The Man in the High Castle
It's 1962 in the Pacific States, the slice of US territory occupied by Japan after an alternative ending to World War II. The world is dominated by Nazi Germany and victorious Japan itself fears to become the German's latest victim. A dishonest shopowner, a skilled artisan, a Japanese official and the artisan's wayward wife, Juliana, navigate a world they struggle to understand, often trying to divine the outcome of their plans by interpreting the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, the I Ching. At the same time another book is being whispered about, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a forbidden novel that envisages an alternative outcome of World War II, where the US have emerged victorious. The Nazis have already sent out an assassin to kill the author who lives in a place called 'the high castle' within the buffer zone between the two occupied parts of the former United States. Juliana begins a love affair with the assassin, but when she discovers his purpose she slits his throat. Then, claiming to have saved the author's life, she gains access to him and bullies him into admitting that he has compiled the entire novel by divining it phrase by phrase, using the I Ching. Therefore it must be true. However, analogously, in our own world, an author named Philip K. Dick used the I Ching to make decisions crucial to the plot of his novel The Man in the High Castle.
The 2015 TV series of the same name is loosely based on Dick's book though it lacks the novel's conciseness and wit.
About the Author
Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely accepted as being in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.
The novel The Man in the High Castle bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, a novel about a celebrity who awakens in a parallel universe where he is unknown, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975. "I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards," Dick wrote of these stories. "In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real."
In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, eleven popular films based on his works have been produced, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau and Impostor. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.
Other books we've read by the same author: