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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  22,971 Ratings  ·  1,068 Reviews

“A psychedelic odyssey of hallucinations-within-hallucinations from which no reader emerges unscathed.â€â€”Boston Globe

On Mars, the harsh climate could make any colonist turn to drugs to escape a dead-end existence. Especially when the drug is Can-D, which translates its users into the idyllic world of a Barbie-esque character named Perky Pat. When the mysterious Palmer

Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Mariner Books (first published 1965)
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Nov 21, 2012 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Glenn Russell
Jun 30, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 rollercoaster:

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 tr
Nov 29, 2011 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
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 th
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: 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 h ...more
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 ...more
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
Joe Valdez
Jun 07, 2016 Joe Valdez rated it really liked it
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 writ ...more
Aug 28, 2013 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“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 E
Nate D
Jul 19, 2010 Nate D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, read-in-2010
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, i
Feb 20, 2017 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uneori, cărțile lui Philip K. Dick îmi par a fi scoase dintr-un vis: întreaga lume își pierde substanța, trecutul, prezentul și zeci de variante ale viitorului se contopesc, cauzalitatea este doar o amintire, iar mintea nu poate să distingă adevărul de halucinație...
Jun 26, 2009 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cyberpunks and Christians
Shelves: 2009
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 vib
Sep 21, 2007 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore Philip K. Dick fans
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. I
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 s
Jun 13, 2015 Carmine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dio ha promesso la vita eterna, io posso metterla in commercio.

Lettura dalle molteplici interpretazioni, a tratti straripante per il devastante contenuto.
La cinica visione dell'autore mette alla berlina le nostre contraddizioni ed insoddisfazioni, tratteggiando un'umanità totalmente allo sbando ed alla perenne ricerca di sicurezze.
Il disperato bisogno d'evadere -vedi gli inquietanti modellini di Perkie Pat e Walt- si concretizza in un tremendo distacco dalla realtà, delineando un contesto ove
Nov 04, 2012 David rated it liked it
A klutzy, embarrassingly spiritual book—but enjoyable in a pulpy kind of way, nevertheless.
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
Κατερίνα Μαλακατέ
Ομολογώ, όταν πρόκειται για τον Φίλιπ Ντικ δεν μπορώ να είμαι αντικειμενική, έχω οξύτατη έξη από την γραφή του, δεν μπορώ να διαβάσω κανένα από τα βιβλία του χωρίς να θαυμάσω τη φαντασία και την ικανότητά του να στήνει πολλαπλούς κόσμους και αντικατοπτρισμούς της πραγματικότητας, χωρίς πουθενά να κουράζει ή να μπερδεύει τον αναγνώστη. Καλά, ίσως μόνο στο Valis, όπου o εθισμός του από τις αμφεταμίνες, τη θρησκεία και τα αντικαταθλιπτικά είχε φτάσει πια σε δ
Jun 02, 2011 Katy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 v
Jan 06, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
Feb 27, 2015 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 sol
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"
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
Graham Cope
“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

eldritch adj. – unearthly; weird; strange

Okay, I’m halfway through my Exegesis-plus-12-novels PKD read along, so to celebrate I want to start this review with a bit of research. As any fan will probably tell you, Philip K. Dick wrote a lot. And by “a lot”, I mean 48 novels*, and 121 short
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. T
Molly Billygoat
Sep 15, 2015 Molly Billygoat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is an alternative to taking hallucinogenic drugs. It seems few science fiction themes remain untouched in this novel. From humanity’s habitation of the solar system at large, global warming, corporate domination, religion in the face of adversity, immortality versus mortality, even possible alien domination… It is all there.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch begins with one company’s illegal domination of the major drug industry. The dru
Nov 20, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
There is nothing sophisticated about the way that The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch comes at you. Whatever Philip K. Dick did to his mind to allow him to construct such an intricate, yet involving plot, it works.

Years ago, I was amazed by a novel of Stanislaw Lem's called The Futurological Congress. Both the Lem novel and Palmer Eldritch are about worlds that are so miserable, so unlivable, that only a highly sophisticated drug can keep you from ripping your heart out and eating it. I thoug
Apr 14, 2013 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really stunning work about materialism, and loneliness, and the irrevocable mistakes we all make. What we do to escape the relative horrors of our various realities. The need to touch the face of God.

Poor PKD. What was going on inside there? I know, it's only science fiction, but here's something else I got out of this book; what it's like to be a drug addict, and an understanding of what it's like to look into the yawning abyss.
Jun 12, 2014 Ray rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Bill Wellham
Mar 04, 2010 Bill Wellham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this for a long time, but had so many other P.K. Dick novels to get through, I kept putting it off. Even the title didn’t seem to make sense, or give any idea what might lie within. Having finally read this, I have to say that this is one of his best mind bending stretches of imagination ever. A total mind f@&k (excuse my French).

It was somewhat difficult to get into from the first few pages. I kept asking myself ‘what the hell is going on here?’ Ideas are discussed in the f
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Realities collide 1 5 Feb 16, 2017 07:45PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add number of pages: Palmer Eldritchs tre stigman 3 14 Dec 22, 2016 09:54AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Change description 2 11 Oct 24, 2015 01:23PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: 1965 - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch 4 27 Mar 08, 2015 07:39PM  
Philip K Dick: Three Stigmata of... 4 51 Feb 06, 2014 12:09AM  
Plot hole? 5 114 Dec 24, 2013 04:12AM  
La Stamberga dei ...: Le tre stimmate di Palmer Eldritch di Phili K. Dick 1 5 Apr 04, 2013 09:42AM  
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Di ...more
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“But—let me tell you my cat joke. It's very short and simple. A hostess is giving a dinner party and she's got a lovely five-pound T-bone steak sitting on the sideboard in the kitchen waiting to be cooked while she chats with the guests in the living room—has a few drinks and whatnot. But then she excuses herself to go into the kitchen to cook the steak—and it's gone. And there's the family cat, in the corner, sedately washing it's face."

"The cat got the steak," Barney said.

"Did it? The guests are called in; they argue about it. The steak is gone, all five pounds of it; there sits the cat, looking well-fed and cheerful. "Weigh the cat," someone says. They've had a few drinks; it looks like a good idea. So they go into the bathroom and weigh the cat on the scales. It reads exactly five pounds. They all perceive this reading and a guest says, "okay, that's it. There's the steak." They're satisfied that they know what happened, now; they've got empirical proof. Then a qualm comes to one of them and he says, puzzled, "But where's the cat?”
“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 sort of a 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?” 22 likes
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