The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a 1965 science fiction novel by US writer Philip K. Dick. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965.[1]

The novel takes place some time in the 21st century. Under United Nations authority, humankind has colonized every habitable planet and moon in the solar system. Like many of Dick's novels, it utilizes an array of science fiction concepts, features several layers of reality and unreality and philosophical ideas. It is one of Dick's first works to explore religious themes. As the book explains, the 'three stigmata' are a mechanical arm, slotted eyes and metallic teeth, which represent alienation, blurred reality, and despair.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
TheThreeStigmataOfPalmerEldritch(1stEd)
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
AuthorPhilip K. Dick
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreDystopian novel, science fiction novel, philosophical fiction
PublisherDoubleday
Publication date
1965
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages278
ISBN978-0-575-07997-7 (2007 reprint)

Plot summary

The story begins in a future world where global temperatures have risen so high that in most of the world it is unsafe to be outside without special cooling gear during daylight hours. In a desperate bid to preserve humanity and ease population burdens on Earth, the UN has initiated a "draft" for colonizing the nearby planets, where conditions are so horrific and primitive that the unwilling colonists have fallen prey to a form of escapism involving the use of an illegal drug (Can-D) in concert with "layouts." Layouts are physical props intended to simulate a sort of alternate reality where life is easier than either the grim existence of the colonists in their marginal off-world colonies, or even Earth, where global warming has progressed to the point that Antarctica is prime vacation resort territory. The illegal drug Can-D allows people to "share" their experience of the "Perky Pat" (the name of the main female character in the simulated world) layouts. This "sharing" has caused a pseudo-religious cult or series of cults to grow up around the layouts and the use of the drug.

Up to the point where the novel begins, New York City-based Perky Pat (or P.P.) Layouts, Inc., has held a monopoly on this product, as well as on the illegal trade in the drug Can-D which makes the shared hallucinations possible.

The novel opens shortly after Barney Mayerson, P.P. Layouts' top precog, has received a "draft notice" from the UN for involuntary resettlement as a colonist on Mars. Mayerson is sleeping with his assistant, Roni Fugate, but remains conflicted about the divorce, which he himself initiated, from his first wife Emily, a ceramic pot artist. Meanwhile, Emily's second husband tries to sell her pot designs to P.P. Layouts as possible accessories for the Perky Pat virtual worlds—but Barney, recognizing them as Emily's, rejects them out of spite.

Meanwhile, the UN rescues Palmer Eldritch's ship from a crash on Pluto. Leo Bulero, head of P.P. Layouts and an "evolved" human (meaning someone who has undergone expensive genetic treatments by a German "doctor" which are supposed to push the client "forward" on an evolutionary scale, and which result in gross physical, as well as mental, modifications), hears rumors that Eldritch discovered an alien hallucinogen in the Prox system with similar properties to Can-D, and that he plans to market it as "Chew-Z," with UN approval, on off-world colonies. However Chew-Z does not require the prop of the external layouts and seems to have certain undefined qualities that make the use of Chew-Z even more addictive than Can-D has been. This would effectively destroy P.P. Layouts. Bulero tries to contact Eldritch but he is quarantined at a UN hospital. Both Mayerson and Fugate have precognitions of reports that Bulero is going to be responsible for murdering Eldritch.

Under the guise of a reporter, Bulero travels to Eldritch's estate on the Moon, where Eldritch holds a press conference. Bulero is kidnapped and forced to take Chew-Z intravenously. He enters a psychic netherworld over which both he and Eldritch seemingly have some control. After wrangling about business with Eldritch, Bulero travels to what appears to be Earth at some time in the not-too-distant future. Evolved humans identify him as a ghost and show him a monument to himself commemorating his role in the death of Eldritch, an "enemy of the Sol System."

Bulero returns to Earth and fires Mayerson because Mayerson was afraid to travel to the Moon to rescue him. Mayerson, in despair, accepts his UN conscription to Mars but Bulero recruits him as a double agent. Mayerson is to inject himself with a toxin after taking Chew-Z in a plot to deceive the UN into thinking Chew-Z is harmful and cause them to ban it.

On Mars, Mayerson buys some Chew-Z from Eldritch, who appears in holographic form. Mayerson tries to hallucinate a world where he is still with Emily but finds that he does not control his apparent hallucination. Like Bulero, he finds himself in the future. Mayerson arrives in New York two years hence where he speaks with Bulero, Fugate and his future self about the death of Palmer Eldritch.

