Week 10

  • According to Mountfort (2016), what makes TMITHC a stand-out example of the alternate history (or uchronie) genre?

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, is, according to Mountfort (2016), a standout text in the uchronie genre. He believes that it’s the “synchronistic view of time the I Ching confers on the work,” (Mountfort, 2016, p. 3) that makes it so significant. He mentions that we are also indebted to Carl Jung for his “synchronicity concept”, which helps us comprehend and understand the view of time within the novel (Mountfort, 2016).

  • What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

American Sci-Fi Series Warehouse 13 is home to some sinister doubles. In Season 5 Episode 1, titled Endless Terror, previously deceased Regent Benedict Valda is one of the many familiar characters we see in a new light when our favourite agents are transported to an alternate reality of the warehouse. Valda, who originally sacrificed himself to save the other agents during a National-Treasure-esk moment in Season 2, comes back as a very much sinister character who is trying to take over the warehouse. After reading about the five main categories of sinister doubles; the coincidental, pseudo, biological, empathetic and useful double, laid out by Mountfort (2018), I have come to the conclusion that this particular sinister double does not exactly fit into any of these categories. Once Valda sees the agents from the other dimension, he immediately understands the nature of his circumstances. This particular episode of Warehouse 13 is almost an example of the uchronie genre, with the audience being able to look into a world where our heroes did not win the battle.


Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287

Week 10 Alt History/Sci-fi

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

There are a large number of films and shows that covers the aspect of doppelgangers, shapeshifters, clones. Many of which showcases that the dopplegangers are sinister and are usually the villains that tortures their ‘good’ counterparts. These doubles are shown to be exactly like us, the appearance, features and anything that physically connects us to the doubles. However, when it comes to the subject of personality it is hard to copy. This is where the film Usand the tv show Vampire Diaries indicates this problem with doubles.

Unknown.jpegVampire Diaries is an excellent example of this topic as the main character Elena Gilbert has a doppleganger – Kathrine Pierce. In this show the dopplegangers exist only to balance out the world of the supernatural, these doppelgangers are connected because they are related but born in different eras. The main character Elena Gilbert is your typical high school teenager, popular and beautiful. However, is really kind and caring towards her family and friends. Her doppelganger: Kathrine Pierce although similar to Elena with the appearance, lacks the soul that Elena possesses. Kathrine is introduced in the tv show as manipulative and vindictive, she is jealous of Elena and is willing to do anything to destroy Elena’s happy life.


Kathrine is five-hundred years older than Elena, therefore the two are born in different centuries. However, Kathrine is desperate to live a normal happy life as Elena’s and undoubtedly tries to steal Elena’s place. This I believe is similar to Mountfort’s (2018) “Quantum Double”, since both doubles exist in parallel universe (different centuries), depending on fringe science. Kathrine is considered as the sinister double of Elena, this is because throughout the series she has replaced or pretended to be Elena to fool everyone around her and in result it is difficult for the audience to watch.


The film Us is another example that involves the whole idea of doubles, doppelgangers. The film created clones of each person and the clones live underground, the purpose of their creation is so that the government are able to control the people on the surface. Despite their ability to recreate the souls. As a result, the government abandoned the clones and one of the clones “Red” took control. Throughout the film, a family is being hunted by each of their clones to seek revenge.


This showcases that the clones represent the sinister side of the doubles. They (clones) attempts to take the lives of their doubles and their place in the world. The film also portrays a message to the viewers, that we are our own enemies. Staring into the mirror, we see ourselves but we are afraid to confront our fears. This is why the doubles or doppelgangers are different from the originals, they are similar in appearance but entirely different within the soul. The doubles represent he evil that lurks within us, that we choose to hide.

The two chosen texts both show an excellent use of doppelgangers, the doubles are each introduced in different ways yet results in similar messages that the viewers receive.


Joho, J., & Han, A. (2019). 4 Ways of Understanding Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’. Retrieved from: https://mashable.com/article/us-jordan-peele-explainer-themes/

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science Fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science and Popular Culture.1(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1


Week 10: AltHistory/SciFi

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?


The concept of doubles is one that, in many ways, is a pervasive fear for humans. The idea that there is something or someone who could replace you; take over your life, in most if not all of its aspects, and for there to be the potential for your replacement to not be noticed, has permeated literature, film, TV and gaming. Movies like Us and shows like Star Trek make use of Doppelgangers to create fear or challenge characters with the story, as well as allow us as viewers to engage our beloved character in new and interesting ways.

Star Trek is a strong proponent for the use of Doppelgangers in TV. “An episode in the second season of the original series, entitled “Mirror, Mirror” (1967), first introduced the trope” Hantke, (2014). The way they introduced the idea was through an alternate dimension, which mirrored the real one, and contained all of the beloved characters in a much darker light. In this and all subsequent appearances of characters from this universe, they would display often completely contrary beliefs, morals and values to the characters that the audience is used to. In some episodes, they replace the real characters for nefarious purposes, while in others, dead characters are ‘resurrected’ to force characters into difficult situations. These doubles are similar to the “Quantum doubles” referred to by Mountfort (2018), as their origin is in another parallel universe and so their existence is dependent on fringe science. The reason that they would count as sinister doubles (for the most part) is the way in which, while they appear to be the same as beloved main characters from the show, they often have clashing beliefs that lead them to behave in a way that is almost painful for the audience to watch. They also often replace their original counterparts, and then seek to further their own ends through their new found position.

