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The Drowned World by Jim G. Ballard
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The Drowned World (edition 2006)

by Jim G. Ballard

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1,637354,412 (3.46)110
Member:Petroglyph
Title:The Drowned World
Authors:Jim G. Ballard (Author)
Info:HarperPerennial (2006), Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library, E-Reader, 1001 books
Rating:***1/2
Tags:sf, london, reptiles, climate change, global warming, ecology, flood, water world, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, morose, racial memory, atavism, aaeb, kindle, read:2012

Work details

The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard (Author)

  1. 10
    Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: another post-apocalyptic novel with a more philosophical attitude, quieter and more introspective.
  2. 00
    Blood Music by Greg Bear (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: tapping into the human evolution theme and the drastic changes in form and function we can take.
  3. 11
    Freakangels, Volume 5 by Warren Ellis (djryan)
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English (33)  Italian (2)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Strange, increasingly hallucinatory post-apocalypse novel about a warming planet overrun with lagoons and exploding tropical plants and animals. The protagonist (and others) begin having nightmares which are described as racial memories of earlier times when these climatic conditions existed. A bad guy enters the scene to plunder what's left, and throws this new natural order into chaos, which strangely rouses the dazed characters into action to restore their surroundings. I found the characters mostly listless (and nearly lifeless), and the conflict seemed like a contrivance, just to make something happen. But the book was hard to put down, due to Ballard's powerful, visceral description of this "drowned world." The book seems more like an image to me than a story, but one I won't be forgetting that lagoon anytime soon. ( )
  unclebob53703 | May 17, 2016 |
I thought this book earned two stars, barely. If he would have expanded the plot a bit more, made the writing not so dull, and the characters not quite so boring, it would have been...probably not much better. It's a pity, as I always enjoy a good end of the world tale, bu my recommendation is give this book a miss.

( )
  Garrison0550 | May 5, 2016 |
This month's Post-apocalyptic Book Club selection.
This was a re-read, though I'd read it so long ago it might as well have been in the Jurassic period.
JG Ballard succeeds marvelously in creating a hallucinatory, dreamlike environment here. Solar flares have heated the Earth. Only 5 million people still live, mainly on military-style bases in the Antarctic. Our protagonist, Kerans, is a biologist assigned to a team with the singularly pointless task of venturing south and mapping the changed earth, with its lagoons caused by polar melt and bizarre new plants... the formerly temperate zones are changing back to prehistoric-style jungle.
However, in this hot and humid atmosphere, people seem to be going crazy, afflicted by shared dreams from the primeval unconscious, losing the drive to live. In half-submerged London, Kerans, his older colleague Bodkin, and the woman Beatrice, decide to stay, rather than return to the Antarctic. It's a decision that clearly will not lead to their continued survival; ambiguously suicidal.
However, the trio's doomed idyll is thrown into upheaval by the arrival of Strangman, a bizarre albino riverboat captain with a crew of caricatured and allegorical savages.

Strangman seeks to drain the lagoon, and becomes more and more of a threatening figure. Although lethargic and passive, the trio oppose his wishes, feeling inexorably drawn to accept the course of nature, and embrace its terrible beauty, even though nature has become inimical to human life.

Ballard sure does love 'Heart of Darkness.' This is a deeply symbolic work, and draws a lot from Conrad's. However, many of the themes touched on here are dealt with more deftly in Ballard's later books. The characters here are very flat, especially for a psychological novel. Yes, Ballard is using the trope of the 'savage' for literary purpose, but I'm not at all sure that excuses his portrayal of the crewmen as nearly inhuman beings.

