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The Man in the High Castle (Sf Masterworks)…

The Man in the High Castle (Sf Masterworks) (original 1962; edition 2001)

by Philip K. Dick

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7,986190407 (3.74)2 / 351
Title:The Man in the High Castle (Sf Masterworks)
Authors:Philip K. Dick
Info:Gollancz (2001), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Science Fiction

Work details

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

  1. 71
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  2. 61
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  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)
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  9. 11
    China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh (ahstrick)
  10. 01
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    andyl: Alternate history novel that also uses the book within a book device.

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English (176)  French (4)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Slovak (1)  Hungarian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (190)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
I just finished reading The Man in the High Castle and it left me confused. It is clearly a novel of ideas. It plays with a number of philosophical ideas, looks at them from several directions (what is authenticity? how is the history of an object part of that object? what is truth/reality?). It also is an alternate history story with a fascinating premisse: what if history had turned a few different turns, resulting in the Axis powers winning the Second World War. Lastly, it is a plot with spies, secret agents, art forgery and a mysterious writer who produced a popular (illegal in Nazi territory) work of alternate history (what if the Allies had won?). The ideas and the alternate history lines make it worth the read. The plot however, didn't satisfy me at all. I couldn't connect to the main characters, couldn't really care how the story ended and when it ended, I felt like many loose ends were left.

A few loose remarks:
The main two characters in the novel are really two books: the popular The Grasshopper Lies Heavy and the I Ching (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching) which is used by some of the characters as an oracle to guide their life choices.

The story contains three alternate realities: the one of the novel, the one in The Grasshopper Lies Heavy and the one experienced by Mr. Tagomi after examining the piece of jewellery in the park (this could actually well be our reality).

At the end, it turns out that the The Grasshopper Lies Heavy was created by using the I Ching. It is said that P.K. Dick also used the I Ching when constructing the plot of The Man in the High Castle. I think that the vague verse outcomes of the I Ching can guide an author well in creating a creative alternate history, but that it's a lousy guide in writing a compelling piece of fiction.

I admire the amount of research into the Nazi and Japanese empires that Dick clearly did. It makes his alternate history quite convincing. It does however show that it was created in the USA of the 1960's. The idea that the Germans would have easily overrun the Russians in their operation Barbarossa if the USA were not involved in Europe seems, well, unfair to the role the Russians played in winning over the Nazis. ( )
  teunduynstee | Aug 21, 2016 |
"This fellow -" Joe closed the book, turned it around to study the back cover. "Abendsen. I don't blame him. He writes this fantasy, imagines how the world would be if the Axis had lost"...
"I have to turn the bacon." She slid away from him and hurried back to the kitchen.
Following after her, still carrying the book, Joe went on, "And the U.S. comes in. After it licks the Japs. And after the war, the U.S. and Britain divide the World. Exactly like Germany and Japan did in reality."

The Man in the High Castle is a Hugo Award-winning alternative history. Amazon recently turned the property into a series, of course, the resulting work bears only a passing resemblance to the written novel. I love films and television based on Dick's works. The way he approaches identity, both real and perceived, self-evaluation, self-doubt and paranoia just really speak to me.
I really liked the way he wrote the Japanese in this novel. Their speech and thought pattern were so distinct, I could almost hear it. I didn't think the Germans were nearly as so well done. I enjoyed the story even though I don't think I have the entire picture Dick painted. Questions remain, but what is it they say - always leave them guessing? I know this one will be in my head for some time to come.
Although Dick is most known in Sci-Fi circles, this is one work that can be read by non-Sci-Fi readers. ( )
  VictoriaPL | Jul 14, 2016 |
I didn't really get this. I wanted to. It's an alternative universe story about a world where Germany and Japan won the second world war. And it has lots of clever thoughts and things going on, none of which quite clicked for me.

There are American craftsmen, who make fakes, and move on from making fakes to making artistic jewellery. The Japanese they try to sell the jewellery to think it is ugly, but decide it has a philosophical property that brings enlightenment. There is an interesting scene where the Japanese businessman tells the craftsman that he should make a deal to have them reproduced in their millions as tacky good luck charms, and the American sees the temptation and strives and overcomes, because to say he wants to profit by selling his designs as cheap and worthless would be to deny their value and their art. It is deep, with strong currents, and interestingly written.

There is a Brazil like sub plot, where a person is arrested and released mostly because of high up currents far beyond their control, in a way that appears meaningless to them.

There is a meeting between a German spy for Japan, and a Japanese general, where important secrets are exchanged, and a shootout with Germans who want to arrest the spy.

There are lots of good descriptions of the feeling of otherness, of racial tension, of the Japanese as the conquerors living in the nice places, with the nice jobs, of the hierarchy making things worse for many others than it is for the white Americans. Of the feeling when you look at people from another culture and you don't understand them, and they feel very other, but also feel superior and you feel ashamed of yourself.

And the main plot, which is a slightly-too-cliched/clever story of a man who has written an alternative universe book in which Germany lost the war, who is being hunted by a German spy who wants to kill him for his blasphemy. In the end he is saved by a woman who the spy has picked up as a decoy. And the big denouement is that he wrote the book using the oracle of the i-ching, and the woman asks the oracle one more question, and it replies that actually Germany _did_ lose the war. And I might be really stupid, but I just didn't Get It. Was it a comment that power corrupts, and that the Germans are trashing the world, and so by winning the war they have really lost? Or was it a breaking of the forth wall, the oracle admitting that they are characters in a book, and in the real world Germany did lose the war?

Anyway, to conclude, clever, with some deep and insightful bits, but sadly too clever for me. ( )
1 vote atreic | Jul 13, 2016 |
World War 2 as envisioned with the other side winning, what is the reality, who really won? Plus the strange importance we put the historical provenance of artefacts and how it affects their value, brilliant. ( )
  Cat-Lib | Jul 3, 2016 |
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.



S: 5/21/16 - F: 6/3/16 (14 Days) ( )
1 vote mahsdad | Jun 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (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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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)
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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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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