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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Paperback – 11 Oct 2012
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One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction, Dick made most of the European avant-garde seem like navel-gazers in a cul-de-sac (Sunday Times)
For everyone lost in the endlessly multiplicating realities of the modern world, remember: Philip K. Dick got there first (Terry Gilliam)
Dick quietly produced serious fiction in a popular form and there can be no greater praise (MICHAEL MOORCOCK)
One of the genuine visionaries that North American literature has produced. (L.A.WEEKLY)
One of the genuine visionaries that North American fiction has produced (L.A. WEEKLY)
Philip K. Dick is the bestselling author of MINORITY REPORT and BLADE RUNNER.See all Product description
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-- 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
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.
"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.