Shriver on Ballard’s new corporate satire

For the Telegraph, Lionel Shriver compares J.G. Ballard’s consumerist satire, Kingdom Come, unfavorably to Rupert Thomson’s.

With the bluntness of Ballard’s satirical blade, this novel cannot approach a book such as Rupert Thomson’s Soft!, which addressed similar themes of corporate thuggery and the empty promise of “consumerism”, a word that may not appear anywhere in Thomson’s text. Thomson’s premise (a soft-drinks company brainwashes sleep-study subjects to crave and therefore advertise its new drink, before hiring a hit-man to dispose of one subject whose brain-washing has gone awry) was at least as over-the-top as Ballard’s, but the execution was both hilarious and truly dark.

(For the record, though I bow before the man and admired many aspects of the book, Soft! is not one of my favorite Thomson novels. It is, however, one of James Hynes’ faves.)


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.