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The Unlimited Dream Company by J. G. Ballard

The Unlimited Dream Company (1979)

by J. G. Ballard

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Shows some imagination but not a patch on the stories in "The Terminal beach".
  comsat38 | Oct 2, 2018 |
Such a disappointment--I was expecting a classic, and instead received a sloggy surrealist bore--but if you're going to go that route, you'd better shore up your book with interesting characters, or an exciting plot. But this novel, semen-filled, repetitive, tiresome ... after halfway through, I was done.

Things that annoyed me:

Everyone kept saying "Blake," like he was a character on a soap opera, when talking to him. Nobody does that in real life.

The constant harping on sex, sex with children, sex with deer, sex with birds, sex with parents, etc.

How often the author kept repeating (maybe with slightly different words) the point he had just made a few pages ago. Or the same incident. (Look! A flower!) Sigh.

I adored the dreamlike The Unconsoled by Ishiguru, and the frankly surrealist The Hearing Trumpet by Carrington, but this work did nothing for me. It and I are on opposite ends of some scale, to the extent that I will view with suspicion any recommendation from someone who reveals they liked it!

(Note: 5 stars = rare and amazing, 4 = quite good book, 3 = a decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. There are a lot of 4s and 3s in the world!)
( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Sep 19, 2018 |
Britain in the 70s must have been a very strange place to produce such a novel. ( )
  amanda4242 | Apr 25, 2018 |
It took me a minute to realize what Ballard was doing with his fever-dream book, a post-Freudian, urban version of Blake's 'Milton'. It's a psychedelic inflation of a single dramatic moment—a fatal plane crash—into a novel-length poem, stunningly visual and unapologetically carnal. This has been done before, in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and Jacob's Ladder, but Ballard abandons the "clever twist" device and instead focuses on weapons-grade symbolism, delivered over and over. In less experienced hands, this would be clumsy, but I was 100% sold on it. ( )
1 vote mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |

For all that the BSFA Best Novel award has its faults (notably, that the first thirty recipients included twenty-nine men and one woman), it has often looked to more inventive, if less enduring, works than the Hugo or Nebula. This is a case in point - a year when the two US-based awards both went to The Fountains of Paradise, a book that I love but which is hardly ground-breaking in its description of the engineering challenges of constructing a space elevator, with a couple of sideswipes at organised religion. By contrast, The Unlimited Dream Company is about a bloke who may or may not be killed in a plane crash at the end of the second chapter, and emerges to become the magical ruler of Shepperton (which is of course the Surrey gateway to other worlds, thanks to the film and TV studios located there, as I will discuss when I finally do my reviews of Here Come the Double Deckers). It's vivid, erotic, lush, surprisingly readable, and rather out of date even in 1979. It seems a much better fit for the sf of ten years earlier, though perhaps it is informed by the disappointments of the 1970s. It's very interesting that it won an award when it did.

Of course, awards are hit and miss. This was the only book by Ballard to win a major SF award. (Empire of the Sun, which is not SF, won a couple.) We know now that the best-selling and possibly also most influential sf novel of 1979 was The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Unlimited Dream Company now looks more like a last gasp of the New Wave (which was almost twenty years old by then) than a pointer to the future of the genre. Brian Aldiss, whose earlier work was more in line with Ballard, was about to shift decisively towards harder SF with Helliconia. Christopher Priest perhaps has stayed closest to the Ballardian path, but I don't think any of his writing is quite as, well, gonzo as this. Michael Moorcock still writes books like Michael Moorcock, at least. I'm glad that the sf community did eventually honour Ballard for his contribution to the genre, both in content and visibility; it's just a bit surprising that it took so long. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Oct 11, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ballard, J. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marsh, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ochagavia, CarlosCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"A remarkable piece of invention, a flight from the world of the familiar and the real into the exotic universe of dream and desire." ? New York Times Book Review When a light aircraft crashes into the Thames at Shepperton, the young pilot who struggles to the surface minutes later seems to have come back from the dead. Within hours everything in the dormitory suburb is transformed. Vultures invade rooftops, luxuriant tropical vegetation overruns the quiet avenues, and the local inhabitants are propelled by the young man's urgent visions through ecstatic sexual celebrations toward an apocalyptic climax. In this characteristically inventive novel Ballard displays to devastating effect the extraordinary imagination that has established him as one of the twentieth century's most visionary writers.… (more)

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