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Obit: J.G. Ballard, Wrote ‘Empire of the Sun’

British writer J.G. Ballard, a novelist whose work was turned into films by such directors as Steven Spielberg and David Cronenberg,  died Sunday, his agent said. He was 78. Ballard had been suffering from prostate cancer diagnosed in 2006. It was not immediately clear where he died. He was best known for the autobiographical novel […]

British writer J.G. Ballard, a novelist whose work was turned into films by such directors as Steven Spielberg and David Cronenberg,  died Sunday, his agent said. He was 78.

Ballard had been suffering from prostate cancer diagnosed in 2006. It was not immediately clear where he died.

He was best known for the autobiographical novel "Empire of the Sun," which drew on his childhood detention in a Japanese prison camp in China, filmed by Spielberg in 1987; and his 1973 novel "Crash," which explored a subculture of people who get pleasure from car accidents; that was made into a film by Cronenberg in 1996.

Ballard was born in Shanghai, China, and was interned there in a prison camp by Japanese troops in 1941. He moved to Britain in 1946, where he lived until his death.

Ballard was a sometimes controversial author, exploring themes of death, pleasure-pain, dystopian futures and sex in a wide range of genres, primarily science fiction.

"His acute and visionary observation of contemporary life was distilled into a number of brilliant, powerful novels which have been published all over the world and saw Ballard gain cult status," his agent Margaret Hanbury.