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The Man in the High Castle

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This a previously-published edition of ISBN13: 9780141186672.

It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.

249 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1962

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About the author

Philip K. Dick

1,547 books19.3k followers
Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Dick died on March 2, 1982, in Santa Ana, California, of heart failure following a stroke.

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, ten of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the one 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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 13,974 reviews
Profile Image for Ken-ichi.
597 reviews556 followers
August 18, 2015
On Wednesday I found myself at a party (an occurrence itself worthy of remark) at which everyone wore "I'm currently reading..." stickers, so I had several opportunities to explain why I was loving The Man in the High Castle. One such conversation went like this:

"So what's that about?"
"Well, it's scifi. Or rather speculative fiction."
"Er, hm. No. I don't do scifi."
"But it's got Nazis!"
"Oh my god I love Nazis!"

Another conversation involved me explaining to a white guy how interesting I (a half-Japanese guy) found reading about defeated white Americans kowtowing to their Japanese overlords. The awkwardness of the words coming out of my mouth did not even occur to me for several sentences.

I'm pretty sure at some point during the evening I also said, with party-speaking volume, "I think I really like Dick!" Sometimes I wish English had fewer homophones.

Suffice it to say that I am swearing off parties and returning to my safe, almost-completely-awkwardness-free hermetic lifestyle.

Ok, this book. Let me just establish that neither the Nazi-lover nor I are, in fact, Nazi-lovers or racists (or no more racist than the average person), and that despite (or perhaps because of?) the uncomfortable conversations this book might occasion, it's a great read! My former experience with Phillip K. Dick (whose first name and middle initial are considerably more important in conversation than heretofore imagined) was with a collection of his short stories, which was amusing but very much in the Atomic Age sort of a vein: THE BOMB, robots, space ships, THE BOMB, etc. After finding J.G. Ballard's similar ruminations on mortality and atomic annihilation to be unfinishably boring, I was wary of returning to PKD (ah, much better), and the premise of a world in which the Axis powers won WWII could definitely have lead down that road. Plucky American rebels fighting their Nazi oppressors and thwarting a plot to nuke New York while chronically hamstrung by their moribund contemplation of non-existence? No thanks.

But this book is so not that book! As with other works by PKD (or at least the cinematic interpretations I've seen), the underlying horror is not about annihilation, but about anxiety over identity. In High Castle, the American identity has been completely crushed. There is no rebel faction, there are no competent or truly sympathetic American characters, and American cultural artifacts that *we* keep in museums are now collector's items to be pawned off to Japanese connoisseurs (not unlike the 19th century European obsession with Japonisme). The idea of infinite American ingenuity and resourcefulness has been discarded along with our belief in democracy. The Japanese are consistently depicted as high-handed, elitist, occasionally racist, but generally fair and benign in intent... much like American occupational forces in reconstruction Japan. So if we as Americans aren't rebels, if we're not democrats, if we're not plucky heroes with wild ideas so crazy they might actually work, who are we? What a great subject for a scifi novel.

There's also quite a bit about the life and meaning of objects, or the "historicity" as the characters call it. Why is a penny touched by the President more significant than any other penny? I'm not entirely sure how this theme plays into the rest of the novel. It may have something to do with the arbitrariness invoked by the use of the I Ching by almost every character, i.e. the specific history of any given object is as intrinsically meaningful as a pattern of tossed sticks, and it is the evaluator's interpretation that has true significance. Again, though, how does it relate to Nazis?!

Also, hawt book-in-book action! All the characters in this what-if book are reading their own what-if book postulating a world in which the Axis powers didn't win WWII. I mean, yo dawg, I herd you like speculative fiction, so we put a book in yo book so u can speculate while u speculate. It's kind of cool.

The book's not perfect. Women get the short shrift. Betty Kasoura seems both intelligent and sympathetic to the plight of the Americans, but doesn't take action to the extent that her husband does. Up until that point she was basically Don Draper's 1st season mental model of a woman, plus judo. Sign of the times (this was published in 1962) or a part of the narrative? Races and ethnicities are mercilessly stereotyped, but seemingly without bias: Japanese are polite and inscrutable, Americans are emotional and clumsy, Chinese are crude and servile, Germans orderly and maniacal. I suppose you could interpret that as the triumph of the Axis worldview over Western egalitarian principles, or you could read it as the biases inherent in our own 1960s America.

Anyway, totally worth trying, even if you don't like scifi OR Nazis.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
April 2, 2019
3 1/2 stars
Scientifically and politically, this is absolute genius. The way Philip K. Dick masterfully rewrites history and portrays this alternate United States is quite incredible and I can easily see why the guy has such a huge following. That being said, while this novel is undeniably clever, I think what it lacks is a human touch. I found it hard to care about any of the mishmash of characters, which for me means that I ultimately found it hard to care about the direction of the story and its outcome.

What this novel does best of all is remind people how close the Nazis came to winning the Second World War. The author changes events during the war only slightly, but it makes a huge difference in the long run. Generally, people who aren't historians probably don't tend to think about the reality of this situation which - for most people alive today - seems of a completely different world and time. The Second World War seems somewhat unreal, a story told in textbooks and retold in movies about how the bad guys started killing people and naturally the good guys swooped in and put an end to it all. As if it was all that simple. In reality, Hitler came scarily close to victory and it's only through reading this book that I came to realise just how extensive German occupation was during the war.

The Man in the High Castle presents a very convincing alternate history where Hitler and the Nazis, fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan had been the victors instead. The world-building is rich and Philip K. Dick doesn't neglect the little details in his fictional society. I especially like the way we get a glimpse of how this takeover has affected the rest of the world, not just the United States. We learn about the situation across multiple continents and how the Nazi beliefs have spread. He even goes so far as to tell a story within a story, as he imagines an author in this world speculating on what life would have been like if the Nazis hadn't won. The writer guesses some things correctly and others less so; this latter is especially interesting.

My rather middling rating reflects the fact that this is a slow and technical novel. It is not a particularly emotionally-engaging novel. Dick focuses on the politics and technicalities of the world, never developing much of a connection between the reader and any of the large cast of characters. My brain was impressed, and I'm glad I read it, but my heart wasn't really feeling it.

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Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
797 reviews3,631 followers
April 18, 2021
Dick, did you really just wasted a perfect plot by endlessly driveling about pseudo philosophical deeper meaning of art while being unable to establish other plotlines, any major action, suspense, believable characters with comprehensible motivations to let the mess culminate, again, in just ending the novel in the middle of nowhere without anything, resolution, explanation, maybe an excuse for publishing something like that?

This thing is truly completely overrated, the weaknesses of Dicks´writing that can be compensated by great ideas in „Do androids dream of electric sheep“, „Ubik“, and other novels escalate close to illegibility because he simply doesn´t seem to have made an effort to make it a good novel, just money with it. Drugs can be damn expensive if they are not made homegrown Heisenberg´s DIY style…

This is like calling something a romantic novel and writing nothing about love or a war novel without fighting or a fantasy novel without magic or, in this case, an uchronia Sci-Fi novel without alternative timelines, tech, a plot, sense, action, freaking nazis, believable characters, what a mess. As it´s often the case with such books, I already felt that it won´t end well, because it stayed slow during the last third and culminated in absolutely nothing senseful. The man in the high castle is the prime example of why Dick can´t be named with the other behemoths of Sci-Fi, because they didn´t produce such messes, built meta-universes and timeless tropes instead and they loved their work and filed it to perfection and would have never dared to publish something like that. This thing is not just very average and loveless, it´s simply an insolence towards readers that trust an author to not publish something that has both no sense and no ending and... but I am repeating myself.

I have read a great many Sci-Fi novels and that was one of the very few that left me very unsatisfied, read one of the other 2 I mentioned, but avoid this one, it will just disappoint you. Dick was quite a dick to publish that concontion.

I added these last paragraphs to my review of „A scanner darkly“ too, because it fits for both novels.

Just as „A scanner darkly“, the novel shows that Dick was a highly overrated and overhyped writer, I will spontaneously call him Kazuo Ishiguro of Sci-Fi, whose novels I disliked so much that I first didn´t even wanted to add them to the library. Wait a moment, one of my inner voices just told me that I did yet delete them for the sake of my peace of mind and mental sanity.

