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The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

The Man in the High Castle (1962)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,539224360 (3.74)2 / 385
  1. 81
    Fatherland by Robert Harris (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alternate history
  2. 61
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both are alternate histories set in a USA changed by World War Two.
  3. 62
    The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (ateolf)
  4. 63
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alternate history
  5. 20
    Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alt history
  6. 10
    The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Two very different approaches to using an oracle, one the Tarot, another the I Ching, to help structure a book's narrative.
  7. 00
    SS-GB by Len Deighton (Michael.Rimmer)
    Michael.Rimmer: Alternate History: Axis powers won WWII
  8. 00
    The Lost Continent by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Sylak)
    Sylak: Alternate history following WWI
  9. 11
    China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh (ahstrick)
  10. 01
    The iron dream by Norman Spinrad (andyl)
    andyl: Alternate history novel that also uses the book within a book device.

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English (210)  French (4)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Slovak (1)  Hungarian (1)  Finnish (1)  All (224)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
An oddly written book, that I suppose falls in line with my Year of Books I Should Have Read Already, though I didn't know I should have. I watched the first season of the Amazon adaptation (more on that later), which prompted this reading. Interesting, innovative and imaginative concept...though the backdrop is incongruous. The divisions of the United States, and the political constructs, don't work (the series does it better, but ... later) with independent regions influenced, though not really occupied, by the two major Axis victors. The overall arc is presented in quite a clumsy and uneven way - such that the Hugo award is surprising. I get that much like a director of photography might shoot from an odd angle to convey to the watcher that things are off kilter, an author might invent a strange language or present "normal" concepts in an abnormal way to convey the same feeling, but Dick tries and doesn't really do that all that well. The premise is abnormal enough...Allies losing WWII... Dick tries to take it further with something in broken English like "Always faint possibility certain nervous element even in SD."

Or a thought...

There at the cash register, Mr. Childan. Polishing with cloth some artifact.

Okay...dropping articles is understandable. But he clumsily fails in having the same character think an absurd line like We cannot enter the monstrous schizophrenic morass of Nazi internecine intrigue; our minds cannot adapt.
Further, occidental characters in the Japanese controlled region think in broken English? The characters are one-dimensional and have no plausible connections/interactions with one another. I'm still scratching my virtual head and how one of the disconnected subplots is peppered with staccato discontinuities (and the other major line not exactly "peppered", but certainly "littered".)

Maybe had I read this 35 years ago, I would have liked it more. Not so much, now. I kept hoping it would get better, but he kept lapsing into inanity.

As to the adaptation...I am baffled as to how producers/writers do what they do. The setting is very roughly similar, and some of the characters have the same names, but that's about it. The television characters are essentially unrecognizable; the entire backstory equally so; and the interactions, such as they are...well, I suppose they had to be completely re-imagined as they are fundamentally unworkable as is. So, some forgiveness there. Much like Mr. Jackson's embarrassing adaptations of the Tolkien works, that series should more rightly say that it is inspired by rather than based on Dick's work. Still, ponderously slow as the series is, I think the interpretation so far better than the source. Curiously, I read that a reviewer from io9 referred to the series as an "impressive, streamlined undertaking of a fairly complicated, [...] novel."

"[F]airly complicated"? I don't think we read the same book. Or she didn't use the right adjective. "Confused novel" would be more descriptive. And of course, it had to have yet another one of those annoying "are you serious?" endings.

( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
I read the book to try to make sense of the TV series with its bewildering parallel histories. Still none the wiser - except there is no John Smith the American Opergruppenfuhrer. This is the only PKD I have read.
  h3arold | May 22, 2017 |
It is amazing to me that Dick has a loser here especially since Heinlein loved it. Anyhthing else by him is superior. ( )
  zusu | May 20, 2017 |
The overall theme of an alternate history is interesting. The sub themes of cultural differences and supernatural writing are less interesting. The TV show series based on the book has given some fame to the book. I mildly recommend this book. ( )
  GlennBell | May 11, 2017 |
I kind of always had this idea PKD would be a bit underwhelming, so probably I shouldn't have started with this one, because I've got all kinds of--UGH, I GUESS--fanboyish high strung sensitivities and preferences as far as alternate history goes; but I am also a students of litretchah, and so in principle a good weird artful yarn should take precedence over a small verisimilitude (because make no mistake this world divided between Germany and Japan--two totalitarian geopolitical behemoths, undercutting e'en Orwell!--with Nazis on Mars in the sixties could never have happened); but there's more about it that's offputting: as a lover of Japan, I should again be open to Dick's take here where the Japanese are basically the good guys despite massacres and slaves, a weird Orientalist Asia-Pacific empire where everyone speaks in me-so-solly and is enlightened like Spock (atrocities notwithstanding) and consults the I Ching. The idea of an Asian–American hybrid culture emerging PERHAPS 100 years avant la lettre is a great one but the execution is wonky, and the nostalgia for pre–war to end all wars US frontier shit that is a huge plot point sort of works but has these weird notes of that whole post(real)WWII thing where "they love all our cultural detritus in Japan." It has moments of appeal but then you remember how totally unlike any of this, and totally awful, early-Showa Japan was and it gets offputting. As for the Nazis, Dick was obviously familiar with the idea that the Reich was a "weak dictatorship" where the centre did not hold and each sinister bureaucracy in the military and police and security services and military police and secret police and security services for the security services pursues its own agenda, but, well ... so what? If you're looking for insight into Nazism you won't get it here, it's bog-standard Reich-on-Reich intrigue. And um then there is a woman written like a mid-twentieth-century sci-fi woman (she loves to shop!) but also, which is nice, a judoka and finally a reluctant action hero, and then at the end she goes to one deceptively normal suburb and everything gets Lynchian-with-a-flash-of-2001-odyssean and then it ends. To me, it doesn't amount to much. ( )
3 vote MeditationesMartini | May 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
Dick is entertaining us about reality and madness, time and death, sin and salvation.... We have our own homegrown Borges.
added by GYKM | editNew Republic, Ursula K. LeGuin
Philip K. Dick's best books always describe a future that is both entirely recognizable and utterly unimaginable.
added by GYKM | editThe New York Times Book Review
Philip K. Dick... has chosen to handle... material too nutty to accept, too admonitory to forget, too haunting to abandon.
added by GYKM | editWashington Post

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, EricIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gambino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glasserman, DebbieDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gleeson, TonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nati, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
North, HeidiCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiner, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Awards and honors
To my wife, Anne, without whose silence
this book would never have been written
To my wife Tessa and my son Christopher,
with great and awful love
First words
For a week Mr. R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail.
They know a million tricks, those novelists...Appeals to the base lusts that hide in everyone no matter how respectable on the surface. Yes, the novelist knows humanity how worthless they are, ruled by their testicles, swayed by cowardice, selling out every cause because of their greed...all he's got to do is thump on the drum, and there's the response. And he laughing of course, behind his hand at the effect he gets. (p. 128)
At six-fifteen in the evening she finished the book. I wonder if Joe got to the end of it? she wondered. There's so much more in it than he understood. What is it Abendsen wanted to say? Nothing about his make-believe world. Am I the only one who knows? I'll bet I am; nobody else really understands 'Grasshopper' but me - they just imagine they do.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary
Alternate history
given alternate history;
what's true? What isn't?

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679740678, Paperback)

It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. the few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some 20 years earlier the United States lost a war--and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to awake.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:53 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

After the defeat of the Allies during World War II, the United States is divided up and ruled by the Axis powers.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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