As the term “fascism” is tossed about by alarmists, some perspective is gained by reading Philip K. Dick’s award-winning classic, “The Man in the High Castle.” First published in 1962 and recently made into a series for Amazon TV, the novel imagines a counterfactual World War II, in which Germany and Japan have conquered Europe and America. It is fascism, the real thing. The Nazis, propelled by megalomania, are governing the East Coast of the U.S. and move on to colonize Mars. The Japanese rule the West Coast, administering calmly and collecting Americana, unsure how to play their pre-eminence.
Dick mines the nightmare in utter consequence, like an ode to the real history that might never have happened. As characters navigate a new San Francisco and German leadership decides the next fuhrer, a judo instructor and her lover meet the author of the mysterious book, “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.” It is a forbidden screed that dreams the unthinkable: a world in which America won the war.