Ninety-Nine Novels: The Unlimited Dream Company by J.G. Ballard
In 1984, Anthony Burgess published Ninety-Nine Novels, a selection of his favourite novels in English since 1939. The list is typically idiosyncratic, and shows the breadth of Burgess’s interest in fiction. This podcast, by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, explores the novels on Burgess’s list with the help of writers, critics and other special guests.
Series Two continues as writer and academic David Ian Paddy guides the Burgess Foundation’s Will Carr through the strange world of The Unlimited Dream Company by J.G. Ballard.
Published in 1979, the novel begins with a man named Blake crashing a plane into the River Thames outside of Ballard’s hometown, the suburb of Shepperton. He soon finds he cannot leave the suburb, and manifests a series of extraordinary powers. But is his elevation to a kind of messiah reality, or did he really die in the plane crash? In his review in Ninety-Nine Novels, Burgess says that this is ‘perhaps the best novel that Ballard has written’ and praises its ‘distinguished writing’.
David Ian Paddy is the Albert Upton Endowed Chair in English Language and Literature at Whittier College in California. He specialises in twentieth century and contemporary British literature and has written extensively on writers such as J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter, Niall Griffiths, Jackie Kay and Jeff Noon. His book The Empires of J.G. Ballard: An Imaginitive Geography was published in 2015 by Gylphi Press.
Books mentioned in this episode
By J.G. Ballard:
- The Drowned World (1962)
- The Terminal Beach (1964) [Now published in The Complete Short Stories, Volume 2]
- The Crystal World (1966)
- The Atrocity Exhibition (1970)
- Crash (1973)
- High Rise (1975)
- Hello America (1981)
- “The Intensive Care Unit” in Myths of the Near Future (1982) [Now published in The Complete Short Stories, Volume 2]
- Empire of the Sun (1984)
- “Which Way to Inner Space?” in A User’s Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews (1996)
- The Golden Bough by James George Frazer (1890)
- Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
- Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (1939)
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1942)
- Pincher Martin by William Golding (1956)
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
- The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess (1962)
- The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien (1967)
- Ice by Anna Kavan (1967)
- MF by Anthony Burgess (1971)
- Napoleon Symphony by Anthony Burgess (1974)
- The End of the World News by Anthony Burgess (1982)
- Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter (1984)
- Puma by Anthony Burgess (2019)
In Series One of Ninety-Nine Novels, we learnt about authors including James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Naipaul and Alan Sillitoe among others. These episodes are available at your favourite place to get podcasts.
You can join the conversation and tell us which 100th book you would add to Burgess’s list by using the hashtag #99Novels on Twitter.
If you have enjoyed this episode, why not leave us a review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Listen to this podcast below or on your audio platform of choice (Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Spotify/ YouTube), or use the streaming links below.
The theme music for the Ninety-Nine Novels podcast is Anthony Burgess’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Piano in D Minor, performed by No Dice Collective.