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The Man in the High Castle [Archive]

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

Last night, I went to the famed Berkeley, California bookstore Moe’s Books to hear writer Jonathan Lethem and editor Pamela Jackson talk about the new book The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. As the name “Haikasoru” itself hints, we are great fans of Philip K. Dick, and his Hugo Award-winning novel The Man in the High Castle (high castle=haikasoru), and Dicks’ exegesis has been a long time coming. The house was packed with fans!

In 1974, Dick had a religious experience (check out the comic strip summary by R. Crumb) in which he “realized” that the Roman Empire had never fallen. He spent the rest of his life trying to come to terms with his vision, and he left behind nearly 9000 pages of material—letters, graphs, and other writing—trying to come to philosophical and theological terms with his experience. He did this while still being a prolific writer of science fiction novel. The three novels of the VALIS trilogy hint at his religious experience, but the exegesis itself has gone unpublished…until now.

Of course, Lethem pointed out right away, it’s not the whole exegeis. The new book is only about 1000 pages long, and has annotations and remarks from the editors and from scholars as well. So maybe a tenth of the two file cabinet drawers worth of material is represented in the book.

Two of Dick’s daughters were present as well. Laura Leslie and Isa Dick Hackett had conflicted memories of their father, and both only made a few comments, but they were interesting. Leslie noted that her father wasn’t “crazy” or “schizophrenic”, and that the exegesis shows a grasp of philosophy that few people have. Hackett relayed an anecdote in which her father, having described seeing an angel, burst into tears.

It was a very strange night about a very strange book. And that strangeness reminded me of the many joys of science fiction.

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A new high castle

Is it odd to highlight the release of a book from another publisher here? Not when it’s this book! Check out the new edition of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle:

A classy cover, and Dick is finally famous enough that a publisher can easily launch a reissue of his work using the initials PKD. As many of you know, the name Haikasoru comes from the book—it’s a Nipponized pronunciation of the words “High Castle.” Given that thee book is both a science fiction classic and explicitly about a Japanese takeover of California, how could we resist?

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The Future is Japanese (Part 2)

In the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (June 26), Ursula K. LeGuin is asked to recommend a handful of books for summer reading. On her list is The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. Her comment: “You thought America won World War II? Think again!”



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