THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE
Philip K. Dick
The teratological curiosity of the American reading public, whetted and abetted by the press, could have made this novel a sure best seller. Consider the premises upon which Mr. Dick bases his book. They are fascinating: What if the Axis powers had won World War II? What if Germany and Japan had divided after conquering in 1947...Capitulation Day it is called? He takes the hypothesis one step further. It is fifteen years later... 1962. Africa is a "huge empty ruin" sacrificed to Nazi Medicare. The Mediterranean sea has been entirely drained, converted to tillable land. The "blond queens", the "near men" of the Gestapo have found a new use for the big toe. San Francisco is occupied by the Japanese. Old Adolph is in some sanitarium with syphilis of the brain and Martin Borman, heretofore the top man, has just died leaving the Axis powers with a choice among Goebbels, Heydrich, Goehring von Schirach and a couple of other cuties. How did the author turn this projected cosmos into a hinterland where only confusion and boredom reside for the reader? The Man in the High Castle is overpeopled, spattered with telegraphic dialogue simply absurd (A Japanese suicide says to his Colt .22 "Cough up arcane secret".) Finally, there is riddled throughout a quasi-mystique, a pseudo-religious leit motif relating to an Eastern machine that answers questions when asked. This one could be pushed solely on subject-matter. But it will disappoint greatly.