Flaws and all, I'd still say this book is worth reading. There's a lot packed into its brief pages; it made for a really good book group discussion. I also simply enjoyed its evocative, lush and oppressive atmosphere. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Great apocalyptic surrealistic Freudian end-of-the-world beginning-of-something-new novel. One of Ballard's first (1962), I found it an enjoyable, disturbing (and disturbingly relevant, perhaps, with climate change scenarios) novel. If there's any indication that this is a young writer, it may be that Ballard sometimes tells us that things are strange o9r surreal instead of just showing us. I'm looking forward to the two novels that followed this: The Burning World and The Crystal World. No better companion for apocalypse than Ballard. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
J.G. Ballard, what an interesting author, they broke the mold when they made him. When I started reading sf in the 80s I had the impression that Ballard specializes in global ecological disaster scenario, what with The Drowned World, [b:The Burning World|15830700|The Aviator (The Burning World 1)|Gareth Renowden|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347928660s/15830700.jpg|21565477], and [b:The Crystal World|70255|The Crystal World|J.G. Ballard|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1434120524s/70255.jpg|937339]. A sort of go-to guy for a “dot-dot-dot World” apocalyptic fiction. Then I read [b:Concrete Island|70251|Concrete Island|J.G. Ballard|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924909s/70251.jpg|1232126] and [b:Empire of the Sun|56674|Empire of the Sun|J.G. Ballard|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1338519188s/56674.jpg|55232] and realized Ballard cannot be pigeonholed so simply.

The Drowned Worldis one of his earlier novels from his apocalyptic phase. If you are looking for an ecological thriller where masses of people are stampeding away from a gigantic tidal wave, you will need to find a new tree to bark up. While there are some thrilling moments toward the end, on the whole, I would describe the mood of this book as contemplative. From the first chapter most the world has already been submerged, thanks to solar radiation that melted the polar ice-caps. This bit of hard sci-fi is quite well written in the book but subsequent to this exposition the novel is more concerned with the psychological impact on the main characters, particularly Dr. Robert Kerans, through whose point of view the (third person) narrative is focused.

For some reason, the environment of the flooded world is causing a gradual regression or devolution on the creatures living on it. People are having bizarre nightmares sparked by racial memories. Later on a piratical villain named Strangman shows up and the beginning of mankind’s mental devolution can be seen through him.

This is an intriguing, but not easy to read, book. Something about this book’s narrative tone comes across as rather detached and I could not feel much involvement in the plight of the characters. They are not uninteresting, but none of them is sympathetic. I wonder if this is typical of Ballard’s prose style. I have read a few of his books, but that was decades ago when I was in my teens and I cannot remember much about those books. I do know that he is not a sf author I ever find easy to read like Asimov, Heinlein or Clarke, he is more akin to Le Guin though somewhat less accessible. There is clearly a literary quality to his writing and he often has me reaching for the dictionary.

The world of this book is quite vividly described, the image of the drowned cities is quite evocative, and the drained city even more so. There is an odd kind of beauty to it. There are mutated animals and giant insects in this book, but they are a part of the novel’s props rather than monstrosities to be battled.

The Drowned World is well worth reading as something unusual and unpredictable. It is one of those rare books that I enjoy more in retrospect when I think about it than while I was actually reading it. It certainly makes want me to read [b:Crash|70241|Crash|J.G. Ballard|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1281416649s/70241.jpg|68058] and other Ballard novels I have read and forgotten about. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ballard, J. G.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
French, DickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffiths, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groot, RuurdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollis, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelham, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoovelaar, FrankCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007221835, Paperback)

When London is lost beneath the rising tides, unconscious desires rush to the surface in this apocalyptic tale from the author of Crash and Cocaine Nights. Set in the near future, the ice caps have melted and the planet basks in an unendurable heat. London is a primordial swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows up the walls of the Ritz and there are unconfirmed sightings of primeval reptiles swimming through the newly-formed lagoons. Some flee the capital; others embark on harebrained schemes to drain the submerged streets in search of treasure. But Dr Robert Kerans has come to accept this submarine city and finds himself strangely resistant to the idea of saving it...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:30 -0400)

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"Fluctuations in solar radiation have caused the icecaps to melt and the seas to rise. Nature is on the rampage. London has been transformed into a primeval swamp, and within its submerged landscape giant lizards, dragonflies and insects compete for dominance. Human fertility is in decline and buildings sink beneath waters infested with decaying matter. Into this wasteland a group of intrepid scientists venture to record the flora and fauna of this new Triassic Age. Soon ghostly voices haunt their waking and nightmares permeate their sleep."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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