The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

High-Rise begins as the last of the one thousand apartment units in a new forty-story high-rise building is filled. Parties are held every night in the fully occupied building. The first of many violent images in the book is a wine bottle falling from an upper balcony to a lower one, then shattering. Soon the building splits into three groups: the lower class, occupying the bottom ten floors, the middle class, on floors eleven through thirty-five, and the upper class, on the top five floors. The best unit of the top floor is reserved for Anthony Royal, the buildings architect. The people of the building become increasingly more vicious and destructive, tearing apart everything in the building and vandalizing it as they terrorize, violate, and kill one another.

Dr. Robert Laing moved into the high-rise to live in anonymity after his divorce. Throughout the book, he mostly manages to stay barricaded in his room, venturing out only occasionally to reflect on the destruction and the events outside his raid-proof door. He proves himself to be one of the strongest of the people in the building, exhibiting self-reliance and passivity. He personally does not engage in brutality. Laing appears in the beginning and ending chapters, holding the book together, but essentially slips out of the middle chapters, in which the other, more aggressive people are involved in their barbaric rites, rituals, and extreme acts of brutality.

The increasing...

(The entire section is 575 words.)