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The Complete Short Stories [Paperback]

J. G. Ballard
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Nov 2002

For the first time in one volume, a complete collection of the acclaimed short stories by the author of Empire of the Sun, Crash, Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes – regarded by many as Britain's No 1 living fiction writer.

With sixteen novels over four decades – from The Drowned World in 1962 to his highly acclaimed Super-Cannes in 2000 – J.G. Ballard is firmly established as one of Britain’s most celebrated and original novelists.

For all that time he has also written short stories; in fact, many people consider that he is at his best in the short-story format. These highly influential stories have appeared in magazines such as New Worlds, Amazing Stories and Interzone, and in several separate collections, including ‘The Voices of Time’, ‘The Terminal Beach’, ‘The Day of Forever’, ‘The Venus Hunters’, ‘The Disaster Area’, ‘Vermilion Sands’, ‘Low-Flying Aircraft’, ‘Myths of the Near Future’ and ‘War Fever’.

Now, for the first time, all of J.G. Ballard’s published stories have been gathered together in one volume and set out in the order in which they were originally published, providing an unprecedented opportunity to review the career of one of Britain’s greatest writers.

Product details

  • Paperback: 1200 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo (4 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007138121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007138128
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,269,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 bestseller Empire of the Sun won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His memoir Miracles of Life was published in 2008. J.G. Ballard died in 2009.

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Complete Short Stories of JG Ballard are required reading for all connoisseurs of Ballard's writing. This compilation brings together 96 short stories drawn from previous collections of Ballard's short stories, including The Voices of Time and War Fever, as well as four previously uncollected stories. The result is an exhilarating overview of Ballard's development as a short-story writer, from the singing orchids of Vermilion Sands in Prima Belladonna, completed in 1956, to the millennial anxieties of Report from an Obscure Planet, written in 1992.

The Complete Short Stories confirm Ballard's stature as a craftsman of the short story, which often suits his surreal brilliance above and beyond later novels such as Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes. In his Introduction, Ballard reflects, "the short story is coined from precious metal, a glint of gold that will glow for ever in the deep purse of your imagination." Time and again, whether exploring the furthest reaches of science fiction, or the banal surrealism of English suburban life, Ballard's perverse insight lodges itself in your imagination, as he explores and often punctures what he refers to as "that over-worked hologram called reality". This collection will delight devotees, but it will also allow readers new to Ballard to experience a short-story writer of the stature of Borges, Bradbury or Edgar Allan Poe. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


‘Treat yourself to more than 1,000 compelling pages from one of the most haunting, cogent and individual imaginations in contemporary literature.’ William Boyd, Mail on Sunday

‘A feast, and not only for those who think – as I do – that Ballard has long been Britain's most original and inventive writer. For anyone bored with the stale conventions of mainstream fiction, his 90-odd stories of stilled time, desolate beauty and personal fulfilment in extreme situations will be sheer delight.’ John Gray, New Statesman

‘This marvellous, inexhaustible book is a monument at the end of fertile lands… Ballard is a superb writer; few could publish a book of this size which is never boring, where the invention never flags. Unfailingly ingenious and perverse.’ Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph

‘Thank God for J.G. Ballard and his short stories in which wonder and awe never fade. It is no exaggeration to say that Ballard's stories are beyond compare. This is a collection of tales and fables to be savoured by admirers and newcomers alike.’ Robert Edric, Spectator

‘Reading this book of collected stories is a peculiarly enriching experience.’ Jason Cowley, Observer

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking 5 Jun 2003
Nobody could write a book of this size without repeating themselves at least a few times - Ballard, over the forty year period this book covers, actually repeats himself a great deal, but one gets the impression this is no accident. Ballard's recurring themes develop like a plot does in a good novel, his ideas gradually overlapping and coalescing to create a unique vision of the world that is at once bleak and optimistic.
Ballard is fantastic at placing characters into particular spaces and watching them interact and develop within these strict geographical parameters. Space stations, abandoned hotels, beach resorts for the apathetic rich - one gets the feeling that these are all illustrations, surreal microcosms, of our own everyday existence.
By the way, to place these stories in context, read Ballard's Empire of the Sun and The Kindness of Women - one can really see the significance of aircraft wrecks that litter his stories or the manipulative sirens that inhabit Vermilion Sands.
Plese read this book, and gaze through the weird and wonderful fiction to a clutch of simple truths.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling 14 Oct 2003
I'll keep this brief; this collection of short stories is enthralling. Ballard writes with such skill that he's able to tell a big story and paint a colourful picture in sometimes just a few pages. And his ideas are often from a different planet.
I'm not a great, or quick, reader, and have found this 1000 page collection to keep me happy for almost 12 months! I tend to read one story every other night, and each one is completely different to the last. They're often thought-provoking, often amusing, often surreal, and always entertaining.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This definitive collection of J.G. Ballard's short stories is presented in order of publication allowing the reader to view his development as a writer. Volume 1 has his first 39 short stories in 773 pages covering an 8 years period from 1956 to 1963.
Ballard utilised SF magazines as his initial market but his fiction does not fit easily within the confines of any genre. Some categories of story I settled on:

1) Strange Experiments & Psychological Conditions is the most common:
e.g. "Manhole 69" about the outcomes of an experimental operation to eliminate sleep.

