Customer Reviews


113 Reviews
5 star:
 (73)
4 star:
 (27)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


91 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A head trip at times, but worth the effort
Sporting one of the neatest titles in all of literature, SF or otherwise, this novel is considered one of Dick's handful of absolute masterpieces, written during his peak in the sixties. People who saw Blade Runner, went and read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and liked it enough to want to explore Dick further and came here (remove the seeing Blade...
Published on December 9, 2001 by Michael Battaglia

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas, flawed execution.
Dick's central conceit--how do we know what is real and what is imagined?--is an interesting one, and the paranoia (?) it engenders in his protagonist makes for a thought-provoking read. But the use of mind-altering drugs and certain other elements of this novel make it seem dated. More to the point, most of the characters are not persuasively drawn; they are stilted...
Published on July 30, 1998


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

91 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A head trip at times, but worth the effort, December 9, 2001
Sporting one of the neatest titles in all of literature, SF or otherwise, this novel is considered one of Dick's handful of absolute masterpieces, written during his peak in the sixties. People who saw Blade Runner, went and read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and liked it enough to want to explore Dick further and came here (remove the seeing Blade Runner part and that's me) may find this book a decidely odd experience. Not outwardly psychedelic in nature but certainly dealing with altered states of conscious and the nature of reality versus our perception of it . . . if you find yourself reading it and think you're missing something, trust me you aren't alone. Probably no one other than Dick knew exactly everything that is going on in here but for the rest of us it's an interesting dilemma trying to discern his exact meaning, or our best interpretation. In the future, the earth is unbearably warm, people are being drafted to be sent to dreary colonies and Can-D is the drug of the moment, a substance which allows people to "translate" into layouts based on a doll called Perky Pat and basically experience a life that isn't theirs. Then Palmer Eldrich returns from outside the solar system with his new drug Chew-D which he claims will deliver immortality and show the nature of God . . . and then things get funny. Dick's vision of a future world is absolutely fascinating and for us low brow folks who don't get all the wacky symbolism, makes the book worth it simply for his depiction of an overheated earth, the boring spiritual desolation of the Mars colonies, the pre-cogs who determine the latest fashions, it all feels bleak and despairing but there's a sense of humor lurking in the wings and a vague feeling that something larger is going on. It starts to lose coherency toward the end as the reader begins to question reality, especially what is the nature of Palmer Eldrich (great name, by the way) and eventually you find your head starting to hurt just a bit. And it's not that bad a feeling, as it turns out. PKD books are more experienced than described and nothing here is going to really be able to convey the texture of his novels, you just have to read it for yourself. It's not perfect but it's both thought provoking and entertaining on vastly different levels and so in that sense comes highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential Dick, February 24, 2006
By 
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most scary book ever written?, August 31, 2002
By A Customer
The novel depicts colonists on the planet Mars (a thinly disguised analogue for life in 1960s suburbia) who are so bored they have to take a hallucinogenic drug called Can-D to stay sane. Can-D causes a group hallucination in which several persons can participate. However, the titular Mr Eldritch, a drug pusher from outer space, comes to Mars and offers a new and more powerful hallucinogen, Chew-Z.

Palmer Eldritch, a character based on an hallucination that Dick himself once experienced, is a wealthy industrialist with metal eyes, a metal hand and a metal jaw. In character and action he seems to this writer to resemble the "crippled man" of German expressionist movies and literature; who is himself physically crippled, but has almost a supernatural control over others. Examples of such characters in movies include the Professor in "Metropolis", the title character in "Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari", and the title character in Fritz Lang's "Dr Mabuse" films. More recent examples may include the title character in Kubrick's "Dr Strangelove", and the stammering, limping Dr Schreber in Alex Proyas' "Dark City".

The character of Eldritch is the unforgettable centre of the novel, and is truly a terrifying presence.

