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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  32,995 ratings  ·  1,661 reviews
Not too long from now, when exiles from a blistering Earth huddle miserably in Martian colonies, the only things that make life bearable are the drugs. Can-D “translates” those who take it into the bodies of Barbie-like dolls. Now there's competition — a substance called Chew-Z, marketed under the slogan: “God promises eternal life. We can deliver it.” The question is: Wha ...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published December 3rd 1991 by Vintage (first published January 1965)
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Glenn Russell
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - 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 roller coaster:

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) hallucinog
Nov 21, 2012 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
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american, 2014, scifi, fiction
“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
Nov 29, 2011 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
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
Leonard Gaya
Shortly after Martin Luther’s death, the heads of the papal Church, then widely challenged by the Protestant movement, felt the need to beef up their positions on several doctrinal points. In October 1551, the Council met in Santa Maria Maggiore church in Trento, to discuss the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. In the end, and after a lengthy thirteen-sessions debate, the bishops came up with a theory worthy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "by the consecration of the bread and wine there take ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Choosy Chewers Choose Chew-Z"

This is my fourth Philip K. Dick experience... and this one was a trip.

How the hell do I review this book? How is it even possible to get across the feeling this book gives? This book frankly seems like a dark downward spiral into insanity... and yet inside that it offers both hope and despair.

I'll start this off bluntly. I don't fully get the novel. I don't think it is possible to fully get the novel. If you claim to fully get the novel, I question both your perce
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
Nate D
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010, sci-fi
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
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. The Kingdom of Palmer Eldritch is inside you and all around you.
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
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know Dick.

I've read some of his work and enjoyed it. But this was a deep philosophical dive on top of the classic psychological-warping mind games that PKD is famous for. All the tropes are here: a bevy of unlikable characters, each flawed in their own way; a scathing side-wise attack on the supposed values of 1950's America including rank capitalism, political subjugation of colonized peoples (or in this case, the colonizers themselves), and plastic-surgery-enhanced beauty; religious ze
In 1963, while walking to his shed to do some writing, Philip K Dick experienced a ‘devastating vision of a cruelly masked human face in the sky’. Two years later, he published this book, so you, too, can experience a psychotic breakdown – from a relatively safe distance.

I really enjoyed Palmer Eldritch purely on the level of weirdness – it's one of the weirdest novels I've read for some time. Although there is a lot that doesn't add up in the plot, and some irritating flaws in the characterisat
Joe Valdez
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
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 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
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three and a half stars.

Philip K. Dick unchained. Such a trip!
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, philip-k-dick
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch [1964] – ★★★★1/2

This is my fourth Philip K. Dick novel (previously, I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [1968], A Scanner Darkly [1977] and Ubik [1969]). This story is set in future and follows Barney Mayerson, an employee of P.P (Perky Pat) Layouts, a firm which specialises in providing layouts which can be used for drug experience when customers (those in space colonies) take illegal hallucinatory drug Can-D, which can recreate a perfect life when
Ian "Marvin" Graye

Chew-Z Versus Can-D

For about 70% of this novel, it is as fluently and playfully written as Kurt Vonnegut's fiction from the same period (the mid-sixties).

However, as it moves to some type of conclusion in the last 30%, it becomes more enigmatic.

The plot takes place variously on Earth and on Mars, and in the imagination of its characters. For the last 30% of the novel, it's often difficult to understand where it is taking place.

This is largely because the characters are taking hallucinog
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
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites, fantasy
I didn't like this at first, because I couldn't make sense of where Dick was taking it. At the end, I loved it. He created a myth, based on religious beliefs. Brilliant. Some of it scared me. This guy took Chew-Z, rather than Can-D, a powerful hallucinogen which makes your hallucination a simulacra of alternate reality. It goes deep into plot revelations. The kind of stuff I love, mind stuff, like The Matrix movie (which I can't watch anymore because I novelized it scene by scene and don't enjoy ...more
Alex Bright
This is by no means a grumpy 3 stars. There was so much social commentary in this story that was invigorating to the mind... but maybe too much. The overlapping of religious, psychological, and technological themes created a surprisingly fun, pulpy mess. I'd say the result was a prodigal-son type story, however I can't say for certain because in the end I'm not entirely sure which parts were real and which parts weren't. Think Inception. PKD wrote this in the mid-60s, and I'd really like to know ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gregg_press-own
New introduction by Paul Williams.

Note: This is not a library copy.
Pam Baddeley
This novel was originally published in 1964 when the year 2016, when it is set, was sufficiently far ahead for its futuristic elements to be credible. Reading it now, it is an odd mixture of what never came to pass such as interstellar travel to Proxima Centuri, and technology now regarded as old hat such as casette tapes. But the essential weirdness remains. Rather than try to frame the complicated and interwoven plot, I'll confine myself to some comments about themes, characters and setting.

Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 a sort of 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?

Synopsis: Terra is burning up and the UN is drafting people to move to colonies on the other planets around Sol. Life on our neighboring planets is miserable and those unlucky
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
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"
Jun 02, 2011 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 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
Jun 12, 2014 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.
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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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