This is the best Philip K. Dick story I have read to date… but that isn’t saying much. There are some slight spoilers.
I had started reading this after watching the Amazon TV series which I really enjoy. To be honest that is the only thing that got me reading another PKD story. I knew it wouldn’t be the same, but sadly it isn’t even close.
It is still an alternative history, the Nazi and Japanese won the war and have split up the old USA. “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” is not a series of movie reels but a single book written by an author who consults the I Ching. It is read and known about publicly (instead of smuggled around and changing people when they see it). It really isn’t as much of a focal point as it is in the Amazon Prime show.
PKD’s problematic writing is on display. The characters are half done, they seem flat with not really interesting, the one exception is Nobusuke Tagomi who is also my favorite character in the streaming show. He is the most three dimensional character and the most entertaining (also the one I can relate to the most).
Once again though PKD uses more racist undertones then I am comfortable with. Even when its not from someone’s viewpoint he uses what I would consider unacceptable. He was even writing everyone in the Pacific States with ENGRISH accents (or maybe that was just the narrator, maybe the audiobook is worse with a narrator who does this). I realize this was written 40+ years ago, but I had a problem with Lovecraft and his racist words and those were another 30 years before PKDs.
The world isn’t filled out very well, its very much just broad strokes and to be honest some of the world building doesn’t make sense. However, I am a very different type of person I think and it could just be my filters are different.
Like I said though, the characters are cardboard cutouts for the most part. Juliana is a horribly written character. I haven’t been pleased by any of PKD’s women characters so far, but she is by far the worst. A harpyish screeching creature that can’t handle thing when they go bad. Much different then the Amazon Prime version of her.
The worst part (and this is a spoiler) is that the book ends before any resolution. I know he said he was working on a sequel, but it has no ending or no purpose.
Stick with the Amazon Prime streaming show… WAY WAY BETTER. I am glad to have read it, but only because I am a completionist.