What Happens In The Book: This Amazon Prime series is adapted from Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel, which revolves around the alternate history premise that the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan, and Italy) won WWII. It now jointly governs the divided United States. The main plot takes place in San Francisco (which is part of the Japanese-governed Pacific States of America) 15 years after the end of the war. A key aspect of the plot is that many of the characters secretly read a banned book entitled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a novel of speculative fiction that suggests that the Allies, not the Axis Powers, really won WWII. Another key point in Dick's novel is that Joseph Goebbels becomes the chancellor of Nazi Germany.
Robert Childan owns a store that sells counterfeit antiques made by Wyndham-Matson. One day he receives a request from Nobusuke Tagomi, a high-ranking trade official, who is looking for a gift to impress a Swedish industrialist named Baynes. Childan's business is threatened by a secretly Jewish man named Frank Frink. He has recently been fired by Wyndham-Matson.
He blackmails the company in order to try and finance his proposed jewelry business. In order to win favor with a Japanese client, Childan takes some of Frink's jewelry on consignment.
Baynes, who is actually a Nazi defector, warns a Japanese contact about Operation Dandelion, a Goebbels-approved plot to secretly attack Japan. When Baynes and Tagomi are confronted by two Nazi agents, the latter uses an antique gun to kill the men. He returns the weapon to Childan, then impulsively buys some of Frink's jewelry, which is said to have wu (spiritual awareness).
This results in Tagomi seeing an alternate-history view of San Francisco. Frink is arrested, and it's discovered that he's Jewish. Tagomi refuses to sign the extradition, and Frink is released.
Frink's ex-wife Juliana, meanwhile, takes a road trip with her lover Joe Cinnadella. She later murders him when she discovers that he is a Nazi who plans to assassinate Hawthorne Abendsen, the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. The author lived in a heavily guarded residence (the High Castle) due to his fears of being murdered.
Juliana heads off to meet the author, only to learn that he abandoned the "high castle" for a normal residence. He ultimately realized he was no longer afraid of someone trying to harm him. When he tells Juliana he used the I Ching to guide his writing, she infers that the novel reveals the Inner Truth that Japan and Germany actually did lose WWII.
What The Show Invents And Adds: The central concept between Dick's novel and the dystopian alternate-history Amazon TV series remains the same: What if the Axis Powers won WWII?
The prolific sci-fi writer has had several of his acclaimed works adapted for the screen, including Blade Runner and Minority Report. Amazon released all 10 episodes of The Man in the High Castle in 2018. The Emmy Award-winning series lasted a total of four seasons.
Dick's daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, became involved with adapting the Ridley Scott-produced Amazon series. Her goal has never been for writers to adapt her father's works word-for-word but instead stay true to his spirit. "I encourage the writers to use it as an inspiration and a spiritual guide, rather than looking to do literal adaptations," said Hackett.
Most of Dick's Hugo Award-winning novel is covered in the pilot episode of the series. However, several aspects of the novel take place over four seasons. "All of the really outlandish sci-fi elements that people sometimes accused this production of just inventing are actually genuine Philip K. Dick, based on the same story ideas," added Hackett.
“The truth is when I started, I thought, ‘I don’t want to change anything because I love the book.’ But then I realized that you have to because it’s not a TV series. It’s a great book, but it’s not a TV series.” said producer Frank Spotnitz. “I want to build out this world. I want to extend it in a way that is consistent with the intention of the novel and actually hopefully give us an even greater opportunity to explore those ideas.”
In TV show, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a set of film reels instead of a popular banned book. Additionally, the series features several sympathetic American Nazis, such as Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank).
Over the course of 40 episodes, one of the more obvious changes is that there are more characters. There are also more narrative threads. Hackett revealed that one concept of the series, the discovery of a portal between the many universes, actually came from her father's audio recordings.