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Bruce Sterling on J. G. Ballard just posted an interview with Bruce Sterling about J.G. Ballard by Chris Nakashima-Brown. One of my favourite authors talks about the other — it’s amazing!

A couple of highlights:

… The assumptions behind The Crystal World were so radically different and ontologically disturbing compared to common pulp-derived SF. If you just look at the mechanisms of the suspension of disbelief in The Crystal World, it’s like, okay, time is vibrating on itself and this has caused the growth of a leprous crystal … whatever. There’s never any kind of fooforah about how the scientist in his lab is going to understand this phenomenon, and reverse it, and save humanity. It’s not even a question of anybody needing to understand what’s going on in any kind of instrumental way. On the contrary, the whole structure of the thing is just this kind of ecstatic surreal acceptance. All Ballard disaster novels are vehicles of psychic fulfilment.


My suspicion is that in another four to five years you’re going to find people writing about climate change in the same way they wrote about the nuclear threat in the 50s. It’s just going to be in every story every time. People are going to come up with a set of climate-change tropes, like three-eyed mutants and giant two-headed whatevers, because this is the threat of our epoch and it just becomes blatantly obvious to everybody. Everybody’s going to pile on to the bandwagon and probably reduce the whole concept to kindling. That may be the actual solution to a genuine threat of Armageddon — to talk about it so much that it becomes banal.

To me these late-Ballard pieces, these Shepperton pieces — Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes and so forth — really seem like gentle chiding from somebody who’s recognized that his civilisation really has gone mad. They’re a series of repetitions that say, ‘Look, we’re heading for a world where consensus reality really is just plain unsustainable, and the ideas that the majority of our people hold in their heart of hearts are just not connected to reality’. I think that may be a very prophetic assessment on his part. I think we may in fact be in such a world right now — where people have really just lost touch with the ‘reality-based community’ and are basically just living in self-generated fantasy echo chambers that have no more to do with the nature of geopolitical reality than Athanasius Kircher or Castaneda’s Don Juan.