Been away on holiday and am now back at it—working hard on the 2nd BALLARD book, THE REPUBLIC OF DOGS.
Wanted to take a moment to address two questions which have come in from several different readers of BALLARD motor court:
1) where does the name BALLARD come from? and
2) what is The Tower?
The first one is a bit easier to answer, so I’ll start there. J.G. Ballard was a British novelist and short story writer. Two of his books (Crash and Empire of the Sun) have been made into films (by David Cronenberg, and Steven Spielberg, respectively). He is commonly thought of as a science fiction writer, but, in his own words, ” … I was interested in the real future I could see approaching, and less in the invented future that science fiction preferred.” In a preface to The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard, Martin Amis wrote: “No one is, or was, remotely like him.”
The Complete Stories blew me away when I began reading it several years ago. Ballard’s methods are both rigorous and wildly imaginative. I began to see J.G. Ballard as a detective of the post-modern soul, a psychic investigator of what it meant to be alive in a century besotted with technology. I was hooked … not least by the dull and yet fateful sonority of the word ‘BALLARD.’ As it’s turned out, the sound of that word BALLARD—whispered & terrible—was a bell-toll that reawakened my need to tell stories, to make sense of what I thought it meant to be alive.
So, that’s why my character is named Ballard and why I refer to these as my BALLARD books. On to The Tower … which is also related to J.G. Ballard.
Years ago, I wrote a short story called “blakk,” about a skyscraper which serves as:
a) a type of cinema for hipster-types who like to gather and get off watching apocalyptic films of alien invasions, and
b) a venue for a wildly alcoholic happy-hour gathering of co-workers that over the course of an evening blossoms into a hallucinogenic search through the corridors of this building for the nature of reality.
Suffice to say, it was not very good. But, years later, as I read “The Concentration City” in Ballard’s Complete Stories (which is about a high-rise of planetary proportions), my little skyscraper from “blakk” came back to me and a new way to approach its themes began to work its way through my brain.
There is a “science” behind my idea of The Tower. (It has to do with Michael Talbot’s conception of The Holographic Universe, for any of you who may be interested.) But, for me, The Tower is about enormity and the uncanny ability for enormous things to stay, ultimately, outside the grasp of our conscious minds: these are things which are so large as to be unknowable, unless we dig a little deeper, go a little further out …