Philip K Dick

The Man in the High Castle S1 (Amazon Prime)

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Contains some spoilers

highcastle-1Not everyone likes alternate history fiction, but I should confess from the start that I’m a bit of a fan. Robert Harris’ Fatherland is probably one of the most oft-reread titles on my bookshelf, while more recently I was very impressed by The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski. But when it comes to tales of parallel universes, arguably the granddaddy of the genre is Philip K Dick’s The Man In The High Castle that has recently been adapted for television by Amazon Prime, which full disclosure requires I should declare it to be the biggest single reason why I recently gave in and subscribed to the streaming service.

In the TV version, the point of divergence between our world and that of the High Castle is the assassination of FDR in 1934. As a result of this the US never recovered from the Depression to play its full role in World War 2, meaning that Nazi Germany won the war in Europe and went on to invade the East Coast of America. Meanwhile Japan was victorious in the Pacific and occupied the West Coast, leaving a wild west neutral zone straddling the Rocky Mountains between the two superpowers. But now Adolf Hitler is ailing and the Nazi High Command is ruthlessly jockeying for position to succeed him as Führer, which Japan fears will herald the start of a new global war – one that the Japanese Empire cannot possibly win given that the Nazis alone possess the super-destructive Heisenberg device. Read the rest of this entry »