I Wanna be Literated #178

I Wanna be Literated #178

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Man in the High Castle
by Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin (Introduction), Shan Jiang (Illustrator)
[Folio Society]

I like to consider myself a sci-fi nerd but my knowledge of sci-fi books is laughable at best. As such, I’m always trying to boost my bookish database so I can namedrop the classics with the best of them. If you’re into sci-fi and you’re serious about expanding your horizons in the field, you can do much worse than a book that’s won a Hugo award and has an introduction by Ursula Le Guin. And if the popularity of the TV series is any indication, this is a story full of potential.

As I’ve already said, a good sci-fi story should be as much about world building as the plot, and the Man in High Castle has that in spades, Honestly, I’m not sure there’s even a main plot here to talk about. It’s more about the significance and the drives of the main characters than what’s actually going on. As if the idea of an axis-led post WWII world isn’t interesting enough, Phillip K Dick has filled his story with characters whose seemingly tedious actions are used to comment on the fascinating world they live in. There are just so many interesting choices here for the reader to consider, like why is everyone now so focused on the I-Ching almost to a religious degree, why this fixation on American craftsmanship, and what is going on in the freer mountain region of the ex-USA? We can debate and consider these elements for ages. It’s almost a shame that, at the end, the story itself sort of dissolves and doesn’t come to much of a resolution especially considering how much suspense Dick has built into the plot. In a way, the Man in the High Castle is almost too much world building and not enough things happening. Again, there are just so many questions that the readers are left with at the end, which is just as well for a good sci-fi story. It’s the setting here that’s the richest elements.

Let’s talk a little about Folio and their edition of this book. It’s quickly becoming apparent that Folio is to books what Criterion Collection is to movies. This hardcover edition of the Man in High Castle is in a gorgeous hardcover and slipcase, is printed on smooth and bright acid-free paper, and with special commissioned artwork depicting some of the more interesting scenes. It’s just a definitive version of this classic if there ever was one. You’ll read it and proudly display it in your bookcase.

Get it from Folio Society.

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