‘The Side-Effects of Orthonovin G’ from Ambit
The Violent Noon

In The Beginning... The Violent Noon

A photo of James Graham Ballard in the Saturday, May 26, 1951 issue of The Varsity, Cambridge University's student newspaper. He was six months into his 20th year.

Ballard's winning short story entry is called The Violent Noon, and even in 1951 it reveals a basic ballardian theme: the surprising characteristics that emerge when people are immersed in unexpected, brutal situations... in this case, from an obsessionally-described armed ambush on a car filled with British ex-pats in Malaya.... and how an unsatisfactory revenge is extracted.

As David Pringle explains: "The Violent Noon" is a story set in the early stages of the so-called "Malayan Emergency" -- when the British took on the communist insurgents and, after 12 years of hard slogging, won the battle (unlike a certain other power when it intervened in another South-East Asian country in the following decade). You don't hear much about the Malayan Emergency these days -- perhaps because it was a success story from the British and Western point of view, and so doesn't fit many people's Weltanschauung.

For an Acrobat file of The Violent Noon, click here.