The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard Analysis

J. G. Ballard

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard contains nineteen impressive works published between 1957 and 1978 in such British and American magazines as New Worlds, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Amazing Stories. Together, these stories show the extraordinary imagination and range of Ballard’s storytelling. There are tales of spaceflight, urban isolation, psychological manipulation, and the outbreak of strange, imaginary diseases. The stories take place in the overcrowded cities of the future, on abandoned South Sea islands, and within view of the quiet but suddenly terrifying lawns of suburbia.

Ballard’s stories show his preoccupation with the internal landscapes of the mind. They also contain unusual responses to the challenges his characters face. Harry Faulkner, in “The Overloaded Man,” suddenly loses touch with his suburban neighborhood. He begins to perceive the world as an abstract painting and decides to drown himself to extinguish this new sensory overload. Contrary to expectations, the short story views Faulkner’s action as a relative success.

Far from confining himself to realistic places, disasters, or injuries, Ballard invents new ones for most of his stories. He creates vivid cities of the future, such as an imaginary subtropical community, where “The Cloud-Sculptors of Coral D” reside and create their imaginary art, and the refuse-littered, abandoned launchpads of...

(The entire section is 439 words.)