Selected Nonfiction, 1962–2007

MIT. Oct. 2023. 400p. ed. by Mark Blacklock. ISBN 9780262048323. $32.95. LIT
China-born English writer Ballard (Empire of the Sun; Crash) wrote nonfiction in addition to his novels and short stories. As a young person, he lived in Shanghai and experienced the Japanese occupation. As an adult, Ballard (1930–2009) served as an editor for the publication Chemistry and Industry, giving him access to boundless scientific material. This volume of nonfiction, edited by literary scholar and novelist Blacklock (The Emergence of the Fourth Dimension), spans decades and covers topics like consumerism, Salvador Dalí, science fiction, future technology, civilization, and everyday ironies. The book is arranged by type of document (essays, reviews, commentaries), and the materials in each chapter are thus arranged chronologically. Ballard provides fascinating cultural criticism; he notes in 1962 that the U.S. population will likely be bored by space exploration, as real-life astronauts are not fitted with the robots and machines customary in a Buck Rogers adventure. Ballard excels at intriguing juxtapositions of items and ideas, a surrealism in prose form. A general introduction brings biographical context to Ballard’s life and work, and each chapter provides a contextual framework for the pieces within.
VERDICT An eclectic collection of essays for scholars of 20th-century literature.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing