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J.G. Ballard Dies at Age 78

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-left-blank dept.

Sci-Fi 162

jefu writes "J.G. Ballard, an author (of science fiction and other fiction) has died. His works include some of the strangest and most compelling novels ever, including 'The Crystal World,' 'Crash' and 'The Atrocity Exhibition.' For a truly weird read, try his 'Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race," compared with Alfred Jarry's "The Crucifixion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race.'" Here is Ballard's obituary at the BBC.

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162 comments

For those with ebook readers (3, Informative)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640227)

All of his works are on Piratebay and since copyrights should be nullified upon death, enjoy.

Re:For those with ebook readers (4, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640311)

Yes! Copyrights nullified upon death! Intellectual property vultures rejoice, the author is dead, let the feast begin!

Re:For those with ebook readers (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640363)

That way when an author starts to suck we can sacrifice him to memory of his former glory and enjoy his works for free! Genius!

Re:For those with ebook readers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640385)

"George Lucas was seen fleeing his California ranch today after visiting an unnamed website."

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

tripmine (1160123) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640377)

I don't want to get into the morality/legality of this but I do agree. What GP said does sound fucked up.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640503)

Of course it does. But most straw men sound pretty strange when compared to realistic depictions of an opposing person's viewpoint.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640461)

A) the idea that copyright constitutes "property" in the regular sense is silly because it's a government-granted license for the exclusive rights to copy a work for a limited term -- i.e. it's not "property", it's a lease; B) even so, I'm fine with "intellectual property" only if people pay taxes on it for as long as they "own" it; C) the current lease term is far too long, but terminating with the death of the author is a bit inconsiderate too. Twenty years after death should be ample time to provide living people with an incentive to create new works, and to allow any children of an author to come to the realization they'll soon have to create their own works in order to make more money, rather than sponging off their parent's works forever.

Property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640493)

You think you own that house? Other than some government-granted license called a deed you don't. All it takes is a bigger meaner AC to take it from you.

Re:For those with ebook readers (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640701)

You realize that the same theory applies to real estate, right? You don't "own" real estate, you own "title" to real estate which may or may not be in your possession (i.e., which you may or may not inhabit and protect through fences, locks, etc.), but since you can't put real estate in your pocket, the whole concept of owning it is abstract. Paying a kind of property tax on "intellectual property" would put it in the same category as real estate and automobiles (unlike cash savings, for which you do not pay taxes - only income). Twenty years after death is a little short. I'm all in favor of going back to death+50. Except in the case of Walt Disney; their copyrights should all expire immediately just to spite them.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641123)

Okay, I'll concede your point that the ownership of land is just as abstract as "intellectual property" in some ways, but there's a very important difference for copyright: limited term. Copyright has *always* had a limited term, and the reasons for having a limited term haven't changed. Copyright is a license from the government to control the copying of the work, but that license expires. If you buy and get the title to a piece of land the ownership doesn't ordinarily expire. If it does, you don't say you "own" the land, you say you are leasing it, at which point the title reverts to the original owner. Same for copyright. It's a temporary lease.

We can argue over whether 20 years are enough, but it's got to expire or people are permanently "stealing" from the public domain and really are turning it into "property". At that point I do think it is appropriate to pay taxes on it like property.

Re:For those with ebook readers (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640337)

No, they should not be nullified upon death. What if the author dies a day after his work is first published? The publisher still has to pay their bills. Copyright should be restored to its original condition as laid down by the founding fathers; 14 years is more than fair in this day and age.

Re:For those with ebook readers (5, Insightful)

Mprx (82435) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640583)

14 years is excessive, as improved distribution methods mean more people can access the work soon after publication than was possible when copyright was originally designed. Additionally, improved communications technology increases the pace of meme distribution, and as a great deal of value of a copyrighted work is in the novel social interactions it enables this shortens its time of highest value.

An automatic copyright of 5 years, with an extension of another 5 years available on paying a several thousand dollar fee sounds reasonable.

Re:For those with ebook readers (4, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640709)

Some of us take more than 14 years to finish our creative works. Sorry if your flash animations aren't as hard as painting a building sized mural by yourself or writing a field guide on all known North American bird species. While we can certainly adjust it so that when you're finished is when the clock starts, going from one project to another if it takes more than 5 years to complete is not very economical. I assume for a steady income we'd like to have royalties for at least as long as it takes us to make another project that can produce steady income.

