Is Detectives Beyond Borders turning into a Dickhead? plus another question for readers
But I have a feeling I may like Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle better. Its concept is high, and therefore simple: The Axis powers have won the Second World War, and Japan and Germany have divided up the former United States, ruling them as puppet territories. But already in the first chapter, Dick begins to have sly, subversive fun with the concept: An American named Robert Childan sells American antiques, offered as ethnic exotica much as Asian art is peddled to non-Asians in the real world.
Childan speaks in clipped cadences, something like the way Asian characters stereotypically do in mid-century American popular fiction. (The Man in the High Castle appeared in 1962.) He even bows obsequiously a time or two. And, most daring of all, Dick reverses in one paragraph every social, racial, and power stereotype you can think of about about sexual dynamics between men and women in which one partner is of Western descent and the other from the East:
“But it was known,” thinks Childan, “relations between Japanese and yanks, although generally it was between a Japanese man and yank woman. This . . . he quailed at the idea. And she was married. He whipped his mind away from the pageant of his involuntary thoughts and began busily opening the morning’s mail.”I’ve read just chapter, but Dick has already demonstrated that he can go beyond the concept and explore what that concept means for his characters. It’s a hell of a start.
Now, your turn: What are your favorite fantasy, science fiction, or alternate-history novels and stories, especially if that is not your usual reading? Why do you like those novels for stories?
© Peter Rozovsky 2015