BIBLIOGRAPHY OUT AT LAST!
My long-awaited bibliography of Ballard's works has just been published in the United States by G. K. Hall & Co., 70 Lincoln Street, Boston, Mass. 02111. It is a hardcover volume of 192 pages, and it is up-to-date to 1982. I received my advance copy by airmail on 6th July, and I expect delivery of an extra two dozen copies by seamail in about a month's time. The book is described as follows in the publisher's catalogue:
J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography
July 1984. 6 x 9. est. 184 pp.
ISBN 0-8161-8603-0 $45.00
Export Price $49.00
This is the first fully comprehensive bibliography on the works of J.G. Ballard, one of the leading figures in the 1960s “New Wave” whose reputation now extends far beyond the sf field. Among Ballard's best-known works are the short story anthologies Vermilion Sands and The Terminal Beach; and the novels The Drowned World, The Burning World, and The Crystal World.
An important reference source, the book lists all Ballard's short stories, essays, book reviews, and interviews, as well as all of his books. Moreover, the heavily annotated secondary bibliography provides a history of Ballard's literary reception over the past 20 years.
As a bonus this volume also contains a biocritical introduction by the compiler, David Pringle, editor of Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, as well as an in-depth interview with Ballard, a listing of his books in translation, and three full indexes for easy access.
The bibliography is divided into four main sections:
Section A: Fiction. Entries are arranged in chronological order according to magazine date or month for book publications.
Section B: Miscellaneous. Sixteen short texts ranging from scraps of verse and computer printouts to “advertisements” and concrete poems.
Section C: Nonfiction. The 97 items listed here constitute nearly all of Ballard's published nonfiction.
Section D: Critical and Bio-Bibliographical Studies. A listing of annotated references to Ballard from early magazine profiles to weighty academic papers.
Here is the first major publication devoted to an author who may well be regarded as one of the great sf writers of the twentieth century. It is an indispensable book for scholars and enthusiasts of modern sf, particularly those interested in Ballard and the “New Wave”, sf produced in Britain in the 1960s and 70s.
As you can see, the bibliography is fearfully expensive. At current exchange rates, I estimate it will cost some £33-35 for British readers to buy (possibly even more, as the pound keeps sinking against the dollar). I don't expect there will be many private purchasers. But it's a handsome book and it's good to see it in existence after all this time -- I originally delivered the completed manuscript in 1981, and was asked to update it a year later; I was then promised 1983 publication, but for some reason known only to G. K. Hall & Co. it was put back until now.
HEAVY PUBLICITY FOR 'EMPIRE OF THE SUN'
Gollancz are doing their utmost to push Ballard's new novel. The Bookseller for 30th June carried a front-cover advertisement, plus a two-page spread inside. The latter states:
“Coming on 13th September -- the war novel of the decade. Distilled from the author's own boyhood experiences and observations in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II, Empire of the Sun is a masterpiece. J. G. Ballard has long been acclaimed as one of our foremost imaginative writers. Now, in the character of Jim, a British schoolboy who regards the horrors and privations of a Japanese camp as part of everyday life, he has created an enduring witness to the monstrosity of war and the individual's uncanny ability to adapt and survive. Brilliant, controversial and unforgettable, Empire of the Sun will stand beside 'All Quiet on the Western Front' and 'The Naked and the Dead'.”
The ad-copy concludes: “Paperback rights sold to Granada. Bookclub rights sold to BCA. US rights sold to Simon and Schuster. Observer Colour Magazine profile in early September. Watch out for 1 September Bookseller ad summarising media coverage, consumer advertising, and point of sale material.”
I understand that the Observer profile is being written by Martin Amis. Among the “consumer advertising” which Gollancz refer to is a full-page ad in Interzone 9 (due out in late August, and containing JGB’s new short story “The Object of the Attack”). I reproduce it in advance on the facing page -- with apologies to Gollancz for the poor photocopy.
The sale of rights to Book Club Associates is good news indeed, and I am intrigued by the mention of “point of sale material” -- are we going to have cardboard cut-out J. G. Ballards in all our bookshops? I understand, unoffically and through the grapevine, that Gollancz's initial print-run for Empire... will be 15,000 copies (very considerably higher than the 2-3,000 runs which Cape used to produce of his books).