I'd argue 5 years for corporate entities, and 20 years for individuals. With no extensions possible. If you need to protect your work for more than 5 years, you'll have to figure out a way to tie trademarks into it and protect it the hard (and expensive) way.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1, Offtopic)

Mprx (82435) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640759)

The clock should start from date of first publication. A few thousand dollars isn't much spread over 10 years if your project is profitable. If your next project will take an unusually long time to complete and you can't afford to finance it yourself then you'll have to convince people to invest in it.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1, Insightful)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641045)

I think a system a bit better than simply Copyright should be implemented. If I was a writer I would hope to maintain rights to my own work for as long as I live at least to a certain extend. While I can see the merit of letting people copy and publish your work unrestricted after some numbers of years (twenty-thirty years after original publication maybe) I would say that should only go for pure copies of the book/image. If say someone wanted to make a movie or TV adaptation of the work then as long as the author lives he/she should have rights to decide if it should be allowed and influence the adaptation.

When it comes to selling rights to publishers, movie studios or other corporations; then I am for much stronger legislation. If an author sells rights to a someone else then those rights should become public domain after a certain number of predefined years not exceeding a maximum number of years (say fifteen years or so).

Perhaps this is a bit simplistic and something a bit more detailed and robust is needed. All I can say is that at the moment copyright law, and the means used by large entities like Disney, are perhaps not in the best interest of the consumer, the artist and society in general. It is a serious subject that requires serious deliberation and debate; however at the moment most seem to show disinterest and large economic entities are allowed to deal as they very well please.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0, Offtopic)

Philip_the_physicist (1536015) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641143)

IMO, copyright should be life or 25 years whichever is longer, and 25 years for corporate works. This is plenty of time to profit on the work, and to provide for the creator's children in the event of his death. A fixed term for both individual and corporate works would also be reasonable, but is probably not a realistic option.

I would also support the principle of some form of limited moral rights law, requiring the producer of derivative works to acknowledge their source, unless this right is disclaimed by the source. The devil is in the details for this, though, and if we are not careful, we could end up with a monster.

Re:For those with ebook readers (3, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641697)

I am so not going to illegally copy your building sized mural. Promise.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642135)

Is that due to the bandwidth demands of downloading an entire building, or just a commentary on the quality of his work?

Re:For those with ebook readers (5, Interesting)

Polumna (1141165) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642137)

In these arguments about copyright terms, I am always stricken by two things: the general assumption that all copyrights should be identical and that copyright is binary.

We could have different copyright terms on different creations... entertainment software could be 5 years, serious commercial trade software like CAD/CAM or 3DS Max could be 15. Reference materials like your guide on N.A. bird species could be the life of the author or 25 years for the publisher. Textbooks similar. Movies 10 years. Etc.

Further, copyright doesn't have to be absolute. As in my above example, after 3 years, all entertainment software could go id-style where the engine is pretty much free and mod-able, but the art remains under control for the duration of the 5 years. Another case that comes to mind were the lawsuits over Harry Potter guides. Say Harry Potter's copyright is 12 years, but after 6, all of this control over derivative works goes away.

I'm not really asserting that this is the right way to go or anything, but it seems obvious to me that a lot of these problems are the result of lumping all copyrightable material into one set of rules. Should flash animation be legally the same as a mural in this context? I don't ever see anybody really asking these questions directly.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640765)

So some guy works for 15 years on his magnum opus. He publishes it, the next day he gets hit by a car. His book becomes a worldwide sensation but his widow and kids get nothing because of your idiot rule. Screw that, 14 years is a fair period, death or no.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0, Offtopic)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641285)

This is an absolutely ridiculous proposition. Improved distribution methods mean jack-all when it comes to determining the length of copyright. This is honestly like saying "Transportation is more efficient these days, so cake mixes ought to be less fattening." That makes about as much sense as your assertion.

Your note regarding the determination of value on copyrighted works is preposterous. How, precisely, do you plan on assigning a valid value to works that wind up being regarded as classical works in their respective fields? Short term interactions? How about long term respect?

You use a whole lot of buzzwords, but don't appear to have thought this matter through thoroughly. 14 years sounds reasonable to me.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641487)

Inefficient distribution means more of the copyright monopoly will be wasted. Less waste = less monopoly needed. Long term reputation is irrelevant to optimal monopoly length, because nobody produces work intending it to be only respected in the distant future.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642027)

You just contradicted yourself:

Additionally, improved communications technology increases the pace of meme distribution, and as a great deal of value of a copyrighted work is in the novel social interactions it enables this shortens its time of highest value.

How, precisely does that jive with your parent post with respect to the value of content not being a determining factor in monopoly length?

