Title: The Man in the High Castle (Goodreads)
Author: Philip K. Dick
Published: Vintage, 1962
Genre: Classic, Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy
Buy: Amazon, (or visit your local Indie bookstore)
For those who haven’t read this month’s Book club book, the alternate reality classic The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick, I will try not to give away too much of the story. Most of you are aware of the basic plot outline, but I will just give you a quick overview before talking about the interesting concepts I found within the book. Set in 1962, 14 years after a longer World War II, life is under totalitarian Fascist imperialism as the war was won by Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Having divided the world the Axis Powers are now conducting intrigues against each other in North America.
With Japan and Germany being in power, the world is a much different place; more of a dystopian society, where everyone is considered racially superior to the Americans. The last remaining Jews are in hiding and continually being hunted down. The book actually deals with justice and injustice; gender and power; the shame of cultural inferiority and identity; and the effects of fascism and racism upon culture.
The Man in the High Castlefocuses the story around a popular and banned novel written by Hawthorne Abendsen (The Man in the High Castle). The book entitled The Grasshopper Lies Heavyportrays an alternate reality where Japan and Germany lost the war and America and England become the victors. Changing racialist-cultural tensions and creating a liberal, democratic, capitalist society.
In this novel the I Ching (Book of Changes) is often consulted by the characters as an oracle. I Ching is an ancient Chinese book of divination and was used by Philip K Dick to determine the plot particulars. In two separate interviews Philip K Dick has said;
“I started with nothing but the name, Mister Tagomi, written on a scrap of paper, no other notes. I had been reading a lot of Oriental philosophy, reading a lot of Zen Buddhism, reading the I Ching. That was the Marin County zeitgeist, at that point; Zen Buddhism and the I Ching. I just started right out and kept on trucking.”
“In the event, he blamed the I Ching for plot incidents he disliked: “When it came to close down the novel, the I Ching had no more to say. So, there’s no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending.”
Philip K Dick’s classic science fiction novel has a lot of interesting aspects to it. I think it could easily be one of those books you could spend hours discussing all the little characteristics to it. Another book that challenges your views on society by showing what life could be like if the war turned out differently. Reflected above were just the major aspects to this book.