Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The Drowned World

by J. G. Ballard

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Elemente (Wasser)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,612635,101 (3.43)209
"The Drowned World imagines a terrifying world in which global warming has melted the ice caps and primordial jungles have overrun a tropical London. Set during the year 2145, this novel follows biologist Dr. Robert Kearns and his team of scientists as they confront a cityscape in which nature is on the rampage and giant lizards, dragonflies, and insects fiercely compete for domination."--Provided by publisher.… (more)
  1. 30
    Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: another post-apocalyptic novel with a more philosophical attitude, quieter and more introspective.
  2. 10
    The Genocides by Thomas M. Disch (ShelfMonkey)
  3. 10
    Freakangels, Volume 5 by Warren Ellis (djryan)
  4. 21
    The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (amanda4242)
  5. 10
    Blood Music by Greg Bear (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: tapping into the human evolution theme and the drastic changes in form and function we can take.
  6. 00
    Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky (souloftherose)
  7. 11
    Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  8. 11
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (amanda4242)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 209 mentions

English (59)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
I was immediately reminded of all the science fiction books in my middle and high school library when I read this. Most of the authors and books were from the 50s and 60s...a lot of classic science fiction by authors like Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, etc...but Ballard's themes are more experimental and forward thinking. While the overall story is a good one, and I feel, well written, the stilted "hey old chap" dialogue of the characters was a turn off and there is a lot of sexist dialogue written around the sole female character, Beatrice Dahl.

The dystopian, end-of-civilization scenario of rising seas and waters and overgrown vegetation and drowned cities is one we can certainly relate to today. I found all that interesting and plausible given our continual inability to control climate change. We are in for some real destruction, friends.

I feel like this book is a precursor to movies like Mad Max and novels like Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy. It would be interesting to know if Vandermeer counts this book as an influence. I realized again that J.G. Ballard is the author of Empire of the Sun which is a movie I remember fondly and I think I have seen it more than several times. Yet another book added to my to-read list. ( )
  DarrinLett | Aug 14, 2022 |
I was very disappointed in The Drowned World. I know that many readers consider it a seminal work, and that mine is a minority view, but I was unable to find much of interest in the story. Perhaps I simply lack the background to appreciate it. But here is my take.

The plot in brief: It is 2145. The earth's climate has changed due to an increase in solar activity, causing much of the planet to become uninhabitable. Global warming is rampant, the formerly temperate regions are largely flooded, climate change is accelerating rapidly, and what remains of humanity--only a few million people--has retreated to the arctic and antarctic. The closer to the equator one gets, the more the biosphere resembles that of the Mesozoic, with mosquitoes the size of dragonflies, large (and aggressive) iguanas, rampant vegetation, etc. The protagonist is Dr. Kerans, a scientist with a group of surveyors studying one of the now-flooded cities of the past. Like others in his party, he becomes troubled by strange dreams of a huge, pulsing sun, which a colleague explains as a kind of genetic memory of human evolutionary history that is embedded in his neurons, and which is evoked by the return of the environment to prehistoric conditions. All of this seemed highly improbable (and downright teleological) to me. It immediately challenged my "willing suspension of disbelief." But I tried to set it aside, and continued reading.

A party of looters soon arrive, and subject Kerans to various indignities. They are preparing to kill him when his fellow expedition members return and rescue him. But his outlook has been altered by the awakening of his evolutionary past, as embedded in his neurons, and so, rather than being pleased at the prospect of leaving an area that will soon be uninhabitable, he instead flees to the south, where conditions are even more hostile. He soon encounters another member of his expedition, similarly afflicted, who departed southward much earlier. This fellow is now blind and nearing death, but is still determined to continue southward, even though the temperature is already all but lethal, and increases the further south one goes. The story ends with Kerans battling his way southward into increasing heat and rains, "A second Adam searching for the forgotten paradises of the reborn sun."

So why did I so dislike this book? First: I was not at all engaged by the plot. Granted, this is not an adventure story. It is an examination of psychological and/or philosophical themes, and so it is not surprising that the emphasis should be on what is happening in the minds of the main characters, rather than on the imaginary world that they inhabit. But even so, the story unfolds as a series of largely disconnected events, barely stitched together by the framework of climate change gone amok.

