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For the exiles from a blistering Earth, Mars is a lonely place, made bearable only by drugs, specifically Can-D, which translates those who take in into a shared hallucination of a Barbie-esque world. But the new drug Chew-Z promises more than thateternal life itself. But it a world where everyone is tripping, no promises can be taken at face value. When those promises come from Palmer Eldritch, who may be human, alien, or god, they can be trusted even less.
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on
ISBN: 9780547601328
List price: $13.95
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A masterpiece. Philip K. Dick used to write with deceptively simple prose and a straightforward style with very few embellishments. But he used that to deliver some of the most thought-provoking and intellectually challenging stories that could ever be imagined. And in this and some other of his works, he foreshadowed some of the ideas that became commonplace in science-fiction stories about twenty years later, such as virtual worlds and alternate realities. This book is the work of a true visionary.more
One of Dick's classics with virtually all his famous motifs and themes: multiple realities, chatty robots, a scheming woman, desperate colonists on Mars, gnosticism, the machine as an emblem of death, corporate and political intrigue, time travel, and pre-cognition. Industrialist and drug smuggler Leo Bulero has a problem. Mutilated cyborg Palmer Eldritch has returned unexpectedly after a ten year absence in space. Now he's threatening to undercut Bulero's business: providing a sort of commodified communion for colonists on Mars. With the elaborate playsets built around his Perky Pat dolls and with the aid of the narcotic Can-D, Bulero offers groups a pharmacological return to the Earth they've been exiled from and that is now burning up for unknown reasons. But Eldritch's Chew-Z offers a different, longer lasting trip, and one more solipistically seductive. But is Eldritch a man or the spearhead of an alien invasion? As with some of Dick's best work, the story feels oddly up to date whether it's the climatically changed Earth, the obsession with spotting commerical trends via pre-cognitives, a corrupt UN, or the talking suitcase that also happens to be a psychotherapist. Even if you're not quite sure what to make of the ending, this is one of Dick's very best novels.more
The classic PKD visionary tale of an earth where you can't walk outside in due lack of atmosphere (global warming) and a recreational drug that transports people into another, miniature world (second life, etc)... Arguably the most underrated author of the 20th century, certainly in the Science Fiction genre... Minority report, blade runner, etc... all adapted from his works.more
I was a bit annoyed with this novel up to the very end. There's so much going on, and not much is well explained. It was causing my suspension of disbelief to seriously waver.This novel is set in a future when Earth is very, very hot and crowded. So hot that going outside at noon is suicide (literally). So crowded that people are drafted to live in colonies on other planets and moons. There, life is so much worse than on Earth that the colonists have to take an illegal drug to transport themselves into a Barbie-like dreamworld just to get through the day. (No word from Dick on how space travel became so quick and easy -- 8 hours to Mars! -- or how human life is supported on these colony planets, which aggravated me quite a little bit.)Then the infamous Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar voyage with a new, even better drug, which threatens the existing monopoly. Plans are hatched to quell the new competition; conspiracies are formed, and stooges put in place. But when people start taking the drug, they soon realize that Palmer Eldritch himself has infiltrated their fantasies. He is recognizable because of his three "stigmata": a deformed jaw hiding steel teeth; a mechanical hand; and slit-like artificial eyes. Because the effects of the new drug wear off gradually, it soon becomes unclear what is reality and what is hallucination. Just as much in question is who exactly is Palmer Eldritch? Is he man, alien, perhaps even God?This is when the book became really interesting for me, about three-quarters of the way through. Palmer Eldritch's drug makes time malleable, calls into question the nature of reality and re-examines God Himself. The novel ends with a question mark -- we readers aren't sure what is real or not by then, or who is having the hallucination, if it is one -- and that's okay. I only wish it hadn't taken so long to get to the meaty stuff. But the image of the constantly reappearing Palmer Eldritch -- with his unusual stigmata, he is more like a demon than a god -- sticks with me. Even his name means "foreign, strange and uncanny."more
Very interesting book, very deep...more
I thought the idea of the Earth heating up so much that people cannot go outside and vacation at the poles was a great background for this story. The idea of the rich using evolution chambers to leave behind the shackles of their former humanity was also an interesting perspective on the idea of the future.Overall, I enjoyed the writing and pacing of the story, but not the story itself. I didn't like closing the book and being left with more questions than answers, especially when the core question was "did this even happen?" Did Bulero even really wake up from his drug fugue?more