He also encounters several manifestations of Eldritch, identifiable by their robotic right hand, artificial eyes, and steel teeth. Eldritch offers to help Mayerson become whatever he wants, but is so controlling of the Chew-Z alternate reality that Mayerson ultimately decides he'd rather be dead than continue to be manipulated by Eldritch. When a despairing Mayerson chooses death, he finds himself apparently forced into Eldritch's body right at the point in the timeline where Bulero is ready to shoot a torpedo at Eldritch's ship. It appears that Eldritch's plan is to preserve his own life essence housed in Mayerson's body while allowing Mayerson himself to die in Eldritch's place. Eldritch, meanwhile, intends to live on in Mayerson's form and enjoy the simple if arduous life of a Martian colonist. Mayerson, stuck in Eldritch's body and mistaken for him, is indeed nearly killed by Bulero in the near future, but before the fatal shot can be fired he is awakened from his Chew-Z trance in the present by Bulero, who has just arrived on Mars.

Bulero is willing to take Mayerson back to Earth but refuses to after learning that Mayerson did not inject himself with the toxin. Mayerson is now confident that Bulero will kill Eldritch, so the sacrifice of taking the toxin in order to ruin Eldritch's business is unnecessary; but he does not try to convince Bulero of this. Later, Mayerson discusses his experience with a neo-Christian colonist and they conclude that either Eldritch became a god in the Prox system or some god-like being has taken his place. Mayerson is convinced some aspect of Eldritch is still inside him, and that as long as he refuses to take Chew-Z again, it is Eldritch who will actually be killed by Bulero in the near future; Mayerson is half-resigned, half-hopeful about taking on the life of a Martian colonist without reprieve. Mayerson considers the possibility of Eldritch being what humans have always thought of as a god, but inimical, or perhaps merely an inferior aspect of a bigger and better sort of god.

The novel has an ambiguous ending, with Bulero heading back toward Earth, and apparent proliferation of Eldritch's cyborg bodily 'stigmata', which may mean that Bulero is still trapped in Eldritch's hallucinatory domain, or that Chew-Z is becoming increasingly popular among Terrans and Martian colonists.

Material used from prior work

Reception

Algis Budrys of Galaxy Science Fiction described the novel as "an important, beautifully controlled, smoothly created book which will twist your mind if you give it the least chance to do so". He praised Dick's accomplishment, saying "the whole creation resonates to the touch of the only present science-fiction writer who could possibly have done it" and characterizes the result as "a witty, sometimes lighthearted, and always fascinating piece of fiction".[2] Budrys later named the book the best science-fiction novel of his first year as reviewer for the magazine, reporting that others "are calling it some kind of half-conscious failure".[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ "1965 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  2. ^ Budrys, Algis (August 1965). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 186–194.
  3. ^ Budrys, Algis (February 1966). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 131–139.

Sources

  • Rossi, Umberto. "Dick e la questione della tecnica (o Della tecnologia)", Technology and the American Imagination: An Ongoing Challenge, Atti del XII Convegno biennale AISNA, Eds. Mamoli Zorzi and Bisutti de Riz, Venezia: Supernova, 1994, p. 473–83.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. p. 142. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.

External links

A Little Something for Us Tempunauts

"A Little Something for Us Tempunauts" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in the anthology Final Stage in 1975.

Autofac

"Autofac" is a 1955 science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick that features one of the earliest treatments of self-replicating machines (and Dick's second, after his 1953 short story Second Variety). It appeared originally in Galaxy Science Fiction of November 1955, and was reprinted in several collections, including The Variable Man published in 1957, and Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities published in 1984.

The story was adapted by Travis Beacham for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.

Confessions d'un Barjo

Confessions d'un Barjo (known as Barjo for the English-language market) is a 1992 French film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's non-science fiction novel Confessions of a Crap Artist, originally written in 1959 and published in 1975, the only non-science fiction novel of Dick's to be published in his lifetime. The film was directed by Jérôme Boivin and written by Jacques Audiard and Jérôme Boivin, and stars Anne Brochet, Richard Bohringer and Hippolyte Girardot. "Barjo" translates as "nutcase" or "nut job".

Eldritch

Eldritch is an English word used to describe something as otherworldly, weird, ghostly, or uncanny.

Eldritch may also refer to:

Eldritch (band), an Italian heavy metal band

Eldritch (video game), a video game for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, based on the Cthulhu Mythos

Eldritch Horror (board game), is a Lovecraftian tabletop strategy game

Andrew Eldritch (born 1959), singer, songwriter

Faith of Our Fathers (short story)

"Faith of Our Fathers" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in the anthology Dangerous Visions (1967).

