The Man in the High Castle
|Author||Philip K. Dick|
|Genre||alternative history, science fiction, philosophical fiction|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
The Man in the High Castle (1962), by Philip K. Dick, is an alternative history novel wherein the Axis Powers won the Second World War. The story occurs in 1962, fifteen years after the end of the war in 1947, and depicts the political intrigues between Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany as they rule the partitioned United States. The plot includes The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a novel-within-the-novel, which is an alternative history of the Second World War wherein the Allies defeat the Axis Powers.
Dick's thematic inspirations include the alternative history of the U.S. civil war, Bring the Jubilee (1953), by Ward Moore, and the I Ching, a Chinese book of divination that features in the story and the actions of the characters. As a work of science fiction literature, The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963, and was adapted to television as The Man in the High Castle in 2015.
The story of The Man in the High Castle is an alternative US history wherein Giuseppe Zangara’s assassination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1933, allowed the continuation of the Great Depression and the continuation of the policies of United States non-interventionism at the start of the Second World War in 1939. Therefore, US inaction facilitated Nazi Germany’s conquest and annexation of continental Europe and the Soviet Union into the Greater Germanic Reich, which then facilitated the Holocaust exterminations of the Jews, the Romani people, the Slavs, homosexuals, and all other peoples whom the Nazis considered subhuman. The Axis Powers jointly conquered Africa. Imperial Japan expanded the Japanese colonial empire with occupations of Eastern Asia and of Oceania, and invaded the West Coast of the United States while Nazi Germany invaded the East Coast of the United States; the surrender of the Allies ended the Second World War in 1947.
By the 1960s, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany are the superpowers of the world, yet are fighting a geopolitical cold war between themselves, over their respective territorial occupations of the former US in North America. Japan extended the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere with the establishment of the Pacific States of America (PSA), composed of the states on the Pacific Ocean coast, which the politically neutral Rocky Mountain States separate from the Nazi states on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Nazi North America is composed of two countries: (i) The South, which is ruled by a collaborationist pro–Nazi puppet regime; and (ii) the north, which is the United States of America, ruled by a Nazi military governor. Moreover, Canada remains an independent country, despite having been one of the anti-Nazi Allies in the lost war.
The aged Hitler is incapacitated by tertiary syphilis, Martin Bormann is the acting Chancellor of Germany, and the inner-circle Nazis — Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring, Arthur Seyss-Inquart — vie to succeed Hitler as the Führer of the Greater Germanic Reich. Technologically, the Nazis have drained the Mediterranean Sea for lebensraum and farmland, developed and used the hydrogen bomb, developed rockets for travelling throughout the world and into outer space, such as the colonization missions to the Moon, and to the planets Venus and Mars.
The principal setting of The Man in the High Castle is the city of San Francisco, in the Pacific States of America, where Japanese judicial racism has enslaved Black people and reduced the Chinese residents into second-class citizens; secondary settings of the story are in the buffer zone of the Rocky Mountain States. In 1962, fifteen years after Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany won World War II, in the Pacific States of America, the businessman Robert Childan owns an antiques shop that specializes in Americana for a Japanese clientele who fetishize cultural artifacts of the former USA. One day, Childan receives a request from Nobusuke Tagomi, a high-rank trade official, who seeks a gift to impress a Swedish industrialist named Baynes. In fact, Childan can readily fulfil Tagomi's request, because the shop is well-stocked with counterfeit antiques made by the metal works Wyndam-Matson Corporation.
Recently fired from his job at a Wyndam-Matson factory in San Francisco, Frank Frink (formerly Fink) is a secret Jew and war veteran who agrees to join a former co-worker to start a business making and selling jewellery. Meanwhile, in the Rocky Mountain States, Frank's ex-wife, Juliana Frink, works as a judo instructress in Canon City, Colorado, and, in her private life, has entered a sexual relationship with Joe Cinnadella, an Italian truck driver and ex-soldier. Throughout the plot of The Man in the High Castle, the characters make important decisions based upon their interpretations of prophetic messages from the I Ching, a Chinese book of divination. Some characters also secretly read The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a novel of speculative fiction that presents an alternative history of World War II, wherein the Allies defeat the Axis Powers, for which reason the Nazis ban the novel in the United States of America, yet the Japanese allow the publication and sale of the novel in the Pacific States of America.
