J.G. Ballard Uses Similes Like A Virus-riddled Robot

As much as I enjoy the concepts of science fiction writer J.D. Ballard, I find it hard to accept that he was, according to Martin Amis, the “most original English writer of the last century”. His characters and dialogue are wooden throughout his acclaimed The Drowned World:

The Colonel paused at the rail, looking down at the beautiful supple body with ungrudging approval. Noticing him, Beatrice pulled off her sunglasses, then tightened the loose straps of her bikini under her arm. Her eyes glinted quietly. “All right, you two, get on with it. I’m not a strip show.”

However it’s Ballard’s use of similes, on almost every page, constantly and thoughtlessly, comparing a thing to another, that lays the author bare:

...seemed to press down like a translucent pane on the leafy spread, a thousand motes of light spitting like diamonds. (76)

…planting immense dripping sundials like daggers in the fused sand. (77)

…its leaning headstones advancing to their crowns like a party of bathers. (77)

Hardman swung himself like an acrobat down the drain-pipe to the parapet below. (78)

Like a wounded water-buffalo, Hardman continued to wrestle in the mud. (79)

Which is to say J.G. Ballard uses similes like a virus-riddled robot.

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