2) Science Fiction favouring contemporary 1960's issues or time stories e.g. "The Waiting Grounds" (1959) which intriguingly predates the Stanley Kubrick film "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) that was based on Arthur C. Clarke's alien artefact short story "Sentinel" (1948). Yet there are two obvious coincidences between the film and this Ballard story not present in the Clarke story.

3) Fables & Modern Myths e.g. "The Garden of Time" escaping an unwanted future in a magical little tale.

4) Vermilion Sands stories generally offering the most surreal, haunting landscapes pregnant with symbolism e.g. "The Screen Game".

Ballard often likes to present a scenario that exposes a protagonist's psyche at a transition point in his life, revealing the psychological process of change and its consequences. A few of his characters are already psychologically disturbed while others are driven that way. Although outcomes are not always negative. His darker tales are also countered by others that more obviously offer wit and amusement e.g. "Venus Smiles".
For me there is only one weakness in this collection - his female characters.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This collection is the ideal introduction to Ballard, the place where themes have been worked out that would recur in novels such as Crash and Empire of the Sun. As he states in his all too brief introduction, Ballard sees the short story as something that is still important in literature- particularly in the realm of science-fiction to which he belongs/doesn't belong (the joy of the new wave).
These stories come from several collections: The Voices of Time, The Terminal Beach, The Disaster Area, The Day of Forever, The Atrocity Exhibition, Vermilion Sands, Low-Flying Aircraft, The Venus Hunters, Myths of the Near Future and War Fever. Included also are The Recongnition (from 1967/disaster era) and three stories from the 1990's: A Guide to Virtual Death, The Message from Mars & Report from an Obscure Planet. This collection is great value- as the volumes purchased seperately would be a lot more expensive and not in this impressive single volume.
Loads of great stories, from which you can identify his distinctive style concerning death, sex, the future and so much more in a developing polaroid of the present tense. The Garden of Time is one of my favourites, sort of fusion of The Unlimited Dream Company and Last Year at Marienbad. Billennium is a great early work, where overpopulation becomes a factor and a black comic punchline is added (as with works like The Drowned World, the hero embraces the malady- a frequent element in Ballard's oeuvre).
The infamous Why I Want to F*** Ronald Reagan surfaces along with The Assassination of JFK Considered as a Downhill Motor Race from the great Atrocity Exhibition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Patchy
Don't expect genius from day one. It's surprising just how far from 'Ballard' some of these stories are and their lack of sophistication will provide encouragement for any... Read more
Published 6 months ago by pavots
2.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly...
...dull. The same story 90 odd times, the same tiresome obsessions, heavy-handed symbolism and half-baked ideas poorly articulated. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr. M. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars My Guilty Pleasure
A long time ago I had a fairly complete collection of Ballard's short stories and novels until I had to downsize my collection during a divorce and gave them away to a friend who... Read more
Published 18 months ago by William J. Fox
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing collection of short stories!
A fantastic collection of well written shorts stories which are perfectly formed. Entertaining me for my commute home and perfect for a quick read before bed!
Published 19 months ago by Dionne Woulfe
3.0 out of 5 stars stories may be good but not the hint of an index? poorly put together
for the price I would have thought the kindle file would have an index, which is what is suggested by some of the reviews, perhaps referring to the paper copy. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2012 by Ms. Margherita Muller
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic this
I do read quite a few short story authors so I am familiar with some of the greats - amongst who Ballard must be counted. Read more
Published on 27 Jan 2011 by Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant collection of futurology
An astonishing mix of sci-fi and predictive sociology of tired people in tired worlds, with my particular favourite being the claustrophobic The Concentration City. Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2010 by Martin G
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Short Stories
Every story a joy to read: fantastic ideas executed to perfection.
Having read a small selection of his short stories and thoroughly enjoyed 'Crash', 'Super-cannes' and... Read more
Published on 10 Oct 2004 by "ctranter"
3.0 out of 5 stars When he's good he's very, very good. But...
OK, this must be the definitive collection of JG Ballards work, spanning his writings for the best part of half a century. Therefore, if you like his stuff, this is a good buy. Read more
Published on 4 July 2004 by "black_ant_king"
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