Saturday, 10 September 2016

Flashback Friday - The Man in the High Castle

Who is the man who resides in the high castle, why do the Nazi's want him dead, and why does everyone who reads a book written by him have the strong feeling that things aren't what they seem?

The Man in the High Castle is written by Philip K. Dick. He sounds familiar because he wrote many novels from the 50's all the way until his death in 1982, the most notable being Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which became Bladerunner), We Can Remember it for You Wholesale (which became Total Recall), Minority Report (film by the same name), and the list goes on. He was important because his ideas still stand up today; dystopian futures, inter-planetary travel, and his most personal novel, A Scanner Darkly, dealing with drugs and the effects they have on individuals and the country in general.

The Man in the High Castle is an alternative history novel where the Nazi's had won the Second World War, and America is now split into Nazi Germany occupying the Eastern States up till the Rocky Mountains, and Japan now occupying the Pacific States. Thirteen years after the end of the war and things are back to "normal". That is until a book surfaces. In this book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, the writer talks about an alternative history... where the Allied forces won the Second World War! Anyone who reads the book is filled with a hope that the world they know isn't what it seems, and that this "alternative" present isn't how things should be. Because of this notion the Nazi's want the writer of the book, Hawthorne Abendsen, killed.

The novel follows a number of different characters, each dealing with prejudices and coping with their day-to-day lives. But they feel the need to change things, consulting an ancient Chinese prophetic technique called the I Ching, they make decisions that change the course of their lives.

Once you get your head around the concept of a book inside a book that has its footing in the world we know then you can let this beautifully crafted novel take you to a different place and time, when things are bad but there is still hope.

After watching the TV series of The Man in the High Castle there are yet many more questions unanswered, but because of the type of novel it is there will always be questions. And to go with those questions there is thought and interpretation, and ultimately, opinions.
The series is a beautifully shot masterpiece, with a starkly film noir feel, and intriguing from start to finish.

Craig McLearie

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