From a stock pulp science fiction beginning, this novel swirls away into a psychadelic exploration of marketing, metaphysics and xenology. It is so heavily layered that it multiple readings and much reflection are needed to optimise its value but even at a superficial plot level it is an astonishing work if one can cope with the confusion that it generates towards the end.more
I know that everyone says that this is PKD's masterwork, and I can see why, it's a pretty brilliant set of ideas, and the writing is splendid. I, however, didn't enjoy reading it as much as other PD books I have read in the past.more
PKD's vision of the future presented in this novel is frighteningly prescient -- people escape the doldrums of their life through an artificial "second life," plastic surgery has been replaced by medical "evolution," and so on. The ending will throw any reader for a loop, and requires several rereadings until you even think you might understand what is happening. However, PKD's strength has never been a coherent plot conclusion, but the startling details of the worlds he creates. In this novel, he excels at what he does best.more
Very few Science Fiction authors manage to create memorable works that easily retain their relevance in the near and/or distant future. Phillip K. Dick is one of those talented few, and The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is one of those works.Dick's not-so-distant dystopian future is one where global warming is an adaptable but growing dillema, with the bulk of humanity virtually sealed away in air-conditioned office buildings and apartment complexes. The solution, space migration to nearby planets, is such a bleak and arduous task that 'settlers' need to be drafted. These off-world settlers often resort to drug-induced shared hallucination involving miniature recreations of life back on earth. Within this structure we find corporations employing psychics to predict future sales trends, upper class elitists physically evolving themselves into 'superior beings', naturally created drugs that allow users to connect on different plains of reality and traverse freely throughout space-time, to name a few. In the center of it all is the titular Palmer Eldritch, a powerful and mysterious businessman who has spent decades communing with alien races, and has returned with what he claims to be mankind's mental and spiritual salvation. What would normally be a one-trick-pony for other authors becomes a multi-layered examination of everything from religion and philosophy to physical/mental evolution and individual freedom versus responsibility. Dick doesn't bother with simple 'Good Vs. Evil' conflict, but instead shows us that both possibilities are sides of the same coin, and simply asks us to call it in the air. Highly recommended for those who like to think about a book long after reading it.more
A very rich novel in ideas. I'm keen to see someone try and make a film of it. An interesting and unnerving book.more
All Philip K. Dick novels are about the nature of reality, and I think this is his best. Completely mind-blowing yet still comprehensible, it has the incomparable PKD style that I find so hard to pin down - it's some combination of brevity, the unexpected and a sense of the alien, but there's still something entirely Other about the way he writes that I find unique. Hard to describe the plot (not much of a review, this), but as with anything PKD it's completely unpredictable.more
Like "Ubik," this one will have you in a spin. Who is Palmer Eldritch? And does even he know?I love the aspects of escapism: the fact that people take drugs to actually commune together in a fantasy world of their own construction reminds me a lot of modern videogames, especially MMORPGs. I love the fact that escape from the Earth is considered terrible, like a cruel fate that awaits the unsuspecting. In all, I really like this book.more
One day I will have to return to this book and re-read it. Very slowly.Despite its pre-1980s origins (would any modern sci-fi author consider flying cars anything but out-moded fantasy?) Dick presents a very up-to-date view of the future: unremittingly grim; global warming; corrupt in every detail. Spartan in detail, terse in style and with some larger-than-life but always realistic characters, this was a good read.Despite this, there is no escaping that this novel is as mad as a box of frogs. Alien invasion? The nature of God? The ability of the human character to form bonds in the most hostile of situations? Perhaps just drug-induced fantasy ... who knows what this is really about? I would advise anyone to give it a try and if they figure it out to e-mail me the explanation.more
In the future, Earth has many colonies where life is hard, and there is nothing much but work. Except Can-D, the illegal drug that enables the colonists to experience shared virtual reality experiences, far removed from their drab lives. For the manufacturer of Can-D, times are good. Until that is, the entrepeneur Palmer Eldtritch returns from his trip outside the solar sytem, bringing with him Chew-Z, which gives anyone whatever they want. But Palmer Eldritch rules as God in everyone’s virtual world...Out of all the many books I had to read I decided to read this one, because it was supposed to be one of the science fiction classics. It’s author, Phillip K. Dick, is one of the top science fiction authors of the 50’s and 60’s, the era when some commentators consider science fiction novels to be in their heyday. This book is one of his more famous books, so I was expected a lot from it. To tell you the truth I was very disappointed. It started off quite well, but quickly deteriorated becoming confusing and plain odd. It doesn’t surprise me that this book’s author was often into hallucinogenic drugs, the story here is very trippy, and while it has a couple of interesting ideas like shared illusory worlds, it didn’t hang together well. It was only about 150 pages but I get the impression if it had been a lot longer, I wouldn’t have finished it.more