I´ve read tons of sci-fi and just don´t get what people see in Dick and Heinlein, it´s not even social sci-fi because everything is so stereotypical, or illogical, full of authors' voice, both unplotted and without realistic character motivations. Just as if they wrote down whatever came to their mind without caring about the conventions and rules of the art of writing real, great, worldbuilding space opera sci fi, or meta social sci fi or full dystopian sci fi, or anything that has more than 2 grains of sci-fi trope elements, and not just egocentric, eccentric, very average novels with tiny amounts of fantastic elements and much drivel and delusion.

The 2 strange weirdo uncles problem:
They are, especially in comparison to the true big three of sci-fi, Asimov (incredible worldbuilding, wit, innuendos, and connotations en masse, perfect pacing) Clarke ( über epic language, a positive interpretation of Lovecrafts´ big, dangerous old ones, subtle social criticism), and Lem (everything great about Asimov and Clarke conmpressed and so complex that it blows my poor, little mind whenever I reread it)the 2 strange uncles of the genre nobody wants to invite, but has to, because it would be too unfriendly and the aunt is quite ok at least. So the one is wasted, drunk or on drugs, mentally ill or extremely unstable, promoting pseudo fringe philosophical drivel about conscience and reality, conspiracy theories, alternate realities, and timelines, uchronias while he is losing the red line and inner logic of his strange ideas until he finishes with an extremely unsatisfying and far fetched conclusion nobody except of him understands. The other one is arbitrarily and unpredictably switching between extreme political and economic ideologies and ideas he is hardlinering and proselytizing about, while his views about women, gays, and sexuality are insulting half of the family, until he finishes his endless monologues without referring to any details, facts, or integrating complex interwoven character arcs. Family gatherings suck.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
June 2, 2019
“They want to be the agents, not the victims, of history. They identify with God's power and believe they are godlike. That is their basic madness. They are overcome by some archtype; their egos have expanded psychotically so that they cannot tell where they begin and the godhead leaves off. It is not hubris, not pride; it is inflation of the ego to its ultimate — confusion between him who worships and that which is worshiped. Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man.”

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If Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been assassinated in 1934 instead of dying of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945, what would the world look like? Do our lives, our futures, hang on the shoulders of one man? The New Deal that gave Roosevelt so much power, so much influence with the American public, would not have been possible if presented by a different man, a less sure man, a man more willing to make deals to pass the legislation even if it guts the intent of the program. The American people have probably never trusted a politician as much as they trusted FDR. So if we remove him from history during those critical years in the 1940s when the world went mad, what would happen?

Philip K. Dick is going to tell you.

We lose.

The Pacific States form a new country called The Pacific States of America and are controlled by Imperial Japan. A Rocky Mountain States is formed as a buffer between The Reich Controlled East Coast of America and the PSA. Europe is under the management of the Reich. The Soviets were completely destroyed by the Reich, and most were exterminated. A cold war has sprung up between the two remaining superpowers: the Japanese and the Reich. Adolf Hitler has descended into madness…batshit crazy madness... not the garden variety I want to rule the world madness.

”Old Adolf, supposed to be in a sanitarium somewhere, living out his life of senile paresis. Syphilis of the brain, dating back to his poor days as a bum in Vienna...long black coat, dirty underwear, flophouses.”

There is this interesting film called Max starring John Cusack from 2002 that was directed by Menno Meyjes. It discusses the possibility of what would have happened if Hitler had been accepted as an artist. Would he have channeled his anger into something more edifying than world destruction? I know that others, besides myself, must have watched that film, but they seem to be few and far between.

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Noah Taylor plays the young, frustrated Hitler.

Martin Bormann has been in charge of the Reich, but with his death a power struggle has broken out between Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, and Hermann Göring for the ultimate leadership. The thought of those men surviving the war gives me a chill. Hitler may have brought the vision, but these were the men who implemented it.

Robert Childan owns an Americana antique business on Montgomery Street in San Francisco. The Japanese are avid collectors of old American gadgets, comic books, and toys. He used to run a bookstore, but found that dealing in Americana was much more profitable. He isn’t an expert, which as the story unfolds, creates some issues for him. People don’t mind paying exorbitant prices as long as what they buy is legitimate. He meets a young progressive Japanese couple who want to discuss a future based on the book by Hawthorne Abendsen called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which presents an alternative reality where the Axis lost and the Allies won. It is still different from our present day, but certainly more recognizable than the dystopia of The Man in the High Castle.

Philip K. Dick is having a bit of fun writing an alternative reality which includes a novel about alternative reality.

The young couple are very disappointed to learn that Childan has not read the book. They assumed that any “American” would want to read this book. They were also disappointed that Childan, when pressed for his own philosophical take on this life, mouths the platitudes of the controlling governments because he thinks that is what his potential clients want to hear. I expected more from one of my own kind, a retired bookseller, but in his defense he doesn’t want unwarranted attention. He doesn’t want change as much as he wants to be safe. “What they do not comprehend is man’s helplessness. I am weak, small, of no consequence to the universe. It does not notice me; I live on unseen. But why is that bad? Isn’t it better that way? Whom the gods notice they destroy. Be small . . . and you will escape the jealousy of the great.”

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Mokkei Tiger from the 13th Century

Childan does get a glimmer of a lost past that might be reclaimed by the future when he holds the Frank Frink jewelry collection in his hands. Frink has recently left his work of employment, where he made replica guns from America’s past (for those Japanese collectors), to start his own business designing and creating original jewelry. To Childan the jewelry is much more than just pretty bobbles to adorn women’s throats, fingers, and wrists. It represents the American ingenuity that used to determine the fashions, trends, and innovations that led the world.

Meanwhile, Frink’s ex-wife, who lives in the RMS, has taken up with a truck driver who is not who he says he is. He has an agenda involving The Man in the High Castle. The man, Abendsen, who has taken the world by storm with his book depicting a different outcome from the war.

The I Ching plays a pivotal role as characters use I Ching to make decisions. Dick also used the I Ching to determine the twists of the plot as he was writing it.

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Having difficulty making decisions? Do you find that most of the time you make poor decisions? Turn your life over to the I Ching. Your future will no longer be your fault.

This book convinced me of the viability of this alternative reality. I certainly would have read more about this world that Dick created. The ending is open because Dick had always planned to write a sequel, but he couldn’t progress on the second book because he couldn’t stand the thought of going back and reading about Nazis. I’m in the same boat recently with all the history channels that I normally watch suddenly becoming obsessed with everything Third Reich. This is disturbing to me because programming is based off viewership, and obviously they have determined that people are tuning in to watch Nazi documentaries more than other much more fascinating time periods of world history. *Sigh* I don’t know what that means!

Amazon has recently filmed the pilot episode of a new series based on The Man in the High Castle. The episode is available on streaming. I read this book another lifetime ago, but wanted to refresh my memory before watching the pilot episode. I’m glad I did as much of my memories of the book had eroded into snippets of disjointed pieces. There is much more in the book than what I’ve discussed, but I hope what I have decided to highlight will encourage more people to read this novel of science fiction that also can rest comfortably on the same shelf as literature.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book865 followers
December 25, 2019
Hermann Göring, the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany after Hitler, fancied himself an art collector and scoured Europe to acquire masterpieces. In 1945, his collection was seized by the Allies while he was on trial at Nuremberg. Among many other works of art, they found The Supper at Emmaus, signed by Johannes Vermeer, Göring’s favourite. The origin of that painting was then traced back to a Dutch art dealer named Han van Meegeren, who consequently was arrested and charged with the crime of collaborating with the Nazis. A few weeks into his trial, van Meegeren confessed: the Vermeer was a forgery, a fake he had painted to fool Göring and the Nazi art experts. As the judges, incredulous, asked him to prove his claim, he requested that a canvas and some painting be brought to his cell. He painted a beautiful Vermeer. Van Meegeren’s charges were dropped, and he became a Dutch national hero. Göring committed suicide.

