Book: The Man in the High Castle

So I’m just gonna come right out and say it—the thing I previously thought impossible, inconceivable, that I cannot believe I am now saying: The show is better than the book.


And keep in mind that the book won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1962, and perhaps at the time it was groundbreaking work. Dick draws on his personal experiences with mental breakdowns and fugue states, and there a few passages in the book where he paints the confusion of a disjointed mind in particularly vivid detail. His portrayal of the solo female character—Juliana, however, has not aged very well. She is vain, shallow, superficial, and rather annoying. She’s a 2-dimensional plot device and a pawn, and seems to have no free will or motivations of her own (apart from being pretty).  ugh.

The Amazon original show has done a great job of taking Phillip K. Dick‘s fascinating premise and expanding the characters, weaving in new subplots and further intrigues. In the book, the plot-driving MacGuffin is a novel—a book called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, while in the show, TGLH is instead a series of film reels. ha. I thought was a rather clever twist of artistic license.

PKD had an astounding imagination, and I love the movies based on his work– Total Recall, Minority Report, Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly, but this is the first book of his that I’ve read. It’s one of earlier ones, so I’ll try another one soon. Hopefully he learned to write women better, (but given what I know of his relationship history, he probably didn’t) and even so, other elements of his work are strong enough to warrant giving a pass to the ubiquitous and dated sexism of the early 60s.

This has been another installment of my ongoing BookCover Project, begun in late 2015, wherein I endeavor to design covers for every book I read. 


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