emma's Reviews > The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
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it was amazing
bookshelves: sci-fi, non-ya, historical, classics, owned, unpopular-opinion, recommend, reviewed, 5-stars, favorites-2018

"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 might raise this rating.

Bottom line: This book is tough and difficult and punishing, but it is worth the work.
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Reading Progress

October 8, 2018 – Shelved
October 22, 2018 – Started Reading
October 23, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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Tanner Jensen Is this your first Philip K. Dick novel? Because this is a great one to help gain a feel for his type of work. In my opinion, at least.


emma Tanner wrote: "Is this your first Philip K. Dick novel? Because this is a great one to help gain a feel for his type of work. In my opinion, at least."

it is my first! i added Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? to my to-read list


message 3: by Sander (new) - added it

Sander Hendriks My personal favorite novel by Philip K. Dick is Ubik, definitely recommend that one. I saw you added Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to your to read list which is an awesome book as well, and extra fun if you've seen / loved Blade Runner.


emma Sander wrote: "My personal favorite novel by Philip K. Dick is Ubik, definitely recommend that one. I saw you added Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to your to read list which is an awesome book as well, and e..."

i haven't seen Blade Runner! (i'm hopeless, i know.) but i'll definitely be trying Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep & i'll have to check out Ubik. thanks for the rec


message 5: by Tim (new)

Tim This is a wonderful review. This quote in your review:

emma wrote: "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."

This right here... It is perfect. It sums up EVERY novel by Dick that I have read. Every one of his books starts slow despite the fact that they are always so short, and then he pulls off this little magic trick and everything changes either towards the halfway point or the end. I haven't even read this book, but I saw your line there, smiled and nodded.

Excellent review.


emma Tim wrote: "This is a wonderful review. This quote in your review:

emma wrote: "This book did that. It takes everything it's been doing for 150 pages or so, and shows you that something else, something huge, ..."


thank you!!! also you should read this book. (other than this one, i've only read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep of his - any recs for me?)


message 7: by Tim (last edited Dec 31, 2019 01:16PM) (new)

Tim That's a fairly hard question for me to answer as I've only read four of his books and you've read one of them. I'll be better able to answer that by the end of next year as I received several of his books as gifts.

That said, my two favorite so far are Clans of the Alphane Moon and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

"Clans" follows a moon (never refer to it as a planet, or it could prove madness) which was originally intended as a global psychiatric institution, but it was left on its own for so long, the various clans of patients (each named after their mental illness) have taken over and created their own society and political ideals. It's a neat concept and plays with Dick's theme of reality being questionable.

"Stigmata" is my favorite of his books, but it requires some knowledge of his life. I'll put it as a spoiler (not because it is one, but because I don't want this post to take up too much of your page here).

(view spoiler)


emma Tim wrote: "That's a fairly hard question for me to answer as I've only read four of his books and you've read one of them. I'll be better able to answer that by the end of next year as I received several of h..."

thank you for this very good answer to a difficult question!!! even though now i basically just want to read everything he's ever written. adding these to my tbr!


message 9: by Tim (new)

Tim I will say, I just started reading The Crack in Space, which is interesting as it's a book taking on racism (the plot basically involves a future where anyone who isn't white has trouble finding a job, and the most common solution is cryogenic freezing until they need more jobs... and no one has ever been unfrozen). The book is admittedly clumsily and with no small bit of racism in it, but what Dick was trying to do in 66 is pretty admirable, in that he's condemning this and is trying to offer hope for the future (It also focuses on a African American man running for president, hoping to help everyone regardless of race).


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