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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What If ?
Philip K Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 but spent most of his life in California . By the time he died in 1982, he written over 30 science-fiction novels and more than 100 short stories. Some of the more famous films of recent years - including "Blade Runner" and "A Scanner Darkly" have been based on his work. "The Man in the High Castle " was first published in 1962...
Published on Jan. 23 2007 by Craobh Rua

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3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating concept
This is only the second PKD book I have read and it has led me to a couple of thoughts about the man. One, he had an exceptional imagination. Two, he wrote a lot more than necessary to get his point across.

The concept of this book, while totally original, was incredibly simple - what if Germany had won the war?
The whole story was regular life as it...
Published 10 months ago by Rose


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3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating concept, Sept. 7 2013
By 
Rose (Saint John, NB, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This is only the second PKD book I have read and it has led me to a couple of thoughts about the man. One, he had an exceptional imagination. Two, he wrote a lot more than necessary to get his point across.

The concept of this book, while totally original, was incredibly simple - what if Germany had won the war?
The whole story was regular life as it would be playing out had Hitler been victorious. There was only one wrinkle in this story...a man had written a book with the concept that Germany had lost the war. This man was known as the 'man in the high tower', describing his home which supposedly was a bit of a fortress for his protection. The book was incredibly popular and ultimately would lead to the Germans trying to assassinate him.

This all sounds incredibly good but in fact, I found most of the book rather boring. I loved the concept but not the execution. I'm not a fan of excessive writing although I know there are lot of people out there who do and will love this book for that fact.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite seem to work for me..., Aug. 22 2013
By 
Daffy Bibliophile (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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First of all, I really enjoy Philip K. Dick's writing. His somewhat paranoid, what-is-human and what-is-reality approach to things comes across great in his short stories. But I really can't say the same for "The Man in the High Castle". It's a decent book, a well-told story, but something is lacking. PKD seems to have had the urge to write an alternative history novel in which the Axis powers win the Second World War, an urge that quite a few authors have given into. The result in this case is not the best writing that PKD produced. The story is there, the characters are fairly believable but it gets messy, never quite comes together as a whole, and PKD seems to lose his way towards the end. I guess this is basically a story about another dimension that intersects with our own at one point, but it might have been better if the author had expressed his ideas in a short story. Philip K. Dick was a great sci-fi writer but I feel that this is not one of his better works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What If ?, Jan. 23 2007
Philip K Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 but spent most of his life in California . By the time he died in 1982, he written over 30 science-fiction novels and more than 100 short stories. Some of the more famous films of recent years - including "Blade Runner" and "A Scanner Darkly" have been based on his work. "The Man in the High Castle " was first published in 1962 and went on to win the Hugo Award.

"The Man in the High Castle " isn't necessarily what many would consider to be a `typical' science-fiction novel : there are no little green men, androids don't appear, nobody feels the force and the heroes aren't boldly going. Set in the 1960s, the story takes place in a world where the Allies lost the Second World War : Japan is in control of Asia, while Germany is in control of Europe and Africa. The Germans have also drained the Mediterranean for farmland, and have applied the `final solution' to the peoples of Africa. America, meanwhile, has been divided into three states. Much of the action takes place in the Pacific Seaboard America region, which is under the control of Japan. The eastern section of America is ruled by Germany, while between the two is the Rocky Mountain Buffer State. Life under the Japanese is presented as being relatively benign - pleasant, even. This appears to contrast sharply with life under German rule, despite the fact this isn't actually shown in the book.

The book follows the lives of a group of very loosely connected individuals - though what affects one has repercussions for all. Robert Childan is introduced first : a native of San Francisco, Childan can vaguely remember life before the war. He runs American Artistic Handcrafts, which sells "ethnic" American antiques to the Japanese, such as guns, comic-books - even framed, signed pictures of Jean Harlow ! Childan knows his place : the Japanese are at least one step above him on the ladder and, although there's a certain amount of admiration for them, there's also a great deal of resentment directed towards them also. His admiration for the Nazis, however, is untroubled by any such conflict. Nobuske Tagomi, the Head of the Japanese Imperial Trade Mission in San Francisco, is an occasional customer of Childan's. Tagomi is being used as a middle-man for a meeting between a representative of the Japanese government and a man called Baynes - apparently a Swedish national - and is hoping Childan will be able to supply a suitable gift.

