J. G. Ballard – sometime science fiction (sf) writer, catastrophist, literary provocateur, war writer, and diagnostician of late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century consumer society – launched his career as a novelist with four tales of the transformed earth. In The Wind from Nowhere (1962a), the human world is reduced to rubble by an inexplicable storm that vanishes as suddenly as it appears, while in The Drowned World (1962b) Ballard inundates most of the planet, leaving only small pockets of habitable land near the poles, Greenland and Russia. The Drought (1964) depicts a desiccated landscape on which no rain can fall, and The Crystal World (1966) sees the organic world remade in mineral form. Bar The Wind from Nowhere, the action of these novels is largely taken up with their characters’ attempts to adapt psychologically to radically altered environments that they seem to half perceive, half create. That these fictions take place in what Ballard called ‘inner space’ has raised interesting problems for readers and critics alike. Ballard wrote of the symbols of inner space that they are ‘time sculptures of terrifying ambiguity’ (Ballard 1997 [1963Ballard, J. G. 1997 . “Time, Memory and Inner Space.” A User’s Guide to the Millennium: 200. London: Flamingo.
Accepted for publication in January 2019
- Literature and Literary Theory