Us is another text that makes use of doppelgangers to great effect. The text makes use of genetic doubles; clones of the primary characters who are identical in appearance but are evil in their aspect as they try to kill the “real” family as a means of revenge. The films use of doppelgangers is a message to the viewer, “that our shadow selves, our reverse negatives, are not separate entities from ourselves — we are simply our own aggressors.” Wilkinson (2019). The idea is that these clones, who have been living underground for their entire lives, share a soul with their counterparts, and need to kill them to free themselves. This is where the sinister aspect of the film comes in, as they try to kill each other for these esoteric reasons. The idea that they are almost two halves of the same person could mean that they fit into a more supernatural definition of doppelganger.

Both of these texts make excellent use of doppelgangers to create a sinister atmosphere in many cases, where the weirdness of having multiple copies of yourself is compunded by the evil nature of those same copies, even if in the case of Us they are only that way because of your mistakes (the fact that the government created them and then abandoned them.




Hantke, S. (2014). Star Treks Mirror Universe Episodes and US Military Culture through the Eyes of the Other. Science Fiction Studies41(3), 562. doi: 10.5621/sciefictstud.41.3.0562

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture1(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Wilkinson, A. (2019, March 20). Us is Jordan Peele’s thrilling, blood-curdling allegory about a self-destructing America. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/3/20/18274105/us-review-jordan-peele-jeremiah-doppelganger.

Week 10 – Alt History/Sci-Fi

What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinning?

Alternative history refers to the science fictional genre which dramatize one or more historical events (Alternate history, n.d.). This genre is occurred by considering what if something happened instead of historical fact. For example, Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel, The Man in the High Castle was written based on what if Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won at the parallel universes of World War II (Mountfort, 2018). Therefore, with regard to the composition of The Man in the High Castle, the author used lots of historical elements to entertain audiences as if they were exploring the places in actual history through time-machine by written down historical and folksy elements in the novel.

Among those historical elements, especially I Ching is the vital part of The Man in the High Castle plot – in other words, without I Ching, the story could not be proceeded. I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes includes Chinese divination text uses hexagrams which is similar to the tarot card reading (Mountfort, 2016). According to Smith (2008), in the hexagrams, broken lines were referring the numbers 6 (六) and 8 (八), and solid lines were referring values of 7 (七) and 9 (九). Besides, I Ching, by Emperor Wu’s judgement, was placed among the Five Classics include “Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, yin-yang cosmology, and Wu Xing physical theory” (Smith, 2008, p.32). This attractive divination text captivates Dick and considered by him as the most significant and 5,000 years of representative oriental oracle as well as a number of characters’ acts are controlled by I Ching in his novel (Fitzgerald, 2016). In terms of the various aspects of narrative, characters, settings, and time period, The Man in the High Castle rely on “the texts of the hexagrams, randomly generated by the counting of yarrow stalks or the casting of coins” (Fitzgerald, 2016). Moreover, Mountfort (2016) argues that as an American author, it would be experimental for Dick to set a plot with I Ching. However, he was the first author who centrally, sophisticatedly, and self-reflectively applies oracle-text into novel (Mountfort, 2016). Thus, it is obvious that I Ching played important and dominant role in the novel’s composition.

I Ching has successfully played its role not only in the composition matter but also has successfully become the basis of philosophical background of this novel. For example, Mountfort (2016) describes how hexagram and its philosophy such as Daoism applied in the text and character:

“Tagomi’s result, hexagram 61 Chung Fu / Inner Truth, in turn also anticipates the I Ching’s answer to Juliana’s question about the meaning of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, the novel-within-a-novel that is paired metafictionally with The Man in the High Castle” (Mountfort, 2016).

As can be seen, the philosophy of I Ching becomes the clue to find the “meaning” of abstract and figurative novel. Moreover, since I Ching is the method of divination which is relevant to fatalism, and fatalism, in terms of alternative history genre, the supposition of US being ruled and suppressed by Nazi and Imperial Japan could be the real historical events if the fate favoured them, not US. Therefore, in fatalistic perspective, The Man in the High Castle could be more attractive and entertaining than those who are not because as I mentioned, this novel considers I Ching as the key philosophical method to handle the situations and overturn the fate.


Alternate history. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved October 11 2019 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/alternate+history

Fitzgerald, B. (2016, September 28). Something missing from Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle: the Author, the I-Ching. Retrieved October 12, 2019, from https://medium.com/@brianfit/meta-fiction-a-living-book-and-philip-k-dick-s-man-in-the-high-castle-eac578bdcb09

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fiction doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), pp.59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.

Smith, R. J. (2008). Fathoming the cosmos and ordering the world: the Yijing (I Ching, or Classic of Changes) and its evolution in China. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0-8139-2705-6.