In Philip K Dick’s Man in the High Castle, one of the early novels of his career, there is a major storyline about an art and antique dealer, named Robert Childan, who sells old American artefacts to Japanese amateurs. He eventually teams up with a skilled jewellery craftsman, Frank Fink. They both end up involved in a counterfeit antiques business. Just as in the van Meegeren anecdote, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the authentic pieces and the fake ones. But the former have “historicity”, the latter don’t.

In fact, Dick’s whole novel deals with this question: the nature of history and reality, the nature of time. In this book, Dick depicts a world where the Axis powers -chiefly the German Reich and the Empire of Japan- have won World War II. The cause of this complete geopolitical reversal is an event of practically no account: in 1933, the anarchist Giuseppe Zangara manages to assassinate U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (he was in fact arrested before he could carry out his plan). As a result, the United States withdraw into isolationism and let Nazi Germany and Japan conquer the world and become superpowers.

What’s even more interesting is the mise en abyme. Inside Dick’s novel, there is another book, titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, written by the mysterious “man in the High Castle”, which depicts yet another alternate reality, where Germany and Japan have lost the war, and the U.S. and the British Empire gain hegemony over the world. And, on top of it all, there is still another book, The I Ching or Book of Changes, which some of the characters use as an Oracle to try and read their fate. It is interesting to note that The Grasshopper has in fact been written using (or more exactly by) the I Ching. Too, it is said that Dick himself used the hexagrams in the I Ching to write The Man in the High Castle.

In the end, what is the nature of the actual reality we live in? Does it have more “historicity” than other possible, virtual, fictional, “fake” realities? other hexagrams? As Dick puts it to conclude his novel: “there must be world after world unseen by us, in some region or dimension that we simply do not perceive”.

To say that this book is puzzling is an understatement. Ridley Scott’s production of the Amazon TV show is loosely inspired by Dick’s plot line, but still very entertaining.
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,359 reviews11.8k followers
November 7, 2022

Fans of Philip K. Dick and science fiction might be underwhelmed by The Man in the High Castle since, other than passing mention of cross continental rocket ship travel and a German exploration of Mars, there really isn’t any science fiction or signature PKD craziness or large-scale action; rather, Dick’s 1962 book is alternative history, the aftermath in the United States after Germany and Japan win World War II and a novel of ideas.

There are a number of crisscrossing plots, colorful main characters, applications of the ancient Chinese I Ching; however, by my reading, the heartbeat of the novel is the author’s historical, political, social commentary, reflections on cross-cultural miscommunication and observations on racial and ethnic prejudice – all laced with a healthy dose of black humor.

Ah, black humor, as in this snatch of dialogue when judo instructor Juliana Frink talks with a fellow American, Joe the truck drive in a Colorado small-town: ““Did you hear the Bob Hope show the other night?” she called. “He told this really funny joke, the one where this German major is interviewing some Martians. The Martians can’t provide racial documentation about their grandparents being Aryan, you know. So the German major reports back to Berlin that Mars is populated by Jews.”” Meanwhile, the German Reichs Consul in San Francisco, Freiherr Hugo Reiss, doesn’t fine Bob Hope one bit funny; in point of fact, he thinks the Aryan super-race might indeed find Jews on Mars since those loathsome Jewish vermin are everywhere else.

PKD 1960s-style self-referential postmodern metafiction, anyone? Novel within a novel: The Grasshopper Lies Heavy by Hawthorne Abendsen is about what the present day world would look like if Germany and Japan lost the war. Abendsen’s novel is all the rage, an honest-to-goodness American literary fad (the book is banned back in Germany and in lands such as the Eastern United States controlled by Germany).

Curiously, rumors have it the author of the outrageous Grasshopper bestseller is a paranoid living in isolation on a Wyoming mountain in a fortress-like house surrounded by barbed wire and heavy artillery, calling himself The Man in the High Castle. Perhaps the author’s armed, isolated fortress isn’t such a bad idea since Freiherr Hugo Reiss has a predictable Nazi reaction when reading the book: “Maybe this Abendsen is a Jew. They’re still at it trying to poison us. . . . Actual name probably Abendstein. . . . If Abendstein should be found dangling from the ceiling some fine morning, it would be a sobering notice to anyone who might be influenced by this book. We would have had the last word. Written the postscript.”

And such a paranoid racist mindset is hardly confined to the German Nazis. Here are the thoughts of Robert Childan, a good old American boy from San Francisco, after his less than satisfying business dealings with someone who is Jewish: “We live in a society of law and order, where Jews can’t pull their subtleties on the innocent. We’re protected. I don’t know why I didn’t recognize the racial characteristics when I saw him. Evidently I’m easily deceived. . . . Without law, I’d be at their mercy. He could have convinced me of anything. It’s a form of hypnosis. They can control an entire society.”

With its scathing satire on culture and society and novel within a novel, in many ways The Man in the High Castle reminded me more of JR by William Gaddis than PKD’s other novels. Similar to Gaddis, all the men and women are more than happy to spout their opinions and observations about the arts and books and literature; and more than happy to make strident pronouncements about culture, history and race, not only on the Jews but, among others, Blacks, Italians, Japanese, Germans, Swedes, White Americans, Puerto Ricans, Irish. Turns out, the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy claims his nightmarish novel is about the state of the world as it currently exists. Perhaps PKD is telling us indirectly he is making a similar claim in his The Man in the High Castle.

Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.6k followers
May 3, 2023
"We do not have the ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do no right with no effort because he can detect the obvious."

A few years ago, I watched the first season-ish of the TV show adaptation of this book. Here is what I remember:
- scary Nazi man with family
- San Francisco
- the phrase "the man in the high castle" uttered very ominously
- lady leaving her husband, or the home where she lived with him or something
- torture stuff
- a VERY smooth move performed on aforementioned lady by a non-husband man in which she was crying and sitting on the curb and he, in one motion, wrapped her in his jacket and also IN HIS ARMS!!!

As you can tell, 17-year-old me was most impacted by that last one.

What I don't remember:
- an in-depth exploration of morality as it relates to empires, and whether any one side of a war is better than the other; whether it really matters who wins a war, or if we'd be wrapped up in moral complexity and evil and bigotry either way; and how and if humans can steer themselves toward the moral right, and if it really matters if it does.

This book is a game changer for me. At first, I didn't like it. It was slow, and racist, and sexist, and the biases show in it probably even outside of the ways they're intended to.

But...the only way I can describe it is that this book opens up. You know how sometimes you're listening to a song and it gets big? Hannah Hunt by Vampire Weekend, or Titus Was Born by Young the Giant. Just a normal song, and then suddenly - huge and loud and overpowering.

This book did that. It takes everything it's been doing for 150 pages or so, and shows you that something else, something huge, has been happening all along.

I felt really overcome when I finished this book, which was about 8 seconds ago. So I still do.

I had to raise this rating.

Bottom line: This book is tough and difficult and punishing, but it is worth the work.
Profile Image for Steve.
962 reviews94 followers
November 19, 2015
2 stars.

I was disappointed with this book; it ended up going nowhere. Perhaps there was simply too much “other stuff” besides the plot (like the Zen and Eastern mysticism) in it to make it a worthwhile read for me. It seemed like an overwhelmingly large number characters constantly consult the I Ching for guidance, which has no appeal to me whatsoever.

Okay, speaking of plot, or lack thereof. The book takes place in Japanese-controlled western United States (The United States lost World War II, and was divided between Nazi Germany and Japan). For the most part, the characters are introduced in the first half, and they all come together in the second half. But there is no clear resolution to any of the plotlines, and it felt like a cop-out to me. Even the dissatisfying ending asking, “What is reality?” felt so contrived, it was almost like PKD got tired of this writing this book and simply quit on it.

Overall, this book was very flat for me. I didn't feel involved with the characters or their alternate world.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
March 31, 2022
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, winner of the Hugo Award for best novel, is classic, very good science fiction.

It is the story of a segmented and defeated United States after the Axis powers won World War II. This alternate history actually began in the thirties as Roosevelt is described as having been assassinated. Taking a roving perspective amidst several characters and some loosely connected interwoven storylines, PKD explores a world where America is divided into three distinct sections and controlled by either Japan or Germany.

The story also explores racism as well as common PKD themes of confused realities and subjective perceptions. Most interestingly is that there is a book within the book, written by the man in the high castle, where the allies won the war.

