Alternate versions of history are a staple of science fiction. The what-if nature is an ideal fit for the genre, and few events have been reimagined through this lens as often as World War II. This is an area rife for reinterpretation, after all, it isn’t hard to envision that if the Nazis won the war that the world would be a much darker, different, generally fucked up place. Philip Roth recently posited such a scenario in his 2005 novel The Plot Against America and Doctor Who got in on the act with the novel Just War. One of the most beloved offerings in the subgenre is Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel The Man in the High Castle, which won the Hugo Award, and is now getting a TV adaptation from Amazon.
Moving into its third pilot season, the online retailer turned original content producer, just announced that they will be basing on of their new shows on the award-winning novel. Deadline reports that The X-Files producer Frank Spotnitz will write and produce the pilot for Ridley Scott’s Scott Free. David Semel, who has directed a ton of TV like The Strain, American Horror Story, and Heroes, among many others, will fill the same role on this initial outing.
Set in 1962, The Man in the High Castle is one of Dick’s most celebrated, popular novels, and imagines a world where Germany and Japan came out on top of World War II. Germany controls the East Coast, and Japan reigns over the West, with a disputed region in the middle of the country that is still up for discussion. Jews live in hiding under assumed identities, resistance only exists in small fracture cells, Hitler is getting old and teeters on the verge of death, and all the while Japan is plotting to betray the Nazis. Basically, shit is all kinds of crazy.
Last year, Syfy was circling this title as a four-hour miniseries, which Scott Free also would have produced. At the time, Ridley Scott, whose Blade Runner is based on Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, said, “The Man in [the] High Castle is one of Dick’s most imaginative and captivating works and certainly one of my favorites.”
Amazon’s pilot process is a different animal than the usual procedure that TV networks go through to pick what appears on your TV. They make the pilot and make them available to viewers who then get to vote on which titles they would like to see. After this, the shows with the most votes will ultimately get at full series worth of episodes. So, as long as the pilot actually gets made, fans will have the opportunity to explore Dick’s troubling vision of an alternate future, whether or not it becomes a continuing series. There’s no set date for when the pilot season will begin, but let’s just hope they don’t screw this up.