The effect of Eldritch's drug Chew-Z is to cause the user to enter a hallucinatory reality, apparantly of his or her own choice. However, in these realities the user is alone - no one else can enter their hallucinations except, apparantly, Palmer Eldritch. The contrast between the two drugs may be seen as an analogy of the difference between the "soft drug" marijuana and the hard drug heroin. While marijuana may be taken in company, heroin is taken alone, and the user becomes withdrawn. (Incidentally, Life Savers recently put out a type of sweet called "CHEWZ").

The main character, Barney Mayerson, is obsessed with going back to his estranged wife. When he takes Chew-Z, and hallucinates that he goes back to his wife but is rejected, Eldritch reappears and goads him into taking more of the drug to try again, and again, and again. Every time Barney goes back, the universe of the hallucination degrades slightly. Palmer Eldritch begins manifesting himself in the universe. As per the title, the "stigmata" of Palmer Eldritch - his mechanical parts - begin to appear on other people - even when Barney is supposedly in the 'real" world again. This can be seen as an analogy of neurotic or compulsive behaviour, wherein the neurotic, of any kind, is caught in a loop of doing the same unfulfillable action over and over. The neurotic can even be caught in a thought loop, repeating the same fruitless thoughts again and again.

The degrading of Barney's universe is a little like the effects of schizophrenia. At an advanced stage the schizophrenic may be totally locked off from the world. Rather than experience new things in the external world, the schizophrenic may become highly introverted, feeding off his or her own internal "world" forever. Eventually the internal "world" becomes more and more degraded, until nothing is left but "white noise". This conception was explored much more fully in another Dick masterpiece, "Martian Timeslip".

Meanwhile, a second theme involves the religious analogies of Chew-Z. Dick seems obsessed with the theme of the taking of Chew-Z as being analogous to the partaking of Eucharist by the Catholic. Whereas the flesh of Christ causes the devotee to enter the fellowship of the church and other people, Eldritch's evil Eucharist causes the devotee to become more and more withdrawn from the "light" of other people.

Added to this is the theme of stigmata. While th development of stigmata among Christians is supposed to reflect the absolute reality of the Christian God, the taker of chew-Z sees the manifestations of Eldritch all over the place - of one man, clearly not God, whose limited and apparently psychotic world view insidiously engulfs the entire universe of the user.

Finally, "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" can be seen as an analogy of modern life. In the novel's future, while infinite technology has given mankind incredible achievements, its chief net effect has been to make life very dull. Most of the touted "high technology" created today is literally created to entertain us. How are we much different from a drug user - languishing in dull lives where we work day after day to make enough money to lounge in front of an expensive television on weekends, surrounded by consumer goods? One is perhaps reminded of Sergio Leone's movie, "Once Upon a Time in America", where the denizens of New York City are depicted spending their hard-earned money in lying about in an opium den watching a shadow play and taking drugs.

Clearly even very rich people are there. Why develop so much technology if it is chiefly used to make us feel pleasure, in a world incresingly sterile and eventless?

"The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" can undoubtedly be seen as one of Philip K Dick's masterpieces. Indeed, this writer believes it to be his greatest achievement of all. Though it could be said to be poorly written from a technical standpoint, the sheer power of his images and themes is almost overwhelming. It also tends to stay in the mind for a long time.

Philip K Dick is best known for the number of recent movies made from his stories. However, no film has ever been made of this book, even though it seems ideally suited to such a medium. An expressionist style retelling of this tale, even on a low budget, could be very effective.

The book itself is currently very widely available, thanks to an apparant boom in interest in the author. The current printings I am aware of are American paperbacks put out by Vintage and Milennium.

Similar books to "Three Stigmata" by the same author include "Martian Timeslip", created the previous year, which explores very similar themes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God promises eternal life... Chew-Z gives it now!, February 16, 2006
By 
OverTheMoon (overthemoonreview@hotmail.com) - See all my reviews
Dick does dual-reality, as off-world colonies within their `P. P. Layouts' are addicted to an outlawed mind-altering drug called Can-D find themselves facing a new and improved mind altering drug that appears to also alter the fabrics of the real world. Leo Bulero and Barney Mayerson who run the Can-D market are trying to save company losses by exterminating the manufacturer of Chew-Z, Palmer Eldritch, who has just returned from a mysterious excursion to the outer limits of an unknown solar system. Which world is real and which is a fantasy and is Can-D in fact just a hallucination within the Chew-C hallucination, as everybody starts to experience parts of Eldritch's consciousness blend with their own hyper-reality, or have they all taken overdoses and are dead? Future alien phantasms come to tell them the story of what happened when Eldritch brought the alien Chew-Z back, nothing is coherent, mostly subliminally implanted, and yet users find themselves waking up back in their `P. P. Layouts' going about their own business trying to keep their off-world colonies working and waiting anxiously for their next hit.

