The Man in the High Castle
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Cover of first edition (hardcover)
|Author||Philip K. Dick|
|January 1, 1962|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
The Man in the High Castle (1962) is an alternate history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, fifteen years after an alternate ending to World War II in which the war lasted until 1947, the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule. The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.
Reported inspirations include Ward Moore's alternate Civil War history, Bring the Jubilee (1953), various classic World War II histories, and the I Ching (referred to in the novel). The novel features a "novel within the novel" comprising an alternate history within this alternate history wherein the Allies defeat the Axis (though in a manner distinct from the actual historical outcome).
Briefly, this is a "fictional picture of a world divided by Germany and Japan, winners of the second World War."
The assassination of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 led to the weak governments of John Nance Garner (formerly FDR's Vice President) and subsequently of Republican John W. Bricker in 1941. Both failed to lead the country to recovery from the Great Depression and also maintained the country's isolationist policy against participating in World War II; thus, the US had insufficient military capabilities to defend itself against Japan in the Pacific. The Nazis conquered the Soviet Union and exterminated most of its Slavic peoples; allowing a few to live in reservations. In the Pacific, the Japanese destroyed the US Navy fleet in a decisive attack on Pearl Harbor, then conquered Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania during the early 1940s. Afterwards, the Axis Powers, attacking from opposite coasts, conquered the coastal US and by 1947, the US and the remaining Allied forces had surrendered to the Axis.
Japan established the occupied Pacific States of America out of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, parts of Nevada and Washington as part of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The remaining Mountain, Great Plains, and Southwestern states became the Rocky Mountain States, a buffer between the PSA and the remaining US, now a racially purged Nazi puppet state. Having defeated the Allies, the Third Reich and Imperial Japan became the world's superpowers and embarked upon a Cold War. After Adolf Hitler's syphilitic incapacitation, German Chancellor Martin Bormann assumed power as Führer of Germany. Bormann created a colonial empire to increase Germany's Lebensraum by using technology to drain the Mediterranean Sea and convert it into farmland (see Atlantropa), while Arthur Seyss-Inquart also oversees the colonization of Africa and extermination of most of its inhabitants. The Reich sends spaceships to colonize Mars and other parts of the solar system. Operation Dandelion concerns the plan for a preemptive Nazi nuclear strike on Japan. The Nazis have the hydrogen bomb and the ability to wipe out the Japanese archipelago. Their nuclear energy capabilities also fuel extremely fast rocket air travel and the colonization of the Moon, Venus and Mars. Soon after the novel begins, Bormann dies, initiating a power struggle between Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring and other top Nazis to succeed him as Reichskanzler.
The Grasshopper Lies Heavy
Several characters in The Man in the High Castle read the popular novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, by Hawthorne Abendsen, whose title is assumed or supposed to have come from the Bible verse: "The grasshopper shall be a burden" (Ecclesiastes 12:5). Thus, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy constitutes a novel within a novel, wherein Abendsen writes of an alternate universe, where the Axis powers lost World War II (1939–1947). For this reason, the Germans have banned the novel in the occupied US but it is widely read in the Pacific and its publication is legal in the neutral countries.
The Grasshopper Lies Heavy postulates that President Roosevelt survives assassination but forgoes re-election in 1940, honoring George Washington's two-term limit. The next president, Rexford Tugwell, removes the Pacific fleet from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saving it from Japanese attack, which ensures that the US enters the conflict a well-equipped naval power. The United Kingdom retains most of its military-industrial strength, contributing more to the Allied war effort, leading to Rommel's defeat in North Africa; the British advance through the Caucasus to fight alongside the Soviets to victory in the Battle of Stalingrad; Italy reneges on its membership in the Axis Powers and betrays them; British tanks and the Red Army jointly conquer Berlin; at the end of the war, the Nazi leaders—including Adolf Hitler—are tried for their war crimes; the Führer's last words are Deutsche, hier steh' ich ("Germans, here I stand"), in imitation of Martin Luther.
After the war, Winston Churchill remains the UK's leader and because of its military-industrial might, the British Empire does not collapse; the US establishes strong business relations with Chiang Kai-shek's right-wing regime in China, after vanquishing the Communist Mao Zedong. The British Empire becomes racist and more expansionist post-war, while the US outlaws Jim Crow, resolving its racism by the 1950s. Both changes provoke racial-cultural tensions between the US and the UK, leading them to a Cold War for global hegemony between the two vaguely liberal, democratic, capitalist societies. Although the end of the novel is never depicted in the text, one character claims the book ends with the British Empire eventually defeating the US, becoming the world superpower.
