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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking
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...
Published on 5 Jun 2003 by Chris Ballard

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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. However, for those with an interest in him as a literary eccentric (a kind of shrewd William Burroughs)this a bit hit and miss. There are some stories which are excellent, some so good and written...
Published on 4 July 2004 by black_ant_king


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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange Experiments & Psychological Conditions & More, 8 April 2009
By 
R. Freeth (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Complete Short Stories: v. 1 (Paperback)
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. They are essentially ciphers sometimes stereotypes with the two most common being the damaged woman in need of support and the femme fatale.
There are plenty of very good tales in this varied collection to explore, be surprised by and most definitely enjoy. Highly recommended.
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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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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive collection of key writer of 20th century., 14 Nov 2002
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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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. A familiar character to that work is Traven- who features in the classic The Terminal Beach- where the style of Atrocity Exhibtion is found and features like the death of a wife, the car crash and a tropical geophysicality occur (and recur). It's perfect, as a short story can be (and as the novel can never be, as Ballard correctly states in the intro).
Too many stories to detail, ones that I've liked include The Comsat Angels, Notes Towards a Mental Breakdown, Having a Wonderful Time, Report on an Unidentifed Space Station, The Man who Walked on the Moon and Chronopolis.
This collection, along with such longer works as Empire of the Sun/The Kindness of Women; the urban disaster trilogy of Crash, Concrete Island & High Rise; The Atrocity Exhibtion; Super Cannes; Cocaine Nights; Vermillion Sands; The Drowned World & The Crystal World provide a mass of evidence that Ballard is one of the greatest voices of the 20th century. His style may be his own fusion of Conrad and Burroughs, but there has frequently be a writer more interesting in 20th century fiction. My only quibble is I would have liked notes on each story, like in the annotated edition of The Atrocity Exhibition; a minor gripe regarding a great selection of brilliant short stories.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When he's good he's very, very good. But..., 4 July 2004
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. However, for those with an interest in him as a literary eccentric (a kind of shrewd William Burroughs)this a bit hit and miss. There are some stories which are excellent, some so good and written in such an innovative style that it almost makes the purchase worthwhile. But these are from his post-Atrocity Exhibition era and some of the earlier stuff is just generic sci-fi that has been emulated so much over the intervening years that it has lost its freshness. Apart from that, this is a good buy for sci-fi fans, readers of esoterica and those who fancy a change from the usual brain-drain of modern fiction.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An obligatory collection of short-stories, 8 Feb 2002
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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This is a great collection that takes in all of Ballard's short-fiction- from which the origin of many of his novels grew. The first two collections, 'The Terminal Beach' and 'The Voices of Time' are the best. The former has the Swiftian 'The Drowned Giant'. The best stories are the fantastic Freudian twist that is 'The Gioconda of the Twilight Noon' and the futurist nightmare of overpopulation, 'Billennium' (where the common Ballard theme of embracing the malady is voiced). The title story is the best, giving us widower Traven (wife & child died in car crash)- this is the development from the eco-SF of 'The Drowned World' and 'The Drought' to 'The Atrocity Exhibition' (Ballard's masterpiece). It is set out very much like that book of 'condensed novels' and leads the way to the 'Urban Disaster' trilogy ('Crash', 'Concrete Island', 'High Rise')...'The Voices of Time' continues the high standard- highlights are 'The Overloaded Man', 'Chronopolis' and the blend of 'The Crystal World' and the film 'Last Year at Marienbad' that is 'The Garden of Time'. As the price of buying TVOT and TTB would be around £14- consider the other collections (and the four previously unpublished short stories) a bonus- they continue many of the Ballard themes: people go to Spain on holiday (the setting of 'Cocaine Nights', also evoking the Med present in 'Super-Cannes')never to return, lost to an Olympian perfection. Or 'The List' where Christ ends up a tramp in Heathrow. Or the tale of a homeless man who was once an astronaut. Or the re-return of Vaughan, in an ever expanding Space-station. Plus, see where The Comsat Angels took their name from!...THis collection is fantastic and along with the non-fiction collection 'A User's Guide to the Millennium' and 'The Drowned World', 'The Atrocity Exhibition', 'The Urban Disaster Trilogy', 'Empire of the Sun', 'The Kindness of Women' and 'Super-Cannes' represent the best of Ballard. £20 for nine books of short stories?- Ballard is a master up there with Angela Carter, PK Dick, Kurt Vonnegut. Lest not forget Kafka, Borges or Bradbury. An obligatory collection of short-stories that will provide diversive reading for years to come! Suppose we'll have a nice blue plaque in Shepperton in years to come!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic this, 27 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Complete Short Stories: v. 1 (Paperback)
I do read quite a few short story authors so I am familiar with some of the greats - amongst who Ballard must be counted. This is great literature; but such that you often don't even notice whilst reading, the time flies by with these stories. I have yet to finish one without wanting to go straight on to the next.

