< JG Ballard Secondary Sources
JG Ballard's Early Secondary Sources

(Critical, Bio-Bibliographical, News 1951-1974)

Compiled by David Pringle.

“Competition Report” in Varsity [Cambridge University student newspaper] (June 2, 1951): ?. Brief unsigned summary of the judges’ reasons for picking the two winners, “The Violent Noon” by J. G. Ballard and “Seance” by D. S. Birley, in this paper’s short-story competition. Of Ballard’s tale, they say: “’Violent Noon’ was the most mature story; it contains patches of high tension, the characters come to life, and the ending is brilliant in its cynicism. The author should, however, avoid a tendency to preach.”

"Future Indefinite” in Times Literary Supplement (August 2, 1963): 593. Anonymous leading article on futuristic fiction in general. Mentions “a recently published collection of stories,” The Four-Dimensional Nightmare. Claims that Ballard “depicts life on a dying earth, in a universe running down to a predictable finish... In story after story we see human beings overtaken by a creeping inanition, a pointlessness, until they even write poetry by electronic computer.” Concedes that “Mr Ballard’s writing is of a higher order than most in this field, and in many of his stories there is a strong taste of Kafka,” but claims he illustrates the fact that much SF is fundamentally pessimistic.

“J. G. Ballard: New Breed of Science Fiction Author” by George T. Zebrowski, in Epilogue [fanzine] vol. 1, no. 3 (Summer 1964): 33-37. According to Peter Brigg, this is “a very basic early examination of Ballard.” [not seen]

"Ballard’s Terminal Beach” by Peter White, in Vector no. 31  (March 1965): 9-10, 14. Short essay on the story “The Terminal Beach.” Begins by citing the actual results of a biological survey of the Pacific island Eniwetok (used for atomic bomb tests). Describes Ballard’s story, saying that it “combines a sophisticated imaginative response to the Bomb, and all its associations, with the chilly jargon of the nuclear age technology.” Ballard “creates the ironic language of holocaust, the scarifying lyricism of doomsday.” Describes the structure of the story, and states that the figure of the dead Japanese doctor reminds us of “another symbol of betrayed Mankind, Bartok’s miraculous mandarin.” Says it is possible to enjoy Ballard’s work without being aware of “the allegorical content.” The story “succeeds because its allusiveness is never mere obscurity.” Cites the case of Eatherley, whose name has passed into the legend surrounding Hiroshima, and says: “Ballard’s Eniwetok may be a mythical island, but it is one of the most real places on Earth.”

“British Science Fiction Now: Studies of Three Writers” by Brian Aldiss, in SF Horizons no. 2 (Winter 1965): 13-37.  Examination of three authors: Ian Wright, Donald Malcolm and J. G. Ballard. The long section on Ballard constitutes the first important critical essay on the author’s work, and has since been reprinted without the shorter sections on the other two writers.  Aldiss concentrates on the way Ballard “replaces sensationalism with wit,” and, referring mainly to The Terminal Beach and The Drought, points out that “critics have not noticed how witty Ballard is.” His wit is like that of the metaphysical poets, which “can surprise and delight by its juxtaposition of hitherto separate ideas.”
b. as: “The Wounded Land: J. G. Ballard” in SF: The Other Side of Realism, edited by Thomas D. Clareson. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1971, cloth and trade paper, p. 116-129.
c. as: “The Wounded Land: J. G. Ballard” in J. G. Ballard: The First 20 Years, edited by James Goddard and David Pringle. Hayes: Bran’s Head Books, 1976, cloth and trade paper, p. 38-48.
d. as: “La Terra Ferita” in J. G. Ballard: Antologia della Critica, Vol. 1, edited by G. Marciano. Villagrazia: Intercom Press, 1981, paper, p. ??-??. [Italian]

“The Drowned Plot (of J. G. Ballard): An Evaluation” by J. P. Patrizio, in Zenith Speculation [fanzine] no. 11 (January 1966):  10-17.

“The Image and the Actuality” by Michael Moorcock, in New Worlds no. 161 (April 1966): 2-3. Editorial commenting on Ballard’s story “The Assassination Weapon.”

“The Drowned Plot (of J. G. Ballard): A Reply” by Mike Moorcock, in Zenith Speculation [fanzine] no. 12 (April 1966): 11-13.

“Books” by Judith Merril, in Fantasy and Science Fiction vol.  31, no. 2 (August 1966): 57-69. Major essay on Ballard’s work which incorporates reviews of The Crystal World and The Impossible Man.

“The Reign of Ballardry” by Waldemar Kumming, in Vector no. 40 (September? 1966): 3-7.

