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The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 (2010)

The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 (2010)

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4.37 of 5 Votes: 5
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0007242298 (ISBN13: 9780007242290)
harper perennial

About book The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 (2010)

I'm reading this as an exercise in curiosity, undaunted by two volumes that would cover about eight books of normal length. It's been many years since I heard of Ballard, and I originally thought he was a normal fiction author. I was therefore surprised and flabbergasted to learn that Empire of the Sun was written by a careerist speculative fiction author. I tried discovering an introduction to his work that was all science-fiction-y, but came to the unsettling conclusion that I'd have to wade through enormous tracts of short fiction if I wanted to get to the real meat of his works. I'm not a huge short-story fan, but I generally like them when I do read them.I simply tend to go for the long rides in both scope and characterization.I'm half-way through this enormous work, and I can't say I've changed my mind.And yet, there are some real gems in here that I simply can't ignore.I loved everything with the annihilation of time, including the time flowers, the preservations, or world that had lost all its clocks. I was shocked and thrilled to learn that he wrote the original concept of Death Note, and the surprise ending was quite delicious. Some of his best characterizations (even though I doubt he'll ever be known as a master of that craft,) revolved around the sonic sculptures and the societies that had been changed irrevocably by them. There were other stories I couldn't get into. I didn't care much for the ones focused on overpopulation or biological manipulations. I've seen much better treatments, and the characters, although showing a particular Ballardian clinical approach, just didn't grab me.Any location that included sand was fantastic, though. The Mars preservation on Earth was particularly fun, but the murder-for-poetry retreat was a close second. The cloud sculptors was pretty damn poignant. There is only one thing that I can't quite figure out. Are his stories getting better as I climb through these books, improving with practice? Or am I merely sensitizing myself to his prose and getting more out of it as I continue. I just don't know. But with a few early exceptions, I like more and more of his later stories.I still wish I could spend a lot more time inside each story without having to let go, but this is the nature of short tales.On, now, to the next four novel's length of stories.

3.5 STARSBallard was prolific in the short story form, using it to play out and cultivate his seemingly endless supply of nifty conceptual ideas, arising out of the zeitgeist of cyberpunk and spaghetti sci-fi in the 1960s. Ballard's various visions of a nightmarishly over-populated Earth, possible consequences of space travel and outlandish psychiatric experiments nestle between magical-realist studies of bizarre characters grappling with unfamiliar properties of sound, materials, machines, and their own mutant talents. Ballard handles a range of moods and registers, breathing life into many worlds with a palpable curiosity about the consequences of technological developments. Inevitably some stories are more successful than others, and the fast-cutting style can fatigue or become irritating.A feminist reading of this collection would be interesting. Ballard is an overwhelmingly male-centred author; all of his personalities are white heterosexual men. Female characters are always ciphers, either pathological or models of 'good' (compliant, sexually responsive, undemanding) behaviour.

Do You like book The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 (2010)?

If you're a fan of a certain author who likes to trace their history from their early writings to the realization of their main concepts, then this is a book for those JG Ballard fans. This first collection features Ballard as a mostly sci-fi writer and hints only at his concepts of technology and dehumanization that would cme to fruition in Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition. As a writer, Ballard is always in top form, but a few stories here have concepts that seemed rather half baked to me, like the one of the man who is stuck repeating the same moments in time. However, the stories involving the sonic sculptures were entertaining. I look forward to volume 2, which I will also have to order imported, since these collections are not in print in the U.S.

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