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
https://www.denofgeek.com/us/books-comics/the-man-in-the-high-castle/242951/why-the-man-in-the-high-castle-is-essential-science-fiction

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.