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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of PK Dick
I doubt there are many writers as wildly inconsistent as Dick. He can be vapid and very bad--stylistically and materially--or knock-your-socks-off intelligent and excellent. This book is ranked among the latter.
The book's main theme is the one that Dick excels at developing in challenging, complicated, and provocative narrative situations--the theme of the nature of...
Published on June 21 2004 by C. Myers

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising, but not as good as it could have been
This is a surprising opus. The action takes place in San Francisco in the 1960s. Japan and Germany won World War II twenty year earlier, and split the world between them. The two countries occupy each half of the United States. Germany has brought the final solution to an extreme in Africa. The few remaining Jews are prosecuted and have to hide even in the...
Published on April 18 2004 by Erik Bruchez


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of PK Dick, June 21 2004
By 
C. Myers "leanleaper" (Simi Valley, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I doubt there are many writers as wildly inconsistent as Dick. He can be vapid and very bad--stylistically and materially--or knock-your-socks-off intelligent and excellent. This book is ranked among the latter.
The book's main theme is the one that Dick excels at developing in challenging, complicated, and provocative narrative situations--the theme of the nature of reality. A recent bio-novel about Dick by Emmanuel Carrere makes the point that novels such as The Man in the High Castle are very likely pretty accurate reflections of Dick's mind and often unsettled mental state; that is, he often doubted what was real in his own life timeline.
Many of my friends are disappointed with the conclusion of the novel, but I think Juliana Frink had it right at the end--while the novel describes an alternate timeline, it is really about our very own timeline.
If you've ever speculated about historical turning points--what if an event had or hadn't taken place--you will really enjoy this novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars On the track of the I Ching., June 19 2004
By 
This book earned 1963 Hugo Prize and well deserved. PKD shows his master writing craft depicting an alternate world in which Allied has lost the war. The USA is dismembered into three different countries: one under the influence of the Germans, one under Japanese influence and the third one in the middle of the other two.
The plot follows different threads showing how life is in this barren new world. Germans had expanded over Africa and carried there their "final solution" schema. In contrast the Japanese show a more humanistic and restrained politic, but falling back in technological aspects, they are menaced with extinction.
Two books inside this book pick up the center of the show: the Chinese book of Changes (I Ching) and the fictional "The Locust is Down" describing an alternate world more near to ours but NOT the same. This last twist is a provoking "what if " inside another one.
PKD describes his characters with a firm hand, giving them deep human traits. They strive to survive against dangerous odds. At the same time they try to discover the ultimate sense of life.
As I've seen in some other great sci-fi books, behind the surface of the current action lie powerful moral and ethic questions.
The end of the novel satisfactorily closes all threads.
When I first read this book in the early '60s, I was puzzled by the I Ching and started studying it and finally consulting it. A great experience to be sure.
A real Classic with capital letter. Enjoy!
Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Which one is the alternate reality?, June 6 2004
By 
Doug Mackey (Fairfield, IA USA) - See all my reviews
Winner of the Hugo Award in 1962, the basic premise of this book is irresistible: that there is an alternate universe in which Germany and Japan won World War II. Philosophically, the book has proved deep enough to spark plenty of critical debate, and its use of the I Ching helped popularize that five-thousand-year-old Chinese oracle in America in the 1960s. Naziism is portrayed as an unmitigated evil, the yang to Japan's yin, and the Japanese come off much better in comparison, becoming humane rulers in the world of the novel, which is set in California. Even more interesting than the alternate history scenario are the questions the novel raises about ontological priority-which reality is real and which fake? Are we the ones living in the fictitious reality? Additionally, the characters are memorable and subtly drawn. Their lives touch tangentially in a fascinating dance. The narrative point of view switches among them, often in a stream-of-consciousness mode, in one of Dick's most successful uses of the multi-focal technique.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fictional Characters Learning about the Real World, May 19 2004
By A Customer
It looks like many people misunderstood this book. This book is certainly not an alternative history in terms of a plot. The alternative history provides at most a setting. The point of the book is not whether Operation Dandelion is carried out or thwarted; the point is comparing where the characters stand in their "alternate" reality to what is really real. At the end of the book, some of the characters discover what we know to be real: that Germany and Japan actually lost the war. Some of the details in the Grasshopper book are wrong because the I Ching just gave the general outline, and Abendsen filled in the details. In this way, it seems that the I Ching wishes to give the characters some comfort for their dreary existence under totalitarian rule. This theme has parallels in both philosophy and religion from both the East and West. The first that came to my mind was the Cave analogy from Plato's Republic, with the characters that are trapped in a dark shadowy world they perceive to be reality until the Sun illuminates everything to show things as they actually are. Dick has said before that what makes a sf story is not its setting, but that the central character is an idea that gets people to think. The central character in this book is certainly something to contemplate long after the book itself is put away. Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising, but not as good as it could have been, April 18 2004
By 
Erik Bruchez (Mountain View, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a surprising opus. The action takes place in San Francisco in the 1960s. Japan and Germany won World War II twenty year earlier, and split the world between them. The two countries occupy each half of the United States. Germany has brought the final solution to an extreme in Africa. The few remaining Jews are prosecuted and have to hide even in the Japan-controlled Pacific States of America, where the I Ching (or Book of Changes) is used daily and referred to as the oracle. The Germans have the technological advantage: Lufthansa rockets connect the continents, and the conquest of space is well underway. This is the only aspect of The Man in the High Castle that could place it in the category of science-fiction.
