I can only imagine what it must have been like to read this novel when it was first published, before "cyberspace" entered the popular lexicon and Th...moreI can only imagine what it must have been like to read this novel when it was first published, before "cyberspace" entered the popular lexicon and The Matrix became a staple of pop culture... but that's no reason to skip over it.
I have a bad habit of putting off reading books whose film adaptations I've seen and loved (until recently, I didn't know that there are actual electric sheep in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). Even though Neuromancer hasn't officially been made into a movie, I had secondhand knowledge that its influence permeates some of my favorites -- not only The Matrix, but also Dark City and David Cronenberg's eXistenZ.
Other than that, I don't think I can say anything here that hasn't already been said about this book. It deserves its status as a classic. The writing is highly stylized -- when I read a passage to my brother, he thought it was "cheesy." I suppose he had a point -- after all, the beginning of the plot mirrors any number of noir stories; the down-and-out hero, the "dame," the "one last job," etc. -- but as entertainment and brilliantly imaginative SF, it's wonderful. I don't know why I hadn't read it sooner.
There are days when I want the world to know just how much I love Dick. OK, that didn't come out quite the way I wanted it to...
All lame jokes aside,...moreThere are days when I want the world to know just how much I love Dick. OK, that didn't come out quite the way I wanted it to...
All lame jokes aside, I'm glad PKD is now remembered as the visionary and important writer he was. I'm fond of describing him as the American Franz Kafka -- like Kafka, Dick had legitimate psychological problems that are reflected in his highly imaginative writing; they both blur the lines between reality and dreams/visions/hallucinations; etc., etc.
The similarities don't end there, but they are worth mentioning when it comes to Three Stigmata. Like The Trial, this novel is highly ambiguous and rarely - if ever - provides concrete answers. So it's more enjoyable if you don't try to piece together which parts are "real" and which are hallucinations -- it's unlikely that PKD himself had any idea.
To make another comparison to an earlier author... towards the end, as the new futuristic drug Chew-Z gains in popularity, the story takes on the tone of the scene from Through the Looking-Glass in which Tweedledum and Tweedledee tell Alice that she's "only a sort of thing in [the Red King's] dream."
This is a very vague and rambling review, but it's a very difficult book to describe. I suppose the best way to sum it up is this -- I never liked listening to stoners trying to hash out the nature of reality. But when Philip K. Dick suggests the existence of synthetic memories, or neverending drug trips, or androids who think they're human... I find it genuinely fascinating and just a little chilling. The Three Stigmata is a terrifying, often hilarious, novel by a man whose mind is a nice place to visit... but you'd never want to live there.(less)