Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 various asteroids. These colonies are living at subsistence level and the colonists there are invariably hooked on a drug called Can-D, that allows them to live in an illusory world populated by Perky Pat and her boyfriend Walt. They use miniature items to create these worlds; these "mins" are provided by the same company that supplies the illegal Can-D, which is run by Leo Bulero.

However when the famous explorer Palmer Eldritch returns from his trip to Proxa, he brings with him some lichen, with which he creates a product called Chew-Z - a legal alternative to Can-D. This is a more potent drug that allows people to create their own universes, without needing the mins. However, what most do not know is that all these universes are controlled by Eldritch. Is Palmer still human, or did something else come back in his place?

My Thoughts: Playing onto our worst nightmares - namely those in which we continually think we've awakened, only to find we're still inside the nightmare - this story keeps you guessing as to what is real and what is hallucination. It is difficult to explain too much of the plot without giving away key elements that will spoil the story, which is why I've stuck mainly to what is given in the editorial review or on the book cover. However, I found the story to be very much in the lines of a typical Philip K. Dick story - twisted and convoluted. Well worth the read, however. My copy of the story is part of am omnibus, Counterfeit Unrealities (contains Ubik, A Scanner Darkly, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep [aka Blade Runner], The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch), which title describes the overall topic of this story, at least, very well. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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