Re:For those with ebook readers (0, Offtopic)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642019)

Classic. The parent post gets modded offtopic because some mods don't agree with my position. Meanwhile, the GP post gets modded up because it fits with their version of fantasy. God, I love Slashdot sometimes.

Re:For those with ebook readers (2, Interesting)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641639)

If you make the time too short, then you can actually encourage people to just wait. Even 14 years will likely be short enough for the vultures (ie. large publishers, film studios, the chronically unhip and cheap) to opt out of bothering until the copyright runs out and they can do whatever they want.

Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641693)

I won't wade into the length of time debate, but I am a strong believer that we don't need extensions. Authors should be allowed to create a new edition of the work (creating a derivative work could mean changing as little as a few words or adding a new forward or afterward) and then they can be given a full new copyright on the "new" work.

This is what copyright was supposed to be for... to encourage new work. I guess I am just singing to the choir when I mention how perverted copyright has become... a copyright is not supposed to be an unending stream of cash for a corporate organization.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641983)

You realise that when you spend years writing a book based on an entire lifetime's work, after all the struggles of publishing and promoting a book, 5 years seem like a blink of an eye to reap the fruits of your hard work.

You're aware that most book writers are little guys who hardly can even make a living out of it and wouldn't do what they do if it wasn't for the hope that their work could benefit them and their family durably? You realise that few book writers are Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, right? I don't even think you consider that side of things, I think you only consider your interests. (Disclaimer : my parents were book writers and struggled.)

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642153)

18-22 years would be proper in case the author had any offspring.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642173)

several thousand dollar fee? yeah so only the rich and authors published through a major publishing house can enjoy the right to sue for damages in court when their rights are infringed? fuck that.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27642133)

publishers can still print and sell something that is out of copyright. and you're right, 14 years *is* beyond fair.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640397)

Did you really have to bring "since copyrights should be nullified upon death" into this thread? It's not a troll, but it is distasteful.

If copyrights became null on someone's death, that would create an incentive to have dead artists. In the extreme, it could create Dover Death Squads or K-tel assassins. More likely, an artist could drop dead right after their work and the work would go unrewarded; suddenly you'll find every new piece of copyrighted material is listed as a collaborative work.

Just make copyrights a particular, genuinely limited length of time. That's all. Don't let the current perversion of "limited length" lead you to adapting other, worse ideas for limits on copyright.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640585)

it could create Dover Death Squads or K-tel assassins.

I'm sure that Time-Life Music would be interested in that concept. Killing off has-been pop stars would be right up their tin-pan alley.

Re:For those with ebook readers (3, Insightful)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640447)

Yeah, because maybe his family shouldn't get a windfall from the surge in book sales his titles are about to recieve. Funerals are expensive too. Maybe when you die you won't care if you leave your kids with anything, but seeing as how many authors are broke most of their life, I'm sure he would just be ok with his family getting nothing. I mean, the guys not even in the ground yet and suddenly his life's work should be free? Your logic fails me. I could see maybe like 10 to 20 years or something, but jeez, copyright exists for a period of time after death for a whole bunch of reasons.

Gasp! (1)

FeepingCreature (1132265) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640633)

Yeah, because maybe his family shouldn't get a windfall from the surge in book sales his titles are about to recieve. Funerals are expensive too. Maybe when you die you won't care if you leave your kids with anything, but seeing as how many authors are broke most of their life, I'm sure he would just be ok with his family getting nothing. I mean, the guys not even in the ground yet and suddenly his life's work should be free? Your logic fails me. I could see maybe like 10 to 20 years or something, but jeez, copyright exists for a period of time after death for a whole bunch of reasons.

Gasp! People are not getting money for something they didn't do! Can't the state do something?

Oh wait.

Gasp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641365)

Lonely man with no family fails to see the point in providing for their support!

Re:Gasp! (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641621)

Maybe support shouldn't depend on the birth lottery of having a successful $relative.

(And preemptive "bullshit" to the argument that aptitude is genetic. In that case, let's set up a dole based on aptitude tests and be done with it.)

