Ballard was prolific in the short story form, using it to play out and cultivate his seemingly endless supply of nifty conceptual ideas, arising out of the zeitgeist of cyberpunk and spaghetti sci-fi in the 1960s. Ballard's various visions of a nightmarishly over-populated Earth, possible consequences of space travel and outlandish psychiatric experiments nestle between magical-realist studies of bizarre characters grappling with unfamiliar properties of sound, materials, machines, and their own mutant talents.
Ballard handles a range of moods and registers, breathing life into many worlds with a palpable curiosity about the consequences of technological developments. Inevitably some stories are more successful than others, and the fast-cutting style can fatigue or become irritating.
A feminist reading of this collection would be interesting. Ballard is an overwhelmingly male-centred author; all of his personalities are white heterosexual men. Female characters are always ciphers, either pathological or models of 'good' (compliant, sexually responsive, undemanding) behaviour.