- File Size: 12739 KB
- Print Length: 290 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Media Tie In edition (January 24, 2012)
- Publication Date: January 24, 2012
- Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005MZN2B2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,603 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Man in the High Castle Kindle Edition
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From the Author
Philip K. Dick (1928–1982) wrote 121 short stories and 45 novels and is considered one of the most visionary writers of the twentieth century. His work is included in the Library of America and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Eleven works have been adapted to film, including Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall,Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly.
About the Author
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This story was written in the 60s, and is set then as well. What if the Axis won World War II is the major premise behind the setting. The conflicts highlight the extreme to which Japanese and German cultures could have gone, and the possible effects of living in a land under the control of one, and strongly influenced by the other. Imagine the Japanese concept of place, mixing with facist bigotry, overlaid on oppressed Americans living in a totalitarian world. PKD thoroughly denounces facism, bigotry and xenophobia.
But the story is more than that. The plot is hidden from the reader as we see events from several points of view. And the narration ends with barely a paragraph of denouement. If you are not driven to contemplation about the meaning of life or the nature of reality by this work, you should read it again, slowly.
Without giving anything away, let me say that, through nine-tenths of the book, Dick builds the story (and the readers) up to this heart-wrenching climax--and then doesn't deliver. The effect was like being ushered into a great and grand house, all designed and built around a single unifying theme, each room a better, more nuanced expression of that theme. Then, just as we come to the doorway to the central chamber--the ultimate expression of the theme which we have been led, by degrees, to understand throughout the entire tour--we run into a white sheet with the words "THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER. THANK YOU FOR YOUR VISIT--THE DOORMAN WILL SHOW YOU OUT." printed on it, and we are promptly hustled out the side entrance, the door slammed behind us.
Long story short: If you came here expecting a novel-form of the excellent series of the same name based on this story, produced by Amazon and overseen by Philip K. Dick's family and estate, you'll be very disappointed. What Amazon and the. Philip K. Dick family have done is taken the premise, a few of the excellently written characters, and the story question of this novel, and allowed the story to run, filling out a great riverbed, rather than constricting it to the bathtub-size which was this commercial volume.
TL;DR Watch the series instead. It is definitely inspired by this book, but much more detailed and suited to those who want an in-depth story.
I refuse to donate this book to Goodwill, as I would not want to subject anyone else to reading this horrible crap. I threw the book in the recycling bin.
Each character has there own unique persona and unique motives for what they are really out to get. Every character is masterfully developed. PKD doesn't just focus on the character's PKD is able to fully capture you imagination and create a beautifully horrid reality inside your mind as you read.
This is one of the books that you will read reread and still be wondering about what truly happened or what the book was really about. One of the most complex and inciting books I have read and loved so deeply in a long time. Overall if you like alternative-history or books with complex backgrounds and amazing story's you should be sure to read this.
Top international reviews
Though many of the characters share the same names; Frank Frink, Mr Tagomi, Juliana, Joe and others, most are a little different from their TV counterpart. Robert Childan, the Americana salesman longing to be socially accepted by his high class Japanese clientele, is most like the TV character. Absent from the story in the original book are Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith, head of the American Nazis, (in fact we never visit the Nazi part of America) and the American resistance movement. That said, if you want an interesting read this book is certainly that!
This is an alternate history of America. The Nazis and Japanese won World War Two and America is split between the two powers. Japan runs the Pacific coast and the east of America is run by the Nazis. Between these two areas is a kind of neutral zone formed by the Rocky Mountains.
For much of the first half of the book the characters are introduced and the New world order, and how it came about, is explained. We learn of a book banned by the Nazis, called "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" in which Japan and Germany lose the war. The Author is known as "The man in the high castle", as he apparently lives in a well guarded hide out.
The plot really starts to pan out in the second half as Juliana, having met Joe in the neutral states, sets out to find the book's author. Joe says he'll take her, claiming to have fought in North Africa with the Italian army during the war. As they travel Juliana starts to doubt him.
Back in San Francisco Mr Tagomi becomes involved in an attempt by peaceful factions from Japan and Germany to prevent a war between the two powers.
In the Reich a power struggle is taking place that could lead to a nuclear holocaust.
To say more would spoil the book. It is interesting and thoughtful, but if you are expecting a written version of the TV series be prepared for a different experience.
Dick's world building is reasonably good, and the descriptions of a Japanese sphere dominated west coast vs. the Nazi east coast with the mid-west buffer zone are thought provoking. The rocket ships etc. that fly from Germany to California in a few minutes are a bit too far fetched given the taxi's are pedal powered.
However, for me the problem is the disjointed nature of the story. The first third seems to be introducing the characters, in quite a lot of detail, but then to what purpose. I cannot really figure out the point of one of the main characters - he just seems to be there...
Overall the plot seems to be very disjointed - almost like two separate short stories that occur in the same vicinity, but are not really related.