Re:For those with ebook readers (3, Insightful)

aztektum (170569) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640729)

Doesn't mean those reasons are right. Copyright shouldn't allow someone to collect forever for working once. And it really shouldn't be relied on as a gift to for their family after death. If I die my family doesn't luck into some extra cash because from users of the network and computers I support.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640903)

Yeah, but if I die, my artwork might be one day worth something and my family would have something to sell. This is why intellectual property exists, so there is something that is tangible that can be transferred. In the eyes of the law it is my property. Like it or not, I can do what I want with my property after I die as defined by my will. I disagree with the excessively long times that copyright can be extended for now, and I think 10 years or so is really kind of fine. There are other reasons that copyright can't expire at death as other people have noted. Why shouldn't your family be the ones that reap the benefits of your labor? If I produced sculpture all my life, should my sculpture be suddenly public domain at death? How is writing or anything else that takes intellectual effort any different other than it exists in easily reproduced forms?

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640961)

How is writing or anything else that takes intellectual effort any different other than it exists in easily reproduced forms?

Something to do with physics or information theory or something. I'm tired, ask me in the morning.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1, Redundant)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641149)

In the eyes of the law it is my property.

That doesn't mean the law is right.

The original purpose of copyright was not to define ownership. It was, like patents, intended to provide a temporary monopoly on a work. And it was designed, not so you could make a profit, but to give you an incentive to create the work in the first place -- with the hopes that it will be in the public domain eventually.

If I produced sculpture all my life, should my sculpture be suddenly public domain at death? How is writing or anything else that takes intellectual effort any different other than it exists in easily reproduced forms?

That is pretty much it. It comes back to this:

The sculpture is a physical object. Physical objects can be property. No one can take your sculpture from you without your permission, because then you wouldn't have a sculpture anymore.

A book is probably more a collection of words. They can't take the original manuscript, but they can at least gain the ability to create copies. But no amount of copying means that you no longer have the book.

The problem is, it's about a right, not about a piece of property, physical or otherwise. Even stranger, it's not about them taking a right away from you -- it's about them giving that right to everyone else.

Frankly, if you want to look after your family, leave them money and/or life insurance. On the other hard, I would be very happy if copyright were a maximum of ten years, and totally transferable through death or otherwise.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641641)

OT comment WRT your new signature:

Heh. Your rural life in Iowa isn't quite so idyllic? That sucks. :(

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640939)

Copyright shouldn't allow someone to collect forever for working once.

You're absolutely right. I can't think of a single compromise we could make between "expires on death" and "never expires at all".~

(My theory has always been this: 15 years. You either have 15 years or death of the author, whichever comes later. Allows people to collect off their work until they shuffle off this mortal coil, but ensures if they do die very early that the family still sees something from it. I would find that acceptable, though most of the people here probably wouldn't)

Re:For those with ebook readers (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641165)

I wouldn't, mostly because I see no reason why you should keep getting a check for something you did 15 years ago. Surely you could have produced something new by then?

Yes, you could retire and live off the royalties, and it'd be great. But why should copyright be special that way? In other jobs, you set aside money for retirement. Do that with copyright -- set aside money for retirement, then you won't be penniless when your works expire.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

wizzat (964250) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641835)

I would think that having a "regular job" is somewhat front-loaded money. They pay you, you do the work. Going off on your own, being an author, writing a book, magazine, painting, whatever is not so front-loaded. Nobody's paying you up front for your work, and there's really no reason that they *should*.

Also, not everyone rushes out and buys the books *ALL AT THE SAME TIME*. I go buy 10-20 year old books all the time... and you know what? I WANT THE AUTHOR TO GET THEIR CASH FOR IT. Otherwise, I'd have bought them *used*.

Re:For those with ebook readers (2, Insightful)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641855)

I see no reason why you should keep getting a check for something you did 15 years ago

Mainly because that assumes that whatever I created spontaneously jumped out of my mind one day 15 years prior.

The large majority of things that this covers would take time to make that people aren't being paid for, e.g. books/music. If it takes you a large amount of unpaid time to write something, why shouldn't you get paid for that time after you wrote it?

As far as I'm concerned, it balances itself out, and I feel 15 years isn't so long it's ridiculous, but not so short it ceases before your work's popularity dies out. Maybe a shorter term would be better, but I'll freely admit that I'm not an expert.

Re:For those with ebook readers (4, Insightful)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640775)

Maybe when you die you won't care if you leave your kids with anything

I'd rather put money in the bank while I was alive rather than leave them at the mercy of the society's interest in my works. Copyright is NOT supposed to be a life insurance.

An even better solution would be to tie copyright to first publication date instead of the author's death date. For instance, it would be MUCH easier to determine whether a given book is in the public domain, because the first impression's publication date is usually printed on the second page. The authors' death dates on the other hand may be unobtainable, especially for obscure works.

I mean, the guys not even in the ground yet and suddenly his life's work should be free?