*** 2022 reread -

GREAT science fiction.

A PKD scholar can divide his work into three categories: Top tier, exceptional titles like this one and Ubik, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? etc; Middle Tier, good SCIFI, the bulk of his canon that demonstrates his great range and imagination; bottom shelf, paying the rent.

This time around I paid attention to the tone of fear, anxiety, paranoia and the I Ching inclusion.

Also, PKD's writing is refreshingly clear and on point.

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
August 14, 2019
The Man in the High Castle is what I like to call a great ideas book, a book that has a brilliantly intelligent idea but is delivered with all the excitement of a potato.

It’s dull. And there’s no getting round that. The characters are boring, and they have boring little lives that I don’t care about. It lacks a certain level of emotion and human interest which meant I could not invest in the story. I had no interest in the outcome which meant reading became rather pointless.

I love speculative fiction. Brave New World and 1984 are amongst the cleverest books written. For me, this just doesn’t make the cut because it could not balance the ideas it contained with effective storytelling. A novel needs to be more than just words and ideas; it needs to be a journey or some sort for the reader as much as the characters involved. There’s no reason the technicalities of this world, with its politics and cultural possibilities, could not be balanced with the ingredients that make effective fiction so compelling.

This isn’t engaging or approachable. It’s not challenging. It was just boring.

I'm hugely disappointed.
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,129 reviews3,552 followers
January 25, 2016
Thank God, this is fiction, at least in our dimension!


It is impossible that ours is the only world; there must be world after world unseen by us, in some region or dimension that we simply do not perceive.

This book is a frightening glimpse of how our world could been if the Axis Powers would have won the World War II.

The Nazi Germany and the Imperial Japan won and they divided the planet between them. Even the United States is now divided with the East Coast dominated by Nazis and the West Coast under Japanese control having a “neutral zone” in the middle of the country.

And the most frightening of all is that now there is a “Cold War” between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Where the Nazis have now Nuclear Technology and Hidrogen Bombs at their disposal.

Now rockets is the normal way to travel between countries in a matter of less than an hour. And Earth has become “too small” for the Nazis, where now they are using Space Rocket Technology to colonize the Moon, Mars and Venus.

Slavery is back. Racial persecution is enforced. Extermination Camps are still active and spreading around the Nazi Occupied Territories and now not only Jews are targets but also Africans, Afro-Americans, Indians… for starters.

And all because the death of one man. An important man. No one can do what you were meant to do. If certain person is no longer around, a void is created…

…and darkness can take control.

This is the testimony that a person can change the world. For good or for evil.


One cannot judge by book being best seller. We all know that. Many best sellers are terrible trash.

It’s interesting how this “experiment” of a world where the Axis Powers won the WWII, it’s clear that while living in Nazi Occupied Nations is a very horrific scenario, the book establishes that being a citizen in the Imperial Japan Occupied Countries isn’t so bad. Don’t get wrong, if you are not Japanese, you will be a second-class citizen, but you will be treated fair enough, if you don’t make troubles that is, and curiously if your skin color is white enough. Maybe you think that it’s the same, but when you read how are things in each side of the Axis Powers, having only those two options, it’s clear that you will try to live in the Japanese side.

Of course, you will need to consult the I Ching since now this book is the usual way to take important decisions in the everyday life of people in the Imperial Japanese controlled lands.


Amazing, the power of fiction, even cheap popular fiction, to evoke.

The only “hope” in this glum world, the only “fresh air” to “breath” is in the form of a novel, “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy”, a piece of fiction with the “absurd” idea of that the Axis Power could lose the WWII.

A very cool thing about the “winning” scenario proposed in that novel, “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy”, is that while it’s obvious that Philip K. Dick, the author, had access to all the details of how the WWII happened, and he could take the easy path and just telling what really happened (at least in our dimension) but instead, he did consentious thought to show a valid way that Allied Forces could still win the WWII but not just like it happened.


Truth,… -- …As terrible as death. But harder to find.

The book, The Man in the High Castle, is a brilliant work studying how our world could be a lot different if the “other side” of the conflict in WWII would win it.

However, except some brief moments, the most of the narrative lacks of excitement scenes, the relevancy of the main characters is too limited to their close surroundings, and where they haven’t any control over the global events decided by the global leaders that are re-shaping even more the current political scenario.

Also, the book lacks of a proper ending and/or an adequate finale. Maybe it isn’t necessary, but it’s odd (at least to me) to show such worldwide scenario without any appreciable intention to try to shaken the status quo.

Still, it’s a evocative reading and a mindblowing concept.

Profile Image for Baba.
3,562 reviews862 followers
October 15, 2021
An impressive tale from a world building point of view as PKD shows his vision of a world where the Axis, Germany, Japan and Italy won the Second World War; there's some very rewarding world building, and a pretty good tale of intrigue, metaphysics and the nature of defeated peoples and nations. PKD takes a thought provoking look at the Japanese psyche as well. A highly recommend PKD jam! 8 out of 12.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,547 followers
June 4, 2017
Philip K Dick was certainly a brilliant man and a gifted writer. His imagined dystopia of a world split between the victorious Reich and Imperial Japan is chilling and realistic. Ok, perhaps colonisation of Mars in 1962 is a bit of a stretch, but the depiction of San Francisco under the Japanese administration was excellent. His characters were vivid and lifelike. His villain was somewhat predicable, but still a fascinating one.
The dystopia he describes - particularly the horrors of unbridled fascism in Africa, etc - is terrifying. I enjoyed the internal monologues and the dialogs very much. Perhaps, Haruki Murakami was somewhat inspired by Philip K Dick to leave the story with lots of questions unanswered. That being said, there is a humanity to the characters and I became attached to several of them.

One thing I found a bit incoherent albeit a key to the plot, was the obsession with I Ching. I know lots of Japanese people and have been to Japan a dozen times, and it seems to me highly improbable that the Japanese would turn so obsessively to Taoism and superstition because Shintoism and Buddhism are so ingrained in their culture which - to my understanding- is nearly the polar opposite of Tao. That being said, it allowed PDK to make his typical forays into the psyche of his characters. I wondered also if the Man in the High Castle was not a self-portrait.

Also, the idea of a book of alternate reality (The Grasshopper Lies Heavy) inside this book of alternate reality was a nice touch. PDK was great with these Russian doll moves in his books (reminds me a bit of the recent SNL sketches :-)

I listened to this as an audiobook on Audible and found it pretty good although "Joe"'s accent at times sounded more Russian than Italian. I have not watched the TV show derived from this classic scifi novel but can say that it stands very solidly on its own and is up there with the other novels of PDK that I have read. Highly recommended. Will stick around in your brain for a while after reading it.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
September 18, 2019
Re-read 9/18/19:

So, do I have anything I want to say that I didn't say in my original review? Yes. Possibly.

My least favorite section usually involved all the jewelry making and the eventual rise and fall of the metal as a main character in the story. But this time? Maybe I just happened to be in the right mood. Tagomi's crisis in perception was VERY PKD and pretty delightful this time around. The jewelry being a catalyst, a doorway through the Yin into the Yang and vice versa, resonated strangely and through a back door into my consciousness. This time.

Otherwise, I still enjoyed the novel. Even if it is, and always be, a complicated relationship. :)

Original review:

This book is complicated for me. I only cared about Juliana's story as an actual story. There were times where I was invested with Frank's tale, too, and Tagomi had his moments, but as a complete and cohesive novel, the overt tale wasn't anything special. Nothing much happened except the hint of an attempted coup, the beginnings of an attempted assassination of an author, and the near-tragedy of a jewelry maker.

So what's all the fuss about? Why do people think this PKD is the bomb? Why did it earn a Hugo back in '62?

It's complicated. Just like my relationship with the novel.

Let's get the heavy out of the way. The whole damn thing was written with the extensive use of the I Ching. Hell, I learned the I Ching and used it extensively after reading this novel, just to get a deeper feel. This is a practical crash-course in PKD's fascination with all things mystical and religious, focused on a tight beam of almost pink light and driven right into the heart of every character's life. It's easy to extrapolate into all his other works from here, or backtrack to this instant. Everything is connected.

