What would life be like if the Allies had lost the Second World War? In an imaginative alternate reality, Philip K. Dick creates a world in which Japan occupies America, and the Nazis are moving their totalitarian conquest on to the solar system.
From out of this far-fetched yet compelling fiction stems a number of interrelated tales, as Japanese officials, American labourers and German spies search for meaning in a world of changed cultures and oppressive conquest.
Dick’s imaginative portrayal of this post-war world lends very much to a warped mirrored image of our own reality. As opposed to an American influence spreading across the world, there is instead a strong focus on Asian traditions, the author going so far as to change his very writing style with certain characters, to hint at a Japanese form of English.
In a delicate balance, The Man in the High Castle explores the outcomes of a victorious occupation immersing the population in Japanese culture, whilst maintaining a confusion of underlying American ideals. It is from this mismatch of east meeting west that a series of lost souls search for meaning in America, as so many pilgrims of the present and past.
For all it’s alternative vision, the message of this peice is however resoundingly clear. Regardless of the passage of history, of who wins which war and who remains in power, humanity never changes.
Length: 256 (Penguin Classics)
Overall Rating: 4 stars