Books: A Tale of Time and the River THE DAY OF CREATION

by J.G. Ballard; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 254 pages; $17.95

The best place to look for most of J.G. Ballard's 20-odd books is still in the paperback racks displaying science fiction, somewhere between Asimov and Bradbury. But the popular success of Ballard's Empire of the Sun (1984), an autobiographical novel about an English boy's coming of age in Shanghai during the World War II Japanese occupation, was followed last year by Steven Spielberg's acclaimed screen adaptation. Thanks to this double-barreled triumph, Ballard has been transformed from a well-kept cult secret into something resembling a household name, with the luxury and burden of knowing that his next book would generate widespread curiosity...

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