Human Is

"Human Is" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Startling Stories, Winter 1955. The plot centers on the crisis facing a woman whose cold and emotionally abusive husband returns from a survey mission to the dying planet Rexor IV, changed for the better—his psyche was replaced by a Rexorian, glad to have escaped the confines of its dying planet.

The story was adapted by Jessica Mecklenburg for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

"I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon" is a short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. The short story was first published in Playboy in December 1980, under the title "Frozen Journey".

If There Were No Benny Cemoli

"If There Were No Benny Cemoli" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in the December, 1963 issue of Galaxy magazine with illustration by Lutjens."The Proxmen rebuilding war-torn Earth want to prosecute its leaders for war crimes. Benny Cemoli would be the biggest catch of all, if they could just find him. -- Steven Owen Godersky

Manor Books

Manor Books was an American publisher of paperback books.

It was founded by Walter Weidenbaum in 1972 and based in New York City.Manor's library was built on assets purchased from Macfadden Publications after the latter opted to exit the paperback business, and expanded with original titles. Manor ceased activities in 1981.

Mary and the Giant

Mary and the Giant is an early, non-science fiction novel written by Philip K. Dick in the years between 1953 and 1955, but not published until 1987.

Novelty Act

"Novelty Act" is a short story by Philip K. Dick. It involves a dystopian future in which the characters' lives are based on entertaining the First Lady of the United States with "novelty acts".

Philip K. Dick bibliography

The bibliography of Philip K. Dick includes 44 novels, 121 short stories, and 14 short story collections published by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) during his lifetime.

At the time of his death, Dick's work was generally known to only science fiction readers, and many of his novels and short stories were out of print. To date, a total of 44 novels have been published and translations have appeared in 25 languages. Six volumes of selected correspondence, written by Dick from 1938 through 1982, were published between 1991 and 2009.

The Library of America has issued three collections of Dick's novels. The first, published in June 2007, contained The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ubik, and was the first time science fiction was included in the LOA canon. The second collection was issued in July 2008 and included Martian Time Slip, Dr. Bloodmoney, Now Wait for Last Year, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, and A Scanner Darkly. The third collection was published in July 2009 and included A Maze of Death and the VALIS trilogy (VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer).

At least nine films have been adapted from Dick's work, with Blade Runner (1982) widely considered a "masterpiece".Five recurring philosophical themes in Dick's work have been classified by Philip K. Dick scholar Erik Davis: false realities, human vs. machine, entropy, the nature of God, and social control. In Understanding Philip K. Dick, Eric Carl Link discussed eight themes or 'ideas and motifs': Epistemology and the Nature of Reality, Know Thyself, The Android and the Human, Entropy and Pot Healing, The Theodicy Problem, Warfare and Power Politics, The Evolved Human, and 'Technology, Media, Drugs and Madness'.

Stigmata (disambiguation)

Stigmata, bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus

Stigmata may also refer to:

Stigmata (film), a 1999 movie produced by Frank Mancuso Jr

Stigmata (band), a Sri Lankan heavy metal band

Stigmata (Russian band), a Russian metalcore band

Stigmata (Arch Enemy album), a 1998 album by Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy

Stigmata (Tarot album), a 1995 album by the Finnish metal band Tarot

"Stigmata" (song), song released as a single and a video by industrial metal band Ministry, from the 1988 album The Land of Rape and Honey

"Stigmata", a single from the Finnish goth rock band The 69 Eyes

"Stigmata", a single released by the Japanese band Rentrer en Soi

Stigmata (record label), a German record label

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, a 1965 novel by Philip K. Dick

Stigmata of the liver, a symptom of chronic liver disease

Spiracles, entrances to the respiratory system of some insects

Stigmata, a piercing shop in Liverpool, England.

“Stigmata”, a single released by the Philadelphia band Varials

Strange Eden

"Strange Eden" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Imagination magazine, December 1954.

The Days of Perky Pat

"The Days of Perky Pat" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1963 in Amazing magazine.

The Electric Ant

"The Electric Ant" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine in October 1969.

The Gun (short story)

For the collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick, see Beyond Lies the Wub (collection).

"The Gun" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1952 September issue of Planet Stories, and later published in Beyond Lies the Wub in 1984. "The Gun" has been published in Italian, German, French and Polish translations.

Vintage PKD

Vintage PKD is a collection of science fiction stories, novel excerpts and non-fiction by Philip K. Dick. It was first published by Vintage Books in 2006.

War Veteran

"War Veteran" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in If magazine in March 1955.

Novels
Collections
Short stories
Adaptations
Related

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.