Hot Best Seller

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Availability: Ready to download

Dick at his wildest and strangest - a mystifying but brilliant book - SF: 100 Best Novels In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late 21st century, tedium can be endured through the drug Can-D, which enables users to inhabit a shared illusory world. When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z Dick at his wildest and strangest - a mystifying but brilliant book - SF: 100 Best Novels In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late 21st century, tedium can be endured through the drug Can-D, which enables users to inhabit a shared illusory world. When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z. It is far more potent than Can-D, but threatens to plunge the world into a permanent state of drugged illusion controlled by the mysterious Eldritch. Cover illustration: Chris Moore


Compare

Dick at his wildest and strangest - a mystifying but brilliant book - SF: 100 Best Novels In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late 21st century, tedium can be endured through the drug Can-D, which enables users to inhabit a shared illusory world. When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z Dick at his wildest and strangest - a mystifying but brilliant book - SF: 100 Best Novels In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late 21st century, tedium can be endured through the drug Can-D, which enables users to inhabit a shared illusory world. When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z. It is far more potent than Can-D, but threatens to plunge the world into a permanent state of drugged illusion controlled by the mysterious Eldritch. Cover illustration: Chris Moore

30 review for The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - A Philip K. Dick novel so crazy I found myself laughing out loud on every page. Here are a dozen key ingredients PKD mixes in his hallucinogenic science fiction roller coaster: The illegal hallucinogenic drug Can-D Drug of choice for those colonists on Mars and other remote planets, a drug enabling its chewers to inhabit the same body and mind-stream and then travel together to an appealing illusory reality in another dimension. The legal (sort of) hallucinogenic drug Chew-Z Taken solo for a solo trip to an alt The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - A Philip K. Dick novel so crazy I found myself laughing out loud on every page. Here are a dozen key ingredients PKD mixes in his hallucinogenic science fiction roller coaster: The illegal hallucinogenic drug Can-D Drug of choice for those colonists on Mars and other remote planets, a drug enabling its chewers to inhabit the same body and mind-stream and then travel together to an appealing illusory reality in another dimension. The legal (sort of) hallucinogenic drug Chew-Z Taken solo for a solo trip to an alternate reality where, among other possibilities, one can revisit and remake the past in a way that influences the future. Leo Bulero Cartoon version of a 1940s gruff, bald, cigar-chomping boss, a man who puts a high premium on maintaining control of market share and control of his sanity. Barney Mayerson Cartoon version of a 1950s boss want-a-be, a ‘precog’, that is, someone given, via technology, the gift of knowing certain aspects of the future. Miss Rondinella Fugate Cartoon version of a 1960s attractive, sexy corporate climber who is also a precog and knows exactly how to manipulate men like Barney Mayerson and Leo Bulero. Dr. Smile A psychiatrist who is an advanced computer living in a briefcase, offering advice to men like Barney Mayerson. Emily and her Ceramic Pots A potter who makes pots that have, believe it or not, a profound influence in this futuristic world of interplanetary travel. Richard Hnatt Current husband of Emily and a salesman in New York City, a most demanding and difficult job since the daytime temperature in the Big Apple runs 130 degrees. Dr. Willy Denkmal's E Therapy clinics That’s E Therapy as in Evolution Therapy, providing humans with accelerated mental powers. But there are some problems: the therapy distorts your features so you look like a bubble-head. Also, the therapy might backfire and instead of evolving you devolve back into a cruder, less intelligent you. Anne Hawthorne Appropriate name, since Anne is a conservative Christian right out of the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Anne is less than thrilled with the drugs and other beings with God-like powers. Hovel on Mars Being sent to a place like Mars isn’t any fun. There are some advantages, though: the colonists chew their Can-D and everyone has sex with everyone else. Ah, community. Palmer Eldritch If Philip K. Dick was paranoid, then Palmer Eldritch might be his perfect alter ego. Mr. Palmer has several super-human powers that fuel this novel right to the last sentence. Similar to PKD's Dr. Bloodmoney, the most hypercrazy novel I've ever read, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch would spin into a formless mess if it wasn’t for the author's strong sense of interweaving plots and underlying themes. What an absolutely zany, outrageous, bizarre, wild read! “The time, then, had come for him to poison himself so that an economic monopoly could be kept alive, a sprawling, interplanetary empire from which he now derived nothing.” ― The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - American Science Fiction author Philip K. Dick (1928 - 1982)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was the kind of book that Kilgore Trout, the fictional recurring character in Kurt Vonnegut's novels (based on science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon) would have been proud of – deftly original, scathingly satirical, wildly entertaining – and funny in the kind of subtle way that would have pleased Vonnegut. It is good in many different ways, and works well on different levels. First published in 1965, this is one of Dick's earlier works that deals both dir The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was the kind of book that Kilgore Trout, the fictional recurring character in Kurt Vonnegut's novels (based on science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon) would have been proud of – deftly original, scathingly satirical, wildly entertaining – and funny in the kind of subtle way that would have pleased Vonnegut. It is good in many different ways, and works well on different levels. First published in 1965, this is one of Dick's earlier works that deals both directly and obliquely with religious themes. The surface story itself, if it were made into a movie, could be cast and produced in a similar fashion as the Bruce Willis film The Fifth Element – it’s over the top, bizarre, absurd, and yet all fits together. PKD’s underlying commentaries on religion and the drug culture are both erudite and socially informed. The author also applies a generous portion of irony and outrageous circumstance to an already volatile mix, like evolution of humans into a neo-bug-like thing. Critics before me have said that it is one of his best and I must wholeheartedly agree. Oddly reminiscent of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the parts left out of Bladerunner) this novel brings out some of PKD’s unique abilities to combine science fiction with theological explorations. Best line in the book: "Palmer Eldritch had gone to Prox a man and returned a god". A must read for PKD fans, SF fans, and a good introduction of his work for a new reader.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “It takes a certain amount of courage, he thought, to face yourself and say with candor, I'm rotten. I've done evil and I will again. It was no accident; it emanated from the true, authentic me.” ― Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Enter into PKD's drug-infused, gnostic future. All his entheogens are belong to us. PKD “It takes a certain amount of courage, he thought, to face yourself and say with candor, I'm rotten. I've done evil and I will again. It was no accident; it emanated from the true, authentic me.” ― Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Enter into PKD's drug-infused, gnostic future. All his entheogens are belong to us. PKD is at his high point when he infuses his dark futurism with his gnostic explorations and his drug-fueled moral investigations. In 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch', Dick entertains that funky zone between religious dogma and drug addiction, while at the same time throwing in some key ideas about evolutionary therapy, evolution, atonement, eternal life, time, God, etc. There is a large and diverse precedence in the idea of "finding God" with the assistance/facilitation of mind altering drugs. There are similarities between the euphoria of worship and the euphoria of drugs. Just look at the Dionysian & Eleusinian Mysteries with their ambrosia, the Bwitists and their root bark, the Kiowa's and their peyote. The Rastafari's smoke a bit of the cannabis, the Vedas have their Soma, the Rus' people have their mushrooms. Hell, some people in Appalachia even get close to God with a little sip of strychnine and few rattlesnakes. Who am I to judge? PKD explores the use of two different drugs: Can-D and Chew-Z to explore two dimensions of the God-inducing euphoria. One leads to a greater sense of community, the other leads to isolation. Which is Heaven and which is