Technically, Amazon's latest original series, The Man in the High Castle, is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's award-winning novel of the same name. As in the book, the series takes place in an alternate history in which the Axis powers won World War II; the Nazis and the Japanese occupy the East and West coasts of the United States, respectively.
In fact, the series relies much more on the novel's setting than on the particulars of Dick's narrative, and in many ways it feels more like a conventional spy thriller dressed up in retro-sci-fi fittings. But the show also sketches out the ways in which the global social and political order might have been unstable for decades following an Axis win in WWII. And its MacGuffin—a series of films showing a world in which the Allies won—suggests that what really drives opposition to totalitarianism is a clear vision of another, better world.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Retro Sci-Fi".