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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
6,891134526 (3.78)1 / 241
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 (124)  French (4)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Slovak (1)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
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 |
The Basics

An alternate history wherein Japan and Germany won World War II. And things are as dystopiate (is that a word? I just invented it) as one would expect.

My Thoughts

The thing one must realize when approaching a Philip K. Dick novel is that he doesn’t write normal stories. In the slightest. He doesn’t always write in a fashion that entirely makes sense. He often goes inside a character’s head, into not just their thoughts but their very meat, and struggles to find his way back out. I thought I was ready for that here, but in the end, I think this is why the book lost me.

I started off feeling some momentum, but I ended up feeling unfulfilled and confused and generally… not entertained. There were some strong characters here that I got attached to (with the exception of Childan, who I couldn’t stand from the very beginning), but the story was so unorganized and spontaneous in a bad way.

I think I also went into this book with false expectations. The last book I’d read by him was Ubik, and it blew me away. It was so adventurous, cinematic, and exciting. This book’s tone is entirely different, and when I’d heard the premise, somehow I expected it would be more kinetic. So when we’re treated to plots about fake memorabilia and jewelry making that seem to drag and lead nowhere, I was disappointed.

This book was trying to say something, and I feel I missed the point entirely. I can’t tell if that’s my fault or not. Maybe my lack of interest in heavily political plots has something to do with it. Or my expectations. Or PKD’s habit of taking rabbit trails that don’t serve the story. Either way, this didn’t live up to the extreme hype surrounding it.

Final Rating

2.5/5 ( )
1 vote Nickidemus | Sep 18, 2014 |
I hate to say it, but I'm downgrading this one from my previous ranking (which was based on reading it many years ago). It just doesn't hold up as well as his other work (though I admit to being due for a re-read on much of that, as well). ( )
  tlockney | Sep 7, 2014 |
I read this mainly because it won the Hugo Award for the best SF novel in 1962. I found this enjoyable although not quite to my taste, but that should in no way detract others from reading what is an interesting book. I imagine that when the book was first published, the idea of a society where Germany and Japan has won the Second World War and America was a subject nation would have been far more personal, given so many more people would have has experiences of the conflict. Now perhaps we look back with a little bit more detachment.

The interplay of the characters is well done and throws up differences between Eastern and Western ideas that causes us to consider our own perceptions. The ending was kind of what I was expecting, although I was hoping for a bit more. Again that is probably just my taste. No one of my all time best books but a remarkable book especially for when it was written. ( )
  Ken.Davis | Jun 21, 2014 |
An excellent "alternative history" by one of the undisputed masters of sci-fi: The Man in the High Castle starts with an often-done premise (that of Axis victory in WW2) and expands on it both in terms of world-building and suspenseful plot.

The general story, of which I shall not summarise completely owing to spoilers, progresses somewhat slowly though the payoff is worth it.

The interplay between the story of the novel and the story-within-a-story is expertly done, and the reveal changes the perception of it.

Probably one of his more accessible works (compared to say Valis or Ubique) and thus an excellent start to one of Sci-Fi's greatest writers. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (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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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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