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
In a world where cyclops, satyrs and nymphs are as real as the dinosaurs of the past, Relics is another creative take on the folklore and myths famous throughout humanity.
The novel follows the story of a young couple, whose comfortable lives are soon thrown ever deeper into an underground world unknown to most, where ‘relics’ remembered only in tale and lore are discovered to be only all too real. Curiosity soon turns into a fight for survival, as Angela and Vince are balanced between a fantastical world and the devastating greed of mankind.
The modern age hosts a plethora of classical mythical beings cast in a variety of ways, and Relics is certainly another example of this. Whilst the premise of the narrative is entertaining enough, the ingenuity and style required to make such a classically-fueled novel truly stand out was however somewhat lacking. With a number of clichés and some slightly forced background additions to the narrative, Relics was unfortunately missing the lustre needed to take it a level above.
Despite this, with plenty of action and a few twists and turns, Relics is still an enjoyable and creative read, told at a pace that will hold your interest from start to finish.
Length: 384 (Titan)
Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
A short yet delightful classic, written with all the civility expected of a victorian gentlemen, The Time Machine is science fiction at one of its earliest beginnings. Though the novel could certainly have been longer, there are still enough philosophical thoughts and strange imaginings to provide an enjoyable few hours of entertainment.
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