I loved this part of it. The twists and the turns, the inexplicable and the merely odd things that happen to the people, all of it could be blamed on the I Ching, and by extension, the vagaries of real life. Truth is hereby written.

I just don't think it made for a particularly exciting tale... just a pretty profound one.

And then there's the other part of this book which generally captures most people's attention. It's an alternate history where the Germans and the Japanese won WWII and split up the USA into occupied territories. We spend most of our time in the Japanese sector of California, where Frank is relatively free of the threat of being thrown into a gas chamber for being of Jewish ancestry.

Nice set-up? You bet. PKD's details are vast and deep, too, throwing us into an immersion both amazing and scary as hell. It's a crash course in cultural mindsets, too, although I cannot be any kind of expert on how the Japanese really think. I cannot tell anyone how accurate it is. BUT, I can say it was a huge eye-opener the first time I read this.

As a novel of worldbuilding, what PKD accomplished here is beyond excellent. Perhaps it only seems so this far down the timestream from when it was written, and perhaps it is a genuine masterpiece regardless of when we read it, but a great working knowledge of all the historical players is almost a must before dipping your toes in this water. I think I'm not too bad at history, having read a great number of non-fiction books, but since I wasn't living through the events, I felt lost a great deal of the time.

It was almost as if PKD almost refuses to divulge the hidden treasures in the events without our active and fairly intense participation, but it wasn't so much the name dropping that I had troubles with. It was the importance of the events that happened to each of the characters that stymied me. So, again, we had to return to the I Ching and divine the deeper reasons.

Themes can and will be untangled with enough effort, and they're pretty cool, but this novel is by no means a simple and straightforward read.

And then there's the third awesome aspect of the novel. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a prophetic and I Ching written novel that's hugely popular in this alternate world. It depicts a world where Germany and Japan lost the war. An additional I Ching reading about the veracity of this novel tells us that it is a hidden truth. It's real. And people all across the nation seem to realize it, talk about it, and generally obsess over it.

How cool. Right? A mirror of the universe *mostly* reflecting our own and driving its inhabitants a little bonkers in exactly the way that PKD's novel did for us in this universe!

Well, it wouldn't be PKD without at least TWO world-shattering shenanigans, right?

So, I've got all these high props of the novel and a teeth-grinding annoyance held out for it for the SAME REASON. Am I and this book in a relationship? Yes. But it's complicated. ;)

Very cool stuff, but it requires a lot of effort to really enjoy. It's high maintenance. :)
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,425 reviews3,392 followers
December 17, 2019
“Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets…” Ecclesiastes 12:5
The Man in the High Castle is a piece of the alternate history: Germany and Japan won in the Second World War and the world became a mixture of modern technologies and trash culture immersed in the obscurantism of dark ages…
Their view; it is cosmic. Not of a man here, a child there, but air abstraction: race, land. Volk. Land. Blut. Ehre. Not of honorable men but of Ehre itself, honor; the abstract is real, the actual is invisible to them. Die Güte, but not good men, this good man. It is their sense of space and time. They see through the here, the now, into the vast black deep beyond, the unchanging. And that is fatal to life. Because eventually there will be no life; there was once only the dust particles in space, the hot hydrogen gases, nothing more, and it will come again.

The narration and lives of characters turn mostly around a book – a piece of history alternate to their kind of alternate history… The title of the book – The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – is a reminiscence of Ecclesiastes’ prophecy…
“Not a mystery,” Paul said. “On contrary, interesting form of fiction possibly within genre of science fiction.”
“Oh no,” Betty disagreed. “No science in it. Nor set in future. Science fiction deals with future, in particular future where science has advanced over now. Book fits neither premise.”
“But,” Paul said, “it deals with alternate present. Many well-known science fiction novels of that sort.”

However alternate may be the history but human nature remains the same: passions, ambitions, intrigues, machinations, corruption…
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
October 8, 2018
have you ever thought about what life would be like had the axis powers won WWII? a world where every morning begins with a 'heil, hitler' and the 'i ching' is consulted for every decision? because i sure havent. at least, not until i read this book. i actually didnt even know alternative history was a thing when it came to genres, but i am here for it.

from a historical standpoint, this book is fascinating. this is my first PKD book and i was blown away by the world building. i could really tell that he was very knowledgable about the events of WWII by not only imagining a convincing reality where the events of WWII were different from today, but by also creating an additional alternative history (where the allies won) within the original alternate history. what really got me was how it was only one small change that created this whole different reality. very interesting stuff, conceptually.

however, even though i thought the idea of this book, and world building surrounding that idea, was remarkable, i cant ignore the fact that i didnt really enjoy the story itself. it kind of felt like i was reading a history textbook - the writing was very intense and devoid of any sort of personalisation. which is all well and good from a factual standpoint but from a novel, i just was wanting a little more… emotion? this, and also the lack of any sort of plot, made it difficult to connect with any of the characters. many of them i actually didnt see the point of including them in the story to begin with.

overall, this was very interesting from a historical and political standpoint. its definitely the type of book to make you think. but the actual storytelling aspect of the book left much to be desired. i think this could have greatly benefited from being a series rather than a standalone. oh, well.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews868 followers
November 21, 2022
It is not hubris, not pride; it is inflation of the ego to its ultimate — confusion between him who worships and that which is worshipped. Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man.”

The Man in the High Castle' Review | The Young Folks

As speculative fiction (the alternate world in which Germany and Japan have won WW2 and split up a conquered America between them) and as social commentary (the attitudes embodied by both the conquerors and conquered), Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle hits on all cylinders. The cultural world Dick creates in which vintage Americana items are manufactured and then sold to the occupiers was really interesting. So too were the cultural attitudes that were transferred to the defeated nation, including racial superiority and a shift from democratic values to a belief in totalitarian systems of government. These shifts come easier than we'd like to believe possible, but I think Dick was unfortunately right about that.

There were many other details which made this an interesting read. Still, while it was always interesting and even immersive, it lacked a strong plot line that would have added tension and emotional energy. It took a long time before there was any recognizable plot at all. That seems a shame to me because so much worked in The Man in the High Castle. Again, I enjoyed it (and maybe especially so when characters ventured into the desolate Wyoming where I live), but be prepared to engage with the world Dick creates rather than on plot. 3.75 stars
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews656 followers
May 19, 2014
I think this book broke my brain.

I mean, it's so many things tied up in a slim little volume - an alt-history "what if Germany and Japan had won the Second World War," a meditation on the inability to ever accurately try to reconstruct what-might-have-beens, one of the most interesting literary experiments I've ever read, a look at chance and fate in how the world unfolds, and a book that can definitely bend your sense of reality.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.7k followers
March 26, 2010
My favourite parallel universe story. Germany and Japan win World War II, and it has something to do with the I Ching. Much more controlled than the average Philip K Dick - for once, you don't feel that he threw it together in a few weeks to pay for his next batch of drugs. It is in fact quite poetic.

Remarkable that no one has filmed it, considering that it's almost certainly his best novel and many others have become movies.


The other day, there was a thread where people were talking about works of art composed under extreme formal constraints - Perec's La Disparition, Böök's Eunoia and things like that. It's just a little odd that Man in the High Castle never gets mentioned in this context. But, when you come down to it, using the I Ching to make every decision in writing a book is an extremely strong formal constraint.

Maybe it's because the novel is actually pretty good, which the others, to be honest, aren't. So it's even more mysterious that no one else has tried to repeat the experiment. Or someone has, and I don't know about it? Has the I Ching written any more books?
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews811 followers
February 6, 2017
My preparedness for the regime change taking place in the United States--with elements of the Electoral College, the Kremlin and the FBI helping to install a failed business promoter who the majority of American voters did not support in the election--continues with The Man In the High Castle, the Hugo Award winning novel by Philip K. Dick published in 1962. Dick's sheer output and high concept hooks that can be reduced to three words--"Axis Won WWII"--have proved irresistible to film and television over the years, but reading this novel was like reading the dayplanner of a middle manager: thought provoking at times but terribly dull.

