Manuscript draft of 'The Ultimate City' by J G Ballard


This is an early autograph draft of ‘The Ultimate City’, a short story/novella written by J G Ballard and published in the 1976 collection, Low-Flying Aircraft and Other Stories.

‘The Ultimate City’ imagines a future world where the supply of fossil fuels has been exhausted and the city has been abandoned in favour of scientifically-modelled, green-powered communities. But Halloway, the protagonist, is frustrated by the puritanical, lifeless Garden City and, inspired by his grandfather’s stories, builds a glider to fly back to the empty city – an untamed metropolis promising energy, noise, metal, technology. With the help of Olds – a surviving inhabitant – Halloway attempts to revive this urban ruin. His quest is driven by an inner compulsion: the city is ‘an abandoned dream waiting to be re-occupied’. 

In the extract shown here, Halloway embarks on an exhilarating flight to the abandoned city and, once landed, explores the streets. 

‘The Ultimate City’ contains archetypal Ballardian themes and imagery: flight, dream and the subconscious, the effects of the built environment on the psyche, and ambiguity towards the built environment. It articulates similar concerns as the earlier novels Crash (1973), Concrete Island (1974) and High-Rise (1975).

Full title:
The Papers of James Graham Ballard: 'The Ultimate City'
estimated 1975
Manuscript / Draft
J G Ballard
Usage terms

Manuscript draft of 'The Ultimate City', by J. G. Ballard © J. G. Ballard. Reproduced by permission of the J. G. Ballard Estate. All rights reserved. You may not use this work for commercial purposes and the copyright holder must be credited.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 88938/3/11

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