The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history novel by Philip K. Dick that envisions a world where the Axis powers emerged victorious in the Second World War. Revered as one of Dick's most significant works, it is notable for being his only novel to receive the prestigious Hugo Award. Originally published by Putnam in 1962, this Collector's Edition was published by The Easton Press and bound in full leather. Includes artwork by Richard Powers and an introduction by Richard Curtis. Collector's notes (2-sided sheet issued by the publisher) laid in.
Hardcover. Collector's Edition, First Edition thus. Octavo, full tan leather with gilt decorated front and gilt writing on spine and gilt page edges. Issued without a dust jacket. Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press, 1987. Hugo Award winner (1963). Pringle, Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels (37). Wintz & Hyde SF23.15. #11081.
Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle is a classic work in the genre of dystopian and alternative history literature. It presents a world where the Axis powers triumphed in World War II, leading to an America divided under Japanese and Nazi rule. The story is primarily set in San Francisco, now part of the Japanese-controlled Pacific States of America.
In this post-war San Francisco, Robert Childan operates an antiques shop catering to a Japanese clientele obsessed with American cultural artifacts. Childan's world is upended when he discovers that some of his prized antiques might be counterfeit, sourced from the Wyndam-Matson Corporation. This revelation intersects with the life of Frank Frink, a former Wyndam-Matson employee and Jew who must conceal his identity. Motivated by a blend of desperation and creativity, Frank starts a custom jewelry business and persuades Childan to showcase his creations. The unique designs impress one of Childan's high-end clients, who claims the jewelry possesses "Wu," or spiritual wisdom, and eventually expresses interest in mass production.
The narrative also follows Juliana Frink, Frank's ex-wife, a judo instructor in the neutral Rocky Mountain States. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she meets Joe Cinnadella, an Italian truck driver who is secretly a German operative. Joe introduces her to The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a novel by Hawthorne Abendsen that imagines an alternate history where the Allies won the war. This book within the book adds a complex layer of alternate realities, presenting a different outcome from both the actual World War II and the world of Dick's novel.
The Man in the High Castle is renowned for its intricate exploration of the nature of reality and underlying truths. Characters like Childan and Nobusuke Tagomi grapple with the concept of authenticity, both in their personal identities and in the physical objects they value. The widespread use of the I Ching, the ancient Chinese book of divination, by the characters in Dick's world, mirrors the author's own admitted reliance on the oracle during key junctures in the novel's creation.
Winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel, The Man in the High Castle marked a significant milestone in Philip K. Dick's career and remains one of his most acclaimed works. Its deeply philosophical questions about reality and truth contrast the harshness of fascist oppression with a more spiritual path and challenge the distinction between perceived truth and authentic truth. This is poignantly encapsulated in a conversation toward the novel's end, where Juliana pleads with Abendsen to reveal the truth behind The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Abendsen's response – "you should read my book and accept it on face value... without inquiring if it's genuine underneath... or done with wires and staves and foam-rubber-padding" – seems to underscore the novel's exploration of truth and perception.
In 2015, Amazon Prime loosely adapted Dick's narrative into a TV series, which enjoyed a successful four-season run, bringing some of the complex notions and philosophical inquiries of the novel to a broader audience.