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THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH is a 1965 science fiction novel by US writer Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965.

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.

CONTENTS

* 1 Plot summary * 2 Material used from prior work * 3 Reception * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Further reading

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
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
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.

Meanwhile, Emily and her second husband sell her pottery designs to Eldritch and use the payment to undergo evolution therapy. Unfortunately, Emily begins to devolve rather than evolve. This devolution results in a loss of creativity and she finds herself recreating older, less sophisticated designs from earlier work, without realizing it.

Under the guise of a reporter, Bulero travels to Eldritch's estate on the Moon
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
Moon
to rescue him. Mayerson, in despair, accepts his UN conscription to Mars
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

* The Perky Pat and Connie Companion products were introduced in the novelette The Days of Perky Pat published in 1963. However, the novel is not a continuation (e.g. What the Dead Men Say and the novel Ubik ) or expansion (e.g. the novella and later novel Vulcan\'s Hammer ) of an earlier and shorter work. * Early in chapter 3 a reference is made to "...the Printers, the Biltong life forms ..." taken from the short story Pay for the Printer published in 1956. * Precognition as an accepted vocation figures heavily in the plot of Dick's short story The Minority Report
The Minority Report
(first published in 1956) and Our Friends From Frolix 8 .

RECEPTION

Algis Budrys
Algis Budrys
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."

SEE ALSO

* Novels portal

* Simulated reality

REFERENCES

* ^ "1965 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-27. * ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf," Galaxy , August 1965, pp.186-92.

FURTHER READING

* 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 . * The Three Stigmata
Stigmata
of Palmer Eldritch at The Grand Inquisitor

* v * t * e

Works by Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick

NOVELS

* Gather Yourselves Together (1950) * Voices from the Street
Voices from the Street
(1952) * Solar Lottery (1954) * Mary and the Giant
Mary and the Giant
(1954) * The World Jones Made
The World Jones Made
(1954) * Eye in the Sky (1955) * The Man Who Japed
The Man Who Japed
(1955) * A Time for George Stavros (1956) * Pilgrim on the Hill (1956) * The Broken Bubble (1956) * The Cosmic Puppets (1957) * Puttering About in a Small Land
Puttering About in a Small Land
(1957) * Nicholas and the Higs (1958) * Time Out of Joint
Time Out of Joint
(1958) * In Milton Lumky Territory
In Milton Lumky Territory
(1958) * Confessions of a Crap Artist (1959) * The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike (1960) * Humpty Dumpty in Oakland (1960) * Vulcan\'s Hammer (1960) * Dr. Futurity
Dr. Futurity
(1960) * The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle
(1961) * We Can Build You (1962) * Martian Time-Slip (1962) * Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1963) * The Game-Players of Titan (1963) * The Simulacra (1963) * The Crack in Space (1963) * Clans of the Alphane Moon
Moon
(1964) * The Three Stigmata
Stigmata
of Palmer Eldritch (1964) * The Zap Gun (1964) * The Penultimate Truth (1964) * The Unteleported Man (1964) * The Ganymede Takeover (1965) * Counter-Clock World (1965) * Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
(1966) * Nick and the Glimmung (1966) * Now Wait for Last Year
Now Wait for Last Year
(1966) * Ubik (1966) * Galactic Pot-Healer (1968) * A Maze of Death (1968) * Our Friends from Frolix 8
Our Friends from Frolix 8
(1969) * Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) * Deus Irae (1976) * Radio Free Albemuth
Radio Free Albemuth
(1976; published 1985) * A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly
(1977) * VALIS
VALIS
(1981) * The Divine Invasion
The Divine Invasion
(1981) * The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982) * The Owl in Daylight (unfinished)

