Ballard, J. Super-Cannes

ISBN 13: 9780312306090

Super-Cannes

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9780312306090: Super-Cannes
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Eden-Olympia is more than just a multinational business park, it is a virtual city-state in itself, built for the most elite high-tech industries. Isolated and secure, the residents lack nothing, yet one day, a doctor at the clinic goes on a suicidal shooting spree. Dr. Jane Sinclair is hired as his replacement, and her husband Paul uncovers the dangerous psychological vents that maintain Eden-Olympia's smoothly-running surface.

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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:

"Each page, and this is a page-turner, might have the mind's knees knocking, the mind's flesh horripitating... Super-Cannes confirms J. G. Ballard's substantial place in contemporary fiction." --The Washington Times

"Ballard's prose is seductive and pellucid and his stories compelling....Spiked with...gnomic dialogue and black, black humor, this book is also a captivating Chandlerian mystery." --The Washington Post Book World

"Ballard's fictional world [is] like no one else's." --The Atlantic Monthly

"Ballard is our poet laureate of Modernism's dead zones.... [Super-Cannes] achieves a brilliant, thorny ambiguity--the kind that lodges splinterlike in your imagination, and refuses to come loose." --LA Weekly

"Rarely has his vision been so total, his creation so complete. Super-Cannes is as good as anything that Ballard has done before, and considering the work which that bland statement encompasses, it's the highest possible praise." --Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"One of his finest." --San Francisco Chronicle

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