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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
13,681356424 (3.67)2 / 507
Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

"The single most resonant and carefully imagined book of Dick's career." ?? New York TimesIt'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. 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 wake. Winner of the Hugo Awar… (more)

  1. 91
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    ecleirs24: Alternate history
  2. 61
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    AlanPoulter: Both are alternate histories set in a USA changed by World War Two.
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    ecleirs24: Alt history
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    ecleirs24: Alternate 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.
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  9. 00
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    Michael.Rimmer: Alternate History: Axis powers won WWII
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    Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick by Lawrence Sutin (Anonymous user)
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    RG_331: What would happen if the Cold War escalated
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    CGlanovsky: Disturbing Alternate Histories of America.
1960s (114)
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» See also 507 mentions

English (334)  Spanish (5)  Italian (4)  French (4)  Galician (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  Finnish (1)  Slovak (1)  All languages (353)
Showing 1-5 of 334 (next | show all)
(1962) Confusing book with a great premise. The Allies have lost WW2, and the Germans & Japanese are now contentious allies. Nuclear war is threatened and small events seem to have global impact. What is reality? KIRKUS REVIEWThe teratological curiosity of the American reading public, whetted and abetted by the press, could have made this novel a sure best seller. Consider the premises upon which Mr. Dick bases his book. They are fascinating: What if the Axis powers had won World War II? What if Germany and Japan had divided after conquering in 1947...Capitulation Day it is called? He takes the hypothesis one step further. It is fifteen years later... 1962. Africa is a "huge empty ruin" sacrificed to Nazi Medicare. The Mediterranean sea has been entirely drained, converted to tillable land. The "blond queens", the "near men" of the Gestapo have found a new use for the big toe. San Francisco is occupied by the Japanese. Old Adolph is in some sanitarium with syphilis of the brain and Martin Borman, heretofore the top man, has just died leaving the Axis powers with a choice among Goebbels, Heydrich, Goehring von Schirach and a couple of other cuties. How did the author turn this projected cosmos into a hinterland where only confusion and boredom reside for the reader? The Man in the High Castle is overpeopled, spattered with telegraphic dialogue simply absurd (A Japanese suicide says to his Colt .22 "Cough up arcane secret".) Finally, there is riddled throughout a quasi-mystique, a pseudo-religious leit motif relating to an Eastern machine that answers questions when asked. This one could be pushed solely on subject-matter. But it will disappoint greatly.Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1962ISBN: 0679740678Page count: 276ppPublisher: PutnamReview Posted Online: Sept. 22nd, 2011Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1962
  derailer | Jan 25, 2024 |
This is the sixth book I've read by this author and of the five I finished (Valis was unreadable), this is probably his weakest. Much like most of his books, the blurb reads an incredible premise; here WW2 was lost by the Allies and the world is under the crushing foot of fascism, with America divided up between Germany and Japan. In amongst it all appears a book which tells of how the Axis powers lost and perhaps everything is not quite as it seems..

Except this is not what this story is about. The book "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" which is supposed to lie at the centre of all this and is at times read by various characters as part of various political discussions, is mostly an afterthought until the end. The "Man in the High Castle" himself has virtually no appearance until the final couple of pages and the book itself doesn't even describe our reality, but an alternate version of our own world where the Allies are torn between savior or fascism as they dominate everyone else. The point of all this is never explained nor is it clearly linked into what else is going on. The danger to in-story society and why it is banned forms no real part.

Whilst I like the idea of a speculative book inside another speculative book, any attempt to make a story from it has been eschewed. I was hoping for a story about how two world's diverged and how an author discovered the true reality and uses it to bring down society and restore it to a path of civilisation. I couldn't have been further away in my expectations.

As to what else is going, the rest is mostly a mess. The narratives follow several characters from different backgrounds all trying to find their own way in the world, guided by internal discussions of philosophy, possession and the use of I Ching; the latter of which gets a lot of page time, but doesn't go far enough in exploring the core idea of how yin and yang could connect two separate realities - which would have been extremely clever. In fairness, there are some interesting sections here. The bleak alternate world is very well developed and quite terrifying to imagine. Learning about I Ching/The Oracle was something new to me and I was fascinated by the exploration of how "historicity" inherent in items makes them valuable to others. But again none of this leads anywhere as the author descends into ever increasing levels of gibberish in his writing and dialogue. The germination of a thought provoking idea at the end unfortunately comes too late and too isolated to mean much.

Another incomprehensible and poor outing from one of the so-called grandmasters of the speculative science fiction genre. How it won any award is beyond me - 1963 was clearly a poor year. Watch the TV series - this takes the potential behind the concepts presented and makes a genuinely gripping and harrowing story out of it. ( )
  KevDS | Jan 18, 2024 |
This was a fast and fairly gripping read, and definitely though-provoking (if not a bit confusing). At the same time, not the best of PKD that I've read nor of fiction in general. Worth a read though, considering it's a quick one. ( )
  andyinabox | Jan 17, 2024 |
Story: 2 / 10
Characters: 6
Setting: 9
Prose: 7

Another awful book. Not a single thing happened. Just a lot of waiting for characters to appear and other random events in 3-5 different story lines.
There were a few good points though:
1. Most alternate history books about WWII seems to forget Japan
2. The Japanese influence on their "territories" in the US is brilliant
3. The simplified prose used by Japanese characters is extremely clever
4. The ramifications of Nazi victory in WWII is profound and terrifying, from the technological innovations to culture cleansing
5. This book was my first exposure to the I Ching (Book of Changes). Including that philosophy definitely made for some fun

Not sure if I should even return to Philip K. Dick after that. He seems to be an "idea man", not a storyteller. Recall having lacklustre feelings about "Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep", though I did give it 3 / 5 stars. Would welcome your thoughts on the subject... ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
A masterpiece of craft and psychological nuance. I wish I could discuss it in a classroom setting; hopefully the Internet will suffice! ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 334 (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 (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dick, Philip K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, EricIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Figueroa, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gambino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glasserman, DebbieDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gleeson, TonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jęczmyk, LechTranslatorsecondary 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
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)
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

"The single most resonant and carefully imagined book of Dick's career." ?? New York TimesIt'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. 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 wake. Winner of the Hugo Awar

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Alternate history
given alternate history;
what's true? What isn't?
(ed.pendragon)
Complex novel in
scope and ideas but flawed in
its execution.
(passion4reading)
What if Hitler won
The US fell to Nazis
A small group fights back

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