Hell folks? Or do they both end up being Hell? Anyway, I'm still trying to work out exactly how I feel about it all. Like most of Dick's big (BIG) idea novels they aren't easy to deconstruct and leave me churning for a few days. He drops me off the last page feeling trapped, trying to figure out where I am and who to exactly to believe. He does a fantastic job of disorienting this reader, making me feel both time scrambled and a bit paranoid. Like Ben Harper says, when it's gone: "Some drink to remember, Some to forget" I'd review more, but I'll have to wait until the drugs stop working and those voices in my head stop talking to me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    Reading this book felt a bit like dreaming, after a while it became like a dream within a dream, soon after it became full on Inception!. Without going into the synopsis in any detail, this novel features a drug induced virtual reality, initially with the aid of Ken and Barbie-like dolls in their nicely furnished dollhouse. The VR sessions are called "translations", a very popular past time in the hellish Mars colony. The drug is caled Can-D, later on a new type of drug called Chew-Z comes on the market an Reading this book felt a bit like dreaming, after a while it became like a dream within a dream, soon after it became full on Inception!. Without going into the synopsis in any detail, this novel features a drug induced virtual reality, initially with the aid of Ken and Barbie-like dolls in their nicely furnished dollhouse. The VR sessions are called "translations", a very popular past time in the hellish Mars colony. The drug is caled Can-D, later on a new type of drug called Chew-Z comes on the market and immediately make the Can-D drug obsolete by doing away with the dolls and other paraphernalia and allowing any fantasy world to be created by the user. Of course this being a PKD novel things are never what they seem. Brilliant digital art by SharksDen The first 50 or so pages are straight forward enough but soon things take a sharp left turn somewhere and the reader goes careening off reality and become more "Lost in Translation" than Bill Murray floundering around Tokyo. Dick is a master of this kind of mind coitus, his stories often makes you wonder where you are, who you are and why is there a fish floating above your head? Interestingly he always manages achieve this weird effect using straight forward prose without ever resorting to any kind of poetry or verbiage. His characters are seldom well rounded complex individuals but generally I can never guess what a PKD character is going to do or say next. The most interesting character in this book has to be the titular Palmer Eldritch himself. The most interesting thing about him is not so much who is Palmer Eldritch, but who isn't Palmer Eldritch? The man gives the word ubiquitous not so much a new meaning as a super literal one. If that makes no sense to you then I urge you to read the book and take the trip for yourself. Hilariously re-used Dune cover by Manor books in the 1970s (read more about this)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Unfortunately this suffers from what we may call the Citizen Kane syndrome. (Someone somewhere must have given this thing a proper name.) It's when a groundbreaking original work of art gets ripped off so many times by lesser mortals (not necessarily out of malignant plagiarism, mostly because the original art introduces various techniques which become part of the lexicon) that when you actually get round to seeing/reading/hearing the original thing, your reaction is "okay, is that it?". Pity th Unfortunately this suffers from what we may call the Citizen Kane syndrome. (Someone somewhere must have given this thing a proper name.) It's when a groundbreaking original work of art gets ripped off so many times by lesser mortals (not necessarily out of malignant plagiarism, mostly because the original art introduces various techniques which become part of the lexicon) that when you actually get round to seeing/reading/hearing the original thing, your reaction is "okay, is that it?". Pity the poor film lecturer explaining to a bunch of 19 year olds about Citizen Kane's crane shots, montage, deep focus and all that stuff. The kids are going to be bored, you know they are, they've seen all these tricks a zillion times and done better than Orson could do. Philip Dick is a great sufferer from Citizen Kane syndrome. I read The Three Stigmata and I said yeah - and? In my most aggravating tone of voice. Not pleasant. And I knew I shouldn't have, but I did. PKD does in retrospect seem kind of - sorry to say this - like a one trick pony, the trick being his Total Paranoia about what actually is Reality. Yeah yeah, sometimes it's hard to tell What Reality Is, until that is you get a £400 bill from the body shop when someone stoves in your passenger side door and drives away. Do I sound bitter? Have I forgotten what I was talking about?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    As usual, Phillip K. Dick has left me with spirally eyes and a whirring brain. I'd like to give a plot summary, but I'll let someone else do that and egotistically save this space for my own musings: http://www.philipkdickfans.com/ttsopa... There are summaries I found that I like better, but this one provides a useful foil against which to formulate my own thoughts about this book, which rather has my mind tied in knots. To start with, I don't see the book's theme as revolving around drugs and hallucinations, cut and dry. Rather, I se As usual, Phillip K. Dick has left me with spirally eyes and a whirring brain. I'd like to give a plot summary, but I'll let someone else do that and egotistically save this space for my own musings: http://www.philipkdickfans.com/ttsopa... There are summaries I found that I like better, but this one provides a useful foil against which to formulate my own thoughts about this book, which rather has my mind tied in knots. To start with, I don't see the book's theme as revolving around drugs and hallucinations, cut and dry. Rather, I see it as questioning the relationship between a drug experience or hallucination and a bona fide religious experience. This reader saw Can-D as the "mere" drug, the one reliant on Perky Pat mini-worlds and the one where the drug experience is clearly demarcated from and never confused with the "real" world. In contrast, Palmer Eldritch's Chew-Z provides a fundamentally different experience. Takers of Chew-Z (and Dick's readers, once the substance has been taken by two main characters, Leo Bulero and Barney Mayerson) cannot separate the drug experience from reality. They do not simply wake up from their trip (or "translation" as Dick has it) and leave it behind. The drug punches a hole in the usually non-permeable layer between hallucination and reality. In the end this confusion of hallucination and reality only poses the question of whether what we call hallucination is not true reality, and sobriety (or "reality") the veil we cast over it so that we don't go bonkers by embracing the truth, the *really* real. Leo's and Barney's Chew-Z experiences are hellish, and other users describe their experiences the same way because in each case, for each person, Palmer Eldritch seems to be in control of their hallucination, in control of the world in which they find themselves. And when they think they've awoken from the trip, it is only to have friends or coworkers suddenly morph into Eldritch (they appear with Eldritch's prostheses, his three distinctive physical, and nonbiological traits - his three stigmata), demonstrating that users are still in the thrall of Chew-Z...and of Eldritch who, we grow to understand, is not the man who left earth 10 years ago, but some entity controlling his body and perpetuating itself through the use of Chew-Z. As Barney Mayerson comes to understand (or believe he understands - and I'm inclined to agree with him), the thing occupying Eldritch is outside of time and indescribably ancient. It falls so beyond human understanding that the closest way Barney, an atheist, can describe it is through reference to God. I wish I had the book here in front of me and I'd quote, but I have to paraphrase - humans call it God, because they need something to call it, but it's beyond understanding simply on the merit of being so damned old, so damned different from humans. This is also the reason Eldritch and the Chew-Z "translations" come across as hellish - they are simply so alien from humanity as to feel palpably "other", positively ahuman - and part of their alien-ness is a kind of amorality, which is not to be confused with immorality. The Eldritch-creature wishes no harm (no spiritual harm, physical harm is another matter), but perhaps doesn't know how to do good, in our common human sense of the word. The final fascinating thoughts on this topic go to Anne Hathaway, a neo-Christian colonist on Mars, who instructs Barney about ontology - you must not confuse the pot with the potter, she warns him. Do not confuse the creation with the creator, the matter with the substance, the vessel with the contents. And I suppose that's all meant to imply that even the stigmata of Palmer Eldritch are just vessels in that metaphor, containing something we really can't describe or ever know. Even when we've brushed right up against it and are only separated from it by the thinnest of membranes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nate D

