Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (5/5)

The back says: Philip K. Dick's acclaimed cult novel gives us a horrifying glimpse of an alternative world - one where the Allies have lost the Second World War. In this nightmare dystopia the Nazis have taken over New York, the Japanese control California and the African continent is virtually wiped out. In a neutral buffer zone in America that divides the world's new rival superpowers, lives the author of an underground bestseller. His book offers a new vision of reality, giving hope to the disenchanted. Can other, better worlds really exist.

I say: Oh my goodness me, I think this may have shattered my brain – and I’m still trying to pick up all the pieces – so I can’t even know how or where to begin with it all. I’m slowly, and steadily, falling in more and more in love with PKD with each novel I read, even if my brain may never be the same.

Which may actually be a good thing...

So, we have a new world order; one in which the Germans won World War II and rule the world with their allies, the Japanese. As the synopsis above states, the Nazis rule New York and the Japanese California, but most of the action takes place in Seattle, which is run by the Japanese. We are introduced to six main characters who deal differently with the new world, and I’m not sure how to write about them without being too spoilery; but we have a white shop keeper who sells “genuine Americana products”; a Jew who has changed his name for survival; his ex-wife who is on the search for something; a Japanese who works for the trade mission; and a guy whose identity I won’t reveal.


Some of them are connected to each other, but they all connect either by using the I, Ching (some form of ancient book and board thingy that they ask a question and it gives them an answer) or by having read The Grasshopper Lies Heavy by Hawthorne Abendsen aka "The Man in the High Castle". The book is a work of fiction about a world in which the Germans didn’t win the war, and is therefore banned in all states controlled by the Germans, but everyone else is obsessed with it. Now this is where I’m not sure how much else to write for it to be a spoiler, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I really like the way PKD writes; and even though it’s different voices from time to time, there’s a certain coherence in the wording that makes me make sure I pay attention to everything being said, as I believe everything is a clue of some sort – you get a feeling from the start that the I, Ching and The Grasshopper Lies Heavy are significant in the story, but I could never have guessed in what way.

And that’s what shattered my brain; the conclusion.

When I first finished it my first thought was WTF!? And I absolutely love and adore things that make me feel this way, even if I don’t get it straight away. Having had some time to think about it, I am in complete and total love with this. Even though I figured out some of the things about to happen before they did, there was no way I – or anyone – could have predicted that ending.

And if they tell you they did, they’re lying.

5/5 for pure excellence and a conclusion that makes me want to start re-reading this now just to see if I can piece together the clues beforehand. I bow down in awe to PKD – another dead author for “my shrine” (and it only took three novels to fully get there).

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