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Empire of the Sun Hardcover – December 1, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Empire of the Sun Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An outstanding novel...a classic adventure story."

--"The New York Times"

About the Author

* No.17 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written * 'One of the brightest stars in post-war fiction' -- Kingsley Amis * 'There are those (I am among them) who would back Ballard as Britain's number one living novelist' -- John Sutherland, Sunday Times * 'This novel, with its brilliant descriptions of an inundated London and an ecology reverting to the Triassic, gained Ballard acceptance as a major author' -- Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books (December 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781568496634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568496634
  • ASIN: 156849663X
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,219,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. E. Stevens VINE VOICE on May 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My first introduction to this story was, like many others, through Steven Spielberg's adaptation. For me, the hauntingly beautiful "Suo Gan" that serves as that movie's de facto theme song perfectly captures the fragile yet enduring beauty of humanity that Spielberg so successfully captures in his movie version. The movie abounds with poignant moments of hope, warmth, and exhilaration amongst the great struggles that befall Jim and his band of acquaintances. I enjoyed the movie, and Jim's story and haunting memory of Suo Gan made a lasting impression.

Years later, I encountered the original story--J.G. Ballard's novel that served as Spielberg's inspiration. Just as the newsreels and magazines that tell of the war fascinate Jim in the book because they describe a war so different than the one he knows, so does Spielberg's movie tell a different tale from Ballard's book. The events are by and large the same, but the tone of the story, the horrors experienced by Jim, and the lessons and impressions instilled by the novel are on a different order of magnitude from the movie. I enjoyed the movie on its own merits, but I imagine the order in which you encounter them colors your impression--for people like me who saw the movie first, it was easy to appreciate the movie, and then be blown away by the power of the book. For those who read the book first, I would imagine the movie would be a disappointing, sanitized version of the original work.

The novel overpowers the reader from start to finish by Ballard's stark account of Jim's survival against all odds, in conditions stacked heavily against him.
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Format: Paperback
A most incredible book... It holds the reader glued to every page, not unlike the grip of death which encased Shangai after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.

The story, based on J.G. Ballard's actual experiences, is about a young British teenager who lives with his parents in Shangai at the eve of Pearl Harbor and is then interned by the Japanese from 1942-1945 in the Lunghua prison camp near Shanghai. It is truly mesmerizing, in the negative sense unfortunately, because of the countless moments of inherent evil that arose as a result of war. The places-airfield runways made of bones of dead Chinese, a make-shift cemetery full of corpses with extremities sticking out, canals full of dead bodies, floating flower coffins with Chinese babies-the people-an opportunistic American soldier who profits from death, Japanese soldiers bent on brutality, an American doctor who does everything to save the sick and dying, the indifference of a British woman to a sick boy-and events-the killing of a Chinese coolie, the never-ending deaths of sick prisoners, the death march to Nantao-exemplify that evil and are described with such incredible detail and clarity as to be almost permanently engraved in the mind of the reader.

Through all the death and destruction, of which almost every chapter of the book is filled with, lives a young British teenager (the author himself, but written in 3rd person) who has an incredible will to survive. The question of his morality is ever-present if we judge his thoughts and actions solely; yet in the face of starvation and omnipresent death, his story is one of a smart young boy who is trying his best to survive.
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Format: Paperback
This is an account of JG Ballard's childhood in Shanghai during World War II when he was imprisoned in an internment camp away from his parents but just knowing that alone tells you nothing about the book. Yes, it takes place in WWII but that's almost irrelevant to the book, Jim is barely aware of the war as far as most people would conceive it and the entire war seems to take place mostly on the periphery . . . if it doesn't affect him directly than he doesn't care. On one level this is a nicely detailed account of life in Shanghai, especially in the beginning. Ballard is a good enough writer that he can describe such mundane events with enough flair that they take on another ambiance entirely. This becomes more pronounced as Jim winds deeper into the war itself, with the book becoming almost dream like in its quality. A lot of people I think object to the actions of Jim, which are very much what we don't expect. He's fairly self centered and makes a lot of weird rationalizations but I had no trouble understanding his POV, even if I didn't totally agree with it. He's a kid caught in something he can barely understand, so he has to break it down into something he can understand and sometimes that means making it a game and sometimes that means doing some things that most of us would interpret as cruel. That was the most interesting part of the novel for me, watching Jim trying to cope with the events around him, deal with the fact that he can barely remember his parents, with the fact that the only life he can really remember after a while are in the camp itself. With everything filtered through his perceptions the reader has to evaluate for him or herself what exactly the truth is . . .Read more ›
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