    Searching for meaning in drugs, god, corporate culture, human evolution. And then searching for meaning directly from and of a god -- of sorts. Completely berserk in terms of pacing and plotting, and borders on incoherency in the second half, but totally worth it anyway. Dick's conceptual reach exceeds his grasp by a decent margin but the reach is broad and esoteric and stimulating nonetheless. Incidentally, the covers for the old editions of his are so much better than the one I've got: Searching for meaning in drugs, god, corporate culture, human evolution. And then searching for meaning directly from and of a god -- of sorts. Completely berserk in terms of pacing and plotting, and borders on incoherency in the second half, but totally worth it anyway. Dick's conceptual reach exceeds his grasp by a decent margin but the reach is broad and esoteric and stimulating nonetheless. Incidentally, the covers for the old editions of his are so much better than the one I've got: I mean, it's practically enough to make me want to start collecting old PKD editions. (Except I won't because books are for reading, not piling up on shelves).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch: What if god were a lonely drug-pushing alien? Originally posted at Fantasy Literature This was the 10th and final PKD book I read last year after 40 years without reading any. I always felt as a teenager that I would get more from his books as an adult, and I think I was right. This one is a real mind-bending experience, deliciously strange and tantalizing with its ideas. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) is one of the earliest PKD novels that dea The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch: What if god were a lonely drug-pushing alien? Originally posted at Fantasy Literature This was the 10th and final PKD book I read last year after 40 years without reading any. I always felt as a teenager that I would get more from his books as an adult, and I think I was right. This one is a real mind-bending experience, deliciously strange and tantalizing with its ideas. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) is one of the earliest PKD novels that deals overtly with drug use, hallucinations, and his thoughts on religion and the divine in our mundane lives. As usual, his near-future world is fairly dystopian, and his characters are everyday people trying to muddle through life. There are no superheroes, and his characters are filled with flaws. PKD was a champion of the downtrodden everyman, which makes sense since he himself was always struggling with poverty, mental illness, multiple divorces, and pervasive paranoia. He also had a religious experience in Feb 1974 with a mysterious girl with a fish-shaped gold pendant, from which a pink beam of light went straight into his mind. He attributed it to a communication from a completely rational alien mind that imparted a series of hallucinations and visions of early Rome and Christians. These experiences led him to write the VALIS trilogy (1978-82), which really dives deep down the rabbit hole of his religious explorations. Three Stigmata came before this stage of his life, and the book evokes the usual Dickian paranoia, disorientation, and melancholy that infuses all his best works, and done with very simple, unadorned prose. In fact, the book defines the Three Stigmata as alienation, blurred reality, and despair, symbolized by a mechanical arm, artificial eyes, and steel teeth. In his story, Barney Mayerson is a precog who works for Perky Pat Layouts. His job is to use precognition to predict which accessories will become popular for users of the illegal drug Can-D, which allows users to escape into the world of Perky Pat and Walt, two Barbie and Ken-like characters who live an easy and bourgeois existence. The drug is used pervasively by off-world colonists, who live grim and miserable lives trying half-heartedly to establish human settlements, since the Earth is suffering from severe global warming. What’s interesting is that users of Can-D think of the drug as a religious experience, and argue whether the “translation”, which lasts only a short time, is an actual physical transportation to another world, or merely an illusion. It’s also strange that the actual activities of Pat and Walt are fairly prosaic and superficial, like going to the beach, shopping, having casual sex, etc. The unique aspect of Can-D is that multiple users can occupy the person of Pat (women only) and Walt (men only), so the drug does serve as a shared communal experience, whether or not the experience is “real”. Meanwhile, Barney’s boss Leo Bulero, a gruff and arrogant man, learns that Palmer Eldritch, a man who left the solar system 10 years ago to explore the Prox System, is coming back with a mysterious lichen that will allow him to produce a new and more insidious drug named Chew-Z. Although the details are initially not clear, it turns out that Chew-Z allows the user to be transported to an entirely different universe, one which the user himself can control and shape. Leo Bulero, threated by this new rival drug to Can-D, decides to visit Palmer Eldritch where he is recuperating from the crash of his ship in an off-world hospital. Leo has been told by Barney and another precog that he will eventually kill Eldritch, but he decides to confront Eldritch anyway. Upon meeting him, Eldritch kidnaps Leo and forces him to try Chew-Z, and Leo discovers that Eldritch can control every aspect of the experience, even to the point of seemingly allowing Barney to go back to Earth. The illusion of reality in Chew-Z is exponentially more powerful than the brief and tawdry experience of Can-D, so Leo quickly recognizes that his business empire will be crushed if Chew-Z takes over on the off-world colonies. Back on Earth, Barney Mayerson refuses to help Leo out when he is kidnapped by Eldritch, and as a result Leo fires him. Barney has also been romantically involved with his assistant and fellow precog Rondinella, but begins to regret separating from his former wife, who now designs pottery and has a new boyfriend. As his life on Earth deteriorates, Barney decides that he needs to do penance for past wrongs and volunteers to be sent to the Mars colony by the UN (most people do everything possible to avoid this fate). Here Barney encounters other colonists using Can-D, but cannot bring himself to use it. Instead, he is there when Palmer Eldritch’s pushers come and try to get the colonists to switch to Chew-Z. In the meantime Leo Bulero has convinced him to serve as a double-agent and wants him to try Chew-Z, then develop a medical condition (epilepsy) as a result of the drug, thereby discouraging others from switching. At this point the plot gets extremely convoluted (yes, more so!) as several characters get caught up in Chew-Z hallucinations, during which they frequently encounter the ominous Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, the mechanical arm, artificial eyes, and steel teeth. Both Barney and Leo start to travel in time and space and it’s not clear what is real and what is induced by Chew-Z. In the middle of it all, the mysterious figure of Palmer Eldritch continues to manifest himself in the characters lives, seemingly all-powerful and yet trapped within the confines of his fate. It seems that Palmer Eldritch is no longer human, but instead may have become a god in the Prox system, or been taken over by something alien and powerful. Palmer’s motivations for spreading the use of Chew-Z in the solar system are unclear. In many ways, his existence seems a lonely one, and he actually tries through elaborate means to switch bodies with Barney to avoid his predestined death at the hands of Leo Bulero in the future. Why would this powerful alien being, perhaps a manifestation of a much greater and more inscrutable god-like figure, need to avoid a death it can already foresee, and would prefer to have the dreary existence of Barney on Mars? PDK never answers this question, but instead throws out the sacrilegious idea that god may not be all-powerful, may indeed be lonely and lacking in purpose, but is still driven to manifest himself in the lives of humans, even if they do not want his intrusions. The way that PKD parallels drug-induced hallucinations with religious experiences is also quite bold, but would have found a ready audience in the tumultuous social upheavals and iconoclasm of the 1960s. In the end, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a very strange reality-bending book that spins off more ideas in 240 pages than many novelists conceive of in their entire careers. And while the reader is not spoon-fed any answers in the end, he is given plenty of food for thought, which makes this an excellent introduction to one of SF’s greatest minds.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Warwick

