maandag 18 januari 2016

"The Drowned Word" by J.G. Ballard

“Nothing endures for so long as fear. Everywhere in nature one sees evidence of innate releasing mechanisms literally millions of years old, which have lain dormant through thousands of generations but retained their power undiminished."

J.G. Ballard's science fiction novels are some of the very few that are also recognized outside the SF field as masterworks. In fact, Ballard will very rarely be spoken of as a science fiction writer, although quite a few of his books are futuristic stories. "The Drowned World" was his first major novel.

The year is 2145. Solar radiation has melted the ice caps and the world is flooding. Tropical jungles have appeared all over the world. The surviving humans have retreated to the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Doctor Robert Kerans leads a team to investigate the area that was once London. What they find is a radically altered world, with tropical swamps and lagoons being populated by giant iguanas and albino crocodiles. Then some of the team members start having weird dreams about a pulsing, scorching sun. The dreams turn out to be genetic memories of a distant past. Like their surroundings, humans are starting to devolve - reverting to a million-year-old state of being.

"The Drowned World" seems to have all the elements of an exciting adventure novel, but it turns out to be a surrealistic story, which has far more in common with Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" than with adventure stories like "Jurassic Park". It is a dark, haunting and very atmospheric novel - a great book but don't pick this one up if you're looking for an easy read.

Author: J.G. Ballard
Title: The Drowned World
Publisher: Gollancz, London
Year: 1999 (orig. 1962)
Number of pages: 175 p.
ISBN: 1857988833

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