That Crash came to dominate Ballard’s work to the degree it did isn’t a surprise. It’s the novel where all his ambitions – Surrealism, medicine, technology and personal anguish – collide with maximum impact. Given he spent so long trying to deflect moral objections to the book it was ironic that Playboy later declared it ‘the fifth sexiest novel of all time’, and that hindsight has confirmed it now ranks as one of Ballard’s most prophetic moments, anticipating the 21st Century’s fetish for both violent videogames and the rising body count of Hollywood movies. Indeed, when it comes to the future, Extreme Metaphors functions as a greatest hits package of Ballard’s predictions. It’s why Will Self notes, ‘other writers describe. Ballard anticipates’; in this area, Ballard was always a trailblazer. Twitter, YouTube, celebrity, Ronald Regan, the fictions of advertising, Second Life, the dead end of space travel – Ballard predicts them all well in advance of their realisation.
Richard Kovitch reviews Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J.G Ballard 1967–2008.