The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard ★★☆☆☆ DNF@55%

completestoriesofjgballard (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard
Series: ———-
Author: Jerry Ballard
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 1199/DNF@55%
Format: Digital Edition



A massive collection of short stories by the author Jerry Ballard. Mainly from the 60’s and 70’s, Ballard’s stories one and all revolved around broken characters; broken mentally, broken physically, broken emotionally, broken psychologically, broken in any way you can imagine. The world is dystopian, hope has been removed and the inexorable pessimistic fate for humanity cannot be thwarted.


My Thoughts:

Ballard was a qualified writer, ie, he knew his craft and did it well. However, his style and subject matter destroyed any positives for me in that aspect. In the over 600 pages I read I would have expected SOME variety in the stories but nope, uniform brokenness was what Ballard thought and what he wrote. By the time I’d decided to DNF this, I wasn’t even depressed, I was simply bored. I imagine I felt like what an art connoisseur would have felt like if Edvard Munch had only painted Scream style paintings.

At the 25% mark I was raging inside. The brokenness of the characters really had gotten to me and I was sick that Ballard could write such people over and over and over. Every man was a coward in one way or another, every woman a harpy or drone. Then like I said earlier, I just got bored. You can only read the same type of character and story so many times before it stops having an impact.

Originally, this book was published in 2 separate volumes and honestly, I think that was the correct choice. This 1 volume was just too big. Maybe if you wanted to slowly read a story here and there every day or week and you could set this down whenever you wanted, you’d not get bored. I still would have gotten bored though and there was no way I was going to spend a prolonged time period with this author’s outlook. One week of reading it every day, approximately 100 pages a day (anywhere from 4-10 stories), was enough.

Ballard also hasn’t aged well. The wonders of psychology would solve all the problems, but of course with Ballard that was misused so it would create all the problems. In one story psychologists had been outlawed by a right-wing world order and the main character had gone to jail for trying to help someone in an underground psychology session. I don’t see Ballard becoming an enduring author. To the dustbins of history with him I say!

Finally, I couldn’t help but compare this massive collection to the volumes of short stories by Asimov that I read back in ’16. That was also a 2 volume collection, Volume One and Volume Two and together they about equaled the same number of pages as this. Their tone however, was much more positive and upbeat, which allowed the more negative stories in that collection to be more of a savory contrast, like sweet and sour chicken. Ballard was just sour chicken. That is only yummy if you’re a sick, sick individual.



bookstooge (Custom)


35 thoughts on “The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard ★★☆☆☆ DNF@55%

  1. bormgans says:

    I’ve only read a small collection of Ballard’s short stories, but I can sympathise with your feelings 100%. I liked some of the stories, a lot even, but there’s a reason I didn’t hit the buy button when I saw this tome for sale on some online shop. I plan on reading one of his novels though, someday – The Crystal World or The Drowned World, whichever crosses my path first.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh. Apart from the fact that this would make me depressed and I probably wouldn’t even pick it up in the first place…. If you read a short story collection, you want SOME variety.. especially if it’s over 1000 pages.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mischenko says:

    I can understand why you quit. It seems very depressing! It certainly doesn’t sound like something I could handle. Thanks for sharing your honest review.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. savageddt says:

    Ballard must’ve been a broken person himself… Great review as always, glad you decided to DNF than trying to get through to the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Manuel Antao says:

    Ballard could never have written upbeat SF. It wasn’t in him…

    Loved the comparison with Asimovw who was an altogether different writer. I think Ballard as the years go by will fo into obscurity. Not sure about Asimov.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like short story anthologies, but there has to be SOME variety in them. I don’t blame you for DNFing this one if they were all too similar. Yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sharon Barrow Wilfong says:

    Really excellent review, Bookstooge (do you mind if I call you Bookstooge?) I’ve never understood why authors who only see bleakness and the worst of human nature are considered “profound”. To me they are just as myopic as a sentimental Amish Romance. (Apologies to those who like Amish Romance).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      That is MR Bookstooge to you! 😉 Hehehehe, Bookstooge is fine. Book is fine, or even Stooge is fine.

      A good author varies what he writes even if he has a natural bent towards one emotion or another. Wallowing, as it were is definitely not fun to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ola G says:

    I only read Ballard’s Empire of the Sun. Truth be told, I think almost everyone with such experience would be bound to write depressing things. It’s an interesting point you make about Asimov, whose own biography was nearly 180 degrees opposite – confirming the argument that life bleeds into literature whether the authors want it or not 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I read his Empire of the Sun which was sort of a “meh” read for me. It was on the Guardians 1000 book list so I thought I’d give it a try. Your response doesn’t surprise me. I won’t be reading anything else by him either. 😝

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ahahaha! That sweet and sour chicken comparison! 😛
    I’m with you though, you can only read the same characters so many times before you’re bored out of your gourd.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I read one or two novels from Ballard, way back when – I’m sure about The Drowned World, not so sure about Wind from Nowhere – and I do remember how depressing they were: a collection of stories with the same mood and theme would indeed be hard to finish…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. R A I N says:

    I haven’t read any of Ballard’s stories and to be honest this is the first time I am hearing his name but DAMN from your review it seems like it’s better to avoid reading this! Because repetitive characters are YIKES! They bore the reader because obviously there is just not much dimension to them to make us want to root for them, or to continue following their story!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      I’d heard of Ballard only because of some other reviewers I follow. He sounded like an author I wanted to try, so I did. I’m glad I did read what I did just so I know more about him as an author (always glad to expand my sphere of SFF knowledge) but I can see why he hasn’t stayed the course.

      Thank you for you kind words. But don’t be fooled, not every negative review is like this one. Sometimes I just rant or other times I simply state what I found objectionable. But then there are the ones like this where it is more fun to write the review than it was to read the stories 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • R A I N says:

        I totally agree that reading bad writing is just as important as good one because well….you start appreciating the good ones even more and also…you get to expand your knowledge of what makes a story good and what are the things that ticks off the readers.

        Oh well…writing is an occupation totally dependent on the mood of both the story and the reader so yeah…that’s natural! ❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Fascinating. I’m intrigued by how dark it gets and how much his life had an impact on the themes he wanted to tackle. I sort of saw coming that you were going to say that the author could write but that the subject matter wasn’t going to be your cup of tea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily call it dark, but more “dreary” and just unrelentingly dreary.

      It would be interesting to see what someone who has a greater capacity for that kind of thing thinks of this compendium…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I tried reading Empire of the Sun and didn’t like it at all so I never read anything else by the author. Dreary is not for me so I don’t think I’ve missed out on anything!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. […] The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard – 2 Stars worth of unmitigated dystopian sameness […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s