A Science Fiction High Castle

man-in-the-high-castleLast year I wrote favorably about the pilot episode of the small screen adaptation of Philip Dick’s The Man In The High Castle. I’m a few episodes into season two now. My verdict is still favorable.

But this is one creepy viewing experience. My wife and I often binge-watch online-available series. But I’ve never liked Nazi viewing, and I can stomach only one episode at a time. About every third day.

Check one of the promotional images, left. The Greater Nazi Reich is victorious in 1960’s New York, and notice the architecture soaring above the twin Empire State and Chrysler buildings. German technology has given the victors the atomic bomb, supersonic passenger jets, and monorails. Across all Africa and the former eastern United States, there’s a eugenics program supreme. Ashes of dead people blow in the Plains winds. Even children of high-ranking fascists are not ineligible from euthanasia. Young women of approved ethnicity are herded into dorms to breed a new generation of brainwashed American youth.

The best characters (their stories as well as the actors) are central figures in Nazi New York and Japanese San Francisco. These are not cardboard back hats, but not entirely unsympathetic people caught between personal values (or lack thereof), loyalty to family or state, and the movement of a world pitched to a superpower encounter that isn’t likely to be played cold.

I always check science fiction for its treatment of religion. The Nazis were pagans, so Christianity and Judaism have gone underground in this treatment. One of the Japanese leads leans into the mystical tradition of I-Ching. That was key to the original novel. Ethics do feature here, among some characters. Is virtue enough? Or does it depend, as one character cites, on full stomachs?

The promoted “lead” actors are competent, but the title character is, so far, just a little off the wall. No matter; this tv series is all about an alternate history that gives significant glimpses into real life. Strongly recommended, but at your own risk.

 

 

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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