- Title: The Man In The High Castle
- Author: Philip K. Dick
- Published: 1962
The Man In The High Castle is an alternative history novel, presenting a future where Japan and Nazi Germany won World War II, and now rule over the USA. This book stood out to me for two reasons: I love reading Dystopias and I am also interested in the Amazon Prime series (I’m a stickler for reading the book before adaptations).
I’ll admit, it was harder than I expected to follow the plot because the book regularly switched between various characters, to allow exploration of Dystopian America through different sets of eyes. However, I just wasn’t able to engage with some of these characters – like Tagomi, Childan and Baynes.
The plotlines I enjoyed the most were the stories of Frank and Juliana, an estrange married couple, who have different lives and face different struggles. This reminded me very much of Winston Smith and his estranged wife Katharine in Orwell’s masterful Dystopia, 1984.
I also noticed other similarities to 1984, such as a subversive writer (Hawthorne Abendsen / Emmanuel Goldstein) who pens a book that challenges the totalitarian state and seeks to reveal the truth (The Grasshopper Lies Heavy / The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism).
Dystopian fiction such as The Man In The High Castle seems all the more important, given the current political climate in America. It demonstrates how extreme certain individual’s views on race can become, and the dangers of redefining what “truths” and “facts” are – I’m sure plenty of people have already drawn parallels between Nazi Germany and Trump’s America.
What I found most enjoyable about The Man In The High Castle is its blend of fact and fiction – sometimes it is so seamless, I’m incredibly thankful that I studied Hitler and the Third Reich for my History A Level to be able to pick apart what is genuine historical evidence, and what is a distorted version of events. This is exacerbated when some of the characters begin to see through the façade of totalitarian America. The glass shatters, the curtain is pulled back, and they see the “facts” for what they are: lies.
The ending of the book is very open-ended, and I’m left with lots of questions. Normally, I prefer neat endings, because most open-endings I read are more like weak cliff-hangers. However, I don’t dislike the ending to The Man In The High Castle – it’s given me lots to think about – I want to go away and read more about the book, its plot, its world and its themes.
I found 1984 entertaining, The Man In The High Castle fascinating, and you should read both.