This early tale by Ballard is a Freudian nightmare. Charles Freeman is rapidly losing weight, getting smaller and looking younger. At first, he believes this alarming physical transformation is psychosomatic and attempts to hide it from his pregnant wife. As the story unfolds his metamorphosis begins to limit his freedom, sap his energy and change the way people respond to him. The narrative style is more traditional than that of Ballard’s later stories, but it exhibits the same economy and energy of language. It also exhibits the author’s lifelong fascination with the overlap of weird and mundane aspects of perception. A crazy but strangely convincing story – once read never forgotten.
First published in Science Fantasy, Vol 16, No 48 in August 1961, and collected in The Complete Short Stories of JG Ballard: Volume 1, Fourth Estate, 2014