April 21, 2009
Posted: 1204 GMT

He didn’t run in literary circles and chances are you’ve probably never heard of him, but the world of writing lost one of its preeminent voices on Sunday in JG Ballard.

His novel Empire of the Sun, written about his experiences in an internment camp during the Second World War, is his most popular accomplishment, shot on film by Steven Spielberg in the 80s. But he also wrote seminal works such as 1973’s ‘Crash’–novels that strove to describe a society increasingly reliant on its mechanizing environment.

Perhaps it’s best to sum Ballard up in this fact: The Collins English Dictionary included the adjective ‘Ballardian” in its volumes as "resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard's novels & stories, esp. dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes & the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments."

I can’t claim to have ever finished a Ballard novel (which isn't so rare, many a recent commemoration noted the turgid nature of even his slimmest novels). I always picked them up at the wrong time, when I was looking for a quick and easy read, as opposed to his dense and layered novels. But I have devoured the books of writers who have cited him as an influence—authors such as Martin Amis and Will Self. And if their perniciously erudite works owe an ounce to Ballard then, for me, that’s reason enough to canonize him.

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