The Man in the High Castle

I hadn’t read this Philip K Dick book for many years, until something or other[1] reminded me of it, and I decided to buy it. I found this Penguin Modern Classics edition, which is quite nicely presented and comes with a new introduction by sf writer Eric Brown. Sadly, as is so often the case with “new” editions of older books, the actual text has not been reset, but photographically copied from an earlier edition, so the print quality is not what it might be. It is perfectly legible, though..

The book first saw the light of day in 1962[2], and is set in an alternative present, where Germany and Japan were the victors in World War II. The USA has been divided into three parts – the west occupied by Japan, the east by Germany, with a central neutral section.

We see this world through the eyes of a variety of characters, whose stories intersect. Two common threads are a cult underground novel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, set in a world where Germany and Japan lost World War II, and use of the ancient Chinese oracle, the I Ching.

This being a PKD novel, there is much strangeness, and a lot to think about, not least on the nature of reality. There is the suggestion that the world of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is in some way real[3], so what does that make the world that the characters live in? There is no conclusive answer on offer, but that in no way detracts from the book’s power.

Well worth a read.

[1] I can’t remember the trigger…
[2] An excellent year for new arrivals :laugh:
[3] Though, as described, it’s different from our world….