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J. G. Ballard was born to British parents in Shanghai, China on November 15, 1930. While a child during World War II, he spent four years in a Japanese POW camp. This experience was the basis for the emotionally moving novel Empire of the Sun, which he adapted into a successful movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. Before becoming a full-time writer, he studied medicine at Cambridge University and served as a pilot in the British Royal Air Force. Ballard is best known for his science fiction writings. His early works were heavily influenced by surrealism. Most of his novels deal with death and destruction of the human spirit. Novels such as Crash, Concrete Island, and High Rise portray a society that is devolving into barbaric chaos. Crash was made into a movie by David Cronenberg in 1996. The Drowned World describes an apocalyptic society, with a hero that ushers in the destruction of the world. His novel Empire of the Sun was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. Empire of the Sun was filmed by Steven Spielberg in 1987, starring a young Christian Bale as Jim (Ballard). Ballard moved away from science fiction, but he is still considered one of the leading authors of the genre. He died on April 19, 2009 at the age of 78. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from Empire of the Sun… (more)
Empire of the Sun 3,613 copies, 70 reviews
Crash 3,362 copies, 76 reviews
The Drowned World 2,611 copies, 63 reviews
High-Rise 2,339 copies, 79 reviews
The Atrocity Exhibition 1,616 copies, 32 reviews
Super-Cannes 1,260 copies, 22 reviews
Concrete Island 1,231 copies, 26 reviews
The Crystal World 1,155 copies, 24 reviews
Cocaine Nights 1,149 copies, 12 reviews
The Drought 935 copies, 22 reviews
Millennium People 842 copies, 18 reviews
The Day of Creation 726 copies, 12 reviews
The Kindness of Women 697 copies, 10 reviews
Kingdom Come 660 copies, 19 reviews
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The Terminal Beach 569 copies, 6 reviews
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Running Wild 534 copies, 17 reviews
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The Book of Fantasy (Contributor) 566 copies, 12 reviews
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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories (Contributor) 420 copies, 8 reviews
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The Big Book of Science Fiction (Contributor) 368 copies, 6 reviews
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5th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F (Contributor) 140 copies, 3 reviews
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Space Odyssey (Contributor) 130 copies, 1 review
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8th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F (Contributor) 113 copies, 3 reviews
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11th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F (Contributor) 111 copies, 2 reviews
Empire of the Sun [1987 film] (Original book) 111 copies, 3 reviews
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Antaeus No. 35, Autumn 1979 (Contributor) 1 copy
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Short biography
Born and brought up in colonial Shanghai comfort, young James Graham Ballard saw his life change forever when, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, Japanese forces swept into the city. The three years he spent in an internment camp moulded his view of "a world turned up-side down" and have constantly influenced his fiction.

Back in Britain, he abandoned his medical studies at Cambridge to become a full-time writer, and his first novel, The Drowned World, was published in 1962. As with many of his works, the wanderings of his characters' minds are charted as minutely as the external world they inhabit. The Drought, The Wind from Nowhere and The Crystal World all strengthened his reputation for bleak but beautiful chronicles of a post-Hiroshima age.

After the death of his wife in 1964, Ballard retreated to Shepperton by the River Thames to raise his three children. But if his surroundings were sleepy and suburban, his imagination remained at the cutting edge. When he produced Crash in 1973, legend has it that one publisher marked in her notes, "writer beyond psychiatric help". Crash, dealing with the erotic possibilities of car accidents, was well ahead of its time. Ballard himself called it "the first pornographic book based on technology" and David Cronenberg's film version in 1996 provoked six months' deliberation for the British censor.

Steven Spielberg's lavish production of Empire of the Sun, Ballard's autobiographical account of his childhood, brought the author financial security and public clamour for his earlier works. At this point, Ballard could have easily put down his pen.

Instead, he has continued to chart the struggle of a restless society, one caught between a need for security and a craving for the reckless. His latest novel, Millennium People, once again describes characters drawn to violence through technologically-induced boredom.

He once called himself "an architect of dreams, sometimes nightmares" and his seeming obsession with disaster, depravity and dystopia is not to everyone's taste. But, in this pop-bang throwaway age, JG Ballard remains curious and alert, reminding us, too, that "imagination itself is an endangered species".
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