``Opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.''
WARNING, WHOPPING SPOILERS AHEAD. I write these pages as notes, records
and reminders to myself of books I have read. You are welcome to peruse these
reviews, but be warned that they will spoil your reading pleasure if you have
not already read them.
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|I started this book with high hopes knowing that it was widely regarded as Dick's best. It turns out to be a quirky, dated near-Orwellian story about antique dealing in a world run by the Germans and Japanese, as if this is the only issue of concern after the Second World War has been lost. So it transpires that the state is involved in the supply of Americana to satiate the glut of the wealthy Japanese and keep the world prosperous.
Aside from that, the ex-partner of the antique dealer decides to go and meet the author of a revolutionary book which hypothetically describes the world as it would have been if the Allies had won the war, who supposedly lives in a high castle to protect himself. Only it turns out to be a Wizard of Oz ending and he happens to be an ordinary man living in an ordinary house.
Dick works hard to make the characters believable in their unlikley roles, and tries to transcend the height between ordinary little people and truly iconic politicians like Herman Goering, but ultimately it is all too unlikely however the war turned out and ends up coming across a bit silly.
Dick's best? It maybe is, as it is an effort at a straight story instead of being an exercise in strangeness like most of his other popular books. It was interesting to read it for the insight in to the minds of the 1960s - the hopes and particularly the fears people had of losing democracy, and in the end the book tells us how we often become obsessed with some little details in the world that really don't make a difference one way or another, and miss out on the bigger picture such as the simple survival of the human race under the threat of a nuclear holocaust. Or that might just be Dick's escaping from the troubles at large in the real world.
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