The story is set in the Pacific States of America fifteen years following Capitulation Day in 1947. Robert Childan is the owner/operator of American Artistic Handcrafts, trafficking in traditional ethnic art objects, Colt pistols from the Civil War being a popular item. One of his clients, Mr. Nobusuke Tagomi, is a fussy, high ranking official with the Trade Mission. Mr. Tagomi is in search of a gift to impress a Swedish industrialist due to arrive in San Francisco by rocketship. Officially, Tagomi is to broker a meeting between the Swede and a retired Japanese admiral to discuss plastic injection molds, but Tagomi's instinct tells him that his client is a German and a spy.

Frank Frink, nee Frank Fink, was a G.I. who ended up on the Japanese side of the settlement line, fortunately; his ancestry as a Jew would mark him for extermination in Reich controlled territory. A metalworker, Frank has been fired for mouthing off to his boss, Mr. Wyndham-Matson. Frank consults the I, Ching, the Chinese divination text which the Japanese have made popular throughout the PSA, for advice. He pines for his ex-wife Juliana, a gypsy beauty who moved to Canon City, Colorado and is now a judo instructor. Juliana is at a hamburger stand and picks up a young Italian truck driver to keep her company in bed. He tells her his name is Joe Cinnadella.

In the alternate timeline that serves as a spine, Franklin D. Roosevelt was assassinated in Miami in 1933 and the New Deal never got off the drawing board. After victory in Europe and the Pacific, Nazi Germany and Japan attacked the United States, ultimately dividing the U.S. in half, with the Rocky Mountains region a buffer zone between the superpowers. German technological superiority has drained the Mediterranean and converted it to farmland, while their moral depravity used atomic energy to unleash a holocaust on Africa. Most of the best comedians were Jews and have been killed, but Bob Hope lives to mock the Reich from Canada.

A shop foreman who worked with Frank Frink convinces him to manufacture contemporary American jewelry. Frank consults the I, Ching and agrees to the venture, but can't help but make trouble for his boss, whose most profitable line is the replication of "authentic" Colt pistols which the Japanese can't get enough of. Frank visits American Artistic Handcrafts and accuses Childan of selling fakes. Childan cancels his business with Mr. Wyndham-Matson, who laments this to his secretary Rita. The boss man's woman pines for what could have been had the Allies won the war, a fantasy concocted in a banned novel everyone's reading titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.

The novel imagines that Roosevelt survives assassination and pulls America out of the Great Depression. FDR's popularity keeps an isolationist, pro-Nazi regime from the White House. The U.S. fleet is not wiped out at Pearl Harbor. The British defeat General Rommel in North Africa. Without oil, the German advance east is halted in a city named Stalingrad. Adolf Hitler is put on trial for war crimes. In Wyndham-Matson's analysis of this fiction, the Communists and Jews take over the world, but Rita is beguiled by the book. So is Juliana Frink, who's heard that its author is an ex-serviceman who lives in Cheyenne in a mountain compound he calls the High Castle.

There's a lot that happens in The Man In the High Castle. The most compelling involves a banned book and its power to reach across borders to inspire dreams of a world beyond the dismal one of the present. That would've made for exciting science fiction and it's one I started writing in my head while reading this. Being stuck in Philip K. Dick's head gets mundane. There are academic conversations on fascism. There are banal discussions on a political crisis in Germany following Chancellor Martin Bormann's death. There are endless consultations of the I, Ching which are as fun to read an instruction manual for Dungeons and Dragons.

At no moment in this novel was I concerned about the safety of the characters, which is hard to believe considering Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan are in control of the United States. Slavs, Poles and Puerto Ricans are deprived educational opportunities, apparently. Slavery seems to exist for blacks, I think. Because Philip K. Dick couldn't imagine a world where any of these ethnic groups could be characters in a science fiction novel, it's hard to say. The entire alternate history conceit isn't utilized very well beyond Dick telling how bizarre things might've been if the Axis Powers won. Most unforgivable is the novel is boring.

I was intrigued by Dick's suggestion that conquered Americans might not hold any more of a grudge against the Japanese or their culture than the Japanese held against American occupation forces in our timeline. Dick elevates Mr. Tagomi to the position of a major character, with Juliana Frink possibly the second most significant character, so unlike so many of his contemporaries, the author can't be accused of casual racism or sexism. The biggest offense of the novel is its administrative dullness, with political backstory made front story and characters getting lost in a purple haze of dorm room mood enhancing drugs.
Profile Image for brian   .
248 reviews2,992 followers
June 12, 2012
the plot is simple enough: an alternate history detailing what would've happened had the axis powers won the second world war. thankfully, there's very little of that obvious government intrigue and new-world-order shit that lesser writers focus on -- rather, Dick's obsession is the spiritual life of the individual in a totalitarian society told in the form of a wonderfully messy jumble of ideas and ruminations on race and history and human connection and destiny. in fact, i think dick's ideas are so powerful, they somewhat take over the novel... his characterizations, on the other hand, are not as strong as they could be; as a result, they're crushed under the weight of plot and idea...

imagine a hybrid of, say, Philip K. Dick and Richard Yates? he'd pump out a few of the greatest novels ever written. that said, i expected a novel of utter strangeness and great ideas and got it; what i didn't expect was such a human and humane one.

well, there's only so much to say, best to read these passages:

on the Nazi leaders of America:

"Their view; it is cosmic. Not of a man here, a child there, but an abstraction: race, land. Volk. Land. ...It is their sense of space and time. They see through the here, the now, into the vast black deep beyond, the unchanging. And that is fatal to life. Because eventually there will be no life; there was once only the dust particles in space, the hot hydrogen gases, nothing more, and it will come again. This is an interval, ein Augenblick. The cosmic process is hurrying on, crushing life back into granite and methane; the wheel turns for all life. It is all temporary. And they - these madmen - respond to the granite, the dust, the longing of the inanimate; they want to aid Natur.... And, he thought, I know why. They want to be agents, not the victims, of history."

And there's an obsession with objects in the book... with the spiritual 'life' of objects. check this passage:

She said, 'what is "historicity"?'

'When a thing has history in it. Listen. One of those two Zippo lighters was in Franklin D. Roosevelt's pocket when he was assassinated. And one wasn't. One has historicity, a hell of a lot of it. As much as any object ever had. And one has nothing .... You can't tell which is which. There's no "mystical plasmic presence", no "aura" around it...

A gun goes through a famous battle, like the Meuse-Argonne, and it's the same as if it hadn't, unless you know. It's in here." He tapped his head. "In the mind, not the gun"'

good shit.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 10, 2021
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

The principal setting of The Man in the High Castle is the city of San Francisco, in the Pacific States of America, where Japanese judicial racism has enslaved Black people and reduced the Chinese residents into second-class citizens; secondary settings of the story are in the buffer zone of the Rocky Mountain States.

In 1962, fifteen years after Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany won World War II, in the Pacific States of America, the businessman Robert Childan owns an antiques shop that specializes in Americana for a Japanese clientele who fetishize cultural artifacts of the former USA.

One day, Childan receives a request from Nobusuke Tagomi, a high-rank trade official, who seeks a gift to impress a Swedish industrialist named Baynes.