The guy's family did not write the things that were under copyright. Giving them money for someone else's work will not cause them to create more, which is supposed to be the purpose of copyright. It may be cruel not to give money to a family in mourning, but this is what life insurance is for.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641477)

My seven year old son didn't write the code which earns money for both of us. If I died he would still benefit from my pay, insurance, etc. Copyright lasts a long time by comparison, but writers earn their money at a slow rate. A month for me may equate to ten years for an author.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640677)

So if I just kill you I can start publishing all your work? You can't hand it off to your children who might need the income due to your untimely death?

I'm not arguing against shorter copyright durations, I'm all for that, but just pointing out the naivety of your statement.

Re:For those with ebook readers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641041)

How to provide for my family in case of my untimely death.
1) Set aside a percentage of my paycheck into savings (cds,savings accounts,mutual funds,stocks... etc), and make sure that my written will is up to date
2) Perpetual copyright
3) Stuff matress full of scratch off lotto tickets
4) Government Bailout
I'm leaning toward three, what do you think?

Re:For those with ebook readers (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641575)

All of his works are on Piratebay and since copyrights should be nullified upon death, enjoy.

Yup, can't see any potential for abuse there.

How about just 20 years? I can't see any reason why it should depend at all on death or not.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641745)

"Should be nullified upon death". Yeah right ... and let's introduce a death tax too?! Why not just have all assets handed over to The State upon death. To hell with the idea of an inheritance or a legacy for those who mattered to the deceased.

You are a bit of insensitive jerk with a few half-baked ideas, I feel. A great writer and visionary passes away and you use that as an opportunity bluntly to spout your self-interested single-issue "moron-isms".

Think about it.

Re:For those with ebook readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641941)

Or you could get your ass up from in front of the computer and walk to the library...

Sci Fi authors don't die. (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640293)

They get abducted by Government agents when their books get too close to the truth. (Tinfoil hats at half price, today only.)

Re:Sci Fi authors don't die. (4, Funny)

Repton (60818) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640805)

They get abducted by Government agents when their books get too close to the truth.

Hmm, both Stanislaw Lem and Robert Anton Wilson "died" recently. I'm not sure which worries me more :-/

Re:Sci Fi authors don't die. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641489)

Tinfoil hats at half price, today only.

Bob Heinlein seemed to know so much about L Ron Hubbard. It was his bet with Hubbard which initiated Scientology. I always wondered if they could actually be the same person, of if Hubbard was an invention of Heinlein.

Re:Sci Fi authors don't die. (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641743)

I always wondered if they could actually be the same person, or if Hubbard was an invention of Heinlein.

If he were, I think Hubbard would have been a better writer.

"What price salvation? Remarkably cheap! For only a low initial payment..." -- Stranger in a Strange Land

And who can forget Dr. Ballard's work on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640299)

The Backstep Project as featured in the documentary 7 Days.

frirst (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640303)

frirst pst

Re:frirst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640331)

frirst pst? Fail on both accounts of spelling and position

RE/Search Publications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640321)

Sad to see him go but sooner or later we all make the little flowers grow.

If anyone is interested RE/Search Publications (http://www.researchpubs.com)

Has most of his works in the paper form...

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640349)

another guy died who did something..... yeah!

May the Peace of Jesus be with Him (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640395)

Let us hope that Ballard found the Lord Jesus before he passed into great beyond. After you die, it's too late.
 
Maybe it's time for YOU to call on Jesus and turn your life over to His saving grace

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27640441)

Save me zombie/baby jebus!

Re:May the Peace of Jesus be with Him (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640739)

Let us hope that Ballard found the Lord Jesus before he passed into great beyond.
That would have been cool, but you'd think that that kind of discovery would be in all the papers. Besides, I didn't think he was into archeology.

After you die, it's too late.
True, graverobbing works only when some of the participants are deceased.

Maybe it's time for YOU to call on Jesus and turn your life over to His saving grace
Well, I did call on Dr. Jesus Perez-Lopez to save my knee. Two hours of surgery and a little PT, and I could start running again.

Re:May the Peace of Jesus be with Him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641213)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that you could still accept Jesus after you die; obviously that would be your last chance, but maybe I am mistaken.

Re:May the Peace of Jesus be with Him (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641485)

Depends on the variety of christian religious craziness you're dealing with. Some are of the "no belief, straight to hell!" variety. Most of the evangelicals are, in fact.

"Truely Weird" no thanks. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640415)

Ya know, that's really not what I read sci-fi for.

