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J.G. Ballard Dies Aged 78
Crash writer loses cancer battle

20 April 2009  |  Written by Phil de Semlyen  

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Award-winning novelist J.G. Ballard has died after a long battle with prostrate cancer. He was 78.

Ballard, who died at his Shepperton home, was one of the most influential British writers of the post-war era and also earned significant cachet within Hollywood, where two of his novels, Crash and Empire Of The Sun, were adapted into movies.

Seen by many as a sci-fi writer, Ballard disliked the label, preferring to describe his books as 'picturing the psychology of the future'. Crash, High Rise, Super-Cannes and The Drowned World, in particular, created stark visions of modern life and proved a key influence on the cyberpunk movement.

Ballard's dystopian tale of car-accident fetishism Crash caught the eye of David Cronenberg, who brought it to the screen in 1996 in an adaptation that proved extremely faithful to the writer's vision. Ballard dismissed Crash's attendant controversy and applauded Cronenberg's movie, describing it as "the first film of the 21st century".

Ballard's most famous work though is his 1984 novel Empire Of The Sun, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was brought to the screen by Steven Spielberg three years later. An autobiographical account of the Ballard's childhood years in a Shanghai internment camp during World War II, Empire Of The Sun was partly filmed at Shepperton Studios, a stone's throw from Ballard's home, and features a small cameo role for the writer.

Ballard is survived by his three children and by his partner Claire Walsh.


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