This is Ballard's fourth book and the last of what I guess is considered his end-of-the-world series. I found each of the first three to be at least interesting (and in the case of The Wind from Nowhere, awesome). The Crystal World is about a doctor at a leper colony in Africa going to some small Heart of Darkness like mining outpost that is slowly becoming crystallized. It's weird though because things don't just harden into crystal. They sort of stay alive and it comes and goes in waves. People become fascinated with the crystal world (as does the narrator). There are only brief hints that this crystallization is worldwide (the narrator reads in a newspaper that Miami has been evacuated) and the story is more focussed on the narrator's personal relationship with the crystals and the women around him. The descriptions are beautiful, but I found the characters' motivations distancing. Still, a pretty cool read. Ballard is really weird.
Credit due to the Lantzvillager for turning me on to these.