Reviews & essays

P.D. Smith, The Guardian:
‘Under the Spell of J.G. Ballard’

Applied Ballardianism is a brilliantly written genre mashup, a wonderfully original mix of cultural theory, literary exegesis, travelogue and psychopathological memoir.”

Brendon Gillott, Minor Literatures:
‘Unlimited Dream Country’

“Along with its catalogue of wild guesses and errant interpretations, Applied Ballardianism provides a kind of screwball historiography of Ballard scholarship, with Sellars frantically dropping in on conferences and academic papers, taking the temperature of this year’s Ballard scholia, becoming increasingly depressed and disoriented by what he finds.”

Reza Negarestani, Toy Philosophy:
‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (Reading Applied Ballardianism)’

“Sellars is essentially an exemplar of a traveler rather than a tourist. His Nash-like obsession with seeing every feature of the present as a Ballardian sign or an encrypted writing on the wall instigates a personal journey, a globe-trotting ride in which the Ballardian autodidact becomes something else, a seer of omens bespeaking possible worlds that press upon and distend our serene horizon.”

Rob Latham, Science Fiction Studies
‘Books in review: Applied Ballardianism’

“As its subtitle suggest, Simon Sellars’ Applied Ballardianism is a strange sort of personal memoir that refracts the author’s life through the lens of J.G. Ballard’s characteristic preoccupations. Applied Ballardianism is, obviously, not an academic study, but it is a compelling and illuminating glimpse into a life governed by ‘the utter impenetrability of Ballardian discourse’. It is very well-written, engaging even in its most painful moments of authorial self-revelation.”

Kate Sherrod, Skiffy and Fanty
‘Applied Ballardianism’

“Written as an unflinching and self-critical semi-fictional autobiography, Sellars’ account and narrative voice reminded me more than a little of Dostoevsky’s self-hating narrator in Notes from the Underground… it’s the story of a man afflicted with symptoms of a disease we don’t yet have a name for, or the side-effects of a treatment we don’t yet have in our particular universe.”

Enrico Monacelli, Nero Editions:
‘Applying Applied Ballardianism: An Anti-Practical Field Guide’

“Behind this para-academic tearoom looms an imposing black cloud: Simon Sellars, the author… Even the strangest and most hip categories produced by philosophy can’t seem to domesticate the substance of his novel. If they want to discuss his work further, they’d better begin to accept his ‘anti-intellectual shtick’ and stop trying to find shortcuts, which surely sound intellectually respectable, but are to be considered, also and more importantly, obvious and insufficient.”

Ramiro Sanchez, ArteZeta:
‘The Ballardian Desert’

“In the folds and creations of the world proposed by Sellars there is always something more, something lurking in the threshold… paying special attention to the question of how to think of ourselves as subjects in a world that disperses the old notions of subjectivity and multiplies the doppelgängers, tulpas, clones and ghosts. Applied Ballardianism, then, is more than a beautifully crafted and fascinating novel: it’s an urgent book, which seems to urge us to conceive a very inconceivable exit and to guard the cracks from which the tentacles will come out.”

► Maxim Jakubowski, To the Max
Applied Ballardianism’

“A rather unique book that veers between false autobiography, gonzo travel reportage and the altogether bizarre… Metafiction, literary criticism and archaeology, fictional memoir involving encounters with telepaths, violence on a worldwide scale, UFO sightings, this is a fever dream masquerading as a volume of strictly non-academic ramblings and between the lines discoveries.”

► Steven Craig Hickman, Dr Rinaldi’s Horror Cabinet
Polaroid Apocalypse: On Simon Sellars’ Applied Ballardianism

“With each vignette we are given an irreal glance of the Real, a cathartic portrayal of our global crash culture. To enter Simon’s narrative is to undergo a mutation, to become the thing one most fears, neither a victim nor a perpetrator of the horrors of modernity, but instead an instigator of a collective metamorphosis that entails total and absolute psychosis. The work does not mirror the world as much as it is the inscape of our dark transports, the shape of futurial becomings that are the very core of our inhuman transformation.”

Michael Eby, Brooklyn Rail:
‘Simon Sellars’s Applied Ballardianism: Memoir from a Parallel Universe’

“Sellars plunges headlong into reckless micronationalist violence during shameful streetside brawls. He becomes the dignified psychotic while locating another dimension through Ballard’s similes. And yet, despite his better judgement, both positions inevitably bring him into a more intimate relationship with his ill-chosen mentor. Applied Ballardianism is a book about our private islands, inexplicably shored by the texts that never leave us.”

Josh Carswell, Orbistertius:
‘Two Questions Concerning Applied Ballardianism’

“I believe that Sellars is saying, in effect, that dissociation must bottom out somewhere. The ground awaits any such schizoid free-fall, and this ground may resemble any number of things: conspiracist paranoia, hard concrete, hikikomori, windshield glass… Yet, I don’t see all theory-fiction as bad religion. If we can keep our grounding in sight, we might be able to foresee and avoid what lurks behind the cracks in reality, and at the same time, produce the condition for original thought and expression.”

Hjalmar Falk, Arbetet:
‘Don’t research Ballard: you’ll lose your mind’

“Sellars’s book is a journey into the post-modern world with Ballard as a guide. The resources the protagonist uses to try to say something meaningful about Ballard amount to nothing, as does the author’s own understanding. The book thus turns the mandatory doctoral breakdown into fine art.”

