War Fever

J. G. Ballard, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-374-28645-3
Ballard, the surrealistic poet of contemporary life, looks into the near future in this collection of unsettling short stories. They all revolve around a world in which current tendencies are carried to alarming extremes: Ronald Reagan's presidency is revived, and a nation obsessed with his health barely notices a fleeting world war; a cargo vessel carrying toxic wastes creates a brief, hallucinatory paradise on a Caribbean island; AIDS anxiety calls forth a strange new society in which casual sex is compulsory, in order to raise the birth rate; astronauts figure in two stories, one a vision of Cape Canaveral as a shrine of ancient aviation history where time has literally stood still, the other an account of a self-described moon-walker living off his past in Rio. There are also three brilliant literary satires, which take the forms, respectively, of a questionnaire to which only the answers are given; a series of footnotes without a text; and an index to a book that may never have been written, about a man who could have been a key figure in 20th-century history. Ballard's is a playful and versatile imagination, and this collection will gratify his admirers. (Apr . )
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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