Threatening to expose the Wyndam-Matson Corporation's supplying counterfeit antiques to the dealer Childan, Frink blackmails Wyndam-Matson for money to finance his jewelry business. Tagomi and Baynes meet; but Baynes repeatedly delays conducting any real business because he awaits a third-party from Japan. Suddenly, the Nazi news media inform the public of the death of the Chancellor of Nazi Germany, Martin Bormann, after a short illness. Childan takes some of Frink's “authentic metalwork” jewellry on consignment, to curry favour with a Japanese client, who, to Childan's surprise, says that the jewellery possesses much Wu, spiritual awareness. Juliana and Joe travel by road to Denver, Colorado, but en route Joe impulsively decides that they take a side-trip to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to meet Hawthorne Abendsen, the mysterious author of the novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy; supposedly, Abendsen lives in a guarded estate named the High Castle. Suddenly, the Nazi news media inform the public that Joseph Goebbels is the new Chancellor of Nazi Germany.
After much delay, Baynes and Tagomi meet their Japanese contact, while the Nazi security service, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), are close to arresting Baynes, because he actually is Rudolf Wegener, a Nazi defector. Baynes warns his contact, a Japanese general, of the existence of Operation Dandelion, a Goebbels-approved plan for the Nazi sneak attack upon the Japanese Home Islands meant to definitively destroy the Empire of Japan. Frink is exposed as a secret Jew, and he is arrested by the San Francisco police. Elsewhere, two SD agents confront Baynes and Tagomi, who uses his antique American pistol to kill both Nazi agents. In Colorado, Joe abruptly changes his appearance and mannerisms before the side-trip to the High Castle in Wyoming; Juliana infers that Joe intends to assassinate Abendsen. Joe reveals himself to be a Swiss Nazi when he confirms his intention, and then Juliana mortally wounds Joe and goes to warn Abendsen.
Wegener flies back to Germany and learns that Reinhard Heydrich (a member of the faction against Operation Dandelion) has launched a coup d’état against Goebbels, to likely install himself as Chancellor of Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, Tagomi is emotionally shaken by having killed the SD agents, and later goes to the antiques shop to sell back the pistol to Childan; instead, sensing the spiritual energy from one of Frink's jewellry creations, Tagomi impulsively buys the jewellry from Childan. Tagomi then undergoes an intense spiritual experience during which he momentarily perceives an alternative-history version of San Francisco, evidenced by the Embarcadero, which Tagomi had never seen, and by the fact that white people do not defer to Japanese people.
Tagomi later meets with the German consul in San Francisco, and compels the Germans to free the imprisoned Frink, whom Tagomi has never met, by refusing to sign the order of extradition to Nazi Germany. Juliana has a spiritual experience when she arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the Rocky Mountain States. She discovers that Abendsen lives with his family in a normal house, having abandoned the High Castle, because of a changed outlook on life; thus the possibility of being assassinated no longer worries Abendsen. After evading Juliana's questions about his literary inspiration, Abendsen says that he used the I Ching to guide his writing of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Before leaving, Juliana infers then that Truth wrote the novel to reveal the Inner Truth that Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany did lose the Second World War in 1945.