Re:"Truely Weird" no thanks. (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640451)

"...and most compelling"

Ya know, that's what I like most about sci-fi actually.

Re:"Truely Weird" no thanks. (3, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640537)

So you are the type of guy that all those unimaginative books and series are made for? Where every goddamn alien looks like a human with some patch on his nose and an unusual haircut, and you can see stranger things on underwater nature tv shows. Where they are in the future and/or in space, and do the same boring shit that they could do in a historic novel. And where you just think: "My god, this is all the futuristic stuff you can come up with?"

No offense. If you like it, be happy. :)
But I for one, just wonder why you read sci-fi then? If the weird futuristic stuff does not matter, and you even dislike it...?

I know that many people create a false dichotomy, that goes like this: Well, the story matters. Not all the weird things.
But in reality, nothing stops you from writing a good story that also includes the weirdest things. In fact there is no reason why that should not add something to it.

"Truely weird in a futuristic way" is the very point of sci-fi, in my eyes. (Good stories are what I expect in any genre anyway, and does not need being specially mentioned.)

Re:"Truely Weird" no thanks. (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640727)

So you are the type of guy that all those unimaginative books and series are made for? Where every goddamn alien looks like a human with some patch on his nose and an unusual haircut, and you can see stranger things on underwater nature tv shows. Where they are in the future and/or in space, and do the same boring shit that they could do in a historic novel. And where you just think: "My god, this is all the futuristic stuff you can come up with?"

Wow. I'm not sure how you managed to draw that conclusion from what the GPP said. Personally, I don't read science fiction for the "truly weird" stuff. I read it for the imaginative science, and to me, what science does is take the weird and bizarre and make it reasonable and understandable.

There is so much crap science fiction out there, full of weirdness for weirdness sake: aliens with "weird" numbers of eyes, limbs, methods of communication, etc., most of which are weird simply to be different. It is amazing how rarely anyone gives any explanations for why an alien life form evolved the way it did. They just make them weird to be different, usually to the point that they become creatures of fantasy rather than science fiction.

The same goes with a lot of the technologies that appear in bad science fiction. So many things seem to come out of a magic black box, never really explained, and just taken for granted in the universe of the particular story. Everything from normal everyday technologies to the "truly weird" ways of space travel and waging war. No explanations, just "magic" (yeah yeah yeah, sufficiently advanced technology, I know). Again, these things fall out of the realm of science fiction an into fantasy.

Anyway, point being, most of the best science fiction is firmly grounded in science, rather than taking fantasy and wrapping it in science-y words. And, by being grounded in science, it can't really be "truly weird", because science takes the weird and makes it natural.

That said, I must note that this is NOT a commentary of J.G. Ballard's work. I have not actually read any of his work, and therefore can make no comment.

Also note, I am not disparaging fantasy works, either. I enjoy them quite a lot when they have good stories. I also enjoy the overlap between science fiction and fantasy, as well as many other genres. I enjoy good stories with good writing. I merely am pointing out why at least one reader reads science fiction and prefers the good, hard stuff over the weird.

Re:"Truely Weird" no thanks. (0, Offtopic)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641305)

aliens with "weird" numbers of eyes, limbs, methods of communication, etc., most of which are weird simply to be different. It is amazing how rarely anyone gives any explanations for why an alien life form evolved the way it did.

Take The Mote in God's Eye -- weird for weirdness' sake is fine, I think, as long as it's interesting. Yes, it does discuss why they evolved to be that way -- but more importantly, it discusses what the implications of that weirdness are -- beyond the obvious ones of "that extra limb sometimes gets in the way."

So many things seem to come out of a magic black box, never really explained, and just taken for granted in the universe of the particular story.... Again, these things fall out of the realm of science fiction an into fantasy.

Ah, the old debate of soft vs hard science fiction. A quote that I really can't seem to source: You are allowed to predict the automobile, if you also predict the traffic jam.

That is, while it helps to envision science that's actually plausible, given our current knowledge of the way the universe works -- I love that there's no sound or faster-than-light travel in the Firefly universe, for example -- what really makes a bit of science fiction interesting or not, in its scifi elements, is how well thought out they are, not in terms of mechanism, but in terms of consequences.

If you think about it, quite a lot of scifi has elements of mysticism -- even Firefly, or Dune, will have things like psychics, prescients, things that really haven't been explained, and might not be possible -- but make for amazingly fun "what if" stories.

I'm not sure where you draw the line; where that becomes fantasy. I don't really care much -- I'd rather read good fantasy than bad science fiction.