The Booker Prize for Fiction is Britain's best-known literary award, and this year the prize money has been increased from £10,000 to £15,000. Each British publisher is allowed to nominate up to four new titles for consideration by the panel of judges. A judges' shortlist should be announced in September and the name of the winner will be made public in October. All shortlisted novels will gain considerable free publicity, not least on television, where a whole programme will be devoted to the Booker Prize. I can now confirm that Gollancz have nominated Ballard's Empire of the Sun as one of their four titles -- indeed, they regard it as their best hope out of this year's crop of novels, and other people in the publishing world seem to be in agreement with them.
Horace Bent's column in the Bookseller for 9th June describes how he rang various paperback editors for his “annual summer guess-the-Booker-shortlist survey.” After a few calls, “J. G. Ballard emerged top of my survey with Empire of the Sun.” Simon King of Fontana “tipped the Ballard.” Tim Binding at Picador “is also keen on the Ballard, but at the top of his list is Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus (Chatto).” With Colin Murray of Sphere Books “again Mr Ballard came out tops: Mr Murray said he was sparing a fraternal thought for Granada, which spent a small fortune (£55,000) getting its hands on it.”
A CHICKEN-OR-EGG QUESTION?
Meanwhile, the first formal review of Empire... has appeared, well in advance of publication. Dan Chow reviews it in the July issue of Locus: The Newspaper of the Science Fiction Field (presumably working from an uncorrected proof copy which Gollancz have sent him -- or perhaps it is the very copy which was auctioned at this year's British Easter SF Convention for £35?). Chow states:
“Those who have set aside other Ballard works, perhaps troubled by his disturbing visions, may find this latest 'novel' provides the necessary means of access to a major 20th-century writer... To read Empire of the Sun is to encounter in the first and most distilled form the images and the visions which occur and recur in Ballard’s short stories and other novels... However autobiographical the book may be, it is still a novel written by a much older Ballard. There is an intriguing chicken-or-the-egg question in this. Which came first? Is Ballard's writing an outgrowth of his youth? Or is his youth, at least as told here, more a reflection of his art? Whatever the truth of the matter, Empire... is a sombre yet fascinating revelation of the ties between Ballard's life and his work... In exploring his life and his themes once again in this form, Ballard has strengthened his already considerable powers as a writer.”
JGB IN 'THE LITERARY REVIEW'
I am pleased to report that I have been able to place an interview with Ballard in The Literary Review and that it will appear in their August 1984 issue (out shortly after this newsletter reaches you).
The interview was conducted by Peter Ronnov-Jessen (of the University of Aarhus, Denmark) in October 1983. It has been cut considerably for its appearance in print, and it will bear the title “Against Entropy.” Here are a couple of bits which will not be appearing in the magazine:
PR-J: When you see a Concorde do you have any emotional reaction?
JGB: When I first saw a Concorde it was a very impressive sight. I've always been interested in aviation, and it's a most stylish plane to look at. It doesn't stir me with a powerful poetic yearning, but whenever I see one going overhead I follow it with my eyes, which I don't do with a Jumbo going overhead. Is this a test question? It was a misconceived aircraft. Technically, though, I think it's rated very highly. Obviously the Concorde does not belong to the era of mass transit. I think of it as a very large executive jet, operated by British Airways and Air France on behalf of the multi-national corporations and the governments of this world and a few leading show-biz figures.
PR-J: You say that the New Wave was a positive and optimistic thing, very much of the sixties... In the introduction to the Danish edition of The Atrocity Exhibition you talk about Marshall McLuhan and about the Global Village that's actually an abomination because people cannot cope with that huge extension of their nervous systems. So I am a little surprised to hear you say it was such an optimistic period.
