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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,758572,428 (3.88)77
In this wildly disorienting funhouse of a novel, populated by God-like--or perhaps Satanic--takeover artists and corporate psychics, Philip K. Dick explores mysteries that were once the property of St. Paul and Aquinas. His wit, compassion, and knife-edged irony make The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch moving as well as genuinely visionary.… (more)
  1. 21
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: The Three Stigmata to me is a forefather of cyberpunk, with it's internal action that questions existence and God. Neuromancer is often credited as the book that made the genre, so I suggest Neuromancer as an interesting book to compare to The Three Stigmata.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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….
( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Even after reading seven of his other novels, I'm still surprised at how excited and perplexed I feel after reading a new one. Explaining the premise of this novel (or any of his novels) is usually difficult because there are so many elements at play. Essentially, the world is really hot because humans messed up the climate, rich people are paying Nazi-esque doctors for "evolution therapy" to increase their brain capacity, people are being conscripted to colonize foreign planets, and a company is getting rich by covertly pushing a mind-altering drug on the colonists that can only be used with miniature accessories and layouts manufactured by this same company. Some of the characters include the head of that company, a "pre-cog" employee who can glimpse the future success of potential products, and Martian colonists who live in depressing hovels, gathering around a "layout" populated with dolls and small appliances. These colonists desperately chew the drug and collectively enter the dolls "Perky Pat" and "Walt" in a manner that could be described as "Malkovich-esque."

Eventually, Palmer Eldritch appears as a competitor peddling a drug that is far more intense, inducing entire lifetimes that can be experienced in the blink of an eye, with mysterious residual effects that lead many of its users to doubt the reality they live in. The religious undertones of the book touch on themes of Gnosticism, allusions to the complexities of transubstantiation, and the ontology of God.

As per usual, PKD's narrative is occasionally choppy and the prose is somewhat to be desired, but his novels are inevitably far more about the questions they raise: how might hallucinogenic drug experiences be similar to religious experiences? What does religion offer that the secular world can't? What role does capitalism play in benefiting from and manipulating societal elements like recreational drug use and religion? And, ultimately, how can we tell what is real, and what does it ultimately matter? ( )
1 vote drbrand | Jun 8, 2020 |
Stripped of the sci-fi foofaraw, [The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch] is about drug dealers having a turf war. The story is set in the future. (Never mind that when the book was published in 1965, the year 2016 seemed to be the future though we now know it's the past. Never mind the year; just accept that it's in the future.)

Earth is superheated by, umm, global warming, to the point that it's become home to a subterranean civilization. No one ventures outdoors without personal air conditioning. Every planet and moon in the known universe has been colonized. Some are so inhospitable to human habitation that "volunteers" must be drafted, i.e. forced, to live there. To deal with life on such planets, many use Can-D, a hallucinogen manufactured and sold by Leo Bulero. Leo owns P. P. Layouts, a company that designs and sells simulated floor plans that buyers can embellish with doll-house-like furnishings. Can-D produces a spell that transforms the users' perception of the layouts into relaxing, pleasant, eerily realistic sites for partying and canoodling. Can-D users tend to become cultists. Although Can-D is illegal, the prohibition is seldom enforced anywhere but Earth.

Leo's lucrative monopoly is threatened by a new product, marketed as Chew-Z. It was introduced by Palmer Eldritch upon his return from the distant Prox system. He's gotten clearance to sell Chew-Z legally. The turf war is on.

The sci-fi foofaraw shaping and embellishing this basic storyline is all you would expect from PKD. Leo Bulero employs several "precogs" to weed out merchandise that won't sell and to focus the sales pitches. Precogs have an extrasensory perception; they are ideal marketeers. Leo employs the services of "Dr. Smile," a psychologist in a suitcase, to help keep selected precogs on an even keel. Panicky? Anxious? Overwrought? Just speak; Dr. Smile is at your beck and call with soothing advice. Leo has also undergone quack treatments intended to boost one's intelligence, which also distort one's physical appearance.