The Three Stigmata is a story about the enterprise of religion while at the same time drawing conclusions about the way our world is heading towards a matrix of similar experiences to be shared by all, modern popular television serials almost the result of this kind of prophetical statement, it is not Dick's most accurate hit when it comes to telling the future, but still has a lot of elements worth considering and mulling over, such as one's fall from clemency through drug use to UN officials making money behind the scenes, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a short enough tale with a lot of interesting moral considerations that could be only found in the heady wine of a Philip K. Dick novel with comparisons drawn to his other (and better work) `A Scanner Darkly'. Orion SF Masterworks series rates this as #52 in its list. Philip K. Dick is often referred to as the best science-fiction writer who did not write science-fiction. You can imagine this work sitting easily between William Burroughs and Arthur C. Clarke. See you at "The Cosmic Puppets", next.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I hoped for, February 12, 2003
By 
alchemist42 "alchemist42" (Athens, GA United States) - See all my reviews
This book was great. It has everything that I have come to expect from PKD, and even improved on some of his flaws. Historically, he has been berated by reviewers for lacking plot or characterization. Without losing the conceptual angle that is so brilliant in all of his work, this one focused more on story. The reader sees more of the main characters, as well. We learn all of their motivations and feelings.
The author's characteristic wry humour is showcased in this book, too. For instance, he comments on American consumerism when he tells of the favourite past time of the Mars colonists who take the drug Can-D to experience a day in the life of a Barbie and Ken doll set. And he does it in a way that somehow makes sense in the story.
Of course, stealing the spotlight is the real main character of the story, which is reality itself. You never know if what you are reading is really happening. The long-term effects of the drugs are unknown to the main characters, so when they experience getting lost in time or losing their identity, the reader gets similarly lost. As soon as you figure it out, you find that you are wrong.
Some drugs are not so safe- even if used as directed.
So, buy this book. Your brain will love you for it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch carefully for Dickian `Stigmata' to appear, June 17, 2006
By 
Krista K (United States) - See all my reviews
`TSPE' is one of Dick's more serious novels - indeed, he claimed that once it was written he was scared to reread it and refused to edit it. Yet, there is also a good dose of humor, as per usual in his work, as well as a nice extrapolation of what some of American culture's tendencies could lead to. Perhaps Dick's best book in dealing with "What is reality?," it also incorporates his other major theme - "What does it mean to be human?" Along with `Ubik,' `TSPE' is a personal, and critical, favorite.

Many of the ideas presented in this novel are some of Dick's best. Colonists dumped unwillingly on an inhospitable Mars long to escape into the drug-induced Barbie-doll like world of Perky Pat, there to exist in a capitalist nirvana of sports cars, fashionable clothing, etc. Corporate drug pushers battle for market share and, eventually, the ontological existence of the human race. So watch out - if you've taken Chew-Z, or even if you haven't, there's no longer any surety as to what reality you inhabit, and your suitcase psychiatrist won't be able to help.