    In 1963, while walking to his shed to do some writing, Philip K Dick experienced a ‘devastating vision of a cruelly masked human face in the sky’. Two years later, he published this book, so you, too, can experience a psychotic breakdown – from a relatively safe distance. I really enjoyed Palmer Eldritch purely on the level of weirdness – it's one of the weirdest novels I've read for some time. Although there is a lot that doesn't add up in the plot, and some irritating flaws in the characterisationIn 1963, while walking to his shed to do some writing, Philip K Dick experienced a ‘devastating vision of a cruelly masked human face in the sky’. Two years later, he published this book, so you, too, can experience a psychotic breakdown – from a relatively safe distance. I really enjoyed Palmer Eldritch purely on the level of weirdness – it's one of the weirdest novels I've read for some time. Although there is a lot that doesn't add up in the plot, and some irritating flaws in the characterisation(view spoiler)[the female characters are terrible, which was disappointing since I thought Julia in The Man in the High Castle was pretty cool (hide spoiler)] , there was always a running sense of What the fuck is that?, which is something I look for in any kind of art. First of all, the general context is ludicrously, unnecessarily odd. It concerns a company that mass-produces miniature furniture and accoutrements which can be bought by colonists on Mars to be used in the miniature town layouts the colonists all have in their hovels – and the reason these Mars colonists all have miniature town layouts in their hovels is because they all take a mind-altering drug called Can-D which allows them to hallucinate their way into the dolls that inhabit this miniature town, as a break from the monotony of life in a hovel on Mars. Now, you can just about introduce all this stuff in running prose, but you never get away from the sense that it's a reeaally convoluted set-up for a novel. Any ordinary book would be about the life of someone on Mars, or travelling there in a spaceship or whatever – but no, let's make this about a load of executives in a company that produces miniature fucking ceramic pots. Why would you do this!? Not that I didn't like it, exactly, just that it was…heroically strange, and meant you were always face-to-face with the extreme improbability of what you were reading about. But then what actually happens against this background is even weirder and less probable. It's built on a profound instability around the concept of what's ‘real’: dream sequences, hallucinations, whole chapters that may not really have ‘happened’, the childlike nightmare sense of waking up from a dream into another dream, and wondering how deep it goes. It was pubished in 1965 and feels very of its time: there is something clearly psychedelic about this linking of subjective hallucination with deep paranoia. It's amazing to find that Dick had not yet tried acid when he wrote this (and reading it, you feel that he's the sort of person who probably shouldn't). He had experienced his own kind of instability of reality, though, in the form of the vision that prompted this novel. The masked face was the start of what would become the genuinely horrifying figure of Palmer Eldritch in this book – a man with a robotic arm, metal teeth, and cybernetic eyes, who might perhaps not be a man at all but rather an alien, or a galactic virus, or – and now we get to the point – God. At first I found the religious theorising in Palmer Eldritch a bit of a distraction, but it evolves so much that you can't help getting caught up in it. Drug-induced hallucinations are equated with religious experiences, not in order to devalue religion, and not really in order to elevate drug use – more just to demonstrate, I think, that altered states of mind are a natural part of the human experience, of how the human brain functions. And that however they come, they can be meaningful and they can also be dangerous. As someone reading a load of Dick for the first time, this book also has the rare advantage of never having been filmed, so I came to it with zero prior understanding. I leave it with even less understanding, but the journey was great fun.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    My first encounter with the fiction of Philip K. Dick is his 1964 novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. I was looking for something a bit challenging to read that wouldn't give me an ice cream headache. At my library, found a beautiful, barely read edition of this novel printed in 2011. PKD fans might fault my decision to make this title my introduction to the man's mind-bending tales of technological perversion, ecological disaster and the search for identity. I understand that he's written more My first encounter with the fiction of Philip K. Dick is his 1964 novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. I was looking for something a bit challenging to read that wouldn't give me an ice cream headache. At my library, found a beautiful, barely read edition of this novel printed in 2011. PKD fans might fault my decision to make this title my introduction to the man's mind-bending tales of technological perversion, ecological disaster and the search for identity. I understand that he's written more palatable books. But I was hungry for his brand of science fiction and decided to feed the beast. Set in the year 2016, the story begins with a precog named Barney Mayerson as he wakes up with a strange woman. Unable to remember last night (in spite of his precognitive abilities, what?), Mayerson consults a briefcase which links him to an artificial intelligence psychiatrist called Dr. Smile. He learns that the woman is named Roni Fugate, another precog, his new assistant at the firm he works for in New York, P.P. Layouts, Inc. Mayerson is consulting Dr. Smile in an attempt to beat his appointment with the United Nations, which has instituted a planetary draft exiling unlucky citizens to any of two planets or six moons that have been colonized throughout the solar system. Life on Earth is no picnic anymore--with high temperatures in the 180s and cooling units mandated for anyone venturing out in daylight--while life on the colonies is so despairing that the only means of survival is an illegal hallucinogen called CAN-D, which in concert with set decor known as "layouts" briefly whisk the colonist to virtual reality Earth. The precog's job is to predict which decor pieces in development will become "fash." Mayerson, who seems to be a mediocre psychic, rates a Class A prick, having divorced his sculptor wife Emily after she became pregnant, violating their building code and putting his cushy apartment at risk. He takes a meeting with Emily's new husband but rejects the pots she's crafted out of his bitterness toward her. Mayerson's boss Leo Bulero has paid top dollar to undergo E therapy treatment and become what's known as an evolved human, accepting some physical side effects (the evolved humans are referred to as "bubbleheads") for next level cognitive abilities. Bulero is anxious about a crash landing on Pluto. The crew is believed to be Palmer Eldritch, a huckster who departed for the Prox system ten years ago looking for new business ventures. Bulero believes that Palmer found a drug even more powerful than CAN-D and he intends to wipe out the drug trade P.P. Layouts monopolizes in the colonies. Using his UN connections to determine Eldritch's location on Ganymede, Bulero heads there, in spite of Mayerson's warning that he will be indicted for Palmer Eldritch's murder. Bulero is put under the spell of Chew-Z, the hallucinogen that Eldritch intends to replace CAN-D with on the colonies. Chew-Z drops the user into a reality of their own design where Palmer Eldritch, or some entity pretending to be Palmer Eldritch, can hop in and out, tormenting the user for an eternity, while their physical body remains in repose for what passes for seconds or minutes. Bulero is released from his hell, uncertain whether he's back in reality or not. Returning to Earth, he fires Mayerson for refusing to rescue him. Feeling sorry for about himself, Mayerson volunteers for resettlement and arrives on Mars, where he encounters Palmer Eldritch on the first stop in the being's magical mystery tour to conquer mankind. Keeping with the mind-bending nature of Philip K. Dick's work, I'm going to write the rest of this review from two different time periods simultaneously. 1964 Joe: Far out, man. I dug a lot of the stuff going on at the periphery of this novel. Flying taxi cabs and a personal computer that fits into a suitcase. Some of it was hard to picture, you know, like radical gene therapy treatment that gives people bubble heads, but I like what PKD is saying about higher consciousness in the 21st century being available only to the super-rich. 2016 Joe: Come on, man. I've seen this story a dozen times or more. PKD actually begins with his main character waking up in bed with a strange woman and no idea of how he got there. I not only found that cliched but inconsistent. Wouldn't a precog wouldn't know where he was? Unlike Minority Report, the precog and the unique nature of their abilities even wasn't a major part of the story. 1964 Joe: I felt my brain expanding a bit while reading this, which is what I'd hoped for. I hope I don't turn into a bubblehead, but I liked how PKD begins to question the structure of reality. The reader is never entirely sure what is going on once the drug fueled trips begin and I liked that! 2016 Joe: I felt the characters were bland. PKD cannot write women--which seems to be a common failing in the '50s and '60s science fiction--but it was hard for me to care what became of Barney Mayerson. For a precog, he doesn't seem to be good at his job. 1964 Joe: The book gets damn readable when the precogs predict Leo Bulero will kill Palmer Eldritch, but the executive takes off in search of Eldritch anyway. Pacing lags a bit but picks up when Mayerson is exiled to Mars. 2016 Joe: PKD doesn't offer the reader anything in the way of memorable dialogue or bold prose that prompted me to stop and make note. When I can race through a novel at 55 mph without seeing anything that makes me want to pull over and smell the roses, something's not right. 1964 Joe: PKD communicates his ideas pretty effectively with a bare minimum of head scratching, but I do think the more time the reader has to chew on some of his concepts and speculations, the better his writing gets. I walked out of Blade Runner the first time I saw it. 2016 Joe: Where are my flying taxis? Where are my colonies on Luna? Precogs? As a work of speculation, this one fails pretty dramatically. It's probably never a good idea for a science fiction author to give the reader a year the story is taking place in. 1964 Joe: I really hope that mankind gets it together when it comes to overpopulating and poisoning the planet. NASA will probably have colonies on the moon and Mars pretty soon but I'm not volunteering to move up there. PKD's empathy for the planet and his warnings should be heeded. 2016 Joe: I don't feel the need to run out and devour everything PKD has ever written, but considering this is one of his books that actually hasn't been adapted into a movie (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly), it was a good place to start. 1964 Joe: I don't feel the need to run out and devour everything PKD has ever written, but am intrigued by what the author will come up with next.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    Shortly after Martin Luther’s death, the heads of the papal Church, then widely challenged by the Protestant movement, felt the need to beef up their positions on a number of doctrinal points. In October 1551, the Council met in Santa Maria Maggiore church in Trento, to discuss the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. In the end, and after a lengthy thirteen-sessions debate, the bishops came up with a doctrine worthy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes pla Shortly after Martin Luther’s death, the heads of the papal Church, then widely challenged by the Protestant movement, felt the need to beef up their positions on a number of doctrinal points. In October 1551, the Council met in Santa Maria Maggiore church in Trento, to discuss the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. In the end, and after a lengthy thirteen-sessions debate, the bishops came up with a doctrine worthy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his Blood.” In the alternate future of 2016 imagined by Philip K. Dick, the simulated reality magnate Leo Bulero, kidnapped on Luna and forced into a Chew-Z hallucination meets a young girl, not unlike Alice, who declares: “My accidents are those of this child, but my substance, as with the wine and the wafer in transubstantiation—" (LoA omnibus edition, p. 310). Just as the church cracker is none other than Jesus Christ Himself, the young girl is none other than Palmer Eldritch himself, shortly after he met with God (or is he none other than God himself?), off Proxima Centauri. You’ve guessed it: this is one of the earlier novels by PKD and one of the nuttiest pieces of storytelling of the 1960s. You’ll get climate warming and outer-space settlements, chewing and fuse-inducing drugs like Can-D or Chew-Z (but “be choosy. Chew Chew-Z”!), precogs, virtual entities by the name of Perky Pat or Winnie-Ther-Pooh Acres, evolution therapies invented by post-Nazi mad scientists, religious fanatics that look like Barbie dolls, lots of theological thinking and pranks, choruses of office employees with slit eyes, mechanical arms and, most of all, stainless steel teething rings. This novel probably sat on Kurt Vonnegut’s nightstand while he was writing Slaughterhouse-Five. Likewise regarding Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, William Gibson’s Neuromancer or even Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day. Next time you think you’re chewing a cracker labelled EAT ME or talking to Alice, or even clicking on an interesting link, think again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    R.

