The Crystal World

The Crystal World J G Ballard S Fourth Novel, Which Established His Reputation As A Writer Of Extraordinary Talent And Imaginative Powers, Tells The Story Of A Physician Specializing In The Treatment Of Leprosy Who Is Invited To A Small Outpost In The Interior Of Africa Finding The Roadways Blocked, He Takes To The River, And Embarks On A Frightening Journey Through A Strange Petrified Forest Whose Area Expands Daily, Affecting Not Only The Physical Environment But Also Its InhabitantsThrough A Leaking Of Time, The West African Jungle Starts To Crystallize Trees Are Metamorphosed Into Enormous Jewels Crocodiles Encased In Second Glittering Skins Lurch Down The River Pythons With Huge Blind Gemstone Eyes Rear In Heraldic PosesFearing This Transformation As A Herald Of The Apocalypse, Most Flee The Area In Terror, Afraid To Face A Catastrophe They Cannot Understand But Some, Dazzled And Strangely Entranced, Remain To Drift Through This Dreamworld Forest Travelling Through This Gilded Land, The Doctor Tries To Resist Its Strange Allure While A Tribe Of Lepers Search For Paradise

James Graham J G Ballard 15 November 1930 19 April 2009 was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist Ballard came to be associated with the New Wave of science fiction early in his career with apocalyptic or post apocalyptic novels such as The Drowned World 1962 , The Burning World 1964 , and The Crystal World 1966 In the late 1960s and early 1970s Ballard focused on a

➽ [Reading] ➿ The Crystal World By J.G. Ballard ➲ –
  • Mass Market Paperback
  • 198 pages
  • The Crystal World
  • J.G. Ballard
  • Portuguese
  • 14 March 2019

10 thoughts on “The Crystal World

  1. says:

    a physician in africa a world of disease decay takes strange shape a move into the unknown the inexplicable finds its form and renovates, reconfigures a new, dead life figures in a landscape become one with that landscape stylized characters form a comic tableau, fighting and fucking and dying, always dying a journey up river into the heart of an exterminating whiteness leprosy and crystallization, two sides of one coin this cartoon world ends not with a bang but with stasis an alien landscape that will subsume us all what is Self, what is Society, what are compassion greed ambition, what is Life itself, in the face of such things our ultimate heritage to be insects trapped in crystalline amber

  2. says:

    Kind of a wild mix between Joseph Conrad and Erich Maria Remarque, with a nod to Malcolm Lowry and with the edgy other worldliness of Philip K Dick The comparisons to Vonnegut s Ice nine from Cat s Cradle will be inevitable, but the distinction is one of procedure rather than substance.Vonnegut used Ice nine as a plot device, whereas Ballard s crystals are a metaphor for our unavoidable demise, our inescapable mortality The novel s protagonist Dr Sanders specializes in the treatment of leprosy patients in rural Africa, and several connections are made between the spread of leprosy and the strange crystallization Also evident, though somewhat muted, is Ballard s search for faith and questions about the crystallization as a symbol for Christianity.Visually, this is impressive and mesmerizing The world Ballard creates, his pulsating description of the crystals and jewels in the jungle sunlight and making strange silhouettes of the characters is dazzling, as if he had painted a portrait.First published in 1966, a reader may ask of what sort is this speculative fiction Science Fiction, fantasy, magical realism Was Ballard stoned out of his mind Do crystals look cool in the glow of a lava lamp And of what importance does Ballard make to the diamond mines trapped in irony amongst the crystal jungles Ballard answers many questions, but leaves many unanswered in this hypnotic but puzzling tale Ultimately satisfying and demonstrating the author s great imagination and ability, this nonetheless has locked up in its basement the muffled howling of the absurd Samuel Beckett and Eug ne Ionesco fans take note, there are crystals in the forest.

  3. says:

    Ballard novel subject, end time Crystal, metaphor Verbs Inappropriateness Nouns, exclusivity Technique problems Action omission Review inanity, boredom Book impossibility Author choices, comprehension Ballard uniqueness, praise OULIPO Disagreement.LSD Certainty.