Dick's prose isn't particularly fluid. Whatsmore, his penchant for inconsistently going into stream of consciousness narration and terse, clipped sentences make some passages outright confusing. Nonetheless, the reader becomes accustomed to this fairly early on. My issue with TMITHC is that it simply isn't very good. The story is fairly non-eventful and there is the constant nagging that Dick is wasting a fantastic setting on a bland, disjointed story. It is told through the perspectives of three main players, with each story arch sort of intersecting at one point or another. The problem with this is that they aren't equal and I found myself skimming pages for certain characters.
Another major disappointment is in Dick's apparent failure (assuming I wasn't just too stupid to pick up on nuances) to take advantage of excellent ideas. There is something very bold about writing a novella set in an alternate history, where a book set in an alternate history is revealed to be... an alternate history. I was expecting some kind of reflexive narrative gimmick or trick, but this doesn't happen. The end is irritatingly ambiguous - not in a thought-provoking way. The characters also talk on 'historicity' and how we give objects their value, rather than any intrinsic quality. I figured that this would be the theme, the ultimate goal of the story, to tell the reader that history is defined by perception in some clever revelation. This didn't seem to be the case - at least not so I detected. Again, it seemed like a missed opportunity to build something literary - an Orwell-esque allegory even. Instead, it is just a rather bland and disjointed story that I kept hoping would pick up, but it didn't.
The Amazon seriers has a much better storyline and far more developed characters. The book, quite frankly, was shit.
There are no alternate world newsreels, no Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith, no Resistance and Julia has no sister.
The story is readable and well-paced although the characters, with the exception of Tagomi, lack depth.
The curious dialogue style, imitating English as spoken by a foreigner, is initially irritating but, before long, your brain fills in the missing words and it appears more fluid.
For me the subject matter appears to be more a discourse on what constitutes free will vs predestination, with Julia Frink as an unpredictable, you might say unstable, wildcard.
You may come away feeling unsatisfied, with questions unanswered, but the book will definitely stimulate your brain and give you food for thought.
It stands up on its own merits and I would advise that, to enjoy it at its best, you try and mentally disconnect any connections to the TV show before reading.
The one star given here is the minimum I can put to submit a review and is for the fact that as a waste of my valuable time - it succeeded in destroying any further interest I may have had of reading more by Philip K Dick.
That being said there is clearly a lot of love in this book and the author has poured himself into it and I may just not of got it which makes it my problem not the books. Also I did feel compelled to reach the end albeit I am still a bit in the dark about what reality is the actual reality in the story
If you enjoy reading this then check out Philip Roth’s book
But it's easy to read, and the ending is a good example (spoiler alert?) of breaking the fourth wall and questioning the nature of reality itself. And it manages to do so without being clumsy or pretentious.
The introduction was annoying. A lot of the bargain classics have a warning to read them after reading the novel, if it's your first read. That would've been handy here. But that doesn't change the novel.
Some elements are quite far-fetched now - colonisation of Mars and Venus by the Nazi's, Mediterranean drained for farmland etc - but you have to remember the original was written in the 60's.
Other than principle character names and locations, the more recent Amazon Prime series of the same name is very different in plot-line, but does capture the same basic sentiments.
The book lets you consider how Nazi strategy and Japanese culture would have evolved without allied defeat. Japan's industrial and cultural revolution never took place; Nazi ethnic cleansing continued unabated. Japan is still ruled by an ageing emperor, and Germany still contains key members of the 3rd Reich but in advanced years and in the midst of a power struggle. There is a tinderbox situation between the world's 'superpowers' akin to America and Russian in the 60's.
Initially the world seems an 'ok' place (which drew controversy when the book was first published), but as you read carefully it becomes clear than Americans are subservient to Japanese and German conquerors, and human destruction under the 'final solution' continues with relative secrecy/reluctant acceptance.
The characters are nicely fleshed out, but the leaps from one story thread to another don't necessarily coincide with natural breaks such as chapter endings, so this reader at least was sometimes left a little confused.
The story also uses something called the Oracle that the various characters consult to guide their decisions; a leap of belief is required here.
The author's style of descriptive text is unusual, using clipped sentences to attempt a feeling of internal thought. It works once the reader acclimatizes.
Difficult at times, but ultimately fulfilling, The Man in the High Castle gives much food for thought even now, 73 years after the end of WW2.
The book is a tricky but worthwhile read for two main reasons. Firstly, the prose is terrible - basic rules of sentence formation are ignored. Secondly, it is very hard to follow where it is all going.
The core meaning for me of the book is different. Ultimately to me the book is about people doing the right thing, even in highly unfavourable circumstances. The TV series is more about the futility of resistance and challenging us to embrace the unfairness which exists in any society. These are not contradictory, but neither are they the same.
That was my interpretation, anyway!