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
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, but...
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...
Published on April 26 2004 by jradoff
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4.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating contemplation of history,
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars Looking Back On It,Years Later.,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars The ending is you, stupid.,
This is simply a great book and I wouldn't even classify it as Sci-fi only as fiction. By the end of the book I felt as if I knew the characters personaly. I especialy empathised with the store owner and his search for a place and a meaning in his world. Did you figure out why he couldn't?
If you don't like to think through ideas on your own without having the author spell them out for you then this is not the book for you. But if you're prone to contemplation I would highly recommend it.
1.0 out of 5 stars What a boring book!,
1.0 out of 5 stars This book was awful!,
By A Customer
I am a salesman, and read all kinds of books to relate to my clients. If I ever met anyone who liked this book, I would run the other way. One question to whoever liked this book: Do you have a job or do you work at Borders and wear a turtleneck and have 15 piercings and smoke dope?
5.0 out of 5 stars Hats off, gentlemen, a genius.,
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Dick,
The Man in the High Castle is superbly realised and depicted, and as with most of Dick's fiction, the outward subject of the book (in this case an alternative history of the 20th Century in which the Axis won the war and Japan and Germany conquered America) is only really the setting for a fascinating examination of the human protagonists, and the dilemmas of life they face inside it.
For this reason alone, his books have tended not to date; the particular issues they address are not of technology or history, but largely of personality and "spirituality" (for want of a better word).
The Man In The High Castle is also very well observed - in partiucular the ever-so slightly contorted constructions of Japanese English emanating from those in the Pacific States (whether Japanese or not) are very cleverly done. It is noteworthy that Dick doesn't stoop to make soft scores: there is little overt reference to the atrocities of the Second World War, and neither the German not the Japanese occupations are depicted as wholly brutal or totalitarian regimes - this is implied to an extent for the German regime, but none of the action really takes place there, and the Japanese government is portrayed surprisingly sympathetically, particularly at an individual level.
Ultimately, The Man In The High Castle descends out of focus and into incoherency, but as mentioned above, plot wasn't really what interested Dick, and this tends to be a characteristic of his novels.
3.0 out of 5 stars surreal, mysterious and vague,
For those who've never heard of this book, "Castle" offers an oppressed and subjugated America long since conquered by the Axis powers of the War. America is divided between the Japanese consolidated states of the Pacific coast and the German dominated eastern-American sphere - though Dick suggests the Nazis as the more ambitious of the two victors. Still a militaristic society, the Japanese themselves are comparatively benign - polite invaders who maintain their occupation from restricted enclaves while spending their time acquiring "Americana" (American swords, billboards, vintage clothes, jewelry, etc..) The Germans have been busier, and Dick hints early that, as far as Germany is concerned, the Earth isn't big enough for two empires. The horrors of the Nazi genocide aren't fleshed out - Dick stays deliberately vague - there are hints of a horror in Africa, while the futuristic Nazis share the racial ideas of the historical Nazis. Between the Japanese and German dominated territories, a vast no-man's land exists in which people try to survive by exploiting each side's distrust of the other, guided by the I-Ching. When the novel opens, we learn that the Nazis are on the verge of planning two new wars - one against their enemies, but firs a battle among their own inner circle. At the center of everything lives the man of the castle himself - a recluse who has penned an underground best-selling novel which brazenly exalts and America that actually won WWII.
As a straight novel, "Castle" is an incredible disappointment. It's way-out characters (who are dominated by I-Ching), unresolved and seldom co-mingling plot-lines and barely fleshed out tension will make you feel that you've read hundreds of pages of a novel that never starts. Dick was supposed to have written "Castle" under great tension himself - constantly revolted by the evils of history's Nazis, but you won't see that here. You'd think that a world largely dominated (or even populated) by Nazis would be outright horrific - dotted by death factories, criss-crossed by railways carrying fresh victims - but that clashes with the tone Dick offers, which is simply surreal. (according to Dick legend, the author was too horrified to follow up "Castle" with a sequel. Instead, darkly inspired by the Nazi vision of a world divided between humans and seemingly identical beings otherwise deprived of human rights, Dick gave us the novel that became "Blade Runner" - with illegal androids subbing for genocide's victims.) Even the focus on I-Ching is unnerving (once Dick has educated us as to what I-Ching is, it soon begins to appear as if he used it to finish this book).
