Review: The Man In the High Castle

I’ve been slowly working on reading the complete works of Philip K. Dick, maybe two books a year.  He is one of my absolute favorite authors, and thus I’m sort of ashamed to be getting to the Man in the High Castle, one of his most well known and well regarded works, so late.  I’m happy to report that the novel lived up to much of the hype, becoming one of the few works of alternate history I thoroughly enjoyed.

Very roughly stated, this is a novel in which the axis powers won world war two and divide up the globe accordingly.  What set the story apart, enough so that it won Dick his only major science fiction award (a slight now made up for by naming an award in his honor) is the multiple narrative structure that Dick employs.  This is a technique he used in quite a few of his better novels, A Martian Time-Slip comes to mind, but this is where it may be put to it’s best use.  Every character is fully realized and they all have their own perspectives on the world of the novel that grants the reader an incredibly nuanced feel for the environment, especially consider this is such a short book.

This is not quite at the top of my list of Dick’s works, but it’s very close.  At Readercon (yet again), Jonathan Lethem mentioned that this is his book that is most likely to make a new reader want to seek out another of his novels.  I think I agree with that assessment, and Dick is very much an author that more people should read.

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