    An incredibly prescient satire on multimedia* addiction - losing oneself in artificial environments to escape (or at least muffle) an undesirable reality. The picture PKD paints of the sad Martian colonists taking drugs and playing with dolls (becoming one with the dolls) reminds me of the...stereotypical...image the world has of the American nerd stuffing himself with junkfood and playing Sims, losing track of the time, of the day while living a better - or at least dynamic - life on a more vibrant earth.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I'm a fan of Philip K. Dick, but I read his stuff years ago. I eagerly sought this book out because I heard from a couple of people that this one was one of his best. Maybe I merely disagree, maybe my affection for PKD has waned, maybe I need more now than he can give. Dick is famous for his drug use and for taking speed before cranking out an entire novel in fifteen hours flat. This book, to me, feels like his most drug-influenced book. Not because of his crazy ideas, those are to be I'm a fan of Philip K. Dick, but I read his stuff years ago. I eagerly sought this book out because I heard from a couple of people that this one was one of his best. Maybe I merely disagree, maybe my affection for PKD has waned, maybe I need more now than he can give. Dick is famous for his drug use and for taking speed before cranking out an entire novel in fifteen hours flat. This book, to me, feels like his most drug-influenced book. Not because of his crazy ideas, those are to be expected. It's because you get the feeling that he throws things into the story as they occur to him and made no effort to smooth things over in a subsequent draft. He switches gears on a whim and those whims come at the rate of about fifteen to twenty per scene. If you're a big fan of PKD, go ahead and check this out. If not, you'll probably want to avoid it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch [1964] – ★★★★1/2 This is my fourth Philip K. Dick novel (previously, I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [1968], A Scanner Darkly [1977] and Ubik [1969]). This story is set in future and follows Barney Mayerson, an employee of P.P (Perky Pat) Layouts, a firm which specialises in providing layouts which can be used for drug experience when customers (those in space colonies) take illegal hallucinatory drug Can-D, which can recreate a perfect life when The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch [1964] – ★★★★1/2 This is my fourth Philip K. Dick novel (previously, I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [1968], A Scanner Darkly [1977] and Ubik [1969]). This story is set in future and follows Barney Mayerson, an employee of P.P (Perky Pat) Layouts, a firm which specialises in providing layouts which can be used for drug experience when customers (those in space colonies) take illegal hallucinatory drug Can-D, which can recreate a perfect life when one takes it. Mayerson finds out that Palmer Eldritch, a man who went to another star system some years previous, has returned to the Solar System and is bringing with him an even more potent drug than Can-D, and it is called Chew-Z. However, soon suspicions mount that the experience with Chew-Z may not be what everybody thinks it is. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is messier and more chaotic that some of the author’s later, better known novels, but it is still an entertaining read with all the expected typically Philip K. Dick philosophical considerations and thought-provoking situations. Even if the world he presents this time is tackier and crazier than usual, the author still manages to suspend our disbelief as we plunge deep into this addictive and well-constructed futuristic world where our usual understanding of reality is turned upside down. As is the case with some other Philip K. Dick novels, from the very first page, we are thrust straight into the heart of the fast-paced narrative in this futuristic world, and it may take a couple of pages to catch one’s breath and realise what is really going on. The future described is not altogether rosy: Earth’s temperature is rising and some people are deported to live on other planets where life is hard and meaningless. Futuristic technology is also abound, such as a homeopape, a news-giving device or digital newspaper, and there is a process of evolving humans to the next stage in evolution. This is also the world of interstellar travel, and precogs, people who can anticipate certain future events as possible options. These are employed by certain organisations who want to have an advantage over their competitors. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch deals with philosophical questions, but they are presented in an entertaining fashion as part of the story and one, therefore, hardly notices that the message overall is serious. This book by Philip K. Dick slides into this experience of paranoia fast, asking if there is a bigger entity out there which may be controlling people’s lives. Some Philip K. Dick books are about such paranoia, but pigeonholing his books in that way is unhelpful. Stephen King once wrote that “perfect paranoia is perfect awareness.” The leading characters in this story have that awareness, constantly questioning their reality, trying to differentiate between what is real and what is their hallucinatory experience when they take drugs. This task is not as easy as it may appear, and this issue is actually more topical now when we see advances in quantum mechanics which actually state that time is essentially an illusion and what we believe as real may not actually be what is out there (see also the mystery of the double-slit experiment). The author plays with space-time continuum, paradoxes, as well as with our expectations in general. Other typically Philip K. Dick’s themes are also present, including organisation vs. individual battle, anti-materialism, and free will vs. determinism debate. Drugs and drug hallucinations are, of course, the main preoccupation of the author in this novel, and he makes a point that drugs have a powerful grip on the user, who resorts to them to escape the horrors and traumas of his or her daily life. Through the narrative, the author seems to be asking a question – if hallucinations are indistinguishable from reality, does the difference really matter for the one who experiences it? One philosophical theory says that we can only be sure of our own experience because we can only verify our own existence and we should simply take other people’s word that they also exist and experience life. One of the weaknesses of this book is that it is more confusing as to its overall and main theme and messier in narrative than Philip K. Dick’s later books. The right word would probably be “crazier”- this book is “crazier” than the three others I have read and, to me, it seems to fuse themes from A Scanner Darkly (drug world) with themes from Ubik (controlled alternate reality). Like with my previous read – Ubik, I thought the main character or theme – Palmer Eldritch and his Three Stigmata were unclear and caricaturishly presented. The subject of the title remains almost obscure and certainly under-thought. Some events in the novel are also happening too quickly, while quieter, introspective moments are to be found near the end of the book. Fast-paced and relentlessly entertaining, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch may be a crazy ride, but it is also as intelligent and deep as only Philip K. Dick could master. The readers will need to be prepared to take a quite large leap of faith, but, when they do, they will be rewarded since the world they would step into is vivid, magnetic and ceaselessly inventive, with nice surprises along the way.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carlex

