Golden Age Sci-Fi 75 (68)
November 26, 2016
One in a series of 75 posts about the best science fiction novels published during the genre’s so-called Golden Age (from 1934–63, according to HILOBROW’s Josh Glenn’s periodization schema). For the complete Golden Age Sci-Fi 75 list, click here.
Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962).
Fifteen years after World War II ended in a defeat for the Allies, the United States are divided between Imperial Japan, in the west, and Nazi Germany, in the east. Bob Childan runs an Americana shop in San Francisco, selling antiques — many of them counterfeit — to the Japanese colonists. Frank Frink, a secretly Jewish-American veteran, makes hand-crafted jewelry; his ex-wife, Juliana, lives in the neutral Mountain States buffer zone, where she has begun an affair with an Italian trucker. Many of the book’s characters use the I Ching to make decisions; and many are reading The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, an alternate-history sci-fi novel, circulated in samizdat, which imagines a world in which the Allies won World War II. Joseph Goebbels becomes the new German Chancellor, and plots to invade Japan’s Home Islands; Childan sells Frink’s jewelry, which the Japanese admire for its wabi-sabi; and Juliana visits the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy — but is her boyfriend secretly a Nazi assassin? Is The Grasshopper Lies Heavy somehow more true than the reality our characters are experiencing?
Fun fact: Dick used the I Ching to make decisions crucial to the plot of The Man in the High Castle. Adapted for TV in 2015, The Man in the High Castle was, at the time, Amazon’s most-watched original series.
GOLDEN AGE SCIENCE FICTION at HILOBROW: Golden Age Sci-Fi: 75 Best Novels of 1934–1963 | Robert Heinlein | Karel Capek | William Burroughs | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Clifford D. Simak | H.P. Lovecraft | Olaf Stapledon | Philip K. Dick | Jack Williamson | George Orwell | Boris Vian | Bernard Wolfe | J.G. Ballard | Jorge Luis Borges |Poul Anderson | Walter M. Miller, Jr. | Murray Leinster | Kurt Vonnegut | Stanislaw Lem | Alfred Bester | Isaac Asimov | Ray Bradbury | Madeleine L’Engle | Arthur C. Clarke | PLUS: Jack Kirby’s Golden Age and New Wave science fiction comics.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.