Dick turns almost all of the Golden Age of sf conventions on their heads: there are no heroes triumphing majestically - just normal, little people; technology hasn't solved all of our problems - instead it just lets advertisers hound us more thoroughly; his near futures are weirdly dystopic. In fact, for Dick we can not even take for granted that we know what reality is or what it means to be human. If this sounds normal for what you watch and read now (he's had a huge impact on sf and mainstream fiction, from 'The Matrix' and 'The Truman Show' to Gibson and Pynchon), just remember he started doing this in the 50s! No one book can capture all of what Dick has to offer, so try a few before making a final judgment as to whether his work appeals to you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dick's Best, January 28, 2003
This is my favorite book by Dick; I couldn't put it down. Besides having more of a plot than many others of his books, this work dives deep into mind-blowing issues like causality and the spatial dimension of time. The premise is interesting enough to hook you in, but once Palmer starts really messing with people, your head will spin.
For anyone who thinks that a time travel story gives you lots to think about, this book will take those issues and rip them apart, sewing them back together inside your head without ever resorting to overt time travel. It's all hidden within the doors of perception, and it questions how perception is related to consciousness.
What makes this book great is that it contains a great villain: Palmer Eldritch. Eldritch is a powerful, motivated, morally ambiguous character that is only the "villain" because of his relation to the other characters (and the fact that he seems to be trying to take over humanity). In fact, everyone's a villain in this book, except for the poor saps who can't control their own fate.
It's also a major treatise on mind control through media and drugs. You will see how society today is being programmed by the corporate media, and how drugs (everything from alcohol and mj to speed and acid) are dulling probably half of America into a state of placid, easily controlled, and manipulated baffoons.
Overall, entertaining, thought provoking, and out of this world. Completely original, Dick was a pioneer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moments of brilliance, moments of tedium., February 23, 2000
I simply could not get into this book as much as others PKD wrote. His prose style in 3SoPE reads a bit clunky at times, and his descriptions of some places fall short of giving you the feeling of what's going on (while others, like when Leo was in Eldritch's world, are written brilliantly). I found myself wishing he'd hurry along the descriptions of the Maritan colonists you meet early in the novel.
This is one of his novels where the perception of reality takes center stage, this time centered around a drug (chew-z) that is supposed to create a world entirely for you, in an instant. PKD explores this perception, not just from an objective standpoint (is this world any less real than the reality you live in?), but what effect it has on people as well. One of the aspects of PKDs fiction that I admire greatly is his unwavering devotion to displaying the full range of human emotion and experience when faced with the unknowable (or the just plain weird- Leo's actions when faced with the loss of his company were suprising, yet believable). No other science-fiction author I can think of was as concerned with the human soul/experience as PKD, even if he does fall short at times of displaying the concept with his words. Still a recommended book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas, flawed execution., July 30, 1998
By A Customer
Dick's central conceit--how do we know what is real and what is imagined?--is an interesting one, and the paranoia (?) it engenders in his protagonist makes for a thought-provoking read. But the use of mind-altering drugs and certain other elements of this novel make it seem dated. More to the point, most of the characters are not persuasively drawn; they are stilted caricatures more than real people. By comparison, Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven covers similar territory, but with more credible characters; as a result it is a much more forceful (and scarier) book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Further proof of genius., March 16, 2004
By 
Evan Waters (Kansas City, MO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This may well be Philip K. Dick's most brain-frying book, and I mean that as a complement. I put it down feeling overstuffed, as if the book were a rich cheese I'd had too much of. There is so much going on here, thematically, conceptually, and literally, that it's hard to keep track.
The plot is... too much to describe, so I'll direct you to what Amazon has already provided. It's perhaps best not to know too much about what's going on beforehand anyway.
Ultimately this is a story that works on many levels. Alongside questions about the divine, about the nature of reality, about the nature of happiness, there are some wonderfully simple human elements, such as Barney Mayerson's attempt to cope with failure, and his gradual redefinition of himself at the colony. This kind of character transformation- breaking down, then building up- seems central to much of Dick's work, and it is handled with a breathtaking emotional subtlety.
I am not sure whether I consider this the best of Dick's work, but it certainly demonstrates why he was perhaps science fiction's most literary author- one whose efforts stand as a validation of the genre's worth. Here is a sci-fi novel that is also a brilliant piece of postmodernist literature, a study of faith and the human psyche that deals with the increasing (or simply continued) complexity and uncertainty of the world around us, and the need to find something to hold on to, be it illusion or reality.
More thoughts will probably come with time. Right now I don't think the digestion process has finished.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - October 18, 2011)
$14.95 $10.94
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.