The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick [Book Review]

Philip K. Dick’s work is something that I have meant to read for some time now; I have movies to thank for that. Between Total Recall and Minority Report further extending to Blade Runner (which I don’t think I fully grasped when I watched it) and A Scanner Darkly, Dick’s work has always piqued my interest. So when Amazon came out with The Man in the High Castle I knew it was time to dive in. I couldn’t be more happy that I did.

This novel has a perfect tone and ambiance. Everything is only stated on a need to know basis so it ends up feeling more believable and mysterious as a result. It is very journalistic as it assumes that the reader is from this world as well. You learn over time. The language character’s use is also very clipped and only states necessary information.

Nazi Germany is most concerned with colonizing other planets but the situation back on earth is one where they control Europe and Eastern America. Most of the novel takes place primarily in San Francisco a place that is controlled by Japan. Germany and Japan split the world. The Mediterranean sea has been drained to become farmland. Africa is destroyed. Slaves are a thing again. The Japanese government seemed more lenient and respectful while the Nazis are in a period of transition (which leads to instability most often resulting from difference of opinion of where the party should go from here).

We get the perspective of a few main characters: Frank and separately his ex-wife, a German ex-pat, an Americana antique shop owner and a Japanese businessman. You get bits a pieces from other characters but these are the main ones.

This is a very slice of life style book with even the conflicts in the book seeming like something that everyone has to deal with.

The language is simple and elegant and always flows quite nicely.

My favorite persistent point of the book is an alternate history novel where the axis powers lose the war (though not in the actual way they lost the war). It is the glue that holds the whole novel together.

Was it perfect? No. But I can’t think of a single detraction worth mentioning. This is a book that will only grown in stature in my mind as time passes.


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