More Ballard!
April 12, 2013 6:39 AM   Subscribe

I have recently discovered J.G. Ballard, and can't get enough of his short stories.

I'm about halfway through the big collection of Ballard's short stories. I'm loving them in a way that I haven't loved a book in a long time, primarily because they seem (for lack of a better phrase) Twilight Zone-ish...unsettling but not full-on horror.

1. Who are other authors with a similar unsettling style that I might equally enjoy?
2. How similar are his short stories to his novels?

Thanks, Mefi!
posted by altopower to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
1. Brian Aldiss and Christopher Priest, particularly their 70s output. Also try some of Gene Wolfe's short stories (from any period).
2. I'd say very similar.
posted by pipeski at 7:12 AM on April 12, 2013

R A Lafferty
I can probably add a few more but I'm out of reach of my library.
posted by arzakh at 7:15 AM on April 12, 2013

Twilight Zone-ish...unsettling but not full-on horror.

Pretty much a spot-on description of George Saunders' first two collections, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia. Recently on the blue.
posted by mediareport at 7:20 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and add hilariously funny to the "unsettling" part.
posted by mediareport at 7:22 AM on April 12, 2013

Brian Aldiss came to mind, as does Harlan Ellison. If you can find old Science Fiction Hall of Fame paperback anthologies (published circa 1980, and republished Hugo and Nebula Awards winners) it might be worth your time.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:42 AM on April 12, 2013

Just curious, what Ballard short story collections have you read?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:42 AM on April 12, 2013

Paul Bowles wrote some pretty unsettling short stories.
posted by seemoreglass at 7:47 AM on April 12, 2013

Just curious, what Ballard short story collections have you read?

I'm about halfway through this.
posted by altopower at 8:14 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yoko Ogawa (The Diving Pool... most eerie short stories ever)
Christopher Priest
Alex Garland (I've only read The Coma, not sure about his other work)
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2013

Roald Dahl wrote a collection of short stories called Tales of the Unexpected, which were subsequently adapted into quite a cheesy TV series in the late 70s/80s. The stories themselves were all a bit creepy and unsettling - and unlike most of his other output were intended for adults, not kids.

In modern English literature, perhaps the best known short horror-ish story was WW Jacobs' The Monkey's Paw (spoiler) from his collection The Lady of the Barge. It has been referenced, directly and indirectly by several writers since.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2013

You might like Robert Aickman.
posted by thetortoise at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2013

I recommend more Ballard. It's been years since I read it, but I remember loving the RE/Search book about him.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on April 12, 2013

If you can find a copy, you might like Or All the Seas with Oysters by Avram Davidson. Most of his other writing is worth a read for sci-fi / speculative sorts, but won't necessarily match your criteria here. (You may find it easier to get your hands on The Avram Davidson Treasury.)
posted by mcoo at 9:55 AM on April 12, 2013

I'm afraid I don't know Ballard, so this may be the wrong style, but I really liked the short story collection Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link, and it definitely qualifies as unsettling but not full-on horror. It's Creative Commons licensed, so you can read a few pages and see if it fits: HTML version, Small Beer Press Creative Commons page with other formats.

Here's how the first story starts:

Dear Mary (if that is your name),

I bet you'll be pretty surprised to hear from me. It really is me, by the way, although I have to confess at the moment that not only can I not seem to keep your name straight in my head, Laura? Susie? Odile? but I seem to have forgotten my own name. I plan to keep trying different combinations: Joe loves Lola, Willy loves Suki, Henry loves you, sweetie, Georgia?, honeypie, darling. Do any of these seem right to you?

posted by jhc at 10:15 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

You might also like Jonathan Carroll. A lot of his work would definitely qualify as 'unsettling'.
posted by pipeski at 10:36 AM on April 12, 2013

Audio/visual bonus: while parts of Ballard's work have been adapted for the screen in various ways (Steven Spielberg's Empire of The Sun probably the most high-profile), I'm particularly fondly remembering at the moment the BBC short story TV adaptation Home
posted by Bwithh at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Ballard, if you like to listen to reading aloud, here's "The Drowned World"
posted by Abinadab at 3:29 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've requested the Roald Dahl from the library. Sadly, the library system doesn't own a lot of the other suggestions I'd like to try (including most of the Ballard novels), so I'll be hitting WorldCat with a hopeful heart.

Thanks for all the great ideas! I'll be working through these authors for quite a while.
posted by altopower at 4:02 PM on April 12, 2013

Steve Rasnic Tem is very good at "unsettling" stories. Online links from his official site, to get you started. "You Dreamed It."
Ballard - he's brilliant, and I'm biased, but there you go. Here's the Complete Short Stories collection in pdf - it's a 2357 page (3.5mb) file that seems to be aptly titled - I couldn't find any omissions.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:14 PM on May 24, 2013

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