Week 10, Alt History/ SciFi – Question Two

What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinnings?

Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history novel where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won World War II and occupied their respective areas of the USA. In fact, according to Mountfort (2018), The Man in the High Castle is a formative example of parallel universes as a science-fiction device (pg 62). Dick’s novel was heavily inspired by the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination text, in relation to important elements in his novels such as the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinnings.

The I Ching played a huge role in both the lives of the characters in the novel and with Philip K. Dick in the process of actually writing The Man in the High Castle. Essentially, both the author and his characters had consulted with the I Ching and asked the oracle several questions which ultimately has affected the storyline and the narrative. For example, Philip K. Dick consulted the oracle for inspiration and ideas for his novel; he asked about turning points in the novel and also asked questions about what should happen next to his characters and how those characters react to it and so on. So, the I Ching was used by Dick to help develop his story, however, he took it a step further and also incorporated the I Ching into his novel. So now, Dick’s characters also use this divination text in the novel for their own purposes. As mentioned previously, the I Ching is a divination text, and by going through its processes can predict the future or give the user an idea of what to do next. The oracle is seen as an important aspect of the novel as it allows the readers to understand the characters more – because when those characters consult the oracle they can learn more about what is bothering or worrying them. Therefore, the I Ching is important in the sense that it “… introduces an element of chance…” in the novel and “…suggests that alternative possibilities always exist.” (Mountfort, n.d, pg 288). So, it is evident that the pure anatomy and makeup of The Man in the High Castle rely on the I Ching.

The I Ching also played a huge role in The Man in the High Castle’s philosophical underpinnings. The story itself gives readers an alternate reality as to who won the second World War (Nazi Germany and Japan) and everything else which occurred as a result of their victory. In relation to his, Saavedra (2015) asked in his article “What is reality? Is there a real reality and a false reality? Can there truly be two realities? Those are the types of questions that PKD sought to answer during his long trips into the darkest caverns of the mind and society.” Philip K. Dick did answer those questions in his novel, for example, while in our reality it was the US and Russia who were locked in the Cold War in the twentieth century, but in Dick’s novel, it was Germany and Japan who were in a silent nuclear arms race. In fact, Germany was perceived as being more technologically advanced in the novel than the actual winning side of the War in our reality. Not to mention the I Ching is woven into all of these circumstances created as a result of the Second World War. There are characters from different sides and affiliations in the novel who consult the I Ching’s philosophy. So, through an alternate reality of the plot, The Man in the High Castle is also exploring different philosophical views.

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fiction doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), 59-75. Doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.

Mountfort, P. (n.d). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43, 287-309.

Saavedra, J. (2015, November 19). Why The Man in the High Castle is Essential Science Fiction. Retrieved October 5, 2019, from

Week 10 Alternate History and Science Fiction – Doppelgängers

Question 6: What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

Elena Gilbert and Katerina Petrova (Katherine Pierce)
“The Vampire Diaries”

When the subject of Doppelgangers came up in the lecture this week, my mind immediately went to the popular cult vampire television series, The Vampire Diaries. Main Protagonist Elena Gilbert finds out she was adopted and in the process finds out that her boyfriend is a 170 year old vampire who was turned by his ex girlfriend; Katherine Pierce, who also happens to be Elena’s Doppelganger. Elena comes from the Petrova bloodline which started with the progenitor Amara. the Doppelganger is a special kind of Human being in the “magical” world after the Mikalson clan uses the blood of Tatia (another petrova doppelganger) to seal Klaus Mikalson’s Warewolf gene. he then goes on a mission to find the next Doppelganger to sacrifice them ion order to break his “curse”.

Katherine is very jealous of Elena and tries to steal her life at any chance she gets and often attempts to kill Elena. they compete for the affections of the character “stefan” until Elena falls in love with Stefan’s older brother Damon who was also in love with Katherine in the past and now due to Katherine’s abuse and manipulation of him, hates her with a passion. Katherine still tries to destroy elena and damon’s relationship .

Because they are technically related, Katherine is Elena’s distant ancestor. Katherine fits into the Biological Doppelganger category. she constantly tries to harm her doppelganger Elena making her a very sinister Doppelganger. in the end she was destroyed by her own ambition.

Commander Shepard and the Clone Shepard
“Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC”

Not a film or Television show. but in the Game Mass Effect; Bioware intergrated into their final DLC a ‘boss’ battle with a Double or Doppelganger of the Main Protagonist Commander Shepard. fans of the series are aware that when shepard died at the beginning of Mass Effect 2; cerberes worked on the Lazaras project to bring shepard back to life. what was kept secret until this moment was that cerberes created a clone of Shepard “just in case” the commander needed an extra limb etc. the clone should never have been awakened however a rouge cerberes agent woke the clone and manipulated her into evil in order to destroy the real commander shepard and take her place following cerberes commands. just like Katherine (above) the Shepard clone is technically a biological doppelganger. after she is defeated by the real Shepard and her crew, she does not see any pupose in her life and so commits suicide.