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The Crystal World Paperback – May 1, 1988
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“Beautifully rendered Ballard the poet in full ecstatic blast.” ―Anthony Burgess
“Of all the unknown regions Ballard's imagination has opened up, this crystalline forest is the most haunting, with its golden orioles frozen in a lattice of jewels and men like conquistadores embalmed in diamond armour. The creation of the crystal world is something magical and not to be missed.” ―The Guardian
About the Author
J.G. Ballard is the author of numerous books, including Empire of the Sun, the underground classic Crash, and The Kindness of Women. He is revered as one of the most important writers of fiction to address the consequences of twentieth-century technology. His latest book is Super-Cannes. He lives in England.
Top customer reviews
Crystals, in the natural world tell a story of order and high organization. With most natural processes, the order is hidden in Fibonacci sequences and fractals,that, at first glance, appear to be chaotic, but crystals volunteer a material manifestatioin of intersecting geometric planes, without inducement. I think of the Dead Sea, and the artifacts of old covered in glistening crystalized salt; or the salt pillars of Lot's Wife.
And the additional sense of mystery and dread surrounding the river port, and the journey up the river, with all it's resonance to Conrad and 'Heart of Darkness', again, very atmospheric and arresting.
But there really is no plot, to speak of, and the engine that drives the story forward is the mystic revelations of the progagonist, which, apart from their aesthetic considerations, are all very implicit, and not fully realized, or finely detailed. A kind of progressive spiritual elevation is somehow telegraphed as a sort of irrepressible diseased horror. This produces a sense of double binding conflict and contradiction that is both unpleasant and unresolvable. When the protagonist, at last, leaves a perfectly charming companion to head back into the danger zone, it is reminiscient of the end of Ballard's The Drowned World, but it is incomprehensible to the reader who has sustained all of the danger and anxiety of the mysterious crystallization, with little sense of real understanding as to why he is so compelled to do so--only that he must. In the final analysis, for all it's novelty, I was left with a set of ambiguous feelings about the whole prospect, and no real sense of resolution or satisfaction.
something strange is happening in the jungle. some questionable characters with checkered pasts find themselves in the middle of it. some people have some sex (the sex isn't quite strange and violent enough--ballard is still young and perhaps reserved). the military is involved.
like, rest assured, everything comes together and it's creepy and disturbing; but if i were not already enamored of ballard from super-cannes, cocaine nights, atrocity exhibition, &c i'm not completely sure i would have trusted him enough to tough out the early parts of crystal world.
Sounds suitably scary and intriguing, not your usual end of the world scenario, but Ballard has no interest in exploring the effects of the potential collapse of civilization. There are no scenes of people fleeing cities or the collapse of law and order. Instead Ballard weaves dreamlike imagery in service of a Heart of Darkness like plot, where the protagonist wanders through the crystal forest seeing wondrous sights and meeting enigmatic people. It is more the tale of one man's spiritual journey, rather than any kind of apocalyptic story. The writing is full of evocative imagery, allegories concerning leprosy, Christian symbolism and ruminations on time. It's all very well done but...meh.
The lack of a (coherent) explanation for the phenomena and somewhat open ending didn’t bother me. I just didn’t find it that engaging. At least it was short.
To give The Crystal World its full due, it is different; whether that is good or bad depends on the reader.
Most recent customer reviews
This has no plot and no explanations. Good writing but that's not enough.
In "The Crystal World" the protagonist Dr. Sander, a physician on leave from an African leper colony, journeys to find his...Read more