Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Off the shelf...

I am actually slightly embarrassed to admit that I have not read The Man in the High Castle. I am currently in the process of fixing that.

Philip K. Dick was not the most cheery of men, ya know?

17 comments:

Ross said...

Phillip K. Dick was a wacko (and, IMHO, more than a bit of a hack) and crazier than anyone you know. If you REALLY want to read a bizarre book, get a copy of Counter-clock World.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I don't want to give anything away, but I always felt as though High Castle sort of ended mid-thought. See what you think after you have finished it. The opening chapters are great though.

jason said...

agree with you, Chas. I had similar feelings when I read it. it's a really dark book.

William said...

If you really want to try to figure out how the gears spun in his head, try the Valis trilogy and Radio Free Albemuth. I do not know what combination of hallucinogens would be required to achieve the unique visions that he wrote about. Maybe they just lubricate the gears in mysterious ways. Of course eventually he wore himself out at the pretty young age of 53.

JPG said...

Guess I need to go back and re-read the novel. I read it in the early 1960s, while in college. Glad I wasn't really subject to bouts of depression . . .

John said...

As far as alternate history goes, TMITHC isn't much. You might prefer Turtledove. I've also recently read a new author in the genre named Peter G. Tsouras. He does great work.

CAR said...

You need to read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road".

That will cure you.

Tam said...

Chas,

You know, I really liked it for what it was. Not a novel so much as a novella-length vignette. It's a brief glimpse into another world, much like Mr. Tagomi had...


CAR,

Read it. "Bleak" doesn't begin to describe it... :o

alath said...

TMITHC was one the reading list for a Sci-Fi class I took as an undergraduate elective in 1986. Haven't read it since then, so I don't remember a lot of details, but I do remember as an amateur WWII history buff being unconvinced by the texture of his Axis-dominated world.

Another WWII "alternate ending" novel is Len Deighton's SS-GB. Deighton grew up in British-occupied Berlin. Knowing the language and culture, and having a lot of friends who lived through the Nazi years, plus having grown up in a post-WWII occupation, gives Deighton plenty of grist. His Nazi-occupied London is so real, you almost want to go re-check your history books to be sure who actually won.

Can't mention Len Deighton without bringing up his excellent nonfiction WWII histories:
Fighter
Blitzkreig
Blood, Tears, and Folly
and his WWII novels
Bomber
Winter
Amazing reads, all.

Steve Skubinna said...

An alternate history WWII (sorta) novel I especially enjoy is Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, which purports to be the final novel, published posthumously, of the noted SF illustrator and author Adolph Hitler, a former Bavarian soldier who emigrated to the US in the 1920's after dabbling in radical politics.

And when I say "enjoy," I mean it is really, really creepy. The more you know about Hitler's real life, the more creeped out you get at the book. But well worth reading. The icing on the cake is a dismissive afterward by an academic who... no, go find a copy and read it yourself.

kahr40 said...

TMIHC is the only Dick novel I've ever read to the finish line
.
I read somewhere that Dick plotted TMIHC using the I-Ching. He was also know to use mind altering substances. Explains a lot.

Will said...

SF is my favorite reading category. Probably read several thousand in the last 50 years. Read one of his books. Not my cup of tea. Felt like I should be taking some sort of mind altering drugs just to read his stuff. No thanks.

Chris said...

I'd forgotten that Spinrad wrote that Hitler parody. Thanks, Steve, for reminding me. He also wrote one of the funniest short stories I ever read in his book "Other Americas", in which the President is a used-car salesman who is kidnapped and turned into a nymphomaniac, the Russian Premier is an animatronic corpse whose software is randomized by hash-smoking geeks, and the trouble begins with a small Middle Eastern kingdom where by law everyone has to be stoned. They literally hand you a spliff getting off the plane.

I always liked Dick. Oh, what a giveaway. Try "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", which is what "Blade Runner" was based on.

JPG said...

Welp, Tams, once again you've had an impact on my activities - - - After reading your TMITHC installment Tuesday morning, I stopped at the public lieberry main branch in the afternoon. They had a copy of Dick's Four Novels From the 1960s, which includes it. Yes, I brought it home and will take another run at it, some 45 years later.
JPG

rick said...

Ubik! Safe when used as directed.

JC said...

Read High Castle back when it was a new book. Not his best, but then PKD really never did have a "best". It was optioned for movies at least a dozen times - understand that it kept his widow and son fed for a while.

A Scanner Darkly is just down and out spookey if you've ever spent any time in that lifestyle. The movie treatment is the best that I've seen of any of PKD's stuff. Didn't know if I should cry or puke. (That's an accolade.)
BTW, Norman Spinrad (a friend of PKD's as I recall) is currently recovering from surgery for cancer of the stomach, and is said to be doing quite well. H/t to Dr Jerry Pournelle on that

Granted said...

If you really, really want to spin your head up on PKD, you need to get a copy of his Exegesis. His real life makes his novels look like drab tech manuals.