Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
on 25 April 2003
The science-fictional premise of The Crystal World (that the ‘supersaturation of time’ is causing the world, its plants, animals and people, to crystalise) is far less important than the imagery it produces. Ballard’s prose style is like the jewelled forests he describes so well: precise, scintillating, beautiful, but slightly cold. It’s his imagery that lingers in the mind, not his story or characters — the protagonist running through the weirdly transformed forest, whirling his arm to stop it crystallising, sending off sparks of prismatic colour; a snake whose eyes ‘had been transferred into enormous jewels that rose from its forehead like crowns’; a helicopter sliding backwards through the air as the weight of crystals forming on its rotor blades causes it to crash.
Ballard has often paid homage to the Surrealists, and many of his novels resemble Surrealist paintings (with the added dimension of time!), none more so than this, one of his finest. In a sense, the idea of the ‘supersaturation of time’ is his attempt to remove that dimension from his work, turning this book into an attempt at a still image in prose: an image of the world as a single, multifaceted crystal, at one with eternity.