapters of this book are quite intriguing, but as soon as you realise that this is central London and the buildings aren't even fully submerged, you know that the rest of Britain IS STILL THERE. So why is everyone acting like the world has been drowned? Didn't JG Ballard have the first notion of physical geography? DUH! Schoolboy error. When London drowns, you can say goodbye to East
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Kathryn
I am sitting here wondering if I made a mistake reading The Drowned World as my first J.G. Ballard novel. My edition includes the novel The Wind From Nowhere and I am tempted to read it as well before returning the book to the library but I have so many other books I desperately wish to finish, books I am truly enjoying. If this were not a library book and soon due, then I am afraid I may never have finished The Drowned World, which does not bode well for my reading of the second selection.

This
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MJ Nicholls
The novel Ballard liked to pretend was his debut—The Wind from Nowhere, anyone?—depicts a world stuffed to the runnels with silt, salt water, silt and more silt. Rich in near pornographic descriptions of bogs, croc-filled lagoons and giant lizards, this is a tough and horrendous novel, all the more so knowing this fate awaits our grandchildren.

Because Ballard is always right. The flood is coming. Get your paddles, ladies. In the meantime, read this book. What is it? Hmm. Apart from the sumptuous
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Ben Babcock
What images do the words "science fiction" conjure in your mind? Do you think of spaceships, lasers, phasers, light-sabres? Rockets, robots, and radon gas? Green chicks and blue boxes? Science fiction is a genre built upon difference. Science fiction stories are essentially thought experiments in which the author asks what would happen if the world were different in one or many ways.

We often (rightly) associate science fiction with fantastic technologies, but that kind of mental picture is a rat
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Kostas Papadatos
Oct 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Η -πλημμύρα- είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα που περιγράφει μια τεράστιων διαστάσεων κλιματική αλλάγη, όπου όλη η γη είναι καλυμένη με νερό λόγω της ραγδαίας αύξησης της θερμοκρασίας.Ένα βιβλίο με πρωτότυπο για την εποχή που εκδόθηκε θέμα το οποίο δυστυχώς χαντακώνεται.
Η γραφή του συγγραφέα είναι επιεικώς απαράδεκτη και επιτηδευμένη. Ο Ballard είναι ικανός να σχηματίσει πρόταση μόονο με κοσμητικά επίθετα του τύπου..μενεξεδένιο δειλινό..ροδοδάχτυλη αυγούλα και μενεξεδένιος κwλος. Eπίσης αναλώνεται συνεχώς
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J.G. Keely
The problem with writing a racially-charged tale of madness and death, lost deep in an alien and antagonistic jungle is that you're going to draw comparisons to 'Heart of Darkness', and that's not a comparison from which many novelists are going to emerge unscathed. The white men lose themselves in the brutality of the primordial past, going 'native', or even beyond native, but Ballard cannot match the furious voice or psychological insights of Conrad.

Ballard distinguishes himself as a competent
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Scott
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Mud. Silt. Heat. Floodwaters. And plants. Gonzo, all conquering plants spreading across a doomed earth. These are the images that stuck in my mind after reading The Drowned World. If you’re looking for something uplifting I advise you to look elsewhere - you’re unlikely to crack a smile at any point in this grim story. However, if you don't mind reading under a futile-struggle-against-implacable-forces cloud then Ballard's book is well worth your time - its a skilfully told story full of vivid ...more
sologdin
Nutshell: though global warming wins, cagey survivors succumb only to evopsychomachia.

Global warming is merely the Luca Brasi of a villainous sun, whose “sudden instability” “enlarged the Van Allen belts and diminished Earth’s gravitational hold upon the outer layers of the ionosphere” (33). Increased radiation dicked up the temperature, accelerated plant growth, and mutated the fuck outta everyone else (id.). The heat afflicted routine hydrologies, and now “the Middle West of the United States
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Sesana
The sun has gone mad. The ice has melted, and the continual flooding has covered much of the world with water. Temperatures have risen to the point where humanity has relocated to the Arctic and Antarctic circles just to survive. The result is that cities like London have become lagoons, surrounded by jungles and with only the top floors of the tallest buildings above water.

That's the setting of The Drowned World, and it's by far the best thing about the book. Ballard has quite a way with descri
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Lobstergirl
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Publius Clodius Pulcher
Shelves: fiction

I liked the basic premise of The Drowned World: in 2145, a tiny handful of hardy souls is moored in a superheated, drowned city (which turns out to be London), surrounded by deep lagoons - they have to live near the tops of buildings because everything below is flooded, silt-covered, and seaweed-smeared - just finishing up some science things before returning to the Arctic Circle where the temperature is a more comfortable 85°. I liked most of the thick description. Nice nouns and adjectives, mo
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Judy
Ballard's second novel, following The Wind From Nowhere, (read last year when I wasn't blogging my reviews, sorry) continues the theme of extreme environmental change and how his characters deal with it. There are a couple of radical shifts from the earlier book.

