The MP3 Files...

JG Ballard Radio Dramas on The Vanishing Point

In 1988, Canada's national radio corporation broadcast a series of 30-minute radio dramas, based on the short stories of JG Ballard, for its long-running program, "The Vanishing Point". The series was produced by Bill Lane in the CBC's Toronto studios.

The writers commissioned to create the dramas included Lawrence Russell (A Question of Re-entry, The Dead Astronaut), Margaret Hollingsworth (The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D), Brian Wade (Low Flying Aircraft, News From The Sun), Paul Milliken (Having A Wonderful Time), and James R. Wallen (Escapement). Lauded at the time, these forgotten gems explore the dramatic aspects of JGB's early short stories within an auditory medium.

I sent copies of all seven plays to JGB, and received a great note from him explaining he'd love to listen to them, but he has yet to buy a CD player. Oh well, if you can't read the book, you can still look at the cover. With nothing to say about the dramas, he graciously praised my attempts at creating cool cd jewel case covers.

Then, on August 25, 2005, this little missive arrived outta the blue:

Hi Rick...

I'm glad to hear you liked those seven radio translations of the Ballard stories. I was proud of them at the time because (at least in certain moments) they didn't sound very much like "radio drama" -- more like spoken word audio -- and Tim Clark's music was a big part of the sound too. Your cover art concepts look good, by the way.

I have some of the original multitracks and I've often considered the possibility of some remixing -- some of the shows (The Dead Astronaut, Having a Wonderful Time) are still pretty great but others (Escapement, News from the Sun) would benefit from a second chance in the studio. The Drowned World would be another great project for radio. In fact, although I realize the JG isn't very interested in the medium, he does write some great radio concepts...

Cheers, Bill Lane

Deja Vu all over again: on March 12, 2007, another player checks in:

Dear Rick:

Came across your site. My name is James R. Wallen. I wrote one of the adaptations for CBC radio, "Escapement." I am a huge Ballard fan and was even before landing one of those dramas. I had brought the possibility of adapting Ballard to CBC earlier. That was an extraordinary experiment in writing. I wanted to limit the amount of narration and so wrote the various shows that you hear on the television at the time, front to back, so I could cut in at various times as I needed them following the whole time jump concept.

I have never lost the desire to write more adaptations based on Ballard works. I have most of his books, in one edition or another - not collectors' editions, it's the writing I love most of all. Even got Kingdom Come this past Xmas as a gift.

Interesting site. Thanks.

James R. Wallen

To listen to the plays, click on the art.

The Dead Astronaut
Dramatized by Lawrence Russell

A Question Of Re-entry
Dramatized by Lawrence Russell

The Cloud Sculptors Of Coral D
Dramatized by Margaret Hollingsworth

Dramatized by James R. Wallen

Low Flying Aircraft
Dramatized by Brian Wade

News From The Sun
Dramatized by Brian Wade

Having a Wonderful Time
Dramatized by Paul Milliken