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A review of philip dicks award winning novel the man in the high castle

One such conversation went like this: Or rather speculative fiction.

  • I don't do scifi;
  • In High Castle, the American identity has been completely crushed;
  • One that sticks out is a scene in which an antique shop owner, Robert Childan, has dinner at the house of a Japanese couple;
  • Whereas in most stories the setting serves as a place for the plot to take place, the reader here gets the sense that the plot is just something to have happen in the setting.

I don't do scifi. The awkwardness of the words coming out of my mouth did not even occur to me for several sentences. I'm pretty sure at some point during the evening I also said, with party-speaking volume, "I think I really like Dick! Suffice it to say that I am swearing off parties and returning to my safe, almost-completely-awkwardness-free hermetic lifestyle.

Let me just establish that neither the Nazi-lover nor I are, in fact, Nazi-lovers or racists or no more racist than the average personand that despite or perhaps because of?

My former experience with Phillip K. Dick whose first name and middle initial are considerably more important in conversation than heretofore imagined was with a collection of his short storieswhich was amusing but very much in the Atomic Age sort of a vein: Ballard's similar ruminations on mortality and atomic annihilation to be unfinishably boring, I was wary of returning to PKD ah, much betterand the premise of a world in which the Axis powers won WWII could definitely have lead down that road.

Plucky American rebels fighting their Nazi oppressors and thwarting a plot to nuke New York while chronically hamstrung by their moribund contemplation of non-existence?

  1. Ballard's similar ruminations on mortality and atomic annihilation to be unfinishably boring, I was wary of returning to PKD ah, much better , and the premise of a world in which the Axis powers won WWII could definitely have lead down that road.
  2. When he reads that FDR was assassinated, and that this was what prevented the US from getting out of the Great Depression and that for this reason the United States did not have the economic might to defeat Germany and Japan, he is likely to set the book down until he is done guffawing. Dick himself intended to write a sequel to it, and indeed a couple of his later novels were conceived as sequels but did not turn out that way.
  3. Or rather speculative fiction. The other is the I Ching , ubiquitous in the Pacific States and as if to prove my point about plot, the author used it to guide the tale, even reportedly expressing dissatisfaction at where it led him but staying faithful to what it told him.
  4. The best stories, of course, are strong in both categories.
  5. The Japanese are consistently depicted as high-handed, elitist, occasionally racist, but generally fair and benign in intent... Women get the short shrift.

But this book is so not that book! As with other works by PKD or at least the cinematic interpretations I've seenthe underlying horror is not about annihilation, but about anxiety over identity. In High Castle, the American identity has been completely crushed.

The idea of infinite American ingenuity and resourcefulness has been discarded along with our belief in democracy. The Japanese are consistently depicted as high-handed, elitist, occasionally racist, but generally fair and benign in intent.

  • Ballard's similar ruminations on mortality and atomic annihilation to be unfinishably boring, I was wary of returning to PKD ah, much better , and the premise of a world in which the Axis powers won WWII could definitely have lead down that road;
  • There are exceptions, as one would expect, and Philip K;
  • Baynes, who travels to meet with a key official in the Japanese government to warn him about a German plot.

So if we as Americans aren't rebels, if we're not democrats, if we're not plucky heroes with wild ideas so crazy they might actually work, who are we? What a great subject for a scifi novel. There's also quite a bit about the life and meaning of objects, or the "historicity" as the characters call it.

  • Nevertheless, the book is a good one, better than most sci-fi novels I have read;
  • Suffice it to say that I am swearing off parties and returning to my safe, almost-completely-awkwardness-free hermetic lifestyle;
  • When he reads that FDR was assassinated, and that this was what prevented the US from getting out of the Great Depression and that for this reason the United States did not have the economic might to defeat Germany and Japan, he is likely to set the book down until he is done guffawing;
  • In High Castle, the American identity has been completely crushed;
  • Dick The characters consulting the I Ching are reflections of the author.

Why is a penny touched by the President more significant than any other penny? I'm not entirely sure how this theme plays into the rest of the novel. It may have something to do with the arbitrariness invoked by the use of the I Ching by almost every character, i. Again, though, how does it relate to Nazis?!

Also, hawt book-in-book action! All the characters in this what-if book are reading their own what-if book postulating a world in which the Axis powers didn't win WWII. I mean, yo dawg, I herd you like speculative fiction, so we put a book in yo book so u can speculate while u speculate. It's kind of cool. The book's not perfect.

The Man in the High Castle

Women get the short shrift. Betty Kasoura seems both intelligent and sympathetic to the plight of the Americans, but doesn't take action to the extent that her husband does. Sign of the times this was published in 1962 or a part of the narrative? Races and ethnicities are mercilessly stereotyped, but seemingly without bias: Japanese are polite and inscrutable, Americans are emotional and clumsy, Chinese are crude and servile, Germans orderly and maniacal.

I suppose you could interpret that as the triumph of the Axis worldview over Western egalitarian principles, or you could read it as the biases inherent in our own 1960s America. Anyway, totally worth trying, even if you don't like scifi OR Nazis.