Above: the first edition of "News From The Sun"
NEWS FROM THE SUN
(FOR J. G. BALLARD’S READERS)
Hello. This is the first issue of a news-sheet for readers of J. G. Ballard. It is being produced in an extremely limited edition -- for Dave Bridges of Sheffield and one or two other people. If there's a response perhaps the sheet will grow...
First, the title (most people won't get the reference as yet): “News from the Sun” is the name of Ballard's latest story, a 13,000-word piece which I've had the privilege of reading in manuscript. It's due to appear in Ambit 87 (Autumn 1981), which should have been out by now -- though I haven't received my subscription copy as yet. It's not unusual for Ambit to be late. “News from the Sun” is, in a sense, a rewrite of “The Voices of Time” -- it has the same south-western United States setting, similar deserted landscapes, and concerns a mysterious mental plague of the near future (people enter “fugues” for increasing lengths of time until eventually the whole human race is living on another mental level). It’s a good story, full of startling imagery.
It is intended that “News from the Sun” will be produced as a limited-edition booklet to accompany the first issue of Interzone, a new quarterly fiction magazine which will appear from next February. Ballard himself has given permission, as has his agent, John Wolfers. The story will have appeared in Ambit, but the editors of Interzone (I'm one of 'em) believe that there is little overlap between the readership of Ambit and the likely subscribers' list for Interzone (there are some 220 subscribers at this time of writing, by the way, and the magazine seems to be well on course). Another Ballard novelette, “Myths of the Near Future” may well appear in the second issue of Interzone -- next May if we're on schedule. “Myths of the Near Future”, a story in much the same vein as “News from the Sun”, was to have appeared in the Next Editions series of booklets edited by Emma Tennant; however, Ballard tells us that Next Editions have run out of money and will not now be publishing this particular item (for those of you who have seen earlier Next Editions booklets, by the way, Ballard’s story was originally listed as “The Neuro-Surgeon's Tale” -- he has definitely dropped that title, though a neuro-surgeon does feature in the story). Whether or not it appears in Interzone, “Myths...” will definitely be out before the end of 1982 because it now constitutes the title-piece of Ballard’s new collection, recently sold to Cape...
NEW HARDCOVER SHORT-STORY COLLECTION, AUTUMN 1982!
According to Messrs Ballard and Wolfers, Cape have now accepted this new volume of stories, and will probably publish it in September or October of next year. It is entitled Myths of the Near Future and contains ten items. Ballard has given me the following contents list not necessarily in order of appearance in the book):
“Myths of the Near Future” (unpublished)
“The Smile” (Bananas, 1976)
“The Dead Time” (Bananas, 1977)
“Theatre of War” (Bananas, 1977)
“The Intensive Care Unit” (Ambit, 1977)
“Zodiac 2000” (Ambit, 1978)
“Having a Wonderful Time” (Bananas, 1978)
“Motel Architecture” (Bananas, 1978)
“A Host of Furious Fancies” (Time Out, 1980)
“News from the Sun” (Ambit, 1981)
The above ten pieces should make an excellent collection, stronger than his last, Low-Flying Aircraft. My only quibble is the omission of “The Air Disaster”, an outstanding story which appeared in the first issue of Bananas, 1975, and which has not so far been reprinted anywhere to the best of my knowledge...
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL PIECE BY BALLARD IN FOUNDATION 24
I visited Ballard in July of this year, to interview him for a “Profession of Science Fiction” piece in Foundation. I wanted to do a specifically biographical interview, and he was happy to oblige. After transcription, I carefully edited the interview into a continuous narrative, interspersed with appropriate quotations from stories and articles. All my own questions have been omitted from the final draft, so it now reads like an autobiographical article by Ballard himself (he has approved it, after a couple of very slight alterations). The piece, which I've entitled “From Shanghai to Shepperton”, will appear in Foundation 24, February 1982. Don't miss it! It concentrates mainly on Ballard's early life and the beginnings of his career as a writer. He reveals, among other fascinating facts, that he once wanted to be a psychiatrist, and that he was kicked out of London University where he had enrolled as a student of English Literature in the early 1950s...
MAJOR NEW BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ALL BALLARD'S WRITINGS
I realize I'm blowing my own trumpet in this first issue of the Ballard news-sheet, but there are a number of projects I've been involved with recently which I want to tell you all about. Over the past couple of years I've slowly compiled a new Ballard bibliography (intended to replace the one by Jim Goddard and myself which appeared in J. G. Ballard: The First Twenty Years, Bran's Head Books, 1976). It is bang up to date, and corrects a few errors and rectifies several omissions which were in the earlier bibliography. It is to be published by G. K. Hall of Boston in a hardcover edition, some time in 1982 -- I'll let you know the exact date when I hear myself!
The bibliography is in four parts. Part A lists all Ballard's fiction chronologically, from “The Violent Noon” in 1951 to “News from the Sun” in 1981. It also attempts to list all anthology appearances for each story. Part B is headed “Miscellaneous” and lists scraps of verse, computer print-outs, collages and other occasional pieces by Ballard (e.g. his contributions to the “Invisible Years” series in Ambit). Part C is a chronological listing of his non-fiction, including many bits and pieces which Jim Goddard and I didn't know about at the time of the previous bibliography -- e.g. a nice little essay called “Time, Memory and Inner Space” which appeared in The Woman Journalist (!) in 1963.
Part D of the bibliography, which is by far and away the longest, is a selective and annotated chronological list of criticism and reviews of Ballard. It tells a fascinating story of how his works have been received over the years. The bibliography is rounded off with appendices on foreign-language editions of Ballard's books and non-fiction which has appeared in French, plus various indices...
There are also Preface and Introduction by myself and a transcription of a long interview I did with Ballard in 1979 (part of which appeared in Thrust in 1980). All in all, it should make a substantial book of, I guess, 150 pages. It will probably be pricey -- G. K. Hall usually charge around $20 for their bibliographies which are intended for the library trade, but I hope to import a few copies myself and sell them to you people at as low a rate as I can reasonably charge (don't tell the publishers I said that, or they won't let me have the extra copies!).
I could go on and tell you about the proposed collection of Ballard’s non-fiction, Which Way to Inner Space?, which nobody seems interested in publishing as yet, but I'll save that for a future news-sheet. Likewise, comment on the new illustrated edition of The Drowned World (just published by Dragon's Dream at £9.95, with paintings by Dick French) can wait. There's plenty to report on, including the spread of Ballard's books in translation, the increasing amount of criticism which is being devoted to him, and so on. I'm writing this news-sheet straight onto the typewriter, and it's by way of a taster, to see if there's any “demand”. What do you think? Is NEWS FROM THE SUN (FOR J. G. BALLARD’S READERS) a good idea or a lousy one? Please do write and tell me, and please do pass on any Ballard “news”, references to his work and so on, which may have come your way. Photocopies of interesting references would be much appreciated. Chris Atkinson sent me an article from Time Out the other day; it was an article on Grace Jones, the singer, which mentions a record of hers, “Warm Leatherette”, which is “based on J. G. Ballard's novel Crash”. I find such snippets fascinating. Do you? Has anybody heard “Warm Leatherette” and if so what is it like? I'd appreciate a copy of the lyrics...
That will suffice for a first outing. Best wishes,
Acknowledgments to Rob Freeth, who first suggested a J. G. Ballard news-sheet; my initial reaction was to tell him to do it, but then I thought “why not?”