The geometry of the space age:J.G. Ballard’s short fiction and science fiction of the 1960s

Baker, Brian (2008) The geometry of the space age:J.G. Ballard’s short fiction and science fiction of the 1960s. In: J.G. Ballard. Contemporary Critical Perspectives . Continuum, London, pp. 11-22. ISBN 978-0-8264-9726-0

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In a 1962 manifesto published in New Worlds called ‘Which Way to Inner Space?’ Ballard wrote: ‘The biggest developments of the immediate future will take place, not on the Moon or Mars, but on Earth, and it is inner space, not outer, that needs to be explored. The only truly alien planet is Earth.’ This chapter will explore Ballard’s own ‘space age’, the deep implication of time, space and psychology in his early fiction, from concepts of the ‘time zone’, ‘deep time’ and ‘archaeopsychic time’ to the fugue states of Ballard’s later short stories, in which time solidifies or crystalizes into material space. Ballard’s ‘space age’ is one in which alienation is produced by the conditions of modernity, by technology and what he has called the ‘mediascape’, resulting both in a kind of self-alienation (which provides access to possibly fruitful ‘other’ states of mind or being) and a physical dislocation to Ballard’s typical chronotopes: the deserted resort, evacuated launch site, the disaster area. In Ballard’s early novels, The Drowned World, The Drought, and The Crystal World, he works with science fiction conventions to produce a different kind of ‘space fiction’ that explores what he would understand to be the hidden imperatives of modernity. This chapter will explore the connections between Ballard’s early novels and the development of his short fiction, and as a whole will attempt to map out the different phases of Ballard’s imaginative exploration of the inner space age.

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03 Nov 2011 13:38
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21 Nov 2022 14:22