JGB: I don't remember the introduction I wrote to the Danish Atrocity, but I can see the point you are making. One can cast a careful and cautionary eye over the events one is describing, while at the same time retaining a positive and hopeful attitude. What we disliked about the American sf of the fifties was the simplistic nature of its view of the future, technology, human relationships. It seemed to me that modern science and technology were creating (and still are) vast systems of possibility, about which we are right to be suspicious in many cases, but classical sf ignored these. It had its own stereotypes. There was very little sense of what was actually going on in the sciences and technology. I was interested in getting much closer to the truth of what was happening, to the reality of all the promise and possibility that lay behind scientific change. One utters a few warnings, of course... but I was not interested in turning thumbs down on everything. I was interested in the possibilities that were opening up, not the doors that were closing. That's why I think Colin Greenland has got the wrong end of the stick, incidentally, because he sees us as responding to a state of despair and disappointment. Quite the contrary.
PR-J: The New Wave has often been proclaimed as a “school” of sf. I find it hard to see any real correspondences between yours and Moorcock's and Aldiss's writings.
JGB: Very few, in fact. It's fair to say we were very different writers with almost nothing in common -- though we looked out of the same windows, as it were. I think I'm more interested in science than either Aldiss or Moorcock. I have the highest admiration for Moorcock's editorship of New Worlds -- he was an inspiration to all of us -- but I think Mike is not, strictly speaking, an sf writer. By sf I mean any fiction inspired by science or directly concerned with its consequences. Mike turned what was an sf magazine into an avant-garde literary magazine. I think to some extent it lost touch with its real subject matter, which is scientific change. It suffered from that. It was the element of scientific possibility that drew me into sf in the first place. You can't subtract that element and still call it sf: it loses its whole raison d'etre. It's like writing a form of modern thriller where no crime is committed.
14th June 1984
Here is the result of the poll I told you about (see JGB News 11 -- DP) -- in CIMOC, the Spanish comics magazine. In the sf novel category, Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed got the most first-place votes, and ended up with the highest average; but Ballard's High-Rise also got enough votes to qualify for a prize. I don't know that this really means much -- although CIMOC has quite a big circulation in Spain, they say they only received 45 votes. And, assuming that mine arrived in time, one of those was me! They also say that Ballard is generally regarded as “muy polemico” and of minority appeal, contrary to the poll results.
-- Chris Fowler, Polytechnic of Central London
Thanks for that information, Chris. I have heard that Ediciones Minotauro of Barcelona will be issuing Empire of the Sun in Spanish translation this autumn. This means that there should now be two foreign-language editions “simultaneous” with the English edition (the other will be the French version, from Denoel).
YET MORE EDITIONS OF 'EMPIRE...'
I've just heard from Gollancz that they will be issuing a 100-copy limited edition of Empire of the Sun -- specially bound, slip-cased, numbered, and signed by the author. The price is £40. Should any of you want a copy, rush your order (with payment) to Malcolm Edwards at Victor Gollancz, 14 Henrietta Street, London. Make cheques payable to “Gollancz Services Ltd.” No orders can be accepted from the United States, where Simon & Schuster have the rights in the book. Apparently, two-thirds of the limited edition is “sold out” already.
I've also heard that Granada will be doing a special “Far Eastern” edition of the novel in paperback -- to appear at the same time as the hardcover edition. The purpose of this is to prevent the book from being pirated in markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore...
Two or three extracts from Empire of the Sun should be appearing in the Times newspaper in late August.
Other late news: Jonathan Cape have decided to reprint The Drought, The Crystal World and Concrete Island. (Other titles to follow, one hopes.)
'RE/SEARCH' PRINTING IN HONG KONG
Vale phoned from California shortly after he received copies of JGB News 11 and Interzone 8. He told me that the Re/Search Special Issue on Ballard was about to go to press -- in Hong Kong, where costs are low. Finished copies should be ready in July, he said. I haven't received a sample yet, but I'm hoping it will drop through my letterbox any day now...
Actually, it won't fit the letterbox, as it is a 200-page, large-format paperback book. A late addition has been made to the text: JGB's “What I Believe” is to be reprinted from Interzone (Vale was extremely enthusiastic about the piece).
As I've said several times, this Re/Search publication will be quite splendid. It should be priced at $8.95 about £7 to British purchasers). A bargain. Assuming my advance copy does arrive this month, I expect bulk delivery of seamailed copies in about two months' time. Anyone on this side of the Atlantic who wants to place a definite order with me may do so now.
