From Publishers Weekly
The connoisseur of the bizarre (Cocaine Nights, The Atrocity Exhibition, etc.) turns his attentions to the globalized corporate elite in his 26th book. Crippled aviator Paul Sinclair ("I counted the titanium claws that held the kneecap together") accompanies his young wife, Jane, to her new posting at a luxurious corporate park on the French Riviera. A manicured paradise of multinational conglomerate HQs and their executives' villas, Eden-Olympia (which the author has modeled on the current business parks of Antibes-les-Pins and Sophia-Antipolis) is managed by a seductive yet sinister psychiatrist named Wilder Penrose, who ensconces the Sinclairs in the house of a former local doctor named Greenwood, who one day went on a suicidal murder spree, leaving 10 dead. In short Ballardesque order, the Sinclairs become estranged from one another: Jane falls into heroin-fueled mnages with the Belgian couple next door; Paul takes up tranquilizers and trysts with an Eden-Olympia vamp. Paul becomes obsessed with unraveling the mystery of the massacre, coming almost to identify with Greenwood. His efforts eventually reveal the horrifying true nature of Eden-Olympia, where the most bestial drives of corporate executives are harnessed in Brownshirt-style "therapy sessions" to create optimum working efficiency. Paul's collision course with the psychopathic Penrose is a new twist on Ballard's weird neo-romanticism, whereby our self-defining "latent psychopathy" is put to use to save society rather than to revel in hedonistic defiance of it (
la Crash). Ballard actually seems to have penned a story with a clear-cut hero (if the reader overlooks Paul's drug use and pedophiliac urges) and villain ("I don't want to start a race war or not yet"), with the fate of civilization in the balance. This novel, for all the author's trademark grotesqueries, may be Ballard's most commercially viable yet. Author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In a slightly surreal fantasia that is still too close for comfort, Ballard (Empire of the Sun) has seen the future and it is not fun. Eden-Olympia on France's C?te d'Azur is a multinational business park where families live in cloistered comfort and happily work, work, work. A snake has intruded in Eden, however; a young doctor has run amok and shot several people to death before being killed himself. A waiflike British doctor named Jane Sinclair has agreed to take his place and heads to Eden-Olympia with Paul, her much older husband. Paul, who narrates the proceedings, investigates the doctor's death and soon realizes that, with blessings from on high, the park's corporate overachievers have learned to relieve stress by indulging in various forms of increasingly ugly antisocial behavior. Ballard quickly and effectively makes the point that corporatism has crushed our souls, then spends an awful lot of time reaching the conclusion, when all the evil machinations at Eden-Olympia come out. Some readers will get tired of waiting and will find it hard to believe that Paul and Jane didn't duck out sooner. Those who persevere, however, will find the final pages persuasive and gripping. For larger fiction collections. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.