The Crystal World

By J.G. Ballard,

Book cover of The Crystal World

Book description

From J. G. Ballard, author of 'Crash' and 'Cocaine Nights' comes his extraordinary vision of an African forest that turns all in its path to crystal.

Through a 'leaking' of time, the West African jungle starts to crystallize. Trees metamorphose into enormous jewels. Crocodiles encased in second glittering skins lurch…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Crystal World as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A tropical forest in Africa is the epicentre of a bizarre and very troubling phenomenon. Through a sort of “leak” in space-time, everything is slowly turning to crystal, and this “disease” will eventually seep out into the rest of the world. An English doctor goes on an Apocalypse Now-style journey into the forest to try and understand. Ballard’s sci-fi classic is as weird and thought-provoking as always, and the forest itself is a palpable presence throughout. 

From Darragh's list on where the forest feels like a character.

Anti-time particles collide with the chronometric flow of our world and begin to freeze time into crystals. When the story begins, prismatic splotches of frozen time cover random, far-apart areas and are expanding. Eventually, our planet will crystallize completely. Meanwhile… The entire novel is a ‘meanwhile’ set in this lyrically beautiful apocalypse – the petrification of all life. Meanwhile, the protagonist is on a river journey seeking a lover from his past at a leproserie in Africa. Meanwhile, we learn smatterings about the bizarre, crystallizing phenomenon, which gemstones can inexplicably deliquesce. Meanwhile, the novel is faceting itself about us,…

Ballard is another of the great visionaries of the mid-twentieth century. His earlier books are often categorised as science fiction but have little in common with science fiction as most people understand it, and he himself increasingly distanced himself from the genre in the latter part of his career. The protagonist of The Crystal World arrives in a tropical forest which is gradually being taken over by a strange process that buries all living things—trees, birds, crocodiles, people—beneath a layer of bright crystals. It sounds bizarre, it sounds unlikely to be enough to fill up a whole book, but Ballard’s…

From Chris' list on hard-to-categorize novels.

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