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University of Illinois Press

November 2017
208 pages
6 x 9 inches
ISBN 978-0-252082-95-5
$95.00 hardcover
$22.00 paperback
$9.99 kindle

UIP Publicity
Heather Gernenz

Cover Image
Pierre-Alain D.


Prophetic short stories and apocalyptic novels like The Crystal World made J.G. Ballard a foundational figure in the British New Wave. Rejecting the science fiction of rockets and aliens, he explored an inner space of humanity informed by psychiatry and biology and shaped by Surrealism. Later in his career, Ballard's combustible plots and violent imagery spurred controversy (even legal action) while his autobiographical 1984 war novel Empire of the Sun brought him fame. D. Harlan Wilson offers the first career-spanning analysis of an author who helped steer SF in new, if startling, directions. Here was a writer committed to moral ambiguity, one who drowned the world and erected a London high-rise doomed to descend into savagery—and coolly picked apart the characters trapped within each story. Wilson also examines Ballard's methods, his influence on cyberpunk, and the ways his fiction operates within the sphere of our larger culture and within SF itself.

© 2017 University of Illinois Press

"A new comprehensive standard. Wilson's insights reach to the furthest ends of J.G. Ballard's bookshelf, complicate easy assumptions about the location of the 'autobiographical' in his novels, and, best of all, assert that if there is a science fiction worth advancing into the twenty-first century, Ballard is at the center, not the periphery, of that project." —Jonathan Lethem, author of A Gambler's Anatomy, The Fortress of Solitude and Amnesia Moon and co-editor of The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

"In this wide-ranging and accessible work, D. Harlan Wilson argues that J.G. Ballard is a writer who remained true to science fiction even as he claimed to abandon the genre. With clear-eyed intelligence and a deep understanding of his subject, Wilson builds a compelling case for Ballard as perhaps SF’s most radical innovator." —Simon Sellars, publisher of Ballardian.com and co-editor of Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J.G. Ballard, 1967-2008

"Did J.G. Ballard protest too much? In this engaging work, Wilson makes a compelling case that though Ballard often distanced himself from science fiction his entire oeuvre belongs to the genre, even if Ballard fundamentally changed the genre along the way to include the terrain of inner space and the science-fictionalization of everyday life. A wonderful reading of one of late modernity’s greatest imaginative writers." —David Ian Paddy, author of The Empires of J.G. Ballard: An Imagined Geography

D. Harlan Wilson is a novelist, short story writer, editor, literary critic, playwright, biographer and Professor of English at Wright State University-Lake Campus. In addition to over twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, hundreds of his stories and essays have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies throughout the world in multiple languages. Wilson serves as reviews editor for Extrapolation, editor-in-chief of Anti-Oedipus Press, and managing editor of Guide Dog Books.

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