Bernard Sigaud has just published Hard Copy no. 5, July 1984 (I'm not sure what became of no. 4). It's a solid issue, entirely in French. Contents:
“Le reveur illimite, un film de Sam Scoggins”: a description of Scoggins's documentary on JGB, plus a complete translation of the script.
“L'autobiographie secrete de J. G. B******": a translation of JGB's brief story from Ambit 96.
“L'eternel estivant, ou les vacances de l’homme de plume”: a three-page essay by Bernard on the foregoing piece, with copious notes.
“Paysages interieurs; entretien avec Christopher Evans”: a translation of the 1971 BBC Radio 3 interview, with introduction and notes by Bernard.
Bernard also informs me that Les chasseurs de Venus was published as a Denoel paperback in June: this is of course JGB's The Venus Hunters, with the 1967 story “The Recognition” replacing “The Killing Ground.”
John Brady has sent me a cutting from Punch, 23rd May 1984. It's a review by Lewis Jones of the Dent edition of The Terminal Beach. Brace yourselves: “I've always thought,” writes Jones, “of J. G. Ballard's stories, like most science fiction, as dreary and rather unpleasant piffle... I thought I'd try again. I wish I hadn't... Ballard is, simply, a bad writer: portentous, illiterate and humourless... Most science fiction is on the level of the comic book... Writers like Ballard try to use it allegorically, to say something about real life, and most of them fail: because the mechanical trappings are distracting, constricting and boring...” And so on.
John Brady comments: “I certainly felt the urge to dash off a broadside in reply, but that might only inflate Lewis Jones's arrogant ego. The most irritating features of his slapdash review, I think, are his abysmal lack of knowledge of sf on the one hand, and his failure on the other to deal with stories like 'The Drowned Giant,' 'End-Game,' 'The Gioconda.... ' and 'The Lost Leonardo’ as standing in a quite different tradition to that of sf.”
NON-FICTION VOLUME TO BE PUBLISHED
In the first of these newsletters, almost three years ago, I mentioned a proposed collection of JGB’s non-fiction, Which Way to Inner Space? Desultory attempts have been made to sell this book over the past three or four years, and now it seems that at last a publisher may have been found. I cannot name the likely publisher yet, as a contract has not actually been signed, but there is every chance that we will be seeing the book in 1985.
It is a project which I have been pushing, Ballard being too modest about his own non-fictional bits and pieces to see much potential in them. I am convinced that it will add up to an excellent volume. The proposed contents are: “Which Way to Inner Space,” 1962; “Time, Memory and Inner Space,” 1963; “Myth Maker of the 20th Century,” 1964; “SF Reviews from The Guardian,” 1965?-1967; “Non-Fiction Reviews from The Guardian,” 1965-1966; “Visions of Hell,” 1966; “La Jetee,” 1966; “The Coming of the Unconscious,” 1966; “Comment on 'End-Game',” 1968; “SF Reviews from The Times,” 1968; “Non-Fiction Reviews from New Worlds,” 1969; “Salvador Dali: The Innocent as Paranoid,” 1969; “Book Reviews from The Guardian,” 1970; “Fictions of Every Kind,” 1971; “The Consumer Consumed,” 1971; 2The Car, the Future,” 1971; “A Personal View of Aldiss's Billion Year Spree,” 1974; “Spaced Out,” 1974; “SF Reviews from The New Statesman,” 1976-1978; “The Future of the Future, 2 1977; “Hobbits in Space?” 1977; “Non-Fiction Reviews from The New Statesman,” 1977-1978; “A Visa for Reality,” 1978; “The Diary of a Mad Space Wife,” 1979; and “Book Reviews from The Guardian,” 1979-1984.
Watch this space for more details.
Attached to this issue you will find a “Bibliography of JGB's Works in Ambit.” This was prepared by Martin Bax, editor of the said magazine, and I am distributing it at his request. Now is the chance for collectors to order all the issues they are missing. Martin Bax is keen to sell back-issues in order to help fund future ones.
