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The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
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The Man in the High Castle (1962)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,875184423 (3.74)2 / 343
  1. 71
    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 (172)  French (4)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Slovak (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (184)
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
I mostly love PKD's short stories and haven't read many of his novels. His work is the source material for seemlingly half of all movies made in Hollywood over the last 30 years (seriously, there are 13 TV and Film adaptations of his work, and that's pretty darn impressive). I've had this book on the shelf for years, and probably have read it, but didn't remember much, other than the basic premise.

That is, its an alternate history of the US, set in San Fransico, in a divided North America. Japan and Germany have won WWII and occupy the West and East Coasts (respectivly) of America. The story deals with an interconnected cast of characters, from the head of the Japanese trade mission, an antiques dealer selling old Americana to the Japanese tourists. A Jewish American veteran making jewerly in a society that favors the old, not the new and his ex-wife, who is a judo instructor in the neutral Mountain States Zone.

Possibly the 2 biggest characters in the book, are books. One is the I,Ching, a kind of choose your own prediction book, where the reader generates random numbers in some fashion and looks up their fortune in the book. It is used by practically everyone on the Pacific States of America (PSA) to influence all challenging decisions. The other book is a widely banned novel in the world of Castle, called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. It is an alternate history where the allies did win the war. But its not our history, this is an alternate within an alternate. The title of our book refers to the reclusive author of Grasshopper, who supposedly lives in a fortress-like estate called the High Castle. As with a lot of PKD's work, it is weird, twisted and very compelling. Now I can watch the TV series on Amazon.

Recommend.

8/10

S: 5/21/16 - F: 6/3/16 (14 Days) ( )
  mahsdad | Jun 25, 2016 |
Apparently I must be some kind of troglodyte or non-intellectual because I simply didn't care for The Man in the High Castle. The book has been on my reading list for ... well, decades, I suppose, but I never got around to reading it. I really enjoyed the Amazon Prime series based (very, very loosely based) on the book, so when I was a looking for a slight change of pace, this seemed like the perfect book. Sadly, it wasn't. I found myself bored. I found some of the writing, in particular when the author was trying to capture the thoughts and speech patters of the Japanese characters or the character who was trying to emulate Japanese speech and thought to be ... well, difficult for no good purpose. The elements of the story were so disconnected that they just never grabbed me. Oh, well. ( )
  MSWallack | Jun 24, 2016 |
For its time, it is a brilliant piece of what is now considered historical fiction." From the audiobook perspective, it was a bit dull and the characters leapt out of the pages of the 1950's. Though there was one strong female character who was the most fleshed out of them all, the inner dialogue more than the actions were the most gripping parts. The speculation that Dick had about how the US was divided up between the Nazis and the Japanese and what had happened to the other countries of the world was sheer brilliance, and there but for a single bullet could have happened. Unfortunately, was not thrilled with the narrator's delivery; I may re-read again in the future (but which future!?)." ( )
  threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
The Man in the High Castle is an intriguing but occasionally confusing book. It uses a science-fiction alternate history, in which the Axis powers won World War Two, to pose a number of questions about the nature of reality. The overall concept, insofar as I could grasp, is the idea of certain realities/parallel worlds being 'false'. More specifically, it is about the perceptions of people within those 'false' worlds and whether they realise, or accept the possibility that, their world is a false one, a fictional one. Beyond this, it posits that the words 'fake' and 'true' have no solid meaning; it all depends on whether we perceive its falsity, whether we believe it to be truthful. For Philip K. Dick, truth is not an absolute. There is also an interesting, persistent theme wherein the 'fake' may be better, more useful, than the 'authentic' counterpart. From what I know about Dick, this is a persistent theme in his work; the most well-known example is, of course, the replicants from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made into the film Blade Runner). In The Man in the High Castle, this is shown in, amongst other examples, the Colt revolver that Tagomi owns and the various physical deceptions that some of the characters make about their identities.

This interpretation that I gleaned from reading the book is perhaps erroneous; this is the sort of book where you could have a wildly different interpretation from someone else, and you both would be able to cite examples from the text to support your view. I like these sort of books that exercise your mind long after you've finished the last page, but this one in particular requires a lot of mental effort. Dick aids the reader in this in some respects. He writes well, with occasional humour to provide a respite from the heavy philosophical concepts and also from the oppressive totalitarianism present in his alternate world. He also provides good characterisation, even if the majority of said characters are unlikeable. However, he hinders the reader's understanding in other ways. There is no plot really to speak of. Some of the philosophising is rambling and impenetrable, with certain passages requiring repeated re-readings (at least for me). The fervent advocacy of the I Ching by many characters (and, therefore, by the author) also gave me an aversion to engaging with High Castle - it felt at times like Dick was trying to convert me. But as alternate histories go, this is one of the more intelligent ones; certainly it is one of the few that transcend the strictures of the 'alternate history' niche to become a genuinely thoughtful piece of literature. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
2 stars.

I was disappointed with this book; it ended up going nowhere. Perhaps there was simply too much “other stuff” besides the plot (like the Zen and Eastern mysticism) in it to make it a worthwhile read for me. It seemed like an overwhelmingly large number characters constantly consult the I Ching for guidance, which has no appeal to me whatsoever.

Okay, speaking of plot, or lack thereof. The book takes place in Japanese-controlled western United States (The United States lost World War II, and was divided between Nazi Germany and Japan). For the most part, the characters are introduced in the first half, and they all come together in the second half. But there is no clear resolution to any of the plotlines, and it felt like a cop-out to me. Even the dissatisfying ending asking, “What is reality?” felt so contrived, it was almost like PKD got tired of this writing this book and simply quit on it.

Overall, this book was very flat for me. I didn't feel involved with the characters or their alternate world. ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 172 (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 editionsconfirmed
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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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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)
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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 (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
Alternate history
given alternate history;
what's true? What isn't?
(ed.pendragon)

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.

» see all 9 descriptions

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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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