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High Rise (Flamingo Modern Classic) Paperback – January 3, 1998

4 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Paperback, January 3, 1998
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Pandemic by Sonia Shah
"Beacon 23"
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more

Editorial Reviews


'Ballard's finest novel ... a triumph' The Times 'ingenious ... 'High-Rise' is an intense and vivid bestiary, which lingers unsettlingly in the mind' Martin Amis 'Chilling ... Ballard is a prophetic writer' Sunday Times 'The writing is cool, the observation exact, the idea bold and well-developed; everything seems to demand attention and analysis' Financial Times 'The terrifying thing about Ballard is his logic; is this science fiction or history written ahead of its time?' Len Deighton

About the Author

J. G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai. After internment in a civilian prison camp, his family returned to England in 1946. His 1984 bestseller 'Empire of the Sun' won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His controversial novel 'Crash' was made into a film by David Cronenberg. His autobiography 'Miracles of Life' was published in 2008, and a collection of interviews with the author, 'Extreme Metaphors', was published in 2012. J. G. Ballard passed away in 2009.

Product Details

  • Series: Flamingo Modern Classic
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird Distributing (January 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586044566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586044568
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Shanghai in 1930, J. G. BALLARD is the author of sixteen novels, including "Empire of the Sun," "The Drowned World," and "Crash." He lived in London until his death in April 2009.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
J.G. Ballard's 1975 novel "High Rise" contains all of the qualities we have come to expect from this author: alarming psychological insights, a study of the profoundly disturbing connections between technology and the human condition, and an intriguing plot masterfully executed. Ballard, who wrote the tremendously troubling "Crash," really knows how to dig deep into our troubling times in order to expose our tentative grasp of modernity. Some compare this book to William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," and there are definite characteristics the two novels share. I would argue, however, that "High Rise" is more eloquent and more relevant than Golding's book. Unfortunately, this Ballard novel is out of print. Try and locate a copy at your local library because the payoff is well worth the effort.
"High Rise" centers around four major characters: Dr. Robert Laing, an instructor at a local medical school, Richard Wilder, a television documentary producer, Anthony Royal, an architect, and the high rise building all three live in with 2,000 other people. Throughout the story, Ballard switches back and forth between these three people, recording their thoughts and actions as they live their lives in the new high-rise apartment building. Ballard made sure to pick three separate people living on different floors of the forty floor building: Laing lives on the twenty fifth floor, Wilder lives on the second floor, and Royal lives in a penthouse on the fortieth floor (befitting his status as the designer of the building). Where you live in this structure will soon take on an importance beyond life itself.
At the beginning of the story, most of the people living in the building get along quite well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
High-Rise is a compelling, modern take on De Sade, taking a look at the darker sides of a humanity with too little room and too much time. The prose reminded me of some great Sci-Fi Golden Age writing, descriptive without being flowery, chilling without gratuitous language. The author pulls off quite a feat in never once stooping to the level of his characters, and in doing so leaves one able to sympathize with even the most barbaric of them.
Though I enjoyed the novel, I feel it goes on a bit farther than it should. Essentially, it is a take on the old 'worldship' stories, modified for an era that does not dream of the stars, all of which that I've read have been in a novella length, and well-served for it. While Ballard tries to fill every page with worthwhile words, one can almost see him straining to keep the work at novel length, rather than taking the pay cut that comes with short fiction. And, truly, a few repetitive scenes do little to distract from the overall story, and readers will get their money's worth with High-Rise.
WARNING: dog lovers, this novel contains several scenes, including one quite pivotal one, of violence towards dogs. As previously noted, the prose never becomes grotesque, but still be warned.
3 Comments 21 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on October 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
As unheimlich as it gets, High Rise is a story about people who lose their civilized selves in a violent, primitive orgy to ascend to the top of a culture entirely enclosed in a skyscraper. For some reason, it reminded me of the final scenes of The Wickerman movie, where no one remained to speak out against the uncontrolled barbarism of the community, there in a small village, here in a very elite group of condo dwellers. Of course, it's made clear that people are really violent, selfish brutes inside anyway; and any tear in the fabric of polite society will open us all to our evil selves. Not the most pleasant book to read in light of the year 2000 computer bug, but I found it very powerful reading.
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Format: Paperback
I would advise the young to follow up their college-class readings of LORD OF THE FLIES with this book, about the war of residents in a high-rise, in which the outside world seems to dissapear and all that matters is the world inside, and the struggle (quite literally!) to the top. This is the postmodern, techno-age version of LORD OF THE FLIES, and implies that instead of an island, we have created our own fortresses and islands, in our age of apartment buildings, condos, and antiseptic, sealed-off living spaces. But we can not escape from ourselves, after all.
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Format: Paperback
J. G. Ballard's High-Rise (1975) is a fascinating yet relentlessly mono-thematic novel inspired by the effects of overpopulation on society explored in earlier sci-fi masterpieces such as John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar (1969) and Silverberg's The World Inside (1971) (both of which I prefer to High-Rise).

The appeal lies more in Ballard's literary qualities and stylistic choices rather than the novel's ideas which are dominated (albeit, I'm being overly simplistic) by a virulent strain of "Lord of the Flies syndrome" afflicting adults, instead of children, crammed into an "island-like" building. Wine war paint instead of pig blood... Chowing on Alsatian dog instead of feral pig... etc.

Plot Summary (limited spoilers)

"Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within his huge apartment building during the previous three months."

And so begins our protagonist's (antagonist?) relentlessly dark (and relentlessly predictable) apartment wanderings -- a crumbling society plagued (in increasing degrees) by flickering electricity, disturbed naked drunken rampages along dog pee filled elevators, rape, suicide, the self-destruction of the upper class.

Laing is one of two thousand occupants of an ultra-modern apartment building for the wealthy which contains entertainment facilities, grocery stores, an endless supply of alcohol (a liquor store), swimming pools, and schools. A few minor inconveniences (a weak electricity supply, malfunctioning elevators) leads to the escalation of tension between the occupants.

Although all the occupants are wealthy, those that live higher up band together against the lower floors and a "class struggle" breaks out.
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