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that don't sound very much like journalism, and an unpalatable interpolated opera about the dogs' overthrow of Rankstadt. As for the "exploration of the boundaries between human and animal," mostly that has to do with the dogs' tendency to revert to walking on all fours over time, and to make some lunges for each others' throats. Bakis definitely has an imagination , if a silly one in this book. Her next novel will almost certainly be better. But she'd do well to leave the secret lives of dogs to Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, and their hearts to Mikhail Bulgakov. (ES) A User's Guide to the Millennium by J.G. Ballard Picador, 1996, 294 pp., $23 This collection of over ninety reviews and essays (1962-1995) by the author of CrasZi and Rushing to Paradise not only guides the reader through the last thirty years in art and writing, science and science fiction , but also provides a fragmented map of Ballard's metallized autopia /autogeddon. If these short pieces feature such an array of topics that they don't really hold together as a coUection, they do, nevertheless provide sharp and distinctive insights into the twentieth century. Unlike his nihilistic literary forefather , William S. Burroughs, Ballard welcomes with a peculiar relish the growing "forest of TV aerials" and "huge shopping malls whose floors remind the visitor of a terminal concourse ." He pays homage to Burroughs , James Joyce, Andy Warhol and Salvador DaIi as cultural icons at the close of the millennium. A champion of science fiction, Ballard attests that s-f is "the only form of literature which will cross the gap between the dying narrative fiction of the present and the cassette and videotape fictions of the near future ." However, the "true literature of the twentieth century" can only meet its potential by aborting its mission in outer space; instead, s-f must plunge into the abysmal inner space of global and biological issues while exploring the cosmos of the unconscious. Fictional interstellar rocketry lost much of its fizz when Neil Armstrong did his lunar landscape debut, and the space age was indeed short lived for those who grow bored of photon phazer blasts and slimo-cephalic space racers. Ballard details the focal point of one of his own nodes in inner space—the car—as he attests that "every aspect of modern life is there, both for good and for ill—our sense of speed, drama and aggression, the worlds of advertising and consumer goods." Ballard's idiosyncratic zeal in the face of "coca-colonization" and population explosions seems to stem from his wartime experiences in Shanghai. As a child Ballard suffered a two-and-a-half year imprisonment in a Japanese prison camp. He explains that "to survive war . . . one needs to accept the rules it imposes and even, as I did, learn to welcome it." By highlighting other characters who have flourished in the face of adversity, Ballard suggests that as the high-rises, concrete labyrinths and other such postmodern fixtures grow around us, we "might as well make the most of them, since there is nowhere else to go." (HR) The Missouri Review · 205 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
p. 205
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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