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Millennium People Hardcover – July 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Ballard, acutely fierce as ever, detonates a bomb under Middle England in his continuing attempt to shock the middle classes out of complacency and into violent struggle.” (Esquire [UK])

“Much of the fun of Millennium People―and it is one of the most amusing novels I've read in a long time―comes from watching as the world finally catches up with Ballard and Ballard, wryly, reacts.” (The Guardian)

“Ballard is a natural surrealist; his is a world where the unthinkable is commonplace and rationality chucked in the towel long ago.... Ballard's phrasing is as sure as ever. He writes wonderfully well about London. His characterization is as vivid as it is strange. An extremely unsettling novel. Reading it is like having all the planks that underpin your life removed one by one and being forced to confront the brutality and emptiness that lies below.” (John Preston - The Scotsman)

“Ballard's flowing prose exerts its usual hypnotic spell and there are many darkly beautiful moments.” (Andrew Martin - Daily Express)

“Wonderfully warped, blackly comic! written with Ballard's customary panache, its potent mix of sex, violence and radicalism will keep his fans happy. Millennium People is at once deadly serious and slightly ridiculous―and somehow all the more unsettling for it.” (The Economist)

Millennium People will compete with the best of contemporary British fiction.” (Ian Thomson - The Independent)

“Starred Review. Ballard is a British Philip K. Dick, heir to Conrad and H.G. Wells, in whose stories the present, taken to extremes, anticipates the future. In fact, the only complaint to be made of this bruisingly smart novel is that it has taken eight years for it to appear in the U.S.” (Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover

“Ballard is simply a master story writer.”―Jonathan Lethem, New York Times Book Review

Compelling, disturbing, and eerily prophetic, Millennium People affirms J.G. Ballard’s legacy as, in the words of China Miéville, “probably the most original English writer of the last century.”

“Ballard is a British Philip K. Dick, heir to Conrad and H.G. Wells, in whose stories the present, taken to extremes, anticipates the future. In fact, the only complaint to be made of this bruisingly smart novel is that it has taken eight years for it to appear in the U.S.”―Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Terrifying and strangely haunting. . . . A riveting work from a writer of rare imaginative largesse, a bearer of bad tidings, unforgettably told.”―Daily Telegraph

“Reading [Millennium People] is like having all the planks that underpin your life removed one by one and being forced to confront the brutality and emptiness that lie below.”―John Preston, The Scotsman

Millennium People will compete with the best of contemporary British fiction.”―Ian Thomson, The Independent

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039308177X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081770
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,330,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Shanghai in 1930, J. G. BALLARD is the author of sixteen novels, including "Empire of the Sun," "The Drowned World," and "Crash." He lived in London until his death in April 2009.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jon Morris on August 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you have already read "High Rise" or "Running Wild" you will easily guess the course of events in J.G. Ballard's "Millenium People:" a seemingly docile and idyllic community of educated professionals willingly regresses from the neurotic to the primitive, revealing itself capable of committing the most abject and perverse of atrocities. True, those of you familiar with Ballard's work will find little novelty here at the level of plot. What makes Ballard such a compelling author, one that we most urgently need to read, is his propensity for cultural anthropology. Ballard has always been more of a psychologist than a poet, a gifted diagnostician who is able to discern society's ailments, to outline and lucidly articulate the symptoms so that, if we so desire, we may find a cure.

This is not to say that "Millennium People" is not literary or poetic; indeed, this book is at once less vulgar than many of his early novels, and more eloquent, with few digressions and superb attention to detail, especially with regard to his characters' psychological eccentricities and nuances. Still, this book's greatest appeal lies in its cultural, psychological, and philosophical insights. For example...

On Travel: "All these trips? Let's face it, they're just a delusion. Air travel, the whole Heathrow thing, it's a collective flight from reality. People walk up to the check-ins and for once in their lives they know where they're going. Poor sods, it's printed on their tickets."