Second: I did not think the characters were well drawn. Even the protagonist seemed two-dimensional. I could not picture how or why any of them were motivated to behave as they did.

Third: the theme of human beings descending into a kind of neurological "deep time" triggered simply by environmental changes is not presented in a way that makes it believable. To be fair, I am highly skeptical that the very idea is credible; but, setting that aside, Ballard simply declares it to us as a kind of fait accomplit without sufficient explanation or background.

Fourth: If The Drowned World does contain a deeper message about the nature of the human experience, the nature of human self-hood, of the impact of evolutionary biology on who we are, then it is so latent that I, at least, am not able to extract it. As far as I can see, the message seems to be, "Human beings have much in common with lemmings. Faced with insurmountable adversity, they will seek a metaphorical cliff from which they can throw themselves to their deaths." ( )
1 vote Ailurophile | Mar 6, 2022 |
Good concept. The disaster has already occurred when the novel starts. Comlpicated psychological factors that didn't really come to any conclusion.
A few stereotypes here - probably because it was written quite a way back.

Worth a read. Didn't inspire me to read any more of his works though. ( )
  Sandman-1961 | Mar 6, 2022 |
This is not really my genre, but I read "The Drowned World" with a book group. Ballard's descriptions are amazing, but sometimes characterization and dialog suffered as a consequence. This was the main reason I had a hard time getting into the book. The story picks up when Strangman and company enter the scene, but their behavior was so outrageous that it was hardly credible.
Nevertheless the writing was unique in style and the premise well chosen. ( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
The “interior archaeopsychic sun” blazes into the narrator’s mind as the engorged sun shines down on a drowned London which is reverting to the Triassic in this Dalinean novel.
Ballard outlines a not too distant future earth where more active solar flares have created significantly higher temperatures and sea levels, making only the former arctic zones habitable. Increased solar radiation has also decreased human fertility, but accelerated plant, insect and reptilian mutation. We approach this lush “drowned world” through Kerans, a biologist who has for several years been recording the changes wrought in a series of cities drowned and overtaken by a tropical ecology. But Kerans now faces the choice of returning to safe northern Camp Byrd, or remaining.
The descriptive language used for the jungle encroaching upon the ruined city is wonderfully evocative, as is the sense of reverting into a psychological detachment, the “zone of transit “, but returning to what?

This growing isolation and self-containment, exhibited by other members of the unit and from which only the buoyant Riggs seemed immune, reminded Kerans of the slackening metabolism and biological withdrawal of all animal forms about to undergo a major metamorphosis. Sometimes he wondered what zone of transit he himself was entering, sure that his own withdrawal was symptomatic not of a dormant schizophrenia, but of a careful preparation for a radically new environment, with its own internal landscape and logic, where old categories of thought would merely be an encumbrance.

The language wonderfully creates a lush decaying tropical world and the mind numbing power of sun and heat. It’s not realistic and the there is very little plot driving the narrative forwards, but the novel is memorable and strange. Read it for the experience, not the story.

I read the Folio Society edition (2013) which has a haunting design of the golden sun over an industrial building like Battersea Power Station on the compact buckram front cover. ( )
  CarltonC | Nov 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
... wirkt verblüffend modern, während so mancher einst gerühmte Bestseller längst im literarischen Urschlamm versunken ist ...

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ballard, J. G.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amis, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berni, OlivieroCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boswell, JamesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elfer, JulianNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
French, DickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffiths, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groot, RuurdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollis, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Körber, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelham, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peterka, JohannIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Self, WillIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoovelaar, FrankCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, C. A. M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiskott, IngeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Soon it would be too hot.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


"The Drowned World imagines a terrifying world in which global warming has melted the ice caps and primordial jungles have overrun a tropical London. Set during the year 2145, this novel follows biologist Dr. Robert Kearns and his team of scientists as they confront a cityscape in which nature is on the rampage and giant lizards, dragonflies, and insects fiercely compete for domination."--Provided by publisher.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.43)
0.5 1
1 12
1.5 7
2 52
2.5 17
3 161
3.5 59
4 171
4.5 14
5 55

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 188,535,877 books! | Top bar: Always visible