4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Defining a genre,
This review is from: The Man in the High Castle (Paperback)
If you do a little research, you'll find that most people say that "The man in the high castle", the book that gave Philip K. Dick his Hugo Award, is the first real "Alternate history" book. Although some earlier books dealt with similar plot-stories (like the excellent "On the beach" by Nevil Shute), "The man in the high castle" is such a masterpiece that it deservedly stands as a benchmark in sci-fi / alternate history literature.
The story is set in a different universe, where FDR was murdered in 1933 and was not able to help the US get out of Depression. Thus, the United States couldn't enter the second World War, and so Germany and Japan were victorious and now share the world, rulling over continents with iron hands.
There are many characters in the book. They are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area, in what is now the PSA or Pacific States of America - a Japan-controlled state. All characters are involved in one way or another, in a clear but intrincated plot - and subplots. Excellent character development, different elements like the constant use of I Ching (people say that Dick himself used the I Ching to write the book), fake memorabilia, spies, a disguised general and a disguised murderer, a book written by a recluse author, all these and more make "The man in the high castle" one of the most enjoyable and different books I've ever read.
The text is always permeated by Dick's ever-present (but this time very thin) sarcasm. For example, one of the characters wants to be accepted by the japanese population, to the point that when he gets to use the first-person narrative, he talks like a stereotype japanese-born speaking english, ommiting articles and prepositions.
At the end, Dick subtlely but surely writes an incredible plot twist, making the reader wonder what he really read. Thats how good this book is: when you finish it, it won't slip away from your mind.