On Hollywood: "Hollywood flicks are fun, if your idea of a good time is a humburger and a milk shake. America invented the movies so it would never need to grow up. We [Brits] have angst, depression and middle-aged regret. They have Hollywood.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Russ Wellen on March 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Just about finished with the English version of Millennium People. (Since there's no translation involved, why does an English book like this take so long to come out in America? Does it really take a year to change double quotes to single quotes?) Like his two previous novels, Ballard uses the mystery for a plot device, and while in Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes, he came to the form cold in his old age, but immediately asserted his mastery, in Millennium People, he falters somewhat with his resolution of the mystery.
Moving away from his familiar theme of how the jaded West has to keep ratcheting up how it gets his kicks, he deals with senseless terrorism. Prescient, especially in light of the March 2004 attack on a hotel in Baghdad, which set a new low in terrorism in that it didn't seem to have any victims targeted. That is, Iraqis and Arabs were killed. Its aim seemed simply to create chaos like in Millennium People. While the plot is not Ballard's best, he still imbues his characters with these drop-dead little quirks that illuminates them in one line of text.
Millennium People does little to discredit him in this reviewer's eyes as the leading serious novelist in the English language. A must read for followers, and not a bad start for those new to Ballard.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rick O on August 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ever since Henry David Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience in 1849, authors around the world have penned books about social and political change. Did Thoreau want a better government, or individuals doing what they thought was right? J.G. Ballard has confused me in this novel, because I don't fully understand what he wants. He writes a tale of middle class rebellion, but doesn't offer a solution to the problem. Instead he just gives up! I think the book would have been more enjoyable, if there was a resolution to ease the burden of the middle class in today's society.

Psychologist David Markham finds out that his ex-wife, Laura, is killed by a bomb in Heathrow Airport. It is also discovered that it's not done by a terrorist group, but by a possible Bourgeois cell living in London. Who are these people, and what do they want? Markham tracks down clues that leads him to a group of people living in a complex called The Estate of Chelsea Marina. He infiltrates the group and meets a cell leader, a female bomber, a priest and his girlfriend. These people are tired of being the backbone of society. They revolt by giving up their Volvos, smoke bomb travel agencies and museums, refuse to pay the mortgage, and leave their responsible jobs.

Eventually, Markham meets the leader of the revolt, Dr. Richard Gould, who persuades David Markham to join the group. This part I found hard to believe, since the change from protagonist to antagonist is accomplished in a matter of a few pages. Here is a man looking for his ex-wife's killer, now willing to participate in wanton mayhem! The ensuing disturbances are sometimes light weight, other times jumbled. The conclusion of this book is somewhat muddled and leaves a taste of incongruity in your mouth.

I know that J.G.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lonya VINE VOICE on October 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Watching the Devil kick the Millennium
Over the Golden Mountain." Edgar Lee Masters

"Millennium People" has an interesting story line. Set in the UK shortly after the Millennium, psychologist David Markham is mourning the murder of his ex-wife. She was the victim of a terrorist bombing at Heathrow Airport. Determined to get to the bottom of the matter he begins his own personal investigation. He quickly finds himself thrown into a strange world: a world filled not with foreign interlopers from abroad or proletarian rebels but, rather, one filled with disaffected tea-sipping, Volvo-driving, over-extended mortgage holding members of the British middle classes. For reasons explained in the book they are just fed up, prisoners of their own success apparently. And, contrary to what one would expect of a stereotypical British member of the bourgeoisie, they seem easily led to increasingly violent acts. Finally, Markham meets the `hidden hand' behind the angst and from there the story comes to a rather dramatic conclusion.

By the time I was one-third of the way through J.G. Ballard's "Millennium People" I was reminded of Lindsay Anderson's 1968 movie If... (The Criterion Collection) in which a young Malcolm MacDowell play a privileged teen who, chafing at the oppression of an old, elite English boarding school, leads a group of children of the middle and upper classes on a violent revolt. Millennium People struck me a story of what those teens might get up to if they had decided to rebel against their stolid, middle class, middle-age surroundings.
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