In fact, Childan can readily fulfil Tagomi's request, because the shop is well-stocked with counterfeit antiques made by the metal works Wyndam-Matson Corporation.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش

عنوان: ساکن برج بلند؛ نویسنده: فیلیپ کی دیک؛ مترجم سمیه گنجی؛ تهران، روزنه، 1391؛ در 414ص؛ شابک 97889643344504، موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

داستان «ساکن برج بلند» رمانی پادآرمان شهری، در ژانر تاریخ جایگزین است، که توسط رمان‌نویس «آمریکایی»، «فیلیپ کی دیک» نگاشته شده‌، در این داستان جنگ جهانی دوم در سال 1947میلادی پایان مییابد و «دولت‌های محور» یعنی «امپراتوری ژاپن» و «آلمان نازی»، در جنگ پیروز شده‌ اند، و هر کدام حاکم بخش‌هایی از کشور پیشین «ایالات متحده آمریکا» هستند؛ ماجرای این رمان، پانزده سال پس از پایان جنگ، یعنی در سال1962میلادی روی می‌دهد؛ برده داری دوباره قانونی اعلام شده، و شماری اندک از «یهودی»هایی که توانسته اند زنده بمانند، خود را با نامها و هویتهای ساختگی پنهان کرده اند، کتاب «ئی چینگ» در «سان فرانسیسکو» بسیار همه گیر شده، و رویدادهای ناباورانه، دیگر شگفت انگیز به دیده نمینشینند؛ همه ی این رویدادها، برای این است که نزدیک به بیست سال پیش، «ایالات متحده» در جنگ شکست خورده است، و اکنون کشور را نیروهای «آلمان نازی و ژاپن» اشغال کرده اند؛ کتاب «ساکن برج بلند» در سال 1963میلادی برنده ی جایزه ی «هوگو» برای بهترین داستان شد

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 18/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Michael O'Brien.
307 reviews82 followers
March 27, 2019
This is one of the most fascinating sci-fi/ alt history books I've ever read. Imagine how the world would be different if the Axis Powers, Japan and Nazi Germany, had won World War 2. This book provides that dark vision: a Europe dominated by the Third Reich, the Soviet Union crushed into impotence beyond the Urals; the Jews all but wiped out worldwide but for a tiny remnant; Africa turned by the victorious Nazis into a continental size version of the Congo, a massive killing field, under Belgium's Leopold II --- a holocaust dwarfing, by far, even that of the Jews. And that's just the beginning.

The United States is no more --- the Eastern portion a province of the Third Reich with all the horror of the Nuremburg laws in force -- blacks exterminated, and the few survivors returned to slavery; the Jews wiped out --- a totalitarian extension of Germany itself. And the West Coast --- the Pacific States of America, governed by a Japanese puppet regime; and the middle --- the Rocky Mountain States, a buffer nation established to separate Japanese and German spheres of influence. A new sort of Cold War seems to exist -- the superpowers in this bipolar world, Japan and Germany, in place of the US and the USSR.

What is interesting about this book is how its characters live in this strange dystopian reality in which the bad guys won. It's both fascinating and disturbing that, strangely, life seems to pretty much go on as before World War 2 --- people get married, hold down jobs, have relationships, buy, sell, make plans, dream dreams --- even as they offhandedly recall the horrific past events described above. Many of them have even assumed some of the world views and prejudices of their conquerors. In their world, it's hard for them to imagine that the victories of the Third Reich and the Japanese Empire could ever have turned out any other way.

It's a postmodern world described here. Judaism is no more. Christianity is no more --- the book almost casually mentions how the Nazis, after the War, wiped out the "Bible-believers". In short, Judaeo-Christian morality and attitudes are extinct --- in their place, the racial superiority belief system of the Nazis; and, outside the Third Reich, the belief in Taoism or Buddhism with a superstitious faith in divination to determine when and how to act.

At times, I found this a real page turner --- right up until near the end. And that's where this book fails horribly in my opinion. This book builds and builds around a book, "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" about an alternative history in which the Allies win, and its author, Hawthorne Abendsen. But then, in what I can only describe as bordering on literary malpractice, it just ends --- almost as if Philip K. Dick (PKD), it author, could not figure where next to take the plot. Abendsen comes across as nonentity in the end, and the novel doesn't end in any fulfilling way at all --- not in a way that suggests hope for the future, or even a darker future still. It just ends -- like "Meh". It's a non-ending. That would be fine if this was part of a trilogy, for example. But, to end this way, is like as if Tolkien had ended "Lord of the Rings" at "The Two Towers" --- and that was it.

So the crummy ending makes this a 4-stars for me. Had it ended in any better way, it would have a 5-star for sure. Because this really is a great book --- it is one that gets you thinking differently about history --- that the sureties of how history we're taught in grade school and college really weren't inevitable --- that a little change here, a slight nudge there, and history could have turned out far differently --- far more disastrously, in some cases, than most realize.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews404 followers
October 30, 2017
Hugo Award 1963.

It’s a bit of a stretch to call this science fiction. Alternate history, Germany/Japan win WWII. Ahead of it’s time, probably. I’m currently reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, more science fiction. One interesting aspect of this novel was the inclusion of an alternate history novel inside the story line titled *The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, wherein the Allies win the war. Clever touch.

*A novel published in 2015 borrows the title of Dick’s imagined novel. I understand it’s premise is totally different from the original.

3.5 Stars.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,692 followers
December 2, 2015
"The grasshopper shall be a burden"
-- The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick


This is one of those weird, unsettling novels that spins your brain in six or seven different directions.

I read this PKD masterpiece almost two months ago, but only just recently returned to review it because after finishing, I wasn't ready to review. After I read more of him, I realized that even when he is messy, strange, disjointed and sometimes yes >>touched<< Philip K Dick is one MuthaF'er that definitely can write and can definitely write his readers into circles. He bends time, switches alliances, inverts us until we find we don't recognize our own reflection or past.

Reading 'The Man in the High Castle', I was reminded of a time when I was in High School in Germany. At the time, I was very flexible (think Abraham Lincoln meets, falls in love, and produces offspring with Gumbi) and decided to jump/fall/roll off the high dive platform with both legs wrapped around my head while standing on my hands. I rolled forward spinning head-chasing-ass (my knees were my axis of rotation) until I hit the water. At that moment my legs seemed to float from my head to their normal bipedal position, but my legs seem to not exist in a normal sense and I had no sense of North, South, Up or Down. It was embryonic and yes probably moronic, but it is exactly how I felt putting this novel down.

Anyway, a fantstic dystopian/alternate history novel that if possible should be read with Philip Roth's also brilliant The Plot Against America. At least that is how I feel now about reading him then, but time has moved on, and I might just be remembering wrong.
Profile Image for Brett C(urrently overseas again).
784 reviews167 followers
May 2, 2021
I enjoyed reading this story overall and was intrigued by the alternative history concept. We are in the plot of a conquered and divided America in every sense of the expression. The suppression of ideas, conformity of the masses, and the loss identity are common PKD themes found in this story. Yet there remains hints of boiling tension such as the revered "man in the high castle", the I Ching, and the various random-seeming human interactions. The mystical and mysterious "man in the high castle" who serves as a beacon of hope, the I Ching that correlates to superstition and uncertainty about the future, and human interaction: daily, business, and even intimate.

Initially I complained this story didn't go into further detail about the alternate history. I felt there were no 'whys' or 'hows' that led to the current American situation presented in the book. Now that I've read other PKD novels, this is exactly what makes him a gifted writer. What is presented in the book is enough to leave the reader to fill in the blanks with his/her imagination.

Overall a very intriguing book I enjoyed. Thanks!
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books578 followers
March 2, 2013
Note, March 2, 2013: A recent comment on this review prompted me to reread it, and I discovered a typo --I'd accidentally omitted a key word in one sentence! So I've just edited it to correct that mistake.

It has been said that Dick was the most skeptical writer in the history of science fiction towards the idea that the world of normal human perception actually reflects ultimate reality. After his thought and writing took a more Christian turn in the early 1970s (though he was always a professed Episcopalian) he ultimately came to the belief that the 20th-century world is an illusion caused by Satan and that we are actually living in the period described in the New Testament book of Acts. In this earlier work, the religious influence comes more from Eastern thought, particularly the Hindu-Buddhist idea of maya, the concept that our material world is a veil of illusion masking the true reality. (Dick also refers to the Chinese I Ching, and reportedly used that method to divine the different turns his plot should take.) The alternate world scenario described above is only one competing "reality" in the book. Several of the characters pay a great deal of attention to a novel in which the course of World War II was very different than it was in their world, though not identical to events in our world, either (the author of that novel is the titular "man in the high castle"). At one point, one character temporarily slips into a reality very different from his own; and the reader is always aware that our own perceptual world is entirely different. Dick's message appears to be that NONE of these worlds (including ours) is any more "real" than the others; all are to some extent illusory fictions.

Even within the context of their own alternate world, Dick structures events and dialogue to make it clear that his characters' perceptions are subject to a very high degree of distortion and illusion. They can be altered by drugs, states of temporary insanity, ideological prejudices, and misunderstandings of other people's speech and behavior. People often lie, to themselves and to each other; supposed valuable antiques (or other treasures) may turn out to be clever fakes, and people's real identities may be hidden.

