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J G Ballard: Hello America

In the 1980s, the USA made a mess of the energy crisis, General Motors went bankrupt and President Jerry Brown went to a Zen monastery in Japan. Americans emigrate in droves to Europe, Asia and Africa. Climatic control experiments failed, turning the Eastern part of the country into a dustbowl and the Western part into a tropical rain forest. And the rest of the world had now forgotten about the country till the wittily named Apollo expedition of ex-Americans comes to find out what is going on. Initially, the expedition finds the country deserted but they eventually bump into tribes – the Gangsters from Chicago, the Astronauts from Florida, the Gays from San Francisco, the Divorcees from Reno. Ballard has a lot of fun, mocking things American, culminating in the meeting with President Charles Manson. This is not one of his great books but, except for sensitive Americans, it is great fun.

Publishing history

First published 1981 by Jonathan Cape