I’ve always been a fan of alternative history settings. I think that stems from playing Red Alert back in the day. In Red Alert, Einstein invents a time machine and goes back in time to kill Hitler setting the world on a path to war between the Soviets and the Allies. (Watch the game introductory scene here.) I was inspired to read Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle after watching the series on Amazon Prime. A slow burner but towards the end I was in ‘just one more episode’ territory.
The Man in the High Castle asks the question, “what if the Axis won World War II?” In a nutshell:
“In the novel’s parallel history, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt was assassinated in 1933, leading to the continuation of the Great Depression and U.S. isolationism. Thus, the U.S.’s military capability was insufficient in aiding the other Allied forces during World War II, allowing the Nazis to conquer and exterminate the Soviet Union’s Slavic peoples, and the Japanese to destroy the U.S. Navy fleet, in the Attack on Pearl Harbor, before conquering Oceania. By 1947, the U.S. and the remaining Allies surrendered to the Axis powers. By the 1960s, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany became the world’s competing superpowers, with Japan establishing the occupied “Pacific States of America” (P.S.A.) from the former Western United States, while the remaining Rocky Mountain States have become a neutral buffer zone between the P.S.A. and the former Eastern United States, which is now a puppet state of Nazi Germany.”
A very interest premise, and right up my street. I’ve been aware of Philip K. Dick for a lot of years; Minority Report, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner). I have always turned to science fiction as my preferred reading genre, but I’d never tackled Dick (oo-er!) until now.
The Man in the High Castle is a laborious, difficult read. The setting is excellent, and I expected so much more, but reaching and passing the half way point in the book and still feeling uninspired and ‘unentertained’, I started to ask myself, why do I bother? Why do I think to myself: I’ve started so I’ll finish?
I’m not going to finish it! I said at the start of the year that I wanted to read one new book every month and this was the first book. Be mindful that if you set yourself a task you need to be fluid and flexible enough to change the goals if it isn’t working for you.
The Man in the High Castle is such a thing. It’s not working for me, so it’s time to move on.
4 thoughts on “I’ve started so I’ll finish”
I certainly understand what you’re talking about here. I quite often pick up a book, thinking it will be the greatest read ever, only to find out it’s dry, boring, full of filler and just hundreds of pages too long for the story line. Then you watch the movie or TV show based on the “best seller” (probably because they are smart enough to only show us the good stuff in the previews) and you wonder just who it was who managed to get all the way through the story long enough to write a screen play based on it. Perhaps this is why the movie version seldom matches the book version of any given story… because the movie makers didn’t have the patience to finish either. 😉
I know where you come from, I’ve been there several times in the past! I’m an avid reader and I read on average one book every week. Sometimes I pick up a new book and then I find out that it isn’t working out for me. In the past I used to force myself to fisnish it because in my opinion I had to finish what I started, always. I’ve soon found out that, while it can be true for almost every aspect of my life, it doesn’t apply to books. I think that I’ve got a limited time and there are a lot of amazing books out there so I shouldn’t waste my time on boring and unworthy books but I should focus on what I really enjoy.
P.S. It seems like we have very similar tastes, science fiction is one of my favorite genres!
I have left many books unfinished for this reason. Even some of the true classics didn’t click with me! However, I have changed over the years, so I am considering picking up Watership Down again. As far as alternate histories, I usually like them! I especially like them when they parody their subjects. For example, that article that appeared in Uncyclopedia’s satirical newspaper UnNews that Hitler was still alive, and he was planning on logging in on the Uncyclopedia chatroom and performing an ultimate hack and possibly being the stereotypical dictator, hacking into the chatroom owners’ accounts and making it so the admins can’t ban him. Uncyclopedia is probably the best if you want a comical version of alternate history.
I used to force myself to slog through books no matter how boring they were. I considered it a duty and a challenge. Now I give myself permission to toss them aside if they’re stolid. I’m not getting any younger, and don’t wish to waste my time reading something useless.