Mystery & Crime J. G. Ballard Super-Cannes

ISBN 13: 9780002258470

Super-Cannes

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9780002258470: Super-Cannes

A high-tech business park on the Mediterranean coast is the setting for crime of the most disturbing kind in this extraordinary new bestseller from the writer widely regarded as Britain’s No 1 living novelist – author of Cocaine Nights.

Paul Sinclair and his bright young wife Jane drive down to the south of France in his vintage Jaguar so that she can take up a post as doctor to the new community of Eden-Olympia, just above Cannes.

Multinational companies and their sharpest executives have converged on this high-tech business park, tempted by its location and facilities, by its efficiency and its security, and by something far more disquieting. According to its resident psychologist, Wilder Penrose, the community is ‘a huge experiment in how to hothouse the future…an ideas laboratory for the new millennium’. In such a place, he claims, one is absolutely free to ‘board the escalator of possibility’. Jane does just that. But Paul hesitates before boarding, pausing to look around.

He finds what he sees mystifying and unsettling; when he learns that he and his wife have been housed in a villa whose previous occupant had been driven to massacre notable executives on a horrific shooting spree, he begins to look under the surface. For all the dawn-to-dusk hard work, for all its productivity and profits, Eden-Olympia is the venue for games of the most serious sort. So Paul joins in…

On one level ‘Super-Cannes’ is a romantic fable of a husband’s search for a lost wife. But far larger issues are involved that go to the heart of a new kind of social pathology. J.G. Ballard, Britain’s most consistently daring and surprising novelist, has again brought his powers of discovery and dissent, curiosity and wit, to a tale as pacey, gripping and illuminating as his previous bestseller, ‘Cocaine Nights’.

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Review:

JG Ballard covers familiar territory in Super-Cannes: new social structures under pressure, new psychopathologies to be explored. As he did in his previous novel Cocaine Nights, he has avoided the more abstract imagery and plot of Rushing to Paradise or The Day of Creation to create, on the surface, a more mainstream novel, clearly concerned with modern issues of racism, random violence and sexuality. But familiar territory is always the most deeply subversive place in a Ballard novel.

Eden-Olympia is more than a mere business park. It is an expensive and intense hive, the modern "Dream Palace" of "a new elite of administrators, enarques and scientific entrepreneurs"; its aim, "to turn Provence into Europe's silicon valley". Paul Sinclair finds himself with time on his hands in this radical environment when his young wife takes a job at Eden-Olympia. She replaces a doctor who killed 10 executives with a rifle before shooting himself. He left no note and no explanation. Sinclair finds himself living in the same house and learning some of the same lessons as the killer.

There are the (un)usual Ballardian motifs; the injured airman, the swimming pools, the cars, the voyeuristic sex and violence, the perverse personal iconography of the central characters (the hothouse social environment even harks back to High-Rise from 1975), but in this new context they are even more profoundly unsettling than before. The apparently slick, professional characters are flawed and ambiguous, while strange events, as in the outstanding novella Running Wild from 1988, lead to extreme conclusions. Ballard is an expert in explaining how what at first appears perverse, amoral or simply wrong, is actually obvious, sensible and sane, and then going even further. From the beginning, the clues are all there. Eventually, both Sinclair and the reader are clear on what must be done. --John Shire

Review:

‘Sublime… an elegant, elaborate trap of a novel, which reads as a companion piece to Cocaine Nights but takes ideas from that novel and runs further. The first essential novel of the 21st century.’ Independent

‘Possibly his greatest book. Super-Cannes is both a novel of ideas and a compelling thriller that will keep you turning the pages to the shocking denouement. Only Ballard could have produced it.’ Sunday Express

‘In this tautly paced thriller he brilliantly details how man's darker side derails a vast experiment in living, and shows the dangers of a near-future in which going mad is the only way of staying sane.’ Daily Mail

‘Vintage Ballard, a gripping blend of stylised thriller and fantastic imaginings.’ Guardian

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