That's about it for this issue. Thanks to all those who have written to me -- especially Jonathan Benison and Bernard Sigaud, who have sent me several letters which I have not adequately acknowledged.
All those who wish to receive the next JGB News please send me a letter of comment, or some usable news, or two 16p stamps, or two international reply coupons.
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF J.G. BALLARD'S WORKS IN AMBIT
(J.G. Ballard has been associated with Ambit as its Prose Editor for 15 years. Much of his most exciting work first appeared in the magazine.)
1. Ambit 23 - “Draining Lake” pages 34-40. Part of a science fiction section with work by George MacBeth and Edwin Morgan. (We have only 3 copies for sale)
2. Ambit 27 “You Coma Marilyn Monroe” pages 3-6. Also “Terminal Documents” Burroughs reviewed by Ballard pages 46-48. (1966 also rare.)
3. Ambit 29 “The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race” (1966). Illustration by Michael Foreman and cover drawing for story also by Foreman.
4. Ambit 31 “Plan For the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy”. Layout, presentation and blockwork by Michael Foreman - 3 pages.
5. Ambit 32 - Back cover presents the first of J.G. Ballard's advertisements “Homage to Claire Churchill” with text by Ballard.
6. Ambit 33 - Second Ballard advertisement “Sex and Inner Space”. Text by J.G. Ballard. Ambit 33 also contains first announcement for Drugs and the Writer Competition which Ambit sponsored and judged by Ballard.
7. Ambit 36 - Pages 39-43 “The Great American Nude”. Also contains third advertisement “A Neural Interval” with text by Ballard.
8. Ambit 37 - A special Newspaper edition of the magazine with J.G. Ballard's “Court Circular”. Containing “Love - A Print-out for Claire Churchill”. Rare
9. Ambit 44 “Mae West's Reduction Mammaplasty" pages 9-13. Also contains, including the cover, six of the drawings to J.G. Ballard's “Atrocity Exhibition” and Michael Foreman's drawings prepared for the American edition of the book but it was subsequently pulped and never published.
10. Ambit 45 - Back cover is of J.G. Ballard's “Placental Insufficiency” again text by Ballard.
11. Ambit 46 - J.G. Ballard's final advertisement “Venus Smiles” text by Ballard, (1971)
12. Ambit 50 - Special 50th number has a cover photo of Bax, Foreman, Ballard, Eduardo Paolozzi, Edwin Brock and Richard Freeman standing behind Euphoria Bliss. Also contains Ballard's two-found pieces “The Side-Effects of Orthonovin G” pages 26-27.
13 Ambit 53 (1972/73) “The Greatest Television Show on Earth” pages 29-32.
14. Ambit 55 (1973) First publication of the first chapter of Ballard's famous novel “Crash"”.
15. Ambit 60 (1974) “A Dream of Flying to Wake Island” pages 60-66.
16. Ambit 63 (1975) “Critical Mass”, the opening chapter of J.G. Ballard's “High Rise” with illustrations by Ron Sandford - 5 pages of illustrations to compliment the text, pages 2-14.
17. Ambit 66 - “The Life and Death of God" pages 5-10. Also the opening of “The Invisible Years”, a set of apocalyptic text written by Ballard and Bax. The texts are not ascribed to either individual author and they run continuously in every number of the magazine until Ambit 79. The illustrations are partly collaged and are always by Ron Aandford. All 14 numbers Post free.
18. Ambit 72 (1977) - Ballard's famous short story “The Intensive Care Unit” illustrated by Michael Foreman.
19. Ambit 75 (1978) “Zodiac 2000” with original illustrations. Also the front cover of the magazine is a personal letter from Ballard to Martin Bax about the piece discussing what sort of illustrations he wants. Illustrations by Ron Sandford.
20. Ambit 80 (1979) - an extract from “The Unlimited Dream Company" pages 2-12 with illustrations by Cathy Felston.
21. Ambit 85 (1980) - contains a section from “Hello America” Landfall at Last” with illustrations, both inside the magazine and on the cover by Michael Foreman.
22. Ambit 87 contains “News From the Sun” Ballard's novella, from page 228 with unique illustrations by Mark Foreman and a third section by Rod Judkins of artistic meditations on the text.