Philip K. Dick uses fascinating characters to progressively immerse the reader in his utopia, rather than going for a completely descriptive approach. Three loosely connected sets of characters share the book: first, Robert Childan, Frank Frink and Ed McCarthy; then, Mr. Nobusuke Tagomi and Mr. Baynes, AKA Captain Rudolf Wegener; and finally, Juliana Frink and Joe. Juliana and Frank are married but separated, and never meet in the story. Mr. Tagomi is an occasional customer of Childan. The three sets of characters could as well have been completely disconnected.
The variations on the English language are quite interesting. The Japanese characters speak what could be called Japanese-English, quite consistently throughout the book. In addition, the German culture is never far away, and the occurences of German words are numerous, without being an obstacle to understanding the story.
An interesting twist is the presence in the story itself of a book, The Grasshoper Lies Heavy, which is about a world where Japan and Germany lost the war. This mise en abyme of the utopia is actually at the center of the story of Juliana, but in the end the plot falls short being really interesting. The last few pages in particular are quite anticlimatic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars History...., April 7 2004
By 
D. L. Kroeker (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
As a History grad and military history buff I found this book positively creepy and chilling!! It literally wrenches your insides because in it is a dark, terrifying, nightmare world that Dick creates in which HISTORY goes horribly, horribly wrong. After all, we're the "good guys", right? I mean we WON the war and the "bad guys" lost. Not so in this book and the WAY the bad guys won the war is fascinating. Dick gives it to us in tiny little morsels instead of all at once. Ex. "One of these lighters was in FDR's pocket when he was assassinated." WHOAH. Or "when the Germans took Malta...." or "during the Battle of London...." Dick takes you on a ride and shakes you. He tells you what the Nazis did to Europe and Africa after they won the war and how they are leading the space program and taking their deadly values to the stars. His portrayal of the Americans as second-class citizens in their own country indebted to Nazi economic reconstruction or Japanese slightly condescending humanitarianism is so real. He has a philosophical undertone throughout which is represented by the I Ching which has become the oracle of choice to the lowly Americans who try to make sense of their place in this new world. A book has been written inside this one which asserts that Germany and Japan DID lose the war and the Nazis and Japanese try to suppress it but at the same time find it irresistibly compelling as if its "truth" is truer than their realities. Man in the High Castle gives you a sense of hope in the end that the yanks will see this underlying truth amidst the stark reality of their present. Truly, though, this book is so real that as you are reading it you may find yourself shuddering and glancing through some history books just to make sure....
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4.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating contemplation of history, March 28 2004
There's little need to contribute another general positive review of this insightful and fascinating novel, as it seems abundantly clear from the reviews that this is indeed a worthwhile read (with the dissenting opinions of the erudite anti-intellectual salesmen duly noted and dismissed). However, what seems to be lacking in the helpful criticism is the main theme of Dick's novel, an individual's relationship with history. Dick is interested in the extreme subjectivity of history, a phenomenon that is created based on human perception at and of a given intersection of space and time, a subjective perception that is then cast into an artificially objective mold. We create standards for verifying for athenticating, to show that something of historic value is universally important, not just an indiosycrasy of an individual. Certain objects are endowed with historicity, a connection with a universally recognized important historical event or figure, and are thus deemed valuable. Similary, certain events are judged arbitrarily (by, say, the victors of a war) and the world is then forced to abide by all their values and standards of determination. In this sense, one feels trapped by history, that is until they realize that they have been coerced into going along with an arbitary system of values that have never really existed beyond a subjective idea. Once the artifice of objectivity has been breached, the subjective creative forces behind history are revealed. The oppressive, at times nightmarish quality of history is superceded by an empowered individual, one who recognizes the manifold plurality of individual perception, in touch with the taoist principles of the simulateous coexistence of the absolute possibility and impossibility of everything in the world.