I am a bit obsessed these days with climate fiction (it even has a genre abbreviation: CliFi) because despite ISIS, racial upheaval, the circus of the Presidential race, etc etc, we won't be able to be entertained by all this foolishnes
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James
Ballard's first 'official' novel, The Drowned World, still shows some signs of mastering his craft. Some odd characters and characterisations, and some odd pacing, take the edge off an otherwise excellent environmental dystopian future. It doesn't appear to be an anthropogenic disaster, but the icecaps have melted, the world has been flooded and burning sunlight is making life pretty hard for the survivors. The story revolves around a smallish cast of misfits, living around a lagoon above a floo ...more
Sam
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is an excellent fast paced story set in a post climate change world where solar flares have melted ice caps and glaciers across the globe leaving only the poles vaguely habitable. Set 70 years after with the few human survivors eking out a living on army research bases and remaining ships we follow Dr Kerans, Beatrice Dahl and others as they try and find their own way through in this strange aquatic world. As the temperatures rise and storms threaten their lagoon world another threat arrive ...more
Lou Robinson
I was a tad disappointed with The Drowned World, having read a couple of other Ballad works. But I should cut the author some slack, this was his first book. And I did like it, just didn't love it. The overall basis of the story, set in a future (although not too far in the future) globally warmed, flooded London, is an interesting one. Again Ballad has that knack of describing a situation that is the right side of believable, this could happen, and that makes it a disturbing read. But the Drown ...more
Althea Ann
This month's Post-apocalyptic Book Club selection.
This was a re-read, though I'd read it so long ago it might as well have been in the Jurassic period.
JG Ballard succeeds marvelously in creating a hallucinatory, dreamlike environment here. Solar flares have heated the Earth. Only 5 million people still live, mainly on military-style bases in the Antarctic. Our protagonist, Kerans, is a biologist assigned to a team with the singularly pointless task of venturing south and mapping the changed eart
...more
poingu
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book feels like a wild, silly mash-up of Heart of Darkness with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, complete with a lascivious-albino-nihilist-sadist-petty-dictator, deformed black henchmen armed with machetes and knives, and three good white folk, who are fighting the emergence of their reptile-brain memories, while at the same time drinking excellent whiskey, wearing formal evening clothes, and trying to survive the steaming jungle swamps of post-global-warming London. Both r ...more
Jennifer
Reverse evolution....genetic memory....and a drowned world. I couldn't put it down, it was a captivating world.
Oscar
‘El mundo sumergido’, de J.G. Ballard, pertenece al Ciclo Terminal formado por cuatro novelas: ‘El mundo sumergido’ (donde el elemento catastrofista es el agua), ‘La sequía’ (fuego), ‘El mundo de cristal’ (tierra) y ‘Huracán cósmico’ (aire). Escritor new wave, Ballard deja la experimentación aparte y se centra en narrar una historia donde prima el pesimismo y la introspección, alejándose de los manidos clichés del subgénero de catástrofes, más dedicados a las aventuras.

En la presente novela, nos
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Bandit
Sep 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second read by Ballard, this one came highly recommended, and yet again failed to engage. There is just a certain aloofness to Ballad's writing that does nothing to help the reader establish an emotional connection with the story. Martin Amis in his introduction mentions this, something along the lines of how Ballard appears to be bored with trappings of a conventional plot, except that coming from Amis it comes across as a praise and to me that's a major detractor. Ballard was certainly an able ...more
David Corvine
Interesting attempt to fictionalise Jungian psychology but my attention started to drift at about a hundred pages. In fact it would have been better as a novella length piece. The characterisation is weak and some of the stage direction-like descriptions didn't work and would have been unnecessary to the plot even if they had. I intend to go on and read The Drought and Crystal World as a trilogy. I find Ballard's work worth studying but flawed... I don't have a problem with that.
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Around the Year i...: The Drowned World, by J.G. Ballard 2 13 Aug 20, 2016 12:59PM  
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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
More about J.G. Ballard...
“Strangman shrugged theatrically. "It might," he repeated with great emphasis. "Let's admit that. It makes it more interesting—particularly for Kerans. 'Did I or did I not try to kill myself?' One of the few existential absolutes, far more significant than 'To be or not to be?', which merely underlines the uncertainty of the suicide, rather than the eternal ambivalence of his victim." He smiled down patronisingly at Kerans as the latter sat quietly in his chair, sipping at the drink Beatrice had brought him. "Kerans, I envy you the task of finding out—if you can.” 5 likes
“The brief span of an individual life is misleading. Each one of us is as old as the entire biological kingdom, and our bloodstreams are tributaries of the great sea of its total memory. The uterine odyssey of the growing foetus recapitulates the entire evolutionary past, and its central nervous system is a coded time scale, each nexus of neurones and each spinal level marking a symbolic station, a unit of neuronic time.” 5 likes
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