One of my favourite authors, perhaps the only one I've kept heart with since my teens is dead. Annoying. I liked the way the last few novels were sort of the same one, only turned slightly sideways - I was hoping that, eventually, they'd flip right the way around and face me, stare me down, scare me off.
Ballard was truly unique; unfussy, shark-eyed prose, deadly timings, with a unique sense of pace - the scattershot pop-art of The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash, the slow burning stupour of Millenium People, Kingdom Come, Cocaine Nights etc
(the dull thud of a tennis ball on a hard court beating out a psychic retreat)
He understood the prosaic horror of the shopping Mall, the gated community, the open plan apartment - took Henry Miller's Air Conditioned Nightmare at face value and then extended it into inner space, making mind-maps and neural connections out of endless hospital waiting rooms, rehabilitation suites and middle-middle class entertainment centres / twilight homes.
He wrote buildings better than any writer I know.
(a cleaner, blanker counterpart to the flowery sleight of hand of Jonathan Meades)
His writing acted as a kind of accidental neuro-linguistic programming, he wrote a listtle like Derren Brown speaks, and I've spent many hours listening to other middle-manager doublespeak, imagining a Ballardian nightmare of an endless conference centre; repeating corridors, Escher twitches, infinite white walls, Magritte prints echoing the sad figures of lone salesmen, cannibalising their laptops and keeping just alive...
Ballard's science fiction lost the science over time and never had action as such - his version of Apocalypse Now would have consisted of the LSD and Playgirls scene endlessly repeated as a descent into madness - and this made perfect sense; his world's became gradually quotidian and echoed the slowturns and machinations of Capitalist economy... the banality of evil has never been better expressed.
Wonder what he made of Twitter?
More pretty pictures here.