Skip Navigation

Submitted Literature

Kingdom Come

By J.G. Ballard

Review

Madness is a stock theme in Ballard's work, appearing in virtually all of his non-science fiction work.  Thematically, the novels listed here range from pathological sexual obsession ("Crash") to one man’s desire to escape the civilised world and challenge himself, and his sanity, to a battle against nature ("Concrete Island"). Notions of hysteria and collective, infectious madness have been long-term interests of Ballard's, and are demonstrated most clearly in "High Rise", a cautionary tale about the psychological dangers of physical and mental isolation and the pressures of capitalism.  His most recent four novels – "Cocaine Nights", "Super-Cannes", "Millennium People" and "Kingdom Come" explore the impact upon psychological health of modern phenomena such as expansive shopping malls, gated communities and the paradoxical pressures of excessive leisure.     

Key Themes:

  • Psychosis
  • Revealing Reads
  • Societal Pressure
  • Violence

Significant Quotes / Pages

3 – “The suburbs dream of violence.  Asleep in their drowsy villas, sheltered by benevolent shopping malls, they wait patiently for the nightmares that will wake them into a more passionate world…”

101 – “ ‘The police?  They’d be touched by your faith in them.  They haven’t realised how much everything has changed out here.  They’re not alone in that.  People in London can’t grasp that this is the real England.  Parliament, the West End, Bloomsbury, Notting Hill, Hampstead – they’re heritage London, held together by dinner-party culture.  Here, around the M25, is where it’s really happening.  This is today’s England.  Consumerism rules, but people are bored.  They’re out on the edge, waiting to something big and strange to come along.’

‘That sounds as if they’re going to be frightened.’

‘They want to be frightened.  They want to know fear.  And maybe they want to go a little mad.  Look around you, Richard.  What do you see?’

‘Air-cargo warehouses.  Shopping malls.  Executive estates.’ As Maxted listened to me, nodding gloomily, I asked: ‘Why don’t people leave?  Why don’t you leave?’

‘Because we like it here.’  Maxted raised his hands to stop me interrupting him.  ‘This isn’t a suburb of London, it is a suburb of Heathrow on the M25.  People in Hampstead and Holland Park look down from the motorway as they speed home from their West Country cottages.  They see faceless inter-urban sprawl, a nightmare to reign of police cameras and security dogs, an uncentred realm devoid of civic tradition and human values.’

‘It is.  I’ve been there.  It’s a zoo fit for psychopaths.”’

Reference: J.G., Ballard. 2006. Kingdom Come. London: Harper Perennial, 2007

Reviewer

- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009