The Man in the High Castle focuses on a loose collection of characters. Some know each other, others are connected in indirect ways as they all cope with living under totalitarianism. Three characters guide their lives using the I Ching:
- Nobusuke Tagomi is the ranking Trade Mission lead in Japanese San Francisco. Events unfold so as to drag him into both central and peripheral conflicts beyond his control. Eventually he will have to take violent action against German agents, in conflict with his Buddhist upbringing, and rebel against Nazi authority, before glimpsing an alternative reality much closer to our own.
- Frank Frink, a veteran of the Pacific War, has just been fired by the Wyndham-Matson Corporation, where he worked on forging pre-war Americana artifacts for sale to Japanese tourists who romanticize the American past. He sets up a business making original jewellery with former colleague Ed McCarthy. He conceals his Jewish roots (his real surname is Fink) to avoid extermination in a Nazi camp.
- Ed McCarthy is Frink's former colleague who starts the jewellery business with him. Their enigmatic creations strangely move the Americans and Japanese who see them.
- Hawthorne Abendsen is the eponymous man in the high castle, and the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.
- Juliana Frink, a judo instructor, is Frank's ex-wife. While living in Cañon City, Colorado, she starts a sexual relationship with Joe Cinnadella. She realises he is an assassin hired by the Nazis to kill Abendsen, at which point she has a psychotic episode and cuts his throat, leaving him to die. She then travels to Abendsen's home to the final revelation about the writing of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy and its significance.
- Joe Cinnadella is the false identity of the Nazi spy tasked with assassinating Hawthorne Abendsen.
- Robert Childan owns American Artistic Handcrafts, an Americana antiques business on Montgomery Street in San Francisco, supplied in part by Wyndham-Matson, Inc. He believes the items he sells are genuine, but cannot distinguish the authentic from the counterfeit. Childan has adopted many of the manners and ways of thinking, as well as the English speech patterns, of the Japanese occupiers. However, he is privately contemptuous of the Japanese, retaining his pre-war racist beliefs and reserving his real admiration for the Nazis.
- Wyndam-Matson muses about the difference between a real antique and a reproduction antique; via his mistress, he introduces the novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy to the plot and is the plot device used to show the initial differences of opinion in the novel regarding the authentic and the false.
- Rudolf Wegener, a Captain in Reich Naval Counter-Intelligence, travelling as Mr. Baynes, a Swedish industrialist. He is in San Francisco to meet Tagomi and Japanese General Tedeki. He wishes to warn Japan of the Nazi plan for a pre-emptive attack, operation Löwenzahn (Dandelion). Wegener backs Heydrich, who is opposed to Löwenzahn, over Goebbels, and is seeking to enlist Japanese support.
- General Tedeki, travelling as Mr. Yatabe, is the high-ranked Japanese military contact that Wegener meets.
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Dick said he conceived The Man in the High Castle when reading Bring the Jubilee (1953), by Ward Moore, which occurs in an alternate nineteenth-century US wherein the Confederate States of America won the American Civil War. In the acknowledgments, he mentions other influences: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960), by William L. Shirer; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1962), by Alan Bullock; The Goebbels Diaries (1948), Louis P. Lochner, translator; Foxes of the Desert (1960), by Paul Carrell; and the I Ching (1950), Richard Wilhelm, translator.[full citation needed][verification needed]
The acknowledgments have three references to traditional Japanese and Tibetan poetic forms; (i) volume one of the Anthology of Japanese Literature (1955), edited by Donald Keene, from which is cited the haiku on page 48; (ii) from Zen and Japanese Culture (1955), by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, from which is cited a waka on page 135; and (iii) the Tibetan Book of the Dead (1960), edited by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.
Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) is also mentioned in the text, written before the Roosevelt assassination divergence point that separates the world of The Man in the High Castle from ours. In this novella, "Miss Lonelyhearts" is a male newspaper journalist who writes anonymous advice as an agony aunt to forlorn readers during the height of the Great Depression; hence, "Miss Lonelyhearts" tries to find consolation in religion, casual sex, rural vacations and work, none of which provide him with the sense of authenticity and engagement with the outside world that he needs. West's book is about the elusive quality of interpersonal relationships and quest for personal meaning at a time of political turmoil within the United States.
