Sunday, April 19, 2009

JG Ballard Dead at 78

JG Ballard, author of over a dozen novels including Crash, Empire of the Sun and Super-Cannes died Sunday morning after a long illness, according to BBC News:
His agent Margaret Hanbury said the author had been ill “for several years” and had died on Sunday morning.

Despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Ballard said his books were instead “picturing the psychology of the future.”

His most acclaimed novel was Empire of the Sun, based on his childhood in a Japanese prison camp in China.

The author of 15 novels and scores of short stories, Ballard grew up amongst the ex-patriot community in Shanghai.

During World War II, at the age of 12, he was interned for three years in a camp run by the Japanese.
He later moved to Britain and in the early 1960s became a full-time writer.
According to Wikipedia, it was while the young Ballard was stationed in Canada for RAF flight training that he discovered the genre in which much of his work would be enfolded:

In 1953 Ballard joined the RAF and was sent to the RCAF flight-training base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. There he discovered science fiction in American magazines. While in the RAF, he also wrote his first science fiction story, “Passport to Eternity,” as a pastiche and summary of the American science fiction he had read.
Wikipedia also reports that Ballard’s work had a “notable influence on popular music”:

...where his work has been used as a basis for lyrical imagery, particularly amongst British post-punk groups. Examples include albums such as Metamatic by John Foxx, various songs by Joy Division (most famously “The Atrocity Exhibition” from Closer), the song “Down in the Park” by Gary Numan and “Warm Leatherette” by The Normal. Songwriters Trevor Horn and Bruce Woolley credit Ballard’s story, “The Sound-Sweep,” with inspiring The Buggles' hit, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and Buggles’ second album included a song entitled “Vermillion Sands.” The 1978 post-punk band Comsat Angels took their name from one of Ballard’s short stories.

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