This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that first established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction, breaking the barrier between genre fiction and the serious novel of ideas. Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to awake.
©1962 Philip K. Dick; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Dick is entertaining us about reality and madness, time and death, sin and salvation....We have our own homegrown Borges." (Ursula K. LeGuin)
PKD is known for his ephemeral, quasi-spiritual stories that are set in the future. With the Man in the High Castle (MITHC), we get an alternative history that is firmly rooted in reality. This seems to be an exploration by Dick into the human spirit and experience. The author strikes an interesting nerve by forcing Western (particularly, North Americans) into musing what it'd be like to be one of the least powerful nations in the world.
In my humble opinion, this is the best of dick and could easily be enjoyed by non-PKD and/or non-Sci-Fi fans.
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. At times, the names of places, persons, and historic events were confusing, but not so much as to spoil the story. I imagine the book would be much more enjoyable for someone who knew more about World War II. I certainly knew very little about it prior to the book but still had a lot of fun listening to it.
The reader was OK. The voice acting of the different dialects, especially Japanese, at times were on the verge of being comical. Still, I've heard worse. Overall, the reading is very much listenable, and the great story-telling makes up for any negative points in the reading.
This engaging novel was spoiled for me by the reader's almost unendurable monotone. There was a little intonation, at the end of each sentence, the last word falling in pitch. Each sentence the same. It's evident in the sample, check it out.
I looked forward to when he would put on an accent, just for a break.
Make sure you can listen to this guy before you get this book.
I loved the story, but it was tough to follow at times. I didn't like the reader at all, especially when he did accents. For a lesser story I probably would have given up, but this was such an interesting concept that I kept going. At one point I had to go back an hour or so to re-listen, because I'd lost track of all the characters.
In the end it was worth it. The ending was kind of open-ended, but I liked it that way.
I read this and enjoyed book ages ago, but this narration made it impossible to finish. The book deserves a much better reader!
This was an excellent example of Dick's preoccupation with the nature of reality. I thought it was interesting, but the narration was simply too brisk and monotone for me to enjoy it, although the German pronunciation was well done. Owing to its rushed narration and relatively complex characterization and themes, I would recommend reading the book instead.
I’ve tried to finish this book four or five times and never made it. Tom Weiner’s narration makes this book unlistenable; his attempts at accents set the standard for bad narration!!!
The story is one of PKD’s classics. I’m going to buy the paperback so I can enjoy the story and find out how it ends.
Commodities broker, father, husband, and avid scifi/fantasy/self help fan.
At times, Philip K. Dick can write. No, I mean REALLY write. Every word useful. Descriptive. VERY old school writing. A bit stiff at times, but that's part of his charm.
I've always thought that his novel, "The Man In The High Castle" would make a great movie. Just the premise, not even the plot, almost demands it. Consider the following:
Imagine if you will, a VERY different outcome of World War Two, one in which the Nazis are utterly triumphant. America, and rest of the world are totally changed, both in purpose and significance. The Nazis reign supreme.
But, really, is this believable?
My studies at Loyola University included an extremely unappreciated and utterly fantastic course on the Third Reich and its historical significance. Trust me, or look it up yourself. There are many key junctures in World War Two that could have easily gone a different direction, one in which Nazi Germany would have won the war. Want to know more? Read up on Hitler's Chief Architech and eventual Minister of Armaments and War Production, Herr Albert Speer, in his biography, "Inside the Third Reich," and you'll agree. There were countless opportunities for Hitler to win the war, but poor decisions, Mother Nature, poorly interpreted orders, and sheer greed, to name a few, worked in the allies favor.
Do I have a point? Definitely.
This is a book about what could have EASILY happened. So much so, it's a bit scary.
The idea of this book, therefore, is very sound, and quite believable. So, is it a good read? it is, and thoughtful, because of what happens much later in the story. What is that exactly? Listen for yourself. You won't find any hints here.
For such an interesting premise, it's got all the makings for a good listen expect one. I just did not like the narrator. Some narrators take to task with gusto and originality. Not so here. This book simply BEGS for a great narrator. For example, I would have used one of my favorites, David Drummond, on this audiobook. He would have done this work justice, just as he did for Salvatore's audiobook, "The Sword of Bedwyr," a FANTASTIC listen.
So, I feel that the decision to go with Weiner instead of true top shelf talent such as Drummond hurt this audiobook.
If you count on good narration such as I do, get over it. Remember the single most important reason to get this audiobook: At times, Philip K. Dick can write.
And this is definitely one of those times.
The powerful ideas of this weirdly compelling novel were expressed in an almost telegraphic narrative style, blowing my thoughts in so many different directions that I felt like a wind vane in a tornado. There are multiple principle characters, each with a completely different world view, cultural background, and plot line. One minute you’re inside the head of a Nazi racist (in this alt-history novel, the Axis powers won WWII), the next you’re following a Jew who is hiding his identity and trying to live a normal life in the Japanese-controlled western U.S. Another character is an antiquities dealer making a living off his wealthy Japanese clientele, which requires him to outwardly adopt their mannerisms if not understand what really makes them tick. I thought of him as the “Vichy” collaborator, the Captain Renault of this story. Following these and other characters through their lives gives the author, Philip K. Dick, multiple opportunities to throw out marvelous observations on everything from bigotry to craftsmanship to women’s clothing.
These characters are placed in a setting that allows for critiques of current events, and Dick is clearly concerned with the major events of his day (1962), particularly the Cold War. He skewers the space race as a political smokescreen meant to distract the public from real problems. The annihilation of all humankind courtesy of nuclear weapons is also clearly on his mind.
But this novel is also oh-so-meta. It seems that nowadays every book, movie and TV show (especially the TV shows) are constantly breaking the fourth wall and winking at the fact that it knows it is a TV show and it knows you know it is a TV show. But back in the early ‘60s this must have been a very strange, almost revolutionary concept. I suppose this is one of the major reasons the book won a Hugo. The eponymous man in the high castle is the author of an alt-history novel in which the Allies won WWII and all of the characters are reading the book and interpreting it in their own way. This sort of self-aware writing creates in me a not unpleasant sensation of looking over my own shoulder, watching myself read, feeling myself actively thinking about how Dick managed to create this complex hall of mirrors and keep it all from shattering.
But alongside the many brilliant ideas and passages in this novel, there were some notable failures as well. Many times I felt like the characters’ reactions to things were very unrealistic. This kept me from empathizing very much with any of them. But a bigger problem for me was the pervasive referencing of the I Ching throughout the narrative. Nearly every character consults the I Ching in order to decide what to do next. This reminded me strongly of Nova by Samuel R. Delany, in which characters were constantly consulting Tarot cards. I have heard anecdotally that Dick consulted the I Ching while he wrote this book. I didn’t know that at the time I was reading, but for this reader the frequent I Ching references felt like an intrusion from the outside world, possibly an obsession of Dick’s, into the narrative. In other words, breaking the fourth wall in an unpleasant way that didn’t add anything to the story. Instead, these references now feel anachronistic and ultimately led me to give the novel four, rather than five, stars. [I listened to this as an audio book narrated by Tom Weiner, who did a credible job of reproducing the affectless voices of the characters along with all their various accents—Japanese, German, Italian.]
The story took a while to catch me. As is tangentially discussed in the story itself, it is more an alternative history story than a science fiction story. The characters are interesting, if sometimes their motivations seem implausible.
The voice performance definitely detracts from the story. The story itself is somewhere in the 3-4 star range, but Weiner's voice was a constant annoyance throughout.
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