Read The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick Free Online
Book Title: The Man in the High Castle|
The author of the book: Philip K. Dick
The size of the: 9.80 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: 2001
ISBN 13: 9780575073357
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 2418 times
Reader ratings: 5.1
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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. (view spoiler)[I'm not sure if Juliana's murder of the covert gestapo officer was due to self-defense so much as hysteria. (hide spoiler)] 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.
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Read information about the authorPhilip 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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