And in both cases, weird-to-be-weird can be fun, but it's not whether the weirdness has an explanation -- for example, it really doesn't matter precisely how a stilsuit works. What matters is what kind of a culture might evolve among those who spend most of their lives in one -- the Fremen, for example. And the sandworms are cool both because of how weird they are, and because they're deified (Shai Hulud; Shaitan), and because the Fremen have learned to ride them.

If the story just described giant sandworms, and how you can have that whole ecosystem work on a planet with so little water, and gave precise schematics for how to build a stilsuit, I don't know that it would improve things.

That said, I must note that this is NOT a commentary of J.G. Ballard's work. I have not actually read any of his work, and therefore can make no comment.

I must admit the same thing.

Re:"Truely Weird" no thanks. (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641455)

Take The Mote in God's Eye -- weird for weirdness' sake is fine, I think, as long as it's interesting.

Ok but what about those of us who are more the Dream Park type of sci-fi fans? In your post you mention hard versus soft sci-fi. I've always considered myself the "hard" sci-fi fan because I've always leaned more towards sci-fi that is possible within my lifetime and doesn't need to make far fetched assumptions. The "What if" within the limits of solid known science has always been more enjoyable to me than the "Make it so" sci-fi that neglects science or turns science into another magic trick.

Aside from Contact I don't even find alien involvement especially appealing in science fiction. I'm sure there is more science fiction that involves aliens as more of a plot element than an active force in a story line, much like Contact, but I just haven't read it.

If you think about it, quite a lot of scifi has elements of mysticism -- even Firefly, or Dune, will have things like psychics, prescients, things that really haven't been explained, and might not be possible -- but make for amazingly fun "what if" stories.

I can only speak for Dune in this case as I've never seen/read/heard anything much in the way of Firefly but I find Dune as very soft sci-fi. So soft that I wouldn't feel bad towards someone who didn't consider it sci-fi.

I feel that the line between fantasy and sci-fi has become too blurred. To be frank, your use of the word "mysticism" in relation to Dune is really just a polite or politically correct way to call out the down right religious aspects of the story without having to say the word "God." Not that I'm offended by it but given current company I think you can understand what I'm getting at but just to put my cards on the table: Dune has about as much sci-fi value as The Bible if you could dismiss both "mysticism" elements as fantasy or if you embraced both elements are truth.

I feel the same way about books like The Exorcist. If you're not of the persuasion that The Exorcist has a possible truth to it than it's great fantasy horror but if you believe the concepts of demonic possession as possible than The Exorcist becomes a great "what if?" novel.

I know it's a bit long winded but to wrap it up I'm basically trying to illustrate the point that the really speculative "what if?" type of sci-fi is no more science fiction to people like me than The Bible is in relation to Dune.

Recently CSI did an episode where one of the lab techs made a pretty solid point that Mr. Ed is more sci-fi than Star Trek because the chance of a horse mutating to the point that he could talk was a lot more scientifically sound of a "what if" concept than being able to travel faster than the speed of light. At least of Einstein is to be trusted....

The future isn't what we thought it'd be... (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641969)

One other thing to consider about science fiction is that someone makes a prediction, based on the known technology of the time.

In Asimov's introduction to Foundation's Edge, he pointed out that his earlier Foundation books didn't consider the ubiquity of computers for galactic astrogation. In his first books, the pilot would refer to books that contained the locations of star systems, their relative motions, and so forth. His later books had people referring to the ship's navigational computer.

Larry Niven, in an article that he wrote about black holes, pointed out how a discovery about quantum black holes rendered his short story "The Hole Man" incorrect just before it got published. He didn't immediately try to retract the story, he just went ahead and let it go to print. Was this wrong?

We need to remember that these are all (A) speculation as to what the future may be like, and (B) above all, FICTIONAL.

So, perhaps we should lighten up a little bit. (Including me, who at one point tried hard to believe that Niven's "Known Space" series was a prediction of the best possible future.)

Re:"Truely Weird" no thanks. (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641461)

Fair enough, and I agree with you on pretty much every point. And I do enjoy both 'hard' and 'soft' science-fiction. I like the hard stuff (Arthur C. Clarke, Kim Stanley Robinson, etc) because the nearness to reality gives me a more visceral experience. I'll probably never actually make it into orbit and almost certainly never step foot on Mars, but, because of the 'hard science fiction' I've read, I feel I have a pretty good idea of what it would be like (I have a rather active imagination).

On the other hand, I like the 'soft' stuff because it blows my mind quite often.

