The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The pipeline of prose continues to be diverted to Innsmouth Free Press, so you get another retro review.

This one is from February 24, 2006.

Review: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Philip K. Dick, 1965.Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

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 commercial 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 reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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