The Drowned World
J. G. Ballard's apocalyptic novel evokes a world both decaying and teeming with tropical life forms. Introduced by Will Self, with illustrations by James Boswell.
In a ghastly and beautiful world, at once decaying and teeming with tropical life forms, London lies half-submerged beneath a vast lagoon that reflects the glow of a swollen sun. The world’s fauna has returned to the Age of the Reptiles – mosquitoes the size of dragonflies, massive water-spiders and giant iguanas. The Ritz still stands, the monument to an almost-vanished civilisation, and in it is Kerans, a scientist producing futile biological reports. Holed up in a penthouse suite, witnessing the end of the hotel’s grand history, Kerans is coolly aware that his ‘odyssey’ of sinking cities will be the last phase of his own life too. Simultaneously he knows that his withdrawal from human company is the sign of a ‘careful preparation for a radically new environment’. Even his affair with the exquisite Beatrice Dahl – the only woman in the waterlogged capital – has the feel of an elegy, for he knows that ‘their only true meeting ground would be in their dreams’. As peculiar nightmares begin to afflict the world’s human survivors, his speculations prove only too prescient. In the events that follow, gleefully led by the diabolical Strangman – a white-suited, ‘half buccaneer, half devil’ – Kerans is drawn towards a lonely bid to maintain the new identity he has forged.
Bound in blocked buckram
Set in Utopia
Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations
9˝ x 5¾˝