Basically, good writing is good writing and good stories are good stories. If "truly weird" takes away from the story or distracts me from the story, I tend not to like it. Same with bad science or science that is just so out there that it makes me stop reading the story and say, "now, hang on a minute!".

The lines between genres are blurred anyway, so as long as the story is told well and the elements being used add to the story, rather than detract, then it's all good. However, bad writers often seem to use "truly weird" to cover up their inadequacies in story telling. Though, to be fair a lot of equally bad writers use raw facts and hard science in the same way. ;)

As Stephen King often stresses, "Story, dammit! It's all about story." :)

Re:"Truely Weird" no thanks. (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641921)

As Stephen King often stresses, "Story, dammit! It's all about story." :)

I was going to write something longer elsewhere, but this seems to sum up what I was going to say.

It's just a story, written for entertainment. No need to read serious predictions of the future into it.

JG Is Now A Voice Of Time (5, Interesting)

cybrpnk2 (579066) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640463)

Among his other works, JG Ballard's short story The Voices Of Time [wikipedia.org] had a huge impact on me as a teenager and has haunted me thru this very day. IMHO the VERY BEST SF story depicting man's place in an uncaring universe. Farewell, JGB, and thanks for your works.

Re:JG Is Now A Voice Of Time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641255)

Terminal Beach is my favorite J.G. Ballard short story. All of his sci-fi stuff is great, much of it dark and disturbing. If you like the music group Joy Division, then you may know that Ian Curtis was heavily influenced by Ballard, and even named a song, Atrocity Exhibition, after a Ballard story.

Re:JG Is Now A Voice Of Time (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641381)

I have not heard of this guy, and while I usually think whoop diddly bang whop another bloke is dead, in a bit of a sing-songy voice, right near, but not actually in, the back of my head, no, I mean closer to the front, this guy seems like a hoot and I'm happy the internet brought me something new today.

Update: captcha = hooted.

Supremely Ironic Indifferent Technophilia (4, Interesting)

meehawl (73285) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640495)

Re:Supremely Ironic Indifferent Technophilia (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641039)

Please post another excerpt.

Thanks

Re:Supremely Ironic Indifferent Technophilia (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641297)

mmmm, engine coolant.

Crash is earth-shattering (2, Interesting)

matt_morgan (220418) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640631)

Crash--a cautionary tale about our love of technology, and a science fiction novel written in the present, with no fictional technology, blew my mind and changed my life. A worthwhile read for anyone (it takes some guts sometimes), but especially for tech people. Give it a shot.

No mention of Empire of the Sun ? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640931)

The movie adaption is half decent.

Re:No mention of Empire of the Sun ? (1)

The_Myth (84113) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641209)

Ironically I only knew him from Empire of the Sun and its sequel Kindness of Women. Both of these two were in a way supposedly quasi-autobiographical of his own experiences at the time.

Re:No mention of Empire of the Sun ? (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 4 years ago | (#27642051)

Same here, I didn't know he wrote science fiction. I've only read Empire of the Sun, which is well worth reading, and I liked the movie too ("There are Frigidaires falling from the sky, it's kingdom come!").

Go and eat sunglasses on a pool (1)

abuelos84 (1340505) | more than 4 years ago | (#27640963)

RIP Ballard.
I, for one, will be freely copying my ballard pdf's to anyone who would appreciate such a fine pice of art.

Best Ballard Book (1)

doug5y (215134) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641121)

I think "Vermillion Sands" has to be one of his best novels ever. in fact it's one of the best SciFi novels I ever read!

From the back cover :

Vermillion Sands is J.G Ballard's fantasy landscape of the future - a latterday Palm Springs populated by forgotten movie queens, temperamental dilettantes, and drugged beachcombers, with prima donna plants that sing arias, cloud sculptures, dial-a-poem computers and ravishing, jewel-eyed Jezebels......"

RIP J.G. Ballard.

Seen Ballard on Ronald Reagan (1)

drwho (4190) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641323)

I loved this guy's work - I've got lots of his novels, and the RE:SEARCH books as well.

I liked 'Concrete Island' a lot. 'Crash' was just a bit too perverted for me.

informative goatgOat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27641407)

marketing surveys bu1reaucratic and fi,led countersuit, no matter how

Running Wild + Empire of the Sun (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 4 years ago | (#27641499)

I had to study these two at school. Such study normally sucked the life out of almost every text, these two I still remember as good stories, despite having to analyse every subtext to death. Running Wild was especially interesting.
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