Interview with J.G. Ballard

The Guardian interviews literary legend J.G. Ballard. I loved the surreal and distanced nature of this writer's work, but admittedly it's not for everyone:

Science fiction was a "chance discovery. It touched a spark, but I never wrote the kind of SF that was typical of the time." The novelist M John Harrison, who was part of the editorial team of New Worlds, the magazine that published many of Ballard's most controversial stories in the 60s, points out that he was "never well received by generic SF readers and activists. His work is too clearly poetic, satirical, metaphorical - all of which discourages suspension of disbelief and the immersive experience of the exotic on which SF pivots." Dinah Birch, professor of English at Liverpool University, who has written widely on science fiction, says that Ballard was nevertheless "one of the most significant figures in the 60s New Wave. His bleak dystopias were very powerful and influenced both readers and writers. It's true, though, that he did not go in for the clich├ęs of the genre at that time - rayguns and tentacled aliens and so on." To Harrison, he is "a science-fiction novelist in the way that Orwell and Huxley are".

That's a very interesting point: "His work is too clearly poetic, satirical, metaphorical - all of which discourages suspension of disbelief and the immersive experience of the exotic on which SF pivots". Although it's a point I would be inclined to disagree with, it might go some way to explaining his lack of commercial genre penetration. (And I suspect that Ballard went to find an "experience of the exotic" in mundane, everyday images and experiences.)

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