Though this is a novel of ideas, it has action and incident that keeps the plot moving and holds the attention; the characters are real and evoke our interest, and the prose is vivid and free-flowing. Dick very artfully uses the content of the book to effectively communicate his message by showing, rather than preaching, it. IMO, the literary quality of this work fully merited the Hugo it received!
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,839 followers
June 8, 2021
This sounded like a really interesting concept for a book. Also, I have enjoyed at least one other book by this author. Finally, the book had enough interest in it that they turned it into a TV show. These were all good signs that this would be a great read.

But, was it???

It was okay . . . it had some great parts and did play around in some fascinating ways about what the world would be like if Germany and Japan had won World War II. But I don’t think it took the concept far enough or explored it deep enough within the story. This is one of those cases where I wish the book had been longer so that that the “What if?” could have been invested in more. But, before it got to where I hoped it would, it got kind of weird in ways that did not keep my interest. In fact, I thought I knew what I read, but I checked the synopsis on Wikipedia hoping for a little more clarification of the ending and . . . yep . . . I understood exactly what I had read, it was just weird.

While I am giving this book 3 stars, I don’t think it is a bad book to try if you like alternative history, sci-fi, and/or dystopia. Since it is not too long or hard to read, you don’t have to invest too much time or effort to get to the interesting parts. And, maybe you won’t find the ending as odd and so-so as I did. The one thing about the ending that was kind of cool were .

If you give it a go, I hope you like it more than I did. Feel free to stop back by this review and discuss!
Profile Image for Sr3yas.
223 reviews997 followers
July 10, 2017
When one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets;
-----------Ecclesiastes 12:5

Welcome to your alternative nightmare.

Let me set the canvas. Allies have lost the war. Japan and Nazis have divided up the fallen countries. Jews and other groups are still being hunted down. Slavery is legal again. Nazis have mastered space travel and colonized Mars and Venus.

And all these tidbits are like magician's hot assistant. Don't get distracted. Focus on the story.

There are three stories here. Three distinct story arcs which overlap each other with the help of shared characters and I Ching, an ancient book which acts as an oracle. Also, there is a novel: Grasshopper lies heavy. A novel which many characters in this story read.

A novel within a novel.

If Man in the High Castle is a cracked reflection of the world after WWII where Axis power took control, then Grasshopper lies heavy is another broken reflection where Allies won the war. Don't be confused. Grasshopper lies heavy is not our history. It is an alternative history where Allies won the war in a different set of circumstances.

Do you know what's remarkable? I am reading a novel which paints an alternative history where the Axis won the war and the characters inside that very novel are reading a book where Allies won the war.

The story is set in 1962, America. One story arc tells the story of the dealers and makers art and artifacts after the war while another arc deals with a mysterious Italian man and a woman's fascination with the author of Grasshopper lies heavy. My personal favorite is the story arc which deals with the relationship between Nazi Germany and Japanese. The reason for this fascination is because this arc had everything! Mystery, action, philosophy, moral ambiguity and strong characters.

As for the other two arcs, I did like them. But parts of it were predictable and too philosophical for my taste. Nevertheless, both arcs concluded quite strongly, if not bizarrely.

I think Philip K Dick loves to screw with people in the very end. In his other famous novel, Does Android dream of electric sheep?, he closed his last act with some crazy stuff. Man in the High Castle does the same.

It's not a book for everyone. It's uneven and too philosophical at times. It is also a kind of book which leaves you with many questions rather than answers. I think a quote from this novel itself sums up Man in the High Castle perfectly.

“ What is it Philip K Dick Abendsen wanted to say? Nothing about his make-believe world. Am I the only one who knows? I’ll bet I am*; nobody else really understands Man in the High Castle Grasshopper but me – they just imagine they do.”

*Nope. I don't claim to understand this book.
Profile Image for Vicky "phenkos".
144 reviews96 followers
May 15, 2021
I've watched three seasons of Amazon's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle and for me this series has been a revelation, a masterpiece that deserves 10 shiny stars! I've also read Dick's novel and while I think the concept was a stroke of genius, Dick's implementation was somewhat lacking. This is where the film steps in. As most of my GR friends have read the book, I will concetrate on the main differences between the book and the tv adapttion.

The adaptation is on the whole faithful to Dick's key themes and characters. Robert Childan, the antique store owner with whom the book begins, figures in the film too although his character has been somewhat demoted compared to Frank Frink, Ed McCarthy and Joe Cinandella (whose character initially appears under the name of Joe Blake), a trio of men who frame the wonderfully boosted Juliana Frink, here renamed Juliana Crain. A host of other characters have been introduced. Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith, a high-ranking official of the Greater Nazi Reich, masterfully played by Rufus Sewell, his wife and three children, as well as Chief Inspector Kido, a mean and ruthless chief of the Kempeitai (police force) of the Japanese Pacific States. Trade Minister Tagomi plays a key role in both the film and the book but his ability to travel to different worlds is drastically enhanced in the film with important consequences for the development of the story.

As in the book, the United States is divided into a Nazi-controlled zone occupying the eastern coast while Japan has occupied and controls the western coast. A Neutral Zone where neither power can operate in an official capacity buffers the two. This is a brilliant idea emanating from Dick's belief that history is not deterministic, but in the film it is elevated to new heights. The image of the swastika hanging from every building in New York makes for some stunning visuals. Meanwhile, the Resistance, battered and persecuted by the criminal Nazi thugs is constantly regenerating and renewing itself. In the book there is a book within the book ('The Grasshopper Lies Heavy') which wakes people up to alternate possibilities. Similarly, in the tv adaptation there is a film within the film, produced by the same shady character Hawthorne Abendsen (the man in the high castle) which depicts the Allied Victory over Nazi German. The film is so powerful that those who watch it feel the film has to be true (which of course it is!) but they can't quite square their lived reality with the belief that somehow the Allies won the war.

Juliana Crain's character (brilliantly played by Alexa Davalos) is centre stage here. Her role in the development of the story is crucial because Juliana not only gets convinced by the film the first time she sees it but in addition she makes it her life's mission to meet the man in the high castle and ask him about it. In the process, memories resurface which point to the existence of a major Nazi scheme to dominate not only the Earth and other planets (which they are already on course to achieve) but also the alternate realities which underpin this one. Conquering these realities and destroying them means destroying any source of hope for changing this world for the better. Juliana and Tagomi are partners in this, Juliana because of her memories, Tagomi because he has had the experience of travelling to these other worlds and has found it a source of great personal comfort.

I won't go into the details of the story here; there are too many sideplots that are integrated perfectly into the main story but which would require a lengthy exposure. I will only say that the team who revised Dick's story for tv did a wonderful job with plot and character development, casting, and overall production. The production values must have been quite high as the film represents 60s America very faithfully: the cars and trucks of the era and the other props look very authentic, the overall atmosphere is highly believable and the camera takes breathtaking! Rupert Evans gives a mighty performance as Frank Frink (I loved Evans for his role in the BBC series The Village in which he played a rather unlikeable chatacter). Rufus Sewell will be etched in my memory as Obergruppenfuhrer Smith. The images of San Francisco and New York draped in Nazi and Imperial Japan symbols are chilling and sobering. Above all, the theme of alternate realities resonated deeply with me, especially if you come to think of this not as an entirely fictional theme but as something we can experience too (for example, through dreams).

That said, the film is not without its faults. Sometimes the plot falls flat or becomes too complicated. I also didn't like the emotions of sympathy the film evoked for figures scuh as Obergruppenfuhrer Smith, a ruthless and criminal character with prior service at the camps, on account of his personal difficulties and dilemmas. Rudolf Wegener, a character that appears in both the film and the book, feels unconvincing to me. Neither the actor nor his story (a repentant high-raking Nazi) seem entirely plausible. Overall, though, this is a very potent film and comes highly recommended! It's no accident that it is Amazon's most watched series!

Edit: I watched the last episode of season 4 yesterday. What can I say? This is a very powerful series that I still can't stop thinking about. Some the characters and themes developed by Frank Spotnitz's team have been tremendous. The whole series is about the trappings of power, the autocratic pretensions of a paranoid ideology (Nazism) and the desire to control people and things. The very last episode, however, looks at these themes through the lens of fatherhood.
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