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The Man in the High Castle (1962)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: Tom Weiner (Narrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,421302430 (3.68)2 / 465
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 twenty years earlier the United States lost a war -- and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.
  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. 20
    Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alt history
  5. 10
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (Anonymous user)
  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. 10
    Farthing by Jo Walton (rretzler)
  8. 54
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Alternate history
  9. 00
    Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick by Lawrence Sutin (Anonymous user)
  10. 00
    The Lost Continent by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Sylak)
    Sylak: Alternate history following WWI
  11. 00
    Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois (RG_331)
    RG_331: What would happen if the Cold War escalated
  12. 00
    SS-GB by Len Deighton (Michael.Rimmer)
    Michael.Rimmer: Alternate History: Axis powers won WWII
  13. 01
    The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad (andyl)
    andyl: Alternate history novel that also uses the book within a book device.
  14. 12
    China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh (ahstrick)
  15. 01
    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Disturbing Alternate Histories of America.
1960s (214)

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» See also 465 mentions

English (285)  French (4)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Slovak (1)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (301)
Showing 1-5 of 285 (next | show all)
Phil is continuing with his theme of unsympathetic characters. Juliana is basically a psychopath. The plot is as deep and interesting as a coin toss. ( )
  MartinEdasi | Jun 12, 2021 |
koh library. Axis wins WW2. pub 1962, read 2017
  18cran | Jun 7, 2021 |
I struggled to finish this book. The story didn't grab me and I didn't really care about what was going on until about 90% into it. All in all, I found it terribly unsatisfying and disappointing. ( )
  amcheri | May 25, 2021 |
This is another book I read and loved as a teenager and I wanted to see if I still liked it. Well, it's... complicated.

I was and am still impressed with the worldbuilding and the alternate history PKD presents in this book. It's very well thought-out, with lots of interesting details. The man clearly did his research. Not everything is totally believable, but a) I don't neccessarily need that in a speculative fiction story, as long as it requires only a little suspension of disbelief, and b) some of the things that happened in reality do not sound believable when you tell someone who has never heard about them. People are clearly able to come up with all kinds of ideas, good and bad.
The most interesting thought experiment, for me, was how people who lived in this alternate reality where the axis powers won WWII would imagine a world that was an alternate reality to theirs, and how this imagined world would be similar and different to our reality.

Even though a lot of people don't like it, I really do like the ending. I think it's a very fitting ending for this book, and everything else would have felt wrong one way or another. So for me, this is perfect.

What was it I didn't like, then?
The execution. Rather, some of it. PKD clearly has a good grasp on his characters and their voices, and he is able to write different pov characters in different voices that show us who they are. He does this exceptionally well, in my opinion, in the pov chapters of Robert Childan and Mr. Tagomi. Which makes reading other pov chapters even more difficult, because I have to assume his writing choices were made in purpose. Maybe I simply don't get them. Maybe it's a language barrier thing and this is the one book I prefer in translation. But most of the other pov characters' voices seem so incoherent. Especially in the Juliana and Wegener chapters, there is no thought process. At least Wegener gets a little characterization, while Juliana is super naive in one paragraph, and in the next one she figures out rather complex connections and draws the right conclusins, and the reader is left wonderung how she did that, because we never get so experience her thought process.

On the contrary, it seems Juliana is only allowed an inner monologue when she explains to herself what seems to be the insight PKD wanted us, the reader, to take away from the book. Which made her chapters seem infantilizing and rather arrogant to me. She is not a character in her own right, which is why she is not characterized (and on that note, nor are the other characters that appear in her chapters), but a tool to get the author's important message across to the dumb reader, because we can't figure it out on our own.

Also, what is going on with the obsession about her breasts? There really was nothing else PKD could have used to make one small point?

So, in the end, I asked myself two questions:

1. Is this a classic?

It presents interesting ideas that were groundbraking at the time, and it is a staple work of the genre. Thematically, I would say it is still relevant, although there are more relevant speculative fiction works out there.
I do get the impression that this book is hyped more for its ideas and not for its writing, basically the work of an author in love with his ideas (and sometimes thinking those ideas are too complex for the reader, which is why he has to spell them out), and an undeniable talent for writing, who should just have put more effort into the latter. But even in speculative fiction, an idea is not enough.

2. Is this dick lit? (for more info, check out my "about me" section)

I'm on the fence for this one, because it doesn't focus on man pain, but the breasts thing makes me say "yes". ( )
  ImaginarySpace | May 3, 2021 |
I wanted to read this book before I watched the Amazon pilot of “Man in a High Castle.”

Written in 1962 this is Philip K. Dick’s impressive imagining of a world after the Nazi and the Japanese have defeated the Allies.

Dick creates a plausible explanation for how the Axis wins the war, which starts with having FDR assassinated in 1933 just before his inauguration. (This was the attempt on his life where the major of Chicago is killed).

I think there is a tendency to believe that history is predestined. That the Allies (the forces of good) would inevitably triumph over the Axis (the forces of evil). But that’s not true. One of the messages of the book is that if you don’t resist evil, it can triumph.

The world described in High Castle is a nightmare. A mundane, banal nightmare which has us rooting for the Japanese as the less awful of the two conquerors.

As much as I was impressed with all of the interesting details of this world that Dick creates I found the actual novel somewhat less than impressive. The characters are not well developed and while he has several storylines developed, none of them is given enough attention. We are sort of dropped into this world for a brief visit and then the story ends.

I think he could have made a much longer novel – although I’m not sure I wanted to live that world any longer than I did.
( )
  LenJoy | Mar 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 285 (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 (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dick, Philip K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weiner, TomNarratorsecondary 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
Stöbe, NorbertTranslatorsecondary 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)
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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Wikipedia in English (2)

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 twenty years earlier the United States lost a war -- and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Alternate history
given alternate history;
what's true? What isn't?
Complex novel in
scope and ideas but flawed in
its execution.

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Average: (3.68)
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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