The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  14,769 ratings  ·  657 reviews
“A psychedelic odyssey of hallucinations-within-hallucinations from which no reader emerges unscathed.”—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 Eldri...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Mariner Books (first published 1965)
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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
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
Reading this book felt a bit like dreaming, after a while it became like a dream within a dream, soon after it became like 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 com...more
Nate D
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...more
Jul 01, 2009 R. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Robert Farwell

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 Eldritch', Dick entertains that funky zone between religious dogma and drug addiction, while at the same time throwing in some key ideas about evolutionary therapy, evolution, atonement, eternal life, time, God, etc.

There is a precidence in the idea of...more
Oct 03, 2007 Matthew rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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.
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"
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...more
Bill Wellham
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...more
This is a trippy novel about reality altering drugs with not too subtle religious references.

Palmer Eldritch, an elusive industrialist, has crash landed on Pluto. His wounded body is taken away to a hospital. During his recovery rumors flourish that Eldritch has smuggled out illegal lichen for producing a translational drug called Chew-Z. Chew-Z produces a shared altered reality when taken. No one has seen Eldritch and it is not sure if he is alive or if some alien life form inhabits his body.

Nuno Magalhães
Apr 09, 2013 Nuno Magalhães rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone - Not Recommended
Após ler mais um livro de Philip K.Dick, concluo que este autor não escreve definitivamente para o meu gosto. Apesar de se tratar de um autor muito coneituado entre alguns aficionados de SciFi, continuo a não conseguir perceber o que é que essas pessoas encontram nos livros de PKD. Desta vez, li "Os 3 Estigmas de Palmer Eldritch" no seu original em Inglês, pois assumi que talvez a tradução para Português me estivesse a impedir de apreciar a suposta genialidade da escrita deste autor. Tenho que c...more
Erik Graff
May 22, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
This is quintessential Dick, one of his better novels. As ever, the writing is poor, but the ideas are fascinating. Some of them are seminal, this novel introducing concerns which will increasingly occupy his writing in the future. They include altered states of consciousness, group hallucinations, role-playing addictions, psychedelics, the fluidity of time/space and incarnationalism--all of which revolve around Dick's central obsession, viz. who am I? The novel also continues his usual device o...more
Un libro che prima ti seduce con la sua facilità di lettura, dopo ti precipita in un pozzo senza fondo, dal quale ti risvegli con la testa indolenzita. L'ho divorato in un giorno.
Dick attraverso i suoi topoi (la droga, la percezione di realtà, la gnosi) ci lascia degli interrogativi più grandi del solito. Un must have.
P.S: Conseguentemente alla lettura del libro, consiglio la visione del film Existenz di Cronenberg
This is a hard book to pin down. It's weirdness and phisophical and spiritual questions above and beyond the basic story are complex and thought provoking. I really enjoyed it but I am not sure I got it. This may require a re-read in the future
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...more
Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to someone who isn't already a fan of Philip K. Dick, it was a lot better than I thought it would be, so if you've already read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Man in the High Castle, and Dr. Bloodmoney, you might want to read this one next. It's also stuffed full of all kinds of ideas and things going on, which makes it a little busy. Fortunately, the ideas are interesting:

- global warming before it was a thing. In this case, the daily he...more
Jack Stovold
My Philip K. Dick Project

Entry #33 - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (written early 1964, published Nov. 1964)

For anyone's who ever entertained the paranoid fantasy that nothing is really real, or that it's all in your head, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch will do little to allay your fears, and that is what makes it so terrifying. Once you've had even a taste of Chew-Z, the new drug mysterious industrialist Palmer Eldritch has brought back with from the Proxima Centauri system, you...more
Philip K. Dick no seu melhor; agarrou-me desde a primeira página. A imaginação ou, melhor dizendo - nos seus próprios termos! -, precognição de Dick é, mais uma vez, brilhantemente apresentada de uma forma estruturada que a poucos se lhes presta a explorar. A forma como nos afoga no seu universo só tem paralelo no seu talento para apresentar-nos personagens profundas, acompanhadas de sofisticados diálogos e reflexões. Dick vai muito além do fantástico, Dick penetra nas raízes da contemplação da...more
I'm not going to shed any more light on this novel than the other fine reviewers in this community already have. My own thoughts on the novel: It's not my favourite PKD. It was too hard to read - I got lost a few times! I wouldn't pick this as a first novel with which to sample the author's work.

But I can understand why it's considered on of his most important novels in terms of his visions of the future. What a trip. :)
3.75/5 rounded up

This book is a trippy, psychotic, philosophical popcorn machine.

It is at once a visionary and imaginative tour-de-force while also being a hit and miss slog of many ideas for sci-fi buffs ONLY. You will hate this if you're not into classic science fiction. Do not start with Philip K. Dick. Start with Arthur C Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury. Then graduate to Heinlein and PKD.

Without a doubt, if you like ultra bizarre and spiritual drug-related mindfuckery, this is your "perceptions-of-...more
“Dio promette la vita eterna; io posso fare di meglio: posso metterla in commercio”.

Romanzo-culto, chiave di volta dell'architettura narrativa dickiana e romanzo crocevia di tutti i temi dell'autore: questo e molto altro è il delirante Le tre stimmate di Palmer Eldritch.
Romanzo complesso, estremamente delirante e visionario, che necessita una due tre riletture fosse solo per cogliere tutte le complessità di una trama che di volta in volta si trasfigura e si sottrae al lettore. Romanzo splendidam...more
Hugo Schoen
The best sci-fi novels engage the reader with questions of their own humanity on current terms. Space travel, advanced robotics and interactions with alien species can be fascinating, yet, without the deep human aspect involved the story itself becomes nil. The fact that 'The Three Stigamata of Palmer Eldritch' addresses an overheated Earth, and the beginning stages of the colonization of Mars, issues that are raised in our current consciousness are fascinating considering this novel was written...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Dick is astounding in some of the subjects he uses: global warming, the internet, born again Christians and homeopapes, best described as, yes, iPads. And this from a 1964 science fiction novel, written nearly an astonishing 50 years ago, but still reading as fresh as if it was penned yesterday. And the book has precogs!
This is one of Dick's finest novels, mixing outlandish themes with crossovers into alternate realities as well as questioning the meaning and purpose of religion. In the (now) n...more
Tom Lichtenberg
Stigmata was written in 1964 and it's got global warming in the early 21st century.

It's got suitcase psychiatrists that you hire to make you insane.

It's got Can-D, the drug you take to put you into the lives of your Ken and Barbie dolls (Walt and Perky Pat), where people spend more time and effort on that 'virtual reality' than their own dismal one (think sims, second life, 'social networking').

It's got rival drug cartels from outer space ('be choosy. chew Chew-Z!). It's got news clowns. News Cl...more
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Philip K Dick: Three Stigmata of... 4 31 Feb 06, 2014 12:09AM  
Plot hole? 5 83 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. He briefly attended the University of California, but dropped out before completing any classes. 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 Memo...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?” 15 likes
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