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War Fever Hardcover – April 29, 1991

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ballard, the surrealistic poet of contemporary life, looks into the near future in this collection of unsettling short stories. They all revolve around a world in which current tendencies are carried to alarming extremes: Ronald Reagan's presidency is revived, and a nation obsessed with his health barely notices a fleeting world war; a cargo vessel carrying toxic wastes creates a brief, hallucinatory paradise on a Caribbean island; AIDS anxiety calls forth a strange new society in which casual sex is compulsory, in order to raise the birth rate; astronauts figure in two stories, one a vision of Cape Canaveral as a shrine of ancient aviation history where time has literally stood still, the other an account of a self-described moon-walker living off his past in Rio. There are also three brilliant literary satires, which take the forms, respectively, of a questionnaire to which only the answers are given; a series of footnotes without a text; and an index to a book that may never have been written, about a man who could have been a key figure in 20th-century history. Ballard's is a playful and versatile imagination, and this collection will gratify his admirers.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This fascinating collection of stories, written over the last 15 years, is loosely tied together by Ballard's overall themes: our isolation in time and the psychological implications of technology. Some stories are eerie and surreal, others ironic and humorous, but each is uniquely insightful. Largely because of their treatment of the concept of future time, the stories may be classified as science fiction. But the locations are actual rather than conceptual, with descriptions of such locales as Florida and London bolstered by tangible allusions to well-known modern artists and public figures. In "The Secret History of World War 3," the time is 1995 and Ronald Reagan has been elected to a third term of office. As Reagan's health bulletins obscure the most significant conflict of the era, it is both funny and frightening to see the media manipulating the public perceptions of reality. The space program, astronauts, Beirut, and toxic chemical disposal are some of the subjects explored in these stories. They show the scope of Ballard's preoccupation with life in the future and recommend him to a wider audience than traditional science fiction fans.
- Patricia C. Heaney, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, N.Y.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st American ed edition (April 29, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374286450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374286453
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,029,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This remarkable collection demonstrates once again how Ballard is one of literature's best kept secrets. Fourteen intelligent, intense and vividly written short stories challenge our theories of the recent future. It is one of the mysteries of our own time that someone casting as long a shadow as does Ballard, is virtually unknown in his native England, let alone America. This book, with its visions of dystopia, contains some very intriguing ideas: A middle east guerrilla has an idea for ending the fighting there, only to discover that the UN has a quite different agenda. World War III is played out against the larger concerns of President Reagan's health problems. The index from an unknown and perhaps suppressed autobiography provides tantalizing details to the life and times of one of this century's most anonymous titans. Ballard shines brightest in the short form; these stories are no exception. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
These are some of the most creative short stories I've read. Ever. A sailor wrecks his chemical-laden ship on a remote Caribbean island, and the island environment reacts surprisingly well. A young assassin escapes an English mental institution and begins targeting astronauts. A man locks himself in his house and locks the rest of the world out...forever. Intelligently written, well-researched, and ever fascinating, these stories represent Ballard at his visionary best. I couldn't put it down!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ballard novels have never really impressed me - they seem too unfocused and convoluted. I am a big fan, however, of his short stories - generally well-written, interestingly plotted, and providing just the right amount of alienation, making even a mundane situation seem like an otherworldly experience. "The Best Short Stories of..." is a great place to start, with many fiction and sci-fi classics, a great representation of the short story form. "War Fever" is a worthy follow-up. I don't know why it took me so long to try these stories, but they are definitely worth it. Here, he doesn't really go out of his way to write in any established genre (sci-fi, horror), but his stories seem to drift that way ever so slightly, as if trying to just tread the edge of such. He uses some interesting variations with form as well, seeing what the reader will accept as a story: a questionnaire? An index? Both are equally valid, and Ballard uses them to great effect. Give this collection a try and see how well the stories hold up to his more classic works. I think you'll find that his output from the mid to late '80s was just as good.
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Format: Paperback
J.G. Ballard is a rare find, a dystopian with a very, very dry sense of humor. The future isn't the bestiality of "1984" or the state mandated hedonism of Huxley's vision. Rather it comes from the constant tidal pressure of creeping suburbia puncuated with moments of surreal violence sputtered out of a TV set. Kind of like life. I recommend it highly
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