21. The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick (1962) 249 p.
The Man In The High Castle was one of the first alternate history novels to ever gain wide appeal. It tells the story of an alternate world in which the Allies lost the war, and the world is now controlled by the Japanese and Germans. The United States has been divided into three parts: the east coast, controlled by the Nazis; the west coast, controlled by Japan; and the Midwest, a neutral buffer zone under its own authority.
This was the first novel by Dick I’ve ever read, though I have read some of his short stories, and although the concept is intriguing I didn’t much care for his writing style. The narratorial voice is far too deeply entrenched inside the character’s heads, detailing every little thought and engaging in time-consuming and tedious interior monologues. Also, for a novel that is supposed to be examining the society of an alternate world, he spends a bizarrely large amount of time discussing jewellry and antiques.
Overall, something of a disappointment. I won’t give up on Dick entirely (goddamn that surname and its double entendres), but he doesn’t get too many more chances either. When am I going to find a famous science fiction writer I can idolise? Dick is weird, Clarke is dull and Heinlein is preachy.