Newest Review: ... kind of thriller you might expect from the genre; rather it's about the daily life of three characters - Frank and Julia Frink, an estrang... more
Member Name: Puggers
The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
Advantages: Intriguing, well-written.
This kind of thing's been done several times to varying effect - Robert Harris's Fatherland a memorable take on the theme. What if the Allies had lost the Second World War? In Phillip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle, the story unfolds in Japanese-controlled San Francisco; the USA having been carved up between Japan and Nazi Germany. This isn't the kind of thriller you might expect from the genre; rather it's about the daily life of three characters - Frank and Julia Frink, an estranged couple with their own personal quests, and Nobusuke Tagomi, a businessman who comes to question the accepted rules of society.
It's in many ways a low-key book; in keeping with the portrayal of the Japanese culture imposed on the US, it's delivered in an indirect, formal style ... this works well, though. It seems to get across the atmosphere of the time and the place more effectively than a fast-moving plot would.
The story is essentially driven by a revolutionary, shocking book written by the eponymous Man in the High Castle, a Hawthorne Abendsen who lives in the buffer zone between Japanese and German America. This novel posits a world in which the Allies won the Second World War, an alternative reality that is at once tantalising and uncomfortable for those living under Japanese control.
It's a gripping, fascinating novel that asks intriguing questions - and is in some ways better than Robert Harris's novel. It might lack the pace and action, but it portrays a more realistic world in which the winning side aren't all villains but normal people, and the new world isn't necessarily a bad place for those on the losing side. It's a curious book, but one well worth investing time in.
Summary: A curious classic.