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The Unlimited Dream Company

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,379 ratings  ·  112 reviews
From the author of the Sunday Times bestseller 'Cocaine Nights' comes an acclaimed backlist title -- in which suburban London is transformed into an exotic dreamworld -- now reissued in new cover style. When a light aircraft crashes into the Thames at Shepperton, the young pilot who struggles to the surface minutes later seems to have come back from the dead. Within hours ...more
paperback, 220 pages
Published 1981 by Triad/Granada (first published 1979)
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3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,379 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Steven Godin
Although highly unlikely, but let's just say for the sake of delving into the realms of fantasy this was a movie, it would be like some weird collaboration between Terry Gilliam, Studio Ghibli, and Davids Attenborough and Cronenberg. It would also likely have to be a warped skin-flick, because the narrator (like on a cocktail of viagra and hallucinogens) roams around in his birthday suit with a constant erection masturbating over anything and everything.

This was just completely nuts, and I actu
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How much semen is too much for one book to contain? The answer is none. There is none too much semen.

For proof of this, proceed directly to The Unlimited Dream Company. I couldn’t name a book more semen-spangled if you held a loaded dick to my head. Even the word ‘semen’ has to hold some kind of per-page record here. If you can make your way past all the goo, this is actually quite a lovingly endearing story—perhaps in spite of the fact that the predominance of it concerns a guy ejaculating flow
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, british, fiction, scifi
"For all we know, vices in this world may well be metaphors for virtues in hte next."
- J.G. Ballard, The Unlimited Dream Company


A man named Blake crashes his plane in a small British town. He is transformed into a demigod in the town. Or perhaps, he is dead and this is some weird limbo he is stuck in. Or perhaps he is just mad. Anyway, Blake isn't a very reliable narrator. The story keeps getting weirder and weirder, breaking out of any form of simple narrative and becoming fractured, recursive,
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I find it difficult to know how to talk about this book. I loved the vibrant writing and surreal story, but could not recommend this to 95% of the readers I know.

Why? Well, you see... Blake is a bit of a loser. He steals a plane and crashes it into the Thames at Shepperton, and that's when everything goes a bit strange. He develops strong desires for everyone and everything in the town (see 95% comment earlier). Just like in dreams, relationships have no consequences, people can fly and commune
Hilary G
Oct 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The fact that I have finished this book makes me feel like drinking champagne, dancing in the rain, throwing a party, bouncing on a trampoline.... Why? Because I LOATHED this book and continuing to read it was worse than the time I got three detentions at school on my birthday, worse than waiting for the results of a medical test that might prove you have a horrible disease, worse than being trapped in a train compartment with an interminable bore. I just needed it to be OVER.

So why did I conti
David Peak
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Top-tier Ballard, in the same realm as The Atrocity Exhibition, Crash, and High-Rise, despite each of those books being so different from one another. Blake's frenetic and hallucinatory rebirth after death wavers from euphoria to outright horror, sometimes in the same moment, and while dreamlike, the events are consistently relayed through Ballard's sharp and smart prose. The overall effect is frequently mystifying and joyous, occasionally boring, but always fiercely original.
Jason Coleman
This book gets off to a good start, with one of those great, swift openings of Ballard's that throws you right in the deep end (early chapter title: "I Steal the Aircraft"). But his vision dims after awhile and the book gets taken over by an overactive cloaca.
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the genre of People Turning Into Animals And Covering Consumer Appliances With Semen this is second to none. Ballard takes the semen and the becoming animal and the appliances thing and really runs with it.
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I picked this up on the basis of an unusual and interesting premise but until near the end I didn't know what to make of it. Full of Ballard's verbose and symbolic imagery, this story explores some very adult themes and is not for the easily offended. As the protagonist increasingly believes that the "sins of this world are metaphors for virtues in the next", he proceeds to break down taboos in the town of Shepperton as the reader is left to ponder the meaning of this idea.

As we follow Blake's t
Martin Zorde
Feb 10, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
if you wanted to know what the inside of a crazy rapist cult leader's mind looked like it would be this. this literary pieces of garbage is what happen when you give lsd to a crazy person and they think that what they see and feel is true and serves only them. if i had to describe the tone of this book it would be pee mixed with the pulp of old news paper. to sum it up if you like rape, pedophilia, and pseudo cannibalism presented as the world's salvation then read this book!

The main thing i thi
Darran Mclaughlin
Pure surrealism. Ballard's vision of paradise. Very Blakean. A friend of mine made the point that once you've read one Ballard novel you've read them all, and that's true to some extent. They are all variations on a theme, like Woody Allen's films. I like Ballard, and he is very unique, but he is very samey.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book to anyone who loves the word "semen" and constant references to it. I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it was just too over the top and obvious with its metaphors trying to be spiritual, philosophical, deep, but instead just seemed hackneyed, repetitive and silly. I will read more of Ballard's books to see if this is just a one off but it really didn't do anything for me as I dislike the word semen.
Marek Krushkhov
Instead of an endless praise from incorrigible JG's fan, here's conclusion as brief as possible. Reading this book was like wondering through The Garden of Earthly Delights, particularly if you start from here:
Good luck!
There is nothing quite like this in Ballard oeuvre; consisting of equal parts fantasy, satire, hallucination and surrealist odyssey. I can only compare it maybe to Anna Kavan's "Ice" set in Samuel Delaney's "Dhalgren" but maniacal, ecstatic and devoid of the need for narrative drive. What I love the most about it, is how unlike anything Ballard has published, it is certainly depraved and weird, but in neon, and about plenum versus the strict confines of say "Crash" or "High Rise" - it really fee ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ballard's luxurious prose has an ethereal quality that is potent and mesmerising. All admirers of truly beautiful literature should take the pilgrimage to Shepperton; where Blake can source an Eden from his spurting gism.*

*which is honestly a lot more beautiful than it sounds!
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's Ballard who gives the best outline of this particular book:

'The Unlimited Dream Company is set in Shepperton where I live, and it's about a young pilot who steals a light aircraft and crashes into the Thames [river], and who, in a sense, dies. [He has] drowned in his aircraft, but frees himself by an enormous effort of the imagination, and through the effort of his imagination transforms Shepperton into a kind of Edenic paradise, full of exotic plants and animals.'

