Millennium People by J. G. Ballard

It’s about revolution of the Chardonnay and Starbucks set. Will you participate? Having read quite a bit of J. G. Ballard’s earlier science fiction books, this is quite a change. I felt this work was close to Crash in the underlying needs of the protagonists, but without the cars. Every sentence drips with reference and detail to some other work, giving the book more meaning that just a puff piece. I think William Gibson’s Spook Country comes close to the same style, but whereas Gibson’s work seemed a bit contrived, Ballard’s prose is more fluid. Where Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club is about a quarter life crisis, Millennium People is Edward Norton having a mid-life crisis. It would be nice to have the middle class collectively decide not to participate any more in society (what would I do?) and this book is an interesting analogy of how it might happen.

But there’s a darker side to the story with the death of the main character’s wife Laura at Heathrow at the beginning of the book. I was never quite sure of (the main character) David Markham’s reasons for continuing the new proletariat struggle, maybe it was a sense of loss, not of his wife but of his meaning within the framework of his society. His new wife’s on again and off again disability is an interesting reflection of the needs people have, and how we respond to those needs. But I felt Markham’s character for a professional psychologist was a little too detached. When he does get angry, I just can’t feel find any depth that he really is angry.

Overall, it was a good book. I got through it quite quickly. it draws you along because you want to know more about the Heathrow bombing, and the apparent randomness of it. Because why have a planned revolution?