    Philip K. Dick unchained. Such a trip!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I didn't like this at first, because I couldn't make sense of where Dick was taking it. At the end, I loved it. He created a myth, based on religious beliefs. Brilliant. Some of it scared me. This guy took Chew-Z, rather than Can-D, a powerful hallucinogen which makes your hallucination a simulacra of alternate reality. It goes deep into plot revelations. The kind of stuff I love, mind stuff, like The Matrix movie (which I can't watch anymore because I novelized it scene by scene and don't enjoy I didn't like this at first, because I couldn't make sense of where Dick was taking it. At the end, I loved it. He created a myth, based on religious beliefs. Brilliant. Some of it scared me. This guy took Chew-Z, rather than Can-D, a powerful hallucinogen which makes your hallucination a simulacra of alternate reality. It goes deep into plot revelations. The kind of stuff I love, mind stuff, like The Matrix movie (which I can't watch anymore because I novelized it scene by scene and don't enjoy it anymore). Dick puts all his craziness, literally, into his pages, as Kafka does, another favorite. Also, and not to give a SPOILER... [...the book made me wonder at an alternate ending for the Matrix trilogy. Neo wakes up at the end after he killed off the viruses through his own death. He sits in that chair where Morpheus gave him the red pill. He has been out for two minutes and lived another reality of life for years, where he became a hero. Morpheus says, "What did you think? Can you help us market this stuff? The Matrix is actually a hallucinogenic drug that gives you another chance at life, to be who you really want to be, down in your unconscious mind. Neo, you wanted to be a hero, because you wrap your true identity in your hacker world"] Maybe cheesy, but ideas come in various ways. Loved it. Read it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Celebrity Death Match Special: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch versus The Tale of Two Bad Mice "You see them often?" asked Hunca. Her tone was casual, but Tom immediately caught the edge in her voice. "Who do you mean?" he said, pretending not to understand. It was a strategy that had worked before. Hunca moved a step closer to the layout. "The Chinese," she breathed, unable to contain her excitement any longer as she gazed at the doll's-house. Her ample breasts rose and Celebrity Death Match Special: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch versus The Tale of Two Bad Mice "You see them often?" asked Hunca. Her tone was casual, but Tom immediately caught the edge in her voice. "Who do you mean?" he said, pretending not to understand. It was a strategy that had worked before. Hunca moved a step closer to the layout. "The Chinese," she breathed, unable to contain her excitement any longer as she gazed at the doll's-house. Her ample breasts rose and fell under the thin synthasilk sweater. "I know you meet them all the time. You must have some." Tom calculated rapidly: none of the other colonists would be back for at least an hour. That should be enough. He reached into his pouch and pulled out the sticks of MAO-Z. "Jesus Christ!" Hunca's eyes shone as she grabbed one of the sticks for herself. "You bastard! Six whole units!" She avidly unwapped the foil and popped the stick into her mouth. Tom did the same. For a few seconds, they both said nothing, chewing as quickly as they could. Then the change operated, and they were inside the layout. Tom looked at Hunca; even in her rodent body, she was still very attractive. He put a clawed hand on her haunch, but she pushed him away. "Food first," she said, her eyes fixed on the table. "It looks good, doesn't it?" Tom had to agree. The sight of the glazed ham made his mouth water, and the lobsters were if anything even more appetizing. Why not? They had plenty of time. He seized a knife and started to carve the ham. The knife buckled in his hand; the meat was rock hard. Hunca stared at him, appalled. Tom tried the lobsters, but he already knew what he would find. They had also petrified. Evidently, Palmer Eldritch's power now extended even into the layouts. "Oh no!" sobbed Hunca as mouse-tears trickled down her cheeks, moving with exaggerated slowness in the Martian gravity. "What are we going to do?"

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pam Baddeley

    This novel was originally published in 1964 when the year 2016, when it is set, was sufficiently far ahead for its futuristic elements to be credible. Reading it now, it is an odd mixture of what never came to pass such as interstellar travel to Proxima Centuri, and technology now regarded as old hat such as casette tapes. But the essential weirdness remains. Rather than try to frame the complicated and interwoven plot, I'll confine myself to some comments about themes, characters and setting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    New introduction by Paul Williams. Note: This is not a library copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    "Three's my lucky number And fortune comes in threes But I wish I knew that number That even little children seem to see Oh, I'm missing everything I knew It's just so hard to be a child Oh, i'm missing all the things i knew Yet whinge i knew nothing at all I whinge i knew nothing at all"

  21. 5 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    What I would give for a dick I don't know, but I'm perfectly willing to pay 2 pounds a piece for them. Review of 'Saint Maybe' and 'Stigmata' There were clues in the titles, I realise retrospectively, that these were both books about God: ‘Saint’ in one, ‘Stigmata’ in the other…a complete coincidence that I read them back to back. But what different takes – well, they would be different, wouldn’t they? Tyler and Dick. Not two authors one would typically mention in the same What I would give for a dick I don't know, but I'm perfectly willing to pay 2 pounds a piece for them. Review of 'Saint Maybe' and 'Stigmata' There were clues in the titles, I realise retrospectively, that these were both books about God: ‘Saint’ in one, ‘Stigmata’ in the other…a complete coincidence that I read them back to back. But what different takes – well, they would be different, wouldn’t they? Tyler and Dick. Not two authors one would typically mention in the same breath. Saint Maybe deals with a person who needs God. He has planned a hot date with his girlfriend, when suddenly he is asked to babysit his brother’s children – two older step, one just born, arguably not his brother’s either. His brother’s at a bucks night, his wife has supposedly gone out with a friend, but he knows better. His brother’s wife is cheating on him. He has put all the evidence together over a period of time, it is circumstantial, but. So, when his brother turns up drunk he insists on his driving him to his girlfriend’s place and tells him along the way what he thinks about the wife. His brother drops him off and drives into a wall, killing himself. Then the wife goes downhill and dies soon after as well. He finds out that the wife wasn’t two-timing his brother, but it is all too late. He has created this situation and it determines the rest of his life. God, in the form of the pastor of a very odd little church, the kind that are dotted all over the US, saves him. He seeks God and God comes to him. The Three Stigmata also deals with people who need God, but they take drugs instead. In a complete turnabout of how we usually see the Human-God relationship, typified by Tyler, Dick considers the notion that God’s been on his own since the beginning of – well, you know, the beginning of whatever he created – and he’s sick of being a lonely fucker. So he seeks others, in a radical role-reversal. The stigmata show that a person is inhabited by God…. Of course these books are about other things, the things that preoccupy each author’s work. Tyler writes again of ordinary lives, ordinary events – and she does make what happens in this book utterly ordinary, there is nothing the least melodramatic about it. Dick is again concerned with the nature of reality. Again he makes a future world setting incredibly believable, not least because although written in the early sixties, this one describes an Earth in its last throes due to global warming. The physical setting, the socio-economic setting, rich people getting to spend time in the coolest places on Earth, rich people getting to speed up evolution so that they create physical defences to the impact of life in a place that is too hot. It isn’t just believable, it is real. Rich people go to Antarctica as a sanctuary, of course. Rushes off to check – thank heavens Australia owns a big chunk of it. English friends who wish to prevail upon my generous nature, please drop me a line. I expect there’ll be a queue soon enough. Meanwhile, there is a draft system to force humans to live on Mars, a desolate life made bearable by drugtaking, a substitute for God. Rich people can be drafted too, but they are more likely to have ways to dodge it. Nothing changes. But the backdrop to both is always there. God and his relationship to humankind. Tyler does one of those jobs – not prosletysing, she never does that – that make you see what can be good and necessary about God. Dick opens up your eyes to an incredible vision of a God which could not be more different to Tyler’s. I read them in that order, Tyler and then Dick. I recommend that, but would be curious in the impressions of anybody who did the opposite. One might ask who on earth WOULD be reading these chalk and cheese authors? But maybe they aren’t. Maybe for both of them the really big preoccupation is ordinary people struggling through life. Maybe it is only the settings of Dick that obscure this. Maybe they are more alike than one might first think….

