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The Complete Short Stories Hardcover – 5 Nov 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1200 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; First Edition edition (5 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007124058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007124053
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 24.1 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,080,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


‘The most important contemporary British writer.’ Will Self, Independent

‘He has had from the start an extraordinary descriptive gift, an eye for the mood and code of the visual environment that is like Poe’s, but steadier. He remains most effective in the tight capsule of the short story.’ Richard Holmes, The Times

‘Ballard is the most modern of writers; his art engages with the artefacts and obsessions of the second half of the century in a manner and with an intensity umatched by any other writer.’ William Boyd, Daily Telegraph

‘J.G. Ballard is a magician of the contemporary scene and a literary saboteur. Ballard’s fantastical landscapes are among the most haunting in English literature. No one else writes with such enchanted clarity or strange power.’ Ian Thomson, Guardian

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: 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.
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