“Ballard: The Voice” by Michael Moorcock, in New Worlds no. 167 (October 1966): 2-3, 151. Editorial commenting on Ballard’s recent stories such as “The Atrocity Exhibition.”

“Galaxy Bookshelf” by Algis Budrys, in Galaxy Science Fiction vol. 25, no. 2 (December 1966): 128-131. Review of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, wherein Budrys invokes Ballard in contrast to Heinlein. “A story by J. G. Ballard, as you know, calls for people who don’t think.” He asserts that Ballard’s characters have no knowledge of science, and “when the world disaster—be it wind or water—comes upon you, you are under absolutely no obligation to do anything about it but sit and worship it.” Although brief, these comments have been cited frequently elsewhere; for example, in Peter Weston’s editorial in Speculation no. 15 (January 1967): 3-4.

“Some Recent Short Stories” by John Foyster, in Australian Science Fiction Review no. 7-and-a-half (March 1967)
: ?-?

Notes on J. G. Ballard by John Foyster. Christies Beach, South Australia: Pentatope Press, 1977, paper, p. 5-16.

“Three Novels” by John Foyster, in Australian Science Fiction Review no. 9 (April 1967): ?-?.

Notes on J. G. Ballard by John Foyster. Christies Beach, South Australia: Pentatope Press, 1977, paper, p. 24-32.

“Introduction to ‘The Recognition’” by Harlan Ellison, in Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison. Garden City: Doubleday, 1967, cloth, p. 458-459. In his prefatory remarks to Ballard’s tale which appears as an original in this anthology, Ellison comments that the author writes “peculiarly Ballardian stories.” States that his works are less revolutionary individually than “in totality.” Ballard’s writing is, “in some ways, serene, as oriental philosophy is serene. Resigned yet vital.” Asserts that “The Recognition” is “immensely entertaining” and “thought-provoking.”

Comment on The Disaster Area by Graham Greene, in The Observer (December? 1967): ??. Ballard’s short-story collection is among Greene’s three best books of the year; he describes The Disaster Area as “one of the best science fiction books I have read.”

Yesterday’s Tomorrows: A Historical Survey of Future Societies by W. H. G. Armytage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968, cloth, p. 191-19?.

“Opinion: Some Views on Current Science Fiction” by Chris Priest, J. P. Patrizio and others, in Speculation [fanzine] no. 17 (February 1968)
: 7. Brief comments by various hands: two pieces concern Ballard. “I defend to the death the right of Ballard to write what he wants,” says Chris Priest, “and how, but I think I disagree that it should be published. One story of his that I read recently in Ambit included a reference to Jackie Kennedy washing blood of a Cadillac and having an orgasm. All dead progressive, but in lousy taste!” And Joe Patrizio opines: “I recently read Ballard’s latest collection, The Disaster Area, and quite enjoyed it. It was a good collection, with none of the stories being bad, but none outstanding, either. Graham Greene, in the Observer, picked it as one of the three best books he had read in 1967, and one of the best SF books he had ever read. Bill Temple made the comment that it was probably one of the only SF books Graham Greene had ever read!”

“BBC Man ‘Would Broadcast’ Book” in The Guardian (August 29, 1968): 2. Unsigned news report of a court case in Brighton involving bookseller William Huxford Butler [i.e. the Canadian poet Bill Butler], proprietor of the Unicorn Bookshop.  One of the items seized by police from his shop was a book “with a four-letter word in the title” [i.e. the Ballard chapbook Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan]. Poet and broadcaster George MacBeth is quoted in defence of the JGB item: “he would place Ballard as a writer of great importance and sincere human feelings about political atrocities. In reply to Mr Michael Worsley, prosecuting, he strongly denied that the book was ‘just the meanderings of a diseased and dirty mind.’”

“Opinion 16: Beating a Dead Horse” by Richard Delap, in Speculation [fanzine] no. 20 (January 1969): 9. Brief comments, including the following: “Worst short story of the year has to be J.  G. Ballard’s ‘The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race.’ Ballard’s story presents the ultimate in poor taste and sheer, stabbingly mindless stupidity.  The author has absolutely no respect for the mechanics of the English language or literary form...”

“Making Waves” by William Atheling, Jr. [James Blish], in More Issues at Hand by Atheling. Chicago: Advent, 1970, cloth, p. ??-??. Essay on the “New Wave” in science fiction, with some discussion of Ballard’s short stories on p. 127-128.

“Foreword to J. G. Ballard’s ‘The Subliminal Man’” by H.  Bruce Franklin, in The Mirror of Infinity edited by Robert Silverberg. New York: Harper & Row, 1970, cloth?, p.  239-242?.

