I was saddened today to hear of the death of J.G. Ballard. Although I hadn’t liked his most recent works, most of his books inspired me and a generation, showing it was acceptable to leave the safe path of the ‘average’ world, and forge out into the wild undergrowth of the subconcious.
I still find his work a refreshing antidote in our increasingly ‘safe’ culture filled with people famous for nothing but being famous, where originality has stopped to be replaced by reworks and rehashes. Doubtless the little media coverage will be limited to references to ‘Crash’ and ‘Empire Of The Sun,’ (basically the ones made into films.) However for me it was his early novels and short stories that I found most intriguing; almost always dark with violence and deviancy menacing under the surface. In my teenage years I took away the feeling that it was acceptable, in fact desirable, to allow my imagination to take flight in whatever area I ended up in, and to do the most daring thing of all – try to be original!
Although often uncomfortable, from the deviancy of ‘Unlimited Dream Company’ to the stark desperation of ‘The Drought’ I would still urge anyone to take a read of his other early works. I hope that we will get to see many of his early short story collections reprinted now, as these I remember most fondly for their breath of imagination. Let’s also hope that some new dark dreamers take up the gauntlet left to help us peer into the undergrowth.