Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2017
Phillip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle reads like a Franz Kafka tale infused with an eclectic synthesis of Asian mysticism, Christian symbolism and PKD’s signature brand of Gnosticism. It is a unique alternate history narrative in that it emphasizes the character development of the main players within a chilling context in which the Axis Powers defeat the Allies and carve up the U.S. into the German Reich-controlled Eastern states and Pacific states dominated by Imperial Japan; these occupied states are buffered by a neutral zone within the Rocky Mountain states. The year is 1962.
The writing style and character development clearly justified a Hugo Award for Dick. The prime character developments focus on impetuous Juliana (ex-Mrs. Frank Frink) and the introspective Mr. Tagomi, Japanese trade representative in San Francisco. Hawthorne Abendsen (the real “man in the high castle” dwelling in the neutral zone) doesn’t appear until the final chapter -- a surprising epiphany to Juliana. In the novel’s “climax”, Abendsen confides to Juliana that he consulted the I Ching (the oracle or “The Book of Changes”) to write The Grasshopper Lies Heavy (the novel within the novel). Grasshopper depicts Abendsen’s written alternate history in which the Allies win WWII. Clearly the Reich government views Grasshopper as a political threat to be suppressed.
It would surprise few Dick enthusiasts that PKD himself consulted the I Ching when penning The Man in the High Castle. Art imitates life and vice versa. Many were dismayed to discover that the ending is quite open. Obviously, one is prompted to speculate and meditate (probably as Dick intended): What constitutes reality for the individual? Do alternate dimensions, worlds and histories co-exist with ours?
Are time and history only linear processes?
After finishing, I longed for a sequel. Perhaps the current Amazon series is that sequel!
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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
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