SF: The Other Side of Realism edited by Thomas D.  Clareson. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1971, cloth and trade paper, p. 192-203.

The Shattered Ring: Science Fiction and the Quest for Meaning by Lois and Stephen Rose. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1970, cloth, p. 100-104. Study of science fiction from a committed Christian perspective. The chapter entitled “History: Consciousness and the Fullness of Time,” sub-section headed “A New Slant on Time,” has five pages on Ballard, describing such works as “The Day of Forever,” The Crystal World and “The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D.”

“Homo Hydrogenesis: Notes on the Work of J. G. Ballard” by Nick Perry and Roy Wilkie, in Riverside Quarterly vol. 4, no. 2 (January 1970): 98-107.

“The Michael Moorcock Column” in Speculation [fanzine] no.  25 (January 1970): 44-48. Article consisting of two letters of comment by Moorcock on previous issues of Speculation. In issue 23 the editor, Peter Weston, had complained in hurt tones about the fact that J. G. Ballard no longer wished to see copies of his magazine (Weston had sent him issues 21 and 22, the former containing the Jannick Storm interview with Ballard which provoked some hostile comment from readers). Of the interview, Moorcock says: “I sympathize with Jimmy Ballard’s remarks [about science-fiction fandom and conventions], and, at times, find myself close to agreeing with them, even though I have many friends who are SF fans.” On the matter of Weston’s editorial complaint, he adds: “Jimmy Ballard was puzzled when he was told you had taken offence to his request not to be sent further issues.  His letters are never long at the best of times—he tends to stick to explicit replies to letters, which he usually scribbles on the back of the letter received. He wasn’t interested in receiving further issues of Speculation. He said so. I’ve done the same in my time.”

“Crash Course” in Sunday Times (March 29?, 1970): ??.

“SF: da Swift a Ballard” by Carlo Pagetti, in Nuova Presenza no. 37-38 (Spring-Summer 1970): 1-9. [Italian]

“Introduzione a Ballard” by Ricardo Valla, in Nuova Presenza no. 37-38 (Spring-Summer 1970): 21-25. [Italian]

“J. G. Ballard and the Blown Mind” by Alex Robb, in SF Commentary [fanzine] no. 15 (September 1970)
: 19-25. Adapted from an article which had previously appeared in Windus no. 2, this is described by Peter Brigg as a piece which “looks at Ballard’s calculated vagueness of descriptive style, the creation of a gestalt rather than a story.”

“J. G. Ballard Viewed Through Glass-Colored Roses” by Angus Taylor, in Energumen [fanzine] no. 4 (November 1970): 15-18. Described by Peter Brigg as a “childishly angry piece establishing Ballard’s roots in surrealism.”

“Aargh!” by Kingsley Amis, in Cypher [fanzine] no. 4 (April 1971)
: 5-6. Short article commenting on the interview with Ballard which appeared in the previous issue of Cypher.

“J. G. Ballard: A Profile” by Mark Purcell, in Luna Monthly [fanzine] no. 24-25 (May-June 1971): 1-3, 13. Described by Peter Brigg as an “analysis of Ballard’s position in the American science-fiction field.” [Not seen]

“J. G. Ballard: A Checklist of His Short Story Collections” by Mark Purcell, in Luna Monthly [fanzine] no. 28 (September 1971)
: 8-9. Described by Peter Brigg as “a straightforward attempt to sort out the confusion of the publishing of Ballard’s short stories.”

“Tilleg” by Jon Bing, in Luftspeil by J. G. Ballard. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1972, paper, p. 177-192. Afterword to Bing’s translation of Vermilion Sands, plus a bibliography and glossary of proper names. [Norwegian]

“Ballard, J(ames) G(raham)” by Frederick Bowers, in Contemporary Novelists edited by James Vinson. New York: St Martin’s Press, and London: St James Press, 1972, cloth, p.  78-79. Bio-bibliography and short overview of Ballard’s writing.

“Notes to ‘Thirteen for Centaurus’” by Thomas D. Clareson, in A Spectrum of Worlds edited by Clareson. Garden City: Doubleday, 1972, cloth,  p. 226-228. Described by Peter Brigg as a succinct summation of Ballard’s career, “as well as commenting in very astute detail on the short story in question.”

“Thrilling Wonder” by David G. Hartwell, in Crawdaddy (April 16, 1972): ?-?.

“The Fauve Thighs & Finagles of Mr B.” by John Foyster, in SF Commentary no. 27 [combined with The Journal of Omphalistic Epistemology no. 5; Australian fanzines] (June 1972): 4-15.