Cédric Weidmann, Süddeutsche Zeitung:
‘The Discreet Charm of Applied Ballardianism’

“The fascinating thing about Applied Ballardianism is not the interpretation itself, but the “Ballard problem”: the problem that one can be too influenced by something to fully explore it. This is his psychopathology, writes Sellars. But it is also those of his Urbanomic friends, such as Mark Fisher and Robin Mackay, whom he mentions with gratitude and whose philosophy can not be detached from Ballard’s influence… They follow suit, with a second-hand future whose clarity will shock us, no matter how outdated it appears.”

Lyle Hopwood, Peromyscus
‘Applied Ballardianism’

Applied Ballardianism is a mixtape, a series of samples set to a rhythm, a supercut. It’s autobiographical, it’s science fiction, paranormal mystery, a critique of consumer society and a travelogue of post-modern theory. It’s hyperreality, where fiction and reality are blended together seamlessly, both at the level of ‘Sellars’ and his wildly out of control imagination, and at the level of the reader observing Simon Sellars, the writer, extrude ‘Sellars’, his fictional double, his portal-mirror and his off-kilter double exposure.”

Christopher McMichael, Bubblegum Club:
‘Applied Ballardianism’

Applied Ballardianism is a delirious blend of autobiography, fiction and theory, in which the narrator effectively tries to live out J.G. Ballard’s fiction in reality. While the book is nihilistic in parts, it’s infused with a hilarious sense of black comedy. The self-loathing narrator is constantly drawn into relatable romantic disasters, and drug and alcohol fuelled misadventures, which give the story a wry sense of humanity. I love this book. It’s wild and unhinged, while also beautifully written. Freely mixing pulp visions and critical theory, Sellars creates a narrative voice for our time.”

Dan Lockton, ‘What are you reading? Applied Ballardianism’:
‘Applied Ballardianism’

“J.G. Ballard’s exploration of the psychological effects of technology and architecture inspired the adjective Ballardian, which Simon Sellars adopts and adapts here. This is an unusual book—described as theory-fiction—taking the form of a memoir about the struggles of doing a Ph.D. and woven into a recurring fugue state. It’s a travelogue of a continuous reconstruction of the narrator’s understanding of the world, situated in relation to Borges, Baudrillard and Lovecraft, alongside Ballard. It works well as commentary on the disorientating effects of our pervasive technology environments. “

Kenny Brophy, The Urban Prehistorian: 

“I opened Sellars’ book up at random pages and saw continual relevance to my own condition, just as the unreliable narrator of this fever-dream of a novel had also done. I began to scribble in the margins, automatic writing. The sections of the book that I applied marginalia to appeared to be random but were perhaps not. Bunker Logic. Scar Tissue. Emergence… I came to realise that as a rulebook for surveying the deep time in our world one need do no more than read the complete fictional works of JG Ballard, Applied Ballardianism and Paul Virilio’s Bunker Archeology.”

Meta-Nomad, Meta-Nomad: ‘A Manual for the Present’

“The book had got to me quite quickly. Its clean prose and meticulous attention for visual connections and juxtapositions had quasi-upgraded my software. I was temporarily a machine of consumerist deconstruction, allowing each desire, attitude and signal to rise to the surface. Breathe in Sellars’ work and let the cores of the consumo-apathetic landscape shine brightly next to one another.”

Mike Corrao, Entropy:
‘On Being Ballard’

Applied Ballardianism is an almost apocalyptic novel, occupied by paranoiacs, uncaring machines, technological ghosts, dream realities, micronations and mysterious thugs. Flickering between pastiche and collage, the world becomes violently and endlessly interconnected. This is what Sellars has done so well. He has created a perverse legitimacy in these moments, and curated these analyses so well that you might begin to believe them.”

Anonymous, The Modern Novel:
‘Applied Ballardianism’

“Whatever else this book may be, it is clearly a (semi-) autobiographical novel. We follow the early activities of a man who clearly resembles or, indeed, is Simon Sellars… Indeed, this may be theory-fiction; it is also a Bildungsroman.”

Ronnie Vuine, Vigilien:
Applied Ballardianism

Applied Ballardianism is a half-life account spent in a fully perceptual mode configured by Ballard, where the inhuman quality of certain types of space and their associated forms of violence light up as in the thermal image.”

Community reviews:

“Part homage to JG Ballard, part summary of his life and academic critique of his work, (large) part ‘gonzo’ style travelogue and, at times, part imitation/exploration of the ‘Ballardian’ aesthetic. At times I was really left questioning which parts of the book were autobiographical, and which were pure fiction. At other points, it’s quite clear that it’s pure fiction… There is an ambiguity and enigmatic quality to the work that is captivating.”

Community reviews:
Amazon UK

If you want an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, introduction to Ballard’s world – wrapped up in a beautifully-written, hallucinogenic descent into a madness that reveals our 21stC consumerist ennui and its prevalence for violence – look no further. It’s also full of historical facts about stuff you should know about the strange and near-apocalyptic world capitalism has created for us, and comes with a sizeable bibliography of books, films and websites that are ripe for further exploration. I can’t rate this book highly enough.”

Community reviews:
Amazon US

“At times Applied Ballardianism reads like a mutated and malformed PhD thesis that has shed its footnotes and found a way to become eminently, thrillingly readable, a psychological roller coaster, a global adventure story that leads us back to in inner-city suburbs of Melbourne, a twisted fun-house mirror of Ballard’s own Shepparton outside of London. It is a metafiction throbbing with dark visions, a ‘memoir’ worthy of a David Cronenberg adaptation. It’s also a beautifully rendered analysis of the works of one of the 20th centuries most visionary authors, J.G. Ballard and whether or not in the ‘real’ world Simon Sellars achieved his doctorate, there can be no disputing that someone should grant him the honour – this is the best ‘thesis’ I have ever read.