Author J.G. Ballard, whose best-known work, the autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, was adapted for the big screen by Steven Spielberg in 1987, died on Sunday at his home in London. He was 78 years old and had suffered from prostate cancer. In a career that spanned half a century, Ballard wrote many acclaimed dystopian, often sci-fi-inflected short stories and novels, including The Drowned World, Cocaine Nights, and Crash, a disturbing tale of car-accident fetishism that was adapted into a controversial 1996 film by director David Cronenberg. Empire of the Sun, which drew upon his own childhood experiences in a Shanghai internment camp during World War II, became the basis for Spielberg’s sweeping film, which earned six Oscar nomations and launched the career of its young star, Christian Bale.