- File Size: 2766 KB
- Print Length: 243 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (October 18, 2011)
- Publication Date: October 18, 2011
- Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005LVR6C8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,740 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Kindle Edition
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Barney Mayerson is a fashion pre-cog, working for Leo Bulero, the head of “Perky Pat Layouts.” Perky Pat and her “boyfriend” Walt are dolls whose materialistic lifestyle is supported by fashionable miniatures of cars, stereo systems, furniture, clothing, and everything desirable to the teeming millions who live on Earth.
The problem is, there are too many people on Earth to allow everyone to have this abundance for real, so random people are “drafted” to become colonists on Mars. There, they use the illegal drug Can-D to become, temporarily, Perky Pat or her boyfriend. The quality of this experience (the only escape available to the colonists) is believed to be dependent on the up-to-date fashion of the miniature layouts they create for their Pat and Walt dolls.
Belief is an important factor in this equation—in fact, religions have grown up around the drug experiences of the colonists. Some believe that the Can-D “translation,” the apparent entry of the women into Pat, and the men into Walt, actually takes them to an Earth before the time when it was suicide to be outside in the unshaded noontime sun, or to a less-than-eternal Heaven. Some liken the taking of Can-D to the wine and wafer of communion; the men commune together in the persona of Walt, the women in Pat. A few cynics believe neither, but welcome the easing of restrictions. After all, it’s Pat’s body that joins with Walt’s, so it can hardly be adultery, right?
The acquisitive, free-love society that has ruined Earth is thus miniaturized on Mars. The other requisite element in this scheme, the drug Can-D, is also manufactured by P-P Layouts (quietly, as contraband), and sold at top dollar to the colonists. Colonial authorities look the other way, because without the drugs, colonies quickly descend into cabin fever, then flash over into murder and mayhem.
As the story begins, Palmer Eldritch, legendary explorer to Proxima Centauri, has returned to the Solar System, bringing with him a new drug, an alien fungus marketed as “Chew-Z.” Unlike Can-D, Chew-Z needs no layout. And its translation brings the user into a world that seems really eternal, Heavenly—complete with an audience with God. The only problem is, sooner or later God, and all the other characters everyone encounters in the Chew-Z universe, take on a distinct resemblance to Palmer Eldritch.
When Barney Mayerson is drafted to Mars, he plans to take the new drug along with a toxin supplied by P-P Layouts, then sue Eldritch to convince the authorities that this new drug is worse than Can-D. As a pre-cog, though, he knows that his boss, Leo, will be charged with killing Palmer Eldritch in the near future. And neither Barney nor Leo realize that, once you’ve taken Chew-Z, Palmer Eldritch resides in your mind.
The tone of the story is psychedelic, with confusing chronology and a distorted sense of wonder and awe. Elements that seem to be important to the tale as it begins are abandoned, without apology, when something newer comes along. Earth’s ecological disaster is implied, but never explored; the aliens of Proxima are discussed once, then dropped. Can-D religions are sketched in the barest terms sufficient to contrast them with the Chew-Z experience.
In the end, "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" feels something like a drug trip; one is left with the sense of having had a revelation, but its details are lost in the haze.
This is one Dick novel that will never be made into a movie. I hope.
But "TTSOPE" is more than just a game. That is until a new drug, called Chew-Z, which promises realistic hallucinations, and eternal life.
Dick's trademarks are all here: unreality vs reality, drug usage, who am I?.
"TTSOPE" is exceptional Dick material, in line with his other books, such as "UBIK", "A Scanner Darkly", and "A Maze Of Death"
Like your mind boggled? You'll enjoy this one.
PKD wrote a short story entitled "The Days Of Perky Pat" earlier in his career, in which he has taken some of those elements and transferred it to this book.
You can find the short story in, "The Minority Report and other classic short stories". See my review.
Top international reviews
It's incredible (and slightly unnerving), to think that such an insightful, and prescient narrative was written in the sixties, and yet is so pertinent to the time we live in, with the comparisons of Virtual Reality, drugs and religion.
I think this is a great introduction to Philip K. Dick, and a banner for the visionary style and thoughts of such an influential writer.
-- from the back cover
Written in 1964 and published the following year, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (Philip K Dick's sixteenth published novel), deals with a number of the themes that dominate his work (pre-cognition, the nature of reality, drugs etc..). As with all PKD's works this novel is packed with ideas that make you marvel at his imagination but also (if you are of a philosophical turn of mind) bring you to question and consider the themes he raises for yourself. PKD also creates characters that I at least find believable. As Ursula Le Guin has said "There are no heroes in Dick's books, but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people." PKD's characters always strike me as in some way authentic.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965.
"I am afraid of that book [The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch]; it deals with absolute evil, and I wrote it during a great crisis in my religious beliefs. I decided to write a novel dealing with absolute evil as personified in the form of a "human." When the galleys came from Doubleday I couldn't correct them because I could not bear to read the text, and this is still true."
-- Philip K Dick
"The worlds through which Philip Dick's characters move are subject to cancellation or revision without notice. Reality is approximately as dependable as a politician's promise."
--Roger Zelazny in Philip Dick: Electric Shepherd (1975), Bruce Gillespie, ed.
If you are new to Philip K Dick's work I would also recommend the novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?: The novel which became 'Blade Runner' (S.F. Masterworks)
Ubik (S.F. Masterworks)
A Scanner Darkly (S.F. Masterworks)
The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. Masterworks)
That said, though some of PKD's works are better than others, to my mind they are all well worth reading. I would also recommend his short story collections:
Beyond Lies The Wub: Volume One Of The Collected Short Stories
Second Variety: Volume Two Of The Collected Short Stories
The Father-Thing: Volume Three Of The Collected Short Stories
Minority Report: Volume Four Of The Collected Short Stories
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Volume Five of The Collected Short Stories
Sometimes an author tries so hard to be ambitious that the heart of the story sinks in the process, like a disastrous souffle that had all the right ingredients and went into the oven for the correct amount of time, but somehow came out soggy and collapsed despite the diligence. Happily, this book is not one of those books - it is rich and complex through and through and, for those that like that sort of thing, you could happily analyse it until the cows come home. Indeed, even when the book slips into a hearty chunk of character led exposition at the end, it is done in such a layered and textured way that despite certain key symbols being given to the reader (e.g. what constitutes the three stigmata), more questions are only opened up as a result.
A novel about sanity, despair and religion. A masterpiece.
That said it is still a good read and throws up some interesting concepts.
All in all it's well worth reading, if for nothing else to make a change from the usual.
The Kindle version is not so great because of the constant spaces after 3 or 4 lines, (most of the time) so get paperback :).
Tbh the props of the story, for me, I found difficult to paint an image, but then again I have only read this once. And to be honest, it is not vital when losing yourself to this awsome book. I struggled getting my head around the layouts and its role with the drug "Can-D" but maybe on a second read i'll understand.
The main character is called Barney Myerson, who is obviously in Dick's likeness, as this was written during his marriage issues. You are reading the works of a man trying to deal with hurt, but also feuding with his stuborness of his own ego. That is just one of the main characters, the scene when he takes Chew-Z and goes into past and interacts with his ex wife really took me back, and was my favourite part of this novel. I too have gone through similar experiances, with feelings of regret and constant thoughts. Hence why this struck a nerve with me . . . but overall great read. Just be warned, it is dark.
The unexpected return of an illustrious and equally mysterious Palmer Eldritch stirs questions of unexpected answers.
Highly intellectual story by Dick. I've only read "Do Android's Dream of Elecric Sheep?" prior.
I highly recommend this book.