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Please note: Originally read and reviewed in 2007, just copying my review over from Amazon. My synopsis: Working through the nature of reality and illusion, this story is set in a future that is anything but Utopian. Earth is going through a "fire" age and a human can not survive more than a few seconds outside during daylight; this has forced humanity to spend all daylight hours in a warren of buildings and tunnels. Additionally, a draft is set up to send humans out to the colonies on Mars and various/>My Please note: Originally read and reviewed in 2007, just copying my review over from Amazon. My synopsis: Working through the nature of reality and illusion, this story is set in a future that is anything but Utopian. Earth is going through a "fire" age and a human can not survive more than a few seconds outside during daylight; this has forced humanity to spend all daylight hours in a warren of buildings and tunnels. Additionally, a draft is set up to send humans out to the colonies on Mars and various asteroids. These colonies are living at subsistence level and the colonists there are invariably hooked on a drug called Can-D, that allows them to live in an illusory world populated by Perky Pat and her boyfriend Walt. They use miniature items to create these worlds; these "mins" are provided by the same company that supplies the illegal Can-D, which is run by Leo Bulero. However when the famous explorer Palmer Eldritch returns from his trip to Proxa, he brings with him some lichen, with which he creates a product called Chew-Z - a legal alternative to Can-D. This is a more potent drug that allows people to create their own universes, without needing the mins. However, what most do not know is that all these universes are controlled by Eldritch. Is Palmer still human, or did something else come back in his place? My Thoughts: Playing onto our worst nightmares - namely those in which we continually think we've awakened, only to find we're still inside the nightmare - this story keeps you guessing as to what is real and what is hallucination. It is difficult to explain too much of the plot without giving away key elements that will spoil the story, which is why I've stuck mainly to what is given in the editorial review or on the book cover. However, I found the story to be very much in the lines of a typical Philip K. Dick story - twisted and convoluted. Well worth the read, however. My copy of the story is part of am omnibus, Counterfeit Unrealities (contains Ubik, A Scanner Darkly, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep [aka Blade Runner], The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch), which title describes the overall topic of this story, at least, very well. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I tell myself lies everyday. Because when things aren't the way you want them, it's nice to have a little white lie to live within. Makes things, tolerable. Makes you wake up in the morning and think, Oh yeah, there's that to look forward to. In the back of your mind there's a voice reminding you, that's a lie, that's a lie, that's a lie...but you go along with it because. Because. Palmer Eldritch is the lie I tell myself. The embodiment. The giver of the lie. The one who perpetuates it. Who say I tell myself lies everyday. Because when things aren't the way you want them, it's nice to have a little white lie to live within. Makes things, tolerable. Makes you wake up in the morning and think, Oh yeah, there's that to look forward to. In the back of your mind there's a voice reminding you, that's a lie, that's a lie, that's a lie...but you go along with it because. Because. Palmer Eldritch is the lie I tell myself. The embodiment. The giver of the lie. The one who perpetuates it. Who says that living within the lie will help. Who provides the materials to build the lie to great proportions. To the point you come to believe the lie. Are happy within it, however false. Til one day the edges blur. And you see the lie for what it is. You tell yourself, this is not the lie, the lie is reality itself. And you see Palmer Eldrtich in everyone you meet.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David

    A klutzy, embarrassingly spiritual book—but enjoyable in a pulpy kind of way, nevertheless.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tristram Shandy

