How is daily life in the world of Man in the High Castle different from it is in our world?
In our world, the United States is one singular entity rather than a territory split between the Germans and Japanese with a small buffer zone in the middle. Also, in the world of the novel, the US is a relatively minor colonized nation; in ours it is a major world power. There is also a number of relatively minor differences - for example, many people in the novel use the I Ching to make decisions, but in the real world, this oracle is rarely used. Additionally, the Germans in the book have colonized Mars and the moon, and made many other major technical advances. They have also killed everyone on the continent of Africa.
Author Phillip K. Dick focuses primarily on ordinary people rather than great events. Why do you think he chooses to do this? What effect does it have on the narrative?
By focusing on ordinary people, such as Mr. Tagomi, Juliana, and Frank, Phillip L. Dick enables us to see this new fictional world as easily as we experience our own. We experience concerns about business, romance, and employment through these characters, and how the availability of such things is shaped by the politics of the novel. Additionally, by focusing mainly on ordinary people, Dick makes it all the more remarkable when their associates turn out to be extraordinary people with the potential to shape history, such as Joe Cinnadella or Baynes.
What literary strategies are used to portray the effects of Japanese and German colonization of America?
The effects of Japanese colonization affect the ways that characters in the Pacific States of America conduct their daily affairs. Some pinocs (whites who have risen to high but subordinate positions within the Japanese-controlled political hierarchy) darken their skin in order to look more Japanese, which shows that Japanese skin is considered the standard. American cuisine is considered unusual and a niche interest. White people are expected to bow or give up their seats to a Japanese person. But the harshest effect of Japanese colonization is found in Childan, who tries to please the Japanese even if it means humiliating himself.
What is the significance of the I Ching in the novel?
Many of the characters in the novel - such as Tagomi, Frank, and Juliana - use the I Ching to make major decisions in life. In addition to its use by numerous characters in the novel, the I Ching is also an important symbol for the conflict between fascism (Nazi ideology) and Taoism in the novel. Whereas the Nazis (the primary antagonists in the book), seek to shape history, the I Ching advocates a more passive route: one should respond to hints from the universe and seek to shape one's actions to the way of nature. Whereas fascism advocates excessive action, the I Ching supports reflection: one tries to act in accordance with the Tao, the flow of energy in the universe, rather than according to a static ideology.
After the death of Bormann, which of the candidates for Fuhrer do you think is most likely to be chosen?
I think that Heydrich is the most likely to be chosen. He has a great deal of experience within the Reich, and has a proven track record of getting his goals accomplished - as horrible as those goals are. Also, because he is ruthless and violent, he will not hesitate to eliminate the competition in any way necessary.
How do the time period and geographical location of the book affect the story that is told? How might the story be different if it was set ten years in the past, or in another country?
During the time that The Man in the High Castle takes place, there is relative peace in the world. The west coast has generally accepted the colonization by the Japanese, and no one tries to violently resist them anymore; if the book were set in the past, there might be more focus on the effects of Americans to drive out the Japanese. However, if the book took place in South America as the same time, there might be more violence in the plot, because German and Japanese powers are fighting a shadow war there. If the book took place in the future, it would answer our questions as to whether or not Operation Dandelion was real and could be prevented.
What aspects of the world depiction in The Man in the High Castle seem to echo or respond to events in our own world during the time the book was written? (The book was published in 1962.)
During the 1960s, the Cold War was in full swing; the United States was engaged in an arms race with the Soviet Union, and the threat of nuclear war seemed imminent. Interestingly, Russia is essentially obliterated in The Man in the High Castle, and no one has yet invented the nuclear bomb. Perhaps this is somewhat wishful thinking on Dick's part.
There are a number of focal characters in the novel (Tagomi, Childan, Frank, Baynes, Juliana). Who do you think should be considered the protagonist? Why?
I think Tagomi is the main character. He unites all of the other characters' storylines: he is Childan's client, Baynes' business partner, and purchases Frank's jewelry and eventually signs his release. Tagomi is an ordinary businessman who makes a choice that changes history when he decides to violently defend Baynes from the SD thugs. He is also a likable character, and experiences a great deal of personal growth when he realizes evil is real; such growth is very important in a protagonist.
What is the value of alternate history as a genre?
Alternate history allows us to pinpoint that one small event that created the world we know today, and think about what might have happened if things had gone differently. It makes readers consider cause and effect in history, and go back to non-fiction historical books to see how things actually turned out. Alternate history can be a way of expressing gratitude for the way that things are, or it can be a means of protest, questioning the status quo by dreaming another world.
Do you think the Japanese will be able to prevent Operation Dandelion?
I do not think that Operation Dandelion is happening at all. There are many instances in The Man in the High Castle where things are not what they seem, and I think it is very possible that Operation Dandelion is just a misunderstanding or total invention on the part of Baynes. It doesn't make sense that the Germans would choose this moment in history to destroy the Japanese Home Islands, nor does it seem likely that they have the technology to do so.