  4. says:

    What do I think of this novel I already got a glimpse of it amidst several of the first half of the complete short stories of Ballard, so I knew what to expect before sinking my teeth in it Time flowers leads to these crystals The Illuminated Man himself was drawn into the theme of the Crystal World There s a lot of great imagery going on, and surprisingly, it isn t just the descriptions of the the world being consumed by a time reversed or rather, collided time with anti time semi liquid crystals that shine with their own internal light There s a dialog about religion and survivalism, an undercurrent of revenge and guilt, acceptance and futility People do say it s a sci fi equivalent of Heart of Darkness, but I think it s than that.I like to digest some of the deeper currents in the work Discover how it truly applies to the crystallizing world After all, the tortured priest discovered that God is inside everything that has been transformed The world is becoming eternal and obviously much gorgeous than it had ever been The very images are showing us that things are not dark, but the exact opposite Yes, the world is dying, somewhat, or at least becoming something that normal people cannot touch without becoming a part of it, but it is definitely not clear that those who d succumbed are now unhappy or dead This isn t just a thoroughly exacting tribute I think it s of a refutation.

  5. says:

    This book totally crashes the already ridiculous for me GR 5 star rating system because honestly this is an awful, awful book, ridiculously awful, and I loved it completely This writing Wow there are weird unlikely dependent clauses all over the place, and there as so many bizarre actually what I meant to write just then is freakishly bizarre descriptions of characters and of their behaviors There is the story itself for some inexplicable reason the world is going to pot in a very beautiful way, in this particular apocalypse, where organic growing things are becoming crystalline structures When people start to turn spiky, they kind of like it It doesn t hurt and they get to merge with everything else in a kind of eternal not death To top it off there is a bit of a Heart of Darkness feel to this novel, including of course a big dark river, and an odd jungle, and most unfortunate references to natives behaving in suspiciously uncivilized ways So what can I say Why did I love it For its absolute excess, for the purple shade of prose, for the way people arrive on ships called steamers and for the way they smoke incessantly, elegantly, and with gesture and meaning given to each puff than the cigarettes in the movie Now, Voyager, here the audacity of it, and the way Ballard vivifies a very weird world indeed.

  6. says:

    The Crystal World Time and death are defeated as crystallization takes overOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureThe Crystal World 1966 is J.G Ballard s third apocalyptic work in which he destroys civilization, the other two being The Burning World 1964 and The Drowned World 1962 It seems he likes the elements, having employed floods, draughts, and now crystallization The process somewhat resembles Ice 9 in Kurt Vonnegut s Cat s Cradle 1963 , but there is no ironic humor to be found in this book as far I could tell In The Drowned World, the flooding of the world was used as a metaphor for diving deep into the collective racial memories of the Triassic age, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth This time, Ballard posits a mysterious crystallization process in the forests of Gabon, which slowly transforms everything around it into organic crystals, including plants, minerals, and living creatures The crystal trees among them were hung with glass like trellises of moss The air was markedly cooler, as if everything was sheathed in ice, but a ceaseless play of light poured through the canopy overhead The process of crystallization was advanced The fences along the road were so encrusted that they formed a continuous palisade, a white frost at least six inches thick on either side of the palings The few houses between the trees glistened like wedding cakes, white roofs and chimneys transformed into exotic minarets and baroque domes On a lawn of green glass spurs, a child s tricycle gleamed like a Faberge gem, the wheels starred into brilliant jasper crowns.He had entered an endless subterranean cavern, where jeweled rocks loomed out of the spectral gloom like marine plants, the sprays of glass forming white fountains Several times he crossed and recrossed the road The spurs were almost waist high, and he was forced to climb over the brittle stems Once, as he rested against the trunk of a bifurcated oak, an immense multi colored bird erupted from a bough over his head, and flew off with a wild screech, aureoles of light cascading from its red and yellow wings At last the storm subsided, and a pale light filtered through the stained glass canopy Again, the forest was a place of rainbows, a deep, iridescent light glowing from within.The main character is Edward Sanders, a British doctor trying to reach a leprosy facility deep in the jungles of Africa Surprise surprise, he takes a journey upriver and encounters various dark natives as well as some corrupt white men intent on pursuing their own agendas Does this sound at all familiar It s an overt tribute to Joseph Conrad s Heart of Darkness 1899 , but unfortunately The Crystal World does not add anything to that seminal symbolic journey Dr Sanders repeatedly questions his own motivations to join his friends at the leprosy facility, wondering whether his intentions are truly altruistic, or whether he is strangely drawn to the disease As he encounters parts of the forest that are starting to crystallize, he sees that some of the lepers are drawn to it as a way to slow the progress of the disease and to cheat death Other characters, even though outwardly healthy, seem to also embrace this process due to their repressed emotional lives Ballard juxtaposes the opposing forces of leprosy representing decay and entropy and crystallization stopping time and death, a symbol of eternity and perfection He then expounds on a mind bending and probably incoherent description of time, matter, anti matter, and distant universes to explain the mysterious crystallization process But it is still only a year since the Mt Palomar astronomers discovered the first double galaxy in the Andromeda galaxy, the great oblate diadem that is probably the most beautiful object in the physical universe, the island galaxy M 31 Without doubt, these random transfigurations throughout the world are a reflection of distant cosmic processes of enormous scope and dimensions first glimpsed in the Andromeda spiral We now know that it is time, time with a Midas touch, which is responsible for the transformation The recent discovery of anti matter in the universe inevitably involves the conception of anti time as the fourth side of this negatively charged continuum Where anti particle and particle collide, they not only destroy their own physical identities, but their opposing time values eliminate each other, subtracting from the universe another quantum from its total share of time.It is random discharges of this type, set off by the creation of anti galaxies in space, which have led to the depletion of the time store available to the materials of our own solar system Just as a super saturated solution will discharge itself into a crystalline mass, so the super saturation of our solar system leads to its appearance in a parallel spatial matrix As and time leaks away, the process of super saturation continues, the original atoms and molecules producing spatial replicas of themselves, substance without mass, in an attempt to increase their foothold upon existence The process is theoretically without end, and it may be possible for a single atom to produce an infinite number of duplicates of itself, and so fill the entire universe, from which simultaneously all time is expired, an ultimate macrocosmic zero beyond the wildest dreams of Plato and Democritus.Despite the languid, hallucinatory descriptions of crystallization, time, and space, the events that occur to Dr Sanders as he journeys up the river have a curiously flat, empty quality to them Because Ballard s stories are not filled with excitement or sympathetic characters, it is difficult to become engaged unless you allow the imagery and limpid storytelling to creep into your unconscious mind That s why, when I first listened to both The Drowned World and The Crystal World on audiobook, I was somewhat disappointed But because they are both under 6 hours, and because David Pringle praised both profusely and selected them for his Science Fiction The 100 Best Novels 1985 , I listened a second time to give them my full attention I found The Drowned World to be much better, and I was duly impressed.On the other hand, even after a second listen, The Crystal World left me cold and detached Although his descriptive writing was still impressive at times, Ballard spent far too much time on the pointless interactions of the main characters It s interesting to note that in Ballard s personal life, between the publication of The Drowned World in 1962 and The Crystal World in 1966, he suffered the tragedy of suddenly losing his wife to pneumonia in 1964 It s impossible to know exactly what affect that had on his writing, but it must have impacted his life profoundly, since he was then left to raise their three children on his own It s always tricky to speculate how an author s life is reflected in their work, but I certainly detected an emotional detachment in the character of Dr Sanders, and his involvement with other people.Notably, Ballard began to write the experimental condensed novels in 1965 that were collected as The Atrocity Exhibition 1970 , a book that was so controversial that Nelson Doubleday had the entire first US printing destroyed out of concerns for legal action, since stories had titles like Plans for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy, Love and Napalm Export USA, and Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan Suffice to say he was working through some major issues through his writing, but I suspect that it was the events of the time, namely the assassination of JFK and the Vietnam War, that were foremost on his mind.Nonetheless, The Crystal World remains an interesting read if you are interested in New Wave SF from the 1960s, but for my money I preferred The Drowned World Since it seems somewhat fitting, I ll end with Robert Frost s famous poem Fire and Ice Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice From what I ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.

  7. says:

    Welcome to another J.G Ballard Weird Environmental Apocalypse See The listless male protagonist, mired in ennui and sleepwalking towards his fate Watch As environmental forces beyond his control reinforce his powerlessness Feel Depressed at the inescapable sense of doom that hangs over beautiful descriptions of ruined landscapes, lyrical depictions of environmental catastrophe and all too plausible scenes of petty interpersonal violence that continue even while human extinction looms J.G Ballard loved writing about the end of the world a theme he explored in The Drowned World, the Drought and here in his novel The Crystal World While the themes and characters all seem pretty similar the first of these novels is a great work, the second is pretty good, and the one under review here The Crystal World is well its not as good Actually, I found it a little dull.The story focuses on Edward Sanders, a British doctor in Africa who works in a local hospital and runs a leper colony Like most of the Ballard protagonists I ve encountered he s an ennui stricken guy, lost and seemingly passionless, mulling over a failed affair with a friend s wife who has moved on to another African town.Taking a period of Leave Sanders decides to visit his former lover, and takes a long journey upriver that had me hearing echoes of Colonel Kurtz s mutterings in the distance Once he arrive in the desired town he begins to notice that not all is well there are strange happenings afoot, a strange atmosphere that seems to warp the light all around the settlement.He encounters some strange characters and a young French journalist, soon uncovering that the nearby forest has begun to exhibit strange phenomena, producing crystallized plant sculptures of exquisite beauty He and the journalist who is now another lover for him to generally feel listless and uncommitted about travel further upriver The Horro Wrong novel shut up, Kurtz to a mining site where Sanders friends are based.On arrival they learn that the forest is slowly crystallizing turning everything in it into a living crystal sculpture, and spreading rapidly, along with several other similar areas around the globe.The process seems inexorable, and it becomes clear early on that it is very likely that the whole earth will eventually be crystallized, and that our protagonist, if anything, is going to be relieved by the prospect of his imminent end.And so it goes from here There s to it, of course The spread of the forest is revealed and Ballard elegantly describes its beautiful horror There s conflict, and some crazy people fighting over a woman among the crystal trees.Overall though, despite Ballard s ability to make his world real, to evoke the African town and its people, to show us the fear and the lure of the crystal world, the feeling of unavoidable doom made this novel a little dull There s never any real question as to whether Sanders is even going to try to survive, or that his zest for living will be rekindled He pinballs from scene to scene with his ultimate destiny always clear and always unchanging.The explanation for the crystallizing also left me cold something to do with time being a finite resource, and as it is used elsewhere it runs out here, causing our galaxy to become static and frozen There s a leprosy analogy in here somewhere as that disease comes up a few times, but I wasn t engaged enough with the novel to really work at spotting it I simply pressed on towards my my own dull fate plodding forward and finishing The Crystal World without really feeling any spark of enjoyment, unconsciously mimicking Edward Sanders fictional trajectory.Despite its faults this book published in 1966 may have later inspired interesting works The films Monsters and Annihilation, both of which feature an alien zone spreading across the earth with terrifying consequences, play with similar ideas effectively And of course the Strutgaskys Roadside Picnic where strange alien zones filled with weird effects are dotted around the world is a Science Fiction classic Overall though, this is not a standout book Perhaps The Crystal World would have had of an impact if I hadn t already read The Drowned World and The Drought, but having done so this story felt like an all too similar, but inferior work.Two gasps of The Horror, The Horror out of five.

  8. says:

    JG Ballard s The Crystal World is a mindbending book that, by the last page, I was glad to end The premise is fascinating out of nowhere jungles across the globe begin to crystallize The crystallization slowly spreads, enveloping everything in its path, including animals, buildings, and people Ballard is enad with describing the silent, alien landscape inherent in the crystal zone, definitely to the point where the jungle becomes a character and possibly to the point of overkill The novel focuses on a doctor from a leprosy clinic searching for his former lover who may or may not be caught in the crystal zone He meets a journalist, a strange priest, and, uh, an adventurer type not sure what else to call him just outside the forest and connects and disconnects with each as he delves deeper into the jungle The Crystal World reads like Ballard s version of Heart of Darkness except the jungle appears to balance on the cusp between crepuscule and blinding light Characters dwell in the same regions symbolically too, of course and can get lost in either area My main problem with the book was the fact the crystal jungle is so overwhelming the characters can seem stock and half drawn At one point a couple characters just fuck I would probably not have noticed if they didn t reference the act later I could see why Ballard wanted them to fuck but the sex seemed like a plot device than anything authentic Oh, and Ballard includes cool space time metaphysics that flew way over my head I can see why people like Neil Gaiman and William Gibson love Ballard He writes tight, detached prose that fits his subject matter I ll read of his material, probably Crash, this spring Tadpole says The Crystal World isn t one of Ballard s major works and I m curious enough to delve into his other books This novel will stick with me but I didn t love it Thanks,

  9. says:

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  10. says:

    Will review later Reminds me of several other of Ballard s environmental disaster transformation novels with a bit of Conrad s

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