Philip K. Dick novels often follow a particular pattern, that makes his books difficult to enjoy one-after-the-other, but gives them a familiar (if predictable) quality. His books tend to shift perspectives, not focusing on plot so much as tone and setting, there is often a religious system appealed to by the characters such as Mercerism (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) or the I Ching (The Man in the High Castle), and his plots often end on a simple philosophical question that gives the overall narrative no direct resolution. In this way, I think Dick is far more interested in provoking thought in his readers than he is in simply entertaining them with a narrative contrivance. The Man in the High Castle is largely a plotless book, and merely explores different aspects of what the world might look like had Germany and Japan won the war. Yet Dick forces his readers to remember that they are reading fiction, creating a strange meta-narrative wherein the reader wonders what the implications are for the characters in the book, only to be reminded that once the book is closed the characters cease to exist. Even within a story looking at alternative history, the alternative history is an untruth: it is fiction.
Best of PDK's work I've read thus far. I think I enjoyed this more than most people because I have a very good working knowledge of Taoism. If you're interested in reading this novel, I suggest first reading some intro to Taoism book, as the Tao is found through The Man in the High Castle. I think you'll get more out of it that way. My favourite character was Tagomi. I love how PKD wrote his thoughts. His crisis at the end was a page-turner! Least favourite character was Juliana. PKD is terrible at writing female characters because he makes them so one-sided and stereotypical. The Man in the High Castle definitely wasn't what I expected, which I think is what makes it such a great book!
The book looks at what the United States would have looked like in the 1960s if the Axis Powers had won World War II. In this parallel world, Franklin Roosevelt was assassinated in 1933, changing history so that the United States did not have the power to win against the Axis Powers. Instead of focusing on the global events, the book follows individuals living in a terrifying world. The small details in the book, where one slip up can ruin lives, show how fraught and tense this alternative world is. Most of the story takes place in occupied San Francisco, with some sections taking place in the Neutral States along the Rocky Mountains. In California, Frank leaves his job and starts a jewelry business with a former coworker. His company strikes a deal with Robert Childan, an antiques dealer who supplies American folk artifacts that are popular with his Japanese customers. Also in San Francisco, Tagomi and Baynes are meeting for business, even though neither seems to trust the other. Meanwhile Frank’s ex-wife, Juliana meets a strange truck driver named Joe in the Neutral States. There is a book within the book called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which discusses what would have happened if The Allied Forces had won the war.
Philip K. Dick was certainly a brilliant man and a gifted writer. His imagined dystopia of a world split between the victorious Reich and Imperial Japan is chilling and realistic.
Dull little piece about the Axis having not really won. Like the rest of Dick's canon, proof that people in the past didn't have that much imagination.
This book was in a display of "Alternate Facts" at TCCL's Schusterman-Benson Library.
It describes life in the USA after the Axis Powers win the war. Although I was told the book is not science fiction, the last few pages suggest otherwise. The author carefully describes the characteristics of Americas's new rulers, right down to speech mannerisms. The governing styles of the Japanese and Germans are quite believable, recognizing that the Germans in this telling are Nazis. Users of the I Ching should give the book a try. This is fun reading, even more than 50 years after its publication.
If you're new to Dick's particular brand of weirdness and don't mind a slow pace, this is as good a place as any to start.
I bought this because we watch the TV show. The book is SO different! PKD is a fantastic writer - he deserves all of his accolades. The end totally blew my mind. I'm still trying to figure it out. Anyone who enjoys alternate-history novels and novels with a philosophical twist should enjoy this.
The book starts out incredibly slow with many chapters of characters I didn't care for. Juliana isn't as likable as in the show but eventually her story becomes intriguing when she attempts to meet "The Man In The High Castle". I also enjoyed Frank, Mr. Tagomi and Robert Childan. A fun look at an alternative history and those adapting in it.
There is a book within a book ( " The Grasshopper Lies Heavy " ) that is meant as a subversive critique of the reigning regime, but is that book really meant to be the very one you are holding ( The Man in the High Castle )? A topsy turvy look at a North America held under the thrall of fascism.
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