British author JG Ballard died this morning "with great sadness" after many years of poor health, his agent said today. The 78-year-old novelist and short story writer was most famous for his semi-autobiographical book Empire of the Sun, later made into a film by Steven Spielberg, and his controversial novel Crash, adapted for the screen by David Cronenberg.
Empire of the Sun recounts Ballard’s boyhood in Japanese-occupied Shanghai; Crash revolves around the sexual desires aroused by car accidents. Ballard's "acute and visionary observation of contemporary life" gained him "cult status," his agent said. Others called his work science-fiction, but Ballard said it was "picturing the psychology of the future," the BBC reports. More recently, Ballard authored Super-Cannes and Millennium People.