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The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
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The Man in the High Castle (original 1962; edition 2012)

by Philip K. Dick

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,947136518 (3.78)1 / 255
Member:joecanas
Title:The Man in the High Castle
Authors:Philip K. Dick
Info:Mariner Books (2012), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

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

  1. 51
    Fatherland by Robert Harris (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alternate history
  2. 41
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both are alternate histories set in a USA changed by World War Two.
  3. 20
    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.
  4. 43
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alternate history
  5. 10
    Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alt history
  6. 00
    Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Sylak)
    Sylak: Alternate history following WWI
  7. 00
    SS-GB by Len Deighton (Michael.Rimmer)
    Michael.Rimmer: Alternate History: Axis powers won WWII
  8. 11
    China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh (ahstrick)
  9. 33
    The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (ateolf)
  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 (126)  French (4)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Slovak (1)  All languages (136)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
The strength of this novel is in the world-building; a quite believable post-USA in the generation following the Allies' defeat in WWII. The characters are not particularly memorable, and all tend to wash around where the winds of history blow them. The five separate protagonists are commonplace people in the margins trying to advance themselves out of dead-end existences. Many authors would be tempted to give first or second-person narrative to scenes with the heads of state monologuing their plans, or insert long segments of exposition summing up the alt-history’s divergence from our own reality. I’m particularly bored of seeing passages quoted from fictional history texts used at the introduction of chapters as a overt method of injecting backstory. PKD knew it was always better to show the reader, and not merely tell them. It’s far more engaging to provide a scene from the lower caste character’s narrative point of view as he attempts to socialize with his social betters, highlighting his inner anxieties and thoughts, than to simply state how 'indigenously born former Americans live in the shadow of the rich Japanese Imperials who have gentrified their seized neighborhoods’. The most chilling aspect of the new world illustrated in the novel is how civilly the subjugated accept their bonds; there are no jack-booted enforcers patrolling the streets, life instead continues on with the economic and cultural dynamics reversed for the defeated. Aside from the fantastic world building however, the storyline is painfully slow and often meandering around in eddies that don’t particularly advance the story. A few events finally bubble up into something resembling a climax for three of the characters, and some unsatisfying denouement gives no indication of what follows from there historically. I kept expecting some definitive plot closure at the conclusion, but instead got ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Dec 9, 2014 |
This was not what I was expecting. I am used to big overarching stories about worlds and people and times. This was more little peeks into individual scenes in people's lives. It was good, of course. I enjoyed it. Thought the ending was a bit anticlimactic. I was expecting guns blazing, or great things happening, and instead it just flowed, like the rest of the book, as life does.

( )
  ariel.kirst | Nov 14, 2014 |
my first pkd book = success and adventure!

my dad is reading this book too. which is great. ( )
  behemothing | Oct 25, 2014 |
I'm not sure what I was supposed to expect from this novel of conjecture, but I was disappointed. Although it did address life in the U.S. in a post-WWII world in which the Allies lost, it didn't really feel "real." It felt like a made-up world and I didn't really buy it. The characters were all pretty unsympathetic as well, so it took me a long time to get through it. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
I needed a new book for my walk to work and grabbed this book mostly at random on my way out the door. (It's one of the few works of fiction left on my to=read shelf.) It wasn't long before I was concerned that I'd made a poor choice. The verdict in the Trayvon Martin case had just come out and I was waist-deep in uncomfortable conversations about race. Now here I am reading a book about an alternate reality where the Allies lost WWII, and the United States is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. All the characters were having uncomfortable internal dialogs about race, and I fully expected to get cranky and soon have a full-on case of PKD-paranoia.

I didn't. And I now fully understand why this is regarded by many to be one of Dick's best works, even as it's probably not among the most widely known. (Just because there's no movie. Though I hear rumors that a mini-series is currently in pre-production.) Sometimes, (as much as I love him), Dick's plots and characters and storylines seem to spin out of control. They veer, grow, and distort until I find myself thinking, "I don't think I'm on enough drugs for this." This book does not. It is stark, it is honest, it is under control. DESPITE the fact that it is rumored that whenever the characters within consult the I Ching (which is frequently, it seems Americans, no longer in control of their own destinies, whole-heartedly embraced this Chinese oracle, introduced to them by the Japanese), Dick himself would consult the I Ching, writing in the reading and letting those predictions guide the plot.

What is so fascinating and wonderful about this alternate history (though at the time it was published it was an alternate present, set in 1962), is that it is told entirely through his everyman characters. Terrible, world-sweeping things are happening, but we know about them only as the characters think of them. They affect the book, but are not the main focus of the book. The characters all have the ability to change the course of this world, but most won't. And none of them are presidents of have their fingers on the bomb.

Dick's common themes are here. We see through a glass darkly. This world is a veil. For the most part, they stay understated. Until at the end they unravel in all their messy glory in a few places, almost as a reminder that yes, you are reading a PKD novel.

I've barely talked about anything that there is to talk about. Like the novel in the novel, another alternate history in which the Allies have won the war (but which is clearly not our reality either.) And every character says that's not how it would be, this is how it would be...

It's a good thing I don't have some responsibility to fully review this book. But I probably would put this in my top 5 PKD novels. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (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 (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall 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.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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:35 -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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