Read all 17 reviews

Reviews

A masterpiece. Philip K. Dick used to write with deceptively simple prose and a straightforward style with very few embellishments. But he used that to deliver some of the most thought-provoking and intellectually challenging stories that could ever be imagined. And in this and some other of his works, he foreshadowed some of the ideas that became commonplace in science-fiction stories about twenty years later, such as virtual worlds and alternate realities. This book is the work of a true visionary.more
One of Dick's classics with virtually all his famous motifs and themes: multiple realities, chatty robots, a scheming woman, desperate colonists on Mars, gnosticism, the machine as an emblem of death, corporate and political intrigue, time travel, and pre-cognition. Industrialist and drug smuggler Leo Bulero has a problem. Mutilated cyborg Palmer Eldritch has returned unexpectedly after a ten year absence in space. Now he's threatening to undercut Bulero's business: providing a sort of commodified communion for colonists on Mars. With the elaborate playsets built around his Perky Pat dolls and with the aid of the narcotic Can-D, Bulero offers groups a pharmacological return to the Earth they've been exiled from and that is now burning up for unknown reasons. But Eldritch's Chew-Z offers a different, longer lasting trip, and one more solipistically seductive. But is Eldritch a man or the spearhead of an alien invasion? As with some of Dick's best work, the story feels oddly up to date whether it's the climatically changed Earth, the obsession with spotting commerical trends via pre-cognitives, a corrupt UN, or the talking suitcase that also happens to be a psychotherapist. Even if you're not quite sure what to make of the ending, this is one of Dick's very best novels.more
The classic PKD visionary tale of an earth where you can't walk outside in due lack of atmosphere (global warming) and a recreational drug that transports people into another, miniature world (second life, etc)... Arguably the most underrated author of the 20th century, certainly in the Science Fiction genre... Minority report, blade runner, etc... all adapted from his works.more
I was a bit annoyed with this novel up to the very end. There's so much going on, and not much is well explained. It was causing my suspension of disbelief to seriously waver.This novel is set in a future when Earth is very, very hot and crowded. So hot that going outside at noon is suicide (literally). So crowded that people are drafted to live in colonies on other planets and moons. There, life is so much worse than on Earth that the colonists have to take an illegal drug to transport themselves into a Barbie-like dreamworld just to get through the day. (No word from Dick on how space travel became so quick and easy -- 8 hours to Mars! -- or how human life is supported on these colony planets, which aggravated me quite a little bit.)Then the infamous Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar voyage with a new, even better drug, which threatens the existing monopoly. Plans are hatched to quell the new competition; conspiracies are formed, and stooges put in place. But when people start taking the drug, they soon realize that Palmer Eldritch himself has infiltrated their fantasies. He is recognizable because of his three "stigmata": a deformed jaw hiding steel teeth; a mechanical hand; and slit-like artificial eyes. Because the effects of the new drug wear off gradually, it soon becomes unclear what is reality and what is hallucination. Just as much in question is who exactly is Palmer Eldritch? Is he man, alien, perhaps even God?This is when the book became really interesting for me, about three-quarters of the way through. Palmer Eldritch's drug makes time malleable, calls into question the nature of reality and re-examines God Himself. The novel ends with a question mark -- we readers aren't sure what is real or not by then, or who is having the hallucination, if it is one -- and that's okay. I only wish it hadn't taken so long to get to the meaty stuff. But the image of the constantly reappearing Palmer Eldritch -- with his unusual stigmata, he is more like a demon than a god -- sticks with me. Even his name means "foreign, strange and uncanny."more
Very interesting book, very deep...more
I thought the idea of the Earth heating up so much that people cannot go outside and vacation at the poles was a great background for this story. The idea of the rich using evolution chambers to leave behind the shackles of their former humanity was also an interesting perspective on the idea of the future.Overall, I enjoyed the writing and pacing of the story, but not the story itself. I didn't like closing the book and being left with more questions than answers, especially when the core question was "did this even happen?" Did Bulero even really wake up from his drug fugue?more
From a stock pulp science fiction beginning, this novel swirls away into a psychadelic exploration of marketing, metaphysics and xenology. It is so heavily layered that it multiple readings and much reflection are needed to optimise its value but even at a superficial plot level it is an astonishing work if one can cope with the confusion that it generates towards the end.more
