High-Rise by J.G. Ballard


Reviewed by Rob Ross, Executive Director, NCLIVE

Years ago, after exiting an elevator that had experienced the briefest of hesitations between floors, presaging more serious mechanical issues to come, my companion asked me:  "So, which one?"  I didn't follow.  "Which one would you have eaten?" she clarified.  She already knew which of our fellow passengers she'd have chosen and why.  This readiness to shed all moral pretensions and think strategically and myopically about survival would have served her well as a character in Ballard's High-Rise , a 1975 dystopian novel about a 40-floor luxury apartment building that devolves, along with its residents, in spectacular fashion.  High-Rise skewers our obsession with modern creature comforts, exposes our affectation of atavistic morality, and posits that humankind's ultimate goal is to achieve "a realm where their most deviant impulses [are] free at last to exercise themselves in any way they wished."