J. G. Ballard
Super-Cannes Cover



J.G. Ballard established that architecture can drive you in crazy in High Rise, his 1975 novel in which residents of a new, luxury apartment tower degenerate into tribal warfare. Super-Cannessuggests that the proper response to the new, gated, planned business and residential communities he saw despoiling the Mediterranean French countryside he loved would be a form of orchestrated psychopathology.

Paul and Jane Sinclair relocate from London to the Eden-Olympia, where Jane will be on the medical staff available to the executives and employees of the multinational corporations that have built headquarters there. (I love the name, "Eden-Olympia." It resonates with the sort of developer overkill that couldn’t decide whether to evoke the innocence of the prelapsarian garden or the mountain home of the all-powerful yet all-so-human gods.) Jane is a pediatrician brought there for a high-paying job. Paul is recovering from a flying accident.

Of course all is not well in this paradise. Jane is replacing David Greenwood, a British doctor who went on a suicidal killing spree. To further complicate matters, Paul thinks that his much younger wife might have been Greenwood’s lover years before in London. Paul and Jane have also been given Greenwood’s home for their new living quarters.

With time on his hands, and not yet ready to settle into the routine of drugs and adultery that seems to keep other residents busy, Paul begins to explore. He finds that the walking paths that meander the campus often end in cul-de-sacs or storage sheds once they disappear into the woods. He is also drawn into solving the mystery of what went wrong with David Greenwood. And since this is a J.G. Ballard novel, Paul soon suspects that something actually went "right" with Greenwood.

Super-Cannes earned an unlikely spot on the list of 100 Best Science Fiction Novels: 1985 – 2010. The plot grows increasingly strange, but it is not really science fiction. Readers approaching it that way are likely to be disappointed. What it is is excellent late Ballard, a dark, funny, ultimately sickening maze that is a times fun to wander through and at other times a panic-inducing cage.>