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'The Man In The High Castle' is probably Philip K. Dick's second best-known novel (after 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?', which inspired Blade Runner), and the inspiration of a lusciously-produced Amazon series, just about to go into its second season.
As with much of Dick's work, the premise is better than the execution: the Axis has won WWII and has divided up the United States, the Japanese occupying everything west of the Rockies, the Nazis the East Coast and most of the Midwest, with a notionally neutral buffer zone in between.
The novel is very different to the TV series, which takes the book as inspiration rather than following the rambling, ultimately unsatisfying plot and deals much better with character than does the book.
This audiobook, then, acts as an interesting companion volume to the TV series, or a quirky solo 'read'. The focus of the book is much less on the characters, and much more on the Chinese philosophy which links them all (Taoism), which adds dimension to what might otherwise be a rich but essentially political drama. As with every Dick novel, it loses energy, cohesion and sense as it moves towards anti-climax, so don't expect a big payoff.
Narration is decent, though female characters all sound alike and rather breathy and insubstantial (having said that, female characters rarely figure greatly in Dick's novels, so there is nothing much lost).
Not a bad buy, and if you've seen the Amazon series, definitely worth it. If you haven't seen the Amazon series, get yourself a Firestick now!!!
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
Having been recommended this by a friend who's then girlfriend was setting off to Canada to film the Amazon series I wanted to give this book a go. What I found was a confusingly difficult world to get into. I found the characters hard to follow and remember and struggled every time I went back into this story. I so wanted to like this but ultimately did not.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful
The Man in the High Castle is PK Dick's 1962 Hugo award winning novel of an alternate history where the US has lost WWII. In this vision, due to the assassination of FDR in his fist term, the subsequent US president fails to prepare the nation for war with a quick defeat after Pearl Harbor and the fall of England due to lack of US support. The country is divided between the Japanese controlling the west coast to the Rockies, while Germany controls the East with the Rocky Mountain region somewhat murky. Germany dominates science and has made it to Mars and Venus, while they continue to move across the globe with ethnic cleansing. The story centers around several characters barely surviving, including introspective Japanese. Most intriguing is a story within a story concept from which the title is derived, referring to the mysterious author of another alternate history where the US has won the war.
The sci-fi elements are minimal especially given the span of time, although for 1962, colonization of Mars and Venus was probably novel with the US Mercury and Gemini space missions barely getting into orbit. The focus is mainly on how the various characters respond to their situations, while at the same time describing a more macabre, hopeless world. At the same time, Dick contrasts the Japan and Germany styles of conquest which differ greatly. Dick also was quite prescient in his notions of evolving social mores.
The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices and solid pacing. Don't expect some climatic revolution at the end to reset history. This is a tale of "what if" and Dick provide a compelling, credible, and engaging alternative version.
76 of 82 people found this review helpful
I watched the pilot on Amazon and then picked up the book. Interesting premise but was difficult to always comprehend his steam of thought. The audio book made it much easier for me to enjoy.
I probably need to listen again to try and catch more. Book is a different direction from the TV show... But enjoyed it. Would recommend... Just realize that this isn't your typical novel...
53 of 58 people found this review helpful