Classic of the Day: Hello, America by J. G. Ballard

Okay, not exactly a classic novel so much as a novel by a classic author. J. G. Ballard wrote mature and complicated science fiction novels, a few of which were filmed into entirely-inappropriate-for-teens movies, such as David Cronenberg's Crash and Empire of the Sun. Normally the books are a bit hard to read and don't have straightforward plots, but for Hello, America he changes it up a bit and creates a pretty clear plot.

In the mid 22nd century, a ship steams across the Atlantic from England to bring explorers and engineers to a long-abandoned America, a continent devastated by ecological disaster. Finding that the country has been desertified, a vast Sahara in the New World, they nevertheless find a few survivors that scrape survival from the leftovers of the once great nation. Finding their way to Las Vegas, the crew discovers a lush jungle has covered everything west of the Rockies, and survivors are attempting to rebuild society. But, as often the case in such novels, not is all as it seems.

It was odd; as I was reading this, I was reminded of video games I had recently played: Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. Both are set in the same locations as this novel, and while the plots aren't the same, the environments are. Abandoned wastelands of Washington DC and shocking survival and vitality in Vegas. The book reads almost like these games.
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