    ”What If God Was One of Us? […] Trying to Make His Way Home …” I cannot say that I enjoyed reading The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch quite the way I enjoyed reading The Man in the High Castle or most of the short stories I read by PKD, because, all in all, it was very zany – and that in an especially zany kind of way. Not annoyingly zany but still … uh, you know what I mean. It is quite difficult to summarize the story told in this novel but the main conflict is between the big businessma ”What If God Was One of Us? […] Trying to Make His Way Home …” I cannot say that I enjoyed reading The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch quite the way I enjoyed reading The Man in the High Castle or most of the short stories I read by PKD, because, all in all, it was very zany – and that in an especially zany kind of way. Not annoyingly zany but still … uh, you know what I mean. It is quite difficult to summarize the story told in this novel but the main conflict is between the big businessman Leo Bulero, who illegally sells a drug called Can-D with the help of which settlers on Mars and other planets – in the future described in the book people can be drafted as compulsory space settlers by the UN, and they have hardly any chance avoiding the call to the plough – beguile their hapless lot, and (let’s hereby get back to the main clause) the mysterious Palmer Eldritch, who has developed another drug called Chew-Z and who is about to establish it on the market. Whereas Can-D only works in conjunction with two little dolls (Perky Pat and her boyfriend) and all sorts of minimized equipment – producing and selling these is Bulero’s official business –, Chew-Z allows its consumers to create a world of their own and be anything they like in it. Or so Palmer Eldritch says. It soon becomes clear that Eldritch has the power to appear in any of these various, Chew-Z-induced dream worlds, where he is generally recognizable by his false iron teeth, his mechanical arm and his dead artificial Jensen eyes, the three stigmata referred to in the title, and that, once you have taken the drug, you are completely under Eldritch’s spell and never know for sure whether you have actually left the world of hallucinations. As the story proceeds, even people who have never actually tasted the drug fall prey to Eldritch’s mind-bending power, and one source the novel derives its appeal through is the fact that after a while even the reader does not know whether the events he witnesses are real or drug-based deceptions. Obviously, Dick wants his readers to ask themselves the question of whether reality can be distinguished from imagination / deception at all. The story also centres on Barney Mayerson, an over-ambitious and opportunistic employee, who once sacrificed private happiness and bliss for social status and job prospects by obtaining a divorce from the woman he still loves, and who is working as a double agent for Bulero helping his boss to thwart Eldritch’s plans of taking over the market and, what’s more, control of reality. He is not much of a stalwart or even likable protagonist, and most of his actions are as crude and inconsistent as those of most real-life people you may meet, but then the book does not really captivate its readers through its plot-line mainly. There are simply too many characters popping up here and there and then fading out of the story again. But then the book may make you think quite a lot about the quality of what we are used to seeing as reality, and about religion. Palmer Eldritch spent ten years travelling space, to be more precise, the area of Proxima Centauri, i.e. the farthest man can travel in that story, and we are invited to conjecture of what might have happened to him out there. Has he found God there eventually? Or has he even become some sort of god? Or have the mysterious Proxima creatures taken possession of him and are using him now as a means of conquering Terra? Is he a godlike creature now that tries to gain eternal life by controlling the fantasies people are developing under the influence of Chew-Z? Is God necessarily good? Or is He even ultimately powerless, watching man, as Barney puts it, with empty hands and without an idea? Can a drug-induced trip be seen as an equivalent to an experience of epiphany? Is Palmer Eldritch (a) God in the same way as H.G. Wells’s Dr. Moreau is? It was questions like these that I started asking myself when reading this novel, and so I didn’t really care a lot about its sometimes threadbare plot. All in all, reading this was quite a challenging trip.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a terrible novel. Dick's prose is the worst prose I have ever read in a professionally published work. It is beyond bland, beyond clunky, well into painful. The novel is essentially all dialog. The worldbuilding is perfunctory and amateurish. There is no sense of place and no atmosphere. Everything takes place as if in a white room. All the characters are cardboard, and they are all the same character. They all talk the same way, in a dull 1960's casual style with o This is a terrible novel. Dick's prose is the worst prose I have ever read in a professionally published work. It is beyond bland, beyond clunky, well into painful. The novel is essentially all dialog. The worldbuilding is perfunctory and amateurish. There is no sense of place and no atmosphere. Everything takes place as if in a white room. All the characters are cardboard, and they are all the same character. They all talk the same way, in a dull 1960's casual style with occasional 1960s slang. They are completely interchangeable, and I kept forgetting who was who, right up to the end. They are all mild sociopaths, who think nothing of cheating and betraying each other, and occasionally killing each other. There isn't a sympathetic character in the book, or a charismatic villain. Characters rarely have emotions. When they do, one feels that Dick has just realized, "Gee, no one has had an emotion is the last twenty pages, I should do something," dipped a brush into a pot of some random emotion and slapped it over whatever character is at hand. The plot makes no sense at all. It wanders here and there randomly, and ends up nowhere. Dick literally brings in a deus ex machina at the end, apparently because he can't think what else to do. The science is laughable. Relativistic effects of space travel and communication are simply ignored. I keep seeing recommendations to read Philip K. Dick, so I read this novel, to find out what all the shouting was about. I've read another Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle, long ago, when I was in my 20s, and I remember little of it, except that it wasn't very interesting. I thought maybe my tastes had evolved, and I'd enjoy Dick by now. No, my tastes have evolved so that I hate Dick even worse. I cannot understand what readers find in the writing of Philip K. Dick.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    This book left me cold. The plot was all over the place and the characters unformed. Yet there were passages which promised better. Overall a chore to read rather than a delight. I am still trying to work out if Dick is a genius or the Barbara Cartland of sci fi. Perhaps its me. Hey ho.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    I wonder what it is about dream sequences in stories that makes them so dissatisfying. There is the obvious sense of feeling cheated; the reader/viewer builds up a relationship with a character. If it turns out that relationship was built on false premises, on nonsense, we feel conned, mocked even. Our trust in the author was broken. Yet at the same time, what does it matter? The story within a book or a film is more or less just a higher level dream sequence, isn't it? The I wonder what it is about dream sequences in stories that makes them so dissatisfying. There is the obvious sense of feeling cheated; the reader/viewer builds up a relationship with a character. If it turns out that relationship was built on false premises, on nonsense, we feel conned, mocked even. Our trust in the author was broken. Yet at the same time, what does it matter? The story within a book or a film is more or less just a higher level dream sequence, isn't it? The Three Stigmata is full of PKD hallmarks. Sentient appliances. Precogs. And the blurring of the line between reality and fantasy, hallucination and sense. Yet while the other PKDs I've read managed to maintain a life-line back to reality, The Three Stigmata sets us adrift. The major gist of the Three Stigmata is this: the Earth is a harsh place to live. In his own act of precognition, PKD foresaw the global warming epidemic that we would face. It's so hot that you can't go outside without a proper suit. As such, the UN (implied to be the only government left standing) has begun drafting citizens to become colonists on other planets, notably Mars. Mars sucks. Nothing grows. Telepathic jackals feed on colonists. In order to combat this dreariness, colonists use a dollhouse and a drug called Can-D (get it?) to transport themselves into the better life of Perky Pat, the doll of the dollhouse. If that sounds a little trippy, it is. But it's not all that much of a stretch. Don't we do the same thing with television today? Live vicariously through others? But then Palmer Eldritch arrives with an alternative to Can-D, a drug he's calling Chew-Z, and that's when the reader is shortly set adrift. There comes a point, about mid-way, that we can no longer be sure what is, or is not, reality. You read on, thinking it to be clarified, but it never is, not quite. What is real, what is fiction? We don't know. That was PKD's point and it was aptly done. Yet when I open a book, I am not seeking an open-ended experience. What I like most about books is that they end. No matter what horrible things might happen to our protagonists, we know that it will be over for us. Even the happiness we might feel when trapped within the pages will eventually go away. It's not like life. It doesn't keep going on and on. Our happinesses don't grow wearied and atrophied. We don't have to replace them with new ones. A book is a self-contained unit, a story with a clear beginning and a clear end. It always begins on page 1 and always ends on page X. So I take issue with the blurring of reality in Three Stigmata. It was not satisfying to me. I don't need a book to tell me how subjective consciousness and reality is. Every single day of my life tells me that. It was a good book, for all of that, but I'd take PKD's Ubik over Three Stigmata any day o' the week.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick is a Science Fiction novel about a new hallucinogenic drug and it’s very unusual and weird consequences. In the future the world has become greatly overpopulated and even the offworld colonies are cramped and unpleasant. An illegal drug which a large proportion of the population take, called Can-D, takes users into an hallucinogenic state which can be shared with friends. Palmer Eldritch, missing and thought possibly dead, return The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick is a Science Fiction novel about a new hallucinogenic drug and it’s very unusual and weird consequences. In the future the world has become greatly overpopulated and even the offworld colonies are cramped and unpleasant. An illegal drug which a large proportion of the population take, called Can-D, takes users into an hallucinogenic state which can be shared with friends. Palmer Eldritch, missing and thought possibly dead, returns to the solar system. He brings a new drug called Chew-Z with him which is far more powerful than Can-D. He controls it all however and what happens is very weird and very interesting. Due to the use of the drugs the characters are seen in an unusual but very curious manner. The hallucinogenic state they enter and can share with others makes the psychological development of the characters confusing but very in-depth. Palmer Eldritch himself is a very odd character due to seeing him in different lights, both physical and in a drugged, surreal manner. The society and worlds in the book have an interesting view to them. This is a tired world, weary from overpopulation and lack of resources. Wars are uncommon due to the resource problem and the very environment itself; the ozone layer is far more worn out and it’s unhealthy to simply stay outside for long periods. This tired world and society is an interesting one to my mind as many books have broken societies due to wars or apocalyptic events. This is not the case here, it’s just over-developed. I found this book very confusing and hard to understand. There were many times when I had to stop and try to work out, for quite some time, exactly what was happening or what PKD meant during certain sections. I think this will greatly benefit from a reread in a year or two’s time. The surreal aspect to parts of it, not all of them related to the drugged hallucinogenic state, wasn't always easy to decipher but well worth it in the end. In Summary: A really interesting book with surreal, out of this world elements. A curiously developed world with ideas that really make you think. I’d recommend this to SF fans as well as anyone wanting a very thoughtful yet surreal experience.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This complicated and rambling little tale by science fiction guru Philip K. Dick put forth some fascinating ideas and had some very interesting things to say on a number of topics. However, the main plotline left only a vague impression on me by the end, and I was bothered by some of its strangely short-sighted social observations throughout. For a speculative novel, this book packs the ideas together like sardines. Scattered among its pages are developments in global warming, colonizatio This complicated and rambling little tale by science fiction guru Philip K. Dick put forth some fascinating ideas and had some very interesting things to say on a number of topics. However, the main plotline left only a vague impression on me by the end, and I was bothered by some of its strangely short-sighted social observations throughout. For a speculative novel, this book packs the ideas together like sardines. Scattered among its pages are developments in global warming, colonization, drug trafficking and drug customization, precognition, interstellar travel, aliens, psychotherapy, and cybernetics. And those are just the ones I remember! I can see why Philip K. Dick is such an influence in the science fiction community. I also found the characters and character interactions to be very engrossing, and lively. There were a lot of different voices represented here, which gave it a well-rounded feel. The point of view makes a number of shifts in the book, and although this was sometimes confusing, it was always done to add depth to the context, and I felt it helped to maintain a feeling of movement within/between the scenes. My only complaint along those lines is that a lot of the female characters were underutilized, one in particular whose larger role was hinted at, but ultimately discarded. Despite its strengths, I had two major complaints with the book. First, the story was rambling in the sense that it went all over the place, both in topics and in context, and at times lost continuity altogether. Granted, much of this was on purpose to create a desired effect, but you can consider me not a fan of that desired effect. Also, it was clear once you finally made it to the end of the piece, that only two of the many sci-fi topics were relevant to the main thesis. There was something very distracting about all of the other topics; it made me feel like there were a dozen red herrings amongst one or two sardines. Perhaps the problem was the main topic was so convoluted, that I used up all my energy following it. I do see that the richness of ideas here all went to creating a vivid and well-developed futuristic world, and I would hate to have given that up entirely. My second main complaint was the decidedly unprogressive observations in a novel of otherwise very progressive ideas. The main characters express various views that are sexist, racist, xenophobic, and homophobic, and although I admit the book was written 50 years ago, I was particularly bothered, because one, it is in the supposedly progressive genre of science fiction, and two, it was written while Philip K. Dick lived in California in the 1960's! Although I have seen this before in his novels, the broadness of it caught me off guard. For example: here is a world where people take shuttles to the moon and use precognition to develop fashion, and yet women still make up all of the secretary pools, having "kept women" is standard practice, and men are the voice of the family. Another example: the U.N. is seen as a naive and perhaps malicious nemesis, a sentiment motivated by racism and xenophobia, while the reality, ironically, is that the cooperative venture of the U.N. is part of the reason our current world has treaties to avert global warming, which it appears this fictional world could use in large supply. I found the shortsightedness a bit grating. Despite its positives, it is hard to recommend the book personally, but hopefully my notes here will help you make the decision for yourself, or at least act as a platform for further discussion. It is certainly a unique book, and I predict that many of its ideas will stay with me for some time to come, which says a lot.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.