In our golden age of web-based streaming television programs, there’s never a shortage of new shows to watch.
And then there are the hits that keep coming.
Amazon Prime has just released a trailer for season three of The Man in the High Castle. Click HERE for the link.
Based on the little it reveals, it seems as if that the show may be crossing the line between alternate history and straight-up science fiction. What with characters discussing the existence of a “multiverse” where “travelers” spend their time crossing the “astral plane” (naturally carrying film canisters of the other world in which the Nazis lost the war)
I have no doubt that many people enjoy alternate history and science fiction to an equal degree. In fact, I can’t really imagine anyone liking one and NOT the other. However, since commentators often conflate the two genres, it’s probably worth noting that they differ in important ways.
Both genres can be classified as works of “speculative” fiction. But – to make an obvious point -- science fiction tales are commonly set in the future while alternate history narratives are set in the past. Moreover, the latter genre can comfortably exist without any science whatsoever, whereas the former is often predicated upon the existence of scientific (usually technological) innovations.
The two genres can obviously overlap – and often do in time travelling alternate history narratives. But they are ultimately distinct.
I’m wondering whether The Man in the High Castle may lose of some of its fans if it departs too much from alternate history for sci-fi territory. Probably most viewers are already locked in. But it may turn out that the show has exhausted much of its historical source material (Hitler is already dead, after all) and has nowhere to go but the, um, multiverse.
Still, I’m looking forward to what the show has to offer come 2018.
And, of course, we can look forward to interpreting the show’s contemporary allegorical significance. Hopefully, 2018 will be relatively calm and there will be no need to make reference to the specter of nuclear war documented in those hard-to-find film canisters.