Dr. Edward Sanders, a physician with a leper hospital in the Cameroon, is puzzled by letters from his recent lover Suzanne at the jungle clinic where she's gone with her husband. He makes his way upriver as the army is shutting down the area because of some sort of ecological anomaly: a virus or something that is turning everything -- plants, animals, the surface of the river, army vehicles, even humans -- into brilliant crystals. Sanders hooks up with a young French female journalist named Louise who is investigating the phenomenon as well. Among the increasingly-crazed locals Sanders encounters are a diamond mine magnate and an architect who are battling with firearms over a woman, and a priest who won't desert his mission. Suzanne seems entranced by the way the jungle is changing. This is the last of Ballard's four end-of-the-world ecological disaster novels from the early 1960s, and probably the most colorful. His descriptions of the creeping menace are achingly gorgeous -- you yearn to see them brought to life on film.
This report prepared by David Loftus