October 20, 2009

Nice review of Man in the High Castle

Filed under: philip k. dick — ubikcan @ 6:06 pm

The New Staggers has a nice review of what must be a UK re-issue of the Man in the High Castle:

Even so, his fictions are powerfully thought-stirring. Like Borges and Calvino, Dick uses fiction to do more than portray the all-too-familiar ambivalences of human emotions. More ambitiously, he is challenging the ideas by which we interpret our experience. We think we are embodied minds, which conceive and execute plans of action; we believe our lives reflect these plans. We imagine that the theories we frame about the world are not only useful, but also true. These highly questionable suppositions are Dick’s subject matter, and in freeing us from the false certainty that goes with the ruling view of things, he is one of the most liberating writers of the 20th century.

Luckily the review, by John Gray, restrains itself to only the one reference to drugs (“A highly strung character whose tensions were aggravated by prodigious drug consumption”) and usefully reminds us that sf is about the present:

The critical disparagement of Dick’s work has various sources, not least that of literary disdain for science fiction. Seeing the genre as being concerned with possible futures and imaginary worlds, these critics miss the central thrust of the best SF, which is to reimagine the world we live in. H G Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Stanislaw Lem and J G Ballard enable us to see ourselves differently, and this is what places them among the greatest modern writers.


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