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The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K Dick

Vertigo

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Perky Pat Layouts are making a comfortable profit from their monopoly providing colonists on marginally inhabitable planets with an escape to an idealised ‘virtual’ earth-side reality (virtual in experience but drug induced dream world rather than cyberpunk-style). Then Palmer Eldritch returns from Proxima with a competitive product, only his drug is apparently much less harmful than P.P. Layouts. Although no cause is identified in the book, Earth itself is far from an idealised reality with soaring temperatures and unprotected exposure to the daytime sun resulting in rapid death.

Dick is right in his element here playing with issues of identity and reality. Which is the more real world for the colonists? The reality scratching a living from the inhospitable colonies or the dream reality of Perky Pat. Is each colonist really living such a terrible life with no hope of ever returning to Earth or is the dream-world life they escape to the real life they so desperately wish for. But he is also pulling religion into the picture and, when combined with precognition, a kind of time travel, and (rich) humans enhancing themselves by treatments that artificially push their bodies into an advanced evolutionary state, there is a risk of Three Stigmata getting a little muddled, and I guess it does, but few Dick books don’t involve some degree of muddle for the reader to disentangle. As such this is a book that does demand some effort from the reader but that effort is amply rewarded by a convoluted dystopian vision of a possible future.

4/5 stars
 
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picklematrix

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One of the Phil Dick books I have yet to read. Sounds like a greatest hits of scifi story ideas.
 

Kris_01

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I love everything Phil wrote! He said it is an evil book and scared him to write it.
 

Vertigo

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I love everything Phil wrote! He said it is an evil book and scared him to write it.
I can see how it could be seen as evil as Dick is showing how unscrupulous organisations can use the very human need for pleasure to control and manipulate populations.
 

Simbelmynë

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This is actually the only PKD book I’ve read. Loved the concept of the psychedelic VR, but I agree the plot became a bit convoluted. I plan to read more of his. I saw Minority Report at the cinema in my teens and was blown away.
 

Kris_01

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Some of Phil's stuff gets a little "thick". If you want a little humor, even though it's dated, try "A Scanner Darkly" or just read the short stories. I say this because you can get through the short stories pretty quickly. If you're not a seasoned PKD veteran it can get a little laborious at times.
 

tinkerdan

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I always had trouble reading and completing many of Dicks novels.

This was back in the late 60's early 70's and I was graduating high school at age 17 in 1969 so I might have had a focus problem.
I think I quit reading his stuff mid 70's. However I stuck around long enough to enjoy The Man in the High Castle--Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep--and Ubik; all of which I enjoyed.

For some reason I could never finish The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich.

This made me look back and read a sample of the book--I think I misplaced my paper copy--I might yet give it a try and that could lead to going back to test drive a few others I never read.
 
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