On a deeper level, one can still appreciate the irony - not on Dick's alternate history, but on the alternate history created by Dick's fictional man in the castle. We learn of his novel, "The Grasshopper lies heavily" long before we get a look at what's on its pages. Knowing of its premise of a triumphant America, we're supposed to imagine that Grasshopper's America will look much like our own. Near the end, when one of our "heores" looks into "Grasshopper" we learn that its vision does not stay close to our own for very long, at first closer to reality than that of "Castle". The cracks form once the west wins the war and must confront what became the "cold war", and we're left wondering which alternative reality is really the alternative reality, and which is simply a funhouse-mirror version of our own - one in which an ambitious super-power has scarred the world with its costly mistakes, tears itself apart in internecine battles and seeks to spread itself into space, likely in order to escape the charnel house it has made of the earth. Dick gave this story no ending, probably thinking that the scariest way to close a cautionary tale of an alternate time is to show you how alternate it's not.
4.0 out of 5 stars Original, powerful, well written - a great novel,
In the disguise of something simple and matter-of-fact, PDK comes up with a very powerful alternate reality story. He is one of the few writers who can master this so effortlessly, at least as far as the reader can tell.
And too bad this book is still mostly limited to Sci-Fi circles.
3.0 out of 5 stars Now If Only It Had An Ending ...,
Although the concept of "what if the Nazis had won the war" has been beaten to death in straight-to-video action titles and alternate reality television series, it is important to realize that Dick was one of the first. This novel is old - it is from 1962 - and although the concept is a bit threadbare by now, Dick executes it well.
Contrary to the opinion of some readers, I was fascinated by how intimately Dick seemed to know his Japanese characters. Perhaps some people have different opinions of Japanese mentality, or are offended by any typifying of their mentality. But whether or not Dick's writing was objectively accurate, it was internally consistent and believable. That is what matters. He was able to create characters whose actions seemed logical based upon what we understood of them.
It is unfortunate that so few of the character arcs were given resolution, and that some of the more interesting plotlines were not developed (it would have been cool to read about the outcome of the supposed Nazi plan to attack Japan). But most of what Dick does present is interesting, so I can't really fault him for not writing about everything. It is a credit to his imagination that he created a world where there is so much stuff that he could only selectively develop a few ideas.
But then we come to that darn ending. Perhaps I just don't get it. Some have suggested that Dick was hinting that the Nazis really won. I find that too embarassingly pandering to believe - anyone can shout "the fascists really won" and get someone to cheer. There really is no grounds for such a statement, and Dick was a clever man. Some have suggested that Dick was merely revealing that this was, indeed, a fantasy world as an end to his story. I guess I just find that anticlimactic. Besides, the whole thing was kind of silly. The man doesn't protect himself - why don't the Nazis just kill him?
I find this problem with many of Dick's stories - he doesn't tend to finish with a strong statement or memorable line. This is in sharp contrast with Bester, who's better works (such as "The Stars My Destination") rise to a crescendo. However, Dick is much more gifted at fleshing out characters and internal monologues than Bester. So both have their strengths. I just wish Dick wouldn't let his stories taper off so lifelessly.
Because I was so enthralled in the book I read it very quickly. Thus getting to the dull sigh of an end was even more disppointing. I had these very interesting characters floating around in my head with nothing to do.
The quality of the writing earns it a 3 star rating from me. I cannot give it a higher rating because I just did not find it satisfying. Which is unfortunate, because I've almost worked my way through his available works.
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The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - July 1992)
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