Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Outside the circles of serious science fiction fans, Philip K. Dick is mostly known as the author of the books that the movies Blade Runner and Minority Report were based on. Science fiction fans know him as one of the most inventive and best writers in the genre. I would go a step further and say that he is one of the most important writers of his era, which is the early 1960s through the early 1980s.

It has always been a bit of a puzzle to me that science fiction authors are always thought of as being a bit "minor league" by the literary establishment. Writers like Dick, Ray Bradbury and Robert Silverburg belie this theory.

"The Man In The High Castle" is widely viewed as Philip K. Dick's masterpiece. Originally published in 1962 it is one of the first of the now prevalent alternate history sub genre and it's basic premise is that America came out on the losing end of World War II and is now under the split control of Japan and Germany.

Like most of Dick's best work, this is a thought provoking work of social commentary and solid fiction writing that left me with as many questions as it did answers. I had to resist the urge to immediatly go back and read it again.


Indeterminacy said...

I'm hearing so much about Philip P. Dick these days. It's strange because in the 70's while in high school, I really got into science fiction - I'd stand in front of the scifi section in the bookstores for hours trying to pick out which book to read next. I just bought what sounded interesting and if I liked the author I stuck with him - those were Robert Sheckley, Clifford D. Simak and Philip Jose Farmer. I read a book by Dick but remember not liking it at the tim. Maybe I wasn't ready - or maybe his style was dark and humorless. I think that's why I didn't like the particular work. But this post is the last straw, and I'll have to give him another chance.

D.T. Holt said...

I kind of did the same thing, only my authors were Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and Robert Silverberg. I remember when the movie "Blade Runner" came out, I tried reading Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," the book that the movie is based on. I was in my late teens at the time and, for some reason, I just couldn't get behind it. Later I read "The World That Jones Made," and fell in love with his style. I definitely agree that his style is very dark but there is an underlying cynical humour that creeps up in some of his best work.