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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Philip K Dick's Best
"In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late 21st century, tedium can be endured through the use of the drug Can-D, which enables the user to inhabit a shared illusory world. When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z, which is far more potent than Can-D, but threatens to plunge the world...
Published on 9 Mar. 2011 by M Jenkins

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I was expecting
Only just discovered Dick and have already read Electric Sheep and Ubik. Palmer Eldritch had gotten great reviews, butI' m a little disappointed. I loved Ubik sooo much that I had to check out the other top rated books. I thoroughly recommend Ubik. Electric Sheep was ok... Palmer Eldritch is the worst out of the three in my opinion
Published 13 months ago by Alan


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Philip K Dick's Best, 9 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
"In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late 21st century, tedium can be endured through the use of the drug Can-D, which enables the user to inhabit a shared illusory world. When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z, which 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."
-- 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
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multi-Layered and Rich in Content, 9 Jun. 2011
Firstly, this book is easy to pick up and read. Some reviewers suggest that you should try other works first, but I don't see why this should be the case. The story is quite involving and complex (as an idea), but the actual writing style and explanation is clear and very well described. Eldritch is coming back to earth and quite what he has with him, and whether he is still human is up for debate.

As you read this book, you almost go through all of the deadly sins and their impact on human life - someone is trying to upgrade their beauty or their intelligence (vanity), a co-worker is trying to take your job (envy), the boss is sleeping with the consultant (lust) - Dick plays out the story against a backdrop of impending doom, with the present-day prophet of the universe about to set up a new world based on his own self, a self that is alien, obnoxious, and without a true soul. The interesting twist to the story is the fact that we are all a part of this monstrosity, and perhaps Dick was ultimately trying to lay out the process by which the mind loses itself. I read somewhere that Dick could never actually read this story again, and never checked the final draft as it scared him.

For such a doom-laden book, it is remarkably upbeat, and the central figures have a lot to like in them, and a distinct sense of purpose even in the most trying of times. Towards the end the fight against Eldritch mounts, and the all-knowing nature of the new god is put into question. Everything is a question with Dick, and all is never lost.

This is classic sci-fi, and highly recommendable.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eldritch by name, 31 July 2010
This review is from: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
One of the finest of Dick's 1960s works, "Palmer Eldritch" is a book brimful of superb ideas. Some are bitingly satirical (future colonists will relieve the excruciating boredom of their lives by entering the ideal world of Ken and Barbie analogue Perky Pat, making dolls and doll accessories the most prized items in the solar system). Some are sad (humans undergo a cosmetic process to accelerate their evolution, but sometimes the process goes awry). And some are just plain terrifying, particularly those ideas surrounding the evil messiah Palmer Eldritch, who returns from Proxima Centauri with a divine sacrament that just might grant eternal life.

Unlikely ever to be filmed, (though John Lennon and Timothy Leary reputedly tried to secure the rights), and unlikely to appeal to hardcore sci-fi fans on account of its playful treatment of religious themes, "Stigmata" is nonetheless a brilliant, thoughtful novel about the slippery nature of reality and the untrustworthiness of those who claim to be experts on the subject. The fact that it's so often overlooked is understandable, but for those who can be bothered it will more than reward your patience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Questioning reality four decades before Inception, 9 Feb. 2012
I just finished reading this wonderful masterpiece, and as with so many other of Philip K. Dick's novels it left me both enlightened and confused, happy and sad, courageous and frightened - all at once.

"The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" deals with many subjects but the most important ones seem to be the nature of reality and the nature of pure evil - two subjects not as separate as one might think. This is especially true in a story where an alien drug, known as Chew-Z, is brought to the Solar system by Palmer Eldritch, an industrialist who has spent many years in a far away star system. Especially tempting to colonists who live a rough and laborous life, the drug allows the user to enter an illusory world where one's desires and wishes can "become true". When the drug is first introduced, the distinction between reality and illusion is blurred especially when one begins to learn about the nature of the power that infiltrates every illusory world.

If you've seen Inception and you became intrigued by its metaphysical side, then you will love this book. It is easily one Philip K. Dick's most sinister yet magnificently brilliant books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Transubstantiation..., 18 May 2015
By 
Archy (ALTRINCHAM, Cheshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
It gets five stars for sheer wildness, though it's perhaps not quite up there with Ubik and Androids. The plot here is fairly simple: Palmer Eldritch is an industrialist who's returned from some distant star system with a mysterious lichen which, when chewed (it's called Chew-Z) transports the taker into an illusory world. Trouble is, Eldritch is able to enter and manipulate that world.

