The Man in the High Castle

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5


The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.


“The Nazis have no sense of humor, so why should they want television? Anyhow, they killed most of the really great comedians. Because most of them were Jewish. In fact, she realized, they killed off most of the entertainment field. I wonder how Hope gets away with what he says. Of course, he has to broadcast from Canada. And it’s a little freer up there. But Hope really says things. Like the joke about Goring . . . the one where Goring buys Rome and has it shipped to his mountain retreat and then set up again. And revives Christianity so his pet lions will have something to—”



On Sunday I watched a pilot produced by Amazon for a series based on the book.  The pilot was well done, capturing the look of 1962 with an overlay of Axis rule, but it appears that the series will not closely follow the book, which might be just as well.  I think Dick’s meditations on reality contained in the novel would translate poorly to television. At any rate, I recommend watching the pilot.




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  1. I thought the book was beautiful, which is not a term I often use for science fiction. But, yes, a faithful adaptation would not translate well to the screen. Too much of the narrative involves the characters’ thought processes.

  2. I watched the pilot a couple of months ago. Very slick. It was immediately apparent that it is “based on” instead of “faithful to” the book, which was, along with McKinlay Kantor’s seminal work of roughly the same time, the story that sent me careening into science fiction-alternate history instead of more noble pursuits of erudition. Alas.
    Nonetheless, I hope the series is produced. It will be interesting to see if the media muggles can capture the subtleties that make AH so addicting.

  3. By defeating the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese, we have only delayed the rise of freedom-stifling fascism by decades – not even a century. The fascism overtaking us might be different in flavor and color – pin liberal progressivism – but it is the same ruthless, murderous fascism as had siezed Germany and Japan. Think about it: we daily murder thousands of innocent – little babies – and promote the most sterile of sexual practices to neuter our God-given liberty. We do things that would make Hitler green with envy.
    In th work place people never talk about traditional values except in hush whispers, afraid of offending someone who will report to human resources to get the “hate-speaking” person fired. Training courses about sexual diversity and open-mindedness about throughout corrporate culture. No one dares say a word aloud against Obama in the presence of another co-worker, whether at work or at an extra-curricula non-work-related activity. Indeed, one doesn’t even talk with one’s neighbors any longer lest they find one’s orthodox Christian religion or one’s conserrvative politics offensive. This is happeneing now. Almost everyone accepts gay rights and reproductive riights and the whole godless litany of sickening putrid liberalism. And soon one day (maybe a month from now, maybe a year, maybe two years) we will be given papers at work to sign affirming that we believe in this crap or face unemployment. And that is only the beginning. These people will soon jail those who won’t sign, and then evenutally torture and kill them. It happened under Plutarco Elias Calles in Mexico in the 1920s though the themes were different. It will happen here. A Republican never election may forestall it, but this is on the way. The science fiction of yesterday is the science fact of tomorrow. 🙁

  4. “By defeating the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese, we have only delayed the rise of freedom-stifling fascism by decades – not even a century.”

    Baloney! I am so sick of gloom and despair, always a constant temptation on Catholic sites I have noted. The easiest way for evil to triumph is to convince good people that something evil is inevitable. I am having none of that recipe for defeat. Free men have stood up successfully to longer odds in the past than confront us today. Man up!

  5. Donald, in a former company I discovered that it had an arm which engaged in embryonic stem cell research (it was a large international corporation with one branch doing nuclear, another health care, another jet engines, another natural gas, etc). I questioned this research via the normal channels. Within weeks I was called into HR and questioned about my own non-work related internet activities done on non-company resources. I was told that my views did not reflect the company’s vision. When I left that company, it accused me falsely of trying to take company information. Its lawyers pursued me to my next company and tried to convince that company to dismiss me. There was nothing to the allegation so my next company told the first one to take a hike.
    Then at a different company we received one of these on-line indoctrination training videos with the usual interactive test questions. It was on diversity and a great deal of it was devoted to LGBT rrights. The correct answers to the test questions were always in support of such perversion. I continually failed the exam because I refused to give the right answer. I left the course undone. Fortunately I was never questioned on this. I think the company did it as an experiment. But I see this happening now in corporate culture. You may say it’s doom and gloom, but soon people will be made examples of.

  6. “Free men have stood up successfully to longer odds in the past than confront us today. Man up!”
    Donald McClarey: It was the concession speech by Emperor Hirohito and its mentions of “subjects” and “loyal servants of the state” in all its glamorization of servitude and object servitude and Obama’s overreach for an empire that really scares the pants off me.

  7. I am still wondering ” what if”…Japan and Hitler had won the war. Emperor Hirohito and Adolph Hitler would have had to face off. Another science fiction tale. Not either one had any virtues or courage or common sense. It was all about domination. A free people will not be dominated.

  8. Paul Primavera you are right.
    Worse is on the way. We need to prepare. This is prophesied in Sacred Scripture.
    cf Matthew 24; Revelation 13, & 14

  9. Yes I agree there will be Trouble but I also think 1) we are not helpless against it – God gave us intellects and will- not just to save ourselves
    But also 2) We are called to communion – not just in Love with God, but also in Love with His people – we are our brothers keeper. As Catholics we have a certain noblesse oblige. 3) God is not going to rapture us out of it so…

  10. Don, I have to agree with Paul. Some form of totalitarianism is coming to this country. Our secular educational system is controlled by Marxists. Too many of our religious leaders, even in the Catholic Church, have embraced leftist ideologies, especially that guy in Rome. Our politicians likewise. The growing number of people on welfare won’t embrace freedom, they will embrace the state, especially those who have been on the dole for generations and those who are in the US illegally. The fact that an open Marxist like Obama was twice elected POTUS should tell you where we are heading. And don’t think the Goofy Old Party is going to save us. The top leadership of the party of Lincoln is merely Demo Light, and the candidates in the running for presidency are the biggest bunch of flakes I’ve seen, outside a box of Kellogg’s. As for Trump, at least he’s saying the right things, whither he can deliver if he gets into office is another thing.

