J.G. Ballard's Farewell

J.G. Ballard died on April 19, 2009, but in a piece published posthumously in The New Yorker, he leaves behind a haunting and dystopian legacy. In “The Autobiography of J.G.B,” a man called “B” wakes up one morning to discover that he is the last man on earth. His neighbor’s homes are vacant; the radio works, but no voices come out. The streets of central London are empty, and at night, the city is dark, save the glare of his own headlights. B discovers the birds in the London Zoo are the only other living souls, and develops a quiet existence, breaking into stores to survive. It’s a chilling tale from a writer who contributed vastly to the field of science fiction during his lifetime, and, as the title suggests, there's something deeply personal about it, too. In an almost eerie farewell, Ballard pens his final line: “Thus the year ended peacefully, and B was ready to begin his true work.”