That they are science fiction might have put me off. The odd sci-fi I can take but dozens of them I would find potentially daunting. However, luckily, I didn't find out that they were until I had got them and so have loved them just for the brilliance of the characters and the writing as well as the actual narratives themselves.

If you're looking for something to read before going to sleep this may not be for you. Not so much because of the sci-fi nightmares but because you will want to read on or even stay awake savouring how good a read that was.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Guilty Pleasure, 5 Feb 2013
By 
William J. Fox "KillerBill" (England) - See all my reviews
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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 was also a Ballard fan. This collection of 39 tales helps to fill the chasm left behind. It is hard to fault any of the stories except occasionally the technology is dated, valves and tapes etc. The point about Ballard's style is that although it often has science fiction themes he really writes about people and their obsessions. There is always a central character who is obsessed about something most of us would not even notice, until that obsession leads to his downfall or death. Frequently an exotic, distant, and beautiful woman helps to drive the protagonist although he never consummates his lust.

I would find it difficult to pick out favourites from such an excellent selection but one of the most memorable, to me, is possibly "The Overloaded man" where Ballard deals with subliminal advertising and its effect on waste and consumerism. "Chronopolis" deals with the excesses of capitalism.
"With a clock you can time how long it takes for a man to do a job"
"What is wrong with that?"
"Then you can make him do it faster..."
That is not an exact transcription of the dialogue but gives the basic theme. Having endured "Time and Motion" studies when I used to work in one of Arkwright's mills I understand his point. The machines I ran used to put the twist in yarn and thread and there was an optimum speed beyond which excessive waste was produced, cancelling out any perceived increase in production. Once a year some wet behind the ears manager, just out of university, would come along and speed up the machines. After a couple of weeks of increased waste the machines would be set back to their original speed when the idiot realised he knew less than the men who tended the machines. Unfortunately it was hellish for two weeks as we spent such a lot of time cutting waste from spindles and rollers caused by the yarn snapping regularly. You probably are not interested to know that the mill is now a tourist attraction in Cromford, Derbyshire although I have resisted the urge to visit after several unhappy years working there.

Highly recommended although if you want a hard back copy Amazon can supply one for only £79.00!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing collection of short stories!, 14 Jan 2013
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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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant collection of futurology, 28 Sep 2010
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This review is from: The Complete Short Stories: v. 1 (Paperback)
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. By aiming at the human factor rather than predicting technological advances that can be quickly ridiculed, ballard's work ages smoothly if at all; maybe with his unique background of living with people under stress, he knew it was a lot easier to predict people than science. Have to say, I wasn't that keen on the vermillion sands / sound sculpture strand, but the rest was A+++, a short story writer of the same skill as HP Lovecraft and Stephen King in their respective realms.

Round about now it's traditional to say something like "even today, his ideas shock etc etc", as if it's only now that such thoughts could be put down on paper. Remember, Ballard's generation emerged from the horrors of WW2, concentration camps and atomic annihilation. They are the hardened and unshockable ones, not us.
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The Complete Short Stories: v. 1
The Complete Short Stories: v. 1 by J. G. Ballard (Paperback - 28 Aug 2014)
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