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The Man in the High Castle Paperback – January 24, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Dick's Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history considers the question of what would have happened if the Allied Powers had lost WWII. Some 20 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has now been split between Japan and Germany, the major hegemonic states. But the tension between these two powers is mounting, and this stress is playing out in the western U.S. Through a collection of characters in various states of posing (spies, sellers of falsified goods, others with secret identities), Dick provides an intriguing tale about life and history as it relates to authentic and manufactured reality. Tom Weiner reveals an impressive vocal range that delivers the host of characters with distinct culture, class and gender personas, which helps to sort the various plot strands. His prose reading is engaging, though sometimes lacks sufficient emphasis and energy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
That said, TMitHC is a treasure. It distills a number of Dick's obsessions into a taut character study set against the backdrop of a world going even more mad. Each of the 6 'protagonists' here are searching for truth. Only a couple of them are capable of facing it dignity.
As with all of Dick's best work the world-building is efficient and brilliant. I re-read this recently to prepare myself for watching the new serial, and was reminded of just how good Dick's prose is. The casual racism of Mr. Childan, the inner strength of Juliana, the coldness of Joe Cinnadella. But, it is Mr. Tagomi who owns this novel. He is one of Dick's finest characters, at once pragmatic and idealistic. Mature and naive. The living embodiment of the Tao.
The ending matters both textually and thematically. It separates the characters into those who can face the reality of their world and those who cannot.
For those looking into PKD for the first time I highly recommend these books over all of the others (in my order of preference):
2) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
3) The Man in the High Castle
4) Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
5) The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
6) Clans of the Alphane Moon
7) A Scanner Darkly
8) Martian Time-Slip
9) Dr. Bloodmoney
10) The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
Others like Time Out of Joint, The Game-Players of Titan, Now Wait for Last Year, The Penultimate Truth and Galactic Pot Healer are fine diversions, but the books above are essential. VALIS is a difficult mess of a book. Timothy Archer is the only one of the 'trilogy' I actually enjoyed as a narrative.
I rarely give 5 stars except to the very best books I've read in my life. This book is definitely strongly among them.
Written as an alternative history of WWII, the book is a fascinating pondering of what the world would have looked like if the Allies lost the war.
But beyond this premise lies a book that deeply probes the inner lives of various characters within the spectrum of morality and power structure.
There is a great deal of spiritual and existential musings on life, death, God and truth.
I am completely floored by this novel and highly highly recommend it as a searing atmospheric philosophical read that will leave you thinking about your own life and the conceptions of reality and truth you hold.