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Arrastra SF : recommended science fiction and fantasy books
Philip K. Dick's
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch 1991 Vintage Books cover Want to read a strangely imaginative science fiction book?  If so, maybe you should try reading The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick.  It's definitely something different.

It deals with translation drugs, altered reality, religious concepts, and scary God like powers.

It was first published in 1964, written by Philip K. Dick, a highly respected science fiction writer who wrote over thirty books and many short stories.  His fiction was the basis of several major movies.  His book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was filmed as Blade Runner.  His story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale was filmed as Total Recall.  His story Minority Report was the basis for the movie of the same name directed by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise.

In this odd future, Earth is suffering through a Fire Age.  Cars and buildings are thermo sealed.  Only fools go unprotected outside in the daylight hours.  The rich vacation in Antarctica and take E Therapy, evolution therapy.

The selective service of the UN is drafting people to live in the off-Earth colonies.  They are more or less kicking people off Earth.

To make life on Mars bearable the colonists chew a lichen-based drug called Can-D.  Layouts with miniaturized Earth objects and dolls become real after eating the drug Can-D.  The partaker is translated for a time to the idealized world of the layout.  When taken by a group, the women all inhabit Barbie-like Perky Pat, and the men all become Pat's boyfriend Walt.  Can-D is grown, processed and distributed by a hidden subsidiary of Perky Pat (P. P) Layouts.
3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch 1983 DAW cover

3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch 1975 Manor books cover Industrialist Palmer Eldritch has crash landed on Pluto on his return from the Prox system.  He has a lichen drug to compete with Can-D called Chew-Z.  They advertise it with the slogans "Be choosy.  Chew Chew-Z" and "God promises eternal life.  We can deliver it".

With this diabolical drug subjective years can be experienced and you return to find that no time has passed.  Eldritch sold Chew-Z to the UN by claiming it induces genuine reincarnation.  But what, or whose, universe do you go to? Is it a nice universe? And what are these phantasms caused by 'time-overtones'?

Leo Bulero is concerned that Eldritch will ruin his Can-D trade.  He asks one his precogs to look into the future, and they foresee Eldritch is dead and Bulero is accused of having murdered him.  Barney and Roni want to prevent Leo from doing something rash.

What are the three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch?
The dead, artificial hand
The distorted jaw
The Jensen mechanical slitted eyes

Other weird stuff
Money is in "skins"
Temperature is is quoted in "Wagners"
"Minning" is miniaturizing everyday items for use in layouts
"Precogs" use precognition to predict future marketing success
3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch later MacFadden cover

3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Doubleday cover Characters in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
Leo Bulero
- chairman of the board of Perky Pat Layouts
Barney Mayerson
- Pre-fash precog at P.P. Layouts, received draft notice
Palmer Eldritch
- industrialist, recently returned from the Prox (Proxima) system
Roni Fugate
- Pre-fash precog at P.P. Layouts, Barney's assistant and lover
Emily Hnatt
- Maker of ceramic pots, Barney's ex-wife
Richard Hnatt
- Salesman, Emily's current husband
Felix Blau
- Tri-Planetary Law Enforcement
Anne Hawthorne
- Martian draftee
Fran and Norm Schein
- Martian colonists at Chicken Pox Prospects
Helen and Tod Morris
- Martian colonists Chicken Pox Prospects
Sam Regan
- Martian colonist Chicken Pox Prospects
Zoe Eldritch
- Palmer's adult daughter
Dr. Smile
- a suitcase-sized cyber psychiatrist

Blurb from MacFaddan edition of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (right):
He offered to sell them the secret of eternal life.  All he asked in return was their souls
It was always Saturday

You woke each morning with the comfortable feeling that you didn't have to go to your job.  Instead, you could climb into your brand new Jaguar, pick up your girl and go to the beach.
Except that when you looked into your shaving mirror you saw a not tacked up, written in your own hand:
This is an illusion.  Make good use of your time, buddy boy.
Because the illusion wouldn't last.  And soon you would be back as an unwilling colonist on the dreary planet Mars.
3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch 1966 
    MacFadden cover

3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch 1977 Bantam cover Blurb from Bantam edition of The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (left):
Two drugs --- One to make your lifetime a trip.  The other to make your trip an eternity...
Hell is a future in space.
A future where at any time you can be deported to colonize alien planets.
Unless you're spaced out...
The only way to survive on the colony worlds is with Can-D --- The drug that blows your mind back home for an hour of total bliss.
On a trip beyond any human experience...
Now Chew-Z is here.  The new narcotic that makes that brief hour an eternity.  Where past, present and future belong to the most diabolical pusher you've ever met --- Palmer Eldritch.

Philip K. Dick links - Some other websites to check out

A major site. Numerous links, a message board, search, and book summaries.

Perky Pat Paraphernalia
PKD's story "The Days of Perky Pat" helped inspire the book The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club:
Information, ratings, bibliography, and book covers for three other PKD books
The Man in the High Castle
Blade Runner / Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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Arrastra SF home | Robert A. Heinlein's The Door into Summer | Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip

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Misuly's Fantasy & Science Fiction Book Reviews