“Ballardian” is actually a word. According to the Collins English Dictionary it means “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.” Well, obviously. Actually, I strongly suggest you NEVER use the term unless you are really trying to come off as a pretentious ass. But it proves a point. Author J.G. Ballard has had some major influence.
Ballard was born in 1930 and died in 2009. In that time, he published nineteen novels, dozens of short stories, and several works of non-fiction. Just to name a few, he’s the man who wrote CRASH, HIGH RISE and THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION. His take on the world has been creative fodder for everyone from David Cronenberg to Joy Division. And, as seen here, it’s certainly inspired some intense book covers.
One of the more recent series of covers was done by Stanley Donwood, best known for designing the Radiohead albums. In 2014, he created new covers for twenty-one Ballard works released by U.K. publisher, 4th Estate.
In a short interview, Donwood explained his take on Ballard. “His understanding of the modern human is extremely accurate; modernity is dystopian, unsettling and full of fear.”
Given that we live in a world where companies brag about using personal data to control individual behavior, the planet is dying, and Millennials seem more comfortable using Tinder than talking to each other, many of Ballard’s concerns seem even more pressing today then when he first staring writing in the early sixties. It only seems to be getting worse.
So, in spite of my own warnings, I’m just gonna say it. It’s a Ballardian world out there. But at least we got some incredible literature and fantastic book covers out of the deal.