“Prima Belladonna”, by J G Ballard

I can´t remember now why I bought J G Ballard´s “The complete Short stories, volume 1”, but I´m sure I had a good reason to. It´s been sitting on the Kindle for ages, and I have always had something I more wanted to read. Now that I have so little time, I find that short stories are a good thing, I can finish one in a couple of nights, and I decided earlier in the week to start with “Prima Belladonna”, which is the first story. I think now it was kind of odd; in the good ol´ 80´s I used to read quite a lot of short stories, sci-fi mostly, and I´d always read the shortest ones first, then the ones with the intriguing titles. Wouldn´t it have been more interesting to start with “Manhole 69” or “Chronopolis”? Or “The overloaded man”?

20151003_115853Anyway, this story is about a guy who has a shop where he sells singing flowers. Yes, odd. Not sure what is going on here, but on a normal morning he “was in the shop tuning up a Khan-Arachnid orchid with the UV lamp […] a difficult bloom, with a normal full range of twenty-four octaves, but unless it got a lot of exercise it tended to relapse into neurotic minor-key transpositions which were the devil to break.” Right.

Guy meets girl, with “a good deal of mutant in her, because she had a rich patina-golden skin and what looked like insects for eyes, but that didn´t bother either myself or any of my friends“. She is a singer, and it looks like she is actually more into the Arachnid than she is into the guy, and in the end, well, perhaps I shouldn´t spoil it for you. I´m not sure what happens, anyway.

According to Wikipedia, Ballard is a sci-fi writer, but thinking more about it, I do believe I bought the book on the merits of “Empire of the Sun”, which was filmed by Spielberg with a very young Christian Bale in the lead. I adore that film and have seen it several times. Now I wonder if the book is anything like it.

I´m not sure about this story, and I´m certainly going to continue reading Ballard, though perhaps not this minute. There are 40 or so stories in this collection, which may last me a while. Interesting, is what I´d like to say. Very interesting.

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6 thoughts on ““Prima Belladonna”, by J G Ballard”

  1. I used to read a lot of science fiction short stories back in the day, but I always read collections from front to back. Sometimes the stories were connected and the order made a difference. I don’t read short stories much any more. I’ve read some Ballard, I know, but can’t now remember which.

    I’ve never seen that movie or read the book it’s based on. I hadn’t realized Ballard wrote non-fiction ’til I checked out your link. The movie sounds interesting.

    1. The film is great, but it is by Spielberg, so be prepared for a sob story. You are probably right about the order of short stories, but I think if it matters which order they are read in, if they don’t work independently, they shouldn’t be called short stories, but chapters… 😉

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