Notes on J. G. Ballard by John Foyster. Christies Beach, South Australia: Pentatope Press, 1977, paper, p. 17-23.

“Onward and Upward with the Arts” by Gerald Jonas, in New Yorker (July 29, 1972): 33-52. Described by Peter Brigg as a general overview of science fiction which “assigns JGB his just place as an original thinker and stylist.”

“Preface” by William S. Burroughs, in Love and Napalm: Export USA by J. G. Ballard. New York: Grove Press, [November] 1972, cloth, p. ?-?.

Re/Search: J. G. Ballard edited by Vale and Andrea Juno. San Francisco: Re/Search, 1984, trade paper, p. 143.

The Atrocity Exhibition. San Francisco: Re/Search, 1990, trade paper, p. ??.

The Atrocity Exhibition. London: ??, 1993?

“The Mind of Mr J. G. Ballard” by Anthony Ryan, in Foundation no. 3 (March 1973): 44-48.

“The Undivided Self: J. G. Ballard’s The Crystal World.” by Nick Perry and Roy Wilkie, in Riverside Quarterly vol. 5, no. 4 (April 1973): 268-277.

“The Fourfold Symbolism of J. G. Ballard” by David Pringle, in Foundation no. 4 (July 1973): 48-60.
in J. G. Ballard: The First 20 Years edited by James Goddard and David Pringle. Hayes: Bran’s Head Books, 1976, cloth and paper, p. ?-?.
in Earth is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare by David Pringle. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, 1979, paper, p. ??-??. Expanded version, as chapter two of this monograph.
in Re/Search: J. G. Ballard edited by Vale and Andrea Juno.

San Francisco: Re/Search, 1984, trade paper, p. 126-137.  Expanded version (taken from Earth is the Alien Planet) here slightly abridged.

Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction by Brian W. Aldiss. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973, cloth.

A Heritage of Horror: English Gothic Cinema 1946-72 by David Pirie. London?: ???, 1973?, p. ??. Contains the following snippet: “In 1969 Hammer took the unusual step of commissioning one of Britain’s foremost SF writers, J. G. Ballard, to write a treatment for a serious exotic movie. Most of Ballard’s material was subsequently lost in Val Guest’s clumsy screenplay, but enough of it remained to make When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth a far less predictable and boring film than others in the [Hammer] series. J. G. Ballard had conceived an account of early life on this planet which would illustrate Horbiger’s theories about violent cosmic upheaval and the creation of the moon.”

“An ABC of British Science Fiction: Apocalypse, Bleakness, Catastrophe” by Peter Nicholls, in Beyond This Horizon: An Anthology of Science Fact and Science Fiction edited by Christopher Carrell. Sunderland: Ceolfrith Press, 1973, paper.

“Ballard, James G(raham)” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Through 1968, Volume 1: Who’s Who, A-L, by Donald H. Tuck. Chicago: Advent, 1974, cloth, p. 28.  [bio-bibliography]

“SF Idea Capsules for Art Students” by Ian Watson, in Foundation no. 5 (January 1974): 56-62. Article on Watson’s experience of teaching an sf course at Birmingham Polytechnic. He describes the various “idea capsules” which he uses in classes. One is a “Ballard-based capsule focusing upon The Media Environment and the Automobile as Popular Icon.”

“In Retrospect” by Fredric Jameson, in Science-Fiction Studies no. 4 (Fall 1974): 272-276. Short contribution to an ongoing debate with Franz Rottensteiner, H. Bruce Franklin and other critics under the general heading of “Change, SF, and Marxism: Open or Closed Universes?” Jameson picks up on a passing reference to J. G. Ballard’s “The Subliminal Man” by Franklin, and goes on to say: “... every reader of Ballard knows that the lush, diseased, apocalyptic world of that great writer is the very opposite of a committed literature, and that it is by sheerest accident that his private obsessions (entropy, illusion, the shrinkage of space itself towards some deathly center) happened, in ‘The Subliminal Man,’ to have intersected with a piece of genuinely sociopolitical raw material. Ballard’s work is one immense attempt to substitute nature for history, and thus a kind of dizzying and ecstatic feeling of inevitable natural eschatology for that far more troubled sense of collective historical death which someone so steeped in the British colonial experience must of necessity feel.  That part of Ballard we surely cannot recuperate by attaching it to ‘socioeconomics’... ; we must therefore envisage a different kind of approach, some deeper kind of reading which makes the relationship between Ballard’s talent and his concrete experience of history more accessible and visible to us.” Although these remarks are brief, they have (like Algis Budrys’s cited in ??, above) been influential.