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Super-Cannes: A Novel Paperback – October 4, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (October 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780312306090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312306090
  • ASIN: 0312306091
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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 m‚nages 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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

And the characters were shallow, and flexible to suit the author's direction - he didn't make them real.
Pyxey
Probably not a huge gap, but there is a new character in the scene who wasn't there before, so there must be at least a line or two missing.
Edith Frost
For me I felt like I missed the exciting ending as Ballard swifty wrapped up the novel in the last 50 pages.
Dwayne Dibbly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rae Schwarz on October 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Welcome to Eden-Olympia, J.G. Ballard's latest setting for speculative fiction. Paul Sinclair just lost his pilot's license, and is moving with his young wife, Jane, who has just taken the pediatrician's position at the multinational business park and planned community. At first the only hesitation the couple has is that the gentleman who "vacated" Jane's post did so following a killing spree amongst his neighbors.
Upon their arrival, everything seems perfect, too perfect. Slowly, the veneer begins to peel away. Why were they put into the deceased Dr. Greenwood's house? Why won't anyone talk about the terrible tragedy? Where do all the husbands and business men go at night in their matching leather bowling jackets? And just what is Dr. Wilder Penrose, resident psychiatrist, doing with his "recreational therapy" program?
Driven by curiousity, and then fear for himself and his wife, Paul begins an investigation of his own, or is his just part of Penrose's alternative program?
An excellent view into the warping of modern, technological life. Despite being set in France, this tale plays more like a subtle American reality. A gentle and creeping psychological thriller, much like Ballard's last novel, Cocaine Nights.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
J. G. Ballard's latest novel, the critically acclaimed "Super-Cannes", is a futuristic thriller set in a high-tech business park somewhere in Cannes, where the eerie hum of economic activity within the cloistered confines of offices and laboratories substitute for real human contact. The novel's protagonist and narrator, Dr Paul Sinclair and his wife Jane, arrive in Cannes and are immediately checked into the house formerly occupied by Jane's ex-colleague from England, David Greenwood, who shocked the township when he went on a murderous rampage one morning, killing several of his colleagues before turning the gun on himself. So, unlike a typical murder mystery, we know who did it. The question is why ? Incapacitated by a bad leg from a flying accident, Paul sets about investigating the incident while his wife disappears like clockwork into the shining concrete jungle every morning. The first half of the novel ticks like a detective story, focussing on Paul's sleuthing as he retraces the events of that fateful morning. Nothing unusual so far except for creepy new age characters like the chief psychiatrist, Wilder Penrose security guard, Frank Halder. Nevertheless, there is a mounting sense of disquiet as the story progresses. Notice you never actually see Jane or anybody else at work. In fact, the only people you meet are neighbours and others relevant to Paul's investigation. Then something completely unexpected happens and you feel as if you're in another story. Hints of weird goings-on (eg, racial violence, gang busts, etc) and drug addiction start to surface and when this coincides with Jane's growing estrangement from her husband, you know there's an external force at work and it's to do with powerful occupants of the tech park.Read more ›
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Repeating his previous effort Cocaine Nights (also outstanding), JG Ballard once again uses the mystery-thriller structure to engage us in his deep thoughts about a society where people are obsessed with working 7-days a week for 16-hours per day with the drive for corporate profits a transcendent virtue.
When Paul Sinclair follows his wife Jane to Eden-Olympia, Paul is plunged into a mystery which no one seems eager to solve. Located near Cannes, Eden-Olympia offers multinational corporations a high-tech tax haven with temperate weather similar to Northern California's Silicon Valley. Busy executives live in crime and sickness-free enclaves leading extremely productive lives. Everything seems perfect except for the shocking mass murder recently committed by Dr. Greenwood, the pediatrician whom Jane is replacing. While Paul recovers from his injuries, he plunges head-first into discovering the motives and possible conspiracies behind Dr. Greenwood's murders.
Many literary critics consider Ballard to be a science-fiction writer. More accurately, I consider Ballard a futurist capable of offering a glimpse of the near-future which our society and culture may be headed for. In Ballard's Eden-Olympia there is "an inability to rest the mind, to find time for rest and relaxation". The only prescription offered is "small doses of insanity" taking the form of robberies, rapes (and other fetishes), drugs, and kiddie porn.
If Ballard is correct in his bleak vision, is it not unsurprising that the captains of industry - Welch, Koslowski, Skilling - all decided to play God (to one extent or another)? Going "a little mad" with adulterous affairs, grand larceny, and other felonious activities may have been the only way of staying sane in an unforgiving world demanding performance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cfitz@webzone.net on November 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In a continuation of the theme he explored in Cocaine Nights, as well as other works, author J.G. Ballard pens a mystery about a cloistered, high-tech community coming to terms with its need for recreational sociopathology.
Eden-Olympia is an ultra modern business park and insular community nestled uncomfortably among the olive groves and marinas of the Cote d'Azure and where recently a respected young doctor embarked on a vicious killing spree. New residents soon find they have little time for anything but work and begin showing mental and physical problems that threaten to overtake the would be corporate paradise. In classic ballardian form, rogue psychiatrist Wilder Penrose steps in and implements a regime in which workaholic CEO's, presidents and junior vp's are encouraged to sublimate their fantasies of criminality, sexuality and violence by taking part in "therapy sessions" of a most uncoventional type. While investigating the bizarre murder-suicide of the former doctor, protagonist Paul Sinclair soon finds himself drawn deeply into this ferment of bright modernity and dark venality.
While not on a level with some of his other work; (and his best work is awesome) and although his characters are rather remote, (as usual) Super-Cannes is still an invigorating book. Ballard's mythologizing of crashed airplanes...abandoned runways...car parks... swimming pools...and other totems of our time forms one of the more exotic contributions to literature, yet it works. A strangely lit poetry suffuses his novels, short stories and essays; and one can always count on him for an an unexpected vista. His relentless probing of the social/technological interface has yielded some unsettling prophecies. Super-Cannes is basically a parable about the future; and as Ballard views it, the future is now.
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