J. G. Ballard

From Academic Kids

James Graham Ballard (born November 18, 1930 in Shanghai) is a British novelist. Ballard, at eleven years old, lived through the Japanese takeover of China. He was moved to a civilian detention camp where he spent the remainder of World War II. These experiences were described in the semi-autobiographical Empire of the Sun (which was adapted for film by Steven Spielberg). After the war's end he returned to England. Ballard wrote about these and later events in another semi-autobiographical novel The Kindness of Women.

Those who know Ballard from his autobiographical novels will not be prepared for the subject matter that Ballard most commonly pursues, as his most common genre is science fiction dystopia. His most celebrated early novel is Crash, wherein cars stand-in metaphorically for the automation of the world and where city life itself is programmed to death – dragging its inhabitants (the protagonist named after the author included) into a macabre lust. Ballard's disturbing novel was turned into a controversial, and also disturbing, film by David Cronenberg.

Ballard's fiction is literary, sophisticated, and profoundly concerned with creating cognitive and aesthetic dissonance in its readers. Because of his tendency to upset readers to enlighten them, Ballard does not enjoy a strong mass market following, but he is recognized by critics as one of the U.K.'s most prominent writers. He has been influential beyond his mass market success; he is cited as perhaps the most important forebearer of the cyberpunk movement by Bruce Sterling in his introduction to the seminal "Mirrorshades" anthology. In another example, his parody (or psychoanalysis) of American politics, Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan was photocopied and distributed by pranksters at the 1976 Republican convention.

In 2003, a short darkly comic story of his was adapted into an hour-long television film for the BBC entitled Home by Richard Curson Smith, who also directed it. The plot follows a middle class man who chooses to abandon the outside world and restrict himself by not leaving his house, becoming a hermit.

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