I know that everyone says that this is PKD's masterwork, and I can see why, it's a pretty brilliant set of ideas, and the writing is splendid. I, however, didn't enjoy reading it as much as other PD books I have read in the past.more
PKD's vision of the future presented in this novel is frighteningly prescient -- people escape the doldrums of their life through an artificial "second life," plastic surgery has been replaced by medical "evolution," and so on. The ending will throw any reader for a loop, and requires several rereadings until you even think you might understand what is happening. However, PKD's strength has never been a coherent plot conclusion, but the startling details of the worlds he creates. In this novel, he excels at what he does best.more
Very few Science Fiction authors manage to create memorable works that easily retain their relevance in the near and/or distant future. Phillip K. Dick is one of those talented few, and The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is one of those works.Dick's not-so-distant dystopian future is one where global warming is an adaptable but growing dillema, with the bulk of humanity virtually sealed away in air-conditioned office buildings and apartment complexes. The solution, space migration to nearby planets, is such a bleak and arduous task that 'settlers' need to be drafted. These off-world settlers often resort to drug-induced shared hallucination involving miniature recreations of life back on earth. Within this structure we find corporations employing psychics to predict future sales trends, upper class elitists physically evolving themselves into 'superior beings', naturally created drugs that allow users to connect on different plains of reality and traverse freely throughout space-time, to name a few. In the center of it all is the titular Palmer Eldritch, a powerful and mysterious businessman who has spent decades communing with alien races, and has returned with what he claims to be mankind's mental and spiritual salvation. What would normally be a one-trick-pony for other authors becomes a multi-layered examination of everything from religion and philosophy to physical/mental evolution and individual freedom versus responsibility. Dick doesn't bother with simple 'Good Vs. Evil' conflict, but instead shows us that both possibilities are sides of the same coin, and simply asks us to call it in the air. Highly recommended for those who like to think about a book long after reading it.more
A very rich novel in ideas. I'm keen to see someone try and make a film of it. An interesting and unnerving book.more
All Philip K. Dick novels are about the nature of reality, and I think this is his best. Completely mind-blowing yet still comprehensible, it has the incomparable PKD style that I find so hard to pin down - it's some combination of brevity, the unexpected and a sense of the alien, but there's still something entirely Other about the way he writes that I find unique. Hard to describe the plot (not much of a review, this), but as with anything PKD it's completely unpredictable.more
Like "Ubik," this one will have you in a spin. Who is Palmer Eldritch? And does even he know?I love the aspects of escapism: the fact that people take drugs to actually commune together in a fantasy world of their own construction reminds me a lot of modern videogames, especially MMORPGs. I love the fact that escape from the Earth is considered terrible, like a cruel fate that awaits the unsuspecting. In all, I really like this book.more
One day I will have to return to this book and re-read it. Very slowly.Despite its pre-1980s origins (would any modern sci-fi author consider flying cars anything but out-moded fantasy?) Dick presents a very up-to-date view of the future: unremittingly grim; global warming; corrupt in every detail. Spartan in detail, terse in style and with some larger-than-life but always realistic characters, this was a good read.Despite this, there is no escaping that this novel is as mad as a box of frogs. Alien invasion? The nature of God? The ability of the human character to form bonds in the most hostile of situations? Perhaps just drug-induced fantasy ... who knows what this is really about? I would advise anyone to give it a try and if they figure it out to e-mail me the explanation.more
In the future, Earth has many colonies where life is hard, and there is nothing much but work. Except Can-D, the illegal drug that enables the colonists to experience shared virtual reality experiences, far removed from their drab lives. For the manufacturer of Can-D, times are good. Until that is, the entrepeneur Palmer Eldtritch returns from his trip outside the solar sytem, bringing with him Chew-Z, which gives anyone whatever they want. But Palmer Eldritch rules as God in everyone’s virtual world...Out of all the many books I had to read I decided to read this one, because it was supposed to be one of the science fiction classics. It’s author, Phillip K. Dick, is one of the top science fiction authors of the 50’s and 60’s, the era when some commentators consider science fiction novels to be in their heyday. This book is one of his more famous books, so I was expected a lot from it. To tell you the truth I was very disappointed. It started off quite well, but quickly deteriorated becoming confusing and plain odd. It doesn’t surprise me that this book’s author was often into hallucinogenic drugs, the story here is very trippy, and while it has a couple of interesting ideas like shared illusory worlds, it didn’t hang together well. It was only about 150 pages but I get the impression if it had been a lot longer, I wouldn’t have finished it.more
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