I know I've given the book
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Initially oddly compelling, Ballard's missive from 1979 completely loses all focus in the 3rd act and becomes a surreal series of set pieces that have little to say. The problem may have been that he had nothing to say this time around, just a fantastical concept that wears out its welcome because it isn't leading anywhere.

It could have been a metaphor for being trapped by human civilization and often gave hints of being that sort of 60s back-to-the-garden tale, replete with a vivid sexual aspe
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trip-fi, favourites
One of my best friends bought me a used copy of this for my 26th birthday. I devoured it. It was the first work by Ballard I had ever read and it was one of those times when you first taste a well-established writer's work and wonder, "why the fuck haven't I been reading so-and-so's work for years?" The balance of unabashed sexuality, psychedelic experience, violence, and (somehow, still) classic tropes was so cleanly new to me it was intoxicating. Of course, there's the bias that Unlimited Drea ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blake steals a Cessna and crashes into a river by a suburb of London. When he come out of the water everything has changed into a world where vices in this world are metaphors or virtues in the next. Now for a spoiler alert to keep the easily offended safe (and for actual spoilers).
(view spoiler)
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most glorious of Ballard's books and the fourth time I've read. It is emotionally moving and profound in a way atypical of Ballard's style where there usually is a certain sang-froid in his approach.

This is a Pagan Passion, exulting in the power of creativity, to usher in new paradigms. The refrain that the vices of the present are seen as metaphors for the virtues of the future repeat and resonate through the book's pages. Old ways of thinking about religion need to be discarded. A pantheis
Charles Dee Mitchell
This book has more the quality of a psychedelic vision unfolding before the readers gaze than did the earlier Ballard novels I have recently read. Here there is no Conradian voyage upriver, as in The Crystal World or The Drought. (Of course the river is dry in the latter.) The theme is still one of transformation, of discovering one's true self in a changed world, although here the main character is mad or possibly dead. I also suspect that for British readers there is something intrinsically fu ...more
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My first Ballard novel and, as a surreal fantasy, not a genre to which I would be naturally drawn. A challenging book, unlike anything else I've ever read. I'm not sure that I understood it all but the power of the writing is undeniable. Astonishing and simply beautiful.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Astounding and disturbing, in the best Ballard way.
Daniel Horner
Aug 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in college, I started hashing. A hash is a sort of mashup of a fun run, scavenger hunt, and night at the bar all rolled into one. The groups that put these on are called kennels, and they exist all over the world. And every one of them is unique in how much they run, drink, and engage in generalized debauchery. I started hashing in Oxford, Mississippi, with a group mostly composed of military guys and a few counter culture weirdos. Those hashes were heavy on the running and the drinki ...more
Bernie Gourley
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The protagonist, Blake, crashes a stolen small aircraft into the Thames River beside the sleepy English town of Shepperton. In short order, Blake discovers that he cannot escape Shepperton and gradually he comes to realize that he can do anything else that he can imagine. This gradual discovery is like a dream becoming lucid. At first the world seems right even though there is plenty that is odd about it, as is the case when one is dreaming and oddities and anomalies don’t trigger a response as ...more
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
Such a disappointment--I was expecting a classic, and instead received a sloggy surrealist bore--but if you're going to go that route, you'd better shore up your book with interesting characters, or an exciting plot. But this novel, semen-filled, repetitive, tiresome ... after halfway through, I was done.

Things that annoyed me:

Everyone kept saying "Blake," like he was a character on a soap opera, when talking to him. Nobody does that in real life.

The constant harping on sex, sex with children, s
Tony Davis
I love and loathe this book in equal parts. In all honesty it will probably require another read. This is the first Ballard novel I have read with my only previous exposure being the film Empire of the Sun! How very different this book is! Whilst wrote in a beautiful style, in the most visual and descriptive fashion I do feel that this isn't a "pick up and put down" novel. short chapters lend itself to this but even now I couldn't really tell you why or what specifically happened.

I do feel like
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joseph S
Maybe it's an allegory to sexual violence? Maybe it's an allegory for purgatory?

It's interesting. There are moments between the covers that speak to Ballard's long held beliefs and musings; the standard MO of technology and how we're fragmenting as a society. It meanders a bit and while I think I get the gist of what Ballard wants to tell but I am not sure. I enjoyed it.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Woulda been spectacular at 100 pages shorter

Like I said. What's with goodreads requiring a minimum of words? How is that in any way keeping with the creative spirit or the point of writing? Fuck you, goodreads.
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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
“Miriam - I'll give you any flowers you want!' Rhapsodising over the thousand scents of her body, I exclaimed: 'I'll grow orchids from your hands, roses from your breasts. You can have magnolias in your hair...!'
'And in my heart?'
'In your womb I'll set a fly-trap!”
“Everywhere the air had become a vibrant yellow drum. A heavy sunlight freighted the foliage of the trees. Each leaf was a shutter about to swing back and reveal a miniature sun, one window in the immense advent calendar of nature.” 2 likes
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