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When London is lost beneath the rising tides, unconscious desires rush to the surface in this apocalyptic tale from the author of ‘Crash’ and ‘Empire of the Sun’, reissued here with a new introduction from Martin Amis.
Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows up the walls of the Ritz and primeval reptiles are sighted, swimming through the newly-formed lagoons.
Some flee the capital; others remain to pursue reckless schemes, either in the name of science or profit. While the submerged streets of London are drained in search of treasure, Dr Robert Kerans – part of a group of intrepid scientists – comes to accept this submarine city and finds himself strangely resistant to the idea of saving it.
First published in 1962, Ballard’s mesmerising and ferociously imaginative novel gained him widespread critical acclaim and established his reputation as one of Britain’s finest writers of science fiction.
This edition is part of a new commemorative series of Ballard’s works, featuring introductions from a number of his admirers (including Robert Macfarlane, Martin Amis, James Lever and Ali Smith) and brand-new cover designs.
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This torrid, powerful 1962 novel--the 17th of Millennium's very strong SF Masterworks classic reprints--was a major turning point in J.G. Ballard's career. In this future our old world has been gradually drowned as global warming melts the ice-caps and primordial jungles and swamps have returned to tropical London, recreating the ancient ecology of the Triassic age. According to the logic of Ballardian "inner space", these Turkish-bath surroundings evoke the psychological suction of the deep past, calling the human "hindbrain" back to the enfolding warmth of the womb. The text is rich with dreamy phrases like "the fata morgana of the terminal lagoon" and "the brighter day of the interior, archaeopsychic sun". As various members of an expedition to London busy themselves with more or less futile schemes like draining Leicester Square in hope of loot, the passive central character Kerans moves in his own "neuronic odyssey" to a strange acceptance of and assimilation by this lushly transformed world, vanishing into a final epiphany of heat and light. There is little narrative drive or sense of story (fans of rip-roaring, action-adventure SF tend not to get on with Ballard). The Drowned World is a potent, sensual mood-piece--static, jewelled and unforgettable. --David LangfordReview:
‘The most important British writer of the latter half of the 20th century’ Will Self
‘Powerful and beautifully clear ... Ballard’s potent symbols of beauty and dismay inundate the reader’s mind’ Brian Aldiss
‘One of the brightest stars in post-war fiction. This tale of strange and terrible adventure in a world of steaming jungles has an oppressive power reminiscent of Conrad’ Kingsley Amis
‘Extraordinarily prescient ... Ballard is a prophet’ Philip Pullman, Guardian
‘The terrifying thing about Ballard is his logic; is this science fiction or history written ahead of its time?’ Len Deighton
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