  11. A completely incorrect assessment Stephen. The welfare state is dying around the globe, and the churches that embrace it rapidly shrink to insignificance. The Republican Party that you deride is doing good work on the state level and has not been stronger nationally since the days of Calvin Coolidge. Your gloom and doom analysis couldn’t be more mistaken.

  12. Donald, I hope you are right and I am wrong. But I can only tell you what I see and experience every day in korporate Amerika. Company executive go out of their way to ingratiate themselves with government mandated diversity and inclusivity of anythiing except Judeo-Christian Tradition. Those who are conservative speak in hush whispers if at all lest someone overhear. We see bakers and hotel owners who refuse to coddle the redefinition of marriage run right out of business. And few politicians and fewer Catholic clergy are willing to speak out against this. Yes, there are notable exceptions (some good priests and bishops do speak out) and yes, there are (contrary to what Steve wrote) some good GOP candidates (Trump not being one of them – a caricature of a free enterpise entrepeneur). But even my neighbors and co-workers accept the rightness of gay marriage and reproductive rights and wealth redistributionism (so long as it isn’t theirs).
    So yes, I pray your optimism is right and my pessimism is wrong. But I know what one company tried to do to me and what another’s training courses on diversity and inclusivity were like, and I work in an industry very regulated by the federal govt, so compliance with the govt agenda is just about mandatory.

  13. Don, where’s the proof the GOP is so strong on the state level? All I have is your say so. Real proof please! Your fellow Republican Joe Walsh doesn’t seem to share your optimism about the Party. Since he was an elected official, I think his perspective is more realistic than yours.
    The welfare state is dying? It might be dying in some places around the globe, but this benighted country re-elected Mr. Gimme-That Obama twice.
    What Paul says about corporate America is true. When I worked at Caterpillar Inc. , we were given the same line of leftist bull on social issues. I remember particularly how they talked to us about sexual harassment . What a joke! Most of the guilty were Cat Executives, not hourly stiffs like me!
    Paul, while there may be some good candidates, how effective would they be once they be, (if that actually happens) once they got into office? The various government agencies are now staffed with leftists up to the wazoo. Because of the civil service laws, unless they can be found guilty of corruption, incompetence, or treason, it will be next to impossible to remove them. And lets not forget the lackluster GOP leadership in Congress. They might as well be Democrats for all the good they can do.
    Don, you have made the claim that the GOP is strong on a state level and a national level. Well, I’d like to see some real proof, not glittering generalities. You can either post a few articles on TAC, or give your audience a few links to offsite articles. And please, no propaganda pieces! Just analytical pieces that give us a fair assessment of the local and national GOP strengths and weaknesses.

  14. The GOP controls 69 of 99 state legislatures, the most ever for the GOP:

    In addition 31 states have Republican governors:

    24 states have both Republican governors and legislatures, as opposed to 7 states for the Democrats. As recently as 1977 the Republicans completely controlled one state to 29 for the Democrats

    Joe Walsh is a buffoon who got tossed after one term in Congress.

    “The welfare state is dying? It might be dying in some places around the globe, but this benighted country re-elected Mr. Gimme-That Obama twice.”

    Yep, and handed Republicans the Congress in 2010 and increased their majority in 2014. Compare and contrast with the electoral strength of FDR. Obama is not a sign of the strength of the Welfare State. His failed administration is its last gasp.

  15. The state level electoral successes of the GOP are empirically undeniable, as Donald lays out. It is also borne out in a sense by the pathetic state of the Democratic presidential field. With Hillary flailing, the names being bandied about as potential rescuers are: Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Al Gore. At this rate it wouldn’t surprise me to see Walter Mondale’s name come up. The weak state of the Democratic bench is a sign of how poorly they have done on the state level.

  16. the pathetic state of the Democratic presidential field.

    Looked at dispassionately, it’s a much better bench than they’ve run in the last five elections. Martin O’Malley’s tenure as Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland incorporated a number of obtrusive failures (the crime control hype and the disaster that is the Baltimore City Jail foremost among them). I’m not sure there’s a similar rap on any of the other candidates. Webb, Sanders, and Chaffee have all held executive positions, and none of them have any dirt sticking to them. If they have a history of buffoonery, it’s more modulated than that of Joseph Biden or Howard Dean. Look to the recent past: BO, Hildebeast, John Edwards, John Kerry, the decaying Albert Gore, and the Hot Springs Lounge Lizard. Webb, Sanders, or Chaffee would be an improvement on any of them.

  17. The state level electoral successes of the GOP are empirically undeniable, as Donald lays out

    Bully. However, as we speak, fully half the Senate Republican caucus voted to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank, and the Senate Majority Leader arranged for this vote in the course of lying to dissenting members of his caucus. It’s a small issue but a telling one. The are no decent arguments for maintaining the bank; it’s just candy for Boeing.

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