It seems almost impossible to avoid seeing anything about the new Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle” and it made me curious enough to read the novel by Philip K. Dick, on which it is based. One of my goals with CBR7 was to try new writers and genres and I know PKD was in there somewhere. It wasn’t all that pressing though, so I thought I could take my time and scout around for a used copy of one of the fine Library of America compilations of his work. It’s December and I haven’t found one yet, so I snagged a paperback copy of this one novel to get me started.
The big question is: what if FDR was assassinated in 1934 and the allies didn’t win the war? In this imagining, America has been carved up by the axis powers, thus obliterating whatever American identity that had survived. On the west coast, citizens are micromanaged by their Japanese overlords and in the east it’s Nazi Germany taking the reigns, leaving a sliver of a neutral zone in the middle. Many of the main characters make all their decisions based on the I Ching. There’s a book-within-a-book (in the series I understand that has been changed to a film). And finally, a mish mash of often inscrutable characters staggering from one scene to the next. While I appreciate what PKD was doing here, I just couldn’t bring myself to care too much about what the characters were going through. It won’t dissuade me from trying other works by this beloved writer, though.