I’ve been spending some quality time by a pool with books attached to my face. I started many, finished a few and really enjoyed two.

Here are my highlight holiday reads. Quite different but both sci-fi.

Let’s start with a classic.

The Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick

Some hotels have libraries. Generally, there are a few beaten-up paperbacks, mainly in the languages I don’t speak (in this instance German and Dutch) and there’s usually the Da Vinci Code there. But in this instance, hiding among the chick lit and crime thrillers, I spied PKD’s The Man in the High Castle.

I’m about 50 years late to this party but I devoured this book in two days. Yeah OK, it was holidays and I had little else to do, but I was sucked into the alternate reality world where the Germans and the Japanese won WW2 and occupied different coasts of the USA. Sorry if the finer details are a bit hazy, I left the book behind for the next person, so I’m relying on how the book made me feel.

Firstly I loved the alternate history setting but then I was engrossed by the characters. All swindlers in their own ways, portraying a different face for different aims. A jewelry designer, judo instructor, antiques dealer, spy, assassin all struggled with right and wrong. The strange Japanese style dialogue was poetic yet alien, along with the usage of the i-Ching as a guiding force for all of life’s decisions. The mixture of alternate history, cultural clash and existential crises made this fascinating reading for me. Highly recommend.

Question: are PKD fans really called ‘Dickheads’?

Fun side note: Here’s an Atlas Obscura article on different covers for The Man in the High Castle. Romania?

Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom – Brian Olsen

Another great fun read was Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom by Brian Olsen (Book One in The Future Next Door series). Alan is a slacker, temping and playing video-games while living with three friends in NYC; Mark – the personal trainer, Caitlin – the out of work actress and Dakota – the ambitious new recruit at Amalgamated Synergy.

The four friends start to notice a number of coincidences as Amalgamated Synergy encroaches into each of their lives. Why? What’s with all the murder-suicides?

Fun, funny and fast paced, this is a great mixture of comedy and conspiracy sci-fi action plus a little M2M romance. The four friends leapt off the page, I could just see the movie/TV series.

A perfect pool read, I’m looking forward to checking out the next adventures of the four friends.