Ballard, J. G. Super-Cannes

ISBN 13: 9781250171504

Super-Cannes

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9781250171504: Super-Cannes
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WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ALI SMITH

Long-regarded as one of the true visionary writers of the twentieth century, J.G. Ballard was one of the first British writers of the post-war period to begin to see, and to map out in his fiction, the future course of our civilization. For forty years his unflinching eye has turned to the point where the advancing edge of our technological progress has worn away our inner humanity.

Eden-Olympia is more than just a multinational business park, it is a virtual city-state in itself, with the latest in services and facilities for the most elite high-tech industries. Isolated and secure, overlooking the luxurious French Riviera, the residents lack nothing. Yet one day Dr. Greenwood from Eden-Olympia's clinic goes on a suicidal shooting spree. Dr. Jane Sinclair is hired as his replacement, and she and her husband, Paul, are given Dr. Greenwood's house as a residence.

Unable to work while recovering from an accident, Paul spends his days taking a close look at the house where Dr. Greenwood shot himself and three hostages. He discovers clues in the house lead him to question Eden-Olympia's official account of the killings. Drawn into investigating the activities of the park's leading citizens, while Jane is lured deeper into Eden-Olympia's inner workings, Paul uncovers the dangerous psychological vents that maintain Eden-Olympia's smoothly running surface. An experiment is underway at Eden-Olympia, an experiment in power and brutality. Soon Paul finds himself in race to save himself and his wife before they are crushed by forces that may be beyond anyone's control.

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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:

"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."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

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

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780312306090: Super-Cannes

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ISBN 10: 0312306091 ISBN 13: 9780312306090
Publisher: Picador, 2002
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