Monday, 15 April 2013

The Man in the High Castle


Philip K. Dick is another one of my favorite science-fiction writers. He is perhaps best known for the posthumous success of several movie adaptations based on his novels and short stories. This includes the Ridley Scott classic, Blade Runner, a 1982 movie considered by many to be the finest science-fiction movie ever made.

The Man in the High Castle is one of his most praiseworthy accomplishments. It was published in 1962, and it won the Hugo Award for Best Novel the following year. It is primarily noted for bridging the gap between the alternate history and science fiction genres. The narrative takes place fifteen years after World War II, and it features an ensemble cast in a version of history where the Axis Powers won the war.

Following the assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, the novel's timeline forks in a different direction from our own. This crucial change in history leads to the U.S. being unable to recover from the effects of the Great Depression. They are therefore unprepared for the Second World War, and the entire Navy fleet is destroyed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese conquer Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and the rest of Oceania, while Nazi Germany defeats the USSR. Thereafter, both nations continue to wage war upon the United States, until it is forced to surrender in 1947, bringing an end to the war.

By the time the story begins, the Japanese have already established themselves in the west coast, in what is known as the Pacific States of America. The Nazis on the other hand own the east coast, with a concentration camp located in New York City. Both superpowers are locked in a cold war, with the Nazis also experiencing an internal power struggle, following the death of their F├╝hrer. At the same time, the Japanese are made aware of Operation Dandelion, a plan by the radical Goebbels faction to attack Japan with nuclear weapons.

The Man in the High Castle was my first foray into alternate history, with most of its science-fiction aspects taking place in the background and outside the core story. Its depiction of the United States under a fascist regime is simultaneously intriguing and disturbing. If there ever was a novel I wanted to see adapted into film, then it's most definitely this one. Thankfully, they've been recent talks of a four-part miniseries to be produced by Ridley Scott. I really hope it doesn't get lost in development hell.

10 comments:

  1. I love PKD. He's an incredible writer and has inspired so many great movies based on his work.

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    1. Yeah. That's was precisely how I discovered his books, through their movie adaptations.

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  2. He was a favorite of mine, but I don't remember this book.

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    1. You should really check it out then. It comes highly recommended.

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  3. Hello, Michael! I've a few of PKD's short stories. The scifi world lost a great writer.

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Indeed, it did. But at least he left us with enough great stories to inspire the current and next generation of science-fiction writers.

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  4. It's funny that one way or another there would have been a Cold War.

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