Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book Review: The Man In The High Castle

Written by Philip K. Dick in the early 60s, The Man In The High Castle imagines an alternate reality in which the Axis powers won WWII and occupy the USA (among other places). The book follows several characters in their lives under Japanese control (on the west coast) and Nazi control (on the east coast). Many of the characters have read the popular (but banned) book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which imagines an alternate reality in which the Allies won WWII.

Dick weaves themes of relativism throughout the story, touching on philosophy as well as history and creativity and truth. The book is well written: Dick provides just enough detail about what has happened, while leaving the reader to imagine the rest. The I Ching plays a big part in the story, both directing the actions of the characters within it who are constantly consulting the oracle before doing anything and directing the author Hawthorne Abendsen in his writing of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy (and apparently directing Dick in his writing of The Man In The High Castle). This leads to some interesting plot decisions and a very open-ended conclusion.

Highly recommended: this book is a classic of science fiction, alternate history, and Third Reich continuity fiction.

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