COLLECTIONS

* A Handful of Darkness (1955) * The Variable Man (1956) * The Preserving Machine
The Preserving Machine
(1969) * The Book of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(1973) * The Best of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(1977) * The Golden Man (1980) * Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities (1984) * I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon (1985) * The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(1987) * Beyond Lies the Wub
Beyond Lies the Wub
(1988) * The Dark Haired Girl (1989) * The Father-Thing (1989) * Second Variety (1989) * The Days of Perky Pat (1990) * The Little Black Box (1990) * The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford (1990) * We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (1990) * The Minority Report
The Minority Report
(1991) * Second Variety (1991) * The Eye of the Sibyl (1992) * The Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
Reader (1997) * Minority Report (2002) * Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(2002) * Paycheck (2004) * Vintage PKD (2006)

SHORT STORIES

* " Beyond Lies the Wub
Beyond Lies the Wub
" (1952) * "The Gun " (1952) * "The Skull " (1952) * " The Little Movement " (1952) * "The Defenders " (1953) * " Mr. Spaceship " (1953) * " Piper in the Woods " (1953) * "Roog " (1953) * " The Infinites " (1953) * " Second Variety " (1953) * "Colony " (1953) * "The Cookie Lady " (1953) * "Impostor " (1953) * "Paycheck " (1953) * " The Preserving Machine
The Preserving Machine
" (1953) * "Expendable " (1953) * " The Indefatigable Frog " (1953) * " The Commuter " (1953) * " Out in the Garden " (1953) * " The Great C " (1953) * " The King of the Elves " (1953) * " The Trouble with Bubbles " (1953) * " The Variable Man " (1953) * " Planet for Transients " (1953) * "The Builder " (1953) * " Tony and the Beetles " (1953) * " Prize Ship " (1954) * "Beyond the Door " (1954) * " The Crystal Crypt
The Crystal Crypt
" (1954) * " The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford " (1954) * " The Golden Man " (1954) * "Sales Pitch " (1954) * " Breakfast at Twilight " (1954) * " The Crawlers " (1954) * " Exhibit Piece " (1954) * " Adjustment Team " (1954) * "Shell Game " (1954) * "Meddler " (1954) * " A World of Talent " (1954) * " The Last of the Masters " (1954) * " Upon the Dull Earth " (1954) * " The Father-thing " (1954) * " Strange Eden " (1954) * " The Turning Wheel " (1954) * "Foster, You\'re Dead! " (1955) * " Human Is " (1955) * " War Veteran " (1955) * "Captive Market " (1955) * "Nanny " (1955) * " The Chromium Fence " (1955) * " Service Call " (1955) * " The Mold of Yancy " (1955) * " Autofac " (1955) * " Psi-man Heal My Child! " (1955) * " The Minority Report
The Minority Report
" (1956) * " Pay for the Printer " (1956) * " A Glass of Darkness " (1956) * " The Unreconstructed M " (1957) * " Null-O " (1958) * " Explorers We " (1959) * " Recall Mechanism " (1959) * "Fair Game " (1959) * "War Game " (1959) * " All We Marsmen " (1963) * "What\'ll We Do with Ragland Park? " (1963) * " The Days of Perky Pat " (1963) * " If There Were No Benny Cemoli " (1963) * " Waterspider " (1964) * " Novelty Act " (1964) * " Oh, to Be a Blobel! " (1964) * " The War with the Fnools " (1964) * " What the Dead Men Say " (1964) * " Orpheus with Clay Feet " (1964) * "Cantata 140 " (1964) * " The Unteleported Man " (1964) * " Retreat Syndrome " (1965) * " Project Plowshare " (1965) * " We Can Remember It for You Wholesale " (1966) * "Faith of Our Fathers " (1967) * " Not by Its Cover " (1968) * " The Electric Ant " (1969) * " A. Lincoln, Simulacrum " (1969) * " The Pre-persons " (1974) * " A Little Something for Us Tempunauts " (1974) * " The Exit Door Leads In " (1979) * "Rautavaara\'s Case " (1980) * " I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon " (1980) * " The Eye of