Review of J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World


The Drowned WorldThe Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is our future, or how our future was imagined by J.G. Ballard in 1962, about two decades before scientists generally began to notice and grow concerned about a significant spike in the Earth’s atmospheric temperature. The Drowned World, though, is not truly a novel about global warming–rising temps and melting icecaps result primarily from solar storms, an event humans can’t curb.

This drowned world is much like Earth’s Triassic period with humans thrown in the mix and struggling to resettle amid hungry iguanas and alligators. (For a perhaps more realistic SF novel of global warming as we now understand it, I recommend Kim Stanley Robinson’s Forty Signs of Rain.) Ballard’s drowned world pits scientists like Dr. Robert Kerans and rogues like the bizarre and Kurtz-like Mr. Strangman against an environment that is physically and psychologically hostile toward humanity.

It’s good mix of 1970’s lost world movies like The Land Time Forgot and Heart of Darkness. The hallucinatory psychological adjustments humans have to make to this new environment are as intriguing as the drowned world itself.

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2 thoughts on “Review of J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World

  1. Hmm, I found the most intriguing aspect of the work the emotions that the characters experience — they retreat into their own worlds, they create their own delusions… So no, I don’t buy the it’s similar to The Land Time Forgot comparison at all. They are not encountering thrills and chills. But rather, strange individuals who have made their delusions manifest.

    • Thank you for the comment. I was thinking about Land that Time Forgot as far as what things might have looked like regarding the setting. But, yes, the emotional experience is the most intriguing aspect of the novel.

      Best,
      Todd

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