Friday, May 19, 2006

Science Fiction - "The Man in High Castle"

This is another weird book by Philip K. Dick. It is an alternate history in which Germany and Japan won the second world war. America is a second rate country divided into several independent areas. In the South the slavery is again legal. German rockets carry passangers between continents, but TV does not seem to have been invented.

Main action of the the story takes place in San Francisco and it involves a somewhat disconnected group of characters. There is dealer of authentic American artifacts (like revolvers from the Civil War) which appear to be very desirable to the Japanese. There is a craftsman who quits his job making fake artifacts and starts a jewerly making business.

There are some Japanese diplomats and and German spies.

A thread connecting these various characters is a book, "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy", which some of them read and talk about. "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" is an alternate history in which the Japanese and the Germans lost the war.

Part of the story involves a woman going to visit the author of this book. He lives in a fortified house somewhere in Colorado and the house is known as The High Castle.

Throughout the book many of the characters use I, Ching hexagrams to decide what to do. "I, Ching" is their Oracle.

I found the book very confusing. There are a lot of characters to keep track of. They are only loosely connected, plus towards the end of the book the author throws in some weird scenes that make you doubt the reality of the universe he has created.

I had to read "Ubik" twice to understand it better, I think will have to read this book again.


At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this book in a couple of sittings during my recent holidays, and found it very absorbing. I loved its philiosphical nature and did not find it confusing in the least. Perhaps Richie has not yet read many books dealing with complex ideas. Believe me, if you have read Heller or Rushdy, nothing is confusing after that.

At 5:31 AM, Blogger richieb said...

What I find with Philip K. Dick books is that I often need to read them more than once. When I first read "Ubik" I had a hard time understanding what was going on. The second time it made more sense.

I'm never read any Rushdy, but I have read Heller's "Catch-22".


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