Moshe Feder sends along the link to the New York Times obituary of J.G. Ballard. Ballard was a leading figure in science fiction’s New Wave of the 1960s and a breakout literary writer whose mainstream novels were made into movies. He died April 19 of cancer. Ballard’s early fame was founded on his Vermilion Sands stories, including “The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D,” the first story by him that I ever read.
Fans have expressed disgust over the too-familiar attempt by the media to deny a critically-acclaimed author’s roots in sf. It’s evident from the tone of the piece how reluctant the Times was to sully the author’s reputation by associating him with anything base or popular, excusing his early work by saying he “defied the genre of science fiction.”
Moshe particularly wanted to draw attention to the article’s closing:
The prescience of Mr. Ballard’s work and its harsh conflation of the present and the future often resulted in comparisons to writers like Huxley and Orwell. “His fabulistic style led people to review his work as science fiction,” said Robert Weil, Mr. Ballard’s American editor at Norton. “But that’s like calling ‘Brave New World’ science fiction, or ‘1984.’ “
“Oh gee, Mr. Weil, yuh think?” comments Moshe, who sighs, “Some things never change.”
And Andrew Porter has pointed out that USA Today went the Times one better, managing to run a lengthy Ballard obituary without ever mentioning SF at all.