Palmer Eldritch is an elusive and mysterious character. Following a crash on Pluto, he's hospitalized under a false name, then is spirited away when Leo finds out where he is. Mesmerizing, he seems to occupy one's being and contrives to steer one's actions and thoughts. And then he fades away. Elusive. The train of events is convoluted, complex, contrary, by turns comic and sinister. Even, perhaps, imaginary. Quite the book. Read it for yourself.
  weird_O | Mar 6, 2020 |
I think I need to reread this one, but not sure it would help. ( )
  redbird_fan | Jan 13, 2020 |
What an insane and wonderful book. I'll confess this is the first novel by Philip K. Dick I've read and I'm told it is not like his others. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The generosity of ideas here stood out and that's an aspect I've come to appreciate from authors more and more.

I want to continue reading more PKD now but where next? ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Next year SF celebrates a fairly significant anniversary. It will be 40 years since JG Ballard published The Terminal Beach , Brian Aldiss published Greybeard , William Burroughs published Naked Lunch in the UK, I took over New Worlds magazine and Philip K Dick published The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch . It was a watershed year, if you like, when SF rediscovered its visionary roots and began creating new conventions which rejected both modernism and American pulp traditions.

Perhaps best representing that cusp, Dick's work only rarely achieved the stylistic and imaginative coherence of those other writers. His corporate future came from a common pool created by troubled left-wingers Pohl and Kornbluth ( The Space Merchants , 1953) or Alfred Bester ( The Demolished Man , 1953). His Mars is the harsh but habitable planet of Leigh Brackett ( Queen of the Martian Catacombs , 1949) or Ray Bradbury ( The Martian Chronicles , 1950). His style and characters are indistinguishable from those of a dozen other snappy pulpsters. Even his questioning of the fundamentals of identity and reality is largely unoriginal, preceded by the work of the less prolific but perhaps more profound Charles Harness, who wrote stories such as "Time Trap", "The Paradox Men" and "The Rose" in the 50s.

So how has Dick emerged as today's best-known and admired US SF writer? It's hard to judge from this book (which was promoted enthusiastically by me and many others when it first appeared).

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abadia, GuyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Csernus, TiborCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gudynas, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mohr, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelham, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiner, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, PaulAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I mean, after all; you have to consider we're only made out of dust. That's admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn't forget that. But even considering, I mean it's a sort of bad beginning, we're not doing too bad. So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we're faced with we can make it. You get me?
--From an interoffice audio-memo circulated to Pre-Fash level consultants at Perky Pat Layouts, Inc., dictated by Leo Bulero immediately on his return from Mars.
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His head unnaturally aching, Barney Mayerson woke to find himself in an unfamiliar bedroom in an unfamiliar conapt building.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English


In this wildly disorienting funhouse of a novel, populated by God-like--or perhaps Satanic--takeover artists and corporate psychics, Philip K. Dick explores mysteries that were once the property of St. Paul and Aquinas. His wit, compassion, and knife-edged irony make The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch moving as well as genuinely visionary.

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Book description
Dick, Philip K., 1928-1982.
Τα τρία στίγματα του Πάλμερ Έλντριτς / Φίλιπ Κ. Ντικ · μετάφραση Χατχούτ, Ρένα, εισαγωγή: Δημήτρης Αρβανίτης. - Αθήνα : Ars Longa, 1986. - 262σ. · 21.5x10.3εκ., Η Ανθολογία της Επιστημονικής Φαντασίας.
Γλώσσα πρωτοτύπου: αγγλικά
Τίτλος πρωτοτύπου: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Doubleday, 1964.
(Μαλακό εξώφυλλο) [Κυκλοφορούν η 2η έκδοση:Parsec, 2008 και η 3η έκδοση: Κέδρος, 2016, Εξαντλημένο]
Haiku summary
Can-D or Chew-Z
Perky Pat, Palmer Eldritch
All just empty dreams

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