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The Man In The High Castle (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Hardcover – 17 Sep 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 407 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 17 Sep 2009
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (17 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082052
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (407 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 591,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The most brilliant sci-fi mind on any planet (Rolling Stone)

California's own William Blake. Visionary and prophet (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

'Dick's best work, and the most memorable alternative world tale...ever written' SCIENCE FICTION: THE 100 BEST NOVELS

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
1. The surface story

Set in 1962, fourteen years after the end of a longer WW2 (1939-1948). The victorious Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Italy) carved up the world at the end of the war. The Nazis have turned the Mediterranean into a huge agricultural area, killed the entire population of Africa, and most of the Soviet Union, and are sending spaceships to colonise Mars. The Nazis and Japan, the superpowers, are in a Cold War situation.

'The Man in the High Castle' takes place on the West Coast of the USA. In the book the USA is split into The Pacific States of America - a region run by Japan, and the rest of the US run indirectly by the Nazis. The story follows a collection of characters based in San Francisco who are linked either directly or indirectly and who are getting on with their lives.

I really enjoyed the story, and thought Dick's imagined post-War world was interesting and credible. The narrative is occasionally a bit confusing but always stimulating, particularly the detail of daily life. For example the way Japanese culture and customs have come to inform daily life for indigenous Americans.

There is also another story within the story. A bestselling book called 'The Grasshopper Lies Heavy' - a populist Science Fiction novel in which America and the Allies win the Second World War. This book has become successful and so the Nazis want the author killed. This secondary story hints at some of the themes below the surface of the main narrative.

2. Themes

'The Man in the High Castle' made me think about history, and how it is written by the victors. For example, in the alternate world of this book, Churchill is cast as a war criminal. The book also asks other questions about history.
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Format: Paperback
This is the perfect book for those new to PKD's work or who have tried reading later, spaced-out novels such as "Valis" and given up. Counterfactual books, both fiction and non-fiction, are all the rage nowadays. So it is difficult when reading this book to remember that when it was published (in 1962, before the Vietnam War) the memories of World War II and the Korean War were still vivid. The premise is this: the Allies lost the war and the USA is split between the "Pacific States of America" in the West, run by the Japanese, and the East Coast, which is part of greater Germany (along with Europe and part of Asia). The background to how this came about is wonderfully teased out over the entire course of the book, and similarly the effects of Nazi rule over most of the globe are glimpsed in chilling off-hand remarks. PKD's world is well-thought out and comprehensive: while the "final solution" has been applied to the whole of Africa, Herbert von Karajan is resident as conductor-in-chief of the New York Philharmonic.
This is PKD's most mainstream, and in many ways his most approachable, published work. It is a wonderful analysis of how ordinary Americans might have behaved under totalitarian rule. There is a power vacuum created by the death of Martin Boorman, but the wider political picture remains a backdrop to the inter-connected stories of a selection of "average joes", all of whom are masterfully characterised. As a nod to the "science fiction" categorisation of the book, at the core of the tale is a bestselling, underground book written by a man who supposedly lives in a high castle in the Rockies, and which is a work of alternative history about how the Allies won the war - is it possible that reality could have been changed in some way?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love science fiction. I also love alternate history. Finally, I have an interest in the Second World War. Clearly then, The Man in the High Castle held something for me. But it certainly wasn't what I was expecting.

The book details a world in which the Axis powers won World War Two and conquered the world. After their victory in 1948, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan split the USA between them, the East Coast acting as a German puppet state and the West as a Japanese one. The book is set in San Francisco, part of Japanese America (or the Pacific States of America). There are various characters in the story, ranging from Robert Childan- an antique store owner, to Mr Baynes- a Swedish businessman.

There is no "story" in the more traditional sense to be found in this book, it instead concentrates on the lives of various elements of society living underneath the heel of an all-powerful society. One of the most intriguing elements of the novel is a "book-within-a-book" called " The Grasshopper Lies Heavy". This in-novel book also details an alternative history in which *gasp* the Allies win WW2. The most interesting feature of this book is that it portrays the Allies winning the war in a completely different way to in real life. This is one of the most interesting areas of the book, showing that there are never just two ways about anything.

I also found the presentation of society under the yoke of the Japanese to be fascinating, particularly in their deference towards the I Ching, a text consulted to obtain details about the future. Indeed, the whole world of High Castle is very well constructed by Dick, slowly illuminating the watchful reader with small clues about how the war ended the way it did.
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