TRUE confession. I was 13 when I first came across a book by JG Ballard. In search of stimulatory reading material, I found my dad’s copy of Crash. The cover looked promising. There was a puff quote from Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, then basking in notoriety as a result of Kubrick’s banned movie. Back then the word “banned”, like the letter “x” itself, took on an erotically powerful promissory charge. Banned things seriously intrigued me.

Then there was the design itself: a stylised female figure somewhat in the manner of Alan Jones. Bright red lips biting on a steering wheel; a spiked leather dog collar; a dominatrix dress made from leatherette. WARM …leatherette, as Grace Jones would soon sing.

So, things were looking up. And hey, Burgess said Crash was “a work of very powerful originality”.

Dad was at work, Mum was at work, and school was out, completely. Let’s be having some powerful originality. Plenty of time to enjoy a nice long surreptitious … read.

But hang on! What in hell was this? Sex and … wounds! Sex and blood! Naw, naw, naw.

I flicked through the pages looking for words with an x in them, naughty usages, but these seemed welded to descriptions of appalling injuries, images of trauma taken from a textbook of forensic medicine. Fumbling would begin in cars – fine, that chimed with scud mag malarkey – but then someone would get impaled, go headfirst through a windscreen.

There was stuff about Liz Taylor that seemed incomprehensible. I think the word “decapitated” came into my appalled view. Ballard seemed to fantasise about Liz’s violent death – or was that a foible of one of his characters?

I sat down and wept. THIS WASN’T WORKING. Did my old man get off reading this bizarreness? WAS MY OLD MAN A WEIRDO?

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Flash forward two decades and I’m with my dad in the pub and I remember the Ballard introduction and tell him of my sneakiness. We convulse with laughter.

By then, I was long since convinced that Dad was entirely sane and that I could count him as my best friend. He died 23 years ago: I’ve just outlived him and that makes me very sad. I miss him. Dad didn’t like Crash much, but he did like Jim. James Graham Ballard.

Which is an overlong way of saying that Ballard still has a major paternal influence over Scots and English writing.

Alan Warner is a big fan, citing The Atrocity Exhibition in particular.

“Ballardian” used as an adjective seems to appear with exponential frequency as this century proceeds. Ballard’s speculative sci-fi scenarios turn out to be the new norm in many parts of our world today.

His geographies are easily recognised with their abandoned swimming pools, derelict petrol pumps, stripped docklands.

He'd recognise his worlds in Scotland now – you can imagine him gliding the knots of the M8 in an old Zephyr. Ballard famously favoured living in Shepperton, one of London’s duller suburbs. He loved its proximity to Heathrow.

Were he Scottish, you could see him residing near Glasgow Airport, Inchinnan maybe. Good for Braehead mall too. Jim loved a good mall.

Ballard’s most significant Scottish influence was the artist Eduardo Paolozzi. They collaborated on projects following the seminal This Is Tomorrow show at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956, sharing an interest in the implications of pop culture and the new big tech.

But Jim’s heid was full of broken bottles. There was a solid reason for this – his time in Shanghai as a boy. As evidenced by his masterpiece Empire Of The Sun (and Spielberg’s subsequent – terrific – movie) his account of internment life as a kid under Japanese occupation is alternately horrific and uplifting, a testament to childhood resilience that seems entirely prescient given the current scenes from the Middle East.

And many of Ballard’s prophetic novels on droughts and drowned worlds retain an intense power in these times of drastic climate change.

Long-term readers of Ballard will find few new zones of interest in this collection, and you could argue this volume is for completists.

On the other hand, I can’t think of a better general overview of Jim’s thinking prior to taking on his novels.

One for the (late) teenager’s Christmas stocking.