The Grasshopper Lies Heavy
Several characters in The Man in the High Castle read the popular novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, by Hawthorne Abendsen, which title the readers presume derives from The Bible verse fragment: "The grasshopper shall be a burden" (Ecclesiastes 12:5). As an alternative history of the Second World War, wherein the Allies defeat the Axis Powers, the Nazi regime banned The Grasshopper Lies Heavy in The South, whereas the Pacific States of America do allow the publication and sale of the Abensen's counterfactual novel.: 91
The Grasshopper Lies Heavy postulates that President F.D. Roosevelt survived the assassination attempt against him in 1933, and then chose to forgo re-election in 1940. The next president, Rexford Tugwell, removes the US Pacific Fleet from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saving it from attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy, which ensures that the US is equipped to fight the Second World War.: 70 Having retained most of their military-industrial capabilities, the UK contributed more to the Allied war effort, which facilitated the defeat of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in the North African Campaign. The British fight the Axis armies through the Caucasus to join the Soviet Union and defeat the Nazis in the Battle of Stalingrad; the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Hungary each reneged their membership in the Axis, and then betrayed the Nazis; and the British Army joined the Red Army in the Battle of Berlin, the decisive defeat of Nazi Germany. At War's end, in 1945, Hitler and the Nazi leaders are tried as war criminals and are put to death.: 131
After the war, President Tugwell promulgates the New Deal for the countries of the world, which finances a decade of rebuilding in China; and the education of illiterate peoples in the undeveloped countries of Africa and Asia, who received television sets by which they are taught to read and write, are instructed in digging wells, and in purifying water. The New Deal financial assistance facilitates American businesses building factories in the undeveloped countries of Asia and Africa. The society of the US is peaceful and harmonious within itself, and is at peace with the other countries of the world; whereas the War ended the Soviet Union. Ten years after the war, still headed by Winston Churchill, the British Empire becomes militaristic and anti-American, and establishes prison camps in India to imprison Chinese subjects considered disloyal to the British Empire. Suspecting that the US is sponsoring the anti-colonial subversion of British colonial rule in Asia, Churchill provokes a cold war between the UK and the US for global hegemony; geopolitical rivalry consequently leads to an Anglo–American war won by the UK.: 169–172
The novelist Philip K. Dick said that he conceptualised the story of The Man in the High Castle (1962) from his reading of the novel Bring the Jubilee (1953), by Ward Moore, which is an alternative history of the north-south U.S. civil war won by the Confederacy. In the acknowledgements page of The Man in the High Castle, Dick mentions the thematic influences of the popular history The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (1960), by William L. Shirer; the biography Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1952), by Alan Bullock; The Goebbels Diaries (1948); Foxes of the Desert (1960), by Paul Carrell; and the 1950 translation of the I Ching, by Richard Wilhelm. As a novelist, P.K. Dick used the I Ching to craft the themes, plot, and story of The Man in the High Castle, wherein the characters also use the I Ching to inform and guide their decisions.
Dick cites the thematic influences of Japanese and Tibetan poetry upon the narrative of The Man in the High Castle; (i) The haiku in page 48 of the novel is from the first volume of the Anthology of Japanese Literature (1955), edited by Donald Keene; (ii) the waka poem in page 135 is from Zen and Japanese Culture (1955), by D. T. Suzuki; and (iii) the Tibetan book of the dead, the Bardo Thodol (1960), edited by Walter Evans-Wentz; and mentions the sociologic influences of the expressionist novella Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), by Nathanael West, in which an unhappy newspaper reporter pseudonymously writes the “Miss Lonelyhearts” advice column, through which he dispenses advice to emotionally forlorn readers during the Great Depression. Despite his job as Miss Lonelyhearts, the reporter seeks consolation in religion, sexual promiscuity, rural vacations, and much work; no activity provides him with a sense of personal authenticity derived from his intellectual and emotional engagement with the world.: 118
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."
The Man in the High Castle secured for Dick the 1963 Hugo Award for Best Novel. In a review of a paperback reprint of the novel, Robert Silverberg wrote in Amazing Stories magazine, "Dick's prose crackles with excitement, his characters are vividly real, his plot is stunning."
In The Religion of Science Fiction, Frederick A. Kreuziger explores the theory of history implied by Dick's creation of the two alternative realities:
Neither of the two worlds, however, the revised version of the outcome of WWII nor the fictional account of our present world, is anywhere near similar to the world we are familiar with. But they could be! This is what the book is about. The book argues that this world, described twice, although differently each time, is exactly the world we know and are familiar with. Indeed, it is the only world we know: the world of chance, luck, fate.
An unabridged The Man in the High Castle audiobook, read by George Guidall and running approximately 9.5 hours over seven audio cassettes, was released in 1997. Another unabridged audiobook version was released in 2008 by Blackstone Audio, read by Tom Wyner (credited as Tom Weiner) and running approximately 8.5 hours over seven CDs. A third unabridged audiobook recording was released in 2014 by Brilliance Audio, read by Jeff Cummings with a running time of 9 hours 58 minutes.
After a number of attempts to adapt the book to the screen, in October 2014, Amazon's film production unit began filming the pilot episode of The Man in the High Castle in Roslyn, Washington, for release through 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 February 18, 2015, Amazon green-lit the series. The show became available for streaming on November 20, 2015.
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 The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, a collection of his essays and other writings. Eventually, Dick admitted that the proposed sequel became an unrelated novel, The Ganymede Takeover, co-written with Ray Nelson (known for writing the short story filmed as They Live).
Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth 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 can prevent Abendsen from finishing his novel.
The novel eventually became 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. Radio Free Albemuth was published in 1985, three years after Dick's death.
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