Reading Climate Change in J.G. Ballard

in Critical Survey

J.G. Ballard's early novels The Drowned World (1962) and The Crystal World (1966) take a climatological approach to apocalyptic dystopia. This has led survey studies of climate fiction to identify these novels as founding texts of the genre. Yet Ballard wrote in an era before global warming had been identified by climate scientists, and his fiction is as much psychological and ontological as it is physiological. Ballard both adheres to and deviates from the global warming narrative now accepted by contemporary climatology, working within and beyond the SF subgenre of post-apocalyptic fiction. This paper assesses the extent to which these dystopian narratives can be understood as climate fiction and explores the debt that more recent cli-fi may owe to Ballard.

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