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The Man in the High Castle Paperback – January 24, 2012
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From the Back Cover
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 warand 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 Award
Over a career that spanned three decades, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) wrote 121 short stories and 45 novels, establishing himself as one of the most visionary authors of the twentieth century. His work is included in The Library of America and has been translated into more than 25 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
Over a writing career that spanned three decades, PHILIP K. DICK (1928–1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film, notably Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall,Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.
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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.
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.