Category: Fiction / General
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 6 August 2001
Number of pages: 416
A high-tech business park on the Mediterranean is the setting for a most disturbing crime in this extraordinary bestseller from the author of Crash and Cocaine Nights. After over three decades at the forefront of modern fiction, J.G. Ballard reached a new generation of readers with the bestselling thriller Cocaine Nights. In Super-Cannes, he delves into another closed community, where it is claimed that 'work is the new leisure'. A disturbing mystery awaits Paul and Jane Sinclair when they arrive in Eden-Olympia, a high-tech business park in the hills above Cannes. Jane is to work as a doctor for those who live in this ultra-modern workers' paradise. But what caused her predecessor to go on a shooting spree that made headlines around the world? As Paul investigates, he begins to uncover a thriving subculture of crime that is spiralling out of control. Both novel of ideas and complex thriller, Super-Cannes is an extraordinary satire from the author of Empire of the Sun, Drowned World and Crash. Extreme Metaphors, a collection of interviews with Ballard, will be published in 2012.
Some novelists really do get better with age, particularly those whose literary careers are dedicated to pursuing obsessive themes. The word that comes to mind with Ballard is 'catastrophe'. For Ballard, catastrophe is not something produced by planetary convulsion, meteor strike, or global warming so much as social engineering. Catastrophe (as in Crash, his masterpiece) is something that human beings do to themselves, with their beloved technology. Super-Cannes opens with the newly married aviator (of advanced years), Paul Sinclair, bombing down the routes nationales of France in his Jaguar with his 27-year-old physician wife Jane. She is taking up a position at Eden-Olympia, an 'intelligent community' (ie business park and residential compound) on the Cote d'Azur. A sinister pall hangs over the gleaming new utopia. Jane's predecessor, David Greenwood, an old acquaintance, went on a shooting spree. Why did he crack? And will Eden-Olympia's gleaming edifice fissure and disintegrate? Ballard has recently shown a fondness for mystery plots. The narrative of this novel follow three tracks: the sexually complex relationship of the Sinclairs, the investigation of what really happened when Greenwood went on his Rambo-rampage, and the inexorable decay of Eden-Olympia - just another in humankind's doomed attempts to make sense out of social organization. Ballard is, currently, one of our greatest living novelists. He has the gift of repeating himself in his fiction, but so creatively that - like loving or eating - one wants it over and over again. This is one of his best. Review by JOHN SUTHERLAND Editor's note: John Sutherland is the author of Henry V, War Criminal? (Kirkus UK)
What the papers say:
'Sublime...An elegant, elaborate trap of a novel, which reads as a companion piece to Cocaine Nights but takes ideas from that novel and runs further. The first essential novel of the 21st century' Independent 'Possibly his greatest book. Super-Cannes is both a novel of ideas and a compelling thriller that will keep you turning the pages to the shocking denouement. Only Ballard could have produced it' Sunday Express 'In this tautly paced thriller he brilliantly details how man's darker side derails a vast experiment in living, and shows the dangers of a near-future in which going mad is the only way of staying sane' Daily Mail 'Vintage Ballard, a gripping blend of stylised thriller and fantastic imaginings' Guardian
J.G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. His 1984 bestseller Empire of the Sun won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His controversial novel Crash was made into an equally controversial film by David Cronenberg. His 2000 novel Super-Cannes won the regional Commonwealth Writers' Best Book prize. J.G. Ballard died in 2009.
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