The Slightly Alternate History of The Man in the High Castle (1963) by Philip K. Dick

thmnnthhgh1982Throughout all my writing (including TMITHC especially) there is a preoccupation with fakes and the fake: fake worlds, fake humans, fake objects, fake time, etc… Again and again I attempt to formulate critieria for what is fake and what is not fake. (21:22, Part Two, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick)

TMITHC is a fascinating adjunct to all this, i.e., to the Gestalt. Fakes are discussed. Alternate universes exist. Fascism is the topic, and a book is reality, which seems to have some connection with Tears. TMITHC seems to be a subtle, even delicate questioning of, what is real? As if only the 2 books in it, Grasshopper and the I Ching, are really the only actual reality. Strange. (19:35, Part Two, The Exegesis…)

Juliana’s bra size is thirty-eight, signaling the 38th hexagram in the I Ching, ‘opposition is a prerequisite for union.’ The ongoing bra references are a metaphor for our own irreality, an effort to lift-and-separate the converging realities, the borders of which we cannot otherwise perceive.” (Archer Maytree, controversial PKD scholar and author of The Grasshopper Lies: The Philip K. Dick of the I Ching, p. 38)

 

This year’s Exegesis with a side of fiction PKD challenge hosted by BookPunks means that I have officially overdosed on Philip K. Dick and it’s a lot worse than just seeing a pink light while an AI satellite channels God or something into my brain. I’ve temporarily postponed The Three Stigmata of Timothy Archer because I simply could not do with more quasi-religious psychedelics, and moved ahead to his politically-charged alt-history The Man in the High Castle. This was a good decision. Continue reading

The Exile Waiting (1975) by Vonda N. McIntyre

TheExileWaiting1Disorienting and blurry, the subterranean world of Vonda McIntyre’s The Exile Waiting (1975) hosts a confusion of social structures that aren’t easily deciphered. The first few chapters are especially complicated as the first act winds its way through a series of tunnels and bends and broken thoughts as Mischa resists Gemmi’s empathic tugs, rescues a self-destructive Chris, and observes the so-called normalcy of this alien place called Center. Disjointed journal excerpts by an outsider named Jan intensify the narrative haze.

Center is a strange place. Unfamiliar in the ways it defies present-world logic (hired beggars; dormant political and mechanical power systems in some places, active in others; nuclear-crystal alchemy) and familiar in the ways it employs standard sci-fi tropes (telepathic communication, dog-eat-dog dystopia, pernicious underboob cleavage), but all of those odd details add up to a cohesive and thought-provoking framework from which McIntyre hangs her complex and many-tendriled tale. The claustrophobic and oppressive atmosphere is intertwined in each theme, where a potent mix of ageism, lookism, ableism, and toxic family systems has the potential to drag each character down into a self-hating pit of inaction. Some succumb; some overcome. Continue reading

Summer 2016 Reading Review

August is always a difficult and hectic time for me, but this month in particular has been extra difficult and hectic, no thanks to my particular sick anthill of work being extra sick and chaoticky, which I can usually forgive when I see it simply as the flaws of capitalism manifesting in the public sector, but this year, I can actually attribute our problems to some real concrete things that nobody can do anything about anyway. So I’ve been busy. I hope it wasn’t too apparent in my posts.

Since my last reading review post, I ditched the States, saw some sights, picked up a Peruvian parasite, and then returned home in order to burn out on stupid SF book awards. 70757 Continue reading

The 2016 Clarke Award Shortlist: Surface, Contrivance, & Salience

Perhaps most indicative of the mood surrounding the 2016 Clarke Award shortlist is that most of the discussion is about the Clarke Award itself, rather than the mostly baffling list of novels the jury selected this year. It’s a fairly cut-and-dry list that doesn’t garner much debate or consideration; each book seems to inspire unequivocal feels from most readers, but they do make a odd collection when taken together. After much thinking, and some discussion with Jonah Sutton-Morse and Maureen K. Speller on the Cabbages & Kings podcast, it seems some themes of kinship have emerged from what is an otherwise unfocused and random-looking award list.

There is more than one way to slice this, but I think the following pairings seem to suit: Surface. Contrivance. Salience.

 

Surface: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Way Down Dark Continue reading

Back to the Hugos! 2006.

It’s Hugo NIGHT! No Award will win! SJW works that aren’t that revolutionary will win! Puppet-slated works that were actually popular between both factions will win! And people won’t talk about it in any honest way until the historical narrative shows up far down the road! If they talk about these books at all! Because old is bad and these nominees will soon be old!

But the historical narrative of the 2016 Hugos isn’t here yet. So you know what that means… it’s time to go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 2006

2006. Well, you know what happened. It was practically yesterday. But before this election. And Brexit. And the selfie-stick. So it couldn’t have been that bad, right?

Meanwhile, at another L.A. Con (IV), Connie Willis hosted the Hugo Awards, just like she did in ’96.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 10.14.09 PM

The Winner: SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson, followed by LEARNING THE WORLD by Ken MacLeod, A FEAST FOR CROWS by George R. R. Martin, OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi, and ACCELERANDO by Charles Stross.

Continue reading

Back to the Hugos: 1996

It’s Hugo Week! Why am I so tired?

Anyway, you know what that means…

it’s time to go…

mrmrmrm…

Back to the Hugos.

Hugo Year: 1996.

Kofi Annan led the UN, Chuck and Di got divorced, and Jeeves joined the Internet with a capital ‘I’. Bombings, shootings, explosions, and viral outbreaks happened worldwide. Also, thirty black churches were burned to the ground in Mississippi. But gas was only a dollar!

Meanwhile, L.A. Con III was hosted in Anaheim, CA by Connie Willis.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 9.44.14 PM

The Winner: THE DIAMOND AGE by Neal Stephenson, followed by THE TIME SHIPS by Stephen Baxter, BRIGHTNESS REEF by David Brin, THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT by Robert J. Sawyer, REMAKE by Connie Willis

Continue reading

Let’s Go Back to the Hugos! 1946 (Retro edition)

It’s Retro Hugo Day! And fans are Slans! Or something vile like that. But let’s not be Slans; instead, let’s go… Back to the Hugos!

Hugo Year: 1946 via 1996

1946: The Iron Curtain comes down, bikinis hit the French Riviera, and the US gets Tupperware.

In 1996 Hugo voters decide to play their own version of revisionist history (so don’t hate on me!) by voting on a 1946 Retro ballot.

The list:

Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 11.14.45 AM

The Winner: “The Mule” from FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE by Isaac Asimov, followed by THE WORLD OF NULL-A by A.E. van Vogt, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH by C.S. Lewis, DESTINY TIMES THREE by Fritz Leiber, and DANGER PLANET by Edmond Hamilton (as Brett Sterling)

My own retro-retroactive ballot: Continue reading