This gives Dick licence to be continually pulling the rug from beneath the reader's feet, and he rather over-indulges in this. Chew-Z is used by those forced to emigrate to Mars, where they scrape a living in 'hovels' (the Martian landscape is hopelessly unrealistic, but don't let that put you off!) whilst using the rather inferior Can-D, an illegal drug that needs a curious miniature layout to be effective. Parts of the novel come from the short story, The days of Perky Pat, Perky Pat being the doll used by the female Can-D users.

There are lots of nice, typically Dickian touches: people use portable psychiatrists to make them more, rather than less, stressed, so they can fail the draft and avoid being forced to go to Mars; there are the usual psi talents often found in Dick books of this period. But humour is pretty thin on the ground - this is, after all, as Dick himself noted, a study of evil. He compares the use of Can-D to the blood-and-wafer religious ceremony, and posits the question, what if this were true, but that the god concerned (Eldritch) were an evil one? A disturbing notion, and if the book isn't as downright scary as it thinks it is - and which Dick found it - it's still unsettling. For once a character has taken Chew-Z, has been delivered over to Eldritch, there's no certainty any more about what is real and what isn't.

Possibly not the Dick novel to read first, but definitely recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Feat, 14 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This book is set in a future where Earth is too hot for the inhabitants and people are (rather dubiously) having to 'evolve' to be trendy and seen as important and score business contracts. Instead of people receiving psychiatric help to make themselves better, people instead receive it to make themselves 'unfit', so they don't have to go and live in 'hovels' on Mars, where religion and hopelessness go hand in hand. Set against this backdrop, two drugs are competing and trying to win the most 'users' - these drugs are Can-D and Chew-Z. One drug is illegal and can be taken in a communal manner, with a 'layout' and 'minned' props for the fantasy, and the other drug appears to have UN sanction but works on an individual basis (with Eldritch able to inhabit the realm also)....

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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex, 5 Mar. 2011
By 
Christian (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This is one of those books that deserves a very thoughful review. Phillip's books are often some of the more complex in Science Fiction with numerous twists and turns.

The story is one of an earth which is heating up causing humanity to colonise the solor system. The imagery is evoked of settling the west and the harsh lives that are lived. Against that the escapism of drugs and new realities that can be experienced.

This delves into difference senses of reality, religious themes as well as the state of time. Read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We are in the mind of Philip K Dick himself, 14 Jan. 2013
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This Novel is dark, and after finishing it I was overwhelemed with a horrible feeling. Perhaps I was having a bad day, but this book is errie towards the end.

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.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perky Pat , drugs and hallucinations, 27 Sept. 2002
By 
Rob Burns (Datchet, Berkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Stigmata deals with a number of Dick's themes: identidy, what is reality, drugs. I read this book a couple of years ago, and I bought it for about 80 pence in a second hand book stall. It was one of the best investments I've ever made. The pages that deal with the Perky Pat playsets are particularly memorable , revealing Dick to be a thoughtful , witty writer.
In a nutshell, buy it, borrow it , steal it...just do what you have to do to read it
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4.0 out of 5 stars P.K. Dick does it again. Messes with your head, 21 Jun. 2014
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I really enjoyed this. I liked the complex fast moving plot. It's the future, of course or A future, if you like, on a dangerously warming Earth or Terra. There are pre-cogs; intellect enhancing but risky medical procedures and an entire industry dedicated to providing distractions for off world colonists, drafted to go and seed any slightly viable planets in the solar system. It's a dreary life and the central theme revolves around the rivalry of the suppliers of an established but illegal hallucinogen can-D and a newer product, chew-Z, probably also illegally brought in from outside the system by Palmer Eldritch. But who or what is Palmer Eldritch? And what is really happening when the first people try the new drug? The nature of reality, time and God are called into question and, as you might expect if you have read any other P. K. Dick, you won't really be sure what's going on at all, not even when you get to the end! Modern sci-fi in all it's formats, owes a lot to PKD but nothing else messes with your mind in quite the same way as this author's work. Love it.
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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - 13 Mar. 2003)
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