J. G. BALLARD (1930- ) is a British writer, born in Shanghai. His experiences as a child interned in a Japanese POW camp provide the basis for his best known novel, the autobiographical Empire of the Sun (1984), made into a movie by Stephen Spielberg. Another novel, the sexually surreal Crash (1973), has been filmed by David Cronenberg. Beginning with The Wind From Nowhere (1962), Ballard's first four novels were SF variations on the end-of-the-world theme. His later work bursts the boundaries of SF genre-writing to bombard the reader with a collage of poetic imagery culled from biology, technology, politics, advertising, pornography, and tabloid journalism -- snapshots of the modern subconscious. He is now recognized as "one of the most important, intelligent voices in contemporary fiction." (Susan Sontag)
Richard M. Powers was the ideal cover illustrator for Ballard whose abstract, surreal sensibility complements Powers' own. In a 1977 interview, Powers called Ballard's The Drowned World, " one of the best pieces of surrealist writing I've ever read. . . . This guy is not too interested in straight narrative writing. What he is interested in is communicating a Kafka-like sense of alienation and frustration and a really paranoid kind of existence on a different plane than the normal plane -- below, above, inside, outside, whatever." Powers' cover painting for THE VOICES OF TIME (1966 edition, above) communicates precisely this feeling of alienated otherworldliness, of strange organisms moving somewhere beyond the threshold of consciousness. Powers provided covers for many of Ballard's novels and short story collections, in some cases painting an entirely new cover each time the book was released. Their collaborations, all published in the United States by Berkley, include The Wind From Nowhere (1962), The Voices of Time (1962 and 1966), The Drowned World (1962 and 1966), Billenium (1962), Passport To Eternity (1963), Terminal Beach (1964), The Burning World (1964), The Impossible Man (1966), Vermilion Sands (1971), and Chronopolis (1972 and 1979).