Dick's ending is abrupt, but because it stops the reader short, he is almost forced to contemplate what was said before closing the book with any kind of satisfaction. It's a brilliant writing technique. It's really a shame that businessmen on airplanes didn't like this book because they're too busy selling things and don't have time to think. You really hate to see that kind of esteemed reader demographic become alienated. Stick to the t.v., pal. God forbid you should read too much and accidentally be inspired to think, you might start to resemble a (cringe!) COLLEGE PROFESSOR! We all shudder at the thought.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Looking Back On It,Years Later., March 16 2004
I have read this book perhaps two or thre times,and recall being hugely impressed when I first read it.I re-read it,along with a lot of other P.K.D books,many years later,and didn't find it as enthralling.I think that it is a flawed masterpiece,and agree with many of the criticisms made by other reviewers (weak conclusion;flat characters,etc.).However,all of the reviewers who didn't like it have written well-thought out criticisms;except two of them.One of the reviewers is remarkable in the staggeringly bad standard of his writing:grammar,synatax,etc.The one I am referring to, arrogantly states that readers want to be entertained,rather than have their minds expanded.Where is this engraved in stone?I have some advice for this person:don't attempt anything written by either Nabokov or Jorge Luis Borges.Ursula Le Guinn compared P.K.D with the latter.Both were novelists of ideas,and didn't really put much effort into "rounded" characters.
I believe that the book is going to be adapted for the big screen,as most of P.K.D's books will eventually be.If his mind had been more focussed,"The Man In The High Castle" would have been great.The angry reviewer has a problem (and cannot even spell) college professors.He also urges us to read a biography by some who "made this country." Does he have any suggestions? Innumerable,anonymous immigrants did all of that.I don't think that they had time to write a gripping biography.
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1.0 out of 5 stars What a boring book!, Jan. 12 2004
By 
L. Ellis (NYC) - See all my reviews
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I read this book on the way to a business trip to Aruba. I wished I would of watched the movie on the flight. Who are the people writing these reviews? This book was horrible. I lived in Japan for 5 years when I worked for Toyota, and this is not the kind of life they live. Even in parts of the country where Western influence has not spoiled the old ways, people don't live like they are portrayed in this book. And I understand the "underlining meaning" about this book. Still, it is boring and the writer can't carry the story. He leaves many loose ends. This book is great for people that have time to think about these underlining themes. Most of these people think they are so smart to figure these themes out. Most everyone else understands these thing, but don't care. Theyw ant a book to entertain, not to expand their mind. If you are in a career you love, work for a living (unlike some college proffesor) and enjoy your life you understand these themes already. So get a life. Read a business bio about someone who built this country! Not a book by someone who hates life and did not get enough attention for their daddy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hats off, gentlemen, a genius., Dec 4 2003
By 
This book is IT. Forget everything your high school English teacher forced you to read: It's because of books like this one that Americans have not completely abandoned the ancient art of scanning text on paper. PKD is one of the greatest American authors and it's a good thing he's not assigned in schools, so he can only be read for pleasure.
This is science fiction only in it being set in an alternate history. There are no zapotron rays or electroframmistans to muddle the scenery between the characters and the world they're in. Read it carefully, because it's a PKD novel and that means you're going on a schizophrenic ride somewhere in the novel.
This one schizes out at the end, where many PKD books discharge their psychedelic payloads, and that freaks out a lot of the straights in the general population. They miss the point that PKD is about shifting frames of reality and that the end itself sets you up with a question as to which world you live in and the dilemma of being forced to disbelieve things you enjoy and the pain of having them vanish for you.
Most humans don't get PKD, but he's all the rage on Yuggoth. Tentacles up on this one.
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The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (Mass Market Paperback - July 1992)
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