What Childan doesn't realise is that much of his merchandise is fake. When Frank Frinks is introduced, he has just been sacked from his job with one of Childan's suppliers. He then goes into business himself, creating original jewellery - something he'll obviously need a market for. Frank has been divorced for about a year, though he seems to think constantly of Juliana, his ex-wife. Juliana, meanwhile, has been living in the Rocky Mountain State, working as a judo instructor - things start to change dramatically for her when she meets a lorry-driver called Joe.

Two books play a key role in "The Man in the High Castle". One is the "I Ching", the ancient Chinese Book of Divination. Many use it to guide their decisions and lives on a daily basis - Tagomi in particular. The other iscalled "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy", a work of fiction written by a man called Hawthorn Abendsen. It describes a world where the Allies won the war - as a result, it has been banned by both the Germans and the Japanese. Given his unpopularity with the world's two great powers, Abendsen is said to live in a heavily fortified home and has become known as "The Man in the High Castle".

This is the first book by Philip K Dick that I've read, though it won't be the last. It's comfortably one of the best books that I've read this year and it's one that would appeal to more than just the ardent science-fiction fan. Very highly recommended !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Philip K. Dick Classic, May 4 2011
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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Philip K. Dick is a master of unconventional sci-fi and fantasy genre, and those qualities are clearly exhibited in this work. It is set in 1960s America in a world in which Germany and Japan have won the World War II. US and the rest of the world are divided between those two superpowers, and we follow lives of several ordinary Americans who try to adjust themselves to this reality. The characters in the novel are fully developed in a manner that we've come to expect from Dick's later novels. Their personal struggles are intertwined with the new geopolitical power plays. The title of the novel refers to the sobriquet for Hawthorne Abendsen, a fictional writer of the book "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" which forms a story-within-a-story and a sort of MacGuffin for this novel. This fictional book will also be at the center of the denouement of this novel, and may provide the clue for what this novel was all about.

The Man in the High Castle is another brilliant and thought provoking novel. It is an engrossing and fun read as well, and a true classic of science fiction.
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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
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars A good work by Dick, but not his most fun, Aug. 7 2010
The Man in the High Castle is a novel that offers an idea of what the world would be like if the Axis had won World War II. In it one finds a North America that is dominated by the Japanese and a Europe that is filled with the cut throat inner politics of the Nazi party where the Nazis are prone to stab each other in the back. We follow the story of a Jewish man hiding in his labour, his ex-wife as she comes to realize what the world would be like if the Allies won the war, and a cast of other characters that includes a Japanese Trade Official and an American antique dealer. In this novel Dick approaches the problem of the meaning of a life in a deranged society, much like he does in his other novels.

I found this book to be one of Philip K. Dick's most literary works. However, this novel is by no means my favourite of his works that I have read. I prefer the mind-bending realities that Dick presents in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch or the well crafted character study of Rick Deckard In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I did find this work to have the most polished and coherent plot of the three Dick books that I have read. That this is the case does not mean that this book did not have it's slower moments, especially near the end of the novel when an art object is contemplated a little too long for my taste.

Overall, I would recommend this novel to those who are looking for a good philosophical novel by the master of introspective science fiction. Although this novel technically does not have any futuristic sci-fi elements, the argument can be made that the alternate reality Dick creates is in it's own way sci-fi. This book may be award winning (Hugo award), but I found parts of this book to be extremely slow in the manner of some 19th century novels. While this is touted to be perhaps his best work, there are other Dick books I recommend you try first, but coming from Dick's mastery of writing, this book should not be over looked (just look at it after you have read more Dick!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars On the track of the I Ching., June 19 2004
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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 7 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 Thought-provoking, but..., April 25 2004
Dick takes us on a journey through one of the most unthinkable "what if" scenarios: Germany has won World War II. Through tidbits along the way, we learn of some of the factors that contributed the the defeat of the United States. It's a well thought-out alternative history.
Without spoiling anything, I'll tell you that there is a "book within the book." When you read about this, ask yourself exactly what Dick is satirizing--what is he getting at?
Unfortunately I found the ending unsatisfying. However, the book is memorable, and a good reminder of a possible world that was prevented by the actions of the Allies in WWII.
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