Philip Dick used the I Ching to make decisions crucial to the plot of The Man in the High Castle just as characters within the novel use the I Ching to guide decisions.
|This section requires expansion with: further, broader statements aimed at encyclopedic, balanced views. (February 2014)|
Avram Davidson praised the novel as a "superior work of fiction", citing Dick's use of the I Ching as "fascinating". Davidson concluded that "It's all here—extrapolation, suspense, action, art, philosophy, plot, [and] character."
A Man in the High Castle audiobook—read by George Guidall, unabridged, approximately 9.5 hours over 7 audio cassettes—was released in 1997. Another unabridged audiobook version was released in 2008 by Blackstone Audio, read by Tom Weiner, running approximately 8.5 hours over 7 CDs.
In October 2010, the BBC announced it would co-produce a four-part TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle for BBC One together with Headline Pictures, FremantleMedia Enterprises and Scott Free Films. Ridley Scott, who directed Blade Runner, a loose adaptation of another Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was to be executive producer of the adaptation by Howard Brenton. In February 2013, Variety reported that SyFy was adapting the book as a four-part miniseries, with Ridley Scott and Frank Spotnitz as executive producers, co-produced with Scott Free Prods., Headline Pictures and Electric Shepherd Prods.
In October 2014, Amazon's film production unit began filming the pilot episode of The Man in the High Castle in Roslyn, Washington, for a new television drama to air on the Amazon Prime web video streaming service. The pilot episode was released by Amazon Studios on January 15, 2015, and was Amazon's "most watched pilot ever" according to Amazon Studios' vice president, Roy Price. On 18 February 2015, Amazon greenlit the series. The show became available for streaming on November 20, 2015.
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In a 1976 interview, Dick said he planned to write a sequel novel to The Man in the High Castle: "And so there's no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending. It will segue into a sequel sometime." Dick said that he had "started several times to write a sequel", but progressed little, because he was too disturbed by his original research for The Man in the High Castle and could not mentally bear "to go back and read about Nazis again." He suggested that the sequel would be a collaboration with another author: "Somebody would have to come in and help me do a sequel to it. Someone who had the stomach for the stamina to think along those lines, to get into the head; if you're going to start writing about Reinhard Heydrich, for instance, you have to get into his face. Can you imagine getting into Reinhard Heydrich's face?"
Two chapters of the proposed sequel were published in a collection of essays about Dick titled The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick. The chapters describe Gestapo officers reporting to Nazi Party officials about their time-travel visits to a parallel world in which the Nazi conquest has failed, but which contains nuclear weapons, available for the stealing by the Nazis back to their world. Ring of Fire, describing the emergence of a hybrid Japanese–American culture, was a working title for the novel.
On occasion, Dick said that 1967's The Ganymede Takeover began as a sequel to The Man in the High Castle, but that it did not coalesce as such. Specifically, the Ganymedans occupying the Earth began as the Imperial Japanese occupying the conquered US.
Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth also is rumored to have started as a sequel to The Man in the High Castle. Dick described the plot of this early version of Radio Free Albemuth—then titled VALISystem A—writing: "... a divine and loving ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence] ... help[s] Hawthorne Abendsen, the protagonist-author in [The Man in the High Castle], continue on in his difficult life after the Nazi secret police finally got to him... VALISystem A, located in deep space, sees to it that nothing, absolutely nothing, can prevent Abendsen from finishing his novel." The novel eventually evolved into a new story unrelated to The Man in the High Castle. Dick ultimately abandoned the Albemuth book, unpublished during his lifetime, though portions were salvaged and used for 1981's VALIS. The full book was published in 1985, three years after Dick's death.
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Belatedly I learned that Philip K. Dick of Point Reyes Station won the Hugo, the 21st World Science Fiction Convention Annual Achievement Award for the best novel of 1962.
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- Review of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick : SFFaudio
- THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE - Blackstone Audio ISBN 978-1-4332-2817-9
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- The Man in the High Castle cover art gallery
- The Man in the High Castle at the Internet Book List
- The Man in the High Castle at Worlds Without End