As Others See JG Ballard

For many readers, Ballard is the author of the controversial novel Crash (1973), a surreal exploration of sexuality and the motor car. But before Crash, and before his wife’s death, Ballard’s novels had begun to shape a unique suburban dystopia. In its time, this vision was categorised as science fiction. Now we can see it more clearly as deeper, darker and more prophetic.

Riiight.

Posted in Books. 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “As Others See JG Ballard”

  1. Adam Roberts Says:

    McCrum understands the three crucial features of sf: that it be shallow, bright and have nothing to do with the future.

  2. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Can we please stop playing this masochistic game, people?

    It long since passed from the “Amusing” to the “Neurotic” phase, and will soon enter the “Grubby-Looking Man Who Smells Like Cat Piss Talking To Himself In The Street” phase.

  3. Abigail Says:

    What’s the alternative, though? Ignoring what lies outside the genre unless it flatters us? That strikes me as no less irrational a mindset.

    I agree that the wholesale dismissal of SF by critics who know nothing about it isn’t something we ought to get worked up over, if only for the sake of our health, but neither is it something we should ignore. Whether or not pointing at the problem will make it go away, pretending that it doesn’t exist certainly won’t.

  4. Martin Says:

    but neither is it something we should ignore.

    Why not? I don’t think pointing at the problem has any positive effect (it doesn’t make the problem go away) and it does have a negative effect (it fuels the bunker mentality present in fandom).

    The alternative isn’t to only point at that which flatters the genre – although perhaps that might provide some sort of healthy corrective for the anti-Lit Crit crowd – but to only point at that which engages with the genre.

  5. Ted Says:

    Maybe sending a polite letter to the editor, every time a book review includes a remark like that, would be a tiny step toward reducing future occurrences.

  6. The Last Enemy « Torque Control Says:

    […] rather than science fiction”. This is clearly rubbish, but I’m not noting it in an as others see us way per se. What interests me is that (I assume) Berry said it because he felt the potential […]

  7. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Critics have not significantly harmed genre fiction’s popularity. (Have they burned books, boycotted publishers, threatened writers? What sinister powers of genre-busting do they possess, specifically?)

    But the bunker mentality has caused, and continues to cause, harm.

  8. Niall Says:

    But the bunker mentality has caused, and continues to cause, harm.

    Qauantified how? I mean, it hasn’t led to burned books, boycotted publishers or threatened writers either.

  9. Abigail Says:

    Critics have not significantly harmed genre fiction’s popularity.

    I’m not convinced this is true either. Mainstream critics don’t have much of an effect on genre readers, but they can certainly influence a genre work’s popularity within the mainstream. How many times have we come across a reviewer extolling a work by a mainstream author for doing X, and grumbled because a genre work does X so much better? Why didn’t Elizabeth Moon’s Speed of Dark benefit from the hype that erupted around the vastly inferior The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? Why didn’t the reviewers who fell over themselves praising Karen Russell’s collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves do the same for Kelly Link and her superior collections?

    The effect isn’t as extreme as burned books or boycotted publishers, but it certainly tells in the bottom line.


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