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The Crystal World Audio Download – Unabridged

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
"The Crystal World" is the final part of Ballard's loose quartet of sixties 'disaster' novels although here the floods, droughts and raging hurriances of the earlier "Drowned World", "The Drought" and "The Wind from Nowhere" are replaced by a strangely esoteric harbinger of doom described as the "suprannuration of time itself". Ballard has denied claims that the novel was written under the influence of mind-altering drugs but the hypertrophied florescence and luridly colourful scenes of a West African jungle that form the novel's setting remind one of Aldous Huxley's encounter with Peyotl (a drug derived from cactus plants in Mexico) in "The Doors of Perception". Dr. Sanders, the laconic Ballardian hero takes a river journey that reminds the reader of Marlowe's passage into Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". The doctor intends to deploy his medical skills in the service of altruism at a leper colony - but these 'motives' are soon made questionable by the ambiguous criteria that so often govern the psychology of an alienated Ballardian hero. In the jungles the withdrawing military are helpless in the face of an encroaching forest canopy that literally doubles in space, mass and "time". Will the hero escape or more interestingly, will he stay to embrace destruction in the fabege mirror box of perpetual replication? A must read for all fans of a sophisticated and 'mythological' science fiction.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A glittering jewel of a book.
"The Crystal World" owes a heavy debt to Conrads " Heart of Darkness" but that said it conveys
a message wholly unique in its presentation.
From the very first page the tone is set for us, the reader, to embark, with the author upon the river, that will take him and ultimately us
to a series of frozen images representative of the eruption of a cosmic reality into our temporal world.
Ballard manages, with a flair and invention, rarely encountered, to place our partial human understanding of the forces at work in the cosmos, in their proper place.
Our wishes, our concerns, as humans, are simply not relevant to the truth of the matter. Namely that a greater reality has usurped the kingdom of our time driven world.
The best book by Ballard I have read.
A great and engrossing read. Poetic and pointed!
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Format: Kindle Edition
The front jacket of the Fourth Estate 2014 version has the Guardian claiming "Something magical and not to be missed". Now, it's not often I agree with the vapid soundbite blurb on a cover but, in this case, it's pretty much an accurate summary. Having read Ballard's "The Drowned World", I moved swiftly onto this one, exchanging a "wet sky stained by the setting sun" for "cities petrified beneath layers of prismatic crystal". There are echoes of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" in here; given Ballard's novel focuses intently on the concept of polarity of light and dark, I think this novel the dazzling counterbalance to that 1899 accusation of the human condition. Like all the novels of Ballard's "World" quartet, time is suspended for the narration, it is a fabulation that makes the reader hold breath whilst soaking in the lights of his words. Indeed, we find that tropes, then fragments of sentences, then whole paragraphs begin to crystallize around us as an understanding born of inductive reasoning enlightens us. It is the absence of syllogism that forces the reader (willingly) to stumble blindly through the lustre of Matarre's forest until our protagonist, Dr Sanders, finds a kind of Christian salvation through the glittering icons of Catholicism that can deliquesce the crystals.

"However apostate we may be in this world, there perforce we become apostles of the prismatic sun."

It is into this crystal forest that Ballard plunges us with a novel that is straightforward in regards of plot: Sanders leaves his leproserie to arrive at the Port Matarre after receiving a strange summons from a lover, Suzanne Clair.
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