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Monday, September 28, 2015

Just Finished Reading... The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick

I admit this is my first Philip K Dick novel, though I do have a collection of his short stories. There's a little introduction at the start, by Eric Brown. Apparently, he didn't become really famous till the year he died, when the film Bladerunner came out. Then his SF books were reprinted and his mainstream stuff finally got an airing. Well, Bladerunner has become a classic in its own right. Pity he didn't live to see his massive success.

What I find fascinating about this alternative universe novel is that there's another alternative universe novel inside it.

The novel is set in a world in which the Axis won World War II. The year is 1962 and Martin Bormann is in power. The Germans and the Japanese have divided the world between them - especially the former US, in which the story is set. The Japanese - who are not so bad - rule the West Coast, the Germans the East, and in between are the Rocky Mountain states, which don't quite belong to either. The Japanese have brought with them the I Ching and many of the main characters use its wisdom as an oracle to help them make decisions.

But in this AU world, the man of the title has written a novel that is banned in the Nazi states and officially banned by the Japanese, who are more laid-back about it. In any case, it's a hugely popular novel, an AU tale in which the Allies won the war. Of course, everyone reads it or wants to read it.

The story is seen from a number of different viewpoints. That happens a lot in Harry Turtledove, but somehow I never got lost in this one as I do in the more complicated Turtledove novels.

I did find the ending a bit strange - and most of the ends were left untied - apparently deliberately. I think I may need to do a reread at some stage. But I'm glad I finally got to read it; I suspect it has had a lot of influence on later AU novels of this kind.

It's currently going cheap on iBooks if you want to give it a go.

1 comment:

Anthony Panegyres said...

Hi Sue

Loved this novel - especially the untied ends you allude too. Dick's change in narrative voice left me in awe.

Great character-driven, alternative history sci-fi.

But then again - reading is gloriously subjective.